Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bread Number 70: Celebrating with Beer - in Dough and Otherwise

Just pour the bottle into the bowl
So weird to actually open the beer bottle, in this case, Brooklyn lager, and just empty it right into the dough bowl. Great smell. 

Maybe it was the beer that explains why this dough rose so slowly, or perhaps, it was my unwise use of a just-fed starter instead of having the patience to wait to make the dough until the starter was ripe. Definitely, the cold winter temperatures contributed to the slow rise as well, a total of 27 hours. Mind-blowing, yes, and a testament to my ability to be patient, at least on occasion.

Beer is welcome as a fun way to experiment as I approach the final third of the 108-bread project. Will also taste good to eat the beer bread with beer. I drink about one to two beers a year. An exact level of thirstiness is necessary; somehow, wine requires no such limitations. Of course, for those for whom any beer will do, this might seem like an alien attitude.

Two more breads - number 72 - until I hit the two-thirds mark. My daughter tells me to plan a celebration for 108 and immediately a party at a bakery or a bakery tour come to mind, closely followed by the idea of a bread-maker gathering. Or maybe just a quiet breakfast of homemade bread, nice tea or coffee, and some fine music, Sinatra, perhaps, and something good to read. I like my bread that way. 

Ingredients and instructions

352g beer
70g starter (120 percent hydration, with big qualification; details below)
100g whole wheat flour
16g flaxseed meal
20g rye flour
389g bread flour
11g salt

Mixed all flours, flaxseed meal and beer (love writing that word in this context), covered, and let sit for 30 minutes. 

Added starter and salt. Mixed and covered. Did two stretch and folds, the first at 15 minutes and the second another 15 minutes later. Covered and left out overnight. 

This was Oscar night, which I totally enjoy. Two reasons: Commenting on dresses and listening to thank you speeches. Warms my heart to hear appreciation for parents, spouses, and opportunities, as well as curiosity about what political outbursts celebrities will engage in. Since I do not read People or pay much attention to celebrity culture, the Academy Awards is the perfect dose.

Starter and long, long rise
Though this recipe includes a healthy amount of starter, 70 grams, I do believe the exceptionally long rise of 27 hours was partly due to the state of the starter and not only to the winter temperatures. Instead of feeding the starter and waiting for it to get all exuberant again, I began with impatience. I fed the starter, adjusting it to a pretty high hydration percentage - estimating 120 percent - and put the almost just-fed starter into the dough. I waited only a half hour in a 65-degree kitchen.

I thought the rise would occur overnight because the outdoor temperatures had increased considerably; we were up to the 30s or 40s. I suppose, however, that the kitchen was nearly as cold as ever in the wee hours. By morning, the dough had hardly expanded. I went off to work, leaving the dough in the heated kitchen, with adult offspring in the house. Called this adult, who sweetly tolerated her mother, and texted a picture of the dough. It needed more time, so I took the chance that the hours would be too many until I returned home from work and asked for the dough to be left out.

Kitchen heat turned off, then six hours later, turned on for the evening. Returned home, immediately checked dough, but did not look fully ready to cease bulk fermentation. Left dough out until bedtime and then put it in my heated closet. As I was bringing the bowl through the bedroom, spouse noted my increasing bread craziness. Woke up at 12:30 a.m., and carried the dough to the refrigerator. Finally, it appeared ready, but this was not my time to move on to the next phase.

Tending to the dough
The next morning, I shaped the dough, without even a stretch and fold. Placed the dough on a well-floured kitchen towel and put it in a small wicker basket. Covered and left in fridge for 12 hours.

Returned home from work and preheated oven, with top of la cloche and baking stone inside, to 500 degrees for one hour. I took the dough out of the fridge immediately prior to baking, stopping only to put a nice set of cross slashes into the top of the dough.

Left the temperature at 500 for 20 minutes, then reduced to 470 degrees. Total baking time, 51 minutes. Lovely oven rise that only a majority white bread flour dough will produce. Divine crackling sound emanating, hissing practically, from the just-done bread. 

Incredible, great taste with a hint of the beer. I never would be able to identify the beer taste if I did not know there was beer in the bread, but the taste had a different twang than a long rise sourdough - a more complex, maybe a two-layered, twangi-ness. And twangy is not a technical term, yet.

Next up: plan to eat the bread with beer: A big yum, I'm sure.

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