I want my weekends back. Some of them , anyway. I would like to have the option of not being tethered to my kitchen, with the ticking clock in the back of my mind, for most of a day off.
The trouble is, I am hopelessly addicted to whole wheat, sourdough, hearth bread. Not a good place to start. Staying up half the night during the week is not the answer either, not for me. I need my sleep.
I realize I am being a little silly here. There are lots of breads I could, and do, make during the week, but this is the one that I can't get out of my head.
Tinkering with conventional scheduling strategies got me pretty close to my goal. Build a starter one night, mix a final dough the next, cold ferment, then warm/shape/bake the third night. The third night has been the problem. My reliable window of opportunity is generally 4 hours. The lump of cold dough just wasn't coming around quickly enough.
After a while I was just thinking in circles and getting nowhere. A new tack was called for. Why not start from the other end of the spectrum and work back toward the middle? Goodbye tried and true, hello bizarre and unusual.
Build a large amount of starter. 288g WW bread flour / 216g water / 95g seed starter. Refrigerate immediately!
Build a small soaker. 100g WW bread flour / 75g water / 2g salt. Leave at room temp.
Take starter out of refrigerator.
Combine starter and soaker. Add 50g Whole Rye flour / 7g salt / 40g water (added while kneading).
Knead 7-8 min. Rest 10 min. Shape. Rise 2 hrs. Bake w/ steam 10 min @ 475F, then 425F for 40 min.
If you're still reading this I'm sorry. This is more for me than for you - like therapy.
If you're following the logic I'm impressed, because even I'm having a hard time keeping track of what I was trying to do. At this point, I'm having a hard time just keeping track of what tense I'm in.
Here's the thinking: Skip the bulk ferment - put nearly all the flour in the starter and soaker to develop flavor and gluten ahead of time. Huge starter percentage- Nearly 70% of the weight of the finished dough to strengthen the dough, speed the final rise and further compensate for lack of bulk ferment. Refrigerate starter first- then bring it out to ferment so there is nothing cold going into the final dough. Add Rye to final dough- to jumpstart fermentation.
I was expecting disaster, but I have certainly made worse loaves. The gluten seemed pretty worn out during kneading and it shows in the final result. The crumb is fairly tight, but soft and moist. It didn't go gummy, which surprised me. I see a few obvious improvements I could make to the method so I'll probably give it one more go, but I'm not sure the result is worth all the strangeness.
Final note - it occurred to me just before I started this post that I could simply split my conventionally prepared dough into two smaller loaves and save at least 20 min on baking time right there... huh... waddayaknow... but where's the fun in that!