Back on track, with kamut+whole wheat bread

Hugo's picture

I’ve had my share of failures over the last few days. It seems that I would make a different mistake at each attempt.

Here are a few "rules" I’ve discovered:

1- Never EVER bake bread based on flour volume, especially if you change flour type! Use a kitchen scale.

2- Never use flour that’s too poor in proteins, even if it says "all purpose flour". The 5 kg bag of organic flour I’ve bought contained only 9.5% proteins and the result was gooey. I’m now pretty sure that the "sweet butter" smell during proofing is a sign that the flour is too poor in gluten.

3- If you overproof to death, well, you’ll learn that what goes up must come down eventually.

4- Better get a burned undercrust than a soggy bread.


My latest "good" bread is a 80% organic kamut, 20% organic integral wheat flour bread.

Overall hydration is a mere 58%, but since the flour doesn’t seem to develop super strong gluten (even after a vigourous kneading), it’s okay.

The mother culture: my super-powerful Grandma Smith feral ferment (see previous posts), which was reached some kind of balance after 4 weeks. It now has a delicate green apple - vinegar smell (I suspect the ecosystem now contains bacteria that break down alcohol into vinegar, or some additional level of activity). It works fast and peaks after 2h to 2h30 at room temperature. I feed it with whole wheat and whole rye flours.

The sponge was made with 2 tablespoons of culture, 100 ml water, 100 ml whole wheat. Waited 5 hours to get some sourness.

The dough contains the sponge, 350g sifted kamut flour, 150g water, 2 tsp salt.

Autolyse 30 minutes, kneading 5 minutes.

Then proofing on the kitchen counter under a damp towel and wrap. The dough is a bit loose, and some bubbles reached the surface. It didn’t rise much but I wasn’t worried. I gently folded the dough hourly.

Then transfered the dough to a bowl lined with a silky tablecloth and flour for 2 hours. Pre-heated the oven, pizza stone and bowl of water to 475F for 1 hour.

Cooking 20 minutes, remove the water and reduce heat to 450F, then another 15 minutes.

The bread started expanding after 5 minutes in the oven, and kept expanding for a whopping 20 minutes! The grigne is the largest I’ve managed to get so far. I’ll slice the bread in a few minutes.

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Electricboots 2013 March 22

Hi Hugo,

Still improving in leaps and bounds! I see you have abandoned those low cuts that were taking away from the top expansion. I could add a few more rules to your list after my problems last weekend. The Wallaby bread flour that we get in 5 kg packs here is around 11% protein and a lot of Aussie bakers seem to use it. To us "all-purpose" means cake and pastry flour with the protein level you mention. I tried some spelt (14% protein) with the Wallaby in the ratio 1:3 this week when I had to replace last weekend's disaster (over proofed) and it worked really well, although I watched progress a lot more carefully 2nd time around. 

Here is a bit of chemistry for you- acetaldehyde has an appley smell and this is an intermediate in both fermentation of sugars to alcohol by yeasts and also the oxidation of alcohol to acetic acid so it is all part of the balance of what is happening.


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