Some Recent Bakes, with Lessons Learned
A number of years now reading and posting here and the sentence that rings in my ears as the best advice I've ever had in home baking is Pat's "Get the fermentation right," which I guess could also be said as "Watch the dough, not the clock." Now that the rest of you have moved on to the nicely controlled environment of proofing boxes , I am left to my analog temperature probe and the vagaries of kitchen temperatures. So I've practiced on some basics, watching the dough. Here are three recent examples: A basic boule, Tartine-ish for the relatively young starter and for the covered cast iron bake; Silverton-ish for practicing the half moon score. I'm liking the cast iron right now. Proofed overnight in the fridge and baked from cold.
A combination of Hamelman's five grain and his seeded levain. This one has whole wheat, steel cut oats, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds. Need to bear in mind that when fewer cereals go in the soaker (and more seeds not needing to be soaked are used,) the water for it should be cut back. As it is, the dough took some more flour and turned out fine. It's not for nothing that Hamelman says this is one of the most delectable of breads. Despite all the inclusions, the crumb is light and properly aerated. Again proofed overnight in the fridge, but not baked from cold because they hadn't come up enough. I like the zigzag scoring on the large one. Next week I think I'll add a couple of tablespoons of dark rye and/or buckwheat to this formula, just to see what they do to the taste and the form.
Wet baguettes. For a long time, I had mixed feelings about these. I couldn't put my finger on it. But now I think I know what's bothering me: this isn't a baguette. A dough this wet, one that can't be properly shaped or scored, doesn't really fulfill the complete idea of the baguette, with its beautiful pointed ends and caramelized ears. This is more likely to be a baton, a long narrow loaf that doesn't need to be scored. Its natural form is ciabatta. Next week, I may try these as batons. If you picture these loaves below, a little wider and a little shorter and unscored, that's the idea. I hydrated the non pre fermented flour and water for 24 hours in the fridge. I also fermented the bulk dough for 24 hours in the fridge. I proofed the formed loaves for too long on the bench, about six hours. So, the appearance is a work in progress, but the taste from the long cold fermentations is fantastic. The crumb speaks for itself.
edited to add: Maybe the nicest baguette-type crust I've produced in an all sourdough version. Pretty thin and very crispy.