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🎶 dough, a bread, an un-baked bread 🎶 #sourdough #theperfectloaf ift.tt/34HT00c
Blob
2 blob
2 blob 2 basket
Loaves!

I'm fascinated by bread baking because it's all technique and a little ingredient ratio. These have 3 ingredients: flour, water, and salt.

Here's how to make em:

1. Put ingredients in bukkit
2. Yadda yadda yadda*
3. Bake for a while

* some details omitted
When I'm computering it's all abstractions to make things as exactly consistent as possible. When I'm baking it's billions of small interactions that I have no hope of completely controlling. Each loaf is slightly different. You have to operate on instinct.
Also the best part of all of this is that I almost always make 2 loaves at a time, so I usually have one to give away. Locals take note.

Also attempts at payment will be summarily rejected. If you receive a loaf, donate something, be nice to someone, or pay it forward.
OK continuing the #BreadThread:

I used to bake some variation of no-knead bread fairly regularly. I got reasonably good at making a nonterrible looking loaf, but at the end of the day it's white bread. It went stale fast. The crust was soft. It didn't have much flavor.
I starting baking #sourdough ~1y ago because I was on a weird diet and was allowed to eat more of it than I would have been with commercially yeasted bread. I never thought I liked sourdough because I thought it was all like San Francisco sourdough: SOUR. But bread > no bread.
So I set out on a mission and mixed up my first sourdough starter. If you've never done this before, you just mix up some flour and water and throw half of it out every once in a while and replace it with fresh flour and water. No commercial yeast.
After a few days, the thing goes through various stages of development until it's a consistent mass of yeast and bacteria activity. Where did they come from? The flour, the air, the jar, your dirty fingers... Microorganisms are everywhere.
The "good" yeast and bacteria, under the right conditions, produce alcohol, CO2, and other tasty bits. These things are hostile to bad/spoilage bacteria, so assuming they can get a foothold, you end up with a sourdough starter instead of a spoiled mess of flour.
Now you can use that starter (if you keep it healthy) to leaven things like, say, bread. In fact, another name for a starter is "levain". Must be a coincidence.

Many people name their fermenty bois. I haven't yet, but I'm open to suggestions. Maybe goose themed?

/honk
Note that some adventurous goose thousands of years ago figured out that you could do this, and then decided to EAT IT. This is how we made bread until the 19th century when _Saccharomyces cerevisiae_ was commercialized. mmmm cerevisiae. That naming must be a coincidence too.
OK so we have a starter, let's make a loaf of bread with only 3 ingredients: flour, water, and salt! No stinkin Saccharomyces cerevisiae for us!

What did I do? I found something called "My Best Sourdough" and I went right for it: theperfectloaf.com/best-sourdough…
I mean why settle for non-best, right? It can't be that hard. I've made bread before. I'll just follow the instructions exactly and it'll definitely work.

Well the crust actually came out OK, but wooooah buddy the crumb was a gummy mess.
We ate some of it because the stuff around the edges was marginally edible and we were hungry and our guests were being nice. (sorry @nurse_binks, @0hh1miranda for subjecting you to my mad science)

But I expected it to be sour and it... wasn't. wot?
@nurse_binks @0hh1miranda To my one loyal viewer, please stand by as I start some eggs cooking for the egg salad that is going to adorn today's loaf. This program will return after a word from our sponsors.
Did you think I was going to cook my eggs like a normal person?

Narrator: he was not

But I digress.
This first loaf of bread, despite all its flaws, was only very mildly sour. Why?

It turns out that time and temperature are also ingredients in baking, particularly with sourdough. The different fermenty bois in the starter grow better at different temps.
If you control your time, temperature, and moisture correctly, you can create a sourdough that has more yeast fermentation and less lactobacillus (and other bacteria). Lactobacillus produce lactic and acetic acid (aka vinegar) which is... sour.
tl;dr short, warm fermentations produced with younger starter tend to produce yeastier bread that's less sour. If you're local, get farm bread from zing or country levain (I think) from white lotus: these are not aggressively sour breads. Or stop by here. Compare to SF-style.
These are a few (of many) variables that can dramatically change the exact same ingredients, even in the exact same ratios, into vastly different end results.
Other variables besides time, temp, ratios:

* humidity
* local bacteria/yeast population
* how rough you are with the dough
* how tightly you shaped the loaf
* slashy patterns
* baking device
* starter's mood
* moon phase
* luck
You absolutely cannot control them all; you just have to roll with it. It's alive, and it has a mind of its own. You can coax it one direction or another but you are subject to its whims.

Come get your loaf.

Thank you for attending my TED talk.
And crumb.
Cheese. Definitely not butter used like cheese. Nope.
Here we go again
Gonna start mixing up the loaf here. Put your bukkit on the scale and tare it.
Add to bukkit 500g all purpose flour, then 460g bread flour. You want 960g of white flour here, and with King Arthur I like 50/50ish AP/bread. YMMV, this is one of those variables I was ranting about the other day.
Now we want to add a nice amount of whole wheat, again King Arthur, Hard Red Wheat in this case. This is just enough to give it a wheaty/nutty flavor. More whole wheat will come from the starter, but that's another tweet. Whole grain content is another major variable here.
Now we need some liquid: 725g of good old fashioned water will do. The yeasty bois don't like chlorine, and you wouldn't want to sabotage your dough, so you should filter it or let it sit out for a while if you have municipal water.
Yeasty bois also like to be toasty bois, but too much will kill 'em. We're shooting for mid 80s here. Remember also that temperature is an ingredient. Generally: hotter = faster but also different flavor profile. IMO the upper 70s is the right temp for main (bulk) fermentation.
ehhhh this is probably too warm but I'm too lazy to redo it. We'll fix it in post.
Now wet meets dry: mix the whole wheat in a little (use your hands!) so it's not in a big lump and then let 'er rip.
Now the fun part! Use your hands!! Mix all that gunk around and eventually all the dry flour will not be dry anymore. When that is the case, you can stop. Just a couple minutes is all that's kneaded.
Now you inevitably have a problem I like to call blob hand. You can try pulling it off with your other hand, but then you have a problem I like to call 2 blob hands. There's gotta be a better way!
For the low, low price of 3 easy payments of $19.99, I'll sell you my patented Blob Hand Scraper™, which will clear the blob right off of your hand in under 15 seconds. Definitely don't buy the $0.99 alternatives.
Now that we're deblobbed, let's take a look at that temperature ingredient again. My laziness has backfired; we're pretty far above where we should be. Luckily my kitchen is fairly cool so I think we'll be ok if we're a little patient.
Plus we have an hour for this thing to ✨ autolyse ✨. Even though there's no leavening in there, magic is still happening: enzymes are starting to break down starches, gluten is forming, and all sorts of other cool things that you can read about here: kingarthurflour.com/blog/2017/09/2…
When this is done, the dough will already be partially developed and easier to work.

A note: apparently "autolyse" is pronounced "auto lease" which I fundamentally cannot do. I also pronounce gif with a hard g, team kube-cuddle forever. Gonna have to agree to disagree.
Oh! We're gonna let this go for ~1h. This is a bit flexible. Anything over 20min is useful, but if you leave it too long weird things might happen. DEFINITELY don't leave it till after midnight.
OH HEY it's been an hour. Shall we resume?

Grab your bubbly boi aka starter/levain/etc. from where ever it's been bubblin. It should have doubled at least from when you refreshed it, but all of that is another tweetstorm.

Blob 165g onto your autolyzed dough.
Note that mine is 50/50 white/whole wheat at 100% hydration which means that 165g contains:

* 82.5g water
* 41.25g white flour
* 41.25g whole wheat flour

So there's around 100g of whole wheat in 1kg of total flour, so about 10% whole grain.
Now we need to add the last ingredient: salt! Salt is tasty. Salt also interferes with autolyse, so we didn't want to add it earlier. Of course it's literally a rock we eat, so we gotta dissolve it so it's not crunchy. 59g of warm water and 22g of salt will do the trick here.
It might not fully dissolve, but a little bit of undissolved salt is ok. The dough is quite wet. Dump the saline solution into your bukkit.

Note: don't use iodized salt, yeasty bois don't think that's kosher.
ok now I like to grab some corners of my dough and make a little bun to prepare myself for the most labor intensive part of this whole ordeal: mixing
Something like this:
Then you have to channel your inner lobster: pinch all the way through your dough a few times, rotate and do it again. Then grab and stretch the mass and fold it over on itself, rotate and repeat until you have a cohesive mass again.
After 5min or so of this (maybe 3-5 lobsterings) you'll have a pretty cohesive mass with the starter well distributed. The stretchies may break if you hold them for a while, that is ok and we will make it stronger later.
Try to end with it in a shaggy but somewhat consistent mass. Note that the dough is very sticky (there's even more water than before) but you don't end up with blob hand. This is the magic of autolyse. You no longer need my patented scraper, just rinse your hand off.
Let's measure the kinetic energy present in our dough mass. 77 degrees! Perfect. I told you we'd fix it in post.

It just cooled enough for an hour on the counter in my 68 degree kitchen, plus mixing exposes it to ambient air and tends to cool it down.
Now begins ✨bulk fermentation✨. We're put our new friend in a nice 77 degree box for a few hours while all the yeasty bois do their magic. Don't have a magic 77 degree box? Sure you do: turn on your oven light and put it in there, it'll probably be pretty close.
Now we're gonna set 2 timers: one for 26min 58s and one for 3h 59min.

Well no, but I can't take a photo that fast. 4h is for the bulk fermentation as a whole, 27min is for the next time we do stretchies, *without* lobsters. Lobsters are no longer welcome. 🚫🦞
27 minutes later (it's a half hour but I want to give myself time to yell at the beeps 🤫)

The dough has relaxed a bit. It smells good and is maybe a liter and a half. Most of these bubbles aren't fermentation bubbles yet, just air trapped next to the plastic.
Wet your hand (less sticky) and unstick the dough from the sides and bottom the best you can. Grab a handful and streeeetch! Then fold it over on itself. Rotate 90º and do it again. And again. 4x so you've done it in a circle. It'll get less stretchy with each turn.
Try to make the mass reasonably nonterrible with the last fold. It should be significantly more domed than before the stretchies. Set another timer for 27min. You'll do this a total of 3-4 times during the first half of bulk.
My lovely assistant came home and helped make a video of the stretchies!
Look! It's now 2L, up from 1.5L (+30% or so) and there are lots of signs of fermentation activity. There are some obvious bubbles you can see through the side, and there are a couple big ones around the edges on the top. This is what we're looking for.
Here's me dividing and rough shaping the bread. I evenly split the dough and then try to get it into a rough circle without mangling it too much.

Sorry that it's sideways, apparently a Computer Science degree is insufficient for rotating videos.

You can see that it's kinda jiggly. This is another sign of good fermentation.

Now we let them rest for 20 minutes or so. They'll flatten out a bit and then be ready for final shaping. In the mean time, dust your bannetons with rice flour. Rice flour doesn't stick as much.
No bannetons? You can use a bowl and a tea towel. Avoid something super linty. Lint is not good eats.
After 20min or so, we need to do the final shaping. We're trying to get some tension in the surface of the dough so that it holds its shape and rises well tomorrow. Here's a video showing my poor technique, but you'll get the idea.

I like using the bench scraper because it's less sticky than my human skin. Avoid too much flour here, just enough to keep it from sticking to the counter. Raw unincorporated flour is also not good eats.
Now we gotta get these little gluteny orbs into bed for the night. Just use a bench scraper to scoop em up and plop those bad boys seam up into your prepared baskets. Give em a little jiggle just for fun and to feel the satisfaction of having some nicely aerated dough.
After this I drop these into some bowls and put saran wrap over them and put them somewhere warm (75-80° Freedom) for another 20min or so. If I feel like they were under fermented, I might let them go longer. If they seemed out of control, maybe they'll go right into...
... the fridge. This slows fermentation way down, but it also promotes some really good flavors. Leave it too long and it'll be really sour and lose some structure, but 8-18h have worked for me. If you want to bake ASAP, you can give em another half hour on the counter.
And here is where they will sleep till I get up in the morning. Join us tomorrow for another exciting installment of #BreadThread.

(I hope this isn't destroying everyone's feed. Not too many interactions so either people hate it or it's not spamming you folks too much 🤷‍♂️♥️)
Ok I'm up. Is everyone bready to bake?
Ok go grab your Dutch ovens and toss em in the oven. These are Lodge combo cookers that can be used ✨upside down ✨. It is much easier to get dough into the shallow side of a 500 degree pot. I also leave them slightly ajar so air circulates. Turn your heaty box to 500°.
Set your beeps for an hour. We're gonna let these heat up with the oven. A hot Dutch oven is pretty important to this whole process: it dumps a ton of energy into the dough quickly to give you a good rise. It traps steam to give you a good crust.
Even if you aren't making sourdough, I'd look into a way of trapping or generating steam in your oven. It produces profoundly better results, particularly for lean breads.
We also need to do a little arts and crafts project before we pop these round boys in the oven but first
Much better.
Ok now we're gonna
1. Cut a piece of parchment that's at least 1:1.75.
2. Fold it in half the short way
3. Fold it in half again in the same direction
4. Fold it in half the other direction

With any luck you now have a squareish thing.
Now we're gonna fold diagonally 3 times, keeping the foldyest end at the point. You're just making a snowflake here basically. Now chop this thing off at the appropriate radius for your round boys.
Et voila! I even kind of mangled the edges a bit so it's a little festive. That was definitely on purpose. Yup.

Why do we need these? It'll keep your bread from sticking or burning, neither of which are good eats.
Ok let's get these little buds ready to go into the hot box (no, I don't mean @peterhoneyman's apartment)

They're looking good though mostly similar to last night. A little bit of additional fermentation activity is present.
First we dust them with a little semolina. Like the parchment, it helps prevent sticking and burning. 500° black cast iron tends to like to be burny. Avoid.
Now we apply our arts and crafts project to the top of the doughs. I trimmed the edges a bit because I was worried about eating parchment. Also not good eats.
Now we gotta get our loaves out of bed and into the fire. A small wooden cutting board is good for this task. Just put it on top and flip it over like so. Assuming your basket was adequately floured, it should come out no problem.
You may have also noticed that we've entered the danger zone: there are razor blades and 500° Dutch Ovens. Be careful.

In that video I did a box score and then drew a little 🌲. People who are better than me would do it a lot faster and smoother.
The razor blade is called a lame (rhymes with mom). It's just a double edged razor on a stick. Fun for the kids. Be careful.

Make sure it's sharp AF. Dull blades are more dangerous. You don't want to hack your dough, only the planet.
Here's a cross scoring pattern with a couple decorative embellishments. You can see me doing a bad job and catching some dough. Try not to do that.
We're gonna take a pause for presents and driving, join us in a couple hours for a continuation of #BreadThread
Ok we stopped for Chinese food, so here we go again. Let's get these bad boys into the oven. Here's where that wooden cutting board and the parchment comes in handy. Just slide that guy in there and then put the pot part on top and toss it into the oven.

Be careful.
Do the same with the other one, close the oven, turn it down to 475°, set your beeps for 20min. No peeking.
After 20min, pull the lids off and you should see something like these: good oven spring (they are risen) but very little color. The crust is set and has been steamed because it was inside the Dutch ovens. Perfect.

Turn it down to 450° and set your beeps for 30min.
And now another intermission.
Ok we made it across metro Detroit without encountering a high speed chase (looking at you @jeefy) so let's see what came out of the oven.
But first, fortune cookies now have Bloomingdales ads??

And also this fortune cookie has the opposite point that I'm trying to make here. Bread has a mind of its own! Sometimes it'll just do something weird for no apparent reason! Hopefully not today.

But I digress.
Now the moment a couple of you have been waiting for! No more half-baked loaves, we've got fully baked boules here! We got a good ear on the square score and it's mostly centered. The 🌲 looks vaguely 🌲-like. The cross score looks like a holiday demogorgon, as intended.
Here's some more detail on the scoring and crust. Notice the bubbling: the steam helps that a lot, and they are very tasty little crispy crunchy bits.
Now to @jrrickard and Marcus Aurelius' point: sometimes cracks kinda form where they want, but scoring at least gives the bread a hint as to where and how to open, and gives you a chance to play artist with a razor.

Also note the height difference between the loaves: demogorgon loaf is higher than 🌲 loaf, and it's not just due to the darkness within. The cross score has extra structure around the bottom of the loaf, so it doesn't spread as much as the square score. Harness this power.
Thanks to @murphmonkey I have the following to say:

LET'S GET READY TO CRUMBLE!!!

Crumb shots here, showing a mix of small and large bubbles. Soft. A little bit glossy. Just a touch of sour smell.

This is Pretty Good™ but not perfect. I'd like a little more uniformity.
Suggested pairing: butter and some Christmas Eve dinner.
If you thought "thank god he's done" then you're in for some bitter Christmas disappointment. We have at least 2 topics left to cover: maintaining a starter and bread storage. I took some starter photos earlier, so I think we can squeeze that in between obligations tomorrow.
And one thing I forgot to mention earlier: You will be tempted to slice into the bread before it's fully (and I mean fully) cooled. Resist this urge. I know it smells good. It will still be gummy inside and you'll ruin all your hard work. Don't do it! 2-3h is necessary. ♥️
Ooh tonight's edition has some better bubbles than the last batch.
But alas, the last we spoke I promised you some starter content, so here we go on this Christmas Eve-ning.

A starter is aka mother, leaven, chef, sponge, and a number of other things, but it's just a little piece of continuously fermenting flour and water that you maintain.
Mine looks like this right now. It's about a cup in volume and looks, well, like a sponge. It's yeasty smelling with hints of booze and just a touch of sour. It is at peak fermentation, and if I leave it much longer it will collapse because the fermentables are almost gone.
We need to feed our hungry yeasties. So what to we do? Toss most of them in the trash. Or make waffles or compost them, but we only need a few grams of our starter. Get rid of the rest however you choose. I wrote the weight of the jar on it so I know how much I left behind. 5g.
Now I just add to that jar 50g flour (50/50 whole wheat and white) and 50g water that's in the upper 70s.
Mix it up till it looks like the last photo. Way less spongy, half the volume. Smells like raw flour pretty much.

Stick this in a warm place (mine is 77°) and leave it for 12 hours and you'll be back to the spongy goo from a couple tweets ago.
So you basically just keep doing this forever at exactly 12h intervals or everything will go horribly and it will die or your bread will poison you.
Nah I'm kidding of course, it's really pretty resilient. If you forget a feeding it'll collapse but it'll be fine if you just feed it again. If you keep it at a lower temp it'll go longer between feedings. Less water slows it down too, and whole grains speed it up.
You can toss that bad boy in the fridge for a couple weeks if you need a break and it'll be fine. Just feed it a couple times before you bake with it again.
Now readers who have been paying attention to this thread (I think just @juliewbee) may ask: well wtf Brandon how did you get 165g of this goo to be ready for your bread at 5pm? You only have 100g in that jar, and you fed it at 10am! That's only 7 hours! It's not ready!
Take a breath! It'll be ok. We'll tweak the variables and make a starter with the right amount of goo that's ready at the right time.

Our target is 165g at 5pm. If we start with 30g of ripe starter, we can get this thing going faster than the 5g of residue we usually use.
I mixed this up at 10 and it was ready at 5. How did I know it would be ready? Ehh pretty much trial and error, and I knew that 30g in 90g flour and 90g water would work out ok. It's pretty much just exponential growth and extrapolation. And by that I mean lucky guesses.
We do this a lot: split out a new branch of the family tree, control the variables the best we can, and use that to actually leaven the bread.
Now you may ask how we get the starter to begin with. I explained it at a very high level early in this #breadthread and I'm not going to go into detail now, but you can fairly easily make your own in a week or you can ask me or another friend to give you some of theirs.
Some people swear by their 200 year old starter that came from the old country, or some they got from a particular place, but none of that matters. After a couple feedings, your starter is going to have the bacteria and yeast that's endemic to your town and the flour you use.
The only real advantage of using someone else's starter is convenience. It already has a good balance of yeasty boys and bacteria, so you don't have to worry about bad bacteria taking over before the good take hold. Plus it saves you a week.
It's fun to start from scratch, though, and I think it's worth doing once, for the science. If you're interested, this is a good place to start: theperfectloaf.com/7-easy-steps-m…
Oh hey I also took a picture of the bottom of the Xmas Eve loaves. You can see some cracks, but worry not! This is a good sign. As the bread cools, it shrinks. The shatteringly crisp crust will break, and you can hear it crackling sometimes.
You'll also notice that the bottoms aren't incredibly burnt. The semolina and parchment worked! You can see some semolina bits still, but they won't be noticable like cornmeal would.
Here's this morning's results: a festive wheat design and classic Demogorgon.
I guess today I went with.... Eye of Sauron?
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