Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Whole Wheat Boule #3

 While the last two breads I made were a 62% hydration,  this 25% whole wheat dough was adapted from Hamelman's "pain rustique", a 69% hydration.  I decided to go with a higher hydration dough in order to get a more "rustic" looking crumb.  I'm just trying to work my way up to a 75% hydration level.  This is going to take some practice though as the higher hydration doughs are pretty sticky and this newbie has found them difficult to handle.  However, I'm definitely seeing some improvement in this area.

Last night, I made a poolish (a pre-ferment) with:

  • 150 grams of (red) whole wheat
  • 150 grams of AP unbleached flour
  • 300 grams of water
  • Just a pinch of yeast
I let this sit covered at room temperature for about 3 hours to ferment.  Before I went to bed, I stirred the (now almost doubled in size) poolish and put it in the refrigerator.  When I took it out this morning, it was still showing a lot of activity (looked and smelled great).  I left it covered on the stove top for a couple of hours in order to get the chill off it.  From there, the final dough was relatively easy to complete.  I mixed the poolish with the balance of the flour and water and let it rest (autolyse) for about 20 minutes .  When the autolyse was completed, I added the yeast while mixing and, after I thought the yeast had enough time to hydrate, I added the salt.

I used the C hook with the KA mixer on 4 for approximately 4-5 minutes until the dough was just slapping in the bowl and a window pane test showed there was good gluten development.  I then transferred the dough into a lightly greased bowl and did 3 sets of stretch and folds with 10 minutes rest between each set.  From there, the covered bowl was put in the oven to bulk ferment until it doubled in size (took about 90 minutes).  I formed it into a boule (for the first time, I had no problem doing this quickly / properly :) ) and placed it seam up into a covered proofing basket while I pre-heated the oven to 550F.  By the time the oven was pre-heated,  the dough appeared to be perfectly proofed (finger poke test).  I didn't even have a problem scoring the top of the boule before baking.

Note: Steaming takes place during the first 10 minutes or so of the bake.  The steam keeps the top of the bread moist so it can facilitate oven spring (without "blowing out").  This higher initial oven temperature is needed to compensate for the temperature loss caused by opening and closing the oven door during steaming...

Unlike the last two breads, I put the baking stone on the very bottom rack and the pan (for the water / steaming) above it.  I only did this because, on prior breads, the bottoms did not brown quite as much as I would have liked.  Ah, but there were consequences...  
  • #1: As I added the water to the pan,  I spilled some of it and it landed on the baking stone (good thing the stone didn't break) and on part of the bread. (no harm no foul)
  • #2: The baking stone was now WAY too hot this time and it most definitely burned the bottom of the bread a little too much (not a disaster, but something to remember for next time).
In addition to the water added to the pan in the beginning of the bake,  I also sprayed the walls of the oven twice within the first 4 minutes.  When I was done steaming, I cut the oven temp back to 465F and baked for 25 minutes.  After that, I reduced the oven temperature to 375F and let it bake for another 20 minutes.   The oven was then turned off and the bread was kept in the oven, with the door ajar, for an additional 10 minutes (to help improve the crust).

OK, here are the final results:

While higher hydration doughs kind of flatten out when they're removed from the proofing basket, I was very pleased with the oven spring I got during the first 10 minutes or so.  On the surface, the bread looks pretty good.  (at least it doesn't look like an alien :) )
(click on the pic to enlarge)

Looking at the crumb, large irregular holes are what I was aiming for but, for some reason, parts of the crumb that were still too dense.  I think that, prior to forming the boule, I should have punched the dough down more in order to redistribute the yeast and break down some of the much large pockets.  I'm not sure.  I'll have to post this on the bread forum and ask.  The bottom line is it smells and tastes great to me and I really like the texture of the crumb.


Next up will be some nice cinnamon rolls drizzled with icing :)