Even in what passes for "normal" in my life, mid-November to the end of December ranges from busy to insanely busy. There are jams to package, candies to make, and cookies to bake. Being the designated holder of family culinary traditions, the doing, packaging, and shipping can take on a life of its own.
As the one or two of you who read my blogs know, 2010 hardly started out as a "normal" year. I had high hopes it would quickly settle to normal. But it was not to be.
Doesn't mean I don't keep up with the bread, though.
Lately I've been getting some big bear bites as I try to adjust my usual formulas to use two pre ferments. I'll have to admit, my mental mise en place was somewhat lacking and some very, very odd things came out of that fancy, new oven. Today, however, I looked over at the days baking and thought - "It's far from perfect, but that's some nice looking bread."
I've been varying the percentage of flour in the preferment all over the map. What I found, is that reverting to my old faithful of 12-15% of the total flour pre fermented once again, did the trick.
The formula (for 6 loaves of about 10 oz of dough per loaf) (And y'all are going to have to put up with ounces...):
Total percentage of flour pre fermented: 15%
Percentage of flour in the poolish: 10%
King Arthur All Purpose Flour 3.7 oz
Water 3.7 oz
Instant yeast generous pinch
Percentage of flour in the levain: 5%
King Arthur All Purpose flour 1.7 oz
Water 1.7 oz
Seed 0.35 oz
Desired Dough temperature 76F
King Arthur All Purpose Flour 31.35 oz
Water 19.2 oz
Instant Yeast 0.05 oz (Yes, that little - that's 0.135%)
Salt 0.55 oz
All of the poolish
All of the levain
Mix the flour, water, polish and levain to a shaggy mass. Autolyse for 30 mins.
Mix in mini spiral for 3 minutes at single speed. Moderate gluten development. (Could also be mixed by hand or stand mixer.)
(At this point I divided the dough in half, with one half receiving a normal bulk ferment, and the other half sent into the refrigerator for a retarded bulk ferment of about 10 hours.)
Bulk ferment 4.5 hours at 72F, stretch and fold at 2 hours.
Divide and pre shape. Rest for 25 minutes.
Shape. (At a mere 7% of the flour in the levain, I achieved a dough that fought back during shaping. This 5% of flour in the levain handled very nicely.)
Proof for 1 hour 30 minutes.
Slash and load.
Bake 5 minutes with your favorite home steaming method at 500F conventional bake.
Switch to convection bake at 480F (I love my new oven...) for 12-13 minutes.
Since I have the convection oven, all my loaves (even the ones where the bear gets me) sing pretty nicely and the crusts are quite crispy even after the bread is cool.
The taste? Not a really assertive levain taste, but definitely more flavor there than a typical poolish baguette. The crumb is much more yellow than I can capture with my negligible photographic skills. I would describe the taste as "creamy."
This formula hasn't passed the "I baked this for many weeks and it is consistent" test, but I though I would share.
We'll see how the other half turns out tomorrow (In general I've not been best pleased with shaping after retarding with these mixed pre ferment breads, but we shall see...)
Added by edit: The batch of baguettes that received the retarded bulk ferment were removed to a proofing box at about 72F for an hour and a half before shaping. Thye still fought back a bit, but not nearly as badly as other batches. Unfortunately time ran out for picture taking, but they had a more open crumb than the first batch. My official bread tester declared them, the best bread, yet. I, of course, was unhappy with the shaping...