Sunday, December 04, 2011

A Low Visibility Kitchen and One Loaf Got Away

I started my baking preparations on Friday morning before I finished my first cup of coffee or reading the morning paper. There was work to be done so I hauled the mixer, the active dry yeast, starters(yes, plural), bread flour, white whole wheat flour, and rye flour from the storage shelves and refrigerator downstairs. I had a scratch pizza crust and two sourdough loaves to do. One loaf was for a church bake sale and the other was for our personal enjoyment. Flour and yeast were in the air.

My pizza crust is still relatively simple, low effort, and more than serviceable.

250g all purpose flour
25g white whole wheat flour
25g sourdough starter (optional, for folks who have a little too much in their fridge)
170g water at 85F
1/2 tsp yeast (ADY or IDY)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 Tbs olive oil

I just mix the first five ingredients in a bowl until there's no dry flour on the bottom of the bow. If you use ADY, be sure to hydrate in the water for 10 minutes before mixing. Cover the bowl and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes. Don't fret about the yeast. Sprinkle the salt across the top of the dough and add the oil to the bowl. Mix well with your hands or a dough whisk. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about two minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place the dough in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough around to coat the surface of the dough and cover with plastic wrap or the bowl's lid. Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes and then place in your refrigerator. About 4-6 hours later, take the dough out to warm up for at least an hour before shaping. I wait 1 1/2 hours at a 70F room temperature, less when warmer. This dough should result in a 12-14" (300-350 mm) diameter crust of medium thickness.

I dock the crust interior with a fork to minimize bubbles. I also brush the edges with some olive oil and sprinkle the crust interior with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. The cheese helps minimize slippage of ingredients later on. The crust is par baked for 8 minutes in a 450F oven. The crust is then "decorated" and loaded back into the oven. Sometimes I use a perforated pizza pan and other times I put the crust on parchment paper to bake on a stone. When using a baking stone, I use a sheet pan as a platform for the par baking and then slip the pizza off onto the baking stone. Bake at 450-475F for 10 minutes, turn the crust or pan around. Pull the parchment paper if using a stone. Bake for 6 minutes and check for doneness. When the edge, know as the cornicione, is a dark golden brown you can pull your pizza or leave it in for another two minutes if you like a really crispy crust.

The two loaves were very similar, varying only 5g in the amount of rye flour in the dough ingredients. The starters turned out to be a 100% hydration level this time around and were built in two stages with my usual 85% AP/ 15% rye flour mixture. The bulk fermentation was stretched out to three hours on Friday with stretch and folds at 1 and 2 hours. Both loaves got a 14 hour retarded fermentation in the fridge and needed to be warmed up before baking. Because my oven can't do two loaves at once, I left one loaf in the downstairs basement to wait at 65F for the second bake.  That didn't hurt a thing. The loaf that got away is the one that went to the bake sale and it was proofed in my oval banneton. No pictures of that one.

150g at 100% hydration

75g white whole wheat flour
25g rye flour
100g water at room temperature
Soak for at least two hours.

300g bread flour
166g water at 85F
9g kosher salt
1 Tbs honey
all of soaker
all of starter

Working on these two loaves has motivated me to adjust my procedures. The two step starter build worked well for me in this bake but after reading an interview with the Burlington, VT area baker Gerard Rubaux in the excellent blog Farine,
I'm ready to move to a three step build starter to get an even more active starter. The extended bulk fermentation also impressed me because the dough turned out to be easier to handle during the shaping. I can't explain the why but I can't argue with the results. I hope to find an explanation for that by the time April rolls around.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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