75% Whole Wheat Levain Bread from FWSY
I thought about titling this entry "With failures like these, who needs success?" This morning, I baked another new-to-me bread from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. It is called "75% Whole Wheat Levain Bread," and it is a 75% whole wheat sourdough bread with a little instant yeast but otherwise just - You guessed it! - Flour, water, and salt.
This bread is supposed to bulk ferment for 5 hours and then cold retard overnight after shaping. My dough was mixed at 5 pm. At 6:15 pm, I left home for a class. When I returned at 8:40 pm, the dough had almost quadrupled in volume. It was so fluffy, I thought it was a lost cause. After a moment's consideration of tossing it, I went ahead and shaped it, placed it in a banneton which went into a plastic bag which went into the fridge. This morning, after preheating the oven, I took the loaf out of the fridge and baked it with no further proofing.
I had put the boule in the banneton smooth side up, which is what Forkish recommends. That way, it bakes with the seams created by shaping facing up and no scoring. The seams open up with oven spring and can make a pleasing, chaotic pattern, when everything works as it is supposed to.
Because the dough had over-fermented, I planned on no room-temperature proofing. The loaf coming out of the fridge showed no noticeable expansion but the poke test suggested it was only slightly under-proofed. Before baking, again, I heated the top of the combo cooker. The boule was transferred to the cool bottom, covered with the pre-heated top and placed in the oven. Bake time was 30 minutes covered, then 20 minutes uncovered.
Note: The true color of this bread's crumb is a much darker brown than it appears on my computer screen.
The loaf had great oven spring. It did not achieve the volume of the other boules I have baked from FWSY, but I attribute that to the high percentage of whole wheat flour. I really saw no evidence of damage from the over-proofing. The crust was crunchy, and the crumb was well-aerated (for a 75% WW loaf). It was moist and tender.
The aroma was just wonderful - very whole wheaty. The flavor was good whole wheat with no bitterness or grassiness. The sourdough tang was on the high end of moderate, by my standards. A delicious bread. I'm expecting it to make outstanding sandwiches and toast.
The breads from this book continue to amaze me - on the one hand by their accelerated fermentation and on the other by how incredibly delicious they are. I am seriously considering abandoning my planned attempts to bring their fermentation rate down in favor of just keeping an eye on the dough and enjoying the ride.