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using a part of bread dough in the next batch

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've been making the no-knead bread recipe for a long time now, and can't bear to eat any other bread any more. I did some experimenting and came up with a variation using beer and kneading a little after the rise, and then found a similar variation on cooks illustrated, and followed that too.

I had read many times (in the context of many recipes) that if you set aside a little of the previous dough you can increase the flavor of bread, without going through the whole business of a starter, etc. I tried that, and every time it came out much worse than the bread made without it.
I found every single time i had a more sticky dough on my hands, though i added the right amount (right by touch not by measure) of flour to it so the consistency was the same as when i didn;t use the leftover raw dough.

I kept the bit of leftover dough (about 2 tbsp of it) in the fridge in a covered container from one baking to another (sometimes one day, sometimes more days) and added the water to it when i made the next batch, so it would dissolve and it would distribute evenly through the dough.

Now if it were just sticky dough but the end result were good, i would have no problem, but the resulting bread was NOT good, not nearly as good anyway, as the one without the leftover dough in it.
Anyone have any explanations?
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #2 of 13
Siduri,

That little bit of old dough IS a starter. Appropriately, since you're in Italy, it's a variation on a biga. The idea of a starter is to introduce some mature yeast, along with some yeast byproducts to give the bread tang. Presumably this is what you're hoping for, and also the reason you're adding the beer which works in similar ways to produce similar results.

It's very common for a bread with a starter to feel more hydrated and stickier than a bread with fresh yeast only. This is especially true with long-lived starters like sourdoughs, but it's true for poolish and biga types as well. Your no-knead technique makes it standout more than it otherwise it would if you were continually adding bench flour through out the knead. The feel on mixing is misleading you as a predictor of how the dough will feel when forming -- even after a full autolyse and several fold-rise-rest cycles.

This isn't worrisome as long as you're getting good structure in the crumb, and good texture on the crust. But it's confusing that this happens with such a small dose of biga/old dough.

Questions:
Besides the biga, how much yeast are you using for a two loaf recipe?
What are your rise/proof times like?
Does the old dough go in any sort of preferment, or is the dough mixed all at one time?
How would you compare the textures and tastes of the breads made with and without the biga?

I feel like the combination of the beer, the biga, and the no-knead technique might be one thing too many for the bread. It's certainly one thing too many to get a handle on whatever the problem is -- especially given the low quantity of starter used. (The small amount of biga you're using makes it almost like an altus. A technique you might want to try instead, BTW.)

Also, it would be helpful if you gave a full recipe. Not only to help you, but some of us might like to steal it for our own purposes.

BDL
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi BDL
was hoping you'd reply. I don;t know how to make multiple quotes in the same post, but i want to comment on various parts. Let's see how it works - i tried "multiple quote" but nothing happened.
I'm not so much hoping for tang as for more complex flavor. I'm not crazy about sourdough as i remember having it in the states, but then, that was a long time ago. I would like the flavor of natural yeast, as some really good breads here have, without any tang at all. The bread i have in mind is Lariano, made in the town of that name, but hard to find the real thing any more.

Ok, this makes sense then, and this is why the whole thing comes out bad later, because the thing i didn;t like about the original recipe for no knead is that it's way too wet and i can't stand the cornmeal that gets folded INTO the bread (cornmeal is fine on the base), which is almost necessary to be able to fold it. It's way too messy for my taste, and i know that's not how they made bread in the old days here (when bread still tasted good) so i thought to make it drier and then at the end of the rise to knead it just a little. I also like to be able to cut the top of the loaf which looks so nice, but can;t if it's so squooshy.
So, anyway, what you're saying is that when i added the biga, the dough was deceptively the right dryness, but it wasn;t. And therein lies the problem i guess, because then i would try to add the extra flour during the kneading which didn;t work at all and would force me to overknead. The resulting bread was more like a batter bread like they used to have recipes for all the time, like a cake crumb.

i guess the problem was adding flour later (whcih i knew was not a good thing0 and overkneading

1. a quarter teaspoon. My idea was to do as i've heard from old people here, that they used to use the leftover part of the dough as the only yeast in the bread.
2. i rise it after mixing about 8 to 12 hours
3. i take the old dough and put it in a tupperware sort of thing in the fridge. since this bread isn;t kneaded much and barely mixed at the beginning, i water it down before adding so it will mix evenly. that is, i mix it with some of the recipe's water. No rising time outside the frige, though it might stay there from 1 to 5 days.
4. small bubbles, more cakelike, maybe a little acidy

an altus, hmmm, have to look that up

ok, in the end i settled on the cooks illustrated one, subject to my own variation as to consistency (adding generally more water than they say - i usually use the flour they sell here as "manitoba" since italian flour is more soft wheat
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cup liquid of which mostly water and a small part beer if i have it, (i usually don;t, and when i do it';s usually some artisan beer, belgian or english or german) (i usually end up with almost 2 cups liquid) - they say to add a couple of tbsp vinegar - i usually don;t, though it is helpful to add a little (and i usually add about 1 tsp) because the water here is exceptionally hard.
2 tsp salt (cooks illustrated always undersalts everything - i increased it)
1/4 tsp dry active yeast

I mix in the bowl by hand, till all flour has been wet, adding to the original recipe till i can wet it all, and i try for a stand-up, if ragged ball. (maybe from what you're saying i should ditch the "no knead" business here and just knead it now, rather than later, so i can really see the consistency?)
I leave it, usually about 12 hrs, maybe less, sometimes more. Then i turn it out on a floured board and knead about fifteen turns (but with the biga i need to add more flour and knead much longer)

I leave it about an hour, sometimes two, following their indication to put it on a piece of parchment paper, slash the top, transfer to the heated cast-iron pot and cover. Bake at about 450 for about 20 min, uncover, finish baking till a skewer comes out dry.

This is absolutely the best bread for everyday use that i make and i have to say, the best white bread i've eaten. (I also make soft milk or buttermilk based whole wheat raisin breads, but that's a different sort of bread). It's crusty and has nice holes, lasts 5 days wrapped in paper (it rarely does because it's usually finished ina day) and incredible flavor and smell. I can't bear to eat the stuff you can get in a panetteria any more, and that is supposed to be artisan bread! But it's tasteless and dry.
With the biga, though, it isn;t so great. doesn;t look nice, and though the taste is ok, it's not as nice. Is it acidy? not really.
still better than the store stuff, though, but i prefer it without the biga.

thanks for any observations on this.
siduri
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #4 of 13
Siduri,

Let's see.

Since it's more than half the yeast, we'll definitely have to call your "old dough" bread, a "biga" bread -- which is as Italian as you can get. Rather than giving up on it entirely, it would be great to see you master it. FWIW, I don't bake one although I do bake several "poolish" breads. I'd like you to try one of them and see if it's the type of flavor you want in terms of complexity.

If you like, I'll either post or send you a recipe for a pain sur poolish which is ordinary French bread. Or, you can work off of the Sour Pumpernickel Rye recipe already up. It mentions using an altus too, so at least you'll have a glimmer. And as is, will tell you right off the bat if that's the complexity you're looking for, and also talks about controlling the sourness. (I'm wondering about posting too many more bread recipes as I've already posted three, and don't want to put the whole book up in this forum.)

On the other hand, "ordinary French bread," is a heady target in and of itself. The real differences between a good French and the Italian bread you reference are more textures than complexities of taste. Really amazing what you can do with flour, yeast, water, and salt.

That tight crumb you're getting from the "biga" usually results from one of two things or their combination -- too much hydration and too much kneading. As an overdrawn example, think of beating a cake batter, as opposed to making bread. The cake comes out cake like. Or, at least it should.

Since you're kneading "no knead" bread, you've got the feeling you're over kneading. Could be wrong, but I'm guessing that's not your problem. Heck woman! You can knead biscuits that much and not hurt them. The problem is the hydration. Cut the water down to 1 cup for 3 cups flour and add just enough when you're mixing to clean the bowl. Referring to (yet) another posted recipe, take a look at the "Onion Dill" bread instructions and read about how hard it is to get a feel for how much moisture is in it until it's fully kneaded. Same thing here, and for much the same reason although in your case it's the spores and not the curds.

Also, the modern practice with bread that's set to auytolsye, is to fold instead of punching down and/or kneading between rises. I haven't made the pot baked dough, but it's just a variation on baking a pan bread in a cloche. I suspect your bread, whether beer, biga or both would benefit from turning and at least one extra rise -- probably two. Whomever originated the recipe was counting on the long first rise to carry the burden of several rises -- which it almost does. But, more rises means more complexity.

Going back to baking with a biga, the normal practice is to use about a half cup to a cup of biga per loaf, reactivating it with some flour and a little water, and letting that take a rise on its own -- rather than the technique you've been using. This is probably a good idea for you, too. Just keep track of how much water you're using, total, figuring that in your total. For instance, a cup of biga would have about 1/4 cup water, while a cup of poolish would have about 1/2 cup. (You already know my beliefs about putting "feel" over 'measurement," for home size recipes. Goes in spades for bakers as good as you!)

After reading everything you've been doing, I think you can make the biga plus no knead work by adding a few extra steps if you're of a mind; but would suggest making a proven biga or poolish bread, to cut down a few variables and get a sense of how to work in the medium. If you're up for a change to Metteleuropa rye, try that. And if not, I'll write out a pain sur poolish recipe and get it to you somehow.

BDL
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
thanks so much bdl.
here are some comments, and i hope they're of interest to others in the forum. Don;t want to monopolize.
not sure what you mean by "more than half the yeast" - more than half the yeast of what? I would say, instead, that more than half the leavening is yeast, the rest being in the biga, or is it that the old dough counts as all yeast? I'm not sure of this question, because the "old timers" here talk about last week's dough that was set aside as "lievito" - leavening - rather than "dough" but it seems to me it's mostly flour, and a little of the yeasty beasties growing in it. Or by the time i use it is it mostly yeast?

I don;t like baguette much, though maybe it's because of the kind of baguettes that are available - they're usually light and airy when i've had them and i like heavy bread, that is, bread with more mass, weight per volume. So when you say french, do you mean baguette or pain de campagne? My aim is for a simple bread, that fits into a workday (where i leave the house at 9:30 and get back - tired - at 7:30 or 8:30) but with great taste and smell and long-lasting. Which is why no-knead appealed so much. My free time is always unpredictable so have always avoided sourdoughs where it seems you need to tend the organisms too much, feeding and kneading at regular intervals.

Here i think, dare i say it, you may be wrong... if you beat cake batter too much AFTER the flour is added, you get tough, dry, breadlike cake with largish wormhole-like holes in it (to wit, every italian housewife's "cake" the "ciambellone", always overbeaten, always dry, always with big holes) - i think this is because it develops the gluten? But i did get the feeling that while if the dough was wet and i just folded it (original no knead recipe), i had big holes, but if it was too wet and i tried to knead more flour into it to keep it from being sticky and to make it hold a shape, it got small, even holes.

No, no, the recipe i gave is for the bread that comes out well, without the biga, when i add the biga i have to knead a whole lot more than fifteen turns. And it stays weird no matter how much flour i knead in, i want to say slimy or maybe better, gelatinous, giving under pressure, but maintaining a regular shape, like a flattish (one-inch-high) alien species of thick seaweed. (one could become paranoid...)

hmmm, i have a hard time incorporating all the flour into it with 1 3/4 cup water to 3 cups flour - i get a pile of flour at the bottom of the bowl that way already. But perhaps if i actually knead it at this point it might work better? I could knead in the flour rather than try to just mix? I guess i could knead directly in the bowl and not have to wash the counter twice.

yeah, maybe on a sunday when i have nothing to do, but normally i'm out of the house most of the day, and count on the long time outside or a full night's sleep to let the rising take place. I can't come home to tinker with it. I would like to try it this way that you say, though, so maybe i can get a feel for it. Next time i'm home correcting exams or something!

thanks for the compliment - so a rise of how long? an hour? overnight? out or inside the frige? And should i then mix it in with the water as i was doing, or actually knead it into the bread at the first mixing?

I will try that. After which i'll try to fool around with a method that works for the working woman.
thanks for all your help.
siduri
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #6 of 13
Siduri,

It's your thread. You get to monopolize it. In fact, it's encouraged.

You were right -- "more than half the leavening" covers the situation better. I THINK that more than half the yeast spoors that actually leaven the new bread come from the old, but that could be wrong.

The recipe I was offering was for baguette type bread, not campagne. So, another time.

Cake. I meant cake. Not over beaten cake. Delicious cake. Let them eat it.

I get your point about the sponge being dry before autolysis, and then going wet. It's the same thing with the Onion Dill and Olive breads. The only way to handle it is to add flour during the kneading process.

Sourdough, on the other hand ... The slick feeling is definitely like a sourdough. You get that from mature yeast colonies. I'd look over at the Fresh Loaf and see what they're up do with sourdoughs these days. There are a lot of excellent bakers over there (way better than me!), who do a lot technique combining. We've got a few good bakers over here, but nowhere near the breadth of experience they have through sheer numbers.

Then there's the apology part. I hadn't really thought about how you had to fit the number of proofs into your schedule; and that being part of the appeal to the "no-knead in a roasting pan" bread. Insensitivity, thy name is man.

We can work in a "retarded refrigerator" overnight rise if you want to try working more traditional breads during the week. You'd be making the biga when you got up in the morning (five minutes), putting it in the frige when you left for work, mixing the bread in the evening, getting one rise, forming loaves and refrigerating, and baking in the morning. Workable?

BDL
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
and so i will!


never mind them, i will eat it myself. Man does not live by bread alone, and all that - we need cake!

ok, i'm presuming you mean adding it while kneading BEFORE rising. After rising overnight, i find i can't knead in enough and end up overkneading it - or is overnight too much rising unless in the refrigerator?

ok, will try, but i find that if they're professional bakers they start talking about precise measurement and all that, it's a very different way of baking. I only seem to be able to think with my hands.
i didn;t mean to come across huffy - for all you know i'm a retired person with lots of time on my hand, or some rich expat whose husband works in a UN organization. In fact most people who work like i do don;t bother with baking, so it's not surprising you assumed i have the time. For me it's what meditation is for others.
Yeah, that might work, if the baking takes less than an hour and a half, from heating the oven to getting it out - since i usually get up an hour and a half before going to work. Or i could do it before a day off, i guess. Though that requires more timing than i may be capable of
Thanks
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #8 of 13
In re. mixing in flour during the knead to control hydration: Yes, I meant mixing in flour as needed during a pre-rise, pre-long-sit knead. If you mix and allow to sit for awhile before kneading , a process called autolysis takes place -- which means the wet and dry, absent leavening and salt, combine into a homogeneous mass with well developed glutens, and without extensive mixing, through the process of diffusion. However, the right way to do an autolyse (the French term) is to mix all the flour and liquid not in the preferment, and let it sit -- with no leavening.

You've made no-knead bread more than I; and had more experience with kneading dough after the autoloysis/proof system you use. Your sense of what's going on is better. I usually work towards a desirable percentage of hydration for the particular bread, calculate the rough measurements, mix the autolyse and preferment-leavening separately, in whatever respective timings seem appropriate, allow enough time for the autolyse and fermentation to respectively take place, combine them adding the salt and leavening (in whatever form), and just mix the heck out of it until it holds together.

You've also seen my regular approach to poolish based breads in the pumpernickel recipe online here, and the pain de campagne recipe not published here. As you now know -- I knead to know. If you like I can rewrite the pain de campagne for an autolyse which would make it even more French. Not to mention more complicated. Although, now that I think about it, we might be able to save time in the right places to make it an easier two-weekday project than it currently stands. Hmmm. Worth some thought, no?

In re. The Fresh Loaf website: The most active people there seem to be incredibly advanced amateurs, as well as some pros and ex-pros.. Most seem to make a habit of precise measurement by weight as part of their baking. Don't let it bother you, they know not what they do. Forgive them, accept what seems useful, and ignore what doesn't.

When you read or correspond there, remember that there are only four major axes to bread making: Flour, salt, yeast, and hydration. The problem you have is controlling the percentage hydration, which is more than a little bit off -- you don't need to worry about 6 grams of flour or 14 of water. You're probably off by something like 200gms of flour, or 75 of water. The two things that are sensitive to close measurement are yeast and salt. Salt you've got under control; and yeast you intentionally under use and compensate by adding time -- also under control. If anyone tells you, you're off by a 2 tbs of flour, they're wrong.

They can probably give you a lot of insight into the "old dough" method which seems like "biga," to me.

In re. talking about this stuff: Here's how I define the relevant terms, BTW: Biga = a leavened preferment with more flour by volume than water, a fixture in Italian baking. Poolish = a leavened preferment with equal volumes of water and flour, a fixture in French and Eastern European baking. Sponge = a leavened mass, whether preferment or the ferment itself, with all the flour, just a useful term. Preferment = any mix of solids and liquids made before making the sponge, another useful term.

BDL
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've been reading this term, "autolyse" in these forums but never knew exactly what it meant. OK, so it means what i do without the yeast. Never would have thought of it. I knew the "sponge" method, which was with less flour and no salt, which my grandmother used to do. She would leave bread overnight on top of the fridge and then add more flour and the salt the next day. The only bread she made generally, though, was sweet bread for holidays (schiaccia, a large, high sweet bread with anice seeds and raisins). Anyway, you say the sponge uses all the flour - but then it wouldn;t be very "spongy" - my grandmother's then, might have been a poolish? (she didn;t call it sponge, she didn;t even speak english, but my mother translated it that way).

So you're saying I could do the preferment, and an autolyse, separately, and put them together?

Because of time constraints (mainly - time to change clothes so i don;t get my work clothes covered with flour - and time to clean the counter after kneading) I'm guessing it would work to mix these two mixtures together (mixing the heck out of it, as you said) in the kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook? Yeah, i know, kneading bread is comforting and relaxing, but cleaning counters is not. (And before i lugged a kitchen aid in my suitcase from the states, i made everything by hand, meringues, cakes, breads, everything)

Yes, the precise measurement crowd, they don;t bother me except when i ask for "why isn;t this working" and they usually go first to the imprecision of the measurement. Since i'm working with an entirely different flour over here, there is no point in talking of precise measurements. There is no all purpose flour, there is 0 and there is 00 and tehy don;t correspond at all to all purpose and cake flour, though at times they can be similar. For one thing they both are soft wheat flour, like, i hear, is used more in the US south (biscuit making country). Even butter is different here (less water) and if you don;t use your sense and feel of things forget it. So it doesn;t much bother me, but it does mean a difficulty in communicating.

So i guess i need to know the "feel" of the dough when there's the right amount of flour. Probably photographs would be helpful. I'll check out the site though, and see if there is anything like this.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #10 of 13
Good luck to you! I have also made the Cook's Illustrated one and loved it. But if you master the starter, I would go for that!
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

feedback

I took BDL's advice, partly anyway, and added a small part of the previous dough, used the procedure for the modified no knead bread (with beer but no vinegar) and did the kneading at the beginning, with MUCH less water. I made sure there was still a little flour at the bottom of the bowl, in the mixing of it, and then kneaded it in the bowl itself with my hand (no dirty counter, no need to change clothes!) and when it felt right, stopped and covered. I left overnight and next morning instead of the 10 - 15 turns of kneading i just folded it - that is I flattened it out into a circle and then folded a part of the circle in to the center, then another part folded in including part ofthe first fold, then another, all around like petals of a flower, then turned over so what had been the top was still the top, set in a frying pan on a piece of parchment paper. Let it rise and baked as usual. Came great.
thanks bdl.
will let you know on the poolish recipe when i have some time ahead of me. Meanwhile eating very good bread here. Definitely increased its complexity of flavor and quite a nice texture.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #12 of 13
Cowboys and sourdough--something I read:

Sourdough starter was a precious thing that was not easy for cowboys to maintain. I read that they would sometimes keep it next to them while sleeping, to keep it warm.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
that's a sweet thought. poor lonesome cowboys with their warm starter - it is alive, after all. Joking aside, I wonder what they actually kept it IN to carry it around.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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