All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mardewi's Semolina, scaled

My scaled whole wheat version of Mardewi's Semolina Sourdough loaves, one with eggwhite wash

This is take-2 on my attempt to make Yoke Mardewi's Semolina Sourdough loaf.  Here I have scaled the amounts so that I can make it as I would any Tartine style loaf, using Tartine-and-Mardewi-style non-standard baker's math.  I've reduced Mardewi's salt content to 1.8% of the overall flour, as that seems to be more my taste (see somewhere in a long recent blog where I deconstructed her recipe).

Mixing and bulk fermenting:

See what's happening: the loaves close together on the pizza stone don't permit good airflow... even though they aren't touching, that side ends up mushy

I changed some of the process, too, to fit my own schedule.  Because I am working nights, I mixed sourdough before leaving for work, and when coming home the next morning I mixed the dough.  I stayed awake only long enough to do one short session of air kneading.  Then the dough sat and bulk proofed the rest of the day.  When I awoke, I baked the loaves before going back to work. 

I also changed the temperature of the oven, since the original loaf I made from her recipe was not cooked through.

Here are my scaled amounts (and the rather obvious percentages, using Tartinish non-standard percentages):

  • 730g starter 73% (I'm using a 100% whole wheat starter, at 100% hydration)
  • 550g water 55%
  • 630g ww flour 63%
  • 370g semolina 37%
  • 25g salt   2.5%

The other thing I wanted to try: mid-bake, I painted one of the loaves with an egg-white wash.

The crumb is a bit tighter this time, but it still contains some irregular holes.  Part of that could have been the way I shaped the dough, though.

As for air-kneading, I tried to use the technique perfected by Richard Bertinet for his sweet dough.  You can find a lot of other videos on the technique, but I think you'll agree that Bertinet gives it something extra that other people seem to miss.  For me, the air folding technique of kneading was working, but the dough never did achieve a silkiness.  I suspect that it was the bran in the whole wheat flour that kept tearing my gluten strands (or my lower-than-Bertinet water or fat content, or the fact that I stretched too much in the beginning, or...?).  For whatever the reason, because the dough was tearing, I probably stopped too early.  But the torn gluten may have helped the crumb stay more dense (which again, is what I was looking for).

The bread dough stayed relatively taut when it was upended onto the pizza peel and slid onto the hot oven stone.  The deep scores filled in nicely with the oven expansion of the loaf, and if it weren't for the uneven baking of the two loaves side-by-side, the expansion would have stayed largely controlled.

The loaf with the egg white wash

This crumb approaches what I want

The loaf without an egg-white wash

The loaves stale quickly.  The one with the egg wash has a nice scent, but it doesn't have a lot of flavour -- which surprises me, because I usually use my sourdough at the 8 hour mark, and this had a lot of sourdough and I was using it at the 14 hour mark after refreshing (the sourdough was older than usual, and more bubbly and active).  Furthermore, the dough had a lot of bulk-fermentation (>6 hours), and a short proofing time (about 1 hour).  I thought for sure that the sourdough flavour would predominate this loaf, but it doesn't.  You can taste a sour "behind-note" only.

I was going to give away one of these loaves, but didn't see the person I was going to give it to for a couple of days -- by then the loaf was too stale to present to anyone (so I ended up eating it myself). 

I may make croutons with it if I find myself hankering for fresher bread before its gone.

Notes to Myself
  • It is unusual for an author to include her email address in the book, but a very interesting step.  To do so means the author might unnecessarily open herself to a lot of spam, unwelcome negative comments and time-consuming questions like the one I posed.

    Despite an obviously full life, Yoke kindly replied to my initial email requesting clarification on her salt content and how she used baker's math.  She simply says
    "depending on the type of sour do I make I vary the amount of starter/flour/water/salt…to achieve the result I want. This is based on both math and intuition and years of experience and trials. No short cuts here!"
    In short, I suppose it is going to be difficult (but of course, not impossible) to scale any of her recipes.  And since I'm already changing lots of things in her recipes, I won't be able to comment on the book's real efficacy.  Suffice it to say that her book has opened more doors for me to experiment with different properties of sourdough, so for me it has been well worth it.
  • Two loaves sitting side-by-side on a pizza stone don't bake evenly. The sides of the bread that point to the other bread are quite mushy. They should be turned to face the other direction at the mid-bake mark.
  • An egg-white wash on a hearth-baked bread gives it a nice scent and a crusty Italian-bread-like crust.  If you like that sort of thing.
  • I have made Tartine's version of a semolina bread before, and I wasn't a big fan of it. Still, it is more memorable than Mardewi's. Robertson's uses some roasted seeds to give it flavour, and perhaps the amount of seed and the type of seed he used dominates his loaf. So if you aren't a fan of fennel, for example, you are not going to like his semolina loaf. Perhaps Mardewi's loaf needs some seeds to give it some taste too.
  • I like the idea of using up more sourdough in a bread. I have in the past used only 200g of the Tartine starter, and ended up tossing some of the non-used starter in the compost. But if I don't have to toss any away, even better.
  • Next, I should scale a Tartine recipe to take about 375g of starter. But probably not this recipe. I'll steer away from semolina to more wholegrain.

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