Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bread - Numbers 20 and 21

Bread - Numbers 20 and 21: Back in the groove

Conclusion first. Back in the game. The breads came out well. Solidly good. Both whole wheat and rye bread with 50 percent white bread flour. Tasty and immediately went from Bread #20 to #21, variations on the same recipe from Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman.

Birth order - being last helps with the bread quest
Being last in a family of three children means until you are older, someone else has been everywhere you arrive at first. Being last means working hard even knowing someone can and probably will be better, at least for a few more years. It means having a visible path and the counsel of someone incredibly cool. Being last means comparing your siblings' old report cards with your own to measure yourself against the experience of your siblings.

Being last means the lazy way out is definitely an option. I did not walk on my own until I was a year and a half old. I could walk, but my brother or sister were always around to take my hand, and I, apparently, was glad for the company, the love, and the avoidance of responsibility. I still prefer not to drive; I sign the tax return without a glance; and do not care how technology works as long as it does.

Being last means being the quirky one, the one who is not enamored with hierarchy and convention. It means saying things like "I'm growing my own yeast-like substances and I've named them Wheat and Rye. I feed them. ... Look at those beautiful bubbles. ... Listen to that crackling sound." And expecting everyone else to be as excited as I am.

Being last means being forever young and expecting to be adored. Even in the workplace, even those times on the receiving end of the teenage death stare or scream, even when breads do not turn out well, there's a sense of having created something wonderful and knowing that, since someone else came this way before and lived, everything will be alright and lovely, in a quirky way.

So if a bread is a disaster, if I felt during the last few bread cycles as if my mojo were gone, there was humor and ease that it is okay not to be a superior bread maker yet and just to be one who is trying.
Breads #20 and #21 were variations on the same recipe, the whole rye and whole wheat bread from Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman. Bread #20 was the exact recipe. See the book review. Finding I like his descriptions and approach. Also becoming addicted to thefreshloaf forum. (For more, on the review page there is a detailed description of the forum.)

Phase one - sourdough
rye flour 4 oz. Water 3.3 oz.
sourdough - recipe called for .4 oz. I put in a small ladle full without measuring.

Phase two - dough
bread flour 8 oz.
whole wheat flour 4 oz.
water 7.6 oz.
salt .3 oz. or 1/2 tbspn

Bread #20: added .06 (1/2 tsp) yeast
Bread #21: totally sourdough, no yeast
The only other difference in ingredients was that I used a whole wheat starter the first time and the second time used that same starter, but fed once in between with rye.

After mixing during each phase, covered bowl loosely with plastic.

Note: Not yet crazy enough to jot down hydration rates, but getting closer.

First rise
On bread #20 , I allowed the sourdough to rise for 12 hours. No discernible difference in taste with bread #21, which rose for 14 hours. Fourteen to 16 hours recommended in the recipe. Admit that when I make this bread again, I will experiment with a longer rise. Also, should have added caraway seeds. Adore that taste.

One note, the 100 percent rye sourdough phase one actually appears suspiciously similar to wet cement. Not a spongy sponge. Would not be surprised if this substance were used to fill in between bricks.

On Bread #21, the sourdough phase one, birthed in a 5 a.m. kitchen with a baker who had one eye open. Carried it down the stairs to the basement. Left the sourdough to sit in the coolest space in the house, literally on the washing machine, because on this fine April day, the temperature one block from the District of Columbia, reached 90 degrees. 

Felt guilty on Bread #20 for using some, even a little, commercial yeast. Thus, Bread #21 was an attempt to try same recipe without that crutch. Starter alone as the yeast source performed fine. Again, I will try for longer rise next time.

On mixing dough, it seemed as if it would be too dry. Took some time to mix in all of the flour, but ended up being sticky and somewhat wet when completely mixed. Loving that danish whisk.

Note to self: Stop torturing yourself with 5 a.m. wakeups to tend to dough. This is why essential ingredients like caraway seeds are forgotten. Also, end up doing exercises in the kitchen and taking kitchen timer to the shower so that morning routine can be squeezed in around bread making. End up sleepy and wanting only to read thefreshloaf forum entries.

Bulk fermentation - rising of the whole dough
Bulk fermentation - dough stage rise - after mixing dough with sourdough was only one hour. Also, because this was a rye, Hamelman advised no kneading or stretch and folds.

After one hour bulk fermentation, put the dough in the refrigerator for several hours each time. Dough continued to rise in fridge. Actually, rose great in the fridge. I should have kept it there up to a day longer. My impatience gets the best of me.

[Bread #20 on final rise. Showing bad form with plastic directly on dough.]

Did remember to throw some caraway seeds on Bread #21 before baking. Still miffed that forgot to add this wonderful ingredient to the dough.

Preheat oven an hour before to 500 degrees. I used parchment paper on baking peel to place dough on baking stone as dough was wet. Covered with top of la cloche. Per recipe, immediately reduced tempurature to 460 degrees for 15 minutes; then further reduced for 25 minutes to 440 degrees. Kept top of la cloche on until the last four minutes for Bread #20 and for the entire time for Bread #21. No discernible difference.

[Spoiler alert: a peak at Bread #20]

Crackling, beauty and taste

Perhaps results each time only attributable to my remembering to score the top of the dough with the star that bakes into a cross. Pretty breads. Also, lovely, lovely crackling sounds when they came out of the oven. For Bread #20, made my husband mute the television and we listened. And this soft sound was somewhere between a crackling fireplace or cereal in milk, though far, far quieter; so quiet, indeed that it took effort to listen, as if we had to ignore the even the movement of the air, the decibel level of a pin drop.

The basketball game - the NCAA championship game - was of no interest. My stupid top pick was Syracuse, a team that did not make it to the final round. They always lose and I always refuse to have them go all the way in my picks, except this time I weakened because my niece is getting her PhD there.

Sentimentality should never get in the way of choosing brackets. Plus, crackling sound way better than the basketball college championship this year. Another time, will explain my system for winning said college basketball prediction every 10 years. A perfect alignment of luck and ignorance.

[A lovely Bread #21. Only improvement would be more of a rise - and caraway seeds in the dough.]

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