This morning I baked a variation of Anis Bouabsa baguettes. The changes are minor: 72% hydration vs. 75%; I bulk fermented the dough at 55°F vs. 41°F for the prescribed 21 hours; and I added distatic malt powder. Otherwise, my formula and applied techniques were essentially the same as those in the Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes thread. The changes were made for the following reasons. I don't trust my skills yet with a 75% hydration dough. I'm sneaking up on it. Over the weekend I made a 70% hydration sourdough (or pain au levain), and today's baguettes. Furthermore, my refrigerator maintains a 37°F temperature on the only shelf that will hold my bulk proofing container, and I was concerned that temperature would severely change the yeast's reproduction rate. (That's not a guess, I've got an erudite paper written by a couple of microbiologists on the subject of yeast reproduction rate vs. temperature as a reference.). I have the convenience of a wine closet--its too small to call it a wine cellar--that maintains a steady 55°F. Lastly, I added the diastatic malt powder to give the yeast all the edge available.
However, messing with the hydrations of these doughs got me thinking. If I changed the shape I could pass this bread off as a ciabatta, or a foccacia, or a pain rustique, and no one would challenge me: perhaps criticise, but not challenge what I called it. On the other hand, if I offered the pain au levain, to a reasonably knowledgeable eater, as a slice of boule, or batard they'd raise an eyebrow at least.
So what classifies a dough? Content (Ingredients)? Preferments? Shape? Weight? All of the above? All of the above, but not necessarily everytime?
My curiosity grew when I checked three published baguette formulae (DiMuzio, Hamelman, and Hines), and two for pain au levain (DiMuzio, Hamelman). Their doughs' hydrations are within 2% percent of each other, as well as similar ingredients, percentages, and techniques. "Is there a "secret" crib sheet these guys aren't sharing with us?" I wondered. Yet I was baking a baguette dough that was essentially a straight dough, with hydration 9% pecentage points higher than prescribed by "common practice", using atypical techniques. Is Anis Bouabsa a rogue baker?
My interest in things that ferment isn't limited to bread baking. I also brew beer, and make wine. Among brewers there is a crib-sheet. It contains approximately two-dozen beers, and describes each of them by the same attributes which are defined both in scientific precision, e.g., specific gravity, International Bittering Units (IBU's); Lovibond (color) rating; and in subjective terms of taste, smell, and appearance. If there are specialty additives or techniques they are also described, e.g., lambics (a beer made sour by lactobacteria). Wines, of course, are mostly defined by their primary varietal (or mixtures of varietals) ocassionally by craft processes, e.g., malolacticfermentation, ice wines; and a subjective vocabulary codified by a Univerity of California at Davis, professor.
Does anyone know if bread types have been classified, or catergorized and written down, and where is it written? How are bread-baking competitions judged? What are the competitive rules, i.e., do they contain de facto categorical or classifying ingredients, technniques, etc.?