The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Oh no, not...The PEEL!  Anything but...The PEEL!" they cry's picture

"Oh no, not...The PEEL!  Anything but...The PEEL!" they cry

As shared elsewhere at TFL, I'm a returning baker, aspiring to The Full Tartine, hoping to grow instincts for making lean airy loaves, lured into this unexpectedly addictive passion by the gift of Lahey from my wise beyond his years son last year.

Pertinent frustration:  Doughs persistently floppy (is this what writers call "slack"?) when they should be taught and eager to leap onto the peel, so reluctant to make the plunge that they desperately cling for dear life to my  rice+wheat flour dusted, towel-covered makeshift wicker bannetons.  The path to that point has been a 75% hydration hybrid of (some) PR's Pan D'Ancienne + (mostly) a basic Tartine country boule -- with storebought yeast, no starter yet -- enough variables to juggle for now (But what's this?  How did pineapple juice get on the shopping list?  Somebody stop me!).  Long cool bulk ferment with beaucoup Robertsonian turning in the bucket and billowy, moderately bubbly dough at initial shaping time.  Red Mill Organic white : Golden Buffalo, 9:1 per Tartine.

But my dough refuses to toughen up with lasting surface tension and a workably non-sticky surface after my dutiful folding and dragging against (but some sticking to) the bench as too many YouTube videos make appear WAY too easy.  Has it failed to develop sufficient "strength"? --  an interesting term that nobody I've read ever quite defines.  Perhaps "strong" doughs are those that can be pulled from the bucket intact without breaking.  Mine qualify, but remain floppy when couche or banneton proofed.  fwiw, they're free of "drippy edges" about which Robertson warns, after bench rest and before final shaping.  Nice round edges.

I envy the YouTubes of self-assured doughs merrily rolling out of bannetons (e.g. chez Tartine) when mine are desperately clinging to the towels like Linus to blanket ("Oh no, not...The PEEL!  Anything but...The PEEL!" they cry).  The biochemist in me whispers "free, unbound water in the dough, osmosing into lower water potential of dusted cloths" (as well it should), but 75% hydration is nothing compared to the macho boasts of "Dude, 90% hydration doughs are my middle name!" here and elsewhere.  What am I missing here?

Full disclosure: resulting loaves are surprisingly wonderful (god bless forgiving hobbies) despite above whine.  Big classy shiny cavities, promisingly tuneful crusts, undeniable palette joy.  So all's fairly well that ends well, but the process ... tweaking needed.

To pay forward and in keeping with Sarah Weiner's brilliant (cf. Robertson, p. 144), "I like bread, and I like butter -- but I like bread and butter best":  Good bread deserves butter.  I gave French Butter Keepers (google it) over the holidays.  Infinitely recommended.

Thanks for reading. And apologies if it's an old and tired complaint. Believe me, I've tried to RTFM.

GSnyde's picture

The Tartine Basic Country Bread and other high-hydration loaves don't behave well in the transfer to oven part of the process.  I use bread-on-parchment-on peel, as described in the linked post under the heading "to bake on a baking stone" (–-more-whole-wheat-smaller-loaves-and-half-retar).

Good luck!

Glenn's picture

Fabulous.  I will study your recipe (and the shaping tutorial) with care. Such lovely loaves.  Thanks! -t.d.b


hanseata's picture

just sitting down after a fight with a particularly sticky dough, and checking the Twitterverse, I found your highly entertaining "wail"- thanks for a good laugh! Reminds me of my encounter with tentacled monsters in my kitchen:

Happy baking,