Friday, June 17, 2011

OK wasn't good enough

My first 50% WW flour loaf wasn't a failure so much as it didn't seem to be an improvement on what I've done in the past.
I did what I thought appropriate to get a better result. The WW was Arnold's White Whole Wheat, an organic flour from a small Kansas town near Wichita. The flour is really good to my taste buds. 200g was soaked in cold water for about three hours during the elaboration of a fresh starter. This time around I watched my quantities carefully to fit within the 1-2-3 formula. Normally, WW flour requires more water than a white flour so I expected an easy to handle dough.
The next steps were consistent with my usual procedures. By the time I rounded up the mixed dough, I thought it to be a little bit sticky considering it was around 71% and half WW but I plugged on into the new territory. There were a couple of stretch and folds during the 2 1/2 hour bulk fermentation. At the end, I figured a free form loaf would spread like a flat bread so I went with a pan.
An overnight retarded fermentation was just what was called for since it was closing in on midnight and I had to clean up before hitting the rack for some serious Zs. I pulled the loaf around 8Am and let it warm up at room temp. Two hours later, as I loaded the loaf into the oven, the crown was barely above the edge of the pan. The bake was 17 minutes at 450F and then, after turning the pan, 18 minutes at 425F. Final internal temperature was 205F, my standard.

Dissecting the Results

There was oven spring after all with the loaf at the same height as my previous effort. The taste was good, not great- Mrs PG hasn't commented on it yet- and despite appearance, the crumb feels heavy. There's no air in the texture, the lightness that lets the flavor speak freely. At 71% hydration, I expected a more open crumb structure. I rolled the top of the dough in some rolled oats before baking but I'm not really sold on the appearance. I definitely don't like their propensity to fall off onto the counter at a moments notice.
The next time around calls for some changes to be made. First thing to be done is to tweak the formula. The hydration should drop to somewhere in the neighborhood of 68% to help make shaping into a boule or batard possible. I've been playing with 71% dough lately with reasonable , if not always spectacular, results. This 50/50 loaf doesn't call for that unless I can figure out how to develop the sough and shape it into the "artisan" efforts that bring on the "oooohs" and "aaahhhs". It's done in bakeries everyday so, eventually, I'll get there too.
The other tweak will be to shift from using dry malt extract to using honey. Honey has some properties that seem to lend its use in WW breads. Besides the sweetness and coloring the baked crust, honey is reputed to help retain moisture in the loaf. There's a local farm in Easton that sells wonderful organic honey that is worth the cost.
There's no brag shot called for in tonight's post. The next few loaves won't get up to the 50/50 mark but that's not indicative of quitting. Please, don't cry heresy but I'll probably venture into a couple of small yeasted loaves just to stay in practice. I bake bread because I enjoy it and get a sense of satisfaction when things turn out right. There's no need to turn it into work.
We were fortunate to get a little of rain, just under 0.5", last night and may see another thunderstorm tonight. Some of our old friends have found their way back to the feeders this week. Goldfinches, cardinals, titmice, and a wren called "chippy" have been raising a racket with the house finches. When they're fighting, maybe playing, at the feeder outside my window, I can't type much.
That's why I post at night.

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