The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread is forgiving

Bread Engineer's picture
Bread Engineer

Bread is forgiving

Just about everything that could go wrong with my last bake did, yet it turned out to be one of the tastiest bakes in a while (albeit ugliest).

My plan was to make two loaves the WW sandwich loaf from PR's Whole Grain Breads, using ~200 g of 100% hydration WW sourdough starter in the part that would normally be spiked with yeast and reducing the flour and water accordingly, and cutting the salt in 1/2. This normally is a reliable process.

#1 - I wasn't paying attention when assembling the starter part and the salt part and put all of the water in the salt part. Fortunately, I stirred the starter part first and realized my error, so I poured some of the water off the top of one bowl into the other (without measuring). The starter part ended up a bit wet, and the salt part a bit dry.

#2 - I left the salt part on the counter and put the starter part in the refrigerator. I hadn't fired the AC yet, so daytime kitchen temperature (when I'm not there) was on the order of 90 degrees. 24 hours later, the salt part was looking wet and with small bubbles in the top, like starter in need of feeding, and it tasted sour. I wondered if I didn't refrigerate the wrong bowl, so I put that bowl in the refrigerator and took the other one out. 12 hours later, both were looking and tasting fermented, so I have no idea which was which, but I pressed on (at this point, the only thing I had to lose was a little bit of flour and sugar, so why not).

#3 - I combined the parts, added the remaining flour and sugar. Spiked it with a little bit of yeast to head off additional breakdown of the dough. Let the kitchenaid knead while I cleaned off the counter. It cleared the bowl very well, but it was incredibly extensible and would barely make a windowpane. When dumped out, it immediately stuck to the counter. Added some extra flour to make it more manageable. First rise went fast and rose to the top of the bowl, but the top surface was pockmarked like it was lacking strength. Attempted to shape the first loaf and move it from the counter to the pan, but it was too extensible. Added some more flour to make it more manageable but still very extensible. Put it in the pans and let rise until it reached the top of the pan. It wouldn't hold a dome - it rose to make a rectangular cross section the height of the pan.

Baked, removed one loaf from the pan while still a bit warm, left the other loaf to cool completely. The second loaf came out of the pan in 3 pieces. Crumb was coarse, and I'd never serve it to company, but flavor was very pleasantly sour. I assume that enzyme activity got out of control, although I don't completely understand the sour flavor that developed in the first bowl left on the counter.