Monday, November 18, 2013

Breads - Numbers 36 and 37: Two Mediocre WW Breads and a Pre-Occupied Baker

Recipes to follow

In baking, I find a little of the best of my mother, who never baked, but made the best brisket, the best chopped liver, and the best gefilte fish. Plus, she loved my challah. One beautiful memory in the months before she passed away without any warning was the time she spent making gefilte fish with me one morning. I wrote down every tip from her years of experience. She patiently explained, somewhat haphazardly (because we both expected a few more such sessions), the mixing and shaping and boiling that resembles the first scene from Macbeth.  Every Chanukah I think back as I make latkes about how she assisted me in the operation of shredding onions and potatoes, adding matzo meal, frying, and dealing with so much oil and grease. She totally let me be in charge even though it was her recipe and her grandchildren and her son in law who would be eating. She always let me shine.

My mom did not press me to succeed in all things at all times - outside of school.  Baking, which I started doing in high school and dabbled in sporadically thereafter, certainly fell into the "it's nice if you do this" category, along with my artwork. She liked what she called my artistic sensibility. [Note: The photo of "Betty and Irwin," the kettle couple, by my front steps.]

And now for the breads

Maybe it's arrogance, or being generally unmindful of authority, or just being busy, but I so much altered the recipes in the two recipes that my results are not any statement on the quality of those recipes. These are whole wheat breads that are from recipes in the Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, #36 being a bit less than half whole wheat and #37 being 100 percent whole wheat. Violating my sort-of rule that any alteration in the ingredients or process constitutes a new bread, I changed some ingredient or some part of the process in each attempt. Maybe that's my way of slowing down - the reason in another post.

Quickly, the recipes are:

Bread #36

309g water
150g whole wheat flour
324g white bread flour
8g starter
8g salt

Hydration is about 65 percent.

Quick instructions
I used autolyse phase of 20 minutes, mixing only the flour and water together. This is supposed to develop the gluten and reduce the kneading time. Then I added the starter and the salt. For want of a long overnight rise, I used much less starter than recommended. In a rush, I skipped the kneading and did three stretch and folds in a class completely having nothing to do with baking. II took the dough with me in the car and into the class. I just did not want to throw away the already mixed dough. I let rise for almost 11 hours. After shaping, the final rise was for a whole day in the fridge.

All of the recipes in this book recommend rather low temperatures. I baked at 375 degrees for 43 minutes. I used my la cloche. There was nice oven spring. Both times I made this bread it tasted good. Just nothing inspiring.

Bread #37

323g water
388g whole wheat flour
27g starter
8g walt

Hydration is about 84 percent.

Quick instructions
Again, I did an autolyse for 20 minutes of just the flour and water. After 20 minutes, I added the starter and the salt. I kneaded for five minutes and let the dough rest for 10; then repeated. I let it rise for seven and a half hours, did a stretch and fold, and placed the dough in a well-greased loaf pan. I let the dough rest for a final rise of two and a quarter hours.

I baked in the la cloche for 18 minutes at 405 degrees and for another 10 minutes at 375 degrees (the actual recommended temperature). There was decent oven spring. As the photos show, this bread never quite blossomed. Some wholes are good, but these were cavernous.

At least the bread did not taste like a hockey puck. It was actually good, but not anything to write home about.

It's me, not the recipe
I do not prefer an "it takes all day" recipe. I am sure it must be lovely to be home all day and I am somewhat jealous of those who work at home and who, therefore, can bake breads of various rising times. Okay, very jealous. Okay, even on those days when I am at home, I do not necessarily want to be shackled to the dough. Maybe I am jealous that there are people who not only stay at home, but are also disciplined as much about bread as about work.

Two hours, all day or overnight - that's what I ask for in a rising time. Anything else is somewhat resented, unless it results in an incredible bread, in which case all is forgiven.

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