#11  
Old 11-19-2008, 06:20 AM
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Default Re: Boule - first effort

Dutch,

You've hit on a key variable: fridge temp for retardation. Most hardware store fridge thermometers are highly inaccurate. The ideal temp I use for just about every retarded bread I make is between 39-40 F. Any higher, and the dough will blow overnight; much lower and the rise will be too slow. Once docked, a dough retarded at too high a temp will fall. Alternately, some bakeries will use a retarder/proofer to maintain the dough at about 56 F, but this is for about a six hour rise before baking. Don't happen to have one of those pricey gizmos kickin about.

It's a mantra that all doughs should be baked at 80 percent of their total rise. This is especially true for WFO breads because the volume achieved will be so much higher than a conventional oven. In my oven, at 550 F on the hearth brick, a straight soudough 1 kilo boule(no additions like seeds or olives) will take 22 minutes to reach an internal temp of 205 F.

I'd make sure that fridge temperature management is under control first and foremost, without changing anything else. For boule, I bake them directly from the fridge: works, and you don't have to worry about hearth temp lining up with dough temp. For other doughs, like Ancienne, I take the dough out of the fridge about three hours or so before dividing, shaping and baking.

For boule in particular, I'm very careful about maintaining a slack dough that is very tacky but not sticky; in short, nothing actually sticks to your hands (once you've washed off any sticky bits first) but there's a definite tacky sound (like pulling off old tape) when you pull your palm away from the dough. This is easy to demo, tough to describe. It's the total hydration level, rather than the percentage of starter, in my opinion, that leads to the best volume. I had one student here, a bread baker of thirty years experience, who told me flatly at the end of the course, "For all these years, I've been making my doughs too dry."

The danger is to change too many variables at once. Slow and sure, one by one, is much more reliable than mass alterations all at once. You'll never know which one did it.

At workshops here, we make a total of seven different doughs: from 85 percent Ciabatta, to 65 percent pizza, to 50 percent bagel. I've structured it this way to give people the widest range of hydration levels, crumb development, tastes. It's the feel of the different levels that's vital. If my students can master those seven "feels," there's nothing in baking land that will elude them.

Frances, I'd suggest that for a while you stick to one tried and true boule recipe, say Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough. Follow the formula exactly, including starter percentage, keep your other variables in check, then practice, practice, practice. It's important to point out that Hamelman uses a liquid starter with about a 50/50 ratio. Once you mastered a single boule recipe, others will follow much more easily. Your Ciabatta is looking good, but you might want to try to be even more gentle during the final transfer of the risen loaves onto the peel and deck. That way, the crumb will be even more open. Final handling of such doughs is all too often overlooked. Remember, when working with doughs like these, you have NO thumbs, the dough is placed gently, not dropped, and if you can find any way to reduce the amount of final handling, do it.

Jim
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Last edited by CanuckJim; 11-19-2008 at 06:26 AM. Reason: Incomplete
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  #12  
Old 11-19-2008, 09:04 AM
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Default Re: Boule - first effort

Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckJim View Post
Dutch,
It's a mantra that all doughs should be baked at 80 percent of their total rise. This is especially true for WFO breads because the volume achieved will be so much higher than a conventional oven.
Jim
You learn something new every day. Thanks for this Jim -- that is excellent info.
James
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  #13  
Old 11-19-2008, 09:49 AM
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Default Re: Boule - first effort

That's fantastic, thank you all for the advice!

I haven't actually got Hamleman's book yet, but its on its way... my sourdough starter is 50% hydration so that's a start.

This is great fun! I'll let you know how it goes next time - we have to eat all the bread first ...
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Old 11-19-2008, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: Boule - first effort

Quote:
Originally Posted by CanuckJim View Post
Dutch,
It's a mantra that all doughs should be baked at 80 percent of their total rise. This is especially true for WFO breads because the volume achieved will be so much higher than a conventional oven. In my oven, at 550 F on the hearth brick, a straight soudough 1 kilo boule(no additions like seeds or olives) will take 22 minutes to reach an internal temp of 205 F.
Jim
100% agreement from me...that is always my target on the final rise...in a WFO better to be slightly under proofed than the opposite...
Best
Dutch
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