I modify the recipe
Time to try out some of the ideas I had when I made this yesterday. Pretty much the same ingredients, but here I am modifying how they get put together.
What did I change?
I've divided up the flour, as usual. Approximately half of it (450g) is hydrated overnight (12 hours) at room temperature, with all the water (which I've backed off slightly to 720g), honey and oil. Here the yeast can reproduce and grow as much as it wants. So I am not including the salt here, and I am only using 1 tsp of yeast (3g).
On day two, I add this wet flour-yeast mixture to the second half (actually, about 75g more than half, or 525g) of the flour, to which I have also added the wheat germ and (slightly more, 17g) salt. Then I knead it until it is "smooth and elastic."
I bulk ferment it for 2 hours, doing a stretch and fold every 30 minutes. Then I divide the dough, give it one more stretch and fold, and let it proof in a basket for 30 more minutes, while the oven and stone pre-heat.
Just before baking, I paint a wash on it, and slash with rectangular cuts.
I also decided to use a starch wash, to see if that would give me a crust like the one in W&T's picture (which I just can't seem to duplicate).
Recap of the Ingredients
Table cells in red are the ones I changed this time:
|Ingredient||Original recipe Wt||Original Baker's %||Amounts I used||My Baker's %|
What I found using this method
I monitored the 12 hour preferment before I went to bed, and again when I awoke. It doubled in about 2-3 hours, which tells me that I am still using too much yeast. It continued to rise, and the peak I saw was just before I went to sleep; five hours later, when I got up, it had blown the lid off the container, and was probably already falling back in volume somewhat. I still let it sit another 2 1/2 hours, and watched it fall back some more before I used it.
There was some white goo in the bottom of this mixture: what was it? Perhaps it was gluten; perhaps it was a mixture of starch and oil and honey. Whatever it was that settled on the bottom, I simply mixed it back into the final dough.
I was able to stir the final dough together using a spatula -- it was still moist enough for that, despite the way I had backed off on the water content. I did not incorporate any more liquid, and virtually no flour (less than 1g) during the kneading stage.
The dough was kneaded for about 6 minutes by hand, and then rested while I cleaned the bowl and oiled it for the bulk fermentation. I stretch-and-folded the dough one more time before placing it in the bowl.
Every 30 minutes, I did another stretch-and-fold in the bowl, and turned the dough over. I was hoping in this way to gently develop the gluten. I performed 3 stretch and folds in the bowl, and then moved the dough to the counter to divide and shape.
The shaping consisted of another stretch and fold, and gently forming a boule. Then I placed it upside down in a basket with a tea-towel covered with flour. It stayed this way for another 30 minutes while I preheated the oven to 400 degrees.
During this preheating, final proofing stage, I prepared a starch wash, using a recipe given by Nils Schöner in his book "Brot" (part of the Quarkbrot recipe). Basically, you mix some cornstarch or potato starch (I had cornstarch on hand), with 50g (1/4 c) of cold water. You add to this 250ml (1 c) of boiling water, and boil it for one minute. Then you let it cool. (Since this was an after-thought for me, I stuck the starch-water in a cold bowl out in the snow to get it cool. It was nicely cooled by the time I wanted to use it.)
Just before baking, I turned the dough onto a parchment-lined peel, painted it with the starch wash, and scored it in a rectangular shape.
Following Nils' instructions, I also painted the loaf another 3 times while it was baking: every 15 minutes, I applied another coat. Because I was removing the loaf for this procedure, affecting the oven temperature, I baked it another 10 minutes -- a full hour, in total.
Despite the frequent washes, this loaf's crust still does not look anything like Wolter & Teubner's picture in their recipe book:
By the way, it seems to me as if they have added a bit of cracked wheat to their water wash.
The house smells great. If only I wanted to eat some bread, I would try it. But I have rather a lot of other loaves to get through first...
That will be enough of this loaf for a while. I will have to make a trip to the store to get more wheat germ before I can make another, and I can't get to the store for several days. And by then, who knows? I might be distracted by a different recipe.
The next morning I sliced into one of these loaves to have a look at the crumb, and I was disappointed. Probably due to the uneven baking (I was pulling it out of the oven to wash it every 15 minutes), the crumb shows unusual stress marks toward the top and bottom edges -- like it wanted to have some oven rise, and decided against it. The crumb is actually denser than the straight dough method of the original recipe.
But that is not the worst part.
In a side-by-side taste comparison test with one of the other loaves I'd previously baked, this one is just ... blah. So much for wanting to improve the flavour by leaving a preferment over night. Gone is the nuttiness that I so much enjoy in this loaf. Now all I taste is mealiness. And I'm not impressed with the crust either: it is just soft, not glazed.
If I want to preferment again, it will be in the refrigerator, like Josh suggests. And I won't be pulling it out of the oven to wash it several times while it is baking anymore.
Notes to Myself
- That rectangular scoring did not improve the rising of this loaf, in fact, it made it worse.
- The long pre-fermentation seems to have broken down the gluten more than it has improved it. Why? What is going on with this bread? It has less hydration, but FEELS like it has more than last time.
- Try a wash with starch and cracked wheat.
- Try adding some sunflower seeds to this loaf, it would complement the taste -- it would go good with it in the interior and/or on the crust.
- The frequent folding might have helped strengthen the gluten, but the final proofing in the basket could have been a bit longer. Instead of going by time here, I should have waited until the dough completely doubled before putting it in the oven.
- DON'T wash the loaves while they are baking
- REFRIGERATE your dough while it is prefermenting