Friday, December 14, 2012

Bread - Number Seven

Bread - Number Seven: All spelt with honey

Dedicated to farmers markets, delis, supermarkets, and the farmers who provide the plentiful food that we take so for granted that we can obsess on organic, artisan and other categories we would never consider were we hungry.

This recipe is adjusted for store-bought yeast from the breadtopia sourdough yeast recipe. On the recipe webpage are 15 minutes worth of instructional video to guide one through the process.

4 3/4 cups spelt flour (that was the end of the bag)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cups water (add 1 1/2 and determine how much more to add depending on consistency)
1/4 tsp yeast (instead of the 1/4 cup sourdough starter in recipe)
3 tbsp honey

Mix water and honey in a large bowl. Let sit and mix dry ingredients in another bowl. Add mixed dry ingredients to large bowl with wet ingredients. Mix well. My dough was dry with 1 1/2 cups water and added another two ounces. Think it could have used a couple more.

Cover with plastic. Let sit for anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour intervals for three stretch and fold exercises. [Note: A sneaky way to be introduced to the concept of kneading.] For this bread, the timing was uneven so that one stretch and fold was done at 15 minutes just prior to dinner, one was performed a half hour later, and the next a half hour after that. That's what happens when fitting bread making into real life, or at least my particular real life.

Stretch and fold quite easy
How to do the stretch and fold? Hold the dough in the air and stretch similarly to a stretch on a board. Do not stretch to breaking. When stretched fold in thirds. Then turn around and do the same on the opposite side. If that's confusing, watch the first breadtopia video.  After the final stretch and fold, let sit on the counter for 12 hours. Remember to cover loosely with plastic. 

Okay, so it looked at 12 hours like it was fully risen, but not completely sure. The holes were ubiquitous, though smaller than in the whole wheat recipes. Mine rose very nicely. Put the dough in the refrigerator; probably good for four to five days. Made the bread two days later. 

Baking day
Almost confused the two batches of dough sitting in the fridge. Thankfully, they were slightly different shades of beige or else my husband might have taken the 100 percent spelt to the office holiday lunch. That would be wrong - and it did not happen. Disaster averted. (Not completely as managed to slightly burn his bread, though he was nice enough to not mention that.)

Take the spelt dough out of the fridge. Dust a board with flour and dust the top of the dough with flour. Indeed, dust wherever you want as remove dough with spatula from the bowl. Mine had actually become more wet and was pretty sticky. Needed a nice amount of flour.

Here is where my performance deviated from the recipe, most likely because it was late at night and escaped my mind that there was a different technique offered for this stage of the process. Mr. Iowa in the video never seems thus distracted. Mine is a less rational process. Also was distracted by mental activity of figuring out the logistics of baking husband's bread in the morning at the same time would be getting ready for work, which, from the previous paragraph one can tell went a bit off track.

Back to bread preparation
Stretch the flour on the board (will stretch to maybe eight by ten inches) and fold in thirds; then fold in half. Leave for 15 minutes covered loosely with plastic if dough seems wet. Put the dough in a well-floured bowl, covered with plastic, for 90 minutes. In recipe video, the guy does a thing that looks like making a bandana bag akin to Huck Finn, but with dough. 

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. The recipe called for 450, but wanted to make sure oven was hot. Make sure la cloche and baking stone are in the oven to preheat as well. Actually, since husband was cooking, did not have the usual long preheat and it turned out fine. Put la cloche in an already hot oven and do not believe there were negative consequences. 

Next in a less-than-stellar preparation, after the 90 minutes, dumped dough; yes dumped; onto parchment paper on baking peel. Employed parchment paper because dough was wet. Took bread knife and made three cuts into the dough, across the top, somewhat like a star. Placed the dough-on-parchment onto the baking stone in the oven and covered with the la cloche, with which I have absolutely fallen in love. Immediately reduce heat to 450 degrees.

Gorgeous is not the word
At 30 minutes, remove top of la cloche. This was a deviation from the text of the breadtopia explanation. Also remove parchment from underneath the bread. Tends to rip at this point, so best to use the baking peel.

At 45 minutes, that's 15 minutes later for anyone with math difficulties, remove bread from oven. Mine was so exquisite, so absolutely what a country bread should look like, that with oven mitts on, holding the bread as one would a newborn straight out of the womb, carried the bread to my just-about-sleeping husband and said - here look at how amazing - the star had not quite made it, but a cross spanning the top of the bread had. He asked if this was a Jesus bread. 

Decided not to take the cross as a religious message; preferred to see the miracle that any design at all had materialized and so perfectly, though not as planned.

[Top of bread. There's the cross.]

Never bake late at night
Slept fitfully and almost not at all, so racing was my mind with my brilliant result (seduced by appearances), leading to the sub-par baking the next morning of my husband's bread. Sorry. 

Tasted the bread in the evening when returned home. It was good, solidly good, and liked the all-spelt taste, though wondered if it would be better without the honey. Was, however, a bit dry. Not sure if that was partly due to it being spelt. Need to experiment more, perhaps making a bread combining spelt and other whole grains; perhaps having 15 to 25 percent bread flour would do nicely.

And should have followed the explanation, which said good results from leaving the top of the la cloche on for the entire time. Might have been less dry. Definitely more than edible, just not perfect.

Results sufficiently promising for more spelt experiments. Also showed that la cloche not preheated performed just fine.

[Another view of the just-baked beauty.]

Effort worthwhile 
P.S. Two days later, my daughter came home from school. Without even mention of the new bread, when everyone was out at work, she found and sampled it and told me the bread tasted great, like a farmers market bread. Now that's a compliment.

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