On Tuesday afternoon a friend popped by, and we, as you do, sat there over tea and cake putting the world to rights while the rain was hammering down outside. Next thing we know it's supper time, with more tea, bread and deli. And then, at the end of the evening, there are only crumbs on the board and half a fruit loaf in the bread bin. So there I was, at eight o'clock at night trying to rectify the situation - just as well I'm something of a night owl... And I felt adventurous to boot. So instead of reaching for a set recipe, I thought I'd try putting something together on the fly. And here's what I came up with:
75g porridge oats
75g spelt flour
200g water just off the boil
50g rye starter
90g white bread flour
soaker + levain
5g dried active yeast
280g white bread flour
145g tepid water
The soaker was fairly self-explanatory - I mixed the oats and spelt together, poured the water over it and left it for four hours. Likewise for the levain, though as I wanted to mix the dough before hitting the sack, I put the bowl of levain in a pan of hand-hot water to give it a hurry-up. When I came to use it, it actually smelled quite sour...
The dough I mixed as usual by hand - it was quite sticky and not the easiest to handle, but I gave it a good knead. It needed a wee bit longer than usual to get it to where it started feeling silky. I left it to rest for half an hour at room temperature, gave it a stretch and fold, left it for another half an hour and did a second stretch and fold. At that point I popped the dough back in its bowl, put the bowl in a plastic bag, threw the whole ensemble in the fridge and went to bed.
Next day lunchtime I took it out of the fridge (it had about 12 hours in there) and left the dough to warm up for about half an hour. After that I knocked it back, shaped it into a boule, and plopped it into a banneton and plastic bag to prove for about two and a half hours. The dough had firmed up considerably overnight, and most of the stickiness was gone.
The dough was turned out onto a hot pizza stone and scored. I splashed some water onto the stone and covered the dough with a large stock pot. This went into an oven preheated to 230C. I gave the bread 25 mins with the pot on, and a further 25 mins with the pot off.
The resulting bread was a bit frisbee-like, but had a thin, crisp crust and a fabulous aroma. The crust did soften quite quickly however, but when I sliced into the bread the next day, the crust was nice and chewy, while the crumb was glossy and bouncy. Flavourwise, the first taste was lovely and creamy (from the oats, I presume), but then came a very distinct sour tang that I've never managed to achieve before.
More importantly, the bread received the parental Seal of Approval with a request for a repeat bake... Now I know this needs work, but unlike my problematic Pain de Campagne, this one is certainly worth persevering with.
The next time I attempt this, I think I will build my levain and make the soaker in the morning and keep them in a warm place until I make my dough in the early evening - not after midnight LOL... That way I can get a nice long retard in the fridge and be able to bake the bread at tea time the following day.
I also need to figure out why I ended up with a frisbee...
This afternoon I also baked a brioche - I found a no-knead recipe on a Dutch website (www. weekendbakery.com) that wants retarding in the fridge for two days, which rather intrigued me. Made the dough on Wednesday, left it to its own devices until into the oven it went this afternoon. It's actually my first ever attempt at baking brioche; I had a surfeit of butter left over after the Great Bun Bake, and I'd swapped one of my wholegrain loaves for some lovely free range eggs, so it kind of made sense. Am well pleased with the result and am looking forward to breakfast tomorrow...
And as usual, Madam Lexi had the last word in this week's culinary proceeds by proudly coming in at lunchtime today... with a rabbit...
Lexi was most upset when we took it away from her. Flopsy was duly released into the garden, whereupon she shot into the undergrowth with great alacrity... Still, it was quite a catch for such a small cat...