Busy baking weekend
It was a busy baking weekend here in Pretoria. My lease for the house is up at the end of September, which means I'll be in temporary quarters for the last two weeks of my stay here. Since I don't know what I might have for kitchen facilities during that time, I'm trying to fit in the baking that I need/want to do while I can.
On Friday evening, I mixed the liquid levain that the Vermont Sourdough formula calls for, plus enough extra for sourdough pancakes on Saturday morning. Never one to leave well enough alone, I also set up a soaker consisting of cracked rye at 10% on flour, with an equal amount of water, to include in the bread. I need to use up what I can, right? And I haven't been wrong yet about choosing which breads to grace with some cracked rye.
On Saturday morning, I assembled the final dough for the Vermont Sourdough and put it through its stretch and fold regimen. A formula for this bread, posted by zolablue can be found here , with corrected metric weights here . The day was a bit cool, with temperatures only getting up into the mid-60s, so both the bulk and final ferments were leisurely affairs. It's a lovely dough to work with. Initially, it's a bit sticky (probably accentuated by my use of the cracked rye soaker), but it transforms with each S&F into a dough that that is elastic and self-supporting. The final proof after shaping was done on parchment on a baking sheet. Scoring was a bit ugly (I miss my knives!) but one loaf still developed a respectable ear during baking. The other loaf exhibited a small blow-out along the bottom edge, which would probably have been prevented if the scores had opened properly. No pictures, I'm afraid, as the bread is already in the freezer.
After getting the sourdough to the bulk proof stage, I started a batch of Sweet Vanilla Challah. I've blogged about it  previously, so won't repeat myself here except to say that I really like this bread. Much of my baking involves lean whole grain breads, so working with an enriched white bread is like driving a luxury sedan after driving a pickup. Everything is so much smoother. Again, no pictures since both loaves are in the freezer. One will be gifted later this week and the other will be consumed at a bread class I'm conducting at a friend's house next Saturday.
After getting home from church this morning, I started a batch of the honey whole wheat bread that the class will be making next Saturday. I wanted to give the formula a shake-down to ensure that everything worked the way I expected. Good thing, too. The flour was much thirstier than I expected, so hydration needs to go up. I also wanted to show the class the effects of a couple of techniques. Because of time constraints, we'll only use a 15-minute autolyze in class. For this batch, I extended the autolyze to 60 minutes. I also extended the kneading time to about 25 minutes. All things considered, this bread should be more tender and less apt to crumble than the batch that I made a couple of weeks ago. As the picture below shows, matching pan size to dough quantities properly results in a prettier loaf.
In considering what to do with some apples that might not be used otherwise, it occurred to me that someone had posted an apple variation to the Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid  that Floyd initially posted, so I went looking. For once, my memory concided with reality. The apple filling formula is about two pages down from the end of Floyd's post. So, I set the sponge, peeled the apples and cooked the filling, made up the final dough and set it to proof, then went to the stoep to read the Sunday paper. Well, part of it anyway. When I came back in to check the dough, I found that the dough had doubled so I mixed both the egg glaze and the cream cheese filling, then rolled out and assembled the two braids. I am not a natural-born braider but I'm really pleased with these two attempts in spite of the obvious flaws. Dunno yet how they'll taste but they make the eye happy. Here they are:
And a closer view:
Odd. I'm not seeing the images that I've linked to. Ordinarily they pop into view immediately. Maybe it's just my slow connection here. Hopefully they will show up once the post is submitted.
All in all, a very satisfying baking weekend.