S'ils n'ont plus de pain, qu'ils mangent de la brioche
Helas, that appeared to be the situation Saturday afternoon.
I'd thought I'd learned something about properly dusting a very wet loaf before proofing. And, in fact, I did learn something. Unfortunately, I subsequently learned something else: how to shape a wet loaf properly, thanks to MountainDog.
But we'll get to that in a minute. First, let me show you these beautiful and delectable Spelt and Flaxseed Blueberry Muffins. MountainDog, you are a genius. My daughter gobbled hers up in record time. My wife said, "Honey, you can make these again anytime you like."
Highly recommended. Sweet, but not too sweet, with a crunchy top, nutty texture and delicious spelty flavor. More about spelt to come.
Anyway, back to how MountainDog ruined my Desem through good teaching. Thanks to MountainDog, my boule of Desem rose higher than it had ever risen before, and all in just 2 hours instead of the usual 2.5. As a result, the undusted bottom of the loaf rose up and stretched to touch the sides of the top of the brotform (or banneton or proofing basket, whatever you will). The top of the loaf was ready to slide out just fine, but the bottom edge stuck to the sides - the whole loaf just tore itself in half. The moral is that I need to dust the loaf again after I place it in the banneton.
It was very dispiriting, especially since I'd aimed to bring that loaf to dinner with some friends we'd not seen in some time. Luckily, I had a loaf of whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread in the freezer, which served just as well for dinner bread.
But, as Marie Antoinette said (or more likely, never said but later had political enemies ascribe to her anyway), upon her coronation in the midst of a terrible bread shortage: "If they no longer have any bread, then let them eat brioche." So I made some brioche - specifically, the "Rich Man's Brioche" from the BBA. In baker's percentages, the butter is 87% and there's 5 large eggs in the recipe -- heck, I figured, if I'm abandoning whole grains, why not just go all the way. My wife loves lemon curd, and nothing goes better with lemon curd than brioche, so the Saturday before Mother's Day, I made up the dough. Stretch-and-fold is a great technique, but I couldn't figure out how to make it work with brioche. After all, we're talking about plowing a full pound of butter, that's FOUR FREAKING STICKS of pure, unadulterated, totally saturated fat into about 18.25 ounces of white flour.
It's not easy.
But I love my wife (even if I'm not showing much love for her heart, arteries or vascular system in general), so I soldiered on. After I got it incorporated, I put that slab of dough on greased parchment, covered it with transparent petroleum product and put it into the fridge.
For the following morning, I had a plan. I was all jazzed about spelt, so I decided to make my usual whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread, but with a spelt starter and 1/2 spelt flour.
Over two feedings, I built up enough spelt starter from about 10 grams of my whole wheat starter and measured out everything the night before. Then, Sunday morning when I woke up (as usual) at 6am, I could just mix everything together on autopilot, which would help me get warmed up to make good old fashioned buttermilk (whole wheat - what else did you expect from me?) waffles. No sourdough waffles this time; I got in pretty late Saturday night, and didn't feel like messing around with buttermilk at 11:00 P.M.
My plan actually worked! I mixed up the sourdough around 6:30 a.m., took out the brioche dough and shaped it, and then placed the brioches in my makeshift proofbox - we'd left the windows open overnight, so it was a chilly 61 degrees in the kitchen. I had to have everything done by 11am to be at church (my wife was singing a duet), So I couldn't let it proof on the counter.
Now, the BBA says that the brioche recipe makes 3 lbs of dough, but I only got 2 lb 12 ounces. So I decided to make two loaves and a 6-muffin tin full of mini-brioches. It was a great idea, but unfortunately, they wouldn't all fit in my beer-cooler-turned-proof box. At least, not flat on the bottom. A couple of tall plastic cups later, and I had a two-tiered system, which worked great until I tripped over the proofbox, uttered swear words, and sent the muffin tin careening into one of my half risen loaves, deflating it mightily right in the middle. So, I took the muffin pan out of the proof box and tried another trick. I boiled a cup of water in the microwave, open the door and quickly shoved the muffin tin inside. Presto, instant proof box.
It worked! I pulled the last loaves of brioche out of the oven at 10:52 a.m. which gave Iris and I the 5 minutes we needed to bike to church. The deflated loaf, unsurprisingly, looks deflated, but the braided pan loaf looks OK. And they taste ... very, very buttery.
As for the Whole-Wheat and Whole Spelt Sourdough Sandwich Bread? The stretch and fold, no-knead approach was a winner! The shaped loaves rose in the proofbox while I was at church and were ready to go into the oven when we got home. I took the stone out of the oven, and tried the cold start approach. Again, it was a winner! This bread's a little less light than my 100% sourdough sandwich loaves usually are, but not by much, and the flavor is sweeter with a nutty overtone. It's nice, especially with peanut butter.
Next week, I'll beat this sticky Desem beast, even if I do learn something useful yet again from MountainDog. Which is altogether likely.