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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rambling thoughts while Making Bread in Summer Heat

Summer heat
Midsummer.  A hot spell that never seems to end.  The heat is getting to people.  Tempers flare; patience wears thin.  

My friend is hospitalized and tells me the nurses who look after her are mean -- the very people who are trained to care, are not caring.  My heart breaks (for my friend, and for my chosen profession too), but I know that the heat is wearing at me as well.  I feel my own energy level drooping, my emotional armour wearing thin as sweat.

In the news, we find polls suggesting that due to the heat, more people are convinced about global warming.  Air conditioners are cranked up, making it all that much worse.

Crops are drying up in the fields, throughout the American midwest.  The people of the U.S. hungrily eye our Canadian fields of wheat, our recently rained-upon corn.  "Ah, we will buy our food from the land of water to the north," they say, smacking their lips.  

sunset over oat fields during a recent dog-walk

I drive by the recently harvested wheat fields, and the still-tall green fields of corn, monocultures all.  I walk the dog at dusk by the edge of a field, scoop up a handful of oats.  The sun shines on gold.  Farmers fall asleep happy, exhausted, fulfilled.  There will be food, there will be money.  Our debts will diminish.  But the prices for our own grain will rise.  Bread will become more expensive.  To make. To buy.  

And cold will return with a vengeance to our northern lands when winter comes.  Today we can sleep, eyelids heavy as we live with the heat, and try to put off thoughts of the distant future.

These days the heat is withering to plants, people and animals caught in the humidity. Stormclouds rise on thermals, but the rain is spotty and infrequent, it always falls elsewhere.  It is so hot, even the kundalini is lethargic.  It sleeps like a lazy dog in the shade of my muladhara chakra (or so I'm told).  Too hot even to do hot yoga.  Too hot to go out.

I stay inside and think about bread.

Baking bread
Gotta be nuts to be baking bread when its this hot.

I bake bread.

What can I say?  I have this monkey on my back.  I have this need.  I must have bread.  But not just any bread.  I must have whole grain bread.  Bread you simply cannot buy, anywhere, at any price.  Jonesing for my bread.  Help me, oh help me.

I made yet another sourdough pan integral.  It's a whole wheat bread, nothing' but whole wheat.  Oh, I've got a sourdough starter, but its made of whole wheat too.  Water, salt, and to ensure that the whole wheat is truly whole, there is some wheat germ in the same quantity that the millers take out.  I've done this before.  Its becoming old hat, the standard bill o' fare.

But the sourdough culture is performing too fast, in this heat.  Everything else in the world is lethargic, is fat-assed, is dragging butt, yet the yeast and bacteria in my culture love the moist warmth, and just bubble away like crazy.  My microbes typically raise a bread in 8 hours, but these days it probably only takes 6.  Or less.  Who knows?  I keep missing the optimal baking time.  My dough is always overproofed.  It drips over the basket top, it flattens out in the oven.

But oh, how it tastes.  Schmeckt gut.  Help me, but I love this bread.

Notes on Reeds
Not all plants perform poorly in near-drought conditions.  In particular, I've been noticing this year the proliferation of a certain species of tall reed, which seems to thrive in alternating conditions of wet and then drought.  I've probably only noticed it at all because of my interest in bread, and therefore in grass of all kinds.

Here is what I've observed: these days, along the highway 401 corridor (Canada's Transnational Highway), and along other major highways throughout our provinces, one can find a very tall, invasive grass species whose seeds are being spread by the wind of transports and cars passing at high speeds.  When I was a kid you never saw these tall reeds, but in the last few years it has spread quickly.  The tall grasses seem to favour low lying, presumably wet areas like ditches and marshlands.  And they grow tall when it is quite dry, soaking up all the ground water, and crowding out all other vegetation.

Photo from Great Lakes Commision

As I've said, my interest in the reeds has grown because of my interest in all grass species due to my curiosity about all things bread and grain.  I originally thought it might be fun to try to use some of the stalks of these huge reed to make bannetons (but now I believe that these dried reeds are probably not going to be bendy enough, no matter how much soaking you subject them to).

I'm no botanist, but I believe they are an invasive common reed -- one of the European versions of Phragmites australis (not the subspecies americanus, but possibly Phragmites australis subsp. australis.).  This is a fast-spreading species that began invading our wetlands.  I read several studies of how these reeds are growing in the St. Lawrence River, and in many points of land that jut out into the Great Lakes (e.g. Long Point, Point Pelee, and now along the coasts of Lake Huron too).  It grows by seed transmission and by rhizomes and stolons, and typically crowds out all native species, destroying habitat for wild animals, especially birds.  Once established it quickly becomes a monoculture and displaces cattails, native grasses, sedges and forbs.  

There are few good methods to eradicate this grass, if one cares to try.  See the resources linked from here.  But the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has taken it upon themselves to try (see Invasive Phragmites – Best Management Practices, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. Version 2011, for example, One chemical means has been the use of glyphosate products designed for aquatic use (e.g. Rodeo, AquaMaster).  Which brings me to the study of glyphosate -- because in Canada, glyphosate is a well-known problem for aquatic species.

And there's the rub.  Is it better to try to control this weed with a chemical that disrupts aquatic species?  Or is it better to just let things be?

The story of agriculture these days can be told through the lens of this chemical alone.  We use a lot of it to drive the weeds back.  We genetically modify our wanted crops (corn, canola, soybeans, cotton, etc.) to make them resistant to glyphosate, while the weeds wither under the spray.  And we are continuously told that glyphosate affects the biosynthesis of amino acids that plants have, but humans do not.  It targets the growing weed's pathways of amino-acid construction, but since humans and other animals do not have this pathway, we are told it is safe for us to eat.

Yet a growing number of people are alarmed at the amount of this chemical in our food, in our environment, and they realize that it isn't completely understood what the effects of it are.  For example, use of it is so prevalent, it is now found ubiquitously in our urine.  Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?  It is in our bodies, and we excrete it -- that's good, right?

Except that some European studies are starting to surface that suggest it may be harmful to internal organs.  And it may not break down in the soil as quickly as once thought, and it may increase soil pathogens, and bind to nutrients in the dirt that our crops need to thrive.  Furthermore, it may be affecting our mentation, reflected in IQ scores.

Because of my interest in bread, and grain, I've been monitoring the burgeoning fields of biotechnology and genetic engineering which have given us transgenic plants.  In particular, I am curious about the genetic alteration of wheat, since it is our main bread source, and has been for thousands of years.  Yes, wheat has been mutated in recent generations, and there have been many versions of wheat that are genetically modified and the engineers have given it transgenic enhancements in the laboratory.  But mostly, transgenic wheat is not yet in our food supply.  There is cultural resistance to this, worldwide, but primarily in Europe.  And there is a growing movement in North America that says "no."  Organically grown grains are taking small but increasing nibbles out of the market share, and organic growers are concerned that once transgenic wheat is grown anywhere, it will threaten their crops with cross-contamination, and super-resistant weeds.

Although genetically-modified glyphosate-ready wheat is probably already sitting in the labs around the world, ready for the green light to sell to farmers, it isn't approved yet for general use (only for occasional test-plots).  Our growing wheat is very sensitive to drift of glyphosate, if fields adjacent to growing wheat fields are sprayed with it.

But that hasn't stopped the chemical companies from selling glyphosate directly to grain growers.  Glyphosate is already used in wheat production, both for pre-planting "weed burndown" as well as pre-harvesting, because it has been found to make the grain dry faster.

That's right: farmers will generally dump this chemical on wheat fields within a week prior to harvesting it.  You are eating it, if you eat grain.  Probably a lot of it.

Unless you buy and eat entirely organic.  Not everyone can afford to.

There is a lot of info -- including lies, misinformation and propaganda being bandied about by both proponents and opponents of genetically modified foods and even regarding the use of glyphosate.  I've read so much about it recently, my head spins, and I don't know what to believe.  Good science, the kind that is unequivocal, is difficult to come by.  

But in the end, it is going to be our elected officials that give the go-ahead to transgenic wheat.  They are the ones who will make the decision.  It will be based on their analysis of riskand they will receive input from scientists and special interest groups.  Farmers have had a say in the decision making process, in the past, worried about their markets and crop rotations; Monsanto and other seed and chemical-producing/distributing companies will continue to have a say (and with their deep pockets, they will eventually be able to influence our elected officials); and consumers will have a say, with the ultimate voting power of their pocketbooks (so long as there remains an alternative choice to do so, they may buy organic).  We have heard little from millers and bakers and dieticians/health professionals about this issue -- shame on them.

Wheat Futures
There will be winners and losers in the future.  Difficult to predict winners, except in the hindsight called history.  As the globe heats up, and we change our environment with glyphosate and other chemicals, there will be life forms that thrive -- like invasive reeds, or certain highly adaptable bacteria (like those that I find in my sourdough); and there will be life forms that do not do well -- like frogs, and birds, and probably human beings.  

I choose to ally myself with those organisms that thrive.  I've tried to eat some of the grass seed the tall reed produces -- it is mostly bran.  Perhaps eating the root would be more appropriate (although one should probably look into it to see if it is edible before one goes munching through the wilderness like Euell Gibbons).  

Perhaps with some sort of symbiosis using my sourdough, there will be a pathway through to the future.  But I suspect that true symbiosis has to happen at deep, unconscious, cellular, hidden levels.  What we may yet become will most likely seem frightening to us now.

Notes to Myself
  • Froze one of these loaves, ate one.  I rarely get back to frozen loaves.  But I'm thinking I might require a loaf when I return from holidays.
  • This was a good loaf, it disappeared in 2 days.
  • Keep an eye on your proofing loaves.  They are doubling faster in this humid, summer heat.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Schizophrenia and Bread: a half-spelt, half whole wheat loaf

 50% Whole Wheat and Whole Spelt Bread

This is a rather strangely written blog entry.  I've decided to leave it largely as-is, rather than edit it (except for a few grammatical constructs that were truly difficult to read).  Consider it an artifact of my mind while sleep-deprived.  Part of this blog is my attempt to make wholesome, wholegrain bread at home, which means fitting it into my work-home schedule.  Since work involves shift-work, working 12 hours (often at night), this means adjusting my sourdough builds to meet a demanding schedule.  What the resultant sleep deprivation does to my mind is evident in this blog entry.  I get stupid.  This was written during a bread-baking experience as I finished 2 weeks of nights, following my last 12-hour shift.
Kitchen is still ripped apart, dehumidifiers still blaring noise
I found some organic whole grain spelt flour and decided to make a bread out of it.  The result was this loaf.  It is 80% hydrated, stretched and folded in the Tartine style.  I mixed up the dough after finishing working nights, setting my timer, falling asleep for 30 minutes each time between folds, but waking up to turn the dough.

Imagine: I see some spelt flour in a store, it gives me an idea for a bread, I will myself to make the bread, the bread gets made.  Despite sleep deprivation. Despite crazy thoughts.  Insane dream-induced thoughts.  Internal words turning to nonsense, playing inside my own head but with other people's voices.  I know my thoughts are disordered.  I watch them, as if I am outside of them, but that is absurd.  My thoughts are inside me.

Sometimes I wonder what it is like to slip into madness.  Do we all cross that border, sometimes, as gently as we would slip from waking to sleep consciousness?  Would we recognize it, if we did?  Lucid dreaming is dreaming while you are aware that you are dreaming; is there lucid madness?  What sets our supposedly ordered thoughts apart from the thoughts of those with disordered brains?  What is the border between sane and insane?

I've been reading "Angelhead: a Memoir" (2000) by Greg Bottoms.  It is a story of Greg's perceptions of his brother Michael's slip into schizophrenia and the unraveling of his family due to Michael's problems.  I was hooked from the very first line: 

"My brother saw the face of God.  You never recover from a trauma like that."

Normally I don't talk about things I'm reading in this bread-baking-blog, unless they are baking texts, or scientific articles that relate directly to dough.  But in my sleeplessness this morning, reading the book with an overtired mind, I came across these lines, as Bottoms tries to come to terms with his brother's extreme mental illness:

"I once, around this time, tried to break my hand by punching a brick wall, just to feel some tangible, physical pain (I quit after spraining my thumb and ripping the flesh off my knuckles).  Years later, thinking of this act, the memory of which seemed suspect, I came across a book in a graduate-school library about mentally ill patients, usually women, for some reason, cutting themselves with razors as a way to test the bounds of their reality, to make sure they were actually here, that all this around them, this unfathomable world, was real."

As I read this, I remembered being asked the day before by a co-worker about the burns on my arms.  I explained that they were oven burns, and that I bake bread.  "I'm not a cutter," I said.  "I'm just not careful."

Now I began to wonder.  Is the fact that I am continually burning myself on the oven, when I open the 500 degree F oven door to turn my pots, really simply because I'm not careful?  Or am I burning myself (unconsciously, surely) to prove that I am here, that I can still feel something, anything, even pain (pain is French for bread, n'est pas?), so long as it isn't nothing.  "Is it another example of the toll of the stress of my job as a palliative care nurse?" I wondered.  I know that baking bread has been therapeutic to me, because I share the grief of so many people.  And blogging about it has been therapeutic because I cannot speak of anything I actually do at work (so I talk here about things that do not matter, skirting the big topics).  Is it possible that also I burn myself while baking bread as a cheap form of therapy too -- the same way a cutter will use knives to feel pain, as a way to make contact with reality?  And the bread itself is therapeutic, because it contains exorphins that I use to self-medicate.  That originally was a joke when I started this blog.  But who knows?

Who knows.  But the fact is, I barely even notice the burn marks on my arms these days.  Does that mean I'm starting to lose even the pain of my burns as a proof that I feel something besides grief?

The Schizophrenic connection to Grain
Greg Wadley's shortened thesis (2012) "A Pharmacological Model of the Neolithic Transition" (originally submitted to University of Melbourne in 1992) discusses the history of how exorphins were discovered in grains, and of course this caught my attention when I read it.

Exorphins in common foodstuffs like grain and dairy products were suspected even before they were found.  Wadley reports, "Exorphin research was motivated by the proposal of Dohan et al (1966, 1973, 1983, 1984), who suggested a link between diet and mental illness, on the basis of clinical experiments in which schizophrenia symptoms waned on a diet free of cereals and milk.  Resumption of these foods caused a relapse…"

Other scientists, interested in mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia, autism) and coeliac disease, began to find connections too.  "This work prompted Zioudrou et al (1979) to mix wheat and milk protein with human stomach proteinase and look in the resulting digest for opioids, which they identified and called "exorphins" for exogenous morphine-like material.  Gluten exorphin had potency similar to that of morphine sulphate…"

Wadley suggests that it was the exorphins in grain that gave humans the incentive to move from hunter-gatherer societies to agriculture, since they directly triggered the human reward-center.  The exorphins in grains and dairy products gave the earliest human horticulturalists the incentive to farm.  The rest is history -- literally, the history of human civilization, human culture, human technology, and human reason.

I think that this theory could also be used to temper Jayne's theory of the emergence of human consciousness from the breakdown of the bicameral mind.  I believe exorphins in food eventually gave humans a new form of consciousness, one where internal voices (to a bicameral mind, quite inchoate) become personalized and identified with.  In addition, the new internal spaces opened up by the ingestion of the drug-laced everyday foods enabled individuals to achieve new insights, and a  will to accomplish what they could dream, and even the appropriate time to think.

It's a theory.

And I'm babbling ideas.  I'm sleep deprived.  I'm folding my dough while I write this.  Later I'll edit it, but the logical connections I saw when I originally wrote it won't be there any longer.  I'll only have the bread.  

The bread, at least, is real.

I get the bread.  The world (through the magic of Internet blogging) gets my ideas that slip around madness like the caduceus snake.

The Sourdough connection
While surfing around for material related to exorphins, I found a 2010 U.S. patent held by Brønstad, Reichelt and Slinde, of Norway (Composition for lowering the concentration of intestinal pathogenic peptides), which consists of some probiotic bacteria that could be ingested that would use enzymes (peptidases) to break down pathogenic peptides like exorphins.

In other words, if you can't digest things like exorphins, and when you eat things that contain them you develop symptoms of schizophrenia or autism, Brønstad et al. would like to give you their invention, which will break apart those proteins that are causing you trouble, and (in theory) you will recover.  They want you to take some probiotics -- specifically, some Lactic Acid Bacteria that provide you with the peptidase enzymes that would render those proteins harmless to you.

Brønstad et al point out that when you eat bread, the enzymes in the digestive tract begin to break gluten down -- and indeed, it is due to the proteinases of the gut that the exorphins appear in the first place.  They were isolated in the laboratory by taking gluten and  "digesting" it with pepsin, HCL, trypsin, chymotrypsin, thermolysin and other enzymes.  What Brønstad wants to do is break it down even further, so that the molecules no longer fit in the opioid receptors.  According to their patent, they have determined that the following LAB can provide these peptidases:

  • Lactobacillus helveticus 
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus 
  • Lactobacillus lactis
  • Lactobacillus casei 
  • Lactobacillus crispatus 
  • Lactobacillus paracasei 
  • Lactobacillus fermentum
  • Lactobacillus plantarum

That smells like sourdough to me.

Imagine a bread that makes you sane.  Instead of one that drives you crazy.

Overproofed Loaves: What constitutes proof of any given theory?
At this point in the story, I stopped my folding of dough and forming of loaves, and blogging of half-baked sleep-deprived thoughts on madness.  I put the shapes of dough in the bannetons, covered them, and set my timer for 3 1/2 hours.  I fell asleep.  

"Dead to the world" is an old saying of deep sleep, and it might just as well apply to madness, when sensory inputs from the world are scrambled and return no appropriate motor outputs.  "Short is your life, and long are you dead," wrote Rudolf Tarnow in his colloquial Plattdeutsch.  He was mimicking the classic of Hippocrates who wrote that "Life is short, art is long" (death is longer, though).  But if indeed Tarnow made that connection, that means he equates death to art.  Sleep too is an art form of sorts.  They say that the French call orgasm a little death.  Every orgasm, or just the best ones?  Is death the ultimate orgasm?  With very little sleep, my thoughts are jumbled, tumbling one after another, sluggish and stupid tumblers, fat lords a-leaping.

I slept right through the alarm, not hearing a thing.  Five hours later I awoke, groggy and sluggish, to overproofed dough that needed to be baked a couple of hours previous, and I immediately turned on the oven.  My wife came up the stairs and told me that in one hour we had to be somewhere for dinner with friends.  

I insisted that I couldn't leave until the loaves were baked.  

And the loaves deflated on hitting the pan, and saw no oven rise.

The swirly design on this loaf reminds me of those psychedelic optical illusions of the 60's
which I equate with madness induced by LSD trips

The loaves are a bit sour.  Otherwise they taste okay.  There was a lot of proteolysis happening, so the gluten is way overdeveloped.  This probably means it is easier to digest, however.  And maybe those exorphins have broken down into harmless amino acids.

As I catch up on sleep, and sanity returns, the bread becomes my touchstone to reality.

Notes to Myself
  • Your patients come first. Get some sleep.
  • Your family comes first. Get some sleep.
  • Your friends come first. Set the dough aside.
  • How important have my loaves become to me, and why do I need them so?
  • Do your breads make you sane, or do they make you crazy?  How would you know?  What would constitute proof?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Whole Wheat and Hemp Bread

 Whole Wheat and Hemp Bread

This bread was a disaster, and still turned out fine.

First of all, my sourdough starter was slightly past optimal raising ability, because I waited an hour longer than I should have to begin mixing.  The starter was viable, just a teensy bit old.

Then, I thought for sure that using 1/3 ground hemp in my dough would certainly require a lot more water than usual.  I have successfully used 80% hydration with straight whole wheat.  I started this dough with 75% hydration, expecting to add another 5% with the salt, using Tartine methods.  But I was tempted to add some more wheat flour, since the dough was really sloppy.

I didn't though.  I persevered, trying to stretch and fold this gritty dough, every 30 minutes throughout the bulk fermentation period.  The gluten didn't develop well.  I was wondering if I should put it in a tin -- and it probably would have done better that way, but I didn't really have time to prepare the tins before I had to scoot out the door for our wedding anniversary luncheon.  I dropped the dough in bannetons after a final fold.

The final oddity of this bread: we have several industrial-strength dehumidifiers going off in our kitchen the last few days, ever since the waterline into the upstairs toilet failed and we had a flood that spilled down through the kitchen ceiling and through the kitchen cupboards.

The insurance company is trying to dry everything out.  These things are noisy, and we are at wits end, dealing with the ensuing insanity of living in the midst of what sounds like a 747 takin off in our kitchen, and having to step around these things all day long.  But that's not the worst of it.  It looks like our kitchen is going to be undergoing some major renovations in the near future.  Not sure yet the extent of it all.

The only effect its had on me so far is this loaf.  Mixing, fermenting and proofing it were problematic in the noise and wind of these dehumidifiers.  But as the loaf was slightly too wet, I wasn't too worried that the loaf would dry out too much.

But we were late getting back from our luncheon, so the dough was somewhat overproofed.  It rose grandly from the top of the bannetons despite the dehumidifiers.  That meant it sagged badly when it hit the hot dutch oven.  I scored it, and the dough utterly deflated.

That's the story of these flat loaves.

I've used hemp seed in bread before (200mg), but I've never used ground hemp prior to this.

I've only mentioned hemp seed's unique omega-3 oils in the past -- but its whole nutritional qualities are excellent, its amino-acid profile is complete, and it is unfortunate that this grain has 'other properties' that have lead to its being so rigidly controlled.  It is simply a fluke of fate.  If wheat had as many exorphins as hemp has cannabinoids, wheat too might be one of our restricted grains.  If hemp had gluten, we might forgive it containing a narcotic, since we could make bread with it alone.  Alas, this seed has been given a bum rap due to the over exploitation of its other interesting qualities.

It has been widely studied (although selfnutritiondata's page on hemp seed doesn't have all the latest data), but despite the benefits of this plant for fibre to make clothes and rope, and depute its superior nutrition as a food source, the pluses all fall on deaf ears because it contains what has become a controlled substance.

I want to emphasize that I bought this ground hemp seed legally at the bulk food store.

The crumb looks quite interesting, despite the fact that the gluten wasn't well developed.  It has a very soft texture, although I wouldn't describe it as mealy.  It holds together well enough, but it is quite moist.

The taste is quite good -- again, I'd describe it as interesting (Spock's eyebrows would raise slightly)-- but with a slight bitter note (that could be the result of some of the rancid oils in the hemp, who knows when it was ground?).  I would not describe it as nutty.  Or oily.  Hmm.  How shall I describe it?  I better eat some more.  Hmm.

Could this bread be the antidote for the symptoms known as "the munchies"?  Just asking.

I quite like the taste of it.  I'd make it again.

Notes to Myself
  • One good thing about the dehumidifiers and fans going off at rocket speed in our kitchen: my wife says "at least there are no more fruit flies."  They'll be back.
  • For next time: before cutting back on the amount of hemp you use, try something else: like developing the gluten and adding a soaker of hemp later, or reducing the overall hydration of the dough to 70%, or less of a proofing time.
  • SLightly salty. Back the salt content off to less than 1.8%.
  • Here's what I'd try next time:
    •  ww flour 66% 
    • ground hemp 34% 
    • wheat germ 5%
    • water 70% 
    • salt 1.8%

  • If that doesn't work, THEN try backing the hemp off to 20% of the loaf.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Irmie's Loaf with Wheat Germ

Baking bread from a familiar recipe is a bit like living Bill Murray and Andie McDowell's GroundHog Day.  You keep doing the same thing, over and over, but every time you do it, it's different.  Eventually you might achieve mastery over some things, but you are never quite sure whether you are going to achieve your heart's desire.

Once again, I've baked the "60% Rye with Apple-Juice-Soaked Rye Grains", a recipe by Nils Schöner from his book "Brot: Bread Notes from a Very Floury German Kitchen" for my mother-in-law, Irmgard.  I call this "Irmie's loaf", it is the one she always demands.   It has been my wife's mother's favourite ever since I made one for her, a long time ago.

But it is a tricky loaf, there are things that you have to do in the right order.  I often forget the step of building a wheat flour levain, forgetting to revisit the recipe before measuring the ingredients and I end up dumping all the wheat flour and rye flour together.  But that step of making the wheat preferment is simply too important to leave out.  The entire bread takes a long time (>20hrs, start to finish) and timing is everything.  If my mother-in-law lived closer, I could make this any time and expect that she could get it.  Unfortunately, I have to plan ahead to make the loaf, and I don't always know that far ahead when I can bake before I know that I'm going to be visiting her.

This time I figured out the baker's percentages and discovered that indeed, I had been doing it right when long ago I adjusted Nils' original amounts to fit my slightly larger pan size -- except I hadn't always been consistent in the way I translated his fresh yeast (which the original recipe used) to dried yeast (what I have), using his guidelines. 

Here is my latest revised list of percentages and order-of-operations for this loaf.  Really the only thing different this time is that I am adding 5% wheat germ to the loaf this time.  Can one buy rye germ?  No.  But it would be nice.

Irmie's Loaf: 60% Rye with Soaked Grains
Mix Baker's% Amount (2tins)
Starter 2.5%  (@ 100% hydration)    ~1 TBSP == ~25g
Sourdough Build
do ahead 12-18 hrs
Rye Flour 30%
Water 25%
Rye Soaker
do ahead 13 hrs min
Rye Kernels, uncooked 25%
boil for 1 hour
Apple Juice / Cider to cover
soak for 12 hours min.
then drain
250g (dry grains)
~625g (soaked grains)
Wheat Dough Levain
mix 90 minutes before
mixing rest of dough;

this is a very thin, consistency 
~125% hydration
Wheat flour 40%
calls for strong white; for Irmie I use AP,
but for myself I use whole wheat
Dry Yeast 0.28-0.35%
Water 50%
Total Dough
bulk ferment 30 min
proof 60 min
Rye Flour 30%
Salt 2.5%
Wheat Germ 5%
Sourdough Build (all)
Rye Soaker (all)
Wheat Dough Levain (all)
10 minutes @ 480℉ 475 ℉
80 minutes @ 375 

1 full day before slicing

I made several batches of this loaf: 

  • For myself, a whole wheat version that used our own crab-apple juice as the rye kernel soaker. 2 tins (gave 1 away).  This is one tangy loaf.  Sweet and sour, and a curious scent.
  • For Irmie, an all purpose version that used apple cider.  Some of the cider I used was mulled (spiced with cinnamon).  I bought it by mistake and I wasn't too sure that Irmie would like the scent of it. 4 tins (gave 3 away -- two of them were given away before I took a picture)

The taste and the crumb improves with a couple of days aging - but the top crust was a bit too tough this time
I've made this before, I'll make it again.  Some day I'll solve the problem of the top getting too hard during the baking.  Here are some links to the other times I've made this loaf (has it really been over a year since I made this loaf?):

Notes to Myself
  • I reserved the liquid that I used to boil the rye kernels and then made some soup with it later. Tasted good. The soup recipe I used called for 10 cups of water, and since I had made 4 batches of boiled grain for my bread, I had perhaps twice that much liquid. I left about 10 cups in a container at room temperature overnight, thinking I might use it for something else (perhaps bread) and the next day it was definitely fermenting! There was foamy action on the top of the fluid, and the particulate matter had floated to the bottom of the container. I was surprised that there was yeast in it, I was sure it would have all been destroyed in the boiling process. But no. I tasted the foam, and it was definitely "beery".
  • I felt that the top of these loaves was a bit too dark. I may have had the first temperature a bit hot -- I can't accurately set this oven to 480℉. I wonder if 475 ℉ would be better. Or should I be backing the longer temperature down to 350 ℉ too?
  • What if you made the sponge, or wheat flour levain, a day before -- say, 12-24 hours prior to baking? Would that develop the gluten more, and give it more flavour, and allow the enzymes in the mixture to break down the amylose? Or would the proteases begin to break the gluten down?
  • The wheat preferment or levain doesn't really develop any length of gluten strands in the hour and a half allotted.  I did try to tug at it a bit, but it really is too wet to do this.  Would it be better to back this hydration off just a bit, to be able to stretch the dough?  The rest of the water could be added during the final mixing stage.  Just asking.
  • I have my whole wheat sourdough. Does it matter that the 25g of starter that Nils uses is a rye sourdough? Possibly. Yoke Mardewi says that certain breads taste better with different grain sourdoughs. But my sourdough build is rye, elaborated from a single tablespoon of whole wheat starter. That should be enough, right? How much different can the two starters be?
  • Is the higher quantity of salt really necessary, and why?  I suppose it is there to counteract the sweetness of the soaked grains.  Try cutting it back to 2%.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Multigrain Loaf made with Whey

Multigrain Loaf made with Whey

We made some Ricotta cheese, which turns out to be very easy: you just get some milk, heat it gently, dump in some vinegar, and the curds and whey separate.  Homemade Ricotta goes well in my wife's "Swiss Chard Pie".

The first time we made Ricotta we tried it with lemon juice instead of vinegar, and didn't get enough separation.  And we were astonished at how much whey there was, leftover.  We gave some to the chickens, who drank it up happily.  And I thought, "since it contains some vinegar, it won't be any good for bread."  But this time we made it, I thought I'd try it.

I really liked the results of the last freeform multigrain loaf I made, so this is an attempt to duplicate that recipe, using whey and a couple of other new ingredients:

  • Starter 200g
  • Whey 800g
  • ww flour 800g
  • rye flour 200g
  • wheat germ 50g
  • sunflower seeds 30g
  • pumpkin seeds  30g
  • roasted soya seeds  30g
  • flax seeds 10g golden +  10g brown
  • "8 grain" mixture (mostly oatmeal) 30g
  • salt 20g

The whey was quite cold when I dumped the starter into it.  The wild culture sat there for a bit, then sank to the bottom and dissolved.  Once I stirred it into the flour mixture, it gained a bit of warmth, so the dough was not at all cool to my hands.  The salt was added with a reserved 50g of whey after a short autolyse of 20 minutes.

The dough was stretched and folded q30 min for a few hours before I had to fall asleep in preparation for tonight's nightshift.  Although it was 80% hydration, it felt like it could have been wetter.  It was not very stretchy.  In the end, the loaf felt very tight, not unlike a dough at about 65% hydration.

I think that the bread does have a slight vinegar scent, although you really can't taste it.  There was not much oven spring.  The gluten was not as well developed as I would have liked, but that might have required a higher hydration.

The crumb is quite soft, the only real texture is the multigrain.  And there seems to be enough of this.  Perhaps a few more sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds would have been nice.

Notes to Myself
  • Try bringing the whey to room temperature first before dumping the sourdough starter in it.
  • Try an 85% hydration. The water content of whey is not 100%. Whey is the serous fluid of milk after it cheese curds have been removed. It contains a lot of proteins -- as the wiki on whey will point out, it contains alpha- and beta- lactoglobulins, as well as glycomacropeptides. It will also have lots of lactose, vitamins and minerals and even some fat. Unfortunately, wiki doesn't tell me how much water is in it. This is probably widely variable. Most other sources are concerned about removing the water content, to dry the parts that have food value. The site dairyforall (which promotes milk products) indicates that whey is between 93-95% water.  Using the number 95% for the water content of my whey means the water content of this bread is not 80%, but rather 76%.  If you used 85% whey, then the overall true water hydration would be about 80.75%.  With the extra proteins and fats which may act as surfactants, this would probably be appropriate for this whole wheat and multigrain loaf.
  • The pdf de Wit, J. (2001) "Lecturer's Handbook on whey and whey products 1st edition" European Whey Products Association, Belgium indicates: 

    "Whey and whey-based products have been found to improve the flavour, aroma, colour, texture and (in some cases) also the shelf life of bakery products. The use of demineralized whey is preferred because of its blander taste…"
  • Whey does work in my homebaked bread, and I am happy to have something to do with it rather than give it to chickens or pour it over my raspberry plants.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stiff Starter Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf with Wheat Germ

Revisiting the Stiff Starter Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf, which I've been playing with recently, e.g. here and here.  I had to see if it would work with the 5% wheat germ put back into the dough (as reported here).  I also wanted to see if I could make a multigrain loaf using this method.  And I wanted to experiment with the temperature, to see what might happen to the crust.

So, three doughs.

1. Multigrain loaf #1

Here I am considering the total flour added to the dough to be 700g still, but I am backing off of it slightly because I am adding some 8-grain mix, which will soak up some of the water.  I still use the amount 700g for basic calculations (e.g. to calculate how much wheat germ gets used).  I think that this is the loaf that looked the best, and I gave it away to my niece:

  • Stiff Starter: 300g (Contains 200g of ww flour)
  • Water: 700g
  • WW flour: 650g 
  • 8-grain Mix: 65g
  • Salt: 18g
  • Wheat germ: 45g (5% of 900g)

2.  Control Loaf

Here I've used all of the whole wheat, but added none of the multigrain mix.

  • Stiff Starter: 300g (Contains 200g of ww flour)
  • Water: 700g
  • WW flour: 700g 
  • Salt: 18g
  • Wheat germ: 45g (5% of 900g)

3. Oregano Loaf

I have been thinking of trying this loaf ever since I bought some ground oregano at Arva Mills.  I like the taste of oregano, but I've never seen it ground so fine as flour like this, and seeing it gave me the idea.  Twelve grams doesn't sound like a lot, but it is probably about 3 Tbsp, the stuff doesn't weigh much.  I wondered if it would turn my dough green.  It didn't, because the flour is whole wheat, but it made it noticeably darker, sort of grey.  The oregano changed the structure of the gluten entirely, making it incredibly tighter, as if it were soaking up way more water than the other loaves that had multigrain.

  • Stiff Starter: 300g (Contains 200g of ww flour)
  • Water: 700g
  • WW flour: 700g 
  • Salt: 18g
  • Wheat germ: 45g (5% of 900g)
  • Ground oregano: 12g (1.34% of 900g)

This is the loaf that I tried the so-called optimized baking time and temperature for lighter coloured loaves (report on that follows, in the section "Crust"):

7 minutes at 115 ℃ (239 ℉)
7 minutes at 130 ℃ (266 ℉)
7 minutes at 156 ℃ (313 ℉)
7 minutes at 176 ℃ (349 ℉)

This didn't work at all for my slightly overproofed whole wheat loaf.  It was already dripping in the humid afternoon heat, and my attempt at doing a "comb-over" of the dough just prior to dumping it into the oven didn't work.  In the low oven temperatures for the first stage, the dough merely drooped back over the edge of the tin and fell into my steam-pan.  After the 28 minutes of baking, the loaf didn't look or feel done, so I upped the temperature to 450 degrees and kept it in the oven for another 14 minutes.

The dough has an unusual purplish tint to it, almost as if I were baking it with walnuts.  It has a lovely sagey scent (very interesting while baking), but the bread is a bit too sour to make any final judgements on its taste.  "Smells like pizza," my wife said.

This loaf, if properly made, would be interesting with different cheeses.  And perhaps with dried tomatoes.  

Mixing photos

Crumb Results

The Oregano Loaf:

The Control Loaf:


Ever since I traveled to Goderich to try Burdan's bread, I've been thinking about crust.  My experiments with trying to make my whole grain half-rye bread's crust lighter can be found with a discussion of Burdan's bread.  In my research, I've been asking the questions:

  • "what is healthier, light crust, or dark crust?"
  • "what is the optimal temperature and time of baking to bake a loaf with the least possible loss of flavour?"
  • "What is the best time and temperature for baking bread that will bake the interior of the loaf but keep the crust as light as possible in colour?"
  • "Does baking bread in an optimal way have an effect on staling -- either minimizing staling, or hastening it?"

These questions show that I still have a lot to learn about bread.  Things are a bit more complex than you can imagine.  In casting about for answers, I've developed even more questions.  But I've also uncovered a few facts about crust.

The Thermal Effects of baking on Flavour
It has long been known (e.g. Johnson, J. and El-Dash, A. (1969). Role of Nonvolatile Compounds in Bread Flavor. J. Agr. Food Chem  pp 740-746) that the flavour of typical bread (unless you add sugar or other flavouring ingredients) comes from essentially two things: the fermentation of the loaf, which releases lots of volatile molecules, and the baking temperature.  

For now, let's just consider the thermal effects.  A lot of flavour is developed during the heating of the loaf, when the sugars present in the dough undergo the Maillard reaction and caramelize.

If you are going to have a loaf of bread with a very light crust, you are going to miss out on some of the flavour notes of a darker, roasted-grain crust.  It may be healthier (or it may not -- the jury is still out on this one).

The Four Stages of Bread Baking, derived from Crust Colour:
I've mentioned Onishi's article previously; here I'll discuss it a bit more.  Onishi and his team of bread researchers (mostly from Japan) used colorimetry to define four stages of bread baking:

  1. pre-heating (surface temperature <110 ℃ )
  2. Maillard reaction (110-114 ℃ ) (crust browning begins)
  3. caramelization and carbonization (150-200 ℃ )
  4. overbaking (surface temperature >200 ℃ )

Onishi determined that the colour of the crust was a good indicator that could be used to monitor and control baking conditions.  It must be remembered that the oven air temperature is not the same as loaf temperature.  Time, temperature, and ingredients (especially water) are key to predicting how a given recipe will behave.  Vapour within the oven and within the loaf also must be well understood, along with the resultant pressures these gases impart at various temperatures.  

Although they did derive a mathematical formula that explained the data they collected, Onishi's team indicated that breads with different ingredients may require individualized formula.  But they nevertheless proved that there was a linear relationship between the colour of their loaves and the weight loss, such that the darker the crust, the more the weight loss of the bread.
Optimizing Baking Temperatures for minimal weight loss
We cannot equate bread's weight loss with the loss of a bread's flavour.  As Johnson and El-Dash showed, flavour can be enhanced with temperature; and we know that dried food will sometimes concentrate flavours.  Nevertheless, bakers want to know that the loaves they are baking have a consistent weight.  And the first step toward having consistent flavour might be having a loaf that maintains its mass through the baking process, losing no more than around 8% (a number that I've seen in some articles) during baking due to evaporation.

This essay examined the mechanized browning of white bread crusts in an industrial oven, to optimize the best temperatures for loaves in order to achieve a completely baked and finished crumb, with minimal weight loss, and with a subjectively pleasing crust.  Therdthai's team used tins to hold the dough, and had to take into account the way the tin had to be heated first before imparting the heat to the loaf.  Although they were looking only at white bread, their results are interesting.

"Intuitively, to reduce the weight loss, either the baking time and/or the baking temperature has to be reduced.  However, bread has to be properly baked."

I enjoyed reading this article.  I do not know how arbitrarily it defines the steps, but I was intrigued that Therdthai's research group proposed 3 stages of bread as it undergoes baking, but adjusted this to fit the 4-step model of modern industrial baking equipment:

1. Stage 1: 1/4 of the total baking time (6.84 min):   Optimum temperature 115 ℃ (239 ℉)

  • Outer crumb increases 47 ℃ a minute to 60 ℃ (40℉ per minute to 140℉)
  • this enhances enzyme activity and yeast growth resulting in oven rise
  • starch is hydrolyzed by amylase, resulting in sucrose, glucose and maltose.  Yeast uses this and via fermentation produces carbon dioxide gas, which is dissolved into the water.  
  • When the yeast is killed, the CO2 is released, resulting in volume increases by 1/3 original.
  • surface skin loses elasticity, thickens, begins to brown in colour.
2. Stage 2: 1/2 of the total baking time (13.68 min): Optimum temperature: 130 ℃ (266 ℉), then 156 ℃ (312.8 ℉) for 27.4 min. each

  • crumb temperature increases 5.4 ℃ per minute to 98.4 - 98.9 ℃.  (42 ℉ per minute to 209 - 210 ℉)
  • all reactions are maximized, including moisture evaporation, starch gelatinization and protein coagulation.
  • (starch gelatinization should be 0.98-0.99% complete at internal temperatures of 95-98 ℃)
  • Dough becomes crumb in structure from outer to inner portions by penetrating heat.
  • Most of the weight loss comes from the second part of this stage, from water evaporation at the outermost layer
3. Stage 3: 1/4 of the total baking time (6.84 min): Optimum temperature: 176 ℃ for 27.4 min (348.8 ℉)

  • a typical browning crust is observed when crust temperature reaches 150-205 ℃ (284 - 401 ℉) by Maillard reaction
  • the volatilization of organic substances is designated as the bake-out-loss; but there is less overall weight loss, compared to the previous stage.
  • Internal temperature will increase to 100 ℃.  This completes all starch gelatinization (which should be 0.98-0.99% complete at temperatures of 95-98 ℃)

Total baking time: 27.4 minutes

Very little more information was gleaned from comparing this article to another ThaiScience article that used neural networks to optimize the baking time and temperature.  ThaiScience is an online, mostly free database of engineering and science articles.  There are a number of bread-related articles I'd like to read. 

Notes to Myself
  • Try the oregano loaf again, this time with a regular sourdough starter, and a slightly higher hydration. Would you combine this taste with walnuts, to get an extra-purplish loaf?  Or is this scent and flavour entirely claimed by pizza?
  • I was astonished to learn that Onishi and his team believe that the yeast is quite active when the bread is initially put into the oven, just before they expire.  A lot of the oven spring comes from CO2 expansion caused by yeast in the minutes just before they are baked to smithereens. I had assumed otherwise.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Sourdough and another Multigrain Loaf

Dog Days of Summer

My doggie is laying on the cool floor panting.  We've de-thatched her many times in recent days, brushing away great gobs of old fur from her coat, and every day's walk ends in a cooling swim in pond, river or creek.  But still the heat is getting to her.

It occurs to me that perhaps I ought to be de-thatching my other 'pet' too.

Summer is upon us, and my sourdough peaks a lot faster than it does in autumn, winter and spring.  The hot, humid days get my 100% wild starter -- which usually sits out on the counter at room temperature -- to double a lot quicker than I expect (and all too often before I myself am ready).  An overnight rise of a refresher often has me disappointed as I wake up on my day off around 0500 to find that it has already passed its optimal time for leavening dough.

Curiously, I don't find the same "too-speedy peaking" happening when I experiment with a "stiff starter".  Example:  on the evening of first full day of summer 2012, third day of a heat-wave, I refreshed my sourdough with 1 TBSP of starter and 200g each of water and ww flour. At the same time, I used 200g of the same starter I had taken that 1 TBSP out of, and added no more water, only 100g more ww to make a "stiff starter".  In the morning, that 100% starter was already past using -- but the stiff starter was optimal for making dough.

This is an interesting thought: perhaps the way to keep one's sourdough viable on the counter is to variously adjust the hydration for the sourdough's seasonal moodiness.  Is this what our ancestors also discovered?  Is this how they kept their sourdoughs going through the seasons, through the years, through the decades, through the centuries, through the millennia, before refrigeration was invented?  I am not suggesting that any one bread-making wild leaven culture has been passed on this long.  But certainly techniques were given to the next generation after generation, bread itself was passed through to whole new populations of people on the planet, and people with similar inclinations as me fermented their brayed grains just as I do, adjusting it to their needs.  Perhaps I'm finally starting to live in concert with my own wild culture.

Perhaps it is the beginning of confidence that I am finally finding my Way.

Refrigerating the Sourdough

Before I went away this past week, I placed my sourdough in the fridge because I wasn't going to be around to tend it.  Generally when I'm home the wild culture is sitting there on the counter, reminding me to use it or refresh it.  I'm always sneaking a peak at it, and these days, waving away the fruit flies.

Putting it in the fridge was a natural step (many if not most people will keep their sourdough there and simply refresh it weekly), but it is a step that I don't want to repeat too often -- and not only because it changes the inhabitants of the wild culture, changing the taste, as I have previously said.  Not, the big reason I want to avoid refrigeration of my sourdough is because of what happened when I returned.  I took the wild yeast out of the fridge, refreshed it, and watched it closely.  The cold fridge must have stunned it.  It took three freshenings before it even began to regain its previous strength.

In the meantime, I made loaves with the wayward sourdough but I also used a bit of extra commercial yeast.

Here is the latest attempt at making a multigrain loaf.  This time I added some ingredients to the mixture in the beginning (last time I made a multigrain loaf, I tried to get the gluten to form first, and added the other grains late in the stretching and folding).  This time, I didn't add as much multigrain.  I think that this is appropriate, for this bread.

  • 100% ww flour
  • 80% water
  • 2% salt
  • 20% sourdough starter
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 26g homemade dried malt
  • 30g sunflower seeds
  • 36g roasted soybeans

The extra yeast was tossed in because this starter was stunned.  I had just returned from a visit to Ottawa, and the starter was in the fridge for several days.  I took it out and refreshed it, but it wasn't quite up to its bubbly efficiency.  It will likely take a few more refreshes before it is able to raise loaves the way I want it to.  So for now I'm just adding some yeast to the mixture.

This dough didn't see a lot of rise, until it hit the proofing baskets.  Then, after about 2 hours, it was ready to be placed into the oven.  I could have increased the hydration by 5 % easily.  The dough wasn't all that stretchy while I was folding and teasing it into shape.

But I like the results.  Tastes nice with cheese or with peanut butter.  It is crunchy in places, but the amount of seeds and extra grains is just about right. 

A darn good loaf.

Notes to Myself
  • Try keeping your wild starter on the counter at a much denser concentration than the usual 100%, for the summer months.  My stiff starter is working fine at 50% hydration when it is this hot and humid.  Less water means the yeast and the leavening bacteria work a bit slower.
  • Alternatively, you could experiment with concentrations of >100% for the winter months.  The forums of The Fresh Loaf contain lots of discussions from bread enthusiasts who have tried liquid yeast.  I haven't got to that stage yet.
  • You really don't need a lot of different grains in order to call a bread a 'multigrain loaf'.  What is the optimal amount of other grains that can be added to bread dough?
  • Your sourdough may have been stunned because of the refrigeration -- but there is also another possibility.  Just before leaving, you put some wheat germ into the mixture, something you also never did before.  That extra 5% may have changed the entire culture too.
  • I have broken my second camera, and currently borrow my wife's.  But I am warned not to "dough it all up".  I don't understand the flash settings on her camera, and it always leaves a shadow.

    Sigh.  Bread blogging is hell  on digital cameras.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Working Man's Bread: 20% Rye WW Bread

This was an experiment in time management.

Snap judgement: This blog entry will be boring.  Skip this entry in its entirety.Yawn.  Read a bit more just to be sure my judgement was correct.  

I was working days all weekend, and leaving early Monday morning, and I wanted to take some fresh bread with me.  I worked out a schedule involving multiple refrigerated steps.  I had never made bread before while working an entire weekend.

Yep, I was right.  I can stop reading this any time and I won't miss anything here.

On a pad, I sketched out the plan.  Anything marked "night" meant I was to accomplish this after working a 12 hour shift and spending 30-45 minutes driving home, after showering.  Anything marked "am" meant I was to accomplish this after a 5-6 hour sleep, waking up at 0500 (and also accomplishing all the other things that had to be done -- the three S's, as well as eat breakfast and make lunch and dinner to take with me):

FRI night:     refresh sourdough
SAT am:       mix dough
SAT night:   bulk ferment
SUN am:      proof
SUN night:   bake

It sounded simple.  The plan, however, had to be modified a little bit in practice.  The dough had to be refrigerated after mixing, fermenting and proofing, and it turned out that this added some time to be able to work with it, as it was slow to thaw to room temperature.  I did ask my wife to take the dough out of the fridge before I left from work on Saturday night.  When I arrived home it was already out of the fridge an hour and a half, and was thus almost at room temperature.  Had I not done so, I would have had to stay up at least an hour more on Saturday night.

I decided that I would stay up late that night anyway.  I would cut the bulk fermentation short slightly (by a couple of hours!), but do all the dividing of dough, the forming of loaves, and setting them in proofing baskets, all on Saturday night.  "This foreshortened bulk fermentation might be further offset by my longer refrigerated proofing stage," I reasoned.

Using Wheat Germ
It occurred to me when I ripped into the second of the last loaves I made that although I had included wheat germ in the dough of those pan integrale's, I hadn't included the 5% wheat germ in the sourdough portion of them.  I sought to remedy this for this baking.  On Friday night, I added 5% wheat germ to my sourdough refresher.  So to 1 TBSP of old starter, I added 200g of water, 200g of ww flour, and 10g of wheat germ.

I also prepared ahead the entire mixture of ingredients, leaving everything mis en place for my 0500 mixing of the dough.  I used 80% whole wheat, 20% rye, 20% sourdough starter, 5% wheat germ, 2% salt, all at 80% hydration.

Saturday AM came, and I just had to dump all the ingredients together.  The sourdough floated a little, before it sank like a stone, waterlogged.  In the back of my mind I thought, "oh-oh, not good."

I did the short autolyse before adding the salt, and even turned the dough once in the bowl before covering and refrigerating the dough and heading to work.

It was Saturday night that I stayed up almost until midnight, working my way through further tugging at the cold dough, trying to develop the gluten.  It really didn't have a proper chance to develop before I divided the dough, did a short bench rest, shaped the loaves, and plopped them in baskets.  These went into plastic bags and were refrigerated.  

Sunday AM I awoke tired and cranky, not getting enough sleep, but happy that I didn't have to try to get cold dough into baskets because that step was already done.

Sunday night I arrived home and showered and got the dough from the fridge.  It looked like it hadn't fermented at all.  But into the Dutch Oven it went anyway.  And it looked like a flat pancake when it hit the hot pan.  Nonplussed, I persevered.   I was rewarded with a small oven-spring, and some fairly decent gringe on the scoring of the loaf.  But the loaves looked tiny.  Puny.  I knew that the sourdough hadn't performed very well in the cold fridge environment.  I figured these would be pretty dense loaves.
We took them with us anyway.

It was a couple of days before I sliced into one of these loaves.  I was happy with the fact that it wasn't too stale, but unhappy with the way the crumb tasted somewhat mealy.  I believe that this is because the gluten wasn't well developed during the folding and stretching phases.  The crust never got too stale to cut, but the crumb tended to fur up a bit when sliced, rather than give a nice edge.

The taste was fine, however -- if not choice.

Notes to Myself
  • Unless you have the time to fully develop the gluten with Q30min stretch and fold episodes, think about kneading.  You cannot, as I supposed, make up the missed bulk fermentation time by increasing the proofing time -- since using this stretch and fold technique the gluten is given its strength during the bulk fermentation.
  • Retarding the dough can be done at any time during the mixing/bulk fermentation/proofing -- if you put it in the fridge.  However, it will not stop the fermentation entirely, nor will it stop the proteolysis.  The gluten breaking down is probably the first effect noticed of some dough that is left too long in the cold.