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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Pomegranate and Grapejuice-soaked WheatBerry Bread

100% Whole Wheat Pomegranate and Grapejuice-soaked WheatBerry Bread

A Cautionary Tale
I wanted to try a Pomegranate and Grapejuice-soaked wheatberry Bread again, since the last time I made this it really seemed interesting, but I did not trust the flour, and ended up throwing the bread out into the compost.

This time, I made the dough with a trusted 100% whole wheat flour, along with my own 100% whole wheat sourdough starter that I refresh daily.
I was going to use the malted wheat, but later decided not to

Whole Wheat leaven 'sort of' floats -- like an iceberg, most of it is submerged.

Mixed and turned in the container:

Dividing and preforming, bench rest and forming:

The method I used was Tartine-like, even though this particular bread is not from the Tartine Bread book.  I used an 80% hydration, and felt that the higher bran content would work with that.

Danger! Danger, Will Robertson!

I've used this casserole dish several times now for these Tartine-style loaves, but I hasten to add that the Tartine Bread book advises people to use a Cast Iron Combo Cooker Dutch Oven.  Nowhere does the Tartine Bread book tell you that you can use a casserole dish, like what I've been using.  It turns out that there is a reason for this…

A lot of casserole dishes are rated for 450 degrees, but of course, the Tartine Bread book suggests preheating to well beyond that, to 500 degrees F.  This could stress the glass to well beyond the glass's capacity to withstand heat.


stove-top aftermath
… Today, when my 500 degree F casserole dish had a room-temperature high-hydration dough plopped into it, I stepped back to get my lame to give it a slice, and I'm lucky I did, because the thing exploded, right there on top of the stove.  Shards of casserole dish went flying across the room and onto the floor.  Fortunately, no one was hurt. 

And to think, I was looking at an enamel-coated iron dutch oven today that was on sale, but I didn't buy it because I thought that this one was 'good enough' until I could find one of those 'Cast Iron Combo Cookers'.  I guess I will just have to get the finger out, and buy one of those Combo Cookers via the Internet, instead of wasting my time looking for a local source, because I just can't find them in stores.

Besides, part of the reason the Tartine Breads look the way they do, is that dutch ovens give off marvelous radiant heat.  Casserole dishes don't accomplish this nearly as efficiently.  My use of the casserole dishes was only ever a stopgap method -- a poorman's dutch oven -- at best.

What to do with this mess?

Curiously, perhaps, I continued to bake it, figuring that if I baked the dough it would be easier to clean up.  I just slid the whole broken pot, with the dough inside it, onto one of my broken baking stones, and plopped it into the oven.  Of course, this bread cannot be eaten, since it likely has shards of casserole dish glass in it, but that didn't stop me from wanting to have a look at the crumb of the bread that 'might have been'…

Unfortunately, this bread was not properly baked, probably due to the fact that the lid no longer fit the exploded dish.  And the cleanup was not really that easy, either.  The dough now stuck like glue to the broken baking stone, which had not been properly preheated.  Just one of those days, I guess.

But it could have been worse -- much, much worse.

Better Results
The second casserole dish worked fine, so this bread wasn't a total waste.  Still, I better be damn careful if I ever try this again.

One casserole dish worked, so I did get one loaf out of the lot, so it wasn't a total waste.

Here is the crumb shot of the 'better' loaf.

This is an unusual tasting bread, with the bitter notes of the whole wheat and the slightly acidic taste of pomegranate seeds predominating.  The sourness of the sourdough is mild, and the grapejuice-soaked wheatberries are only an occasional textural difference.  The bread will not be a hit with everyone, for sure, but it is nice for a change of taste for me.

Notes to Myself

  • If you are baking bread in a casserole dish, make sure it is rated for 500 degrees F. Most of them aren't. So be very careful! Relatively cold dough placed into extremely hot casserole dishes can cause them to explode violently. I cannot be held responsible if someone else tries a bread in a casserole dish and gets hurt. I can, however, take responsibility for my own stupidity.

    In fact, I'm going to pay dearly, when my wife finds out that I exploded her dish that we have had for almost 30 years of marriage.


  1. Oh no........I won't be using a casserole dish I guess. Might better bake it free form.
    You are 'so' in trouble. :0

  2. Yes, I'm in for it, for sure, once she finds out. This morning I indicated a big pile of pomegranate bread fragments that she could feed to the chickens today, and she said "Wow, those chickens are going to explode!"

    Exploding bread, exploding chickens, I said. I still didn't mention the exploding casserole dish...

  3. You better get at it........the longer you wait the more difficult it will be. You want me to tell her for you? :)

  4. No need, she found the broken pieces in a box in the garage. Procrastination works eventually. And I wasn't in as much trouble as I thought I'd be.

    She actually said that I should break more, we'd have more cupboard space. We'll probably need it, since my dutch oven combo cooker is now en route.