Randolph- 50/50 Dark rye and AP flour / Stored in refrigerator and fed weekly or twice before baking.
Mortimer- 50/50 Whole wheat and AP flour / Stored in refrigerator and fed weekly or twice before baking.
First Loaves – May 10-11, 2020
Recipe: 20% Levain inoculation (Randolph), 60% bread flour, 30% whole wheat flour, and 10% dark rye flour…73% hydration 2.2% sea salt. Autolyse: 1 hour / Bulk Fermentation: 5.5 hours w/ 3 sets of stretch and folds. Overnight proof/retard ∼ 15 hours. Baked 20 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered.
Techniques used: I used the Food Geek’s bread calculator to make the recipe and a combo of his and Joshua Weissman’s shaping methods. To guide myself through the dough production, fermentation, and baking process, I followed the Flex Bake schedule by Sourdough U (aka Pro Home Cooks) (it can be found here 5 Sourdough Bread Checklists).
Results: My first sourdough loaves came out of the oven looking awesome and tasting great (once cooled of course). Really balanced flavor and great texture.
Second Bake – May 17-18, 2020
Recipe: 20% Levain inoculation (Mortimer), 60% bread flour, 25% whole wheat flour, and 15% dark rye flour…76% hydration 2.2% sea salt. Autolyse: 1 hour / Bulk Fermentation: 5.5 hours w/ 4 sets of stretch and folds. Overnight proof/retard ∼ 15 hours. Baked 20 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered.
Techniques used: As with my first loaves I used the Food Geek’s bread calculator to make the recipe and a combo of his and Joshua Weissman’s shaping methods. Because I prepped the dough on Sunday and baked on Monday, I was able to once again follow the Flex Bake schedule by Sourdough U (aka Pro Home Cooks) (it can be found here 5 Sourdough Bread Checklists).
Results: Though I didn’t get as much oven spring as I would liked in the boule, both loaves came out looking and tasting great. I preferred the crumb on the batard and surmised that it looked better due to the shaping being gentler on the dough. I tried a couple scoring patterns which came out okay.
Third Bake – May 27-28
Recipe: 20% Levain inoculation (Randolph), 65% bread flour, 20% whole wheat flour, and 15% dark rye flour…75% hydration 2.2% sea salt. Autolyse: 1 hour / Bulk Fermentation: 5.5 hours w/ 3 sets of stretch and folds. Overnight proof/retard ∼ 15 hours. Baked 20 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered.
Techniques used: I once again used the Food Geek’s bread calculator to make the recipe and a combo of his and Joshua Weissman’s shaping methods. This time baked in the middle of the week, so I followed the 9 to 5 schedule by Sourdough U (aka Pro Home Cooks) (it can be found here 5 Sourdough Bread Checklists).
Results: Oven spring on both loaves was even and the crust was delicious. Once again I tried a couple new scoring techniques with debatable success. This bake convinced me that my cheap bread lame wasn’t doing the trick and I needed to do some research about which one would be best for me to improve my scoring skills.
Fourth Bake – June 5 – 2 different doughs
Kalamatta olives, black pepper, and lemon zest boule
Recipe: 130g starter (Randolph), 90% bread flour and dark rye flour…75% hydration 2.2% sea salt. Autolyse: 1 hour / Bulk Fermentation: 5 hours w/ 3 sets of stretch and folds. 125g chopped olives, 1.25 tsp black pepper, and the zest of one lemon during the second set of stretch and folds. Warm kitchen proof. Baked 20 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered.
Techniques used: For this loaf I used Food Geek’s (Sune Trudslev) Sourdough Olive Bread recipe as a guide and did further research in order to figure out how much lemon zest and black better to add to the dough. As I went through the process I followed along with Sune’s video for this recipe and paid extra close attention while he added the olives and when he shaped the his loaves. In terms of tracking my process, I followed “The One Day Bake” schedule by Sourdough U (aka Pro Home Cooks) (it can be found here 5 Sourdough Bread Checklists).
Results: Flavor and crumb-wise this loaf turned out great. Though at first I felt that the lemon zest was a bit overpowering; the more I ate of this loaf, the more I enjoyed the combination of flavors. When I got a bite with all 3 extra ingredients I was in foodie heaven. In terms of improvements for future bakes…I would like to do an overnight retard/proof instead of proving in a hot kitchen. I believe that this loaf may have over-proved and/or over-fermented which in turn led to less oven spring and an over soft crust.
“Mexican” Sourdough Focaccia
Recipe: For my first sourdough focaccia “loaf” I followed yet another Food Geek recipe by entering my pan size on the recipe’s webpage and then tweaking it as desired. The most notable change that I made to the recipe was swapping the all-purpose flour with Tipo “00” flour in order to achieve a chewier/pizza crust like texture. For toppings I used multicolored cherry tomatoes, red onion, green pimento stuffed olives, fresh oregano, ground cumin, and sea salt.
Techniques used: As stated above, I followed Food Geek’s sourdough focaccia recipe for the entirety of this bake. Being that his recipe didn’t include an overnight retard/proof, I prepared and baked my first sourdough focaccia in one day.
Results: I was quite pleased with how it turned out. The Tipo “00” flour did its job and the added ingredients infused the focaccia with great flavor. For future loaves I’ll coat my baking pan with olive oil instead of lining it with parchment paper in order to achieve a crispier crust. In addtion, I’m going to look at other recipes to adapt this recipe to allow for an overnight retard/proof in order to develop additional sourdough derived flavors.
Fifth Bake – June 11-12
Recipe: 22% Starter (6 day unfed discard from both Mortimer and Randolph), 50% bread flour, 30% whole wheat flour, and 20% KA organic AP flour. 78% hydration 2% salt. Autolyse: 1 hour / Bulk Fermentation: 5.25 hours w/ 4 sets of stretch and folds. Overnight proof/retard ∼ 15 hours. Baked 23 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered.
Techniques used: After creating my recipe using the Food Geek’s bread calculator I decided to experiment by seeing if I could bake loaves for the weekend with 6 day unfed starter discard. I tried my best to start my process early in order to not interfere with my evening work schedule and loosely followed the Flex Bake schedule by Sourdough U (aka Pro Home Cooks) (it can be found here 5 Sourdough Bread Checklists). Of note, because of the age of the discard I used an extra 20g of starter.
Results: To my surprise both of these loaves turned out quite good. While their crust could have been a bit crisper, both has even crumb and tasting great. While I may not do this exact experiment again in terms of the age of the discard; I’ll definitely use starter discard to bake loaves in the future.
Sixth Bake – June 25-26
Roasted garlic and fresh thyme boules
Recipe: 20% Levain (Mortimer), 60% bread flour, 30% whole wheat flour, and 10% AP flour.75% hydration, 21% levain, 2.2% salt. Extras added during second set of stretch and folds: 1.5 tbsp fresh thyme, 2 medium sized heads of roasted garlic plus some of the leftover EVOO. Autolyse: 1 hour / Bulk Fermentation: 5 hours w/ 4 sets of stretch and folds. Overnight proof/retard ∼ 15 hours. Baked 23 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered.
Techniques used: After doing some research about when and how much to add roasted garlic and fresh theme. I created my recipe using the Food Geek’s bread calculator. As with previous loaves I followed the Flex Bake schedule by Sourdough U (aka Pro Home Cooks) (it can be found here 5 Sourdough Bread Checklists). Of note, this was my first time using my new “fermentation station” (thank you Joshua Weissman for the nickname) aka Brod & Taylor’s folding proofer and slow cooker. I used it for my levain and bulk fermentation. I kept the temperature between 78 and 80F.
Results: While at first I was worried about the crumb of the first boule that I cut into. Subsequent slices revealed even and nicely textured crumb. Another point of concern was that both boules seems smaller than usual and did not rise much during their overnight proof/retard. The flavor was akin to pizza seasoned with Italian herbs and garlic i.e. it was quite yummy. Beyond the classic butter on a toasted slice, my favorite way to each slices from this bake was making a grilled cheese sandwich with butter, tomato paste, and mozzarella cheese. When I bake this recipe again I’ll most likely use pre-pealed cloves of garlic and roasted them just long enough that I can add them to the dough as whole cloves. That way I’ll be able to better monitor how much of the roasting olive oil gets inside.
Seventh Bake: July 4-5
10% Rye Non-Dairy (Pareve) Sandwich Bread
Recipe: At the core of this recipe and its execution is Food Geek’s Sourdough Sandwich Bread Recipe scaled to the size of my loaf pans. However, I made the following changes…Because I used my dark rye/AP starter (Randolph) I chose to add 10% dark rye flour. Then because rye is low in gluten I decided to add 13.8% bread flour. This left AP flour as 76.2% of the 1000g of flour (not including the flour in my starter). Rather than the 100% in the original recipe. Next, in terms of hydration I ended up increasing it to 72.7% as I went by feel during the initial mixing of the dough (autolyse) and had already assumed that rye is “thirstier” than AP and bread flour. Coupled with this change was my choice to keep this bread non-dairy (pareve). This meant that I replaced the milk with more water and the butter with a non-dairy “buttery spread (Earth Balance). Otherwise, my innoculation percentage (16.7%), fat content (10.5%) and salt content (2%) remained consistent with the original recipe, plus or minus a gram or two.
Autolyse: 40 minutes / Bulk Fermentation: 5 hours w/ 3 sets of stretch and folds. Proof/retard 2.25 hours @ room temperature. Baked 35 minutes uncovered @ 425F then 1-2 minutes @ 375F (See final results).
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.
Techniques Used: I followed the steps of Food Geek’s from beggining to end. This meant that I went back and forth between watching the Youtube video and reading his typed out steps. Next, I used my Brod & Taylor proofer for the second time and after completing 3 sets of S&Fs I put my mixing bowl of dough into my proof set at 82F.
Results: The instructions in the original called for baking at 425F for 35 minutes and then 375F for 10-15 minutes. Because I chose to baked these loaves towards the bottom of my oven like I’ve done all of my other loaves, their tops were pretty dark at the end of the initial 35 minutes. So after turning the oven temp down to 375F I checked their internal temperatures and both were at 210F and therefore decided to take them out. Upon cutting into larger of the 2 loaves (100g difference) I saw an immediate sign of over-proofing i.e. large open bubbles on the top. Secondly, the edges looked a bit gummy or underbaked. While I’m not completely sure why this happened, I suspect that baking so close to the bottom of my oven (albeit with a baking sheet in place for deflecting heat) caused some uneven baking. Now for the good news…The overall texture and flavor were exactly what I was looking for. So next time I bake this recipe I’ll bake closer to the top of the oven, monitor proofing more closely, and possibly bulk ferment a bit cooler.
Eighth Bake: July 9-10
Semolina/Bread Flour Batard Loaves
Recipe: After seeing a lot of posts about using semolina flour in sourdough bread in the two sourdough focused Facebook groups that I’m a member of I did some research and landed on the following recipe…For these loaves I used 67% bread flour and 33% semolina along with 20% levain (Mortimer), 2.2% salt, and 75% hydration. Because I made my levain the night before and wanted to get the loaves shaped and in the refrigerator as early as possible. I decided to forgo an autolyse and mixed all of the ingredients together at once.
Bulk Fermentation: 5.25 hours w/ 3 sets of stretch and folds. Followed by preshaping, a 30 minute rest and final shaping into batards. Overnight Retard/Proof: 18 hours Baked 25 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered @ 450F.
Techniques Used: Being that this was my “eighth bake” I found it quite easy to follow basic recipe parameters once I decided to use 33% semolina flour. Because I had my air conditioner on and my Brod & Taylor proofer as an option for controlling bulk fermentation temperature, I was not worried about baking on a hot/humid day. In turn, after my 3 sets of stretch and folds I put my mixing bowl of dough in my proofer for the remainder of bulk fermentation which was set to 80F. Lastly, in an effort to only change one variable at a time in terms of avoiding a overly caramelized and tough bottom crust. I decide to add an extra cookie sheet/roasting try to on the oven rack below my bread pans (Lodge combo cooker and Challenger bread pan for heat deflection and to preheat at 500F and bake at 450F (rather than starting covered at 500F)…
Results: Overall, I felt that the bottom crust was not any tougher than my previous loaves and the changes that I did make were effective (see pictures below). Next time I’ll rotate the loaves earlier and follow some advice that I got from Jim Challenger and do the following. I’ll completely remove my baking vessels, invert their lids, put them in the oven, and then put their bottoms on top in order to deflect even more heat during the uncovered portion of baking. In terms of appearance, I scored my first ever wheat stalks and am quite happy with how they turned out. The semolina gave the out of the loaves an attractive blonde/yellow hue, but the crumb was pale due to 2/3 of the flour being white bread flour. Flavorwise, both the crust and interior were balanced. I think I’ll have to use more semolina next time to really taste how much it can contribute to a sourdough loaf’s flavor profile.
Cinnamon Raisin Boules
Recipe: The inspiration behind this recipe came from my middle and high schools years when I would often eat cinnamon raisin bread and cream cheese sandwiches for breakfast on my way to school. To get started on my sourdough version of this nostalgic bread I searched for a recipe to base mine off of and found this Baked – the blog recipe. Because the blog post for this recipe gave a lot of suggestion for customization I took stock of ingredients that I had on hand and landed with the following recipe. 70% bread flour, 20% whole wheat flour, and 10% dark rye flour. Followed by 21% levain (Mortimer), 2.2% salt, 16g cinnamon (added during mixing of dough), and 250g raisins. As with the previous recipe, I decided to forgo autolysing the flour for this recipe.
Bulk Fermentation: 5.25 hours at room temperature with 3 sets of stretch and folds. Raisins added during second set of stretch and folds after 35 minutes of soaking in water w/ 1.5 caps of pure vanilla extract added. Followed by preshaping, a 30 minute rest and final shaping into boules. Overnight Retard/Proof: 18 hours Baked 25 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered @ 450F.
Techniques Used: While the recipe that I was loosely following called for adding the salt, cinnamon, and raisins after a 40 minute autolyse and before the first set of stretch and folds. I decided to add the raisins during the second set of stretch and folds like I did for my olive/black pepper/lemon zest boule (see above).
Results: Flavorwise both boules came out tasting great. However, due of the added sugar from the raisins and my not significantly changing my heat deflection technique (see previous recipe). The more well caramelized portions of the bottom crust at times added a somewhat bitter quality to the taste. Next time that I bake this recipe I will definitely add the raisins and cinnamon as instructed by the recipe that I was following. Firstly, because the loaf that I baked in my challenger bread pan had a considerable amount more raisins in it. Secondly, some slices (from both loaves) had the majority of their raisins towards the bottom rather scattered throughout. Lastly, appearance-wise my scoring didn’t turn out as planned, but turned out attractive nonetheless.
Nineth Bake: July 19-20
50% Spelt Poolish loaf
Recipe: The inspiration behind this recipe came from Ken Forkish’s popular book entitled Flour Water Salt Yeast. Because I was getting my starters ready for bakes later in the week I decided to follow Ken’s ‘white bread with poolish’ recipe. Then after finding some Bob’s Red Mill organic spelt berries in my pantry, I decided to try making my own flour using my trusty vintage Krups coffee/spice grinder and a wire mesh sieve. However, after weighing out the flour that I had made I realized that I only had enough for one loaf i.e. 200g of sifted flour and 50g of ground bran. Yes, I know I could have use 25% spelt per loaf if I had chosen to make the full recipe, but I was in an experimenting mood. So why not 50% in one loaf? The night before baking day I made the poolish with 250g bread flour, 250g water, and 1/16 tsp of instant yeast. Then the next morning I mixed my final dough which was comprised of the whole poolish, the 250g of spelt flour, 11g of salt, 1.5g of instant yeast, and 140g of spring water.
Bulk Fermentation: 3 hours including 3 sets of coil folds. Proof: 1.25 hours @ warm room temp (see below). Baked 30 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered @ 475F.
Techniques Used: Overall I followed the aforementioned recipe (beyond the using 50% home ground spelt instead of 100% bread flour). Though I should note that this was my first time using coil folds instead of stretch and folds and a poolish instead of a levain.
Results: After proofing for a probably unnecessary 15 extra minutes in my warm kitchen (due to oven preheating) I was ready tobake my loaf. Unfortunatley, it spread upon being transferred to my preheated Challenger Bread Pan . Next, I suspect that due to the 475F baking temp for 55 minutes I lost some shape and oven spring during the second half of the bake (see pictures in journal). Once I cut into the loaf and posted pictures in the sourdough Facebook groups that I’m a member of, the feedback that recieved left me pretty happy with the overall even crumb and flavor of the bread. Lastly, a fellow baker provided me with this link and commented that spelt doesn’t absorb at much water as wheat and therefore one should lower their hydration percentage a bit when baking with spelt.
Recipe: After looking over a bunch of sourdough soft pretzel recipes I chose to follow the recipe of my current go-to sourdough blogger, Food Geek. I made the following three changes to his original recipe: I used Central Milling’s Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Plus flour instead of bread flour, 200g of starter discard instead of the recipe’s levain, and Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine instead of butter (I keep kosher and prefer to keep my baked goods non-dairy).
Techniques used: One reason that I chose to follow Food Geek’s recipe was that he used food grade lye instead of baking soda and/or sugar. In general I prefer to make my recipes as authentic as possible and lye is traditionally used for pretzels in Germany and a number of other European countries. Next, at some point’s where this recipe said to wait 30 minutes in between steps, I waited closer to 45, but I doubt it made a difference. Lastly, I didn’t have enough room in my freezer for the 2 sheet trays of pretzels so I put them in my fridge for 45 minutes to firm up before dipping them in the lye bath, adding salt, and baking them.
Results: For my first attempt at soft pretzels these pretzels came out great (I baked 10 instead of the 12 set by the recipe I followed). Their exterior was nice and caramelized which made for a toothsome and slightly crispy crust and the malted Central Milling flour lent a fluffiness to their interior crumb. One caveat of lower hydration breads such as pretzels and bagels is that they go dry quite quickly. Within 1 day after baking them, my pretzels were noticably dry and more chewy. In terms of changes for the next time I make this recipe: I’ll make sure to add the salt during the initials mix of the final dough rather than remembering to do so an hour afterwards. Secondly, I may incorporate a bit of bread flour to see if the higher protein level contributes to added moisture retention…Though I could bake a batch when circumstances would allow for all 10 pretzels to be eaten day of.
Eleventh Bake: July 23-24
Base Recipe Boules
Recipe: 20% Levain inoculation (Randolph), 70% bread flour, 15% whole wheat flour, and 15% dark rye flour…80% hydration 2.2% sea salt. Autolyse: 1 hour / Bulk Fermentation: 5.25 hours w/ 4 sets of coil folds. Overnight proof/retard ∼ 15 hours. Baked 25 minutes covered and 20-25 minutes uncovered @450F.
Techniques used: Luckily I pulled off the techniques that were new to me before the unforeseen 6.25 hour power outage that occured during my overnight proof/retard. Following a suggestion from Kristen of Full Proof Baking, I divided my dough into 3 separate bowls following the addition of my levain and salt. I then proceeded to do coil folds, rather than the stretch an folds which I’ve become accustom to using. I will note that doing coil folds on 1 loaf worth of dough was at times a bit frustrating. Kristen also related that she sometimes skips preshaping her loaves because of how much structure coil folds give the dough. In turn, I too skipped preshaping and final shaped at the end of bulk fermentation. In terms of baking I tried baking one of the loaves covered for the 50 minutes. It ended up lighter in color than I’d like. Then for the next 2 loaves of inverted the lid of my Challenger bread pan and put the bottom section on top of it, this prevented the bottom of the loaves from getting too dark and tough.
Results: Overall all 3 loaves maintained their shape despite overproofing due to the power outage. I’m convinced that their crumb would have been more open (along with more oven-spring) if all had gone to plan. However, it was even and the texture of all three was moist (almost custardy soft). Taste-wise my go-to combination of bread, whole wheat, and dark rye made the crust really yummy and the balanced sourness sealed the deal. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take crumb shots of these loaves. I’ll definitely be baking this recipe again in order to experience its full potential.
Recipe: For my second go at sourdough focaccia. I followed Maurizio of The Perfect Loaf’s ‘A Simple Focaccia’ recipe. As with my first focaccia (see above), I swapped the all-purpose flour with Tipo “00” flour in order to achieve a chewier/pizza crust like texture. For toppings I used roasted garlic, chives, roasted plum tomatoes, and sliced red onion.
Techniques used: As stated above, I followed Maurizio’s sourdough focaccia recipe for the entirety of this bake. However, I did utilize the overnight option described in his recipe i.e. “Instead of proofing the dough at room temperature for 2 hours, cover the rectangular pan with an airtight cover and transfer to the fridge. The next day, take out the dough and let it come to room temperature and finish proofing.” Upon taking mine out of the fridge I left it out at room temperature for 2 hours to proof and then baked it.
Roasted Tomato-Balsamic sauce: This off the cuff recipe was put together after speaking about focaccia pairings with my cousin, Chef Seth Warshaw of Etc Steakhouse (Teaneck, NJ) – While I eye-balled the ingredients, I’ve estimated them here in order to share a cohesive recipe.
4 plum tomatoes
5 garlic cloves
1 medium-sized red bell pepper
1/2 a large portobello mushroom cap
About an 1/8 of a large red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
S&P to taste
Roast the veggies and then blend/puree them in a food processor with the remaining ingredients until you reach the texture of your liking.
Upcoming Bakes rye/caraway seed loaves, black sesame/semolina loaves, danish rugbrod, more 70-75% hydration loaves to help me develop my shaping and dough handling skills.