Caramelized hazelnut squares
I'm eating a lot of bread these days :)
The latest batch to come out of my oven, is pictured below: Two loaves of Suas' caramelized hazelnut squares.
A total of four different preferments are mixed 12 hours before the final dough: Two levains (a white and a rye levain), and two stiff sponges (a white and a whole wheat sponge). The two sponges and the white levain are very stiff, probably to make the final dough stronger. I did consider doing an autolyse on the non-prefermented flour, but I feel the resulting increased protease activity would counteract the effect of the stiff preferments, so I dropped the autolyse. The recipe doesn't call for any either, and I think it was a wise choice as the overall dough is very wet (77%).
After an "improved mix" and some folds in the bowl using a plastic scraper (thanks to mountaindog for updating me on the vocabulary!), roasted and caramelized hazelnuts were incorporated on first speed. The mixed dough was bulk fermented for two hours, with a very gentle fold after one hour. The dough was a bit sticky but not overly so. Wet hands and a dough scraper saved it from getting stuck to the table :)
No pre-shaping on this one, just cut it in two pieces and scooped them into rectangles and 35 mins. proof.
The rustic "squares" (yeah, mine aren't exactly square now are they?) are incredibly rich in flavor. To me, the recipe is perfectly balanced between a wheaty, slightly sour note and the sweet, decadent hazelnuts. The crumb is very airy and light, and the crust is crunchy and strong. What to put on top of these slices? I tried one with some Dutch cheese and one with a bit of honey, but for this loaf, my best advice is: Bread alone. :)