If You Ain't Got That D'oh Re Mi -- My First Baking Weekend (Cont.)
The Second Bake
As with the first batch of Sourdough I baked Saturday (with reasonable success), I tried to manipulate the fermentation time of the second batch to meet my schedule. The starter was ready Saturday afternoon, and I mixed the flour and let it sit on the kitchen counter for several hours, before deciding that it was getting late and the dough wouldn’t get shaped, proofed and baked until Sunday. So I put it in the Igloo cooler with Blue Ice overnight. I misunderestimated the fermentation rate. Sunday morning it was a good deal more than doubled (big d’Oh!).
David (surprisingly still patient with my questions) said it might be overfermented and wouldn’t proof well or achieve good oven spring. Not surprisingly, he was right.
I found the dough very sticky, but didn’t want to over-flour the board this time and repeat my seam-sealing problems of the first batch. So I wrassled with it and got a lot of it stuck to my hands (I used the d'Oh scraper). Knowing that a frequent mistake is to over-react to an earlier mistake, I used a moderate amount of flour on board and hands in the folding and shaping. I tried to be attentive to not overflouring the dough’s surface, and I got it about right. Having reviewed Floyd’s batard-shaping video again, I did a better (not great) job of shaping batard-shaped batards. The seams were well-sealed.
They rose little in proofing, and got little oven spring. The shape and crust look pretty good. On these loaves, I again suffered from the lack of a proper scoring tool. I tried various implementss--sharp paring knife, grapefruit knife, very sharp bread knife, gas-powered weed-whacker [j/k about that last one]. Did I mention I need a lame? I ordered one today.
As you can see, compared to the loaves from the day before, there was very little oven spring.
And the crumb was dense and heavy, underbaked. To put a positive spin on it, I’m calling it very chewy.
I suppose I could find a use for these. I might take up carving duck decoys (but my charming spouse thinks they won't float).
On the bright side, I got very good broiler spring on our omelet yesterday morning.
And the toast made from Saturday’s bake was crispy and delicious.
From 10 hours perusing TFL, many conversations with Brother David, and a weekend of fumbling and bumbling, I got two pretty good loaves and two roughly-batard-shaped paper weights. So what lessons have I learned from all the d'Oh! moments? There are too many to count. But the main ones are:
(1) You can manipulate rising time to fit your schedule, but sometimes you waste good dough doing so (it's not a waste of time if you learn from it).
(2) Read lots of experienced people’s writings on a technique (or, better yet, watch videos) before you try it. You’ll still mess up, but not as bad, and you’ll have a better idea what you did wrong.
(3) Some of the axioms bakers talk so much about are really important (use the proper tools, follow the recipe, shape the loaf just so), but the most important one is to stay in touch with the dough and read its signals.
(4) However much I learn, there’s still way more to learn than I know.
Sorry for the long post, but I needed to experiment with blog posting, too.
I plan to get better at both.