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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Everyday Bread #7

Building on a Mistake

The other day when I was making Reinhart's Multigrain Struan for the first time, I made a mistake with the water quantities again.  I knew it right away.  You know that sensation when you are closing the door to the car and are seeing the keys hanging in the ignition through the window and there's nothing you can do about it?  Well, that was the sensation I had, as I poured the water over my whole wheat flour and yeast mixture, while looking at the recipe that told me I only needed 3/4 of a cup, and not 1 3/4 cup.

Realizing my mistake, I simply made up another batch for the Struan, but that left me with this bowl of glop.  What to do about it?  I decided that it would be too much of a waste to just toss it into the compost.  I would play with it first, and try out an idea.

First, I let it sit out overnight to ferment.  This is simply an over-watered Biga at room temperature.

Day 1:

  • 227 g whole wheat flour
  • 1 g yeast
  • 142 g water  332 g water
The next day, the mix was quite frothy, but still very wet.  I fed it by adding 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour, but I also added about 1/4 tsp of salt. 

Day 2:

  • 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt 

The third day, the mix was decidedly firmer, but still very moist.  I added another 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour, and this time I also added some sugar (about a teaspoon).

Day 3:
  • 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp sugar

The fourth day, I baked it using Lahey's methods.

Looking at the dough, I thought that the dough was pretty wet.  I thought it had fallen a bit in the bowl -- in other words, I feel that the yeast had somewhat exhausted itself.  I may have been better off if I had used this dough only a couple of hours after adding the sugar and wwflour on the day before.

When I turned it out onto the floured surface to form, the gluten was pulling apart even before I touched it.  It was no longer well developed.  It was exhausted yeast.  The leaven had consumed my glutathion.  The dough was not springy anymore.  I rolled it up, put it in a floured baneton and was going to bake it in a casserole dish, following the method of Lahey.

After two hours, the loaf had actually proofed nicely.

This actually might have worked, but for one problem.  The loaf stuck to the basket coming out.  It separated.  It flopped.

Of course I baked it anyway to see what would happen.  It came out looking a trifle burnt, and it hadn't risen very far.  But inside the caramelized crust, the crumb was actually quite nice.  And the taste, even with the very hard, burnt crust, was very interesting: like roasted grain.  It actually reminded me of very good black coffee.

Notes to Myself:
  • When proofing wet dough in a basket, make sure it has a linen cloth beneath it, so it comes out easily.  Tons of bran might work, but there are no guarantees; certainly it is not enough to have just a bit of flour, like I had here. The cloth is better, because it will help you gently guide the proofed loaf into the pan.
  • Whole wheat flour probably doesn't need a full 30 minutes with the lid off -- the crust will burn at temperatures of 475 degrees F.  The next time you try this sort of experiment, using the casserole dish, stop after the initial 30 minutes.
  • When you add the final sugar, expect a quicker rise.  Bake it on the way up, not on the way down!  You don't want your yeast to be exhausted before they hit the oven.

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