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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Everyday Bread #34 - Again with the Whole wheat Pagnotta

 I usually eat my own bread fails.  But now I don't have to.
My chickens are seen here picking at the latest sourdough pagnotta disaster.

"Wait, there's just one more thing I want to try before I leave the pagnotta forever."  That's what I told myself the other day, when I found myself mixing up some dough before yoga.  Unfortunately, I didn't finish gathering ingredients before my ride came to the door, so it had to wait until 2100 when I got home to add the water and stir it all up.

The experiment was originally designed to see what would happen if I let this 100% whole wheat sourdough sit for 12 hours minimum.  Would I then be able to do the bowl folding and get the gluten aligned easier, stronger, better?

But experiments of mine often go awry.  By not mixing it until 2100, I had to wait until 0900 to form it.  And since we were leaving for my son's graduation shortly after 1000, I wouldn't be able to do any folding at all.  I had it in the back of my mind that I would simply stick the dough in the fridge to retard it until I got back.  But as it turned out, this became another sort of experiment.

I noticed when I got up at 0630 that the dough had approximately tripled, not just doubled.  I felt that was a good sign, but I still had it in my mind that the experiment was about waiting a full 12 hours.  I waited until 0900.

But by that time, I think that the dough had actually settled a little.  Who knows?  Anyway, when I turned it out of the bucket and put it on the counter to shape once before putting it in the bowl, I noticed that there was really no gluten structure to this dough at all.  It was all just falling apart.  It felt spent, and I had the impression that no amount of folding or kneading would ever get this moist stuff to stick together.  It just felt wrong -- not like dough at all.  Even rye dough will have some cohesiveness to it.  This goo-dough just wanted to drip off the table.

I didn't have time to fold it anyway, so I decided on a different sort of experiment at the last moment.  I would form it into a loaf shape as best I could, put it in a couche-lined basket or banneton or bowl, and then refrigerate it.  Actually, there was only room for one of these divided 'formed' goo-doughs to be refrigerated.  The other I put in the freezer.  Voila!  A new experiment!  When I got home from the graduation, I would bake them and see if by putting them into coldness I could get the bread to remain firm during the baking cycle, since the problem with these whole wheat pagnottas of mine is that they sag and flow over the edges of the baking stone.  Or they flatten out and look like gigantic cookies.

So the formed dough had been sitting for 12-14 hours in the fridge or freezer when I got home and decided to bake them. They had 'proofed' not at all.  That's okay, I thought, since I didn't think any amount of proofing would save this goo-dough.  I would bake them 'as-is' and see what happened.

The one from the fridge turned out okay.  I baked it an extra 5 minutes (i.e. 35 min.) because I wasn't waiting for it to come to room temperature before baking it, and I thought that might help.   I didn't score the loaf, and it cracked along what looks like veins in a Klingon forehead.  But there was no rise, and the cool temperatures of the refrigerator were not enough to stop the bread from flattening out.  Once again, it looks like a giant cookie.  A ginger snap.

It stuck a little to my stone getting it from the oven, but all things considered, this loaf turned out fairly reasonable.  The crumb is acceptable to me.  This bread is not pretty, but at least it is edible.

The one I baked directly from the freezer was another story.

It was certainly a popsicle when I flipped it out of the couche-lined basket.  It was hard as a rock.  I tossed it into the 425 degree F oven for 40 minutes.

This one didn't settle like the others but it stuck really badly to the baking stone.  I tore it while trying to spatula it off.  There was a lot of goo inside.  It wasn't baked through!  So I just upended it and tossed it back into the cooling, turned-off oven for about 30 more minutes.

It did firm up, but I can't really say that it baked.  I knew that this bread would be a disaster.  So I checked the crumb with a couple of slices.  I knew that if I ate this, I would feel awful.  I've eaten worse, but I don't feel good when I do.

But I hate to throw anything out, even this disaster.

So I let the chickens eat it.

Notes to Myself:
  • Putting dough in the freezer to try to keep it from sagging during baking doesn't work!
  • Chickens will eat sourdough bread failures!
  • Time to stop trying to make 100% whole wheat sourdough pagnottas this way.

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