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Friday, June 18, 2010

Meteil using my Intuition (Based on Reinhart's Meteil)

As I left off, last blog, I had just baked 2 of Reinhart's Meteil loaves, using the optional ingredients of onions and caraway.  I had been disappointed with the results: both loaves, one a boule and the other a batard, had oozed over my stone and had failed to rise in the oven.  I was just about ready to give up the quest for the perfect bread (for our household), when I noticed my rye motherstarter was pushing the lid up on its refrigerated container.  So I decided to throw together the ingredients for another Meteil based on Reinhart's recipe.  Only this time, I would use my intuition instead of slavishly following the recipe.

The trouble was, I was working nights and wouldn't be able to get back to the baking for at least a couple of days.  Nevertheless I made up the starter and the soaker and after their required rises out on the counter (while I was sleeping during the day), I set them in the fridge until I could get back to them.

Today was the day.  I woke up and gathered the ingredients.  I waited about 2 1/2 hours before trying to use the soaker and starter, letting them come to room temperature entirely.

I weighed the flours, but I wasn't too concerned if I was out a few grams on the salt or the yeast.  I made what I consider one mixing error, and that was in deciding to use no honey, no oil, but to double up on the molasses.  With the extra yogurt I put into the soaker the other day, this made the dough very wet again.  Come to think of it, there was at least one more error: I was going to add some ascorbic acid to the dough.  But I didn't think of it until it was too late.

But I kept my hands moist while kneading it, and this made a tremendous amount of difference.  Sure, it still is sticky, but at least it is easier to get the dough unstuck from your fingers so it can rest if you keep a bowl of cool water handy to dip into.  And the camera doesn't get as sticky either.

I had to add about 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour to the mix just to offset the high hydration of this dough.

I set it aside a couple of hours and it rose a small amount.  Or relaxed a little.

Then I formed my loaf: I wanted to have this dough as tight as humanly possible.  So I pounded it down into a thick rectangle, and rolled it up toward me, pulling the dough away from me and rolling it back toward me as tight as I could make it.  Once this was done, I tucked the ends in underneath and did the same with the corners.  I had made a boule, and I set it in a couche-lined basket to proof.

Then I left to walk the dog.  I preheated the oven when I arrived home again about an hour later.  Moving the dough onto the wet stone worked without much of a challenge, this time.  The only problem with that was, I didn't score the loaf.  It rose and it cracked, as rye loaves love to do.  And when I removed it from the oven, I was impressed that this loaf had risen instead of flattening.  Finally, a loaf that looks good from the outside!

My wife remains suspicious.  Did I put caraway with it?  Did I add onions?  No.  This time I didn't use them.

I just used my own intuition with the dough.
This is still a very moist crumb, it still falls apart as soon as the mouth enzymes start digesting it (i.e. it melts in your mouth).  I sort of expect a rye bread to have a bit more chewiness.  But it doesn't taste as sweet, you get more rye (a slightly-bitter flavour with a late sweet note) in this bread compared to the onion-caraway-molassess-honey-sweetened bread that I made the other day while slavishly following Reinhart's recipe.  I don't actually taste the molasses, which to me is good.

I suppose to properly bake any of Reinhart's breads, you have to do it at least once the way it is written, and then strike off ever so slightly on your own -- because everyone's ingredients are going to be ever so slightly different, and everyone's taste is going to be different.  I like this bread better than the ones I made the other day, but that's just my taste.  I probably would like it even better if there was more rye in the mixture, and less wheat.

And I think that is what the next loaf in Reinhart's book is all about.

Notes to Myself
  • When next you make this, add the ascorbic acid.
  • Use flour or cracked rye for the surface of the bread -- but don't use both!
  • Score the loaf.
  • Rolling up the rye dough seemed to get the dough tighter, during the forming stage.  Keep that in mind for rye in the future. 
  • Keep the hands moist when working with rye -- always have a bowl of cool water nearby to dip your hands into when working with rye dough.

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