In hindsight I should have baked this bread as a Ciabatta since it ended up such a slack and wet dough. While I was working on the final formulas and trying to figure out what hydration level to use for maple syrup and sweet potatoes I discovered that sweet potatoes are extremely high in water. In fact they are around 85% water which I now know is the main reason why this dough ended up so wet. Next time I bake this one I would definitely adjust the water content to get it down to around 70-75% hydration or cut down some of the sweet potatoes.
In any case since I wasn't using my head when baking this one I used my bannetons to place the extremely wet dough and ended up with 2 flattish breads but great tasting none the less.
I wanted to make a nice flavorful fall style bread so I figured the maple syrup would go great with the sweet potatoes and some oat flour and rolled oats with crushed pecans couldn't hurt either.
One thing I did a little different in this bake was to add part of the sweet potatoes to the second build of the starter. It did not seem to have any detrimental effects on the starter other than as I now know to make it much wetter than usual.
If you decide to try this one yourself I would either bake it as a Ciabatta bread or lower the amount of potatoes or water.
The overall taste of this bread was excellent with a nice moist crumb and hints of maple syrup and crunchy pecans. You don't really taste the sweet potatoes but they are there in the background adding subtle overtones of sweetness.
Mix all the levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled. I used my proofer set at 83 degrees F. and it took around 5 hours.
Add the stage 2 ingredients to the first Build and mix thoroughly until incorporated. Cover and let sit at room temperature or in your proofer if you have one. In my proofer it took around 4 hours to double. You can either use it immediately in the main dough or put it in the refrigerator overnight and use the next day.
Main Dough Procedure
Mix the flours, and the water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute. Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes. Next add the salt, starter, balsamic and sweet potatoes and mix on low for 6 minutes. Add the pecan pieces and mix for an additional minute to incorporate them evenly. Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds. Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold. Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold. Since this dough is so wet I did a total of 5 stretch and folds but if you adjust the hydration you won't need to do this. After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.
When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours. Remove the dough and shape as desired. Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray or use your favorite Ciabatta shaping method.
The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature. Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.
Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F. and prepare it for steam. I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf. I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.
Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.
After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.
Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack for at least 2 hours before eating.