The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oven fixed; baking ensues

JMonkey's picture

Oven fixed; baking ensues

A big baking weekend, now that my oven is fixed:

  • Nice and sour 100% whole wheat sandwich bread
  • Pain au levain (actually, Jeffrey Hammelman's Vermont Sourdough, but I live in Watertown, MA, so technically, I suppose it should be "Watertown Sourdough")
  • Baguettes (using the BBA's French bread formula which employs a pate fermente)
  • Whole wheat sourdough with raisins, pecans and a cinnamon sugar swirl.

  • Click more for photos.

    The two in front are pain au levain with 10% whole rye. I usually use a firm starter, because to get a decent "sour" out of my local microflora, I have to work them hard: firm starter, long bulk fermentation (6 hours), overnight retarding in the fridge. This formula required a starter at 125% hydration, so I converted some of my starter and followed his instructions to the T. The result: a mildly sour, flavorful bread similar to French bread that just exploded in the oven. I've NEVER gotten oven spring like this before.

    I haven't cut into the sourdough raisin pecan with a cinnamon swirl (in the back). It's in the freezer -- I expect it will either be delicious or awful.

    By the way, whenever I retard a pan loaf of sourdough, the top of the loaf that's directly exposed to the cold always bakes up much more pale than the rest of the loaf. I cover it with plastic. Anyone have any idea what I could do to prevent it from being so pale? I don't mind too much, since the flavor isn't affected, but it would be nice if the entire loaf was a nice golden brown.

    A nice open crumb. I was very pleased. :-)

    Here's the baguettes. I clearly need some help with slashing and shaping, but there were neverthleless mighty tasty. Nutty, somewhat sweet with a long tangy finish. I made three baguettes, but one already made its way to our happy bellies before I could find the camera.

    Baguette crumb. Not as open as I'd like, but I'll take it. Next week, I'm going to make poolish baguettes. I imagine that will produce more holey bread.

    Next week: Hammelman's Potato bread with the addition of fresh rosemary (from my friends garden) and roasted garlic. Mmmmmmmmmm.


    Gedunkleberg's picture

    I'll be moving to Cambridge at the end of the summer (I currently reside in Nashville). I'm not very familiar with the area, so if you've got any insider tips...

    Oh yeah, and the bread looks good, too! I wish I had the stamina to bake that much in one weekend.

    JMonkey's picture

    I love New England, but the price of housing is out of this world. The rental market has gotten more reasonable in the last few years, but you're still in for some serious sticker shock.

    If I were you, I'd look for a place in Davis Square in Somerville. Lots of cool stuff going on there, and it's on the Red Line, which means you can get anywhere you want quickly via public transportation.

    You really don't need a car if you live in town. There's a company called Zipcar that lets you rent by the hour, and it's easy. Bunch of cars all over.

    Get a bike. It's a great place to bike.

    Not too many bakeries, surprisingly, but I do recommend Iggy's. Good bread, most of it leavened with wild yeasts.

    Welcome to the Bay State! The hub of the universe ....

    lwilliams's picture

    Wow, what great looking bread! Hey, I found this in my RSS feed of Watertown related items. I run, and I'm always looking for food contributors. Drop by if you're interested.

    I used to live in Davis, too; it's good, but I think you get more bang for your buck in Watertown, and I think East Watertown in particular is poised for some interesting stuff. You're right about cars -- even in Watertown for 7 years I didn't own a car, and now I just wish I didn't ;)

    JMonkey's picture

    Yep, I agree. Watertown is a lovely place and, if you live near the 71 bus route, it's almost as good as living on the red line. Not as happening as Davis, but perfect for me, my wife and my 2-year-old.

    And I'm a big fan of! Been reading you for about a year. We don't get out much, but we bake in a lot .... :-)

    smiddlet's picture

    They look pretty good, slash/shape-wise. Was the crumb softer since you used the pate fermentee? I ask as I made my first batch of Reinhart's French Bread just this past long weekend, and the crumb was fairly open but softer, less gelatinized than my poolish-based wet doughs have been. It gave a different crust as well. My point of reference was the pain a l'ancienne I made two days after the French Bread, which tasted different and had a markedly different texture (as I guess makes sense, correct?). I have pictures of the French Bread, just haven't figured out how to incorporate them into a blog post.

    My question is the browning. I find that my breads are getting quite dark fairly quickly; that is to say, the inside temperature isn't around the 205 F region, but the blooming areas where the bread was slashed are just as brown as the original crust. It doesn't seem to affect the taste of the bread, but I'm just curious how one gets the colour contrast that is often observed with slash marks. Although, perhaps my oven is much hotter than I thought it was.

    helend's picture

    I have same issue as you smiddlet - my bread is even brown all over - anyone got thoughts ...

    JMonkey's picture

    Part of the color contrast in the photos is enhancement from my camera's flash. But, really, I think the key is to keep an eye on the baguettes. I get my stone good and hot -- 500 to 550 degrees -- and then bake at 450 after a bit of steaming at 500.

    If the baguettes seem to be browning too much, I'll drape some aluminum foil over them until the internal temperature reaches 205. I haven't had to do that with the baguettes, though -- after 20 minutes, they're usually cooked.

    I made some poolish baguettes over Memorial day. The crumb seemed a bit more open, but, frankly, I think I like the pate fermentee baguettes better. The flavor seemed richer, but that might be a consequence of using so much pre-ferment (50%.