Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vermont (Ohio) Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain

On Saturday night, a bunch of the Jewish kids that I know got together to have a little camp out in a local summer camp. Marla Davis, who was in charge of this get together, is a personal close friend and sister of our guest blogger Allison Davis. She always starts each event by having everybody present go around the circle and introduce themselves and share something about themselves. Typically, she will ask us to tell what our favorite ice cream flavor is or something like tha. However, this time she asked us to: "Tell something good about your week". When it got to me I said: "Hey, Im Dave and I baked bread twice this past week." I got a response of "What! Are you nuts, its been a hundred degrees all week!" My response was: "So....Ain't no sense in fighting love". I think that every time we go around a circle and say something about ourselves, I always mention something about bread. Just last month, a group of students got together to discuss the importance of the environment through a Jewish lens. We all introduced ourselves and told about a moment when we felt connected with the environment. My response was: "Anybody that knows me, knows that I bake a lot of bread, and last year I decided to by a mill, so that I could grind my own flour in an attempt to bring my loaves closer to mother earth. It is one step closer to growing my own grain, which is a dream of mine. So when I grind flour, I connect with mother earth". Alright, back to the task at hand.

I also wanted to say that sitting around a campfire with my friends, playing the weight and singing levons part with every ounce of soul I could muster was a spiritual experience.

Crazy Chester followed me and he caught me in the fog.  He said, "I will fix your rags, if you'll take Jack, my dog". I said, "Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man"  He said, "That's okay, boy, won't you feed him when you can?"

This verse always puts a tear in my eye. I could not tell you why, but I really do believe that it sums up everything that is beautiful and humble about the human spirit.

One thing I love about The Band, and also Bob Dylan is the way that they do not just tell a story in their songs, but they use dialogue almost creating characters. (I think when I have pets I am going to name them from characters from The Band songs).

This bread is another one of Hamelman's variations on his Vermont Sourdough Bread., The difference with this one is that it calls for a much larger amount of sourdough starter, and it also contains some whole rye flour. Rye gives such a unique characteristic to breads, even when it is only 10-15% of the total flour weight. It is important to note that the rye is used in the final dough but is not used in the sourdough build. I thought about using a rye sourdough starter instead of the liquid levain which is called for in the formula, but I decided against it because I wanted the rye flavor to be more subtle. I wanted it to perfume the loaf, rather than to flavor it. Although, I am a fiber junky, I do love breads with a lower amount of whole grain flour as well. They have the unique ability to provide a tender open crumb and a rubust flavor, whereas a bread with 50% whole grain flour will be much heavier and will have a less open crumb. I really do love the combination of the open crumb and robust flavor that is created by a bread with about 15% whole grain flour in the mix. Another thing I like to do is to make a rye bread with a white flour levain or wheat bread with a rye levain. I also want to note that this bread called for a liquid levain, which I did not have. Because I expect to be moving soon, I got rid of my liquid levain for now. The stiff levain is easier to transport and seems to be more hearty. I can easily create a liquid levain from my existing stiff levain by simply adjusting the hydration from 65% to 130% in just one feeding. Folks, it is really that simple!

The sourdough build right after mixing
After 12 hours of fermentation
Before I forget, this bread is made with an autolyse, which means that the flour and water are mixed together for about 30-60 minutes prior to adding the levain and the salt. This bread is unique, in that the levain, flours and water are mixed together until a shaggy mass is formed. Then after a rest, the salt is added and the dough is mixed on second speed for about two minutes until the dough begins to slap against the sides of the bowl.

I have to admit that I made an error. I did the autolyse in the typical manner, and then noticed how very dry the bread was.  I took another look at the mixing instructions and realized that I forgot to add the levain. So I simply poured in the levain build and put the mixer on for a little longer. However, the dough was not coming together because the flour and water had formed a mass that would not accept the levain build. So, I took the bowl off the mixer and mixed it by hand until it began to come together. Then I put the bowl back and mixed again for another minute on first speed. It worked and I was pleased. I then gave it a rest and then added the salt and completed the mix.

Just after mixing on second speed


The dough is then rounded and placed in the bowl to ferment.  
Since this bread is a sourdough and no yeast is added, it has quite a long fermentation time. After the autolyse and the mix, the dough is given 75 minutes and is then folded. The dough is then given another 75 minutes of bulk fermentation. The dough is then shaped and then given another 2 hours of bench time to rise. Be ready for a long time commitment if you are making this one. 

As you can see, there is some wonderful carbon dioxide production

I decided to shape these into batards, but one of them was giving me trouble so I made a very loose boule.This allowed me to do one of my favorite score patterns, the box. The breads really spread out a lot and they barely fit on the stone in the oven. I had to sort of flick it to make sure the bread did not drip off the stone and onto the oven element. That certainly would have caused a lot of smoke and perhaps a fire.

As you know, I usually make one bread, unless I am going to be sharing them. In fact, that is the plan with this bread. I have recently become friends with Avi and Eddie, two young guys who have recently moved to the states from Israel. Both of them are of Eastern European descent, and have been asking me to bake them bread every time I see them for the past few weeks. Long story short, I carpooled with a friend of mine to the camp out, but because she had to leave early, I had to arrange a ride with another friend. That ride did not pan out either, so after spending two back breaking, and muscle straining hours on the ropes course at the camp, I was invited to Avi and Eddie's house for lunch, after which they drove me home. So to return the favor, on Tuesday I will be bringing them a loaf of this crusty wonder and some red lentil soup with apricots and caramelized onions.



I would like to thank the Ropes Course for reminding me what it means to do hard labor. It was also a reminder to get back to my routine of getting to the gym five days a week. I figure, if I am going to advise people to work out, I will have to set a good example.

Well this is going to be good!


And awesome open crumb
I have a large amount of whole rye flour, so I think I might be making either the 90% or 70% three-stage rye in the coming days.
Until then............... 

Bake On

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