Hamelman's "Bread" book - some questions and observations
After year of dithering on whether to take the plunge or not, I ordered the Jeffrey Hamelman book Bread and just received it on the same day that I decided to make his Pain au Levain with mixed SD starters. Kismet or was it due to come around in rotation? I've made it before so this is not virgin territory for me.
Buying the book more out of a feeling of "obligation" than excitement, I've yet to delve into it very much. But I've noticed a few things that seem to be unsettling. So please school me if you are familiar with the book and let me know what I might have wrong. Here goes:
- The book seems more geared toward professional bakers than the typical baking book. Formulae are designed for multiple KG rather than 1 or 2 KG bakes. I can scale down, but I was really surprised to see that.
- Nothing in the early pages seems to indicate who the target audience is, so that was also surprising. And if for the pros, professionals don't really need to be walked through basic steps or techniques. So I'll take a guess that he's trying to appeal to all crowds.
- He refers to using a multi-speed spiral mixer, something that we without a few thousand coins to spare are unlikely to possess. No hand mixing techniques.
- He doesn't really seem to state what to expect from the finished product - oven spring, coloration, crust and crumb characteristics...
- The steaming technique for a home oven seems paltry to me vs. the "mega-steam" method a number us (including me) use.
- He lists the type of levain to use, but does not seem to discuss what to expect. In this specific case, the mixed SD starters are for an 83% hydration rye levain and a 125% hydration bread flour levain. But he does not indicate the amount of growth or what to expect from either (except the doming of the rye levain). From either reading someone else's writeup of this or my own prior bakes, I know what to look for. But only for that reason, and neither final results are intuitive to me.
I have nothing but great respect for Mr. Hamelman, but I find that these are a few things that I am not impressed with in his book without really delving further into it. Please chime in and let me know that I have some of the above wrong and why.
Anyway here are the results of today's bake. This bread has fantastic oven spring, as you can see...