Extreme problem with 'developing flavor"
I'd recently been inspired by a video on Youtube by the author of the Tartine Bread book to give my breads a 'natural' rise, and I've recently been motivated by my bland, denser loaves that taste more of store-bought pre-made dough "fresh bread" that you bring home thaw/rise and bake. My bread's aren't completely awful. I've even had quite a few compliments and a couple of requests for more loaves. They fool the world of store-bought bread buyers, but not me. I want that perfect melt-in-your-mouth crumb and artisan crust. So it's easy to see that despite what people tell me, I'm easily discouraged about my bread. I've yet to make to my standards a "good" loaf. I've been making bread for about six months and in the beginning I wasn't having much luck. I only made it about once a month, but everytime something disasterous happened: I had to leave the house and the loaves mushroomed over the pan, I'd let it proof too much and it deflated, I didn't use enough flour or oil and half of the proofed dough ripped off and stuck to the bowl, my mother went to move the pans and poked the dough with her fingers, deflating it and one time my grandfather even had a heart attack and we had to go to the hospital. At this point, as these disasters happened one after the other, it was no suprise when my mother said, "I think it's time to give up on your bread-baking dream. Obviously it just wasnt't meant for you..." I'd almost thought that she was right.
I work a 9 to 5 or 9 to 6 job (the timing fluctuates) 5 days a week and am normally gone on the weekends, so initially I threw out the idea of these 'long-process' breads. I skipped to the quick stuff. It's winter here now, so I started using a space-heater to rise and proof dough quickly. And then...the blandness happened. Sure, I got what I wanted: actual cooked bread to eat. But no matter what recipe I used, what types of flour, everything tasted the same. Now I want change at any cost. So, as I was saying, being inspired and all by this video which promoted a 1o-12 hour rise, even 24hr rise, I thought: It's winter. I can manage that, right? I'd recently learned that I had to huge problem over-proofing dough. Now I'm terrified of it, and this idea of proofing bread for 10 hours did nothing to calm my fears. I'll trace the steps of what brought me here this groggy afternoon, bit by bit. And maybe I can get some advice.
I'll start with the recipe; a simple one I found on the internet:
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1tbs white sugar
1tsp salt (I use kosher, I read to use it over tablesalt in some bread book)
1 1/2 tsp yeast (I use instant yeast)
egg wash (optional)
The directions are for the bread machine, and then formation of the dough. I knead the dough by hand, one time I kneaded it for about 6 minutes or so, the dough last night I kneaded for about 12 mintues.
I put the dough into a oiled bowl and oil the bread itself, cover it with aluminum foil loosely and place it on a stand. It was around midnight, so obviously being winter, it's cooler and our house was around 75 degrees. I thought I was safe. I thought wrong. After the initial rise, I punch the dough down and knead a tiny bit more (just enough to get all the bubbles out) and rise again. Punch down again, all the works, and craft two little boule loaves. I let them sit. I wanted to "develope flavors" remember? So I went way over my over-proofing paranoia mark. I proofed it approximately from 3:30am to about..5 or 5:30am, when I couln't stand it anymore because it looked like it was about to burst (and deflate). I remember watching a video of the french baker who, after scoring boule loaves, could toss them about carelessly on any surface while it still held it's shape. Not I! I can barely touch the bread and have even at times been forced to proof the bread on whatever it is I would be baking it on so there would be minimum contact. I went to go brush the bread with the eggwash, finding I like the effect, and the inevitable happened. No scoring included! As I was brushing the dough it deflated. One loaf down. One more to go. I had better luck with brushing, but I knew as soon as I cut it, it would be the end. I was right, and both my loaves that I tried to give so much TLC died right in front of me. I was exhausted, disgruntled. I'd made a mess in the kitchen that I no longer felt like cleaning. It seemed the dream of developing flavor was a ruse.
So, bread bakers, how do you do it? It seems an impossible feat to me. After all, that video seemed to show those breads in the open air. Should I throw my dough out to the closed-in "freezer box", my front porch? I simply cannot fathom how over-proofing does not happen to everyone else, but I also know basically nothing about bread. Help wanted, please!