Accidental Success -- Vermont Sourdogh with Increased Whole Grain
Inspired by dmsnyder's post about Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain, and is recommendation of it to those seeking "a more sour sourdough" (sign me up!), I decided to make that my Sunday bake. Friday morning I refreshed my firm starter, and changed some of it to a 125% liquid starter, then made the preferment levain friday night, and was all ready to mix the dough Saturday morning.
What I did not realize, at first anyway, is that the amounts of ingredients in my printing of Bread are horribly, horribly wrong. The dangers of not consulting Hamelman's errata before making a new formula, I guess. The percentages, as given in the book, are supposed to be 85% bread flour, 15% whole rye, 65% water, 1.9% salt, with 20% of the total flour prefermented in the liquid levain, and is supposed to be based on 2lbs of flour. If you follow the home-baker amounts, however, you'd end up with 70% bread flour, 30% rye, 3.8% salt and a ridiculous 30% water, based on 1 lb of flour. If figured this out in stages.
It was pretty easy to figure out something was wrong when I did the initial mix and had a 4.8 oz. of water in 16 oz. of flour. Doesn't make much of a dough, funnily enough :P. So I add some more water to bring it up to 65% hydration. But something seemed off. The dough seemed kinda pasty. At this point it occurred to me to check the math on the rye percentage. I wasn't really wanting to deal with a 30% rye bread so I improvised, threw in more bread flour and water to make the bread to make 2lbs of flour with 65% hydration.
But then I only had 10% of the flour prefermented, and only half as much levain as the formula needed. Improvisation again! I still had about 4oz of firm starter in the fridge from the day before, so I threw about 3 oz in when I added the salt (the formula is made with an autolyze.
I ended up bulk fermenting for much longer than the 2.5 hours Hamelman calls for, more like 4 hours, and even then it seemed pretty sluggish. But I eventually went ahead and shaped two big loaves, placed them in brotforms and retarded overnight. I baked them this morning and...drumroll...
It actually worked! Great crumb, pleasant flavor. Not overly sour, but I imagine that will change when I have some for breakfast tomorrow. I got so much oven spring on the boule that I was sure there was just a single giant hole at the top and nothing else. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least!