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Anatomy of a Complex Bread Formula

Anatomy of a Complex Bread Formula

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formula of Rye, Sunflower, and Apricot Sourdough by Jacqueline

The ingredient list gives an overview of the bread's nature. All-purpose flour has a moderate amount of gluten, while rye has almost none. The generous amount of seeds, grain, and fruit will be challenging for the gluten to lift, so we can expect a dense crumb. Molasses will lend a complex, balanced sweetness without being sugary. With no fat to tenderize the dough, we can expect a rustic mouthfeel from the baked loaf.

All flour flour icon in a column always adds up to 100%, bread bakers have agreed. This is true for the Total column, as well as for each pre-ferment column (in this case, the columns titled Starter and Rye Levain), and the Final Mix column. Flour is the benchmark to which bakers compare other ingredients.

All soaked stuff soaker icon in each soaker column adds up to 100%, bread bakers have also agreed.

The Total column is a summary, telling us about the overall composition of the bread.

The other columns—Starter, Rye Levain, Soaker, and Final Mix—are a stepwise view of the dough from left-to-right, in the order in which the baker plans to prepare them. First mix Starter into Rye Levain, then make the Soaker, and finally combine everything together in Final Mix. The result is what the Total column describes.

110% hydration is on the high side for a bread. However, in this bread rye flour and soaked stuff will absorb much water. We can expect the bread to be pleasantly dense, with a tight, even crumb.

This bread's 3% salt might seem high, given that in lean breads* we expect salt in the range 1.8% to 2.2%. But when we factor in the Total Yield (300%), 3% salt is appropriate. Jacqueline's rule of thumb is, 1% salt for every 100% Total Yield.

The Total Yield of 300% reflects how heavy this bread is with seeds, grain, and fruits, and tells us that this is not a lean bread*.

*A lean bread contains only flour, water, salt, and perhaps some commercial yeast, and the bread's Total Yield is usually no greater than 185%.

formula of Rye, Sunflower, and Apricot Sourdough by Jacqueline
photo of Rye, Sunflower, and Apricot Sourdough by Jacqueline

Jacqueline developed this bread for on-the-go breakfasts and quick, hi-energy snacks. Crusty, buttery, and moist, a slice is delicious solo or spread thinly with honey butter. At it's best 48 hours after baking, the unwrapped loaf keeps well for a week.

Building one pre-ferment into another: The Starter row (third from the bottom) shows its percentage in the Rye Levain column. This tells us to mix the Starter into the Rye Levain. In bakers' lingo, this is called "building one pre-ferment into another."

Building one pre-ferment into another: The Starter row (third from the bottom) shows its percentage in the Rye Levain column. This tells us to mix the Starter into the Rye Levain. In bakers' lingo, this is called "building one pre-ferment into another."

27% of the flour is pre-fermented—2% in the Starter plus 25% in the Rye Levain. Pre-fermentation develops complex flavors in the bread and extends the loaf's shelf life.

*A lean bread contains only flour, water, salt, and perhaps some commercial yeast, and the bread's Total Yield is usually no greater than 185%.

You might also like this article about bread formulas authored by Abram Faber, Craig Ponsford, and Jeffrey Yankellow and published by the Bread Bakers Guild of America.

photo of Rye, Sunflower, and Apricot Sourdough by Jacqueline

Jacqueline developed this bread for on-the-go breakfasts and quick, hi-energy snacks. Crusty, buttery, and moist, a slice is delicious solo or spread thinly with honey butter. At it's best 48 hours after baking, the unwrapped loaf keeps well for a week.


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