Bread - Number 22: Grateful for a number
Must admit to losing some momentum for the bread project and this is where gratitude comes in for the number 108. If not for the number, I would probably already have taken a few easy, good recipes to add to my previously tiny repertoire of breads (okay, there were only two bread machine recipes before 108 breads began), and having learned a bit, would be fine with the knowledge gained, not upset that bread making had not been mastered.
I am generally okay with not mastering any given subject. I like what I like in art, wine, food, horticulture, movies, books, whatever, without any knowledge of the details of official excellence. In fact, I eschew the idea that other people define what makes something good, when that something is a matter of taste. But I also tend to start and stop projects, to not commit, to not get into anything too deep.
The value of the number 108 is the commitment to something definite. With 108, there is no doubt that 22 is not enough. To stop before 108 would be to break the commitment to myself to experiment and learn for a long time about one particular task, a very old task, in a big, modern world. (Perhaps I need to buy that slow movement book.)
Plus, now I am totally addicted to bread ovens, to books, to people describing their recipes and crumbs. Hydration rates are still a challenge.
Might not make another totally new bread for a month. Will try some previous breads with the starter first and then perhaps with autolyse. Will take time to get the spreadsheet up to date. Will take the 108 a little more slowly, not rushing to bake bread after bread, but to pause to watch helpful videos and do more reading - without the pressure of constantly keeping an eye on the next bread. No rush. 108 breads is for my own enjoyment and some good eating. There is no deadline.
Half whole wheat and flexible
Bread #22 is 50 percent whole wheat and lends itself to a working schedule. However, fitting this bread into an typical office/home schedule, would require some early-morning mixing. There are dough phases that require 12 to 14 hours on the counter or where dough can be stored for the day in the refrigerator. It is the levain build bread, from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman.
2.4 oz. water
small ladle full of starter
2.4 oz. whole wheat flour
1 1/16 cup (8.65 oz.) water
5.6 oz. whole wheat flour
8 oz. bread flour
1 1/2 tbsp (.3 oz.) salt
Spent most of the evening pondering what bread to begin and being too lazy to go to the basement for any spelt, rye or oat flours. Truthful, but not proud. Yes, the one-minute walk down the flight of stairs determined the selection.
Mixed the starter with water and then, Danish whisk in hand (love that thing), mixed in the whole wheat flour. Covered with plastic and left overnight. What began as a small pile of shaggy dough was a wet, only slightly bubbly, sponge the next morning. Nicely risen, though not many holes. Perhaps my starter has also lost some of its momentum.
[Levain at 10 hours.]
Instructions were to allow levain to rise on the counter for 12 to 14 hours. The house was quite warm - maybe 80 degrees (love April in DC) - and at 11 1/2 hours, it was almost time to leave.
So mixed in dough ingredients with levain. The recipe stated that the dough should be, and I quote, "moderately developed," a phrase so vague and unsuggestive of texture or appearance, that I made an entirely clueless determination. To be fair, the author gives instructions for number of minutes and speed for a commercial mixer. Here is where I left.
Please do not judge if you are thinking something like - wow, she really does not know what she is doing - or - a few minutes of mixing is worth a good ten minutes of hand mixing. Patience is a virtue I keep working on. This is why I fantasize about the Scottish bread making class. That and travelling in Scotland.
Totally my fault that I then got confused when the recipe referred to bulk fermentation and folding as though those were tasks that would be accomplished in two completely separate periods of time. Returned 2 1/4 hours later, glanced at the part of the Bread book that discusses bulk fermentation, only to discover that every 50 minutes to an hour there should have been a stretch and fold of some kind. Oops.
Here are a couple of photos at 2 1/4 hours of bulk fermentation without folding.
I did one stretch and fold at 2 1/4 hours, then placed in floured bowl for the final rise. At this point, I was betting that this dough was not worthy of too much more of an emotional or temporal investment. Though instructions called for a final rise of two to two and a half hours, it was over 80 degrees in the kitchen and the dough was massive at one hour.
Upon restrospection and with the benefit of viewing the photographs side by side, perhaps massive was a misimpression.
Preheated oven to 460 degrees, placed top of la cloche in the oven on the baking stone, and waited a little under an hour before placing the dough (scored with a star on top) on parchment paper on the baking peel and into the oven. The dough was wet, sticky and not keeping a great shape. At 30 minutes, I removed the parchment paper and then checked the bread at 40, 45, 47 and 50 minutes. Each time, I listened for that wonderful crackling sound and expected more. Afraid I left the bread in too long.
The taste was a bit dry and the bread needed more of a rise, no doubt the consequence of missing the stretch and folds during the first rise of the dough all mixed together.