Swiss Farmhouse Bread – “Bread. A baker’s book of techniques and recipes, 2nd Edition” by Jeffrey Hamelman.
My experiment into the world of yeast water bread was inspired by an organised community bake on the Fresh Loaf bread site. The members have such a wealth of experience and expertise. When things do not go to plan, experts jump in with great advice. I learned a lot by participating and through others experience.
This bread contains walnuts and raisins and uses raisin yeast water for leavening. The first step is to make the yeast water and takes 5 to 6 days.
My proofer is set at 25°C.
Yeast Water – My first attempt with raisins failed due to non-organic raisins coated with oil. I was told that I could produce yeast water using any organic fruit. I have a kumquat tree in our yard, so thought to experiment (it’s winter here and my options are limited). My second attempt was successful using kumquats and honey. The yeast water was ready for the first build on day five.
The first build took 8 hours to mature. I left the second build overnight for 14 hours which was slightly over; 12 hours would have been good.
I recalculated the ingredients for a 680-gram dough. After mixing, the dough felt quite wet but had reasonable development. Mixed in walnuts and raisins by hand. Desired dough temperature within range (24.5°C).
Bulk fermentation for 3 hours with a letter fold halfway.
Pre-shape, bench rest and shape. Final proof for 2 hours. I chose a boule banneton on this occasion.
I scored the boule with scissors just before loading into the oven and bake the loaf in a pre-steamed oven for 36 minutes; 232°C for first fifteen minutes then lower to 221°C to avoid excess darkening due to the raisins.
In conclusion, I am very happy with this experiment as I was able to meet all the timeframes in Hamelman’s recipe. Temperature control is important for success and schedule. I was sceptical about yeast water, but now I am convinced it has its place in my arsenal and was easier than first thought. No waste!
Taste – complete absence of sour, highlights of the walnuts and raisins blended well with the crumb. Not overly sweet.
Crumb – Not dense and enjoyable.
Flour – Unbleached bread flour 11.5% protein (90%) plus freshly milled whole-wheat (10%).
Further experimentation: change nuts and fruit, leave them out, increase whole wheat.