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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Long proof Tartine-style WW loaves

Wild Yeast WW Bread at 85% hydration
made with Stiff Starter and a long retarded proof

I've been playing with longer retarded proofing for Tartine-style loaves that use my stiff starter (rather than the official Tartine 200g 100% starter), and I've had some good experiences, and I think I've learned something.

Stiff starter Tartine-style loaves with a long retarded proofing.

This recipe uses my stiff starter idea again, the one I have been using for the sandwich loaves.  I had some good results using a stiff starter in a Tartine-style recipe recently, but thought that I could go a bit higher on the hydration. This time I'm baking it in a Tartine Bread style, using 1000g of flour and 850g hydration, with  about 300g of stiff starter.

I had almost 200g of leftover sourdough starter, but no immediate need of bread.  I had just made some loaves, and given away some, but there was still enough bread on the counter to get me through the next couple of days of work, at least.  I mixed up some stiff starter with the leftover sourdough anyway, and mixed the dough the next day.  

This is getting to be routine.  Takes very little time at all.

Day 1: starter
Amount of starter @100% hydration to begin with: 197g
ww flour added: 100g
This is simply mixed together thoroughly, and left on the counter.  It is quite stiff to mix, and the temptation is to add some liquid, but try not to.  The starter should be quite stiff when you first mix it, although it will soften substantially overnight.
Total weight of this stiff starter, left over night: 297g

Day 2: Dough
All the starter
1000g ww flour
800g water + 50g water
20g salt
Toss the stiff starter in the water (it should float) and break it up into tiny pieces, aerating the water with the small particles as you squoozle it up.  The water should be quite tawny-murky, yeasty coloured, and may get frothy from your quick hand motion.  Dump it in the flour and mix it up.  Let the dough rest about 30 minutes, and add the salt and extra water.

I folded and stretched the dough q30 minutes for about 4 hours as usual, as if I was going to bake it.  I have to say that the dough felt curiously sticky, far more sticky than I am used to.  I kept wetting my hands for the folding, and would even gently smooth a layer of water over the surface of the loaf before letting it sit in the bowl for the in-between 30 minutes, so the actual hydration of the dough might be a bit higher than 85% (using Tartine-style baker's math).

Once the loaves hit the banneton, I stopped the procedure.  This dough would just proof in my downstairs fridge for a few days, covered with a plastic bag.  I would pull one out and bake it if I required it.

First Loaf

Three days later, I pulled out the first banneton and dough, and I baked it with steam on a baking stone.     It was only out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before baking, as the oven preheated.

I used some oatmeal in the bottom of the basket, and it gave the loaf a nice rustic look.

The bread turned out quite nice.  Despite the long proofing time, because it was refrigerated it didn't become too sour.

This was one of my best breads in a long time.  The crust was not too tough.  It did not stale quickly.  It had a really impressive rise and retained its shape.  There was the odd irregular hole in the crumb, but overall it was fairly regularly spaced and acceptable.  I had compliments on this bread.

Second Loaf

When next I needed bread, about 3 days later, I pulled the second banneton out of the fridge, and nothing seemed to go right. 

Too flat

Too burnt
Too sour

The banneton had tipped in the fridge, making the dough somewhat lopsided.  It had proofed too long, and seemed to have collapsed rather than risen.  I was overtired: I had just returned from work after a long 12 hour shift, and I handled the dough a bit too roughly both in transferring it to the pizza peel and in scoring it.  Then, I forgot to turn the preheating oven down from 500 to 450 degrees F.  As a result, the loaf baked far too hot, and the upper crust was ruined.  Nothing went right for this poor loaf.  I have cut off the top crust and tasted the bread beneath, which is edible; however, I find it too sour for my taste.  So six days + is too long to have retarding dough in the fridge, for my stiff starter sourdough.

Notes to Myself
  • Excellent results with a stiff starter and up to 3 days of retarded proofing.
  • Don't let the dough retard more than 3 days.

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