Donderdag, 27 Julie 2017

Sourdough - ManKos Daily Bread

It is now almost a year since I started my journey to acquire the skill to bake Sourdough Bread. My main reason why I wanted to gain this knowledge was because of my mission to preserve the classic ways in which my ancestors prepared their food.

My Daily Bread
My trials and tribulations are all documented in my Sourdough stories. One of the main objectives for me was to strip the fairy tales and fables out of the process and document the bare basics about this process. When you start exploring this process you will be bombarded by weird and wonderful soundbytes that sometimes borders on absurd. The artisan bakers that have achieved celebrity status will entertain you with DO's and DONT's that will make your head spin. Most disturbing will be the photographs of stunning loaves that will make you feel completely incompetent.

After the initial trauma of getting my STARTER up and bubbling followed the nightmare journey of manipulating the dough, shaping the dough and baking the dough. I have documented all of these in other articles published on this blog. After mastering the skills with the processes I tried a number of recipes and in the end I used a lot of common sense and settled on a recipe that works well for me. In my home we do not buy bread since September 2016 and it is my responsibility to put the Bread on the table.

Poolish ready
My Daily Bread recipe is based on a low inoculation Poolish and then follows the normal route. I settled on the poolish because it removed the inevitable waste of maintaining the starter volumes prescribed by many recipes. My starter resides in my fridge, I refresh it once a month and it starts off at around 150gr of flour. I use between 3 and 5 grams in my poolish.

Here is the recipe:

After Autolyse. Add seeds and salt
20h00 Day 1. - POOLISH:

166 gram Flour ... I use white bread flour
200 gram Water ... Luke warm
3 gram of starter ... I just dip a desert spoon into the Starter, pull it out and rinse it in my water that was measured off for the poolish.

Check the gluten window
Mix this paste well and leave on a warm place to develop. I place it in my one oven with only the light on. During summer I leave it on the bench. 12 to 14 hours later the Poolish should be spongy and bubbly.

08h00 Day 2 - DOUGH:

440 gram Flour ... I use AP and sometimes I mix 75% AP 25% Wholewheat
240 gram Water ... You can reduce to 200 to get a stiffer dough.
60 gram mixed seeds ... I use Health Connection's Ultimate Seed Mix
Kneading done
60 grams of water ... Soak the seeds in this while the dough is going through Autolyse.
12 to 15 grams of Salt ... you add this after the Autolyse.

Add the 240 gram of water to the poolish and stir. Then dump this into the flour.
Mix to get a shaggy mass and leave for 20 to 30 minutes to Autolyse.

Now add 12 to 15 grams of salt.
Final S&F done
I also add 60 grams of mixed seeds that have been soaked in 60 grams of water while the dough was in Autolyse. This is completely optional.

I knead in my Kenwood ... so I mix the dough and seeds and salt now for 8 to 9 minutes on Speed 5. Medium High.

BF done
Once I am happy with the gluten window, (see image for how I test) I transfer the dough to 4.3 liter plastic container that has been oiled with olive oil.

Ready to split
Now I do a Stretch and Fold every 20 minutes. Usually by the 3rd S&F the dough is nice and firm. Once again it is important to follow your instincts here. With every S&F you will notice that the dough gets stiffer. Usually during the second S&F you will notice that you can lift the whole lump of dough up from the container. This is an indication that the gluten strands are getting stronger. Do not be enticed to overstretch, the last thing you want to do is to start tearing that dough. Let it dangle naturally and just shake it lightly and fold over. Many times I do not do a 3rd S&F.

Ready to shape
It is good practice to wet your hands with luke warm water when S&F so that the dough does not stick to your hands. Do not use flour, it will leave streaks in your dough and final bread. At the end of each S&F tuck the sides in nicely so that you have a lump with a smooth top.

Allow this to Bulk Ferment now for 5 hours or so. Once the dough has expanded to almost fill the container I tip it out on a lightly floured bench.

Shaoing done
Here are some good advice on handling that dough after BF. If it was a robust rise and the dough did fill the container, take your time when removing the lid. Lift it extremely carefully and allow the dough to slip off slowly and naturally. You don't want to be aggressive and tear that skin off. By doing that you are destroying what was built carefully over 5 or 6 hours.

Final proofing
Next, taking that dough out of the container. Do not be flamboyant and simply tip the bowl over on a lightly floured bench. Tip the container on a long side on the bench and allow the dough to slip out slowly onto the bench without tearing away from the sides. Remember, you depended on your yeast to built strong structure and fill the dough with gas bubbles ... so don't destroy what they have achieved. Easy does it, you will get the idea very quickly.

Ready for the oven
Now your dough rests on lightly floured bench, look at the image where I have split the dough, the top is still smooth. I sprinkle flour along the line where I want to split the dough. This helps to prevent the dough from clinging to the scraper. Split in two and shape for my bannetons. I do a soft hand shaping to preserve the rise as well as I can. Do not go berserk with flour now and just dust your hands lightly. I also dust my bench scraper lightly. I use the scraper to push the dough gently on the bench to form the skin. Do not be in a hurry, focus and look at what is happening as you push. This is where you can destroy all the care and nurturing of the past 5 hours.

Bread done
Let me explain "soft hand shaping" ... this is important, many bakers go wild and knock the dough down, they pull and push that dough during shaping. To me this makes no sense and I stopped that practice pretty soon. When I work with the dough for shaping, the main goal is to achieve a nice tight skin on the shaped loaf. This is needed to trap the gas that will form during Final Proofing as well as give the bread a top that can be lifted by the oven stretch. A good skin will guide the gas and steam in the oven to follow your slashed route and present you with the sought after gaping mouth and curled ear. So make sure your hands are the hands of a lover when you shape that loaf ... always gentle and always attentive ... never rough and forceful. Do that and the loaf will show the appreciation when in the oven.

Final Rise of around 1 hour and then bake on a flat cookie sheet in a 230C oven for 25 minutes.

17h00 Day 2 - BAKING:
I have two small bread tins in the oven filled with lava rocks. I add 200 ml water to each tin and spray the oven liberally with a spray bottle and water. That is what I do to create steam. I heta my oven to 230C. I have a DEFY and use the oven with the baking shelf in the middle and I select the FAN ASSISTED function.

Sliced
After 25 minutes you should have a beautiful loaf, well structured and well baked. Remember that all my times are based on this volume of dough and in a kitchen that has an ambient temperature of between 22C and 25C during Winter.

Seeds I use
I know that there are hundreds of videos on the web that will differ from what I have written here and I know there will be hundreds of bakers that will dispute what I am saying. What is more, there are hundreds of bakers that are struggling to get a decent loaf because every video they watch and every article they read, just confuse them more.

Not for one single moment will I try and claim that my way is the right way or the only way. What I can say is that my way is the way I found to work the best for me and it gives me consistently good results. Every thing I have written here was experienced by myself and I have the photographs to proof my point.

My Daily Bread
Something else that is also true is the fact that baking sourdough bread is not that complicated or that complex. My grandmother did it this way every second day of her life. She did not use a DO, she did not have a steam assisted oven, she did not have pizza stones ... she baked like this in tin pans and fed a very large family.

Now back to my initial statement about the photographs. Most of the shots that you see are Bread done by bakers that bakes lots of Bread everyday. They have the advantage to select the best looking Bread from the batch and photograph that one. If you look a bit higher up, there is a shot of the Bread as they came out of the oven. Two loaves from the same batch, same handling and baked side by side. The one on the left is obviously the star while the one on the right is simply a good loaf.

The most important piece of advice that I can give is to keep on baking and do it regularly. I bake three times a week and over the past 3 months I did see a major change in my results. This is simply a case of Practice makes Perfect ... and yes, I still get a dud from time to time and it is usually when I have not paid attention. As you get more familiar and more comfortable with the process you will learn to read that dough better. All the times I have given here can vary a lot, depending on your flour, condition of your starter, temperature and humidity.

I hope you have enjoyed this story and that it gave you a different perspective of sourdough baking. Above all, persist in your mission and ensure that you feed your loved ones healthy Bread. After experimenting with a lot of baking methods I have settled for the most simplistic one, a simple sheetpan.


Here are my other Sourdough Stories ... LINK

Enjoy your baking till I write another story.

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