Like everyone will experience sooner or later, I sometimes forget or am too tired to get a new starter going late at night. Consequently, I change plans and go to a dry yeast loaf to make sure that there's fresh bread in the house. That happened again this week, resulting in a simple but satisfying pan loaf. The oddity involved was the use of some ADY that I've had since 2009 and has been quietly sitting in the freezer. I bought a 2# bag of Red Star Active Dry Yeast at Costco for less than $5, thinking that I could use it for at least a year and if it quit working for me, I'd still be money ahead compared to what I would pay for the three pack sachets at the grocery store. The contents went into an inexpensive Rubbermaid brand container that I found at Walmart and the remaining ADY is still on the job. A similar sized quantity of instant dry yeast could be used as well.
The aforementioned 5W in the sponge is a combination of some KAF White Whole Wheat flour and some home milled whole wheat flour that I bought at the local farmers market. I know, too cute by more than half. Rather than dividing the ADY to be used, I just used the entire amount in a simple sponge that got the ball rolling to a good loaf of bread. I also tucked the shaped loaf into the fridge rather than having to juggle baking with preparing supper.
273 g water at 90F
42 g WW flour
42 g KAF WWW flour
46 g KAF BF
1/2 tsp ADY
Pour water into a largish mixing bowl and add ADY for hydration. Stir after 5-10 minutes, add flour, mix, and cover. Let sit for at least one hour, up to three hours, at room temperature. If you're using IDY, hydrating that wouldn't hurt. Try it, you might like it.
260 g KAF BF
8 g kosher salt
You can approach these main dough ingredients in different ways. The first is to add the flour and salt to the sponge when you feel ready to mix and get to work.
The second is to to blanket the sponge with the flour after you've mixed it, top the blanket with the salt so you don't forget, and then cover. After an hour, the blanket will show cracks indicating that the yeast is working. If you've got extra time or chores to do, you can either let the sponge continue to work its magic until you can't stand it anymore or a total of three hours and then start the mixing. You can also put the blanketed sponge in the fridge after sitting on the counter for at least an hour and postpone mixing for up to twelve hours. Don't forget to give your bowl some time to warm up on the counter before mixing. It's nice to have options, isn't it?
I let my sponge sit on the counter for about three hours before adding more flour and the salt. After mixing to the recommended shaggy mass, I covered the bowl and let it set for about twenty minutes. From there, I turned the mass out onto a lightly floured board, shaped the dough into a rough, rectangular shape, and did stretch and fold overs on the four sides. I covered the newly folded dough with my bowl and waited about twenty minutes before I repeated my stretch and folding. In all, I did three sequences that resulted in what I thought to be adequate strength. You might want to do a fourth. From there, the dough went into my oiled Cambro container for the rest of the fermentation.
I didn't let the dough double in size, choosing to start my shaping after it increased its volume by about 75%. After shaping the dough into a log shape, I put it into a 9" x 5" loaf pan, covered that with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge. After supper, I retrieved the loaf and let it sit on the counter until the dough crowned about 5/8" above the rim. My slashing was far from perfect but nevertheless, I persisted, misting the top of the loaf with water, and put the pan into my preheated oven at 425F for 24 minutes. After turning the pan around, I lowered the oven to 400F and baked for another 22 minutes. I thought the color of the baked loaf looked good but I had to try something else. I took the loaf pan out of the oven, knocked the loaf out onto a wire rack, did the traditional thump test, which was good, and then put the racked loaf back into the now cooling oven for another five minutes with the door cracked open just a tad. After the five minutes were up, I pulled the now finished loaf out, admired its appearance, and let it cool.
The crust was, shall we say, toothsome upon first slicing but nothing that would damage my ego or mouth. If you like a good crust, do the five minute drill after the bake finishes. If not, just pull the loaf and cool. The crumb turned out very well, being tender but not so soft as to be difficult to get a good slice and moist.
In all, it has been more work for me to type this with my hunt and peck style than the actual work put into the loaf, such as cleaning up after my own exuberance during the preparation.
The weather here has been treating me well. There has been some smoke in the sky from the West Coast fires but not so much as to be uncomfortable. We haven't had any rain for a while but considering the damage done to the Gulf Coast states by Hurricane Sally, I have a garden hose to water the remaining plants to help me cope. I haven't seen very many feathered friends at the bird feeders outside my window but I'm not surprised. Local farmers are starting to harvest their corn crops so the competition presented by my feeders is lacking. They'll be back.
Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.