Monday, March 14, 2011

Don't try this at home

This is what happened when I read too many bits and pieces of bread books and decided to see what would happen. It was just a quick experiment in dough.
I decided that I would follow through on an idea from an earlier posting. I first made up a large pate fermentee for an overnight build

250g  AP flour
166g  water, 85F
1g      active dry yeast
1 g     kosher salt
After mixing it up, I moved downstairs into the basement where it ferment slowly at 62F in the assumption that a slow ferment would build up a better flavor. The next day, Thursday, I brought it upstairs along with some old starter to be thrown into the mix. I didn't want to be too intense, the Jayhawks were playing their first game in the Big 12 hoops tournament.
I moved along to building, or mixing, my final dough.

250g   AP flour
166     water 85F
60g     old starter 80% hydration
3g       active dry yeast
8g       kosher salt
10g     olive oil
rough sea salt for dusting the the outside of the loaf, optional

Using a pate fermentee wasn't an optimal choice. A poolish at 100% hydration would've been easier to mix in and a 60% biga probably would've been easier to cut into pieces to throw into the mixing bowl. As it happened, I just took the easiest route and dumped the pate into the bowl with the most of the other ingredients to beat up before the 20 minute autolyse. At the end of the 20 minutes, I added the salt and oil, mixed at low speed for 3 minutes, turned the dough over in the bowl, and then went to second speed for 3 more minutes. Then I turned the dough out on my floured work sheet, dividing the dough in half. Half would be my loaf to go with the evenings pasta- I was making a huge batch of all purpose red sauce- and the other half for Friday night pizza. The pizza dough was put into an oiled bowl and covered with plastic wrap before being placed in the refrigerator. The bread dough got a quick knead before going into another oiled bowl and covered.
I used the basement for a slow bulk fermentation to give me time for my red sauce. After a couple hours, I brought it upstairs for a stretch and fold. I waited another 45 minutes and did another S&F, then put it back in the bowl for about 30 minutes before I started the shaping.
The shaping is odd to say the least. I had seen a picture in C Hitz's book where he used extra dough to make an almost flat bread that was quartered for use as rolls. It looked good to me so I flattened out the dough to about 3/4", put it in a pie pan, and used my dough cutter to make the impressions. While I was pre-heating the oven to 460F, I let the dough proof while covered. The oven hit its mark after 20 minutes or so and I loaded the pan with a planned 13 minutes at 460F, turn the pan, and finish at 425F for another 13 minutes. I had an internal temp of 206F at the end so I pulled the pan and placed the misshapen loaf on a wire rack to cool.

That's what it looked like after slicing. You might be able to see the large hole that was located in the center of the loaf, not so much a baker's house but a baker's cave. We served this with some olive oil (yes, EVOO) and balsamic vinegar and some fresh cracked black pepper. Despite the appearance flaws, there wasn't anything wrong with the flavor in the least. the dough that was put aside for Friday's pizza didn't present any of the problems I thought might occur. It worked out well and there were no complaints, digestive or otherwise.
The next time I try using a large preferment, I'll go with a poolish to see if it is easier to mix in. Using some old starter in the ingredients wasn't a bad idea though I have no evidence that it added anything substantial to the bread. Both Hamelman's "Bread" and Hitz's "Baking Artisan Bread" have formulas for loaves with large preferments and neither author has had his reputation lessened by their inclusion in their books.
I should have listened to Mrs PG. Our first bloom of the year, a yellow crocus, appeared last Friday and I really should have taken a brag shot to post here. Saturday brought in the cooler weather and some snow slipped in last night so the bloom hasn't opened up again. Bummer. My garlic patch now has about 30 stems poking up but I returned them to hiding under the straw mulch for now. We can't depend on the weather and temperatures at this time of year. At least there are no threats of tornadoes or earthquakes so far. There's a new, larger feeder in the yard and the finches have adapted to it with no problem. In fact, they're quite territorial about it, chasing away any cardinals or juncos that demonstrate curiosity or hunger.
The queue for baking later this week includes a repeat my successful 100% soaker loaf so I can conclude or finalize that series in my head. I meant to do that last week but slipped in my procedure. I didn't write down what I was doing and ended up with too much water in the dough. I did add more flour but still ended up with a 75% or so hydration, about the same as you'd use for focaccia. My shaping wasn't up to the task so I ended up with a large, not quite flat loaf that still tastes pretty good.

That's more than 2 lbs of bread there. If brevity is the soul of wit, I'll leave you laughing here until the next post.

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