Been baking from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt & Yeast, and I decided it was time to keep better notes of what I was doing so that I know how to consistently get the bread I love.
Let me start off for the record saying that while this bread is fantastic, I won't be following these procedures again, unless I can't get an equally great bread doing things correctly...
Because Forkish recommends making a lot more levain than is called for in the final dough, last week I decided to cut the levain formula in half. By the way, I don't "refresh" my starter. Last week, I took 25 grams of week old starter (1/4 of what he suggests using) and add it to 25 grams of White Whole Wheat Flour (freshly ground), 100 grams AP four and 100 grams of water. However, when I wrote this down in my notebook, I erroneously wrote down 100 grams of White Whole Wheat.
Accordingly, my levain was very stiff, being at 50% hydration. It seemed awfully stiff, but it was 8:15pm, after a long day of work and I meticulously followed my notes so I figured I must have just had a bad memory for what the leaving as supposed to feel like. Though, I knew in my head that something was wrong, I went to bed shortly thereafter, and when I woke up early saturday morning, I looked back at the book and saw my error.
Here is where it gets tricky... to "fix" the problem, my first reaction at 6:30 in the morning was simply to remove 75 grams of flour from the final dough. However, I had already mixed the white whole wheat and AP the evening before, so I could not simply remove the whole wheat. After removing 75 grams of flour, I held back some of the water from the autolyse step, figuring I did not need so much water now that I was hydrating less flour.
This caused me to rethink things, and I realized that when I added 216 grams of the levain, I was going to wind up with a lot more flour since it was only 50% hydration. So I had the brilliant idea of adding 120 grams of water to the starter to get it the right hydration. For those who do not know, you can't simply add 120 grams of water to 50% hydrated dough and expect the dough ball to hydrate properly. Oh boy, what to do?
Next, I just decided to mix up the water and the dough ball, almost like dispersing my 325 grams of levain into 130 grams of water. Mixed by hand and broke it all up (after the kneading thing clearly was not going to work, and I had a soupy levain by the time my dough was nearly done autolysing. Meanwhile, I started thinking about the math and calculated, whether rightly or wrongly, that when I removed 75 grams of the flour from the dough, and then added 130 grams of water to the levain, I wound up with too little flour and needed to add back in 55 grams of flour. So, after the autolyses was done I kneaded in 55 grams of the removed flour and then added in the 216 grams of soupy levain.
(Lost yet? Good. Don't try this at home). Final dough temperature came to 77 degrees by 7:00 a.m. The dough came just about up to the 1 liter mark on my 12 quart container. (I am mixing units here, forgive me).
Turned at 7:20, 7:50, 8:20 and 9:10. By 4:30 the dough had just about doubled, and I decided it was going too slowly, so into the oven with the light on it went. By 8:20 we were tripled, and by 8:45 we were shaped and in the fridge.
By 6:30 a.m. this morning the dough was ready to come out of the fridge and the oven was preheated to 475.
When the combo cookers were preheated, I tried getting the dough out of the basket and it stick at the bottom/top pretty good. Dough was misshapen but still in one piece, albeit flattish.
After removing the lid, and baking for 15 minutes or so, the bread was a very dark brown, so I lowered the temp to 450 for the remainder of the bake. As you can see, they came out "boldly baked" which is a euphemism for burned. And, yet.... they don't taste burned at all. The bread has an excellent flavor. Crust is delicious and crumb is wonderful.
A successful bake despite the ridiculous contortions I went through.
So far, the notebook has been an utter failure, but that is because I kept poor notes and then followed them to a T without thinking. I am sure I will improve at this all in good time. Although I would never bake this way deliberately, one thing I will take away from this is that I can get the crust pretty darned brown and the bread is far from inedible.