Floyd Would Be So Proud! :D
yesterday was a day of giant experimentation. and nope. i'm not nearly experienced enough as a bread baker to be experimenting at this stage lol! but necessity is the mother of invention don't you know. i had exactly 3 cups of ap flour left in my pantry and a 5lb bag of regular grind cornmeal (i would guess that is about medium grind?). sooooo i tried floyd's daily bread recipe using this substitution. i only had time to let the pre-ferment go for about 5 hours but it was nice and bubbly and had risen a good bit in the bowl so again, made it part of the experiment.
i used floyd's 1:1 ratio and built the preferment from ap flour and water and yeast.
then i used 2 cups of flour and a tiny bit more than 1 cup of cornmeal to make the 1# of flour. then followed his standard recipe. i stirred the wet dough mixture (it was VERY WET!) with a spatula for about a minute and let it autolyze for 1 hour.
then i did the stretch and fold (sounds like a dance right? like i "did the twist and shout"). well by the third fold, it was already becoming so much easier for me! i've conquered the fear! from the stretch and fold video i watched yesterday courtesy of another poster here, i followed the instructs and things went soooooo well!!! i almost felt like a bonafide baker. almost approaching confidence. :D
i gave it two folds the first go round (that's two complete folds or 4 letter folds. meaning your letter fold horizontally then letter fold vertically and that equals one complete fold revolution). put the dough back in the bowl and 45 minutes later did 1 complete fold revolution. then back to the bowl and 45 minutes later folded again. then back to the bowl and let it rise till doubled.) then out of the bowl, stretch, and folded/rolled into a batard. using only enough flour to keep my hands and the counter from sticking. the dough was still very wet. much wetter than in the video i watched but i still did not fear. so i put the bread on a baking pan with cornmeal on the pan. dusted the top of the loaves with flour and covered loosely with plastic wrap then draped a clean dishtowel over them, letting it pool in between them to make a little bit of an inverted couche. they rose till almost double. by that time it was almost midnight and i was looking longingly at bed. i need to remember to start these experiments earlier in the day instead of at noon! so i baked the loaves on 550 degrees for the first 7 minutes then reduced the heat to 425 for another 13 minutes. the temp was 200 degrees so i prolly overcooked slightly. the outside crust was thin but very crisp and the inside crumb this morning had a well developed and somewhat even small to medium hole structure. but the inside was very moist. dh had it for breakfast with butter and coffee and said it turned out delicious.
soooo...two things i have learned from yesterday?
1. never be afraid to experiment. the pantry experiment can sometimes work out to our advantage (just like when i do the leftover/fridge experiments).
2. mastering your fear of the unknown and fear of the dough is half the battle in baking. the rest is simply experience and a good recipe/measuring system.
i can't explain how much joy i got from just doing the simple stretch and fold technique and how much easier and assured i was about scraping the counter and putting the folded dough back in it's bowl. it was almost...zen. hard to explain in words.
but thanks so much to floyd and the rest of your inspirational and intelligent bakers for inspiring me and for helping me with your postings to push forward in my quest to become a home baker! :D