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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Everyday Bread #2

Time for another experiment: I'll be working nights for the next couple of days and won't be able to do another of Reinhart's intensive breads.  For my everyday bread this time I will use the Master Recipe from 'Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day'.  But the experiment will be to add some sourdough starter again.

I'll just back off a bit on the amount of sourdough starter that I had been playing with in my last bread test.  That was with the 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' Master recipe.  But I am after whole grains: I'm leaving that first book behind for now.  That is why I'm changing recipes for this next experiment.  So I've put in about 1/2 cup of whole wheat seed starter (or Barm, or MotherStarter -- I still haven't determined what I should be calling it), and I've taken out 1/2 cup of the whole wheat.  This should change slightly the hydration, making it even wetter.

The first thing I noticed, in fact, was that it stirred up a lot easier than I am used to.  Here is a picture of the mix prior to its rise:

I was going to let it sit it out at least 2 hours before going to work.  If it wasn't doubled by then, I thought, I'll leave it sit out until I get home again -- over 12 hours of ferment.

I needn't have worried.  It was doubled in 40 minutes.  But I'll give it the full 2 hours at least to ferment.

I let it sit out a couple more hours before refrigerating.  In that time, it actually rose another 1 1/2 inches or so (even after it had reached the level you see here).  I stuck it in the refrigerator overnight, and when I came to make the bread (24 hours after mixing), it had fallen about 3 inches in the fridge.

I shaped the dough into 2 forms, and discovered that the gluten strands were not well developed.  I was reading somewhere in Reinhart's first book that the mixture of commercial and wild yeasts might leave more glutathione in the dough, which will break apart the gluten.  Maybe that was it.  The theory is that the commercial yeast caused the rapid rise, but then died, leaving all this glutathione, which broke the gluten strands that had bee developing.  The wild yeast was more hardy, but after the commercial yeast ate everything, there was little they could do.  That is why the dough fell so far, in the fridge.

The other thing is, these doughs are very wet.  They simply do not rise in the proofing stage, they spread.  That is why I opted for the pan, and for the parchment paper.  I've had bad luck with the pizza peel, because the moisture from the dough just oozes out onto the cornmeal and makes it stick to the wood.

I also thought that this time, since I had one dough in a pan, I could slip it into the oven when the oven was hot enough, and not wait for the stone to get hot (our oven pre-heats in 15 minutes, while the authors of the 5 min/day books suggest the stone and the pan need to be pre-heated at least 30 minutes).

The only problem with doing this was, the loaf in the pan didn't get fully proofed.  What difference could 15 minutes possibly make?  Take a look.  Here are the results of the experiment. 

Once again, I forgot to score the loaves.  The one that was underproofed 'popcorn exploded' again.  Someone recently gave me a link to the Northwest sourdough bread webpage that gives a lot of troubleshooting advice.  He says that this is precisely what you get if you underproof a sourdough loaf.

After 25 minutes in the oven, I removed it from the oven, and turned it upside down to try to get the loaf from the pan.  It was stuck -- so I was just going to wait a bit, to let the steam soften it, as per the suggestions of the 5min/day people.  But when I looked underneath my cooling rack, after setting aside the pan, I noticed this big blob of uncooked dough.  My shaking had emptied much of the uncooked middle of the loaf out onto the counter, through the split in the top.  Another bread disaster.  It wasn't even cooked inside despite that ruptured crust!  I plopped it back into the oven for another 20 minutes.

The other bread that I had formed into a boule was proofed okay because it had those extra 15 minutes -- but it really had no oven spring at all.

Now for the money shot.  How was the crumb?  Well, as you can see from the first picture, the blob that fell out of the middle left quite a hole.  In the second picture, the boule looks okay, even though the crust separated a bit.  There's a word for that, but I can't remember it.

 Actually this bread (both of them) tastes great.  And the crumb isn't too bad, even if it didn't get a decent oven spring.  But here's the other thing: this bread stales very quickly.

I still have a tiny bit of dough from that 5min/day bucket, and the next time I bake, I want to try something else.  I want to add something to it, and knead it, and see if I can't get the texture to stand up a bit instead of just oozing outwards.

Notes to Myself:

  • add something to the dough so that it is a teensy bit less wet.
  • add some more yeast, the commercial yeast died and left too much glutathione.
  • let it proof a full 90 minutes

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