I was in an in-store bakery in town, and I saw a display of sourdough breads that looked wonderful. I bought a sourdough boule to take home and evaluate. Here are a couple of pictures, one of the outside and one of the inside:
Like I said, the bread really looked great. However, once we tried the bread there was disappointment all around. The crust was tough and gummy like a piece of leather. The wonderful looking bubbly crust was a sham, it was a glaze brushed on that blistered. The texture of the crumb was just like a bakery white loaf and was a real disappointment. The flavor was just not there, there was no development of wheat flavor, it tasted just like vinegar. I believe this bread was just a packaged bakery loaf mix that had vinegar added. When you tried to chew the piece of bread, it turned into a gummy ball and was indigestible. I was actually in shock. I had no idea that the bakeries would go to such lengths to make a fake loaf of sourdough, when it is so easy to turn out great sourdough. Their bread was not fermented in any way. No flavor, no aroma, no bite to the crumb. Just plain disappointment. No more bakery bread for me, thankyou, but no thankyou!
I’ve been working with the Desem in new recipes and having absolutely fabulous results. Here is a Desem bread I call Light Wheat Desem and another that I am in the process of working with called Desem Milk ‘N Honey. Here are pictures of the Light Wheat Desem:
This is the overnight preferment:
This turned out to be a really great bread. The preferment had a malted cracked Rye berry in it. The taste was incredible. I am also working on a Medium Desem with a bit more of the whole grain flour in it. I will get back on that one. I might be putting the two recipes in the Special Recipe folder when I get them worked out.
The technique for the same recipe is on the technique page. If you keep working at it until you can bake up a great Basic White Sourdough… then you can bake up just about any sourdough recipe. The Basic White helps you to get the technique and handling down pat.
I had several emails asking me how I do my Desem bread, technique, recipe etc. So here goes…
I have been keeping an 80% hydration Desem in a bowl in the refrigerator. It has been easier to feed, and easier to use.
80% hydration just means approximately twice the amount of flour to water ratio. Like a cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water etc. Or for every five ounces of flour/ four ounces of water. Anyway, I take out one and one half cups of active 80% Desem which was fed the day before and make a preferment the night before I am going to bake. Preferment:
1 – 1/2 cup 80% hydration active Desem starter – 13.5 oz
1 – 1/2 cups water room temperature – 12 oz
3 cups organic Whole Wheat flour aged at least one week 13.5 oz
Desem preferment after mixing:
Desem preferment the next morning:
Mix together the preferment ingredients, cover and let ferment overnight at room temperature. Next morning add the preferment mixture to your dough mixer and add:
2 cups water room temperature – 16 oz
Turn the mixer on low and add 6 cups whole wheat flour – 27 oz
After the dough is mixed turn off your mixer and let the dough autolyse for ten – 15 minutes.
Desem right after mixing:
After autolyse, add:
4 teaspoons Kosher salt – .8 oz
turn the mixer on low and let it knead the dough for about 7 minutes. If you notice the dough tearing as it kneads, turn off the mixer no matter how long it has been mixing.
Desem dough after autolyse and 7 minutes of mixing:
Let the dough proof 4 – 5 hours or when about doubled. Then stir down dough, pour it out and shape loaves.
I made two loaves a little over 2.5 lbs each. I then let the dough proof about 2 – 2.5 hours. When ready bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, slashing and steaming and turning loaf halfway, as usual.( I have been slashing, spraying my loaves once, and then covering the dough with a roasting lid for the first ten minutes, as it is easiest and seems to give great results).
First Desem loaf:
Second Desem loaf:
Here is the crumb from the first loaf:
So there you have it, recipe, technique and all ! Once you taste a loaf of Desem, you will go back to baking it over and over, it is that good, and addicting!
I mixed up a batch of Basic White sourdough using Northwest Sourdough Starter.
The batch mixed up nicely and I poured out the dough and shaped it into four loaves. Two loaves in the smaller bannetons were one pound loaves and the other two were two pound loaves.
This batch was done up as a preferment and not an overnight in the refrigerator with the loaves already shaped. Meaning, that I mixed up the final dough on the day of baking, bulk fermented and shaped the loaves, letting them proof all together before baking. When you do this sometimes you have to push the first loaves into the oven a little earlier than you would like, to avoid having the last loaves very overproofed. This is when you can really notice that proofing correctly makes a big difference. The first two smaller loaves were not completely proofed and the color of the crust is not fully developed.
I even left the second small loaf in longer and at a higher temperature, but it did not color up as nicely as the two last loaves. I will say that the first loaves were close to being proofed, there are no blowouts and the crumb was a nice even, open crumb, but you can tell that the bloom was just not there.
In the last two loaves, the crumb is wonderfully crisp and the color is fully developed.
The bread tastes better because of it. I just thought it would be interesting to show what even a small amount of proofing difference can do for a loaf of sourdough.
What would you do if you had a batch of sourdough ready for the oven, the oven is heated and ready to go, you pop in the first batch and suddenly….the power goes out? I was faced with that scenario yesterday. The night before I started a preferment using:
Sour Saga Loaf:
2 cups Desem or Whole Wheat Starter
2 cups water
3 cups Bread flour
I mixed together the preferment, covered it and let it set at room temperature overnight.
Next morning I added:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup evaporated milk
5 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons oil
5 cups (adjust for the right consistancy) of Bread flour
Makes about 5.4 lbs of dough.
I mixed this altogether in my mixer and let it autolyse (rest) for ten minutes. I then mixed it for 3 minutes. In only four hours it was already bulk fermented:
We had decided to have hamburgers for dinner and didn’t have any hamburger buns on hand. So I took 3.4 lbs of the dough and made it into sourdough hamburger buns (this was not my intention!) I made two pans worth of buns. Then I took the other approximately 2 lbs of dough and made it into a batard shaped loaf and put it into a banneton to proof. I proofed the buns for 2 hours and then popped the pans into a preheated oven (425 degrees). About a minute later, the power went out! Where we live power goes out fairly frequently. We have high wind storms and live right next to the Pacific Ocean and Willapa Bay on the Washington Coast. I knew someday the dough would be ready… and the power would go out! We had just had a power outage two nights ago when a drunk from the local bar met with a power pole…grrrr… luckily I wasn’t baking bread then.
Anyway, I told the guys to fire up the barbeque and thought we would try to finish off the buns on the barbeque. I left the buns in the oven which was still pretty hot until they got the barbque hot enough and then they were barbequed! They turned out okay, somewhat too crunchy for hamburger buns, but we survived. Now to figure out what to do with a 2 lb loaf ready to bake and no oven! I was going to try to wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil and barbeque it like in one of my other recipes, but the loaf was just too fat. I remembered that I had a small roasting pan for roasting just a chicken. I went and found it…in the dark with a flashlight… and turned over the dough into the pan. I was glad I had made the dough a lower hydration dough because when I turned it over and it plopped into the roaster, I thought it would deflate, but it did fine.
Well, we had the hamburgers done and off the grill, and I put the roaster with the loaf onto the barbeque, and shut the lid. About 20 minutes later, the power came back on 🙂
So I turned on the oven which still had heat from the stones, let it heat up for a bit and soon went out to get the roaster. The bread looked far from done, but it was doing okay!
I went ahead and popped the roaster into the oven with the lid off and let it bake until it looked brown enough, and then I turned out the loaf onto the stone and let it continue to bake until it looked finished. It took about 20 more minutes. Here is what came out:
The dark spot on the top was from where the dough was touching the roaster lid. The dough got some great oven (roaster?) rise and it made a nice lofty loaf. Here is the crumb:
I never got any pictures of the hamburger buns, as they were eaten up fast in the light of kerosene lamps.
So, what would you have done, if the power went out, right when your dough was proofed and ready to pop into the oven??
I tried the long proofing San Francisco Sourdough with the basic white again. I added some Desem as a flavoring and some evaporated milk for a softer crumb. After bulk fermentation and shaping, I proofed the dough overnight for 10 hours. Then I warmed up the dough and baked the bread. Here are the loaves:
It was a great bake. The loaves still were a bit flattish from the long fermentation. The crumb was soft and the taste sour. The crust was wonderfully crisp. I am working on the measurements and testing of the recipe for Pane Pearl today. I am hoping to wrap that recipe up and post it soon in the Special Recipes folder.