Mildred Orton's Cottage Bread
I promised I would back up one recipe, and make Mildred's recipe for what she called a "Colonial Cottage Loaf". I skipped this one to make her Rye Bread. This loaf also contains rye, but only 33%; the rest is whole wheat, and corn meal. This was my experience:
- 283g sifted Cornmeal 33%
- 201g sifted Rye Flour 33%
- 210g siftedWheat 34%
- 684g total sifted Flours 100%
- 237g Scalded Milk 35%
- 248g Hot Water 36%
- 60g Warm Water 9%
- 545g total hydration 80%
- 35g shortening 5%
- 38g molasses 6%
- 12g salt 1.75%
- 8g yeast 1%
I don't understand why everything has to be sifted twice: I can understand sifting to measure something, or the weights will be off, and sifting is going to make things fluffy. But we are not sifting material to take out the bran and germ. Far from it: we toss that back in.
But I trust Mildred absolutely now. I wouldn't deviate from her recipe because I assume I know better. Perhaps there is a hidden reason, and who knows? I once thought that perhaps sieving might align the bran along a certain orientation that will not slice as much gluten. It can't be that, for this recipe, since the gluten that forms is not the long stringy kind that wheat by itself provides. But perhaps the reason for seiving everything twice is something like that. Unfortunately, whatever the secret was, Mildred is not around to tell us any more.
The yeast doesn't have much time to get going before it encounters salt in the wet solution, but thereafter it gets lots of opportunity to gorge on sweet stuff: there is molasses, and there is amylase, and all the other sugars of the various flours and meals.
The four-fold folding did make my dough "light, soft and spongy", but never once did anything resembling wheat gluten every appear in this dough. Nothing even similar to rye gluten could be detected. It remained gritty throughout, the effect of the cornmeal more than the various brans I was stirring. But every time I folded it down, up it came again.
The 'Kneading' was more of a folding with a bowl scraper. I didn't feel that gluten was developing at the time, but judging from these pictures, I guess it was, a little. Things did smooth out a bit.
I was a bit uneasy about the final rise in the liberally buttered casserole dish, as per her instructions. I've had bad fortune in the past, putting dough into unheated casserole dishes. But I remain her devoted padawan. Now I follow implicitly. I might ask why, continuously, but I will do her bidding.
And voila: the bread fell out without so much as a shake, when I upended the dish.
The loaf saw no oven spring. It needs a casserole dish to keep its shape while baking. My dish was fairly shallow, and it didn't need to be. I think I used a 2 quart dish, when she specifically asked for a 1 quart dish. I was afraid it would rise under the lid, like Lahey's loaves do. But this one did not.
I am wondering if perhaps I overproofed the dough. The first of the 4 punch downs and turns didn't take place until I was one hour and 15 minutes into the bulk fermentation, which Mildred says takes 2 hours (but it is rather unclear in her short recipe whether I should have waited 2 hours before the first turn, and then another 2 hours in between each turn, or whether I should have all 4 turns done by the two hour mark. Suffice it to say, I should have been watching closer to my dough, to see if it had doubled.
Very difficult to get a decent shot of this bread in the dim light of spring rain this early morning.
The taste of this loaf is quite mild. Despite the molasses, it is not that sweet. Mildred describes it as wonderfully nutty, but I have tasted nuttier, and more wonderful, loaves. This bread reminds me of cornbread. I guess my feeling is that the taste of the corn is predominant. The scent of the molasses is now gone, the day after baking, when I cut into it. It is not a bad loaf, but certainly not one of Mildred's best, in my opinion.
Notes to Myself
- It doesn't seem that gluten is developing with the many and manifold folds. So why do it? Why punch it down four times like this, only to keep building it up? Does it put airiness into the loaf? Howso?
- Once again, I ask: why the shortening? Can I do without it? What about butter, or some other oil? Is it even necessary?
- The cornmeal gives this loaf a rather interesting texture, but I'm not at all impressed with the lack of gluten structure. Recently I've developed an antipathy with corn, if not an outright aversion. Why not try this recipe with a different meal than cornmeal (say, flaxmeal?)
- The molasses gives this bread a distinct colour and scent. I'm not so sure I like it. Would it work with honey? With agave? With maple syrup?
- I am considering ways to improve this recipe, building on the basic ingredient percentages and method. But this first attempt has to go to following Mildred's method very closely, because I want to see what she saw.
- Use a 1 quart round casserole dish for this, so it will stay upright.
- Will I have to invest in some photography lights to photograph my bread?