Experimenting with Kefir
A recent post (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13534/kefir-sourdough-starter) inspired me to experiment with Kefir (a fermented milk product) as an ingredient in formulating bread dough. I was looking for a well defined sourness in the dough that could be easily controlled. As a start, I used a portion of my "go to" starter, which is a 100% hydration formula, and reduced the hydration level to 70%. I left that in the refrigerator for 48 hours, then added 142 grams of bread flour, 80 grams of water and 40 grams of Kefir. That went back into the refrigerator for another 22 hours and was then combined with 9 grams of active dry yeast proofed in 20 grams of warm water, 10 grams of table salt, 337 grams of bread flour and 210 grams of water. After making certain that the ingredients were thoroughly mixed and that no raw flour chunks remained, this mixture was allowed to rest at room temperature ro 90 minutes.
Using a bowl scraper, the dough was then folded over onto itself at 90 degree angles until a complete turn of the bowl was completed; making four folds. This repeated once after an hour had passed and again after a second hour had passed. The dough was then set aside to proof.
After it had essentially doubled in mass (about an hour), I placed the dutch oven in the oven of the range and preheated to 500 degrees and waited an additional fifteen minutes. I removed the dutch oven from the range, poured the dough into it, put the cover in place and returned it to the oven for 10 minutes before removing the lid. I quickly sprayed the top of the loaf with Canola Oil, closed the oven and waited another 10 - - 15 minutes until the internal temperature reached 205 degrees.
Here's the result:
(click on thumbnail for larger view)
This loaf had a thin but crisp crust, velvety texture (almost cakelike) and nice crumb. The flavor was very good, something that will go nicely with a bowl of hot soup or as the foundation for a sandwich. Paninis for lunch tomorrow.
What I would do differently:
Next time I will change the ratio of water/kefir in the preferment. Instead of 80 grams of water and 40 grams of kefir, I'll use 40 grams of water and 80 grams of kefir.
Thanks, janeburton, for the idea.
Note: The Kefir I used was Nancy's Organic, lowfat, cultured, plain, unsweetened (comes in 1/2 pint container)
I tried the adjustment (ratio Kefir to water) described above. There wasn't enough difference in any aspect of the bread. Still good but the added Kefir didn't offer anything to the end result worth mentioning.