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Playing with bread fundamentals - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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Forno Bravo Forum Community,

You will notice a new forum at the top of the main page called, "Ask Me Anything". This forum will be used for live one hour "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) sessions hosted by people who are knowledgeable in different areas pertaining to wood fired ovens. How it works:
- Each AMA will have a "sticky" thread where the community can post questions they would like answered during the live session. This will allow everyone to participate even if you can't be online for the live session. These questions will not be answered by the host until the live AMA; if you need an answer quickly, you should post it in the appropriate Forum area for the community to respond.
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- The live thread will remain in the AMA forum to view after the session.

To kick off our AMA feature, we have invited author, chef and master bread maker and host of Pizza Quest, Peter Reinhart, to be our first host! Peter will be in the Forum on Monday, February 15th, from 7:00 - 8:00 pm EST. If you are unable to be online during the live session, you can post your questions in the sticky post. Peter will answer those questions during the live session on February 15th. You can view Peter's answers to your questions as well as what happened during the live session in the session thread.

We hope you enjoy this new feature! Please let us know if there is a topic that you'd like to have as an AMA and we'll look for a host!

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Playing with bread fundamentals

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  • Playing with bread fundamentals

    This is sort of a follow up thread to the excellent playing with sourdough thread - starting a new thread in an effort to focus on my own interests in this subject. To put it briefly - I'm trying to make it as easy as possible to make good bread at home. Here's what my home bread making has evolved into:

    Preparation - I start with a 65% hydration dough (currently using gold medal's Harvest King "better for bread" flour) - 1000g flour and 650g (=mL) of water. Initially I mix this in the kitchen aid about 2 minutes to bring it together. Then I use a 10g pinch of my (probably dormant) starter directly from the fridge and "knead" it by hand with 10g of the bread dough - no salt at this point. Then I add 10g of kosher salt (Jim, I have a variety of sea salts that I'll experiment with later, but kosher salt has been my baking salt for a long time, not ready to branch out here yet) to the main dough mixture, knead it a few more minutes, then the dough (with no yeast) goes into the fridge in a sealed tupperware for a long autolyse. This also becomes an easy way to feed and activate my yeast - no more measuring is needed as I just need to roughly double the volume.

    Feeding - The 20g starter/dough piece is left in a covered but vented tupperware to begin growing - about 6 hours until good and bubbly. Then I continue feeding it from my autolyse premixed dough, doubling each time. Over the course of 24 hours, the yeast activity begins to accelerate - it bubbles well and can double in volume in about three hours (remember each time the dough added is from the fridge). I knead in the dough with the active starter by hand each time.

    Dough Finishing - Once the starter is approaching the volume of the dough in the fridge, the final mix is made, allowed to rise about 2 hours, then back in the fridge for four hours to overnight to retard (depends on my schedule). Finally the dough is shaped (first divided and roughly shaped, then after a 15 minute rest it is stretched to final shape), covered, and allowed to rise until almost doubled.

    Baking - the oven is preheated to 550F (I'm still between brick ovens ) with the baking stone the second rack from the top - I give it plenty of time for the stone to heat through. The bread is slashed, then slid onto the stone. I place a jelly roll pan on the bottom of the oven during preheat, and have a soup can that I've perforated with a small hole. I add 4oz of water to the soup can right after the bread is placed in the oven and the water drips from one of the lower racks onto the jelly roll pan to create a steady steam source. After six minutes the can is removed and the oven vented. About 8-10 minutes later the bread is done (it's not really done until it is 204 internal temp) and removed.

    The whole process takes 24-36 hours - the fridge gives some flexibility in the time. The prep is exceedingly simple and the feeding steps are also minimal work, takes about as much time to wash my hands as it does to feed. The long autolyse should effectively allow the bread enzymes to release sugars from the starch in the grain and simplifies later mixing/measuring. I don't have to perform excessive feeding on the mother starter either, yet give many yeast doublings to allow the starter to really activate before the final dough is made. I find that with this approach the final bread is less sour than my previous approach of using a larger inoculation (100-150g) with the mother starter, and the rising is more predictable.

    Pictures: first is my most recent batch, second is the batch prior with a slice to show the crumb:

  • #2
    Re: Playing with bread fundamentals

    I've gotta give this a try.

    Looks like a great way to make bread.

    Thanks for the info.

    And the bread looks great!
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    • #3
      Re: Playing with bread fundamentals

      Here's my most recent result. This batch shaped, then allowed to rise for two hours, then in the fridge about 4 hours before slashing and baking.


      • #4
        Re: Playing with bread fundamentals

        Now that's bread!

        Way to go Marc. I started some ice water french baguettes with commercial yeast last night and baked them on the big FB stone this evening. They were good, but I have to say they don't have your bread's great character. I'm going to be borrowing your technique.

        One tricky thing I am finding (also between ovens) is that it can be difficult reach a rich caramel brown without a real wood-fired oven.

        Very nice.
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        • #5
          Re: Playing with bread fundamentals

          I agree on the browning - I'm getting nice caramel color but also some areas that are overdark - my home oven is nowhere near as even heating as the brick oven!


          • #6
            Re: Playing with bread fundamentals

            Agreed. And it just isn't the uniform heat. I think it is the way the brick oven creates a moist heat the allows carmelization to occur -- before you reach than deep brown color. That's where the golden tones come in, that you can only get when you are wood-fired (or commercial high tech with steam injection).
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            • #7
              Re: Playing with bread fundamentals

              Have you tried a cloche while between ovens? I haven't personally tried it, but Dan Wing recommends it in "The Bread Builders," and says it gives excellent results (as compromises go).


              • #8
                Re: Playing with bread fundamentals


                Well and nicely done. Our methods differ, but so what. Looks like we're both headed in the same direction and getting similar results. When you decide to experiment with a different type of salt, let me know, and I'll send you some gray Brittany.

                "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827


                • #9
                  Re: Playing with bread fundamentals

                  I haven't seen a post by Maver in months. You out there Marc?
                  Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking.