The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Excited to come across this site, and excited at the prospect of coming back repeatedly!

gianfornaio's picture

Excited to come across this site, and excited at the prospect of coming back repeatedly!

Hello all, glad I can join you, and glad you're here for me to join!

I'm John, from Iowa (Windsor Heights currently, at Des Moines). I love baking lean hearth loaves. I've tended to make a loaf with varying portions of whole wheat, unbleached white and semolina flours at about a 65% hydration, but am looking forward to working with even wetter doughs after reading about other people's ways of working.

I was a little surprised at people's reaction ("pretty standard for artisan breads") to the no-knead casserole loaf's 75-80% hydration, because I'm accustomed to looking at recipes with much less liquid when I bake my own bread-- although, that said, I don't ever really follow recipes, I just consult them. I'm not a terribly disciplined baker-- I'm more artist than scientist, I guess, in an ab-ex, thrash-around-in-the-dark sort of way-- but I do take percentages and weights to heart, and do lots of research.

Tonight I'm posting a question in "Bakeries, shops, and Pizza Joints" soliciting comparisons between two loaves I'm considering for a holiday splurge (Poilane's and Zingerman's) and some technical questions in "Artisan Baking."   

 My last great loaf was a sponge-started boule with white, semolina and whole wheat flours (40-40-20, maybe?), roasted garlic, rosemary and roasted butternut squash. I wasn't careful with weights but I can tell you that the squash was about 1/3 the flour by volume (my cups of flour are pretty dense-- I don't sift) and the added water hydration was low, like maybe 60% by volume because the squash was a few days old and starting to get watery. there was one bulb of roasted garlic, pressed, for about three cups of flour. The dough was incredibly wet, almost frustratingly unworkable, very slack, but it was among the best flavored bread I've ever had. Good wheat flavor, not too sour, not too sweet but a great rich (umami?) flavor. Heavenly, really. And I'm hard on my own loaves, so I don't feel like I'm bragging. Please, try this.

Best regards, love your yeasties and beasties for me. Sorry about the tome.