Mixed success baking weekend
I had ambitious goals for the weekend. I'd try a sourdough version of the whole-wheat ciabatta, try the "stretch-n'-fold, no-knead' technique with my weekly sourdough, and make a pizza, using regular yeast.
The ciabatta turned out OK. There wasn't much of a sour flavor, surprisingly, and I'm not sure why that was. Perhaps the powdered milk interfered with the bacteria's growth? I also didn't get big holes, but rather got rather uniform small holes. Still, it was a nice bread and made killer sandwiches, but I was disappointed that I didn't have the same success with sourdough as I did with the yeasted version.
The whole-wheat bread I made didn't turn out so hot. Flavor was fine, but I didn't get nearly as much rise as I usually do and the crust was abnormally pale. I think I know the culprit, though -- I let the sourdough starter over-ferment. My daughter didn't want to take her nap, which delayed me for about two hours making the bread. I'll have to try the new technique again some other time (essentially, I kneaded it for about 3-5 minutes until everything was evenly distributed, and then did a fold once every 30 to 45 minutes until I'd done six. The dough was definitely gaining strength, until near the end when it suddenly got soft. As I said, I think the starter went too long, got too acidified and weakened the gluten network).
Pizza? Fantastic! I used the whole wheat recipe from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking book, which, surprisingly enough, is almost identitcal to how I've been making my pizza for the past year -- roughly 4 ounces whole wheat bread flour, 4.25 ounces semolina flour and 4.25 ounces white bread flour, 10 oz. water with 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbs olive oil and 1 tsp yeast. Knead it gently, let it rise 45 mins to an hour, fold it and then stick it in the fridge for 8-18 hours. Make the pizza, put it in a piping hot oven on a stone, cook for about 12 minutes. Delicious.
I've tried Peter Reinhart's pizza formula, and I've decided that I like this one much better. For one, this recipe uses about 12 oz dough for a 12-inch pizza, whereas the BBA uses half that much. I like a thicker crust and also find the dough is much easier to shape. The BBA's crust gets so thin, that I'm constantly struggling not to tear it. Plus, the whole wheat and semolina flours in the KAF formula give it a wonderful buttery, rustic flavor. As for the toppings, though, I go with BBA all the way. Three cheeses (2 parts melter, one part hard cheese, one part optional -- which is always a goat cheese), mix herbs with the cheese, and a less is more approach to toppings. Just delicious.
Sorry, no photos. I was kind of demoralized by the non-holey ciabatta and the ugly (but fine tasting, so we'll eat it) whole wheat sourdough, so I didn't have the heart to take photos of that. As for the pizza, my family was hungry -- had I made them wait for a photo to eat it up, I'd have faced serious recriminations. It would not have been pretty.