Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bread - Number Four

Bread – Number Four: Same Recipe/Different Technique

Okay, just slightly different (think controlled experiment).

Dedicated to Scout, my dog, who patiently waits for pieces of dough and bread, and always thinks whatever I make is fantastic. Really, what says “great!” better than a wagging tale and sweet, begging eyes?

Once again using the master whole wheat bread recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, this time using a lazy sourdough starter, last little batch of Bread Number Three, much, much less yeast, and giving a long time for the first rise. Had been playing anyway with doing the first rise overnight, so just making it official. 

7 cups whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon yeast (reduced with recommendation in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day about how to adjust for much-reduced yeast amount)
¼ cup vital wheat gluten
4 cups lukewarm water (with slow rise, it’s perfectly fine)
Very easy. Put handful of last batch of previous dough with water. Let sit while mix together dry ingredients, about five minutes. Mix well all of the dry ingredients. By the time return to bowl with water, the dough will almost dissolve. Take out that miracle of the immersion blender and blend for 30 seconds or however long it takes to make the wet mixture into a soupy concoction. Then pour wet mixture in with the mix of dry ingredients. And mix, and mix, and mix.
[Building in Portland, OR.]

Room for improvement
Now here is where might change practice in the future. The Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book recommends a food-safe plastic bucket and lid, with the lid open a bit during the slow-rise phase. In the alternative, the authors suggest a loose covering of plastic wrap, but if this 108 project is some back-to-the-land thing (not that there's land to return to as only lived in the most densely populated areas on the East Coast), then plastic wrap is none too primitive (unless you count the first season of Mad Men, set in the fifties, as ancient history). Well, what has been happening, and happened in this case, is that even with the giant basin I have been using, the dough rises right to the top of the bowl and makes one with the plastic wrap, seemingly leaving little or no room for some air. Wondering, and really have no idea, if this marriage of dough and plastic wrap (a disgusting image) allows in enough air to circulate and help the dough to do what it should be doing after the moment when the dough reaches so high.

New book, Breadtime, recommends what is a more old-fashioned approach, which has some early phase of the dough being covered with a wet kitchen towel.

Ghosts and goblins, princesses and super heroes
Made this dough on Halloween evening, constantly interrupted by the cutest of ghosts, ninjas, princesses, sports heroes and miscellaneous strange characters (quite a few indeed wearing “The Scream” costumes) who showed up on my doorstep. The activity of baking a bread and mixing together the next batch of dough, what with the running to the door and refilling the candy bowl, made it easy to ignore that it was the first Halloween since my daughters were born that no girls were home, no pumpkins carved, no mass roasting of pumpkin seeds took place, with a few tummy aches (including my own), and no counting of the number of pieces of candy reaped or planning or discussions of costumes.

Tiptoed into the kitchen
Left out the dough overnight for the slow rise, but not without a middle-of-the-night peak to witness a lovely risen dough, right up to the top of the bowl, a lot higher than where it was left in the evening after the trick or treaters were done and kitchen cleaned.

In the morning, put that dough in the refrigerator, where it can be left for up to two weeks. Will be making some bread at about four days in.

Back to instructions
Four days later:
Took out about one quarter of the dough, preheated the oven to 450 degrees, with baking stone on middle rack and a large pan just below. Put plenty of flour on a wooden cutting board and lots of flour on my hands and around the dough. Manipulated the dough into a nice boule shape and left it for an hour and a half on the cutting board. Did not cover with plastic as starting to suspect this was unnecessary. One video had a covering of a kitchen towel. Since this time of year we do not get bugs, took the risk of having naked dough in the warm kitchen. It rose a little during the hour and a half – successfully avoiding the plopping, wet globs of dough experienced with the last batch. Cut through the top – about one quarter of an inch – in the continuing attempt at professional bread crust appearance.

Floured the pizza peel to transfer the dough onto the baking stone and quickly threw in a large mug of ice (which definitely works better for me than a cup of water). Increased the baking time to 39 minutes, though checked it at 35 minutes to find a gorgeous bread, truly a mesmerizing creation. Almost do not want to take a bite right now because, based on looks alone, Bread Number Four iappears to be perfection.
[(Contemplation?) Stones in Portland's Japanese Garden.]

Hmmn …
Taste: good, solidly good, but still that little bit of aftertaste that makes me wonder about its source. Is that the “complex” flavor? Good rising produced a decent, light bread that is two-thirds whole wheat. Wonderful crust, beautiful, delicious and crunchy.

A few days later:
Baked half of the dough as one large bread for a dinner party we were invited to.  The dough was quite wet, with that fat pancake look. Did not even slide off the peel though there was a decent amount of flour underneath. With such a wet dough should have used parchment paper. Attribute the foggy brain to another early morning endeavor. Choice was either running late by a half hour in the morning and getting the bread baked before work, or coming home and needing a couple of hours, thereby arriving an hour late to the dinner party with bread that would still need to rest for a while before eating.

Bread sprung up beautifully when baking in the oven. That ugly duckling wet dough had matured into a lovely peasant-looking bread. Half expected to instantly sport a kerchief and start spouting Russian myself. Baked it for 40 minutes, but honestly, should have given it about four minutes more. Despite its gorgeous appearance and quite a decent taste, the nagging thought kept poking me that those few extra minutes would have been beneficial. The crust was very nice, however.

Despite nagging thoughts, the last batch of bread number four managed to get itself eaten.

P.S. Just purchased a baking clouche. More on that in a future bread.    

P.P.S. The Breadtime recipes will not followed any time soon. When that book refers to baking day, it means the whole day. Stopped counting the number of steps, kneading, resting, more kneading, more resting etc. when eyes glazed over and realized that might need classes or more videos. A little scary.

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