The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dramatic change in process

leemid's picture

Dramatic change in process

Well, as we know, accidents and inconveniences are the mothers of invention. I have made my bread the same way for many months now, because it works. I really like it and it never fails. Pretty good incentives. But then there's the weekend where my normal process doesn't fit due to personal or family scheduling difficulties. And the camel's nose... So as life gets ever busier and more of my time is spent happily on children centered family activities and late-in-life-return-to-school-yet-again study requirements, it just seemed like the time to try some of the oft touted theories that have recently been so thoroughly and eloquently put forth.

Rather than the usual recipe: 600g flour, 450g water, 400g 50% starter, 1 tbsp salt, build starter from 100g to 400g prior to making dough, chill overnight, warm and rise, shape and bake (ooh, there's an idea! A product called 'Shape & Bake' ;-) ) I tossed caution to the wind and did the long ferment gig. Sometime mid-day on Saturday I mixed 100g starter with 550g water, 800g flour and the usual salt to replicate the usual recipe, but not the process. I let it percolate at room temp for the rest of the day and night, occasionally turning it out and folding it but not on any regular basis 'cause I didn't have anything regular that day. Sunday morning before church I scaled and shaped and let it rise forever. When the poke method suggested it was time to bake I did so, finding some attentive person in the family, someone other than the members with whom I am familiar, turned off the oven so my stone wasn't hot. I used the baking sheet platform with good success, except that it blew up, either not properly slashed or insufficiently risen. I reinserted the stone and let the other loaves rise for another hour or so, with a similar but lesser explosion again. I also added 25g of rye to one of the batches so see what would happen.

Of course I had to try the rye tainted version first and it is outstanding. The crumb is translucent and tender, eliciting ecstacies of tastebud experiences similar to Meg Ryan in Harry & Sally, the crust appropriately crisp. I am watching to see how it ages. I have a sandwich with me for dinner before class this evening. I gave away a loaf of the non-rye just for the fun of it, and won't get into the other loaf until late tonight or tomorrow. Sorry I don't have pictures but they look indistinguishable from my others. It does taste different from the other process, especially with the rye which makes it noticeably more sour and complex as you would expect. My youngest daughter went nuts over it.

The discussions on how to make sourdough sourer contributed to this process experiment and I must say the initial finding is that it does make more sour. However, I have compared different apples to apples or perhaps a cross-bred apple/orange so it's hardly scientific. But with a taste of the original recipe loaf I should know more surely what the differences are.

Again, thanks for the motivating discussion.

That's my story,