The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Getting back in the saddle

Floydm's picture

Getting back in the saddle

For my weekly batch of French bread, I tried autolyse again. This time I successfully combined it with a poolish.

My overnight sponge was 8 ounces bread flour, 8 ounces water, and 1/8 teaspoon of instant yeast. My autolyse the next day was 10 ounces of water and 8 ounces of flour. I let that soak for 20 minutes, then mixed in the poolish along with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast. I then mixed it in the stand mixer, adding an additional 3 or 4 ounces of flour until I had a dough that was slack but more substantial than a batter.

Fermentation was 3 hours, with 2 folds an hour apart. I divided it in two for final shaping and used a lot of flour so that I could handle it without it sticking. It actually toughened up and shaped better than I had expected.

I let it rise 90 minutes while preheating my baking stone at my max oven temperature, 550. I used to not be impressed by the baking stone, but I've found that if you preheat it at max temperature for at least an hour you do get a significant increase in spring.

I threw them in the oven, added steam, and reduced heat to 475. I think they took about 20 to 25 minutes to bake: the hot stone also reduces baking time noticeable. Very good results, nice open crumb.

I'll try to bake this one again next weekend and post photos.


jmcbride's picture

When you say "more substaintial than batter" does the dough actually cling to the dough hook, or merely strech around in the bottom of the mixer bowl?

Also, if I read this correctly you had total 18 oz of water and 16 oz. of flour (112% hydration)?


Floydm's picture

If memory serves me right, it was moist enough that it mostly stayed on the bottom of the mixing bowl instead of clinging to the hook. It feels way too wet at first, but after a fold or two during fermentation it tightens up. I still need to use a fair amount of flour to shape it, but it has enough body to hold its shape instead of just flattening out.

Yes, I really had over 100% hydration, in this batch and others recently. I've been scratching my head about that too. I've been using Bob's Red Mill Unbleached White Flour that I buy bulk at the local grocery store. Could the flour be older and totally dried out? When I use the recommended hydration from a recipe with this flour, it ends up much too tough. I can't say why.