Territoriality Breached

SOURDough has recently been assigned to work the early morning baguette shift, a strange new world after a whole year plus working at the shaping table. It’s a very different vibe, waking up at baker’s hours to get to an early shift, the night slowly fading away into bright morning light. While the factory never closes, the early morning baguette shift starts the new cycle of bread production daily, the first batch of organic loaves exiting the ovens as I walk in the door. SOURDough wonders what to expect being away from the shaping table? The morning crew aren’t a pleasant bunch, as Pastry Monkey would often review the morning’s insanity with me during her mini-break. The early start time stripping good manners and charm from this shift’s behavior, plus the general lack of interest in caring to make good bread is what led Monkey out the door.


The apprehension of my appearance in the room leads to a lowly whispered chatter. Word has gotten out about my recent involvement with the office types, so they now view me as the enemy. It’s not the worse position to be in, and it makes for a less stressful day. The fear of being reported for poor performance does change one’s behavior, if even slightly. As the morning progresses, I realize the method and flow of this shift is quicker and more frenetic, drivers waiting for the product we produce to start their deliveries to various restaurants and boutique food shops. It seems like a greater volume of bread, but it’s hard to be sure with the amount of people on hand. All of the little breaks along the way do help, especially working in front of those hot deck ovens. As the shift concluded, my supervisor’s expressed satisfaction in my work, and I knew that I would be put into the regular rotation. It felt great to finally work the ovens and score baguettes, another area of the baking process where practice was sorely needed. Baking at home is a very different experience than baking in the factory, even if you’re making the same thing.


This leads us to this week’s questionably titled bread: Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat. Any dough made with a starter is going to capture the local essence, even if the starter was originally produced in San Francisco or Vermont. The local water and yeast in the air make the characteristics of my starter all New York, so that’s why we’re going to call it NY Sourdough with Whole Wheat. It’s got a medium tang, not overly aggressive on the palate, and a wonderful chew. Another bread added to the long list of panini-ready sandwich breads that I enjoy before my shift at factory. SOURDough hopes to complete the trifecta and work in the mix room one day, but that will take some time. Until then, more sourdough from SOURDough next week!

Crushed Tomato, Red Pepper Flakes, Red Onion and Lardons (Bacon)


And of course, pizza!




Vermont NY Sourdough with Whole Wheat

(excerpt from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman)

Make 2 loaves


Liquid Levain Build:

Bread Flour 136 grams/4.8 oz

Water 187 grams/6 oz

Liquid Levain (Joe Jr.) 27 grams/1 oz


For The Final Dough:

Bread Flour 682 grams/1lb, 8oz

Whole Wheat flour 90.72 grams/3.2 oz

Water 437.6 grams/14.8 oz

Salt .6oz/1 Tbs

Liquid Levain 350 grams/10.8 oz


For the Liquid Levain


To make the liquid levain, combine the bread flour and water with the culture in a large mixing bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon. Cover with plastic film, and set aside to ferment at 70°F (20°C) for 12 to 14 hours.


Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the levain, but not the salt. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Correct the hydration as necessary; the dough should have medium consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for an autolyse phase for 20 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, switch to the dough hook and sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough. Continue mixing on medium speed until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, feels elastic, and gives some resistance when tugged. Check for gluten development.


Lightly oil a large bowl or container.


Scrape the dough into the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic film and set aside to ferment for 50 minutes.


Uncover and fold the dough. Again, cover with plastic film and set aside to ferment for 50 minutes.


Uncover and fold the dough one last time. Again, cover with plastic film and set aside to ferment for the final 50 minutes.


Lightly flour a clean, flat work surface.


Uncover the dough and divide it into two 680-gram/24-ounce rounds on the floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap and bench rest for 15 minutes.


Cover a large cutting board with a couche and dust the couche with flour.


Uncover the dough and, if necessary, lightly flour the work surface. Gently press on the dough to degas and carefully shape into a batard or round. Place the batard or boule on the couche-covered board. Cover with plastic film and proof for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the dough has finished proofing. (Alternatively, place the dough into the refrigerator for 18 hours.)


About an hour before you are ready to bake the loaf, place the baking stone(s) or tile in the oven and preheat to 460°F (243°C). If using a pan to create steam, place it in the oven now.


Uncover the dough and, using a lame or a razor, immediately score the loaf. To make the required steam, add 1 cup of ice to the hot pan in the oven. Using a peel, immediately transfer the loaves to the hot baking stone(s) in the preheated oven.


Bake, with steam, for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the crust is a deep brown color and the sides are firm to the touch.


Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.






2 responses to “Territoriality Breached

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