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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

More experimental bread: peaches, avocados, capelli style

Avocado Loaves

I've made a number of breads the last couple of days while I've been off work.  Mostly I've just been putting off doing some gardening.  Late snows have kept me mostly inside.  But the backyard maple syrup has kept me busy enough, venturing out as far as my porch.  Every time I turn my dough, I check to see if the pails are full, or if the syrup has boiled down.  Win win.

I haven't used the mill this week.  I still have a bit of whole wheat flour to work through, and all of my grain containers are in use now, filled with sap awaiting to be boiled down.  So I don't want to open the next bag of grain just yet, until these containers with sap are no longer in use.

There is a lot of sap this year, as the cold nights continue with the sometimes-bright days.  We've had a hard time keeping up with the amount of sap that has to boil away (it is about 40:1;   i.e. 40 litres of sap for 1 litre of syrup).  Once the pails are empty of sap, I can load the new organic grain into them, and get back to milling my own flour.

Bread #1: Whole Wheat with a bit of Peach Juice
We emptied a jar of last year's home-canned peaches, and I tossed the peach juice into this bread.  There was only 83g of juice, but that juice was a light syrup, so this bread is sweeter and it has a faint scent of peaches. Once again, since I'm not milling my own flour, I have to put back the 5% wheat germ that is taken out of the whole wheat flour when it is milled by the roller mill.

  • 1000g ww flour
  • 50g wheat germ
  • 83g peach juice
  • 717g water (to bring the hydration to 80%)
  • 200g sourdough
  • 20g salt

The syrup may have inhibited the wild yeast a little bit.  Or else the hydration wasn't as high as I'd hoped for.  Or my wild yeast is slower than normal.  I guess what I'm trying to explain is, I didn't see a really nice rise in the bread.  However, the end product tastes good, and it rose enough for my purposes.

Bread #2: Whole Wheat Bread with some Homemade Guacamole
This wasn't really guacamole.  I didn't have the correct ingredients -- I didn't use any tomatoes, or cilantro or lime.  I did ignore a certain recipe for guacamole; I didn't worry too much about it.  I just mashed up 5 small avocados, added an onion and 2 cloves of garlic (chopped and minced, respectively), and tossed in a bit of my homemade kimchi for colour and flavour.  The weight of this mock-guac was 645g.  I used this in my bread, after letting it sit for an hour in the fridge.  I read that avocados have quite a range of water content, depending on the fat.  I calculated the water at 70% of this guac's weight.

  • mock-guacamole 645g (~70% of this is water, so it gives me 452g hydration to this point)
  • water 248g (this brings it to 700g, or 70% water)
  • 17g salt (the kimchi is made with salt, so I backed off the added salt slightly)
  • 1000g ww flour
  • 50g wheat germ
  • 200g sourdough starter
  • Extra water when I added the salt: 100g (bringing to about 80% hydration)

Some of the larger pieces of daikon radish and carrots that were in my homemade kimchi I took out as I was kneading, but this was an extremely tight ball of dough.  I even had trouble incorporating all of the ingredients at first.  When I added the salt, I added 100g of water, something I immediately regretted, since it made the dough quite gooey and hard to work with.  The gluten that I'd developed to that point all fell apart.  But I persevered with kneading until it all came together again, more or less, after about 10 minutes.  Avocados contain a lot of oil, too, so this dough was really quite slippery.

To firm it up, after making it too sloppy, I kept it overnight in the cold garage.  It hadn't risen much.  I kept it out for about 2 hours before baking, but still didn't see much rise before it hit the oven.  It saw no rise in the oven either.  And after the usual Tartine-time of 40 minutes at 450 degrees, it felt somewhat soggy and underdone.  I turned the loaves over on the hot stones and left them in the oven another 10 minutes.  It could have used even more.

This bread tastes okay; it is very moist, probably because of the oil content of the avocado.  If anyone else is making this, e.g. future-cellarguy, you could make do with less mockguac, i.e. fewer avocados.  The taste, however, is quite good -- and it has this hint of peppery spicy, because of the kimchi I added.  A few more minutes would have been better in the oven to ensure that the thing is totally baked through, but I'll survive with what I ended up with.  An interesting bread experiment it was.

Avogadro's Constant
Whenever I have avocados I always think of Avogadro's number, currently defined as a constant number of particles (e.g. atoms (protons), or molecules) in a mole of matter.  This is a pretty big number that scientists are still measuring with ever-more-refined instruments.  Currently it has been decided it is somewhere around 6.022 141 x 1023 mol-1.  This number is big enough to find a mention in wikipedia's article on "large numbers"; I read it as "more than 602 sextillion;" I don't even know if that's right, but it hardly matters, since it is a number that is pretty much inconceivable to me.

Incidentally, it hardly seems possible that there can be so little apparent difference between the amount of matter in a mole, and the amount of matter in the entire universe: it is just a simple order of magnitude, after all, and expressing the difference using scientific notation, the numbers don't really seem all that different (see: estimated number of atoms in the observable universe, 1080).  But then, these orders of magnitude are pretty deceptive to minds like ours that typically use much smaller numbers.

Working with sourdough, we have at hand some rather large numbers as well.  I wondered how much yeast and lactobacillus is actually in my starter and dough.  Although they are invisible to me, I know they are there because I see the evidence of their existence in every dough that rises mysteriously, and every bread that tastes so sour.  One source (Meroth, C. et al (2003). Identification and population dynamics of yeast in sourdough fermentation processes by PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Appl. Environ Microbiol. 69(12) pp. 7453-67) told me that there are 1x10 to 5x10 CFU (Colony Forming Units, i.e. viable cells) of Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) in every gram of sourdough; and there are  5x10 to 5x10 CFU/g of yeast.  I read that as 100million to 5billion LAB, and 5million to 500thousand CFU/g of yeast.

Another source (Minervini, F. et al (2012). Influence of artisan bakery- or laboratory-propagated sourdoughs on the diversity of lactic acid bacterium and yeast microbiotas. Applied and environmental Microbiology. 78(15). pp. 5328-5340) I found gives the following numbers of microorganisms from the abstract:

 "The median values of the cell density of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts were 8.05 and 7.03 log CFU/g, respectively"

Someone I know (who is much stronger at math than I) helped me to convert the log numbers into CFU/g (which I sort of understand): "raise 10 to the power of whatever your log number is," she advised: so 10^8.05 = 112 201 845 CFU/g (read: just over 112million) and 10^7.03 = 10 715 193 CFU/g (read: over 10million).  She also suggested that biologists like to use these log values when dealing with lots of microorganisms, so she also translated the larger values of the first source "into the nicely compact log number:" "just do log(1x10^8) = 8 or log(5x10^9)=9.7"

Just know that when you make a sourdough bread, you are utilizing a lot of skilled workers.

Bread #3: A Capelli Bread Process Sourdough Experiment

Since first learning of Capelli bread, I've been thinking about different ways in which sourdough can be built into bread dough.   Tartine Bread just gets 20% Sourdough starter added at the final build, and that works for most purposes.  However, lately I've been in an experimentin' mood.  I'm willing to try other things with my sourdough.

To recap, Capelli bread is built from 2/3 flour, 1/3 sourdough; water is added to bring the dough to it's final hydration level (be it 65%, 75%, or even 85%, as needed).  The sourdough has to arrive at the final build at 100% hydration.

I wondered what sort of schedule I could come up with that starts with roughly a teaspoon of sourdough, but that still uses this 2/3+1/3 rule. 

This is what I tried the last couple of days. It is a rough approximation of the Capelli ratio idea that I've been fiddling with (see Notes, below for a more thorough examination of my calculations).  The building of this dough requires attention every 8 hours:

Start with a measly 10g of sourdough, 10g of flour, and 10g of water, and make a dough.  The amount of flour in this dough is actually 15g, and the water is 15g too, since the sourdough is at 100%.  After 8 hours, use this amount of sourdough and continue to add the same amounts of flour and water, until you get to the size of sourdough you want; then add only enough water to bring the dough to 80% hydration, add your salt, and let it bulk ferment 4 hours, and proof about 4 hours.  That's it.  Here is the simplified schedule in table form:

STAGE (Time) Sourdough Flour Water Salt
Day 1 10pm 10g 10g 10g  -
Day 2 6am 30g 30g 30g  -
Day 2 2pm 90g 90g 90g  -
Day 2 10pm 270g 270g 270g  -
Day 3 6am 810g 810g 567g (80% hydration) 22g

That's it.  The LAB and yeasts grow exponentially along with the generous feeding schedule, and they make a nice homogenous mixture.  This symbiotic environment of LAB and yeasts will evenly distribute flavours, enzymes, enhanced digestible material, and reduce phytates that might be anti-nutrients -- all for the price of a minimal amount of attention and time.

Note that for all my interest in building a Capelli-style bread, I have not done so here.  The final build is not 2/3 flour and 1/3 sourdough, but 1/2 flour and 1/2 sourdough.  A true Capelli-style series of builds would be even more complicated than this.

Final Ingredients:

  • 810g whole wheat flour
  • 810g sourdough
  • 567g water
  • 22g salt

The first build comes to 30g
Ingredients for second build
second build = 90g
Ingredients for third build
Third Build = 270g
Ingredients for 4th Build
Fourth Build = 810g

Ingredients for the final build


The total flour in this example is 1215g (flour+flour-in-sourdough), which is in the ballpark of the Tartine bread recipes, and will make 2 nice freeform loaves.  This schedule resulted in some amazing oven spring, derived in no small part from the coordinated action of all those unnumbered LAB and yeasts.  I say unnumbered, because, well... I'm not going to count them.  As my dad says, "oh, there are scads of them."

But there is obviously a simple geometric progression that is happening, when you build your sourdough this way, and mathematicians could express the fine details succinctly, I'm sure.  Perhaps using continuous fractions would simplify the calculation of sourdough building details, and a more accurate Capelli-style 2/3:1/3 building method could be devised than the fudge that I've employed here.

But let's say you continued with this geometric progression of builds, how long would it take until you had enough yeast and lactobacillus to reach Avogadro's constant?  How much space would this actually take up?  How long before you would fill the entire universe?

I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

A great bread.  I doubt it is anything like the ones made in Capelli, of Capelli Durum ingredient fame.  But it owes its inspiration to the process of Capelli sourdough builds.

This bread drew raves from my wife -- who is possibly my toughest critic.  "It is not sour," she enthused,  "and it tastes really good."  I didn't even tell her that this bread was frozen before we used it, I ate the other two loaves first while she was away.

Notes to Myself
  • Tartine recipes (which I have discovered are suitable for my situation -- i.e. bake 2 loaves and give one away) have 1000g of flour, and 200g of sourdough.  I used the Tartine loaf amount of 1200g as my starting point for the Capelli experiment:
    Let's say the final build of our Capelli-experimental dough will contain around 1200g of flour:  2/3 of that amount is 800g (pure flour), and 1/3 = 400g (sourdough).    You can add water in any amount to this to get the final hydration you need.  Somewhere around 80% is a nice round number; but remember that our sourdough is 200g of water, so we only need to add 600g of pure water at that final build to get to that 80% hydration.

    To arrive at that final build with a 100% hydrated sourdough, the calculation is even simpler, as can be seen by working backward:
  • End Build (add salt at this stage):
    1200g flour : 800g water
    = 792g flour + 408g flour-in-sourdough : 408g water-in-sourdough + 392g water
    = (0.66% of 1200) + (0.34% of 1200)g flour : 800g water
  • 2nd Last Build:
    Sourdough = 408g flour-in-sourdough+ 408g water-in-sourdough = 816g
    = 269g flour + 139g flour-in-sourdough : 139g water-in-sourdough + 269g water
    (0.66% of 816) + (0.34% of 816)g flour : 408g water
  • 3rd Last Build: Sourdough =  139g flour-in-sourdough + 139g water-in-sourdough = 278g= 93g flour + 46g flour-in-sourdough : 46g water-in-sourdough + 93g water(0.66% of 278) + (0.34% of 278)g flour : 139g water
  • 4th Last Build:
    Sourdough = 46g flour-in-sourdough + 46g water-in-sourdough = 92g
    = 30g flour + 16g flour-in-sourdough : 16g water-in-sourdough + 30g water
    = (0.66% of 92) + (0.34% of 92)g flour: 46g water
  • First Build (starting with about a teaspoon (10g) of sourdough)
    Sourdough = 16g flour-in-sourdough + 16g water-in-sourdough = 32g
    = 11g flour + 5g flour-in-sourdough : 5g water-in-sourdough + 11g water
    = (0.66% of 32) + (0.34% of 32)g flour : 16g water
  •  The schedule included in the table in the blog, above, is a rough simplification of this sourdough building schedule; instead of starting with 11g flour, 10g of sourdough, and 11g of water, I simplified it further.

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