Mixing, type of mixer and softness of bread
I took a class at SFBI recently, and I am trying to reproduce the same soft/spongy bread at home. One of the things I was told is to use lots of water in my dough, which I started doing. It certainly made my bread softer, but it is definitely not as soft as what I made at SFBI - doesn't matter which kind of bread I made, the same kind of bread, when I made it at SFBI, was much softer and had more even holes (but large - not a fine crumb, it was all artisan bread) . To check whether it's indeed the water content, yesterday I went nuts with the water, and I made the stickiest dough I have ever made (including the class) - I got excellent bread, but it is still not as soft or even-holed as what I got in the class. So I suspect it isn't the water-content any more.
I am trying to figure out what is different in my method at home, and I can think of only 4 things:
- kind of yeast or sourdough starter. I suspect this has nothing to do with it.
- Steaming/baking system - could be, but I suspect it has nothing to do with it. I may not get the same oven spring and volume at home, but I can't believe it can affect the softness or holyness of the bread.
- kind of mixer: at SFBI we used a nice spiral mixer and kneaded 10 kilos (22lb) of dough at a time. At home, I knead with a zojirushibread machine (or sometimes by hand) and knead 1 kilo (2.2lb) of dough at most, more like 650 grams (1.5lb) usually. I have a very strong suspicion that it is the mixer that makes the difference. At home, I can defeinitely get any kind of dough from short mix to intensive mix with a full windowpane from the zoji. But, I suspect that all improved mixes are not made equal. Do you get the same kind of dough in a zojirushi (or when mixing by hand) as in a real spiral mixer? I am suspecting the spiral mixer somehow produces softer bread..
- Instructor watching over my shoulder. This could ofcourse be it:)
Any suggestions much appreciated.