Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bread - Number 55: Good, Basic 100% Whole Wheat

Bread - Number 55: A few adjustments on the brain

Mea Culpa.The recipe for this bread is Oaty Whole Wheat from the River Cottage Bread Handbook (with some revisions), but, despite writing a note to myself in my bread notebook, I forgot the oats. However, as the oats are only used as a coating, the actual taste cannot be much different. That's what happens when I wake up super early on a Sunday morning to make a bread. I will try - with another note to self (which usually works, though not foolproof) - to include the oats next time. In fact, I will substitute some of the whole wheat flour with oat flour for an oat taste throughout.

Still, a really nice basic whole wheat bread resulted, though I would change the oven temperature and timing. The River Cottage Bread Handbook has specific oven temperature recommendations. More on that below.  

I used a white whole wheat, which might be a good idea to change to regular whole wheat on the next go around with this one. I would expect a nuttier taste with a regular whole wheat and some oat flour mixed in.

Ingredients and Instructions

241g water (1 cup)
82g starter
200g white whole wheat flour

Mixed well, covered and put in fridge overnight. I took out the sponge in the morning, and this being a very warm day (about 85 degrees; not super hot at all for a DC summer), I only left the sponge out on the kitchen counter for 6.5 hours. In fact, at 6.5 hours, the sponge looked like it already might have been a bit past its peak. Next time, on a warm day, I would use less starter, but keep this amount for a fall or winter kitchen.

62g water (1/4 cup)
300g white whole wheat flour
10g salt
1.5 tbsp coconut oil (I failed to weigh this.)

Add all of dough ingredients to the sponge and mix well. I suppose one could do an autolyse for 20 to 30 minutes with just the flour and water before mixing into the sponge, but I felt a little too pressured for time. 

Knead for 10 to 15 minutes and amaze yourself at how movie-like a dough, practically satiny, you are creating. Not sure if that texture was the result of kneading or the coconut oil. The dough, however, was not oily in the least. When I think of how intimidated I was by the whole idea of kneading, this accomplishment made me feel oh so proud, as if I had earned every dough spot on my bread apron.

Three manipulations
Shape the dough and cover. I did three dough manipulations over the course of two and a half hours. The recipe calls for the dough to double in size between manipulations, but really, I can never quite tell the difference between "oh that's quite a bit bigger" and doubling. Don't sweat this.

I let the dough sit covered for an hour and then took it out of the bowl.

According to the River Cottage instructions, I pocked the dough with fingertip dents. Then, for good measure, I did a stretch and fold. I then shaped the dough and left it covered for 45 minutes, whereupon I followed the same routine. I repeated once more after another 45 minutes.

Due to conflicts with other stuff going on in my actual life - and after I had already given up much-needed shoe shopping due to my bread obsession - I covered the shaped dough and put it in the refrigerator until the next day.

Baking too early in the morning
Really, my brain does not process actual information before 9 a.m. Written down, plain as the nose on my face, on a blue sticky note no less, was the instruction to coat the dough in oats before baking. 

But it was 7 a.m. and I was psyched to get the dough all baked before walking over to the farmers market. I preheated the oven to 500 degrees, read the Sunday paper, and, an hour later, all I could fit in my brain was the need to slash the dough. I completely forgot the oats. C'est la vie.

Baking advice
I let the oven preheat to 500 degrees with an oblong la cloche for an hour. Right before baking, I took the dough out of the fridge and slashed it with my lame, one of my favorite tools (though nothing is more adored than the Danish whisk). My tip for not burning oneself when transferring the dough is to sit the shaped dough on parchment paper, which I hold and transfer with the oblong-shaped dough right into the la cloche. 

Heeding the recipe instructions, which include tips for temperatures depending on the appearance of the crust at 15 minutes in, I checked the dough after 15 minutes. It was pale. According to the author's suggestion, I reduced the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Total baking time was 40 minutes. The bread is very good, but I suspect it might have turned out just a tad better if I had kept the oven at 500 degrees and only baked for 30 to 35 minutes. More time, probably about 40 minutes total, would be necessary to bake a boule.

The bread had wonderful oven spring and that without adding the recommended bit of commercial yeast. The taste is very good. I will definitely try this one again: (1) with the oat coating and some oat flour, (2) a darker whole wheat flour, and (3) keeping the oven at 500 degrees.

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