Saturday, October 18, 2014

A New Semi Semolina Loaf

I've been persisting at learning the method of making bread by hand and with minimal handling.Once again I've failed to reinvent the wheel while baking bread but I have found something on my own that works for me. Now, I might have read about this somewhere and it finally popped into action by fortunate accident but I'll take it.

It's another step in my procedure but this one doesn't involve another dish to wash which is a good thing.

1.  Prepare your starter or preferment. Lately I've played with a biga level-60-68% hydration, when the final dough is around 70-72% in hydration, a poolish level hydration- 100% hydration, when the final dough is around 66%, and 125% hydration when the final is 61-63%. Baker's choice here folks as long as you've done your bakers math. Overall, I try for a 68-69% final dough.

2. Add the flours that absorb more water than the white flour to a large mixing bowl, such as whole wheat or rye. Add all the water, warmer than room temp-90F or so, to the bowl, whisk lightly for ten seconds to be sure all the flour is wet, and then add the starter or your preferment. Whisk briefly to blend the bowl's contents and then let rest for a few minutes. You can scale the rest of your ingredients at this time if you haven't already done so.

3.Mix in the rest of the flour until you have a shaggy mass, cover and autolyze 20-30 minutes. Mist the top of the dough and add your salt over the top. Then, using your hands or a dough whisk, mix in the salt. Do a four way fold on the dough and turn smooth side up, cover and rest for twenty minutes. The dough will probably be sticky. If so, put a little olive oil on your hands when handling the dough.

4. Do three turns of the dough in the bowl at twenty minute intervals. Twenty minutes after the last turn, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface for a stretch and fold. Let the dough continue proofing in an oiled bowl or container until doubled in size.

5. Preshape, rest for 15 minutes, shape and place in a banneton or couche for a retarded fermentation in the fridge.

6. Remove the dough from the fridge and let dough finish proofing at room temperature. Before baking, preheat your oven and baking stone to 460F for 30 minutes. Slash, mist with water or ready your steam device, load, and lower the temperature to 450F for 15 minutes for an unbaked loaf around 720-750 g. At 15 minutes, turn the loaf around, lower the temp to 425F, and at least 20 minutes or the internal temperature reaches 205F. Smaller loaves obviously take less time in both stages. The semolina loaf, for instance, took 12 minutes at 450F and 20 minutes at 425. We like crust here at Casa PG.

7. At the  end of the bake, turn off the heat, crack the oven door open with a hot pad or wooden spoon, and leave the loaf in for about five minutes more before removing to cool on a wire rack. Wait at least three hours before slicing.

OK, so that won't win a Pulitzer prize but I found it to work for me. The crumb is very tender, moist, open, and sweet. The pictures tell the tale of what I achieved as a raggedy home baker so I know the procedure can be repeated. Refer to "Baking by Hand" by A & J King for one of the sources that motivated me and you may find a detail or two I forgot to mention.

Semi Semolina Bread

70 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough
200 g bread flour
100 g semolina
200 g water at 90F
All of starter
6 g kosher salt
1/2 Tbsp olive oil

The other loaf today is a variation on my house loaf designed to test the use of a more firm starter and a slightly higher hydration main dough. This attempt with a casual approach also worked though I concluded that I need to once again cut back on the size of my loaves until I achieve better shaping technique. It has the same desirable, YMMV, qualities for a loaf of bread that the previous "hand made" loaves displayed.

Handmade House Loaf-Variation #2

150 g at 66% hydration
75% organic AP/ 25% white whole wheat

Main dough
270 g bread flour
90 g home milled white whole wheat
250 g water at 90F
All of starter
8 g kosher salt

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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