Improvising tools and other thoughts
Over the holidays my husband has been trying to increase his carbon footprint by leaps and bounds. This time of year is quiet for us, we own an A/C and heating company in Texas. So summers are crazy and winters allow us some time to play. Our big new toy has been the wood fire oven. I didn't realize how into cooking in it my husband would become. I swear he has decimated the chicken population around here in recent weeks and I have made more bread than I could really give away. I am waiting for my neighbors to not look me in the eye and try to run whenever they see me coming with anything in my arms. I actually had one guy down the street, who I have never met really, almost turn down a chicken from us. I guess I would be suspicious of someone handing out chickens I didn't know. As you can see, I am getting desperate for takers. Last night as I was trying to get ride of 3 of the 6 loaves we baked yesterday, which is what I got on here to write about in the first place, I gave them to friends of our neighbors who just happened to be leaving the neighbors house when I walked out the door. Don't know them either. It was rather funny. I asked them if they would like a loaf of bread. One of the guys replies, "Umm, we have a loaf at home thank you." I told him it was homemade and baked in a wood fire oven and he gave in. I didn't wait to hear what the second guy had to say, I just shoved the bread in his hands and knocked on the neighbor's door. I am sure people are somewhere thinking I am very strange indeed. So I need to find a soup kitchen or something to donate bread to. That is one of the things I would like to do this year is give more. So if anyone knows where to find places to donate bread I am open to ideas.
But back to reason for this entry. Kyle, my husband, decided the other night he wanted to make the bread. From start to finish all by himself. So I asked what kind he wanted. He wanted a light rye hearth bread. So thanks to Hamelman and DiMuzio, I got out a calculator and made up a formula for a 20% rye, 40% preferment, 65% hydration dough. In hind sight I should have gone to 68% to get a little bigger holes but I didn't want the dough to be too slack for my begninner husband who would have to mix the dough by hand. The DLX is too small for 6 loaves. So Kyle ground the rye, made the poolish, learned the french fold, and stretch and fold. Where would I have been with out all the excellent videos I have found from this site? I would ahve been in trouble indeed! I weighed out all the ingredients and helped with shaping and such, but Kyle did the bulk of the work by himself. I even tried hard not to hover! The dough turned out really nice. I thought he did an excellent job for his first rodeo so to speak. But there are 2 big tricks with baking in a WFO. The first is timing. It is hard to get the loaves and the oven ready at the same time. Lucky for us it has been about 50 deg here so I put the loaves in the garage to retard/proof while the oven temp gets in range. The second trick is loading the bread. I realized I needed a narrow peel. Since Kyle is an avid fisherman he suggested buying a oar and sanding the varnish off. It works like a champ!! I would have never thought of it. But it is hard to get all the loaves in and spaced correctly. So below are some pictures. One is the oar, sanded and oiled. One is of the Counrty Rye oaves we made yesterday. And we will see if I find any other ones to put in.
My next experiment is going to be with different grains. I recently purchased 50lbs of spelt berries, 50lbs or durum berries and 50lbs of hard white spring wheat. So I would like to come up with a formula and do a test and see the differences in flavor and behavior. I am thinking of doing about 50% whole grain and 50% AP flour. I will let you know how that goes.
The Oar- or new Peel
The loaves in the oven...nicely spaced if I may say so myself. Or atleast better than before! :)
Lastly, the crumb..