The Fresh Loaf

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lolo

Focaccia

 

This was really fun to make. I decided to try something with a poolish today, and I'm so glad I picked focaccia!  But wow does this recipe make a lot.  Even though it took a while, the results are really worth it.  I've never made focaccia of any kind before, but this was way better than any store-bought stuff I've had in the past.  Here's the crumb:

 

Focaccia Crumb

 

I left my poolish out overnight because I was... well.. lazy. BBA says to ferment it for four hours and then refrigerate it overnight, but I was tired and I wanted to go to bed, so I left it outside as a compromise. It wasn't as warm as my house, and it wasn't as cool as the refrigerator. It had the added bonus of not requiring a warm-up period when I felt like baking in the morning.  I figured it wouldn't make a huge difference if I cheated this way, and I was right! It still tasted great in the end. The poolish was a really fun consistency.

 

Poolish Poolish, consistency

 

This dough was a lot easier for me to work with than the pain a l'ancienne dough, even though they're both really wet and slack. Folding was a lot easier than the ancienne shaping for some reason. I've never done the stretch and fold before, and I really like the technique. Really easy but produces a nice result. I was surprised at how the dough changed just from three folds, 30 minutes apart.

 

Dusting Focaccia Dough Folding Focaccia Dough Oiling Focaccia Dough

  

The shaping was also a lot of fun. Maybe I just like playing with my food?  I did an herb oil with as much fresh basil as I could remove from my plant without killing it, and supplement with some dried italian herbs.  I was out of flaked kosher salt, which was sad, but I had sea salt in a table-salt sized grind.  I'll definitely get the larger salt for the next batch.

 

Herb Oil on Focaccia Dough Final Shaping, Focaccia Dough

 

If anything I think I should have degassed it a little more. It puffed WAY up, especially on one side that was particularly bubbly.  I gave half of it away to my best friend, and I'm thinking about making it again for a party this weekend. Seems like an ideal food for a lot of people who want to nibble and drink some wine! 

 

Anyone know the best way to store it?  Covered?  Plastic wrap?  Uncovered?   

 

Focaccia

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Pain de Campagne

 

This is my second bread from BBA.  I decided to stick with boules even though Reinhart says this is the perfect dough for all kinds of fancy shapes.  Everything went really well until the slashing.  I bought a lame from a local kitchen store and it just was not slashing the dough.  At all!  I tried wetting it, oiling it, using the other side of the blade... nada.  Finally I touched it with the tip of my finger and realized that it's fairly dull.  Sad!

I grabbed a semi-sharp serrated tomato knife to do the slashing instead.  While that actually cut into the dough, it did so with a fair amount of drag, so I didn't get the cleanest slashes.  Ah well.  Time to go to the hardware store to buy a package of razor blades, I guess. 

Pain de Campagne, boule

 

The recipe said it made three loaves.  They turned out to be rather small loaves, so next time I think I'll split it into two if I'm going to do the same shape.  But there is something nice about these little boules, though.

Pain de Campagne

 

The crumb on this is decent.  The taste is good, but I think I like the taste of the pain de l'ancienne better.  My husband liked the taste of this, but halfway through a big slice said there was an "aftertaste."  I don't know if he's tasting the whole wheat component (hard red winter wheat berries I ground in my vitamix) or what.  I don't think I let the bread overproof, and he said it wasn't an alcohol flavor, so I'm not sure what he's tasting.

Overall a fairly successful bake.  It was my first time using a pate fermente.  I even considered making two loaves and keeping the other third of the dough for a loaf tomorrow, but I haven't baked with a poolish yet so that might be my next project. 

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lolo

Pain a l'Ancienne

I've decided it's time to jump into breads, and what better way than BBA?  After reading most of the book I decided that this would be a great first bread to try.  I was SO happy with the flavor and the crumb; I've never ever made bread that tasted so good or had such a nice texture.  It really was "creamy and cool" just as it should be.  The crust even crackled as it was cooling!  How fun!!  Not bad for my first shot at "real" bread.

Pain a l'Ancienne - Crumb

 

I think I could stand to make a slightly less hydrated dough next time (I think I added too much water, then was adding flour like mad to compensate) and gain some height without giving up the overall quality of the bread.  The bread spread out while shaping, causing me to curl it under a little, which created veins of uncooked flour on the undersides of some of the loaves.  A stiff brush removed most of it, but still, who wants a mouthful of flour?  If I can figure out how to use less flour without the dough sticking like crazy, I'd be set.  The excess flour burned up in the oven and I nearly smoked myself out of my kitchen.  I also need a much larger baking stone, as I could only fit two loaves at a time, which really lengthened the whole process.

 

 

"Shaping" the "loaves" "Shaping" the "loaves"

I made the dough around 11 pm and took it out of the fridge at 9 am.  I put it in the oven a little after 12 (even though I wasn't sure it had actually doubled yet... I didn't want to overproof it and end up with even flatter dough...)  I tried to score the first two loaves with a lame, but that was hopeless.  I moved on to sharp scissors like the book suggests, and while that worked better, you could hardly see the cuts on the final loaves.  I skipped that step altogether on the last two loaves and it seemed to work out fine.  Maybe if I make the dough a little drier next time the slashing will work out as well.

Overall I'm really, really happy with these, especially since it was my first try.  It was absolutely the best tasting bread I've ever made.  I can't wait for my whole wheat starter to be ready so I can get going on some of the recipes in his Whole Grains book as well!

Pain a l'Ancienne
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