Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bread Number 62: Amazingly Delicious 80% Whole Wheat

Tried not to buy more stuff
I don't want more kitchen stuff, whether appliances or cookware. I don't even have anything larger than a tiny hand mixer I received as a holiday gift about 15 years ago. No bannetons, no proofing boxes. Not a saint, though. I cannot exist in the kitchen without my pretty dough bowl and Danish whisk. Yes, and two la cloches, round and oblong. And a baking stone. Those are necessities.

I finally broke down and purchased a dutch oven. I kept hearing about how wonderful dutch oven breads are and I had to find out for myself. Plus, I rationalized, a dutch oven is a versatile tool and useful beyond baking. I bought the Emile Henry from breadtopia because it is lighter than cast iron and it was on sale, with a bonus of a cyber Monday deal.

Dutch oven delivers on first try with farmers market whole wheat
The dutch oven was magical right out of the box. I am sure it helped to use good, freshly milled flour that I froze recently right after purchase at a farmers market. I'm sure I benefited from tweaking an already good recipe. I am sure the decision to leave the bread baking uncovered for the last 11 minutes - which produced a divine crust that would tempt any immortal to come to earth just for a bite - made a big contribution to the overall taste. 

Still, this 80 percent whole wheat bread is so good I am actually daydreaming about returning home right now to eat more. How good? OMG amazing. 

This is my best bread in a while. I suspected that I had become so accustomed to good breads that nothing could taste exciting anymore. A nice byproduct of the 108 quest is that I am forcing myself to try new methods, flours, equipment and ingredients. I am thankful for making the choice to bake so many new breads and for the mouth-watering surprises along the way. Even thankful for the mistakes. (The blue cornbread rolls come immediately to mind.)

Total Ingredients
84g starter at 65 percent hydration
334g water
440g whole wheat flour freshly milled, bought the next day at the farmers market and frozen for the past two weeks
68g bread flour
10g salt
 
Day 1

Sponge 
84g starter
200g water
200g whole wheat flour described above

Mixed the sponge ingredients well and covered. Put in fridge overnight.

Odd amount of starter was due to the fact that I was getting so low that I was starting to scrape the bottom of the starter jar. I made due with less starter and added a bit more flour and water to the final dough. I did not really have to add more time to the sponge stage - on day 2 - because the kitchen warmth made up for the slightly less than 100 grams of starter I would normally have put in.

Day 2

Dough
sponge
134g water
240g whole wheat flour described above
68g bread flour
10g salt

Day 2 morning - Go to the refrigerator. Take out the sponge and leave out all day on the kitchen counter. I have done this in all seasons. Just make sure the kitchen is not cold all day. In the summer, I put the sponge in the basement so it will not be in a hot, humid kitchen for hours.

Day 2 evening - Mix the sponge and the final dough ingredients. Cover and let rest on the kitchen counter. Do four stretch and folds over the next hour to hour and a half. I usually do one about every 15 minutes. Afterward, shape the dough, cover, and put in the fridge for the next 18 to 30 hours. Generally, I am in the 22 to 24 hour range.

I did end up adding some extra water right after mixing the dough, which is reflected in the amounts listed above, but nowhere near where I thought this dough would need considering that it was 80 percent whole wheat. Not sure if this was a weird batch of whole wheat flour or particular to the local wheat that was grown.

This time around I was very happy with the dough strength. Much better than bread #61.

Day 3
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees because the dutch oven instructions said it was good up to 480 degrees. Let the dutch oven and the oven itself heat up for an hour prior to baking.

Open hot oven. Use oven mitts and pot holders to remove amazingly hot dutch oven cover. Dump dough into the hot dutch oven and quickly do a nice slash (or design) on the lid of the dough. Remember to put back on the mitts and use those pot holders to replace the still burning hot lid. Close the oven and pray. I prayed hard because my aim was not perfect and the dough was plopped against one side of the dutch oven.

I put the timer on for a half hour. 

Tick tock, tick tock.

Remove the lid of the dutch oven. Be careful; it's very hot. Leave in for 10 to 15 minutes more. Mine took 11 minutes and I used my thermometer to get the internal temperature to make sure the bread was ready. It fell right out of the dutch oven when I turned it over. As I let the bread cool, I could hear those little crinkly sounds coming from it.

Total baking time: 41 minutes. What a beautiful bread. 

Day 4
Ate slices of the bread the next morning for breakfast. OMG amazing! Possibly the best - or near to it - bread I have ever made. What a great decision to remove the lid. I have not done this enough lately. The crust developed so nicely. Incredible taste. Really magnificent, especially considering how this is an 80 percent whole wheat bread.

Later in the week
I have eaten the bread for breakfast ever since baking it. 
This bread is the reason for homemade anything: to make something wonderful from scratch, to watch the raw ingredients transform and to taste the incredible results. To think that my starter, some local grain, water, and a bit of salt came together for this luscious treat. I feel proud that I had a hand in it and that I get to be one of the lucky few to eat it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bread Number 61 - Experimenting with Almost 100 Percent Freshly Milled Whole Wheat


Woohoo! Using freshly milled whole wheat flour from a local farmers market for this 100 percent whole grain bread. Before I even mix the dough, the questions floating around in my mind are:
  1. Will the bread taste different, perhaps amazingly better, than breads made with the dull-tasting whole wheat flour from major U.S. flour manufacturers?
  2. Will I be tempted to shift to buying a good percentage, or most, of my whole wheat and rye flour from the farmer who has a corner of the farmers market stall?
  3. Will I become so curious about those wheat berries and rye chops that he sells that I will have to step up my bread game by purchasing one of those home milling machines?
Nutcase credentialing
This bread has the potential for putting me closer to the nutcase category of people who do not eat factory-produced foods of any kind and won't touch anything with commercial yeast. Wait, all of that has pretty much happened already. I usually do not shout it out loud as we recently had dinner with a similar nutcase, a lovely person by the way, who kept spewing pseudo-science to explain her eating habits, which were surprisingly close to mine. I can only imagine what I sound like at a dinner party. Well, except that she seems to have joined the 90 percent of the population of a major metropolis who are no longer eating anything with gluten. The other 10 percent only eat artisnal breads from hipster bakeries and boulangeries. 

Back to plastic wrap and factory slices?
This is enough to send me back to Wonder Bread. Almost. Not quite. Starts me wondering about my own science knowledge, though I do try to critically read health news reports, but I am not actually out there collecting data, performing experiments, or crafting statistical analyses. Just like religion, I take what I consider to be good information on faith. Still, just for a wee bit of bragging, I never succumbed to calls to give up butter or eggs.

So, I find myself on the DC Metro train traveling 40 minutes each way just to buy freshly milled flour, though I also happened to pick up some handmade mozzarella that is unavailable at my own farmers market. FYI: The mozzarella was nothing to write home about. Nothing like the real thing.  

Ingredients

Totals
100g starter
371g water
500g freshly milled whole wheat flour
20g bread flour - last minute addition to a wet dough 
10g salt

Hydration percentage - 71 percent, taking into account the starter and its own hydration percentage. 
 
Sponge
100g starter - pretty stiff, probably about 65 percent hydration percentage (made with white flour)
220g water
200g freshly milled whole wheat flour

Dough
151g water
300g freshly milled whole wheat flour
20g bread flour - added in anxiety mode later on. Details below. 
10g salt

I used the bread #38 template and the partial whole grain adjustments I have made to that template since I first tried out that fabulous white bread recipe.

Instructions
Sponge - Mix well all ingredients; cover with plastic; and put in the refrigerator. I use a cheap shower cap instead of plastic wrap. No, I do not use said shower cap for hair. In the morning or evening, take out the sponge for an all-day or all-night fermentation. Wake up or return home to a bubbly sponge.

Dough - I would recommend mixing the flour and water first for a 20-to-30 minute autolyse to get some gluten development going. Cover. I did not do the autolyse  and I will next time around. Instead, I mixed the sponge and the dough ingredients in one swoop. I added the 20g of bread flour after the second stretch and fold - more on that in a second -because the dough was very wet.

Stretching and folding
I did four stretch and folds over the course of the hour and a half after mixing the dough. First, I had a 30-minute rest. Then the stretching and folding. I found that the dough was so wet that the gluten strands were extremely weak, leading to easy breakage. I added the 20g of bread flour after the second stretch and fold. I kneaded for two minutes after the fourth stretch and fold. 

I was nervous. The dough was much weaker than previous doughs I have made with this method.

With a nonverbal dough prayer, I shaped the dough - difficult - and put it in a well-floured kitchen towel in a small wicker basket. Covered with the shower cap. Let the dough rest for about 24 hours in the fridge. Was very anxious that this dough would turn into a bread disaster.

Baking and worrying
Preheated the oven to 500 degrees and put the top of the la cloche on the baking stone to preheat as well. Due to the wetness of the dough, and this is one of my routine practices, I turned the dough onto parchment paper on the baking peel. This dough, particularly, had a high risk of sticking to the peel upon transfer to the baking stone. Parchment paper is a miracle product.

I did my cross slash on the top of the dough and brushed some water on top.

I covered the dough with the top of the la cloche. After 10 minutes, I reduced the temperature to 475 degrees. At 30 minutes, I removed the parchment paper and the top of the la cloche. The oven spring was much reduced from what I have seen with the other doughs I have made using this recipe template. Generally, the top slash opens up like a flower that fully blossoms. Not this time, though there was expansion. 


Total baking time only 32 minutes because the bread went wider instead of higher. The dough was so wet or slack that it spread out rather than springing up. Wish I had made this bread in a loaf pan or a dutch oven. It needed some support.

Aftertaste of questions
Taste, however, was not a disappointment. Indeed the bread had a delicious, very hardy wheat taste. I might like it a bit toned down to perhaps 60 or 80 percent whole wheat. Maybe play around with the percentage of water.

A few possibilities regarding the lack of oven spring:
  • Increased hydration percentage from 65 to 70 percentage by itself made a substantial difference despite the fact that I went from less than half whole wheat flour to about 90 percent.
  • Every package or bunch of flour is different and this package, perhaps, contained whole wheat flour that did not need quite so much water.
  • All would have turned out differently with a loaf pan or a dutch oven.
  • I am expecting too much from a dough that is overwhelmingly whole wheat instead of half or majority white flour.  
And this is what being a bread baker is all about: tweaking the mixture of ingredients, timing and tools in search of a perfect loaf that makes you smile when you see, smell and then taste it. Of course, with perfect loaves come greater tweaking for all the promising breads that follow.

Answers to above questions
1. Will the bread taste different, perhaps amazingly better, than breads made with the dull-tasting whole wheat flour from major U.S. flour manufacturers?

Much better than major flour brands, but on par with the smaller, more expensive, producers. Difference is paying the farmer directly, without any middleman. 

2. Will I be tempted to shift to buying a good percentage, or most, of my whole wheat and rye flour from the farmer who has a corner of the farmers market stall?

On the fence about this due to the hour and a half total travel time involved, though I like making the connection due to my daydream of creating a fresh-ground flour collective business.

3. Will I become so curious about those wheat berries and rye chops that he sells that I will have to step up my bread game by purchasing one of those home milling machines?

A stepped-up game of my own small-batch milling remains a possibility. Hoping that if I adopt this practice I do not wince whenever less-involved bread-making is mentioned in my presence.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#1 Bread Recipe Template

My go-to recipe when I am overwhelmed or busy with aspects of life beyond bread making is Bread #38, which I have adapted time and time again for making 20 to 50 percent whole grain breads. It is always a miracle to me when oven spring occurs and doughs turn into delicious breads. This recipe template is 100 percent successful. It doesn't matter that I am an imperfect baker, making various mistakes along the way; the breads turn out fantastic.

Now Bread #38 was a white bread, but almost every bread I have made since based on its approach has been partly whole grain. The major adjustment is adding more water. Just this week, I made two breads, a rye and a whole wheat, both of which came out of the oven looking so lovely that I found myself not wanting to ruin them by slicing them up for eating. If Plato were conceiving the ideal loaf of bread, these two would be top contenders. 

Three easy steps
1. Make the sponge in the evening, put it in the fridge, and take it out the next morning. Let it mature, making lots of happy bubbles, throughout the day. Come home to a gorgeous, lively sponge.
2. Mix the sponge, some more flour, water, and salt to make the dough. Over the next hour to an hour and a half, do some stretch and folds. Notice the evolution of the dough along the way. Usually four stretch and folds, but fewer for a rye dough. Details below.
3. At the end of step #2, shape the dough and put it in the fridge for 24 hours, more or less (I'm pretty elastic on this measure). Heat up the oven and put in the already shaped dough. Remove from oven when dough is fully baked.

There you are. The approach is about as friendly as possible for incorporating bread making into a normal life. 

Sponge
100g starter - I have made this dough with much, much less (down to 10 grams of starter) during the summer months. Just remember to adjust the amounts of flour and water when reducing the amount of starter.
200g water
200g bread flour

Dough
125g water for breads that are 20 to 50 percent whole grain, but adjust accordingly (100g water if using all white flour)
200g whole wheat or other whole grain flour
100g bread flour
I used a rye starter for one of my breads, in which case I added only 50 grams of rye flour and put in 250 grams of bread flour. For the rye, I also added 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds. I'm not boasting when I say that I can't conceive of rye without the seeds.
10g salt
add the sponge

Mix well. Cover.

Stretching and folding
The classic form of the recipe calls for four stretch and folds over the course of an hour to an hour and a half. Keep this regimen for whole grains. EXCEPT - rye breads. For the rye version, even at only 20 to 30 percent rye, do just two stretch and folds - very gingerly - over the course of an hour and a half.

Once the stretching and folding is done, shape the dough, cover it, and place it in the refrigerator for the next roughly 24 hours. I have to admit that I've reduced this to 18 and increased the duration to 30 hours with fine results.

The next day
An hour prior to baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a la cloche or dutch oven, preheat that as well. I sometimes bake at 500 degrees, sometimes at 475 degrees. For the rye dough, however, reduce immediately to 465 degrees and decrease once again at 15 minutes to 440 degrees. Another confession - I forgot to do the second decrease on the rye this time to no ill effect. There is a but. I baked for much less time because I made the bread in a baguette shape, which takes about one quarter less time than if I had been making a boule.

Timing
The boule baking time is about 40 to 45 minutes. For a baguette shape, and a thick one at that, the bread took only 30 to 32 minutes to bake.

The oven spring is beautiful and the bread itself is fabulous - each and every time. 

This is it, my go-to bread. Can't miss.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bread - Number 60: Kasha Bread a Nifty Taste

With hints of Eastern Europe in the kasha and of North America in the whole wheat, this bread has an unusual soft taste, the source of which I never would have been able to pinpoint had I not seen the recipe or made this bread. There is a good amount of sourdough starter as well. I deleted from my dough the commercial yeast in the recipe as well as incorporating a nice slow rise for the sponge and a decent interval for the bulk fermentation. It does not hurt that I am rereading, nee savoring, Hamelman's Bread, a book that is quite inspiring, though I try to concentrate more than he does on whole grains. Hamelman would suggest Academy Awards for bakers; alas he is not a self-promoter and the kudos of the bread world seem not to have gone to his head. He lives in Vermont and Vermonters tend to look askance at people getting too big for their britches. 

This bread is approximately 50-50 whole grain or perhaps just slightly less so, but only because of the amount of kasha. (In case you are confused, I use the term kasha to mean cooked buckwheat groats.) The source of the recipe is Breadtime, a book I adore for its range of grains in the recipes and its commitment to whole grains, but which takes an unusual approach in its recommendation of low baking temperatures. Many books, this one included, add commercial yeast even to recipes with sourdough starter, as if fearful of relying on this ancient source of leavening. I say "screw that," basically, by refusing to add commercial yeast and adding more time instead. I do not care if a dough takes two or three days or additional hours before it is ready for baking. Except when I am in a rush, but that usually happens after I have made the no-commercial-yeast decision anyway.

Total ingredients for the dough
304g water
115g starter (about 20 percent less than the recommended 1/2 cup)
310g whole wheat flour
308g bread flour
11g salt
13g coconut oil
221g cooked buckwheat groats

Sponge
243g water
115g starter
193g bread flour

I tend to keep my starter between 65 and 100 percent hydration. Since I generally use small amounts in my doughs and do a longer rise, the difference in percentages do not matter much. Here, at over 100 grams, I should be more precise. As I had recently taken to weighing (for a short while) my starter feedings, I would say it was in the 80 to 100 percent hydration range.

Mix all ingredients for the sponge. Cover. Leave out overnight or all day. I left mine out for about 10 hours. It was nice and bubbly. I then placed it in the fridge.

A few hours later, when I was ready to cook the kasha, I took the sponge out of the fridge and placed the bowl in a warm bowl of water to just de-cold the sponge bowl.

Dough 
Sponge
61g water
115g bread flour
310g whole wheat flour
221g kasha
13g coconut oil
11g salt

I made extra kasha because I love to eat it. This is a taste from my childhood, though I tend to combine it with beans, which my mother and the mothers before her probably would not have done. It was weird mixing it into a dough. Definitely get your hands in there to declump the kasha and the coconut oil so that they are well integrated evenly throughout the dough.

The instructions called for kneading, but I thought I would get by with stretch and folds. I ended up somewhere in the middle. 

Mixing and then what?
Mix dough thoroughly. Cover for a half hour and let rest. I did one stretch and fold at about 40 minutes. The second one I did 15 minutes later, but handling the weak dough, I changed course and kneaded for two minutes, lots of stretching and some folding with that. I left the dough to rest for another 15 minutes and ended up doing the same manipulation of the dough. It really gained strength from the extra kneading.

I would suggest doing the first kneading after a 15-minute rest and then at 15-to-30 minute intervals thereafter for two brief sets of kneading. 

My dough rose for about three hours in a warm kitchen before shaping and a final rise.

Shaping and baking
When the dough appeared fully risen (explanation below), I did a stretch and fold and allowed the dough to rest while covered for 15 minutes. 

How can you tell when the bulk fermentation - or first rise - is done?
How do you know when a dough has risen sufficiently for proceeding with the next stage? My opinion is to avoid all recipe instructions about volume increases - as in the dough should double or triple in volume. Why? The answer is that I can never tell when a dough has expanded sufficiently to qualify as having doubled, tripled or whatever. 

What I can observe and what I rely on is the condition of the dough. Here are the questions I pose to myself.

  1. Is the dough slightly larger, but in pretty much the same shape as how you left it? Not done. 
  2. Is the dough still somewhat flat on top? Not done.
  3. Has the dough lost its original shape, its appearance of having been folded or kneaded? Getting closer.  
  4. After observing #2, has the dough separated on top from the bowl and risen to a slightly spherical appearance? Probably done or very close. You want the dough at right about the point where it stops puffing up on top and it has not gone more than a tiny bit toward flattening on top.
  5. Good time now to peek frequently at the dough. Don't worry, be obsessive. You will not be able to avoid staring at the dough.
  6. Is the dough just starting to flatten after doming somewhat? Good sign it is done and time to act quickly as it is close to over rising. 
  7. Better to err on the side of an under-do for the first rise than to allow an over-rise.
  8. If the dough has flattened after it once had a roundish-appearance on top, you can always make another dough. Likely the results for an over-rise will not be stellar, but the bread will still taste okay. Just proceed and bake it; not good anyway to be too much of a bread snob.
Baking
Preheat oven one hour prior to baking to 400 degrees. Yes, this is a relatively low temperature for baking bread. The Breadtime book across the board recommends temperatures much lower than most other bread mavens. I preheated the top of my la cloche in the oven on the baking stone.


After the stretch and fold and the 15-minute rest described above, I shaped the bread for a loaf pan. I set the dough in the loaf pan to rise, covered, of course. I take the step of spraying non-stick spray into the loaf pan. I left the dough for a one-hour final rise.


I baked for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and then reduced the oven temperature to 350 degrees, which seemed absurdly low. At 30 minutes I removed the top of the la cloche. The bread took a total of 47 minutes to bake.


Wow, lots of oven spring. I was afraid I was going to fine a giant hole inside the crust, but no. Nice bread and rose very well. A bit of an unusual taste, as if the kasha softened the crumb. The kasha lends a very subtle taste, so subtle that I would bet no one would ever shout out, "Whoa, a kasha bread!" This bread tasted like a good whole wheat bread, just a bit outside of the ordinary. The appearance is not competition worthy as I failed to make any pretty slashes and allow for the dough's expansion, but a good, wonderful bread that displays my starter's continuing happiness in helping breads to rise.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Starter Experiment Results - The Winner Is ...

The four contenders in the experiment were stored for three weeks and not fed. Three of the four were placed in the refrigerator, the very back of the fridge where food is left to spoil. The contenders were:

1. 65 percent hydration starter (white all-purpose flour);

2. My regular starter (white all-purpose flour, 100 percent hydration);

3. Leftover rye starter (produced for a bread made a few weeks ago); and

4. Dried starter flakes - the only non-refridgerated contender

The award goes to ...
The clear winner was the 65 percent hydration starter. It popped back to active starter status practically the minute it was taken out of the fridge. Maybe not that quickly, but within a day.

And the runners up, in order, are
After the 65 percent hydration starter comes the rye starter, which has small bubbles and that brown, almost speckled appearance, that combine to make it more difficult to tell when the starter is active. 

Next up was the regular starter. Last, but not least, were the dried flakes.

Better than frozen
All contenders became active within two and a half days, way ahead of the five-to-seven days needed to resuscitate a starter after it has been frozen. 

I checked my source for the freezing advice so I know I did not just dream up that method of storing starter. However, if my third-grade-worthy science experiment has any validity, and I would argue that it does (though far from perfect laboratory conditions), then the freezing option will not be used again at my house. For the next duration of more than one week of non-feeding, I will be using the 65 percentage method and, for a long enough absence, the flakes, most likely with a back-up option.

For a brief historty, here's the tale of the starter experiment at the onset

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bread: Number 59: Eating the Blue(s) Cornmeal Rolls

Chuckling all the way through, I made purplish rolls with the blue cornmeal a certain family member purchased, adjusting a Hamelman Bread recipe for sourdough instead of commercial yeast and for a mid-day felafel run that necessitated using the fridge instead of continuing with the recipe that assumes one does not have a life and only exists in the kitchen (something the dog would like).
The photograph does not do justice to the purple-colored, cement-like appearance of the dough. Not quite the color of Bridget Jones' soup debacle, my dough was more a mixture of a Northwestern University t-shirt with white bread flour. This weekend I intend to go all out and make blueberry corn muffins with the blue cornmeal and plenty of butter. That batter will be absolutely purple, I'm sure.

The recipe was easy and it was no trouble to make the switch to sourdough. I also fell in love again with Hamelman's prose, his adorable acknowledgment of his wife's drawings for the book, and his reverence for bread making. Really, how can one not read prose by a man who makes bread and quotes Pablo Neruda? Incentive enough to read the book again, this time my own copy so I can basically highlight whole sections about ingredients, techniques and stages of dough development. 

Just one thing to remember, which is that this dough begins with a pre-ferment sponge development of 12 to 16 hours, though mine took only nine hours because I put it in my tiny closet, the only place in my house that stays warm overnight during the winter. Despite a 5:15 a.m. wake up to check the pre-ferment - poolish in Hamelman lingo - and then stay conscious to complete the dough, no disasters ensued.

Ingredients
I noted all the ingredients in grams as I am totally out of the habit of referring to pounds or ounces.

Poolish
95g sourdough starter at 100 percent hydration
8g water
8g bread flour

Mix and cover. Leave to rest for 12 to 16 hours, or, in my case, with a mature starter comprising an overwhelming percentage of the poolish and resting in a warm spot, nine hours. I half considered letting the poolish go for another few hours, but it was looking at me with the equivalent of the imploring eyes of a sweet dog that needs to go outside right away.

When it is ready for the next step, the poolish should be nice and bubbly, exuberant in its look and smelling of the dough to come.

Okay, the reason for using so much starter to flour and water was that I had quite a bit of starter on hand and I wanted to get rid of some. In the middle of the summer, when the kitchen is hot even overnight, I would do just the opposite and put in maybe 10 grams of starter, 50 grams of bread flour and 50 grams of water. That way you will have enough time to sleep. Despite my 5 a.m. wake up on this and other doughs, I at least give lip service to avoiding sleep deprivation.

Must admit the middle of the night awakening was due to a concern that I work on the bread with enough time to accompany the spouse for a felafel lunch at the best place for felafel outside of the Middle East, in an innocuous strip mall at a divey-looking kosher eatery in Wheaton, Maryland, just north of Silver Spring and about 20 minutes from DC. The name is Max's

Soaker
113g cornmeal
172g water

Just need to mix the cornmeal with water and allow the cornmeal to soak for 15 minutes. Obviously, do this in a different bowl than the poolish is resting in, but when the poolish seems ready to advance to the next phase of dough making.


Dough
poolish
cornmeal soaker
8g salt
8g olive oil (yes, I feel weird here going outside of the flour, yeast, water, salt purity) 


Mix all together, very well. I did this all by hand and it needed wet hands to really integrate the ingredients. I kneaded for about three or five minutes, then covered and set the dough to rest for 30 minutes. I did a stretch and fold at 30 minutes and another at one hour. That made for two stretch and folds during the 90 minute bulk fermentation.  

Not auditioning yet
Because this looked like a dough on the small side, and because I had just watched the Great British Bake-Off bread episode the night before, I made rolls instead of a loaf. Also, the purple-colored dough seemed to demand something different than the usual treatment. However, the disparate sizes of my rolls, their unusual color, and my rather spontaneous approach to baking would definitely have gotten me escorted out of the bake-off tent prior to the judging. I can hear the gasps now.

I shaped the dough into four rolls, placed them each in a separate, very small well-floured bowl, covered all with my granola-equivalent to plastic wrap (the bee's wax cover) and put them in the refrigerator while I accompanied the spouse to his dental appointment, located conveniently near our favorite felafel place. The dentist, in my own defense, was not chosen for the location.

I left the dough in the fridge for six hours and took out the bowls for the dough to rise according to the directions for a 1.25 hour final rise. I preheated the oven to 460 degrees (but did not use the top of the la cloche due to a skepticism that the four rolls would be too tightly spaced). 

Baking
Despite the bowls having been filled on the bottom with flour, they were the wrong materials - glass and porcelain - for rising dough. I should have used well-floured kitchen towels inside the bowls. No matter. A little bit of handling and reshaping caused no damage.

I used parchment paper on a baking peel to transfer the dough onto the baking stone and then quickly filled a casserole pan (not made of glass) with a cup of water for good oven steam. Due to the quicker baking time for rolls than for a loaf of bread, I removed the parchment paper at 10 minutes and kept a close eye after that. To prevent drying out, I kept the oven door ajar after the first 10 minutes as well. The rolls only needed 15 to 17 minutes total, the smaller ones being removed early.

The taste was very good and the purple rather lovely to those who noticed. Not quite the equivalent of a neon blue candied apple.