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Old 07-29-2007, 10:35 AM
DrakeRemoray's Avatar
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Default Hamelman's Sourdough

After a long summer with very little baking (swim meets, camping and such), I finally got the sourdough culture going again.

This is 16 lbs of the "Vermont Sourdough" from Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes.

I made started a fire at 10:30 AM and cooked pizza at noon. I could have started the pizza at 11:30, but I like to give myself a margin of error when guests are involved. Had a big fire in the oven until about 2:30 PM. I then raked out all of the coals and put the door on. The oven had finally dropped to around 500-550 F at 7 PM. I baked these loaves directly from the refrigerator, used a lot of steam. Checked and rotated slightly (there was not much room for rotation) after about 20 min. They had about 30 minutes total. Internal temp got to about 195.

This is one of my most successful bakes so far, as I did not severely burn any of the loaves. My oven really retains heat for a long time (still 375 this morning).

Drake
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Old 07-29-2007, 03:24 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Looks good, bet it tasted even better eh!
I haven't tried the sour dough breads yet but my wife visits the US each year and she is not keen on it. I guess that we have old fashioned traditional tastes but they are on my'to try' list.

Neill
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:25 AM
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Default Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Guess I love all bread, but sourdough is high on my list and difficult to get a good one here in Denver. Also a follow up on that bake. Managed to put a pot roast in the next day (Sunday) at 4 PM. Monday night the oven was still at 180 F.

Drake
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Old 07-31-2007, 09:20 AM
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Default Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Drake,

You are really, really getting there with these breads. It does not look like you are getting any charring, which is a good thing of course. Instead, you're getting the classic look of caramelized grain sugars on the crust. This has to do with lactobacilli and enzymes having time to break out the sugars during retardation. The color can vary from dark mahogany to almost black and it's a touch on the shiny side, especially just above the bottom of the loaf. If it's possible, you might try for an internal temp of 205 F, although you might need to tent the loaves lightly with foil for the last few minutes. Are you venting the steam halfway through the bake? The crust consistency suggests you are, and it appears you're using the right amount of steam, judging by the spring/volume. If the crumb is irregular and open, you know the dough was properly hydrated and the spring was at its max. You might try docking the loaves a bit deeper for even better spring.

Jim
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Old 07-31-2007, 09:59 AM
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Default Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Thanks for the feedback Jim,

I have not been able to get my loaves up to 205 without burning the crusts. I may try that tenting, though that would be difficult. Do you think that baking straight out of the fridge is part of the problem? It makes it easier to time the oven and it is also easier to dock the cold dough. I am going to bake again this weekend, so I will try docking deeper.

I have been venting the oven, though I am pretty sure my door is letting that steam out anyway...


Drake
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Old 07-31-2007, 10:28 AM
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Default Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Drake,

Baking straight out of the fridge definitely isn't part of the problem. I'm not sure, but I think it's Hamelman who says that the timing difference between a loaf at 40 F and a loaf at room temp hitting a 500 F hearth is minimal. I've found fewer problems with charring going straight from the fridge, and, as you say, timing is easier and docking is easier. I commonly load my 1 kg round loaves straight from the fridge onto a 550 F hearth (optimal) with good steam. They normally bake to 205 F in about 22 minutes, and I vent the steam at 11 minutes, with good color and crust, but no charring. The difference between a cold loaf and a warm one might be a minute or so. But, and it's a big one, that's my oven, and it took quite a while to arrive at those figures. Yours, or anybody's for that matter, will have its own quirks. Who was it who said, "In bread baking, you must get ready for and eat failure."

The rule is that the sooner you vent the steam, the thicker and crunchier the crust will be. That's for hearth loaves. For some enriched doughs it's recommended to vent the steam as soon as the loaves show color. It's a matter of experimentation.

For max spring, I'd try to solve any leakage problems you have around your door. One solution might be a length of high temp gasket rope around the inside perimeter of the door. You could glue it on with high temp furnace caulk. Just found a source for the rope yesterday, and it comes from 1/4 to one inch diameter.

Also, I notice that for your batard you're docking straight down. This is the classic way to do it for that shape. For round loaves, you might want to try docking at about a thirty degree angle (same depth) to open the classic round loaf "flap" or grigne of crust. A somewhat different look; one that I like. For round seed loaves, though, I do a pound sign, docked straight down.

Jim
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Old 07-31-2007, 10:40 AM
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Default Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Maybe part of my problem is loaf size. These are each 4lb loaves. It is easier for me to refrigerate a few large loaves than a bunch of smaller ones. Also the proofing baskets i have are very large. Maybe I need to try and find some smaller baskets. I certainly need to find a different shaped peel for loading the batards...very challenging loading from a square pizza peel...

Drake
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Old 07-31-2007, 11:09 AM
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Default Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Drake,

For my oven at least, you'll remember that my peels are wooden, rectangular in shape and long to accommodate the four foot depth of the oven floor. I can load three batard (or three large baguette, or three hearth loaves) from each of my peels. With two peels, it makes the operation faster. Then again, I custom made them myself with this in mind.

Four pound loaves will definitely take longer to bake than my 2.2 pound ones, so you might try for a slightly lower hearth temp to take account of that (475 ?) and reduce the risk of charring. It's a fine balance between a full bake and optimum crust color.

Try scouting out buck stores for the sort of round baskets restaurants use for crackers. They might be wicker or plastic, and most are about the right size for a 1.5 to 2 lb. loaf. They should be lined with cloth (closely woven linen is best, like old napkins) that has been misted with spray oil, then dusted with flour. Once the loaves are in place, mist the seam sides with oil, dust with flour, fold over the flaps of the cloth over the loaves then place the baskets in plastic bags for retardation. You want to reduce or eliminate exposure to dry fridge air. Dusting the seam sides helps with this and also makes the loaves come off the peel better.

Also, you can vary the color of the baked loaf by varying what dusting flour you use for the baskets. Instead of bread flour, try real whole wheat or stone ground whole rye or white rye. Both WW and rye have a higher grain sugar content than bread flour, and the look will be quite different. I use a fine meshed stainless steel seive for dusting.

Really, Drake, you're at the fine tuning stage. From where you are now, it's not much further to go until you've got near perfect loaves and near consistent bakes. Futher than that and we're into star signs, phases of the moon, voodoo and incantations.

Jim
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Last edited by CanuckJim; 07-31-2007 at 11:12 AM. Reason: Incomplete
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Old 07-31-2007, 11:15 AM
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Default Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Thanks again,

I think I can pick up some of those baskets at a nearby restaurant supply store. Smaller loaves may help my problem. I also invested in a large restaurant width roll of saran wrap. This has made is much easier to keep the dry refrigerator air off my retarding loaves.

So thinking about these custom made peels....Any advice there? Can I just get a piece of plywood, cut it to the proper peel shape and route the edges? or what? I have been looking around the web for one to buy with little success..
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Old 07-31-2007, 11:56 AM
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Default Re: Hamelman's Sourdough

Drake,

Sounds good for the baskets. Remember, they don't have to be pretty or pricey, so long as they're the right size and shape. Try to find some with fairly steep sides.

Plywood won't work for peels. Aside from the laminations themselves, the laminating glue will give way under heat. The peels should be tapered from both sides along the entire length to a chisel shape, and you just can't do that with plywood. This is not so much an issue when loading, but for unloading the chisel shape is a must. Otherwise, you'll be pushing breads to the back of the oven, rather than scooping them off the hearth. Of course, you could load with plywood, then unload with your metal peel, but the lamination glue would still be a problem.

I think the San Francisco Baking Institute sells peel blades, then all you have to do is attach a handle. On-line pizza supply companies also sell them I'm quite sure. I'll send you a link to one by email, soon as I find it. Just buy a wide one, then you can cut it to width as you will.

Jim
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