Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain, Two Ways
Having been through a series of bakes with the basic Tartine loaf, I thought the right balance would be to go over to Hamelman for something. I chose the Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain because it seemed like a nice alternative to the white flour/open crumb quest of my recent Tartine baking.
Hamelman is a very good teacher and there are multiple useful lessons in this bread, as throughout his book. While I think of Tartine as a storybook, I view Hamelman as a textbook. He points out that the greater percentage of prefermented flour, and the whole grain, in this case dark rye, will contribute to a tightening of the gluten, as well as a somewhat tangier (and richer) taste. He advises the baker not to expect an open crumb, nor the kind of volume that would result from using white flour alone and less prefermented flour. He is right on both counts, although I have no problem with the profile of this loaf.
I made the first loaf pictured straight through, fermenting and proofing on the bench. It was baked under a bowl, and with a roasting pan beneath, into which a preheated brick and two towels had been placed, and boiling water poured over. The second was retarded overnight in the fridge and baked with the same steam setup, but without the bowl. The brick-plus-towels idea gives good steam throughout the first 15 minutes, even without microwaving. The excellent oven spring from this method is apparent in a couple of the pictures.
Since I changed more than one variable, I can't be sure if the superior crumb in the second loaf is from the scoring pattern, or the absence of the bowl or the retarding. The loaf from the fridge is just slightly more tangy. Both have a nice contrast of the crunch of the crust with the smooth, rich mouthfeel of the crumb. This is a god bread with good lessons from a good teacher.
Anyway, here they are. This is a delicious variation on his straight Vermont Sourdough, which is high on my list after having seen Wally's unbeiievable crumb.