Monday, June 14, 2010

Vermont Sourdough Breads


"One" of the June breads in the Hamelman Challenge is Vermont Sourdough. Actually, there are three recipes: Vermont Sourdough, Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat, and Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain. Basically these are the same recipe except the first is 10% rye, the second is 10% whole wheat, and the third is 15% rye. So, is this three recipes or one?

When listed in the Challenge, they were given separate number as though separate recipes. But if separate, then we have five new breads for June rather than the usual three. In the spirit of the Mellow Bakers, it is up to the baker to decide how to count these.

In fact, these recipes immediately suggest even more variations. For example, per the recipe, the final fermentation can be 2, 8, or 18 hours---it's the baker choice. There is also some ambiguity about what flour to use. The recipes specify bread flour. The text preceding the recipes specifically call for 11.5% to 12% bread flour. King Arthur's All Purpose Flour is 11.7%. King Arthur's Bread Flour is 12.7%. It would seem AP flour would be the logical choice based on percentage of protein. (Of course, this raise a whole lot of questions about the other recipes in the book.)

For this project, I elected to bake five types of bread. I made each of the three recipes using KA AP Flour and the overnight refrigerator retard. Additional, I made the first recipe with KA AP Four with a 2 hour fermentation and with KA Bread Flour with an 2 hour fermentation. With the overnight retard, I went directly from the refrigerator to the oven as suggested by Hamelman. Apart from these variations, I pretty much stuck to the book.

In general, there really wasn't a lot of difference among the three recipes. I had a slight preference for the wholewheat, but I would be happy with any of the three. As promised by Hamelman, the overnight retard help to develop the sour taste more. But, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not really a sourdough fan. So, based on taste, I preferred the shorter fermentation. Moreover, I found that the dough baked directly from the refrigerator did not produce the save volume of bread, as the dough with the that had the shorter fermentation, i.e., did not have the same oven spring. So I preferred the texture of the bread with the shorter fermentation time as well. And since it takes a day less to make, for me, it won hands down.

As to bread flour vs. all purpose flour, either seemed to work well. I was careful to weight flour and water without making any adjustments. Not surprisingly, the dough from the AP flour seemed a little wetter, but not by much. And the crumb seemed a bit more open. In the photo, the slice at the bottom of the picture is 24 hour retard AP four, the middle slice is 2 hour retard AP flour, and the bread at the top of the picture is 2 hour retard bread flour.

While I don't lament having made this/these recipe/recipes, I think I'll stick to Hamelman's Rustic Bread recipe.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I bought Hamelman's book these days, and I'm so happy with that. Vermont, is the first attempt from J.H. I made this bread several times, but still have questions. I'm from Europe, and the flour I think it's differnet from for example KA Flour. So, the bread is ok. But felt that more water will be better. So, on the third attempt I increased the hidratation at 70%. And I think I like it that way. I use a flour with 0.65 ash. The question is on the retarding time. You specificated that you retarded the bread 2H. Those 2 hours are in the refrigerator or at room temperature? I ussualy ferment the dough about 1H at room temperature than retard it in the refrigerator. Thank You.

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