Saturday, June 13, 2009

threat of rain

Another Saturday morning, dark and overcast. Maybe the rain will hold off. We were expecting it to rain thru the night, but we got the markets set up without rain gear.

The Old Town Art Festival is happening down around North and Wells, we're expecting quite a bit of play from that. They better show up, we sent a lot of extra goods.

Getting back to that autolyse thing, there are cases when doing an autolyse is of no benefit. When a dough has an exceptionally high percentage of whole wheat flour, the bran flakes will interfere with any gluten structure. Gluten is a single strand protein. The proteins link up in a chain. The coarse bran will get in between the protein, and it in itself is already weaker. Weaker structure equals enhanced extensibility. Rye dough's are another example which, there isn't any benefit from an autolyse. Rye has some gluten, but it is minimal. Rye flour is loaded with pentosan. Pentosan is like chewing gum, without the sweetness. Rye breads almost always contain wheat flour. The strength of the wheat protein is drastically weakened because it gets diluted by the rye flour.

I have mentioned about the percentage of whole wheat flour. As bakers we talk about and use "baker's percentage". As bakers we also put together our recipes, better known as formulas, using pounds and ounces. We weigh everything. This baker's percentage thing is all based on the weight of the flour. A simple baguette formula is 100 pounds of flour, 65 pounds of water, 2 pounds of salt, 2 pounds of yeast. So, it's 100% flour, 65% water, 2% salt and 2% yeast. The secret in making really good bread is the way you manipulate the formula. What percentage of the flour gets prefermented and which method is used to ferment it.

When making whole wheat bread, it should be 100 percent whole wheat flour, no white flour. There are a number of doughs we make that contain a small percentage of either whole wheat, and/or rye flour. For instance in our California Bread we use 90 percent white flour and 10 percent whole wheat. For this dough we do an autolyse. Our cracked wheat bread is 50/50 white to whole wheat flour. We do not autolyse that dough. Our semolina sesame dough gets an autolyse as well. It uses 1/3 durum flour. 1/3 semolina, and 1/3 white flour. Durum and semolina flours are used in making pasta. Very high in protein. Moral of the story, anywhere there is excessive protein in the flour, do an autolyse.

The sad news is, there are not many hard rules in the bakery. I mentioned 65 percent water. Most of the time, that's fine. Sometimes we will mix a dough and have 10% of the water left. It's in the baker's hand.

A while back a wise Frenchman told me "in the bakery two plus two is never four, but it's always very close to the middle between three and five".


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