I'm still having some home-grown apples that I wanted to use and I was thinking about apple bread. Originally, I thought about making apple and oats bread from Bourke Street Bakery cook book. However, I bought quite a few new bread-making books that I should use. So turning to Dan Lepard's books, I saw a promising apple bread recipe.
It was my first time using Dan Lepard's recipe, from Exceptional Bread. The book doesn't have baker's percentage. So, I had to compute my own. Making bread without baker's percentage to me is like flying-blind. At least, I love to know the hydration percentage and flour mix percentage in the formula.
Lepard's recipe use quite an unusual sourdough starter, cultured with mixed bread and rye flour, yogurt and apple juice. I never came across this before. Instead, I use the bread and rye starter with water and include apple juice and yogurt elsewhere in the final dough. However, I am curious what the flavour profile of the culture fed with apple juice and yogurt would be like. I'll have to try it some other times.
The recipe has a very low hydration, only 45% (water + apple juice). If I counted yogurt into hydration (which shouldn't be the case as yogurt might only contain 50% water and 50% fat or???), it would make 55% hydration, which is still relatively low. I prefer to work with dough with over 60% hydration as it is more pleasant to work with, smooth, soft and satiny texture for hand kneading.
Plus, the recipe also contains 35% combined rye and whole wheat flour (they absorb more water). It would mean 55% hydration, in fact, is around 50% percent. I'm not sure if this is a typo or bread recipes from UK is generally low in hydration.
I followed the recipe anyway and adjusted the water as I went along. Turned out, I had to add approximately 10% more water (which bring the hydration to 60 - 65% percent).
The bread didn't gain much volume out of it and the crumb was somewhat tighter than usual. This could be due to few reasons, heavy dough (with 30% chunks of apples in it), low hydration, high percentage of rye and whole wheat flour. The original recipe included commercial yeast, which I omitted as I retarded the dough overnight. I wonder if the crumbs would be lighter if commercial yeast is used.
All in all, the bread tasted lovely. I didn't think about it much the first day, but the flavour developed at the later days. Second day the bread taste better, and the third day it tasted fabulous. The bread had a complex flavour, with apple juice, yogurt, chunks of apples and mixes of wheat, whole wheat and rye flour. It made a great toast for breakfast.
Full post and more photos can be found here.