Tuesday, July 27, 2010

seedy whole wheat redux

A miserably dark, rainy day. A perfect day to bake bread. The last time I baked this, the two loaves were smallish and were gone too quickly. Today, I'm making a bigger batch.

the soaker (total 250 g before soaking):
  • wheat berries  - beautiful sensuous chewiness
  • flax seeds - can't taste them, can't see them, but healthy
  • buckwheat groats - adds no taste or texture that I can detect, finishing up my stock
  • small pinch of salt
This time, I poured boiling water on the mixture and let it sit overnight. I wanted to see whether it would turn out significantly different from soaking in cold water. It did. It was much better.

the sourdough starter:
         I maintain my starter with all purpose flour, because I figure it's the most neutral. For this whole wheat loaf,  I built it up two days ago with whole wheat flour. When I tasted, it was a bit on the sour side and I wondered if I should have fed it closer to baking time. However, the sourness turned out just right, a remote whiff.

the dough:
  • sourdough starter (400 g)
  • whole wheat flour (625 g)
  • bread flour (475 g)
  • water (555 g, but I added more later)
  • sunflower seeds (99 g)
  • the soaker
  • salt (20 g)
If these amounts read as though there was careful, precise calculation of ingredients, there wasn't. Either that's how much I had at hand (e.g. the sunflower seeds, the whole wheat flour), or my hand slipped (the water). I'm not getting obsessive with precise baker's percentages because (1) it's stressful, and (2) it doesn't let you respond to what's actually in front of you. And I don't have to replicate breads precisely, which is a major advantage of being an amateur baker.

I mixed everything except the salt on the lowest speed of the mixer. The dough was clearly much stiffer than what I usually shoot for, so I added more water. Don't know how much. Just added until it seemed right.

I covered the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes (autolyse).

I added the salt and mixed the dough for 5 minutes on the second from lowest speed.

I covered it to start the bulk fermentation. One stretch-and-fold after 45 minutes, a second one after another 45 minutes. Then 30 more minutes of fermentation.

I pinched off a bit to bake into a flat bread. Just experimenting. I divided the rest of the dough into two, pre-shaped them into balls, and let them rest for 15 minutes. Then I put one in a round basket, and the other one onto the couche, and let them proof for 1 hour.

I filled an iron skillet with lava rocks and put it on the lower shelf of the oven, and preheated the oven to 500 F. I was determined to get more steam this time. Didn't help.

While I was waiting for the loaves to rise, I made my flat bread. I stretched it with my hands and cooked it in a skillet on top of the stove baked it on the baking stone (brain-fingers not coordinated). Puffed up and cooked very quickly. A success!

That makes me very happy. Will repeat it often.

At the end of an hour, the loaves hadn't risen a whole lot, but once again, I was afraid of over-proofing. I first baked the loaf that had proofed on the couche. I transferred it onto the peel, sprayed the top with water,  covered it with sesame seeds, and slipped it onto the baking stone. Put some ice cubes in the iron skillet. When I closed the oven door, I saw the steam coming out in sheets. I'm not sure any steam stayed in the oven. Arrgh.

Turned the oven down to 450 F and baked for 15 minutes. Turned it down to 425 F, and baked another 15 minutes. This was a bigger loaf than my usual, so I decided to give it another 5 minutes and then I let it stay in the oven w/ the door ajar for 10 minutes. Next, onto the cooling rack.

In the meantime, I had placed the second loaf into a plastic bag and transferred it to the fridge, because it would have to wait while the first was baking and then while the oven heated up to 500 F again. I think I'm going to adjust my baking so that I can bake two smaller loaves at the same time. This is too much juggling.

I inverted the second loaf from the basket onto the peel, sprayed it with water, and covered with sesame seeds. Continued to bake in the usual manner.

Results: Very little oven spring. Crumb on the dense side. The breads were very moist, maybe too moist. Both loaves spread sideways when I put them on the peel. I think I may not have developed enough surface tension, so I'll focus on that next time. But I don't even know if a whole grain loaf that's so packed with seeds can rise very high.

This picture shows very uneven rising, but parts of the loaf were better:

I thought that the denseness might have been a result of overproofing. But the second loaf proofed longer, and the crumb turned out better and more even:

So maybe the first loaf was underproofed. Sometimes this feels like a crapshoot.

People might find the moistness of the crumb objectionable, but I actually found it very pleasant eating.  So yes, the crumb was way too moist, but that felt like an advantage after toasting. And the ratio of the soaker to the dough was absolutely perfect. This made for a chewiness that was orgasmic. And I don't use that word lightly. Not only was the texture great, but the taste was wonderfully rich and earthy. I couldn't stop eating it. This turned out to be my most favourite bread so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment