Second whack at @DanAyo's @txfarmer Shredible Sandwich Bread revival
Back in February, when @DanAyo posted about his experiences with an unexpected (by me, anyway) style of enriched sourdough posted by @txfarmer in 2011, I decided to give it a try. My own experience with the formula after quick scans of Danny's and @txfarmer's posts was unsettling, but ultimately produced 2 loaves of a very light, white and shreddable sandwich bread. I had difficulty and no small amount of anxiety with the relatively dry levain, a super wet dough and sluggish gluten development.
With the last slices of the February loaves finally disappearing from the freezer, I thought it was time to revisit the bread. This time I had the patience to thoroughly read through Danny's and @txfarmer's original posts and subsequent comments. Suspicions I had during my first attempt at the bread were confirmed by a more careful reading of the audience dialogues that focused on ambiguities of @txfarmer's original post.
I developed the stiff levain (71% hydration) over 3 12-hour generations starting with 5 grams of my 100% hydration standard starter. My previous attempt resulted in a rather dry, crumbly lump that didn't really change much overnight. This time I hand-kneaded the levain at each generation to ensure complete hydration and the dough rose into surprisingly puffy masses at rest. I'm still a bit uncertain with using milk in a levain destined to 36 hours on the kitchen counter, but I noticed no unusual smells or tastes, so I'm guessing LAB and yeast action are to thank.
Reviewing my notes from the first attempt, I had spotted something that sent me back to the original posts. I had not included the egg whites (24% of flour weight) in my hydration calculation. Dopeslap (facepalm?) time. So I had actually produced a 95% hydration dough. No wonder I never got a windowpane and nearly threw the whole mess out.
This time aroundI let the KitchenAid gently moosh up the levain in most of the formula's milk for a few minutes. Mixing the dough seemed much less unusual and I actually got to a windowpane (though I question whether it was a @txfarmer stage 3 windowpane) after 20 minutes of KitchenAid 2-4-6 thrashing. The dough nearly cleared the bowl in the final minutes.
After 2.5 hours of bulk with 4 sets of coil folds and 17 hours at 37º, I scaled and shaped16 75 gram balls setting them into standard loaf pans in the style of brioches nanterres. The rose nicely over a 4 hour proof at 80º. This in contrast to the 7 hour proof of my 95% hydration first attempt.
I'm still amazed that I accidentally got a decent result with my February 95% hydration dough. The crust on that batch of bread seemed exceptionally crisp but delicate. This current batch has a less crunchy crust, so the excess hydration in the February loaves must have contributed in some way.
A few takeaways
- Stiff levain is kind of nice to handle.I t's actually less messy the wetter types.
- Egg and egg whites are mostly water. Include 90% of their weight in hydration calculations.
- Sourdough levains do not have to always yield chewy, crusty breads.
- Re-engineer spreadsheet templates to adjust for levain hydration. Current model hard-coded at 100% levain hydration.
- Practice patience. Don't always be in such a hurry. In technology we often took a macho kind of pride to infrequently or never "read the freaking manual". Maybe not a great practice on a first attempt at a new style of bread.
- It's all right to totally botch a bread recipe. You learn a lot. And most of the time yeast and gluten will cover your backside.