Getting Started w/ Reinhart & your advice
Hello - my first post and first foray into Reinhart's whole grains baking world....I have several questions that I'm hoping you could help me with:
I used the Whole Wheat Hearth Bread recipe on p 153 in his Whole Grain Breads book and used Bob's Red Mill white whole wheat flour, agave syrup, and SAF instant yeast:
1) I weighed the ingredients for the soaker and upon mixing, it still had a lot of dry flour that wouldn't hydrate. I had to add a fair amount of extra water to get it to the texture he suggests. So, I measured the ingredients for the biga rather than weighing them and it worked just fine. Do most of you weigh your ingredients without a problem? What are the pitfalls of measuring rather than weighing?
2) I let both soaker and biga sit in the fridge for 3 days and then followed his instructions, using a stand mixer, switching from paddle to hook, let it rest for 5 minutes, etc. It seemed to need a fair amount of flour....As I have looked at videos today for 'wettish' dough (tacky, not sticky), I wonder if I added too much flour as I was at the hand kneading stage. Should the dough look a bit ragged like you see on some of the fold and stretch videos, or should it look more like regular bread dough but just a bit tackier? Did Iadd too much flour? It looked nice was smooth and a bit tacky. I needed to flour my hands pretty frequently during the hand kneading to keep it from sticking to my hands.
3) I let the dough do its first rise in an oiled bowl with a towel (is this ok instead of plastic wrap? does it make a difference?). The second rise, I put in a banneton. It looked gorgeous when I peeked, but it collapsed a little when I flipped it over onto the peel. Should I always use parchment and gingerly turn the dough out of the banneton onto parchment and then slide the parchment with dough onto the peel? Is it pretty fragile at this point? It looked like it lost a little of its puff when I flipped it...
4) I baked it on a pizza stone that had been preheated for an hour at 500, along with the hot water/cookie sheet on the top shelf of the oven per the instructions. I baked it for 20 minutes, turned it 180 degrees, and then let it bake for another 20. The bottom wasn't burnt but is a little thick and dark crustwise. I think the stone was too hot or it baked too long. Is that a correct assumption? I have read today that the crust of the bread is cracklier if I leave it in the oven with the door open when it's done baking to cool off as the oven cools off. Is this right?
5) The flavor turned out okay, but the crumb is fairly small and tight but not hockey puckish or dense - sorta cakey in that white whole wheat flour kind of way. There was only one 'hole' - I was expecting the texture to be different - more open holes, chewier and crustier.
6) The loaf itself was not particularly tall - I don't think the oven spring thing happened.
So - in addition to the questions embedded above, here are some:
What in your opinion is the ideal time span for letting the soaker and biga do their thing?
The dough never had the windowpane thing going on...it felt nice, like a good dough, but didn't have the stretch....what's NOT happening when you don't get a windowpane?
What is the best method for getting a boule from banneton to peel without collapsing?
If the crumb is small, tight and somewhat tender in this recipe, is that approximately what it should be like? If not, what should I do to further improve the gluten or whatever else?
Does the fold and stretch technique help with the above issue about texture and crumb?
What is the chemistry of oven spring and what can I do with my dough to support a hearty oven spring?
Will leaving it in the oven to cool after the oven is turned off and it's done baking promote a cracklier crust?
Any advice on the recipe generally and what I could try to improve my next attempt?
Thanks for any and all help! Madame K