Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wednesday's Big Loaf


My bannetons have been fine purchases but I'm itching to get back to smaller loaves. Currently, I'm hitting around 900g or a shade under 2# of dough per loaf. Now, there will be some weight loss after baking but even so, the loaves will still finish up at about 750g. The problem with going to smaller loaves will be that I'll have to up my game in the shaping department and figure out how to do a retarded fermentation with an essentially free standing loaf. That will take practice. I'm thinking about a total flour weght of around 360g. The total dough weight would be around 720g when the water and starter are added and should finish about 605g, give or take a few.
The pictures are of the big loaf from Wednesday. I used AP flour instead of bread flour and 25% whole wheat which may explain some of the wide body of the loaf. I used a white flour starter and added some discard from my WW starter. I didn't want to waste the WW starter into the compost pile. The WW discard may have contributed a small amount to the rise but the white was really active after a single build so I think that did the most work. The crumb turned out rather well with an even distribution of the nooks and crannies. The walls of the nooks and crannies have a nice pearlescence that may not show in the photos. My camera doesn't let me get a close up. Flavor and texture were very good at first cut and still are two days later.
Out in the yard are the shells from the food in the birdfeeders. We had a little thaw up to 52F today but it didn't clear the snow. The temps are going down again and by Sunday night there may be some snow possibly mixed with sleet. Total snow fall expected is around 6". Carol says I need to get some seed catalogs through the mail to make me think of Spring. She will too if they ever arrive.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Easy pizza dough

Friday night is usually pizza night here at Casa de Gumby. The search for a better pizza is what got me interested in baking bread. I had been using Boboli crusts but the cost and the rather bland flavor just didn't cut it.
I've accumulated a lot of recipes on hard drive and I have no intention of stopping but I have to admit to finding a simple recipe that works. It comes from Maggie Glezer's book, "Artisan Baking". It seems to be related to the Neapolitan crust recipes. Here's what I've tried so far.


250g bread flour (AP is acceptable)
165g warm water
1 tsp non-iodized salt (about 5g of kosher or sea salt)
1/8 tsp (in warm temperature), 1/4tsp (in cool temperatures, below 65F) Active Dry Yeast or Instant Dry Yeast.
Sprinkle ADY across the top of the water and wait 5-10 minutes until it blooms. If using IDY, it can mixed into the flour. Since a long proof is required either ADY or IDY can be used as long as you keep an eye on the dough. In a bowl, mix the water and flour to a sticky mass, leaving no dry flour on the bottom of the bowl. If you like using your hands, you can squeeze the dough to help the mix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for a minute or two. Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl then cover.
The idea is let the dough sit for at least 4-8 hours. This will be where the gluten forms. This is also why only a small amount of yeast is called for. If you are proofing in a warm room, 78-84F, you can start the dough in a refrigerator for about an hour so to slow down the yeast. The yeast will have its way so don't hold any ideas firm in your head about time. The dough will be ready when it's ready. Always remember, a slow proofing is better than a fast proofing.
I put my dough in the 60F basement yesterday to slow things down. Instead of using yeast, I used about 82g of a 75% hydration starter and I still needed to use the fridge. I probably could have used 40g and still gotten a good rise. Like most of my bread, it remains a work in progress.
The long proof is used to produce an extensible dough, one that stretches easily, without resorting to using an olive oil addition. Many pizzerias use a similar yeasted recipe and cool proofing procedure.
When I finally turned out my dough, it was easily stretched out. I did need to give it a short rest of about 10 minutes but this isn't unusual. I had enough dough for 14" pan and had I used a roller, it probably would've gone to 16".
I made the mistake of cooking it at too low a temperature for the dough thickness. I was using a perforated pan and thought that 450F would be suitable since I par baked the crust before topping it off. I think that 475F for 20 minutes rather the 16 minutes at 450F should produce a crustier result. Using a baking stone will require the same temperature, but different time frames.
I like the promise of relatively brief work requirements for the dough. Variations could include the substitution of whole wheat or durum flour for the crust. Warm flat beer, American lagers for example, could be substituted for the water.
When I get a glamor shot worthy pie, I'll post that. Until then, if you have a better recipe, I'd be interested in seeing that.
As long as the mistakes prove to be edible, they're all good.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Deviation Loaf

I thought I was going to do a free standing loaf but ended up with another pan loaf. The idea to use some of the malted wheat flakes I have in the freezer downstairs popped into my mind and I went with the idea.The packaging instructions said that the flakes didn't need to be soaked before using so I added the flakes in portions as I mixed the dough. I had some apprehension about over mixing and stretch and folds thinking that the flakes could cut gluten strands so after a S&F at 50 minutes into the bulk fermentation, I decided to just let the dough ferment for another 100 minutes and then shape for a pan.
By the time I got to shaping, the flakes had hydrated. The loaf rested in the cellar at 60F for about 6 hours when I brought it upstairs to a 68F room. When the dough rose about an inch above the pan's rim, I preheated the oven.
The resulting loaf tastes good but isn't exactly a glamor shot achievement. The flakes add some texture but really don't add contrast to the color of the crumb. 50g probably isn't significant. However, I don't use cereal grains often enough to have experience.
I did find a recipe for an oatmeal-maple whole wheat sourdough loaf at the Farine blogsite. Ms Makani knows good bread so if she posted the recipe, there must be merit in it.
The WW starter experiment is suspended for while. There's a potential problem with rancidity in the oils in the flour. I don't bake enough bread to keep a WW starter active enough to prevent this problem. My white starter is active enough that I can build a WW or rye starter fast enough that I can keep just one starter. The white starter may need some revitalizing to minimize the acetic acid buildup so in the next week or two I'd like to do a period of two refreshments a day for a while.
I haven't killed the starter off in over a year so I'm not worried that I'll hurt it by experimenting.
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Mishaps along the way

The pictures of last week's focaccia never made it onto the hard drive. It must have been operator error somewhere along the line. I do intend to try the formula again with some modifications. First thing will be to better plan my preferment. The cool room temp of 69F isn't conducive to fast yeast growth. Somewhere in hard drive's baking files is a spread sheet on sourdough effectiveness vs. temperature but I don't have one for dry yeast. The preferment was only out for two hours before mixing the main dough. A 4 to 6 hour period might be a better choice until Spring or Summertime baking season commences. Second, bread flour should give me a puffier end result, better for dipping in EVOO. The batch was a little over 900g, 2 lbs., and I used the second half for a pizza. Even though the hydration was around 75%, the dough worked out for a crust. I used a half sheet and have to try a round crust for a pan the next time. This dough may be right for Chicago deep dish pie.

The picture on the left is an oval loaf I made with 22% Heartland Golden Buffalo flour. The flavor is, to use a cliche, sublime. The next time I take out the GB, I plan on using the Heartland AP with malted barley flour. I understand that the barley flour helps for a more vigorous fermentation. I could be wrong but I take my baking as a craft where the mistakes are usually edible.

Today is full of projects. I have a WW loaf with rolled oats proofing downstairs presently. That loaf is for Carol to give to some friends. The basement temp is 60F so the proofing is slow. I also have a pizza dough down there. I borrowed from Maggie Glezer's book on this one. After the dough is mixed and briefly kneaded, the dough is rise slowly for 6-8 hours and then shaped. It's a first time attempt. Since the dough is yeasted, it should rise even if I ignore it in the cool 60F cellar.

I have another another pre-ferment to start this afternoon for tomorrow's house loaf. The use of two small seeds from my starters in one preferment does seem to build a new flavor. If we end up going out, I can just put the loaf in the downstairs fridge for a long, retarded proof. Baking it on Sunday shouldn't be a problem and I may do the "magic dome" trick where I place my boule on the baking stone and cover it with our large stainless steel bowl. That will bring out the blisters on the crust. The better the loaf looks, the better it seems to taste.
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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Loafing around on Saturday

Just as a change of pace, today's loaf went into a 9.5"x5.25 loaf pan which is a larger than normal pan. I based the recipe on the 1-2-3 sourdough scheme where the starter 1 part by weight, the water 2 parts, and the flour is 3 parts. The flour was a blend with 325g of bread flour, 75g organic whole wheat from Gleeson Farms in VT, and 50g of a multi grain flour that I found in Middlebury, VT. The 150g starter was elaborated from a blend of WW and AP flour starter seeds just because I wanted to do that.
The winter room temp these days is around 68F which means a slower fermentation for both starters and breads. Since I didn't have enough time to start my dough last night, I took the starter down to the cellar, stirred it as if I was doing a stretch and fold procedure, and left it in the 60F air. I brought it back up this morning and let it come up to room temp, about 1 1/2 hours. It was good to go.
I followed my basic procedures for mixing and fermentation. After shaping the dough and placing it in my pan, I covered the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap and brought it back downstairs for a long, slow proof of about 4.5 hrs. I set up my grill rock pan for steaming and preheated. When I loaded the loaf, I placed a wet, microwaved towel over the rocks for steam. Judging by the oven spring, I think that worked out well. I don't have an interior crumb shot yet but may post that later if it looks worthwhile. The taste is what's really important and I'll find that out in the morning.
I located a source for the grand Heartland Mills flour in KC,MO at the Badseed Farmer's Market. I selected the unenriched AP with malted barley flour at $6.50/5# and some Golden Buffalo at $7.00/5#. It sounds pricey when you read it on a page but the reputation it holds among professional and home bakers gave me the push to put my money down and try it out for myself.
My pictures of my first attempt at a focaccia are somewhere on the hard in Picasa and get that info up in the next three days or so. There's a prediction of at least 5-6" 0f snow starting late tomorrow night so there will be some downtime on Monday and Tuesday.
Tomorrow, GO CHIEFS!
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Saturday, January 01, 2011

NYE Pain au Levain

Here's my first attempt at posting a picture on my blog using Picasa. It's one of the two loaves that I baked for NYE. It was extremely tasty, almost sweet, and had a good, chewy crust and crumb, partially resulting from a 20 hour retarded proofing in the fridge..
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