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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Everyday Bread #44 - Refreshing Error Bread

Everyday Bread #43 - Refreshing Error Bread

Mid July, and it is hot as Hades. Humid to boot. Not a breeze to be found. What one needs is something refreshing. It is time for a refreshing bread failure.

Today's Everyday Bread failure came about because of an error made while refreshing the sourdough. I have been using a scaled-down version of Reinhart's Sourdough Refresh Method from, I think, his 'Whole Grain Breads' book. Here is what I do:
  • Discard all but 73 g motherstarter (~ 1/2 c)
  • Add 218 g flour (rye or whole wheat) ( ~ 1 2/3 c)
  • Add 166 g water ( 3/4 c)
This should give me an approximate sourdough of 75% hydration, which I can then use to make any of Reinhart's sourdough breads.

I have been pretty much, more or less, keeping up with the schedule of feedings that I've decided upon: i.e. refresh the starter on the first day I have off in a week, whether I work 2 days or 3 days in a stretch. This means the starter will get refreshed about twice a week.

I have been upset about discarding all this material and have been trying to think up what to do with it. I've blogged about different ideas of what to do with it before.

This time when I went to refresh the rye starter, I thought I'd like to measure how much I am throwing away. I scooped out my 1/2 cup (not measuring this portion) and weighed what was left: 383 g.

Then I added the water and rye flour to the 1/2 cup I had reserved.

But by mistake, I added 1 2/3 cup of water and 3/4 cup of rye flour. When the consistency was far too wet, I tried to figure out how much rye flour and how much starter I would have to add to get it back to the proper ratio, (I measured that 3/4 c of rye weighed 84 g and 1 2/3 c of water weighed 379 g) and came up with the values:
  • To fix your mistake, add 94 g more starter,
  • and add 414 g more rye flour.
This would make far too much, so instead of doing that, I decided to just set aside my mistake and take some of the 383 g of discard that I had not yet thrown in the compost, and start over. No problem.

Now: what to do with this overly hydrated rye starter and rye flour?

I know: I'll make some bread.

So to this mistake-mix, then, I added
  • 1/2 c whole wheat motherstarter discard
  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c all purpose flour
This felt like a very wet mixture, which is what I wanted to experiment with, but when I tried to figure out the baker's ratios, this is what I found:
  • flour (3/4 c each rye, whole wheat, all purpose): approx 252 g = 100%
  • water (1 2/3 cup) 379 g = 150%
If that were all that were in the mix, it would show that this is still way too hydrated. It needs a lot more flour to bring it down to where I want it. But of course, that is not all there is in the mix: there is the motherstarter, and it consists of both flour and water.

How do we measure the motherstarter? I know that it is a 75-76% hydration. But does that mean I need to add more flour, or not? My confusion with the math sent me to the appendix of Hamelman's Bread book, but there were no answers there for my specific problem, which is, how much flour should I add so that the whole is about 75-80% hydration?

Hamelman did make a couple of interesting points: for example, one counts the entire preferment as a single ingredient. (And although he doesn't say so specifically, I suppose this also includes the sourdough, as it contains water and flour and so must qualify as a preferment). Its weight is 146 g, which makes its bakers percentage of sourdough motherstarter at about 58% of the new dough I'm building.

The other thing that Hamelman says that was interesting: when you have a preferment, it is more useful to have the baker's percentage of the 'Overall Dough' rather than the percentages of the various parts (eg. the poolish, the soakers, the final dough amounts, etc.).

Unfortunately, this wasn't all that helpful, because I didn't have the overall dough amounts: I was making this up as I went along.

Now, if I have the weight of the sourdough, I should also have the weights of the flour and water that it was built from, right?

Not necessarily. You see, the flour in the original mixing of the sourdough is 100%. And the water is a ratio of that, at 75%. But there is also a percentage of that sourdough that was the sourdough from the previous refreshing... and it contained sourdough from the refreshing before that… and it contained sourdough from the refreshing before that… etc. etc. So calculating the amount of flour and water in this cup of sourdough is problematic at best. One would need calculus for the exact amount, and I'm afraid my calculus is a bit rusty. Besides, it probably amounts to less than a pinch in baking terms, if you had to add or subtract an amount that didn't correspond to a kitchen measure. I just needed to be in the ballpark. Looking at the amount of flour and water in the motherstarter was indeed a red herring. I could ignore it and get back to the problem at hand.

And that problem was, I had 379 g of water even without counting the motherstarter. This was currently at 150% of the flour and I wanted to have it around 80%. I would have to add more flour, and I should be able to figure that out:

379 g : 80 = x+252 g :100
x = 222 g.

So I would have to add another 222 g of flour to what I already had, which is almost as much as I already had!

I dumped in 221 g of all purpose dough, added a teaspoon and a half of yeast to it (because there had been no apparent rise up until now, obviously), and then I tried and failed miserably to knead it. Even with adding this much more flour, it was still very wet. But, I managed to make it congeal a little, if it didn't form a ball. Then I dumped it in a floured couche lined basket for a couple of hours. I set it outside, covered, on the picnic table to rise.

Today was one of the hottest days in July on record. It was 38 degrees, even without counting the humidity, which was high.

I was supposed to be barbecuing a pizza tonight for my wife's guests, so I figured I'd try the bread on the baking stone after the pizza was baked. I wanted to invert a roasting pot on the sprayed, baking bread to see if I could keep it hydrated.

Now, I didn't have my camera for any part of this fun and games because I hadn't even thought about making bread today until I made my mistake and began trying to 'correct' it. My camera was being recharged.

So by the time I remembered my camera, the dough was already outside on the picnic table, awaiting its final rise.

It did rise to double, but it quivered in the basket like a bowl full of jelly.

It upended onto the hot stone on the barbecue okay, but the couche stuck to it in several places, and so the thing deflated immediately when I pulled the cloth off. I had sprinkled the cloth liberally with rye but that wasn't good enough. I sprayed it with water and then covered with a roasting pan. It was under there for about 30 minutes in a falling oven (700 degrees F to 450 degrees F), and then I took off the roasting pan and let it bake for another 20 minutes as the barbecue turned off and fell to 400 degrees.

What a disaster. The dough stuck to the pan. It had no oven spring, it didn't rise at all. I forgot to put salt in the dough. So it doesn't taste like anything, it is totally flat, and it has all these holes in it everywhere. It is one of my worst fails ever.

How refreshing.

Notes to Myself:
  • Don't try to fix failures, you just make it worse.
  • This dough would have benefited from a more developed gluten - for instance, folding it every 30 minutes in the bowl

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