Wednesday, August 18, 2010

close, but not quite there

Latest attempt at the seeded whole wheat. Made a big batch, baked one loaf on that day, let the rest retard in the fridge for three days. Not because that's a good length of time for retardation, but because I wanted to postpone baking until the first loaf was almost gone.

soaker (241 g dry):
  • hulled barley
  • steel cut oats
  • flax seeds
  • sourdough starter (300 g)
  • whole wheat flour (625 g)
  • bread flour (475 g)
  • water (693 g)
  • soaker (487 g wet)
  • sunflower seeds (52 g)

Now unless I'm brain-dead, this dough ends up with 87% hydration! 

water: 693 g water added to the dough, plus half the weight of the starter (at 100% hydration) which is 150 g, and the water that came with the soaker (487 g wet weight-241 g dry weight), for a total of 1089 g.

flour: Whole wheat plus bread flour for a total of 1100 g, plus half of the starter weight, for a total of 1250 g.

That's 87% hydration. Which is very very high. True, it was a soft dough, but by no means an unusually liquidy dough. I'm thinking that's because the whole wheat flour absorbs more water than all purpose flour. Gotta go ask on the Fresh Loaf.

The first loaf turned out very respectable.


The crumb was open and moist. The crust was densely covered with sesame seeds, which warms my heart because it reminds me of simit from the streets of Istanbul. But I really miss the chewiness of wheat berries and I still haven't replenished my stock. The barley, like the farro, became a bit too soft after baking. Not toothy enough for my taste.
Yesterday, I baked the rest of the dough into two boules. The dough had risen a lot over the three days, of course, but had not collapsed. I took it out of the bowl, divided it into  two balls, folded them a few times. It was interesting to see that after a set of folds in each direction, the gluten was so developed that it was hard to press the dough down anymore. I let it rest 10 minutes, then gave a couple more folds. After about an hour and a quarter, I scored one and put it in the oven.

And here's the exciting bit. I had just gotten myself a large, 8 quart stainless steel bowl to cover the loafs with in the oven, following the tips from the Fresh Loaf. No sesame seeds on top this time, because I wanted to see how the dough would behave under the dome. The bowl lies flat on the baking stone, and traps the moisture from the dough so the loaf doesn't dry out immediately. Which is supposed to give you a great oven spring. Did I believe it? Not quite. For so many years, I had tried to take care of this by spraying the oven walls, spraying the dough, putting ice cubes on the lava rocks in the cast iron pan under the dough, etc. None of them had worked. None. So I had become a bit of a skeptic. But ladies and gents, the dome works! Beautifully! I got almost 3 times the oven spring I usually do.

I removed the bowl after 12 minutes so the crust would brown. It turns out this procedure also takes care of one of my pet peeves in bread baking. If I bake the loaf enough to cook it through, the crust gets thicker than I'd like (though that seems to be OK with many people), with no crunch, no pleasant chewiness, no redeeming factors. But if you bake the loaf under a dome, you end up with a thin and crisp, beautiful crust. I was soooo excited about this unexpected result.

If you look closely, you can see the blisters, which I thought was impossible in this kind of a loaf.

The crumb was very open and light and wonderful.

I'm very close to  baking my ideal daily bread. I think.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm... that looks perfect. I'd like some of that one please.