Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sponge Bread Project Cont'd

Every so often I get the urge to use my active dry yeast hoard for a loaf of bread. My sourdough is perfectly healthy, I just want to do more with my ADY than pizza crusts. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I thought my recent sponge leavened loaf could be improved on so I just figured out an easy formula and started my mise en plas.

280 g water at 95F
30g whole rye flour
60g white whole wheat
100g AP flour
3/4 tsp active dry yeast

Using a mixing bowl to set the sponge, hydrate the ADY in the water for about 10 minutes. Add the flours to the water and mix thoroughly, leaving no dry flour in the bottom of the bowl. Cover and rest for 3-4 hours at 70F .
210g AP flour
8g kosher salt

At this point, I added the AP flour to sponge, mixed briefly, and added the salt. Using the dough hook, I mixed at first speed for 3 minutes and then at second speed for 6 minutes. There was no autolyse. I turned the dough out onto a floured surface, kneaded by hand for about 30 seconds and formed a ball. I then placed the dough into an oiled bowl for approximately 90 minutes for bulk fermentation.
After turning out the dough, I preshaped it into a round and covered with my large bowl that I had used for bulk fermentation for 10 minutes. I then shaped the dough and placed it in my well floured banneton for a 2 hour proof. This loaf was lighter by about 133g than usual for this banneton which partially explains the finished loaf's profile.

After slashing, I loaded the dough onto a baking stone in my oven which had been preheated to 450F. After 10 minutes at 450F, I lowered the oven to 425F for 5 minutes. Then I pulled my parchment paper and turned the loaf around. 5 more minutes at 425F and then down to 400F for 18 minutes. The loaf was done at 205F internal temperature.

Using a combination of AP or bread flour, rye, and white whole wheat always results in a tasty loaf out of my oven. Using my current supply of Heartland Mills rye and WWW flours just about guaranteed it all. The crumb isn't as open as I'd like but it isn't tough and hard to chew.

I didn't follow a few of my usual procedures on this loaf. I've already mentioned there was no autolyse and the dough weight as deviations. I also failed to steam the oven but still got what I thought was a nice crust.
Next time around, I'll use bread flour when mixing in as much WWW or WW and rye. I admit to considering an attempt at the minimalist hand kneading technique that also requires an overnight proofing in the refrigerator. Using some steam wouldn't hurt either.

My experiences using a sponge as a preferment have been worthwhile. So far, the flavor has been better than using a poolish but without a methodical comparison of many loaves, that should just be taken as anecdotal rather than scientific evidence.

More types of birds have returned to our feeders. Goldfinches are now regulars and titmice are frequent. I've seen a male downy woodpecker but no sign of a mate or any of the two other varieties of woodpeckers that I've observed before. The number of birds visiting is up as well as the frequency of filling the feeders. there are still some snapdragons blooming as well as some Betty Pryor roses. But it is definitely getting colder because most of the zoysia grass that has infiltrated the yard is fading out into its usual brown. The injury that I thought was "turf toe" turned out to be a fractured big toe. My doctor ordered me to wear an over sized postoperative boot in lieu of a walking cast so going outside is infrequent and sorely missed, even in this less than spectacular season of the year.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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