Where I am now
I started browsing this site and getting into artisan bread baking in August. Many people have contributed to my bread journey and I just wanted to post an update about where I am now with bread.
I generally bake every two days. I only use wild yeast. I was feeding my starter twice a day until I read, I think it was mini oven, saying she didn't want to live for her starter. Right on! So I took a couple of hundred grams and kneaded enough rye into it to get to 50% consistency and put it in the 'fridge. It worked great. It took me several weeks to go through the first load and no problems.
From The Bread Builders I liked the clearly spelled out 3-build process. My current process is:
I start with 20 grams of starter from the 'fridge and add 40 grams of water, mix, and add 40 grams of flour. Generally white. I let that ferment until doubled at least, usually in a small bathroom that we keep heated. This usually takes 10 hours or so.
Next I mix that 100 grams with 200 grams of water and 200 grams of flour. I use some combination of white, reduced bran whole wheat and rye, so I'd mix in here whichever of those I feel like mixing in. I let that ferment until doubled at least, again around 10 hours.
Then its the final build, which is my dough. I add 660grams of water and 1000 grams of flour (in this method the flour is always double the weight of the previous build in total) that gets me to 75% hydration. I mix that in, maybe do some slap and folds, some frissage if I've created lumps of flour, do a couple of stretch and folds 45 minutes apart and let that ferment until doubled at least. About 10 hours at cool room temperature.
It's funny how different parts of the process are difficult at different times. I went through a lot of iterations of how to mix the flour and water and starter together for instance. Currently my bugaboo is slashing. I had a devil of a time with preshaping/shaping for awhile, but I'm happy with what I'm doing now. I saw a video of Dr. Calvell shaping baguettes and it works for me - it makes sense and feels right.
I always make baguettes these days. I make them as long as my stone is wide, 15" and they are weighed at 250 grams before baking. I bake 4 at a time, on parchment paper.
Recently I had a bit too much dough and it sat in the 'fridge for 4 days. I thought "what the heck" and stuck it in the freezer for a couple of days until I could bake again. I let it thaw back to room temperature and went through my shaping and baking process and it came out just fine. That was interesting - I mean it was abuse but the dough was fine.
Currently I have an experiment going. I mixed a little over 4000 grams of dough. I baked on day 1, day 3 and day 5. I have the last one proofing right now. I wondered how long it would last refridgerated. Each time that I took some dough out the remaining dough was punched down. This last batch was pretty sticky and rather flacid. I'm curious as to how it's going to come out. In any event I have no qualms about leaving dough in the 'fridge for 4 days now.
That's what's up with me these days. Thanks to everyone who helped me directly and to all the questions and answers and musings that I regularly browse on this great site.