Baguette - long bulk vs poolish
First a thanks to everyone for the helpful information I have read through and the inspiration I have gained, but now I feel the need to get specific . . .
I had it in my mind to make some approximation of a (small) baguette. My first attempt (4 at various oven-friendly sizes) was acceptable but, for me, lacking a bit of flavour. To be sure, they were streets better in both flavour and structure than any baguette I could find at a supermarket or regular, non-artisan bakery and they passed the most important test (my partner,) but they fell a touch short of what I would consider properly tasty.
For context, my background and situation is as follows:
- I am an experimenter at heart who has difficulty following a recipe that seems arbitrary when no explanation is provided - I want to break things down and not only know what differences a given change might make but why.
- I am in (metropolitan) Sydney, Australia, where access to specialist baking flours at the best of times is underwhelming. My current flour is Laucke's Wallaby at 11.5% protein - a fairly high number for accessible flours over this way.
- Australian flour is un-malted and I do not have any diastic malt.
- With the exception of a 100% rye loaf or two, I never add sugar or honey or the like.
- All my doughs are flour, water, salt and yeast - either wild in the form of my starter or using commercial yeast.
- I don't understand when people suggest that un-malted flour won't brown properly as I seem to have the opposite problem more often than not.
- I tend towards sourdough and have a nice (plain flour) starter which is neither strong nor weak but is resilient and somewhere over 4 years old now.
- I like wholemeal, rye and spelt flours added in to my breads as my preferred way of eating it is plain; my partner strongly prefers hers 100% white, often with butter (Pepe Saya for those down my way,) or as a sandwich.
Anyway . . .
Creating my own very simple recipe, the basics were:
(Room temp at the moment is 13-18c during the relevant times)
- 70% hydration, 1.8% salt, 0.4% yeast.
- ~20 hours autolyse (no yeast,) comprising: ~8h at room temp, ~10h refrigerated overnight; 2h returning to room temp the next day.
- Mix in yeast first and then salt (each dissolved in a little water, bringing it to the 70% number) with a Kenwood 'K' beater for 5 mins or so on a low speed.
- Room temp for about 4.5 hours with 4 slaps and folds of varying durations and intensities as seemed good in my eyes - around 30-60 mins apart each and stored in a sealed container inbetween.
- In the fridge for ~16h overnight.
- Divided cold and roughly shaped.
- Rested at room temp ~2.5-3 hours.
- Shaped and into a couch for ~1h as the oven warmed.
Baking was in 250c on a pre-heated pizza stone with the oven's steam function for 15 mins, then on fan-forced (in my oven, that's a separate heating element around the fan) at 230c for another 10 mins without steam, using the transition to open the oven and rotate the two loaves while letting out the steam.
For the second set, I kept the temp at 250c the whole time but did an even 10 + 10 mins.
Now, to the real meat, which is using this bake as an opportunity to understand the difference between a commerical yeast-based preferment (poolish/biga) and a straight dough simply fermented longer.
A long fermentation time allows flavours to develop. Great.
To my mind, given a fixed time frame for fermentation (e.g. 24h,) the most flavour would be achieved by fermenting the entire dough and therefore a pre-ferment (poolish/biga) would be seen as a more convenient but less effective method of doing so, or one that might be preferred for other, non-flavour reasons (e.g. strength or extensibility, etc . . .).
Am I on the right track here?
If I am happy with the development, workability, time-management and resulting crust and crumb of a whole-dough ferment, what differences should I expect to see with a poolish? (Again, given a fixed time.)
To sum-up, I am looking to improve the flavour while still creating a 100% white baguette and wondering whether swapping the long (partially refrigerated) bulk for a poolish and short bulk would do that. Other options are to add in some sourdough starter after the autolyse or extend the bulk. (Or some combination.)
Here are the obligatory pictures, though they're not really relevant to the flavour, of course!
Many thanks all, in anticipation/hope.