Saturday, August 13, 2011

Will have to do this again next week...

When I first completed the mixing, I had an extremely wet dough...  I've mixed doughs with 67% hydration but this one was way too wet for something that was supposed to be 69%.  I then realized that I looked at the wrong piece of paper when weighing out the water and added too much.  I figured out how much of an error I'd made and added enough flour to keep the right ratio of flour to water and tighten up the dough.

I thought everything looked and felt pretty good after the stretch and folds and even after I completed the first rising.  I was really encouraged when I checked the proofing of the dough after 30 minutes, it was (I think) actually (for the first time) perfect.  The finger poke test gave me a spring back but still left a small indentation.  Unfortunately, I hadn't pre-heated the oven yet (Ahhh....).  By the time the oven was ready, the dough was definitely overproofed.  It did not look or react the same to a finger poke.  Bummer.

I baked them at 450F on a pre-heated stone and actually ended up with some nice color (different than my other breads) and a good crunchy crust.  The crumb, on the other hand, was denser and heavier than anything I'd made before.  I don't know how to describe it.  The flavor was fantastic (I guess that's the result of the poolish) but to me, the crumb texture was just disappointing (although it's still darn edible :) ).  

Trial and error.  Learn a little more each time.  Back to the drawing board :)  Hopefully, the "alien" bread was better than this :)


Will try a "Pain Rustique" this weekend...

I'm working with Jeffery Hamelman's "Pain Rustique" dough formula from the book, "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes".  This particular bread formula calls for the use of a pre-ferment or "poolish" from the French for Polish (as in Poland not Pledge).  A poolish is a 100% hydration meaning it calls for mixing equal parts of flour and water to a batter-like consistency.  A very small amount of yeast (just .2% of the flour weight) is dissolved in the water prior to mixing.  It's kept covered, at room temperature, for 12 to 16 hours.  This is then used as part of a batch of dough. Once it's ripened, it looks like this...
A wonderful microbial dance has taken place overnight and produced a beautiful, bubbly concoction with one incredible aroma!  I can't begin to describe how great this smells. The poolish, so I've read, will improve the "extensibility" of the dough (to be easily stretched without retracting to it's original shape) and add to the flavor of the finished product.

I've been working with batch sizes using around 600 grams of flour (I know how much bread that will make) so, to determine the amount of ingredients needed, it's just a matter of some simple math.

The formula for a 69% hydration dough (like this rustic bread) looks like this...
640 grams flour
442 grams water (the water weight is, duh, 69% of the weight of flour)
12.8 grams salt (or 2% of the weight of the flour)
3 grams (or so) of activated dry yeast (about .5%)

Since my poolish used 300 grams of flour and 300 grams of water (100% hydration), I simply subtracted those amounts from the amount needed for my total batch.  So, I only needed to add 340 grams of flour and 142 grams of water to my poolish, yeast and salt, to make sure the ingredients were proportioned correctly.

Doing everything by weight really makes converting batch sizes very easy.  For instance, Hamelman's formula called for a total batch weight of 17.1 kg, enough for around (22) 1.5 lb loaves of bread. (just a wee bit more than I'd like to make :) )  Since everything is done in % of the weight of the flour used, I simply needed to scale this down to a more manageable batch size.   I've got it rising at the moment in a covered bowl in my oven (my oven, as well as my dough temperatures, are about 78-79 degrees; optimum temps).  I've already done two "stretch and folds" (see my "videos" page) at 20 minute intervals.  I can tell you that, while it's the highest hydration dough I've made to date, it's very manageable (and the aroma is like... wow!)

To be continued...