I am not much of a photographer and well, I am never exactly "happy" with anything I bake. I can always outline the flaws or specific things that could stand some improvement.
But I decided to show this week's bake - come what may - and here are the results:
Batch 1: Baguettes
I emphatically do not use the Bouabsa technique. My primary reason is best kept to myself, but to put forth some other reasons, I don't have the timeline or the space to do the cold retarding. Also, it could be (and has been) argued that by pre-fermenting a portion of the flour in the levain build, that I achieve the benefits of the retarding and that the retarded final fermentation is redundant. I do an overnight levain and then bake the things the next day. No commercial yeast and 65% hydration. Here's one intact and one cut in half to show the crumb:
I seem to have slipped back in technique to getting less pronounced grigne than I have in the past, but although the photo does not show it well, the slashes did show small ears. The slashing is uneven as is the shaping and I need to buckle down and get that straightened out. I recently got a new blade holder and I think that I need to get used to it. I really can't fault the crumb (or the taste.) This is nothing extraordinary - this is what I get every week. Some would bake these more "boldly" but I prefer this coloring. A tartine with house made cultured butter and a good salame - that's good eating...
Batch 2: Fougasse
Since this is the time of year that I need to render lard, I always get a lot of cracklings and it seems a shame not to use them somehow. So this week I made a fougasse with cracklings:
This is just a standard fougasse recipe made with a levain base - 68% hydration, 10% whole wheat flour with .8 oz of cracklings for a 1 pound fougasse.
Yes, I got a thin spot on the large cut. Darn. Usually I have some restraint with my bread eating, but I had to tear into this one. It had a crackly surface and a tender interior lightly flavored from the fat and studded with little bits of piggy goodness. Very nice.
Batch 3: Home Mill
And then there is the home milled whole wheat levain loaf:
This is the most variable of my breads as I contend with variations in both the milling and bread making process. This was made with hard white wheat milled the same day as the bake. This is a fairly typical loaf although it has spread out more than I would like and I think that it would benefit from a tighter shaping. The loaf is made at 74% hydration and the crumb tends to vary at different spots on the loaf, although from my point of view there is nothing really wrong with the crumb. This is my lunchtime sandwich loaf and I prefer the fillings not to drop through. The taste is...delicious.
All breads were baked on a stone with steam - some water in a pan on the floor of my oven and much water sprayed with a pressure sprayer on the stone. After reading the Suas book's section on steaming I am ever more convinced that in my dry climate and the relatively low hydrations of my doughs that just retaining the moisture by covering my baking breads would not achieve the objectives. Due respect to the people who use this method, but with my old oven (It will be replaced only when I find "the one.") and no more effort than it takes I'm sticking with steam. Record cold yesterday in the Mile High City - I didn't mind the oven having to preheat.
So, not a bad output for a day after I have finished my seasonal cooking (and shipping) and was determined to take it easy.
Hope you-all enjoy the photos and Happy Baking!