Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Baking

I got into a little bit of flinging the flour for the holiday. The first loaf up was a reprise batard of the Easton Hillside Sourdough loaf. The formula is easy enough to replicate but I can't help thinking that before I set the formula in stone that I should try it with a liquid levain. Hamelman's "Bread" uses a 125% hydration levain as a starter in almost all the loaves in the book. Most of my starters have been between 70-100% hydration until I baked the next loaf for Christmas dinner at my BIL's.
This picture is my initial effort at developing an oatmeal-cranberry sourdough. It's a blatant theft of the Hamelmans Golden Raisin Sourdough. I sat down with pen and calculator because I haven't learned how to work with spread sheets yet and scratched out the numbers based on a 400g flour loaf. My plan was to bake two smaller loaves, keep one for home consumption and take one for Christmas dinner.

During the course of the effort I ran into two obstructions that slowed me down. The first was the use of the oatmeal in the formula. The oatmeal just sucked up a lot of the water and consequently left the dough much stiffer than I expected. The whole wheat flour in the formula isn't soaked beforehand so that probably added to the difficulty. I added about 50g more water but couldn't get the feel of the dough right. Soaking the oatmeal first and then adding flour to correct a slack dough will be a lot easier than trying to add so much water.

Baking presented a new problem for me. My usual baking time didn't work well for two loaves.  It was probably caused by the oven being open longer to load the loaves onto the stone. One loaf, pictured here was done more than four minutes earlier than the other. The crumb on the loaf already cut is tight but light as in almost fluffy. There's work to be done on this loaf's formula.

This last loaf is a rye bread of no particular nationality's pedigree. I've been reading Leader's "Local Breads" but not in depth enough for a meaningful interpretation or slavish copy. I used a two stage starter build of mostly rye. The flour in the dough was 75% bread flour, 20% rye, and 5% white whole wheat. I enriched the loaf with some sunflower oil and molasses.

This loaf is going to Christmas dinner as well so there are no crumb shots yet but I'm confident that it will do well with the Polish sausage to be served with dinner. The formula is similar to a bauernbrot that I did a couple years ago.

Here's wishing any and every one that reads my posts a Merry Christmas and peaceful holiday season.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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