The last couple of weeks experiments
Nature seems to have granted me an abundance of patience and in the past few weeks I have been undertaking experiments that seem destined to use it.
I have been wondering why my levain – which given the way I feed it should be dead by now – lives, thrives, and raises bread every week. I have also been wondering about the results of soaking my home milled overnight prior to a mix and bake.
So for the past few weeks I have fed a separate levain at 1:5:5. What I have noticed is that it seems to be “a little” more lively and certainly is not the soupy pool that my standard levain tends to be. But otherwise, I can’t honestly say that anything else is different. I’ve also been trying to be more aware of my feeding routine for my standard levain. What I find is that (as with so many of us who do things by feel) I really do take a good look at it and make adjustments. Looking a little listless? I’ll take out more and feed it more. “Spring” coming to the Rockies? (Those of you who live in the Rockies know why I put that in quotes.) Feed it more often or put it in a cool place. So maybe my routine was not quite so bad after all.
Anyway, the proof is in the baking. Since this week I was soaking my home ground, I varied from my routine and made a stiff levain build with my new levain (60% hydration) and made my usual baguettes, plain whole wheat bread and pizza. I stayed with my usual methods with the exception of soaking the whole wheat flour with added salt at room temperature overnight, and doing one less series of “strokes” on the whole wheat as I really felt it was coming together.
Pizza goes away too quickly for pictures. But I do have shots of the others experiments (I’m no photographer – but I know y’all like pictures, so I try…) which I have posted here:
I will not do a complete critique of the many, many flaws in the baguette - but I did have a small slashing problem with the whole wheat which contributed to it not fully expanding.
Conclusions? Well, my bread is nothing if not consistent. This is pretty much what I bake every week. So, practiced eye or precise feeding ratios – they seem to be the same for me. Soaking overnight? Not doing much yet in my hands, but I will probably keep doing it just to see if some small adjustments will make a difference.
Meanwhile my patience stands me in good stead as I wait for the lab results on my home ground (I promised that I’d do this someday and my word is my bond. Sometimes it takes time to get results, but that’s how bonds are…)