Saturday Baguettes: Week 4
The adventure continues!
In this weeks edition of Hamelman's Baguette's with Poolish, I made three modifications to the process from last week (well, more like two and a half:
- Reduced the yeast in the poolish. I've been preparing a half batch of dough relative to Hamelman's "Home" proportions, but until now I haven't reduced the yeast in the poolish, which sounds quite foolish until you realize that the yeast measurement is 1/8 tsp, and nearly every yeasted preferment in the book calls for 1/8 tsp of yeast, regardless of size. Anyway, I've been feeling like there's a degree of flavor and texture missing, as well as the presence of a pronounced alcohol smell about the poolish (and then the finished dough to some extent). So I approximated a 1/16 tsp of yeast in 5.3 oz. each of flour and water.
- Tried to handle the dough more gently during shaping and preshaping.
- Last week I forgot to turn the oven down after loading the baguettes, so this week I made sure not to do that!
After 11 hours the poolish was bubbly and had a pungent aroma with just a hint of maybe some alcohol in the background. It's possible I could have fermented it even less with no ill effects. One of these weeks, I may try making three tiny batches of dough with three tiny batches of poolish, and test just what results I get from different amounts of time and yeast.
The Results: Crust
I was pretty happy with this batch. Definitely better than before, although clearly not there yet. I'm not sure if it's clear from the picture, but the crust was definitely a darker color than previous batches, with the same amount of baking time. This lends some credence to my notion that the poolish was overfermenting somewhat before (or so I understood it from Larry last week--I'm happy to stand corrected on this!). My slashing is getting more consistent, although unfortunately the scores are consistently too close together as well! Believe it or not, the one in the middle actually had four discrete slashes before it went into the oven...
Crumb was definitely better than last week, although not quite up to where I want it to be. Texture-wise, also a bit less fluffy and more creamy than before, but still somewhat fluffy. Flavor was also better--I'm finally starting to get some of the nice nutty notes that I remember from my lucky breaks with this dough. Just some of them, however. Crust was thin and crisp on top, but thick and chewy on the bottom--I think you can even see it in the picture. Not sure what that's all about--possibly a result of leaving the baguettes in to crisp a little more with the oven turned off?
Next week: Further reduction of the yeast in the poolish -- worst case scenario it isn't ready to go when I want to start mixing at 9am, and I start the bread a little later, right? Also, time to start experimenting with steaming methods. I'm really intrigued by the steaming method SylviaH posted earlier this week. I would have tried it today, but I didn't want to conflate the results of not goofing up the oven temperature with the effects of the steaming method.
As always, any tips, comments, or smart remarks are welcome and appreciated,