Handling Wet Dough
I’ve just found your web site and I’m impressed with it! I’m a long time amateur baker, and have learned a lot by trial and error and reading books on the subject. However, I have been disappointed in most books. They don’t seem to cover things I need to know as well as they might. In the last few days, I have been reading the forums and lessons here, and some of my self taught lessons have been confirmed and I have learned some new things.
I have been trying to duplicate a loaf a bakery calls “Tuscan Bread”. This post asks members to comment on my most perplexing problem to date:
How do I get a rustic loaf with a crumb with large holes and spongy interior, while still having a loaf that is manageable in handling, shaping and slashing before baking?
While I have had success getting the desired crumb, it has come at the cost of having a loaf which is so fragile, it deflates if I try to slash it, and is impossible for me to handle, so I do the last rise, placing in the oven and first 10 minutes of baking on parchment paper. I do not slash.
Here’s my latest effort:
They were made with 20% “All Trumps” high gluten flour, 80% unbleached “King Arthur” all purpose flour, mixed with an overnight pre-ferment, 72% water, yeast and salt. During the first rise, I twice poured the dough on a work table, flattened the dough, stretched it, folded it twice, and returned it to the bowl.
The dough was so wet, the loaves did not hold their shape (they flattened) when rising, even though I shaped them by flattening and rolling the dough as the loaves were formed. Even so, when I baked them, I got a good pop in the oven, the result of starting with a preheated 525 degree pizza stone, then lowering the heat to 400. Overall I’m pretty happy with the crumb and the loaves, but looking for better techniques.
Are these problems normal for dough like this, or are there more tricks for making the dough more manageable??