This is the first time I bake any Ken Forkish’s bread. This is the first time I post on the Fresh Loaf blog, although I’ve read and learnt so much from a lot of the active participants here. Rightly or wrongly, I feel I can’t be a complete bread baker, among other things, if I’ve never tried Forkish’s recipes. I started baking a lot of Chad Robertson’s breads after I read his two books, Tartine Bread and Tartine Book No.3, a year ago.
At the same time, I got a new heavy-duty dual-fuel range that is wide enough to bake full size baguettes. Most of these breads were posted on my blog (http://flourishen.blogspot.com). Overnight country blonde was the first I baked from Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast. I figure the best start is to bake something closest to what I am most familiar with,which is the Tartine basic country bread. I followed the overnight country blonde recipe to a T, except for the part that you are not supposed to score the dough, which I did.
There are a lot of similarities between Forkish and Tartine’s approach, but there are enough differences, e.g. in building the levain, the fermentation process and baking temperature. To keep track of what I was doing and understanding the unique approaches, I put all the steps side by side in a spreadsheet.
Here are the comparisons and my takeaway from having baked the overnight country blonde and many variations of the Tartine country bread.
- Both Tartine basic country bread (Tartine) and Forkish country blonde (Forkish) are excellent. It'd be akin to hairsplitting if I say that one is better than the other.
- Tartine and Forkish have similar hydration level of roughly 77-78% using 90% white flour in the total flour amount.
- While Tartine uses one tablespoon of starter to build 400g of levain, Forkish uses 100g to build 1000g, which results in a greater amount of levain being discarded.
- Salt and small amount of water are added to the Tartine dough (levain and all) after 30 minutes of resting period, at which point the dough is relaxed, cohesive and easy to work with. Meanwhile salt and all of the 216g of levain are incorporated into the autolyse mixture to make the final Forkish dough, which I find much wetter and stickier to handle.
- Bulk fermentation is 3 to 4-hr at 80°-85°F for Tartine and 12 to 15-hr at 77°-78°F temperature for Forkish. The longer fermentation of Forkish dough necessitates baking the bread the next day, spanning a two-day process from the time you mix the dough.
- The longer bulk fermentation of the Forkish dough imparts a much sourer note in the finished loaf.
- The higher oven temperature in baking the Tartine dough often results in a thicker and burnished crust, especially on the bottom.
Now I need to integrate these approaches in order to make better breads in my own kitchen setting. I want to move away from baking from recipes and develop a more intuitive feel for my breads. Any suggestions from someone who has gone down this path before?