Chasing the dragon
Hi Everyone. I am from Pakistan and the only bread we have here is the simple pan loaf that is super bleached and super cottony. i became obsessed with bread in 2014 while over at a breakfast at my friend's house in the UK. he cut out a little toast out of a far brown looking bread that him and i had bought the evening before from a small bakery in Coventry, UK. I wasnt expecting anything special as he buttered a slice for me but since that day i cant cant forget that little piece of bread. I finished my studies and came back to Pakistan but like my first love i cant forget that bread. I have been following this website for years now but have only registered since i have managed to get a deck oven and started baking. Ive been doing a lot reading and research so "theoretically" i am not a novice but practically i cant even knead properly so i went ahead and bought a hobart style stand mixer but it has only one speed (not sure of RPMs). Ive made a few attempts but the white flour here is very substandard. I get it from a famous mill around here and they say that the gluten varies between 8-9 percent. But despite adding vital wheat gluten it still feels weak and slack. I have been making great thin crust pizzas at home with this flour without extra gluten. they turn out crisp and chewy at the same time and thats how i like pizza. but with bread the list of problems has forced me to register and now i admit that despite my theoretical mastery i suck. Also, i have noticed that many of the books that i have read are quite misleading and call for too much yeast and no retardation or prolonged fermentation which i think is the key with bread and pizza both. Enough said i hope some of you more experienced people here would take time out and help me get the same high again.
list of questions:
1. is Gluten the only difference between weak and strong flour?
2. what is the best way incorporate gluten into the flour or should it be dissolved in water?
3. I know how to sprout and make Diastatic Malt. would it be as good as the one i order from abroad? (only one brewery in pakistan and they stopped making it 6 years ago)
4. when and how should diastatic malt be added to the dough? Can i long-ferment the dough in refrigerator after adding diastatic malt?
5. Should i use Ascorbic acid? when and how should Ascorbic acid be added to the dough? Can i long-ferment the dough in refrigerator after adding Ascorbic?
6. Cant get the temperature right. My oven is a deck oven with a stone base and the temperature can go up to 400 degree Celsius (750 Fahrenheit). where and how should i adjust?
7. Oven doesnt offer steam so i use a heaxy cast iron tray and add stones to it and then add water to than as soon as i put my bread in. Is there something like too much steam? ive noticed that when i bake in dutch oven the surface isnt shiny enough but with lots of steam the crust becomes shiny.
8. what temp should the poolish or levain be allowed to rest? what temperature should the kneading be finished at? what temperature for first rise? what for the final? what temperature should the fridge be for long fermentation? (please mention Fahrenheit or celsius)(the temperature can get up to 50 Celsius in Summers (8 months in a year) and in winter falls to 10 Celsius or even lower)
Please help me with this u guys as I am mental about this stuff and ready to experiment everyday