Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Starters for Pain au Levain with mixed starters

While making this bread, I realized that temperature might matter a lot more with my sourdough's than I thought before. I have always simply waited for my starter, Arnold, to raise the dough in his own time. This does create problems though, and unpredictability. Mr. Hamelman has a section in his book Bread about this.  He goes quite in depth about why you should be concerned about temperature, and exactly how to give your dough the exact temperature you need.  He has at least converted my thinking to the possibility that it would be nice to have the sour dough ready to bake when I planned to!

Now I am not as sold on having the exact temp correct, but I have been thinking of using my Excalibur dehydrator which has a dough setting on it.  We can be rather cold here during the winter, and even though it's April we had snow just yesterday.  This might help me to have consistent proofing temps for those times it is cold.

The trouble is that it is rather large, in my small kitchen.  I do use it for other things though, and so last night I pulled it in from storage (translation Andy lugged it in for me, he is so awesome!) and cleaned it up.  I did notice that it has heat settings from 85* F to 145* F.  It is equipped with a fan, and the directions say to use the 110* setting with a bowl of water for moisture inside the unit.  This seems to high to me, so I will have to research that a little bit more.  Thinking the 85*F setting would make more sense.

This is a slideshow of my second attempt at this bread, from Hamelman's book...  Click the link to continue reading!

It turned out much better than the last.  The temps in my kitchen were much warmer, because I was cooking which always warms it up in there.  I still had issues with the rye starter.  It still doesn't seem to rise very well, and takes a LOT longer than the levain.  I used what the store called Dark Rye Flour, but it was a bulk food section in a Fred Meyer store that I found clear over by the Columbia River.  In other words, it is NOT close by, so I can't be certain exactly what I got.  It did have bubbles in it, but nothing like the levain had.  I am wondering if this is normal?  I like the flavor of this bread and would really like the crumb to be lighter, so am really interested in learning more about using rye flour for my bread.  This time it did turn out much better though, so maybe I should be happy with it!

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