Forkish 2.7kg miche - I need an engineer and a chemist.
I'm a relatively recent fan of FWSY after years of baking much lower hydration sourdough and commercially yeasted breads. I have a small oven, though, and the hassle of cycling through two bakes in a 4qt dutch oven led me to purchase an 11qt lodge and try my hand at something closer the 3kg miche that Forkish mentions he bakes back in Oregon.
I'm working hard to dial in consistency so that my wife stops seeing me as the mad bread scientist, and the pressure is now on with Thanksgiving just 10 days away. Overnight country wheat worked out ok as written, but the overnight country blond is remarkably challenging because of the size and dutch oven limitations. A high hydration loaf of this size is really hard to handle and there are a lot of variables that I'm just beginning to figure out.
If I could bake this on my baking steel I would, but I recently realized that the size of the steel keeps heat and steam from circulating in the oven, which results in burned bottoms and inconsistently steamed tops. I'm a renter so replacing the oven is not an option.
Admittedly it's also pretty fun to pull out this cast iron monster when I'm getting ready for a bake :)
I'm using primarily Central Milling organic AP from Costco, with the addition of a small amount of Giusto's bread flour with about 13-14% protein to bring the protein level up after discovering that Central Milling was closer to 10.1% , which is low for FWSY. So here's where I'm at:
Central Milling AP: 1066g
Giusto's BF: 140g (@200g I got a much denser crumb)
Giusto's medium WW: 39g
H20: 1026g (precise; I don't use Forkish's technique for weighing the levin in water)
For simplicity's sake I use an Akarsrum Assistent to mix this for 3 minutes after a 30 minute autolyse, then hand mix a bit, and have been trying up to 6 folds to improve the gluten strength (benefit seems to taper off @5). Otherwise it's as Forkish recommends - 12 hours for bulk rise, shape, and then 4 hours for final proofing before baking.
H20 @80 degrees for the autolyse seems to nail it at 77 degrees when I'm done mixing.My kitchen is always between 65 and 70 degrees.
Bake @475 for about 1:10 - until internal temp is about 206 degrees. 1st 30 mins with lid on pot, then off. Cool on rack sitting on open oven door as the oven itself cools.
When this works, it's great but I'm having a hard time getting a consistently dark, crisp crust (when this does work it's a beautiful mahogany color), an open but still sandwich-able crumb, and, critically, bread that doesn't wind up looking like it got pasted to the wall of my dutch oven because it slips out of my grasp, which happens a lot. I also want the last several weeks of my life back ;).
So here are my questions to the chemists:
1) Is there anything that I should change in the formulation, mixing or proofing to keep this manageable? On a bad day I have very hard-to-handle dough that emerges from my banneton ready to spread all over the place. But still delicious when baked, as long as I get it into the pot and not on the floor.
2) What temperature(s) should I be using for the bake? 475 throughout? It seems like lower temps get me a better flavor and color, but I don't know why this is and it seems like I'm sacrificing the crispness of the crust.
3) Oven spring can make this seem at times like something from Alien - what is pretty at 800g looks scary at 2.7kg. Should I overproof? How would this affect flavor or crust color?
And here is my question for a mechanical engineer:
How do I get this into my dutch oven? It's too large to move with just my hands, parchment paper droops under the weight of this wet dough, and dropping it directly from the banneton into the dutch oven requires laser-guided precision. My latest attempt was parchment paper that sits on cardboard which I place on the hot dutch oven and pull away like a tablecloth parlor trick. That *almost* works. But there will be no mercy at the Thanksgiving table ...
Thanks for the benefit of your experience and skill!