Don't Judge Sourdough by the Holes, Judge it by Mouthfeel

I’ve made it clear on this blog and on twitter that the current obsession with hydration and holes in sourdough is pointless and I have here a good example of what I mean.  These loaves are made with two different French flours from the Grande Moulins de Paris bought through FWP Matthews’ Mill in England.  The top photo of the slices, the very aerated open texture crumb is a flour called Gold T65, I bought a 25 kilo sack of it.

The photo below is a flour recommended to me called Campaillette Grand Siecle also a T65, again I bought a 25 kilo sack of it.  With both of these flours I’ve used my standard measuring stick recipe, a white loaf.

I’m now at end of the sacks and can’t wait to get rid of one.  The other flour I’ve ordered again.  

Want to guess which one I’ve ordered again?

Bad Mouth Feel

Well, it wasn’t the more aerated open crumb one below.

Using same recipe, side by side, this more holey one, the Gold T65 does appear on a photo to be more attractive to those who obsess with holes but I can tell you it produces a horrible crumb.  Horrible mouth feel.

This mouth feel I can only describe it as having a slight wet wool feel about it, there’s a dampness to it.  It may be more open textured but the crumb part of it doesn’t feel good.  I gave it to a customer of mine as a trial for her to give me feedback, her comment was, doughy and dense.  So glad I only have 2 kilos of it left.

What’s In Your Flour?

I had asked for the specifications of the flours but didn’t took much noticed of what the specs said until I was a third of the way with the sacks and starting to really notice the differences.  Both flours perform, both produce good crust, but there’s a big noticeable difference in the crumb.

This more open crumb Gold T65, looking closer at the specs I saw it has added enzymes.  Some people can get very passionate about added enzymes.  On the net there’s a talk by Andrew Whitely on enzymes, and he says they’re being added to the modern day processed bread to keep it softer for far longer than it would otherwise naturally stay.  Andrew talks of the harm we don’t yet know these unnecessary added enzymes may do.  I haven’t read any evidence of these enzymes doing us any harm, so I feel I can’t really form a view on it, from that point.  But I am in the camp of those who say, if we don’t need them to produce good bread – why add it?

What I can form a view on, is this;  I don’t like the wet wool crumb this flour produces and it happens to have added enzymes.

Long Fermentation

Interestingly I had a conversation today with the owner of Shipton Mill, John Lister, who informs me the practice of adding enzymes to flour is done for the modern day baking practices of the quick turn-around bread, and not really good for long fermented doughs, which obviously sourdough is.  He informed me that Shipton Mill doesn’t add enzymes to their flour.

Added Enzymes

I can now see how the added enzymes keep the crumb “moist” but for me not in a nice way.  It has 2 added enzymes and one of them is amylase.  Aahhhh…did I just say Amylase??  How many remember my post on Rye Flour here?  Well, if you can’t let me remind you amylase is an enzyme that rye flour has a lot of naturally, and here’s some of what I said:

“Amylase is an enzyme who’s job is to break down starch into sugars which is what the yeast/bacteria feed on during fermentation. Well apparently rye flour has more soluble sugars than wheat flours and it means that rye doughs ferment quicker than wheat ones.

In Geoffrey Hamelman’s book on p46 he details what happens to the dough in the early stages of baking and explains how this enzyme, amylase, is not destroyed until the temperature inside dough reaches 176F / 80C  but in the meantime while the dough is reaching that temperature amylase is in a state of accelerated activity.”  Have a read in the post why amylase causes havoc and according to Jeffrey Hamelman the terrible “starch attack” producing a gummy crumb.

Now there’s another word for what this crumb feels like, gummy!  Yep I would go along with that, Jeffrey.

By the way, added enzymes don’t have to be declared and I believe it’s because they’re suppose to be destroyed in the process of baking so therefore not present in the end product…at least this is what I’ve read.

Campaillette Grand Siecle T65

This other loaf above and below, the more yellow coloured crumb, more closed texture has a great feel, looks denser on appearance but it’s not, much lighter feel in your mouth, no damp wool effect…or gummy.

It might also interest you, the specs for this flour states it has nothing added to it.  It produces a great great crust, so far the best crust I’ve tried, but we are talking small differences here between other good flours producing good crusts and this one just having an edge.

I’ve ordered another sack of it this week along with a sack of the Blé Biologique T65, from the same French mill, an organic one.  As I type I have 3 doughs proving trying out for the first time the organic flour…oh it gets so exciting around here.  

Bikerboy thinks I’m crazy that I get as exciting trying out a new flour as he would receiving the new i-pad.

My verdict on the Campaillette Grand Siecle T65 is great performance, lovely texture on the crumb, super crust, good all round and very good for baguettes.  

My search continues for a flour to use in my standard loaf.  I’m looking for an oxymoron with white roller mill flour;  flavour.  In a post coming up soon I’ll explain what I mean.