Sourdough bread Planning

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Planning your baking day

This is to specify how many breads, size and shape you are going to make and when you want to start mixing. With this information we can work out the quantities of ingredients and the quantities of leaven required.
The leaven should be at its peak when it is used for bread making so it is important to know 48 hours in advance when it will be required so as to plan and optimize its fabrication. At this point in time we are only looking at bread but it is interesting to note that when you fire your oven you will want to optimize your efforts.
If bread is baked between 250°C and 180°C you can also use your oven for the following:

          280°C and 250°C Pizza
          265°C and 235°C Roast
          225°C and 200°C Tarte, Quiche
          210°C and170°C Brioche, patisserie
          200°C and 140°C Terrine, casserole, curry
          150°C and 110°C Sterilizing and preserving meat, fish, vegetable, fruits
          120°C and 100°C Apples cooked in oven
          105°C and  90°C  Meringues
           90 °C and   20°C  Drying plants, fruits and vegetables

Before going into the calculation necessary to create the best bread lets have a look at a few aspects of bread making.
With natural leaven bread planning is crucial. You require approximately 1200g of dough to obtain 1Kg of finished bread. For a 2 Kg finished bread you will require about 2250g of dough because the bigger the bread mass is the less it is affected by evaporation. So even though it is more economic to bake a 4Kg bread I wouldn’ t attempt handling such a large quantity of dough until I was regularly successful with the 1Kg breads.
The Best shape for conservation is the ball "Boule" but I prefer to bake long breads which slices well and are more suitable to the sandwich culture.

The amount of natural leaven is normally 600g (0.6Kg) per liter (1000g or 1 Kg) of mixing water. You may want to modify the amount of leaven in your bread to reduce the sour taste but by doing this you run the risk of getting a less aerated bread. I use the maximum amount of leaven (600g per liter of mixing water) because I enjoy the sour taste and also because I want my bread to have the maximum volume. Of course it is also possible to compensate for reduced leaven by increasing fermentation times.

This bring us to the last and most important point which is to determine the Hydration Level of your flour which varies according to the amount of gluten (gluten absorbs 3 times its weight of water) and the amount of damaged starch. If you use too much water your bread will not keep its shape when introduced in the oven, if you do not use enough water your bread will not develop properly. HL is the number of liters of mixing water used with 100 Kg of flour, lets say that you require 55 liters of water for 100 Kg of flour then your HL is 55%. Finding out your Flour HL is important because you will then be able to calculate the exact amount of mixing water you require to mix the dough and obtain the perfect consistency repeatedly. My way of finding out my flour HL is to measure in a bottle exactly 1 liter of water (1000g) then put in a bowl 1000g of flour and start mixing it until I get the consistency required I then weigh the water left in the bottle and deduct the amount used. If 430g are left I have used 570g therefore HL is 57%.
If that is too difficult to follow you may wish to start with an HL of 60% for your first bread. Then when you put your shaped dough on the peel take one minute to observe it, if it doesn’ t hold its shape you have used too much water if it is very firm you may use more water next time. The more hydrated the dough the easier it is for you and for the wild yeast to do the work.
Next time you bake bread add or subtract 1% to your HL until you get it just right.

Copyright © 2005 Henri Saurat - All rights reserved