Myths in naturally fermented bread?
This subject has been interesting topic to discuss as many bakers use this kind of ?gimmickry ? to improve their product marketability often with success;
But are all those gimmickry well worth or really factual ?
It is common knowledge that traditional bread is just flour, salt, water, and leaven and occasionally bakers yeast. Many people believe certain ingredients are needed to produce better quality bread; such as organic, and freshly made flour, sea salt, crystal spring water, and natural leaven culture.. It should be preferably hand kneaded, and baked on a wood fired oven. If that would be the way how its made from the choice ingredients and made by hand and baked with wood heat?it certainly improve the sales appeal of that bread from the artisan point.
But do all of those specific ingredients and treatment may make a difference?based on experience ?It does not ,,, but depends largely on the functionality and ingredient chemistry.
I would easily agree with the oven as I had experience the difference in taste with bread baked under such facility. But freshly made flour and properly aged flour, statistically speaking I cannot find any significant difference in taste but there is indeed better baking quality due to improvement in appearance and volume which is due to flour maturation in the properly aged flour.
With sea salt, and common table salt I don?t see any difference either,
Now with water as long as its not tainted strongly with other foreign or chemical tastes it cannot influence the bread taste either.
The only observed benefit had something to do with the amount of mineral matter in the water that can also provide some dough strengthening effect due to the presence of calcium and magnesium ions. Medium hard water is beneficial to the dough than soft water (such as present in rainfall).This is due to the presence of moderate amounts of
Divalent cations in the spring water that indeed improve gluten strength better than the monovalent cations present in salts such as sodium or potassium..
It may be right if the spring water is loaded with sufficient mineral ions and the tap water is soft type with very minimal content of ions; but for a tap water with medium hardness, its impossible to find the difference in performance with spring water.
so the so called crystal spring water is just A MEDIA HYPE..?
Therefore what ever thought of as the magic of certain ingredients can be attributed to the ?chemical effect? and not due to its source where in extreme cases new age minded people even attribute the particular water to being ?blessed ? nature or elemental spirits such as elves, fairies, gnomes etc.?
Now what is the benefit of hand kneading if compared to machine kneading.? Does a dough made by hand or manually is better tasting than the mechanically developed dough?
Assuming the degree of dough development is the same I can?t find much difference as long as the subsequent processing are identical.
In many parts of developing countries where bakers knead the dough in a trough like vessel ( or as old fashioned feeding vessel for livestock) and you can see dripping perspiration incorporated with the dough I tried it a few times this particular vesion of hand kneading ( by myself alone)handling 50 to 100 kg of dough in that wooden trough while moving back and forth from end to end of that vessel while I fold , push and stretch the dough and indeed its difficult to prevent lots of my sweat from dripping and getting incorporates in the kneaded dough.
The people in these areas believe that bread taste better due to the added perspiration from the bakers. Now it takes considerable skill and stamina to knead such dough size by hand non stop for at least half and hour! so profuse sweating is inevitable exacerbated by the tropical conditons in the bakery.
Now when the dough is done its divided into 10-15 kg sizes and even slung on sweaty shoulders to stretch. You can see the dough glistening being moistened by the bakers perspiration and when the dough is pressed with palm to form a fist you can hear the squishing sound of the wetted dough is being formed into round slabs!
.They really have to wipe vegetable oil on the bench surface to prevent the sticking of the sweat moistened dough
High speed mixing ,medium speed and slow speed mixing? I don?t see any difference either as long as the degree of dough development is the same.
For example a baker mix a dough in the spiral mixer and another baker in the fork type/french mixer and other do the same in the high speed Tweedy or the Stephan vertical cutter mixer, or a home baker willl use the food processor as he has no mixer or feel lazy to knead a dough...
Based on observation of the bread results; if the degree of dough development is made to be the same and the rest of the processing conditions are controlled to be equivalent the resulting bread quality and taste is identical!
A competent baker can make an artisan style dough with these high speed mixers (as with by his hand,) and other mixing equipment but many bakers who have never experienced playing with those particular machines ( aside for its intended purpose in commercial bakeries vehemently disagree?ncluding the venerable Raymond Calvel) because its in their mindset that the dough that is run into those machines should come fully developed but the fact its it depends upon the baker running the equipment and what kind of dough is he making from it and the adjustment he has made in the mixing parameters.
Therefore I cannot find the dough to be oxidized (or bland tasting according to Calvel thesis) if you know how to use the equipment properly.
So I can say that artisan baking is full of myth?.?
Why do many bakers succumb to such form of superstitions? ?.I can attribute that partly to technical ignorance? the other part ( due to personal prejudice)?
I would like to hear some opinions from other posters who have experienced uniqueness of their bread if compared with competition due to applying these special ingredients or using different dough preparation methodology .
It is a subject that is really suited for an interesting discussion.,
In addiition to that
It would be equally interesting if other members can post other myth not mentioned here. that needs dissection if it has really a valid basis ...