Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sourdough #4

I'm trying a different recipe that is loosely based on Hamelman's "Pain Rustique".  This one uses both a sourdough culture and commercial yeast.  I decided to go this route because, while I'm sure I can do it, the straight sourdough process just takes too much time.  Attempt #3 wasn't bad (very flavorful and tangy but not much in the way of oven spring).  This post is about #4.

For this formula, a poolish is made with 40g of WW flour, 180g of UB AP flour, 225g water and10 grams of sourdough culture.  Once mixed, it's covered and kept at room temperature overnight (approximately 12 hours).  This morning it was nice and bubbly and smelled great!

I then mixed the poolish with 80 grams of water and 225g UB AP flour for only about 2 minutes; just enough to hydrate the flour. The result is one "shaggy mess" as Hammelman puts it...  I then covered it and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  This is called the "autolyse" method.   As the hydrated flour "rests", enzymes are at work (most notably protease) breaking down the protein in the flour.  The result is a stronger gluten development and better structure without having to do a lot of kneading (which can result in oxidation causing reduced flavor and color).

After the autolyse, the salt and yeast are mixed in and a 2 minute stretch and fold is performed (see my video link page for a demonstration).  Again, there is very little work involved in the process but the results are dramatic.  This process is repeated 3 times with about a 20 to 30 minute rest in between.  After this, the dough is placed in a covered, greased bowl for bulk fermentation until it's doubled in size.  However, since I knew I wasn't going to be able to bake until late this afternoon, I decided to retard the bulk fermentation and place the dough in the refrigerator overnight.  Retarding the fermentation also helps improve the flavor complexity of the finished product.  Note:  The dough can stay refrigerated for several days so you can make up a large batch and bake fresh bread every day if you like :)

This afternoon, I let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, eventually formed it into a boule and then proofed it for 20 to 25 minutes.  This appears to be (for me) the ideal amount of time since the ambient temperature of my kitchen is pretty stable.

I scored the top and transferred the bread to my baking stone in an oven pre-heated to 550F.  Steaming took place within the first 5 minutes.  At the 15 minute mark, I lowered the oven temp to 465F and baked for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

I didn't slash the top quite as deep as I would normally as I was afraid I'd deflate the progress made during the proofing.  Still looks OK though.  I'll probably stick with the higher temperature for a bit longer in order to get a darker crust color and a little more "crunch" to the crust.

The crumb is perfect.  Light, airy with a wonderful flavor and just a hint of a sour tang to it.  After a couple of disappointing results, I really needed this one :)  OK, time for another slice!


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