No time; no worry
I learned a few things last week that I should have known but learning them because they happen to be the only way you get something done tends to stick more in ones mind.
I wanted to bake some of the Essential Columbia in Maggie Glazer's book. It is one of my favorite breads (a staple in my freezer) and one that i do fairly often. This last baking turned out four of the most perfect loaves i have ever done and, since a friend repeated my methods with the same results, I feel confident sharing. The interesting thing is that I wound up doing what I did because i had to in order to fit the baking into an otherwise hectic schedule.
Note: I wont repeat the recipe since it is easy to find in Glazer's book.
I had just refreshed my 100% starter a few times. It was very healthy. It was Friday night and I knew that i had a small window to bake (or even mess with the dough) on Sunday Morning. I planned on a double recipe to get 4 loaves. So ... on Saturday at 6:00 AM I made the firm starter from the 100% starter. I left for a day away from home but the starter worked on the kitchen counter (about 70 degrees) until i got home at 4:00PM. It was nice and expanded. At 4:30PM I mixed the other flour and water (only) and left them to autolyse, again at about 70 degrees. I went right off to an event and got home at 9:30PM. That's a LONG autolyse. But I had no choice. The firm starter was now about 15 hours old and bubbly even if it was a firm starter. Too Long? Nah. I mixed the autolysed dough, the firm starter and the few other ingredients in my stand mixer for 8 minutes on low. The gluten was great. I watched a bit of TV until 10:30 and then did one single session of as many folds as the glutenous dough would allow -- 5 or 6. I then put the dough into a plastic container with its lid on and put it out into the 50-55 degree garage. The next morning at 7:00AM the dough was beautifully doubled.
I shaped it, using both the baguette letter fold with the filone roll at the ends, into fat battards (using my linen-lined plastic fish-n-chips baskets as baneltons) and did a second rise for 2 hours. My slashes (one per loaf) were very shallow and from end to end at about 2 o'clock cross section . I baked it at 450 rather than 400. Voila! Perfecto! Great oven spring. Ballooned up to be round in cross section and with a terrific crumb. Oh, tastes great too.
So ... if I had a LOT of time I would not have given either my firm starter nor the autolysing dough nearly the time it deserved and the long overnight cool rise helped a bunch too. Actually, this was a great schedule for baking this bread and the results were amazing ... yah, I know, show me the picts. Sorry, take my word for it. But, I will not now be in nearly the same rush as I had been in the past. I will also say that the only "prime" time i spent on this bread was the baking at 10:00AM. Everything else was at a "no-conflict "time with the rest of my life.