100% Whole Wheat Tartine-Style Loaf,
using a long bulk fermentation without folds
Because the last bread I made had yucky flour, I had very little whole grain bread to eat, and had to make some in a hurry. And since I had been told I was not going to be around most of today, I didn't think I'd be able to bake any bread. I decided to not let that stop me: I elected to make a Tartine-style bread, but with some changes.
1) I would make the bread with sourdough starter (discard) rather than leaven. I've done this before, so I knew it would work, and I also knew that I wouldn't mind the extra sour taste that the bread has if you do this. It might not be as good as making it from younger fresher leaven, but it would work. And since I'd be the one eating it, I wouldn't worry too much about what others thought.
2) I would make it with 100% ww starter, and 100% whole wheat: I've done this before too, a couple of times, already.
3) I wouldn't be around to do the many folds on the bulk fermenting dough. This made me curious: how important are those folds, anyway?
But the most important reason I was going to make a Tartine-style bread and not a yeasted bread was, I was going to try and remember to do the bench rest, a stage in the Tartine Bread process that for some reason I kept forgetting.
So just before leaving for the day, I refreshed the sourdough and mixed up the Tartine-style 100% whole wheat dough. I would let it sit out on the counter, without folding, for about 7 hours before I could get back to it.
At that point, I divided it, bench rested it, formed it, and let it sit another 3 hours before baking.
The bread rose dutifully. The first loaf looks better, the second loaf deflated a bit from falling too hard into the hot casserole dish. The oven spring was such that it very nearly came up to the original height.
Because I didn't do the folds, and the dough was a bit overproofed, it felt a bit slimier, slightly less resilient. The gluten was starting to break down, it wasn't as stretchy as it usually is.
But the bread counts as a success because I now have bread to eat again, and I remembered to do the bench rest. I'll certainly need a bit more practice to feel comfortable with the gentle push-pull of pre-shaping, though.
I cracked into one of these loaves while it was still warm, and was pleased to find that the crumb was almost as nice as the other 100% whole wheat Tartine-style breads I've made when I've been home to fold the dough every 30 minutes. Furthermore, the taste of the bread is not too sour. This could be because, instead of using 200g of leaven, I only used 195g of starter; or it could be because the starter was fairly new (I'm still refreshing it daily, and trying to use it up by making muffins or english muffins, or pizza, or anything else that comes to mind), or because it was more than 100% hydrated (I don't measure the hydration of the starter accurately; following the Tartine method, you don't really have to, you just have to aim for a batter consistency).
The second loaf was still fresh a couple of days later when I sliced into it for some bread to take with me to work:
Notes to Myself
- In a pinch, you can make a 100% whole wheat Tartine style loaf in a single day. You can even make it without the many folds that the original recipe calls for, during the bulk fermentation. In this case, the bulk fermentation takes twice as long, though. And the dough will not feel as nice, and possibly you might have more difficulty forming it, but an acceptable bread can still be made in this way. If you do it this way, though, expect a more sour taste.
- While folding the dough, it occurred to me that these envelope-style folds that are so nicely described in pictures in the Tartine Bread book might be able to incorporate something in the middle of the dough, wrapped up. I got this idea from looking at an avocado sitting on my counter: what about a guacamole bread? But anything could be wrapped this way in the middle of the dough: for example, goat cheese. Or dried fruit. Or why not vegetables, like slices of fresh red pepper? The possibilities may not be endless, some ideas may not even be good, but it might be fun to try different things with this.