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Sourdough Bread Baking: Sourdough Baker’s Percentages

January has been a crazy month. My baby boy celebrated his first birthday on the 18th.

Mom giving Jack his first cake

Mom giving Jack his first cake

Laura made him a fun shark themed cake that matched the wrapping paper on his presents. He made a huge mess of it.

Messy Boy!

Cake Destroyed!

I also got in a car accident which rendered my vehicle useless.┬áThat sure has made the weekends more difficult, since I can’t even leave the place to get groceries unless Laura is home from work. At work we’ve gone through four separate change of responsibility ceremonies, starting at the company level and going all the way up to theater. Plus I’ve been preparing for two missions that I’m slotted for, one starting tomorrow and the other at the end of March. It sure has been busy.

So we last left off with making a starter and letting it mature into a levain by feeding it and keeping it healthy. If you followed those instructions and have been taking care of it, you should have quite nice mature liquid levain. It should be very active and smell nice and sour when it’s at its peak. Maybe you’ve even found a bread recipe to try it out with.

Well, now it’s time to learn how to formulate a sourdough recipe with your levain using bread formulas. Hopefully, at this point, you are well versed in basic baker’s percentages and have used pre-ferments before. Sourdough formulas can seem a little more complex at first, as there are extra steps and math involved. You’ll remember from using pre-ferments that you have to start with your total dough recipe. Then you select a percentage of your flour that you want to pre-ferment a day before. That requires you to subtract the flour and water that you used in your pre-ferment from the total dough recipe, which gives you your final recipe. Baker’s formulas using levains use that same basic concept. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Army, Baking, Bread, Food, Pizza

 

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Sourdough Bread Baking: The Levain

It’s no secret that I love bread, which is why I often come back to it. We’ve covered some pretty good information on bread in the past in my Bread Baking Basics run of posts. Having gone over the twelve steps of baking, baker’s formulas, and how to use pre-ferments, we are armed with enough knowledge to make some pretty impressive bread. The next natural step would be to learn how to make sourdough breads.

But what exactly is a sourdough bread? In simple terms, it is a bread that is completely leavened without the use of commercial yeast. Instead, it is leavened with the natural yeasts that exist in our environment. This is achieved with the use of a sourdough starter, also known as a levain. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Baking, Food

 

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Bread Baking Basics: Ciabatta!

Bread Baking Basics: Ciabatta!

I absolutely love a ciabatta loaf. It has a great open and airy crumb, perfect chewy texture, and a thin and crispy crust. It’s a perfect dinner or soup bread. Not really meant for making sandwiches or slicing for toast. It’s definitely a grab-a-hunk-and-stuff-it-in-your-mouth kind of bread.

And it’s incredibly simple to make at home. Ciabatta, by nature, is a very wet dough, which is why it has that revered open crumb. The hydration for ciabatta ranges from 75% to 80%, though I’ve seen some crazy people use 85% hydration. It is almost impossible to fully develop the gluten, especially in a home kitchenaid style mixer. Our countertop mixers, although versatile and fantastic, just aren’t optimized for bread mixing, and this is an example where that shows. A stiff preferment is necessary to help out with developing the gluten structure. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Baking, Bread, Food

 

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Bread Baking Basics: Autolyse and Pre-Ferments

Bread Baking Basics: Autolyse and Pre-Ferments

I must admit that I’ve been fairly busy lately. It is my last week of leave before I go back to work, so we have been running around getting things done, as well as trying to enjoy our time as a family. We had a pretty grand time spending our tax return money. A new mattress, tires for Laura’s car, and the rest paid off what was left on my car loan.

That new mattress is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever slept on. It envelopes me and wraps me in fluffy clouds and lulls me to dreamland!

Jack, of course, has been keeping us busy as well. He’s been pretty fussy lately, so we took him to see the pediatrician because we suspected he had acid reflux problems. And he did. Hopefully his medication will start working soon.

So, it’s Friday already, and I realized that I haven’t posted anything significant. Not that I haven’t been cooking and taking pictures, or anything. I just haven’t had a chance to put anything into 1’s and 0’s.

Yep. That was a binary joke. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Baking, Bread, Food

 

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Coconut Honey Panna Cotta with Vanilla Rambutan and Coconut Lace Curl

I’m always trying to think of desserts that are delicious and enticing, without being belly busters. Those s’mores tartlets that I did? Yeah, that’s a belly buster. I’m really trying my best to watch my waistline without necessarily going on any kind of diet, per se. I mean, I can lose all the weight I want if I just eat tuna and raw veggies and supplement my hunger with protein shakes, but that’s just no way to live. And I certainly wouldn’t have any content for a food blog. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Baking, Dessert, Food

 

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Bread Baking Basics: Baker’s Formulas

It’s time for a continuation of Bread Baking Basics!

So we got some of the fundamentals of bread baking down. The basic steps of bread baking have been gone over and we even baked a loaf using just those steps. In order to continue to improve our bread baking skills, we need to know how to formulate a bread recipe. Knowing how to do this introduces us to the main ingredients that go into bread and how they interact with each other, both as a dough and when in the oven.

Most like the Jeffrey Hamelman way of formulating recipes. In fact, I’ve met bakers who would wipe his butt if he asked. I have tremendous respect for his methods, but his baking style is far too scientific for me. I love the science of baking, as it helps bakers understand what is going on in the bread making process, however bread has been around for centuries without science. But hey, if you read his book and it works for you, then that’s great. The way I learned it doesn’t differ all that much from the way he does it, but there are some exceptions, especially when getting into advanced formulations (which we won’t at this time.) Hamelman’s way certainly beats Peter Reinharts, which completely eludes me. I love Reinharts books and the way he explains things, but I can’t use any of his recipes because they’re never done in weight, and I don’t understand his percentages. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Baking, Bread, Food

 

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Bread Baking Basics: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

Bread Baking Basics: Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

I felt like making bread today, and Laura felt like eating bread today, so I thought it would be a good chance to create a simple formula that encompasses my earlier post on the twelve steps of baking.

Consider it like a practical exam that you get to eat. The pretty cool thing about baking bread is that even if you mess it up, you’ll still probably have a pretty good loaf of bread on your hands. Unless you really mess it up. Like add so much salt that you kill the yeast. More on that later. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Baking, Bread, Food

 

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