Friday, September 23, 2011

Bustin' Loose

That is a dramatic breakout on this loaf. I thought I had slashed deep enough to prevent it from happening but that's just another lesson from this loaf. The recipe has to go in the "To Be Tweaked" file before I can call it a formula. I used a preferment and relatively-for me that is- low hydration but didn't get the open crumb I like. I attribute that to one or a combination of the following factors. First factor is the use of semolina flour as part of the ingredients. The semolina I have isn't as fine as durum. I used 50g of the semolina in the preferment so it was hydrated by the time of the mix. I have to investigate whether it's more thirsty than other flours.
Second factor is a relatively short preferment of about one hour. My expectations that I could get a doubling of volume in one hour were accurate but at 70% hydration, I suspect another 30 to 60 minutes at 72F/ 23C wouldn't have hurt.
The bulk ferment was longer than usual for an ADY bread because I used only 1/4 tsp of the yeast in the main dough. I've done this before and gotten a more open crumb but the room temp was around 78-80F.
Because I sought to mimic an Italian bread, I added about 2 tsp or 10ml of olive oil.
My bake schedule was preheat to 430F, 10 minutes at 425F with two mistings, 18 minutes at 400F and an internal temp of 206F.

It looked good, the crumb wasn't dense or hard to chew in the least, but the flavor was on the lightweight side. Next time around, I'll have to let the preferment sit out for a while longer, at least two and maybe more hours. That will mean I can go with even less yeast, about 1/8 tsp, and the understanding that I have to schedule more time for everything to work. The hydration will have to be higher since the olive oil probably affected the crumb as well. While it softens the crumb and extends shelf life, it also means fewer big holes for the butter and the crafted appearance. Compromises, compromises. Here's a brief rundown of the work so far:
100g bread flour
70g water at 85F
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
Hydrate yeast in the water for 10 minutes, add flour, and mix well until there's no dry flour. Cover and rest at room temperature for 60 minutes. This is technically adequate but a longer rest using less yeast to get the doubled preferment would likely bring about a better flavor.

Main Dough:
200g bread flour
130g water at 85F
1/4 tsp ADY
6g kosher salt
2 tsp or 10ml olive oil
all of preferment
2 tsp honey
In the mixer bowl, hydrate the ADY in the water for 10 minutes. Add preferment in small chunks. Stir or mix briefly to loosen up the preferment. Add flour and mix at first speed for about 1 minute or until contents are a shaggy mass. Cover and autolyse or rest for 20-30 minutes.
Add oil and salt. Mix at first speed for 3 minutes to mix ingredients. Mix at second speed for 3 minutes. Dough should separate from the sides. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly into a ball. Place dough in an oiled bowl for bulk fermentation and cover.
Two stretch and folds were done at 35 and 70 minutes. At 105 minutes, I did a preshape and covered the dough to let it relax for about 15 minutes. After shaping into a batard, the dough was placed on a sheet of parchment paper and covered with a towel for proofing. The oven was preheated to 430F. 45 minutes into the proofing, the dough appeared to be ready for slashing. This time is questionable and another 15-30 minutes could have been possible. From there I went into the above mentioned baking sequence. While this loaf would have been fine in a lot of eyes, I wasn't satisfied. It tasted on the ordinary side so as I said, it's a "to be tweaked" recipe.

Saturday morning addendum. It's a pleasant autumn day here on the western banks of the Missouri River. I found some of the last of the sweet corn crop for this year at the Farmers' Market. Usually, sweet corn disappears at the beginning of September in this area so I feel fortunate. The finches and sparrows are few in number at the feeder today. Chickadees and cardinals have been in evidence as usual and titmice are making a return in numbers. I haven't seen many goldfinches lately even though I've set up a feeder with nyjer thistle seed for them. On the way back from the Farmers' Market, I saw two bald eagles overhead when I was approximately a mile away from the river. There are still butterflies about and a planting of sedum near our storage shed is popular with a variety of small bees. The long range forecast calls for morning lows in the low 40s next week so i expect the wildlife and mildlife outside the window to change. On the minus side of things, moles are leaving evidence of their presence in my yard. My neighbors wouldn't think kindly of me if I were to take to more vigorous means of banishing the rodents from the yard so I'll have to forget small explosive charges and such. There's got to be a Plan B for dealing with them.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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