Simplifying complex recipes

Simplifying complex recipes

Submitted by reedlaw on November 3, 2015 – 6:13pm.

Sometimes I wonder why some formulas are so complex such as the brioche recipe from Tartine. It calls for a starter, leaven, and poolish, all of which get added to the final dough. I’ve tried both that formula and Lazy Man’s Brioche and found no reason to prefer the complex formula. Another example is Reinhart’s whole wheat sandwich bread. I had worse results with it than with a simpler formula offered up by barryvabeach. I don’t want to sacrifice quality when extra effort rewards it, but all else being equal I’d much rather save time and energy. Why are some formulas so demanding? Could anyone control for all the variables and test every variation? The more steps in a formula the less likely that any one step greatly impacts the final result. I’ve done my own experiments and seen others that control for one variable such as gluten development, folding, etc. But I get the feeling that a lot of formulas could be improved by simplifying and reducing the number of steps involved.