Today's Bake - And A Shout Out To Trevor J., + Others
Anyone who's read a few of my posts knows I've struggled with any hydration over 70%. While I've had great success with doughs between 65-68% hydration, I knew my "handling skills" were lacking so I have been making a conscious attempt at higher hydration doughs to challenge myself to improve. I started using as high as 5% VWG to strengthen the gluten, but some fine folks here talked me into ditching that and working with regular AP flour only, which I did.
So, in my "studies", I've noticed, for one thing, that I was being too gentle with my doughs, especially in early sets of S&Fs, I wasn't working the gluten hard enough. Now I'm learning to feel the dough better and learning to recognize when "enough is enough". So, to those of you who talked me into stopping the use of VWG, I wholeheartedly thank you.
Now, that still left me with the issue of handling, forming and shaping a sticky dough. Because of the stronger gluten structure I was getting, it wasn't as bad, but it was still sticking to the board and there were mornings and evenings when I certainly didn't want a member of any clergy close to me. Frustrating wasn't the word, and I'm sure many of you have been there, if not ALL of you at one point or another.
So early last week, I found Trevor J. Wilson's YouTube channel. I watched all his videos, watched them again, and then went back to watch some more, repeating certain segments numerous times to learn his handling techniques, especially in his "Champlain Bread" video. Well, to call what I experienced a revelation would be an understatement.
The dough for the loaves below was the plain and simple 1:2:3 method, which brings it to just a tad under 72%, and using Trevor's technique of almost exclusively using a bench scraper for shaping was by far, the easiest I've ever done. Literally nicely tight clean floury feeling balls after pre-shaping, simple and easy final shaping, and (to me, anyway) a marked increase in the oven spring.
So Trevor, thank you for your videos, and I mean that sincerely.
So, basically, the recipe for the loaves below are:
8:00 AM - Make a levain with 50 gms active whitestarter @ 100%, 100 gms water and 100 gms WAP flour. Leave in cool room temp, ~ 65 deg, to ferment for 8 hours
4:00 PM - Mix all levain, 500 gms water and 750 gms flour, rest 30 mins.
4:30 PM - Mix in 14 gms fine sea salt.
5:00 PM - S&F
5:30 PM - S&F
6:00 PM - S&F
6:30 PM - Bulk ferment for 2 hours @ moderate room temp, ~ 70 deg
8:30 PM - Divide and preshape and rest 15 mins (this was actually a pleasure)
8:45 PM - Shape and place in floured bannetons
9:00 PM - Proof for 1 hr at room temp
10:00 PM - Into the fridge for cold overnight proofing
8:00 AM - Bake in a combo cooker one at a time right out of fridge in preheated 450 deg oven for 25 mins covered and then 20 mins uncovered.
I left them fairly light as they're for a friend who's wife and kids prefer this to nicely caramelized crusts, so unfortunately no crumb shot.
So again, these beautiful loaves are more a result of the work and knowledge of the fine members here than it is to me or anything I bring to the table. Yes, it was with my hands, but they'd be useless without your input. I know it's been said before by many, but there's a reason most Google searches in bread, especially sourdough, has a list of hits from The Fresh Loaf at the top.
In closing, a huge thank you to Floyd for providing us with The Fresh Loaf!