Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bran Dusted Levain Loaf

 I started out with the idea that I wanted to do a Pane Genzano, an Italian bread that has a bran coating on the crust. The bran adds some heating resistance to an already high hydration, 75% in Genzano, so a longer bake time needs to be planned for or you can play your intuition card. My loaf didn't quite turn out to meet the original's description due to a fortuitous mistake or two on my part. But, it did turn out really well in my book other than the lesson that the bran dusting can quickly become messy on the cutting board.

When Carol Fields included the Pane Genzano recipe in her book, "The Italian Baker", she described the bakers using leftover dough from the previous batch as the starter for the bread. IIRC, she called it a "natural leaven". I used a starter that ranged around 111% hydration, not quite a liquid levain, but far from my usual planned bread hydration matching starters. I was absent minded when scaling my ingredients, weighing out 400 g total flour instead of my intended 360g. The 240g of weighed water in turn should have meant a concrete dough but the 170g of levain appears to have fixed that error because my estimates seem to show that the dough had an overall 68-69% hydration. I cheated on the bran dusting in that I simply dusted the towel meant to sit between the dough and brotform with bran. It was an experiment that I thought might be easier than any other method I had read.

This loaf is one of my better efforts over the past few months. The crumb shot is typical of the loaf all the way through. The aveoli have a nice, shiny, gelatinized gloss. While I initially attributed this to using an almost liquid levain, I can't rule out that the bran on the crust slowed down the heat penetration, giving the yeast more time than usual to create that crumb. I'll have to try repeatedly using a liquid levain again to make heads or tails of what happened. If they work for J Hamelman, they can work for me as long as I put in the effort to observe and learn.

170 g at 111% hydration, 80% KAF AP, 20% Prairie Gold WWW

Main Dough
270 g bread flour
130 g WWW
240 g water at 85F
All of levain
10 g kosher salt
bran for dusting brotform towel

Other than a few crocuses blooming, Springtime appears to be late at Casa PG. There may be daffodils blooming this afternoon or tomorrow but that is still at least ten days to two weeks late. I haven't started in the garden due to cool weather and damp soil. It might be worthwhile to dig up a small area to plant snow peas but that will have to wait until I finish cleaning the property borders. Out by the bird feeders, there are the usual suspects from this past winter. The juncos haven't left yet but that could happen any day now. A few days with weather warm enough to work outside and about twenty bags of cypress mulch will do wonders for the appearance of the yard until the moles return to bedevil me and frustrate my efforts.

More visitors have shown up to view my obscure corner of the internet. Visitors have looked in from Singapore, Afghanistan, Chile, Ecuador, and Sweden.

Compliments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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