Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bread Number 72 - Perfect Crust and 2/3 to 108

Probably my best crust ever and a wonderful bread. I feel like I've made this before, but not a completely no-knead 40 percent whole wheat. Here's my post-Passover quest (one of a few): returning to higher percentages, perhaps even completely, whole grain breads.

I've been seduced by white flour, to be sure. Who would not be? That color in the bread, that spectacular oven spring, those crusts. It's addictive in its own way. 

Plus, when one buys a whole grain flour from a grocery shelf - even at Whole Foods or a food coop - who knows how long that flour has sat in its bag each step of the way or how long it has remained in that same spot on the shelf before one buys it. I keep the whole grain flours in my freezer, but I wonder whether I am getting anywhere near the taste and freshness I should if it has spent days, or, more likely, weeks, at room temperature before I use it in a dough. This is another post-spring cleaning and post-Passover quest, to do a little investigation of how long these flours take from grinding to sale.

(If I declare these quests out loud here, then I feel a bit more confident that I will actually follow through. Yes, and also pushing off until after Passover visiting the local bakeries on my short list. Add to that the updating of my bread spreadsheet, which actually is a big aid in keeping track of what happened with each bread and which ones I want to repeat.)

Adapted=more hydration
Because I wanted to use a significant amount of whole wheat flour, I added additional water to the dough. The original recipe, I believe, was only 350 grams of water, but that was for an entirely white flour bread. The whole wheat flour is more thirsty. So 76 percent hydration instead of 70 percent. 

The recipe is an adaptation of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's recipe on Serious Eats, for which he is the managing culinary director, a job I could never hold, for too many reasons to list.  

380g water
20g starter
300g bread flour
200g whole wheat flour
9.5g salt

Day one
Late afternoon, mixed all ingredients together thoroughly and covered. No kneading, no stretch and folds. Just waiting. Right after mixing, of course, I think it would have been nice to have done a soaker with the whole wheat flour.

Day two
The dough has sat out for 21.5 hours, some in a cool kitchen, but not freezing winter cold, and some in a warm daytime kitchen. Dough pretty puffy. I put the dough in the fridge.

Day three - All day in the fridge. Real life delays dough-related tasks.

Day four
Baking day! Preheated oven, with dutch oven inside, to 475 degrees for one hour. Wary of heating oven to 500 with dutch oven after disaster of last loaf and bread entirely stuck. Right before baking, I removed dough from fridge, shaped, sprinkled flour on bottom and flaxseed meal on top (did not weigh any of that). Did a couple of slashes on top.

Removed lid of dutch oven at 30 minutes. Total baking time of 52 minutes, amply demonstrating my patience, admittedly won with the use of the internal thermometer. To my credit, however, I am checking the temperature of the bread much less often, thereby reducing loss of heat from an open oven door for a minute or so. 

Gorgeous, a little burnt on top, but a marvelous crust. A great taste and an easy bread that I shared with my writers' group. Definitely, a yummm .... mmy on this one.

Deserves a couple of extra photos

2/3 to 108
Number 72 is two-thirds of the way to 108. Too busy to celebrate at the moment. That goes on the post-Passover list as well. At the beginning, I could not imagine getting this far; so very committed of me. 
Okay, in case I'm getting cocky, I now have a beer bread dough that is supposed to be rising on the counter that is not actually rising. It's for my daughter to take back to school, but I think the dough's lack of activity is a pre-Passover message to cease with the dough obsession and to finish the spring cleaning. 


  1. Hi! Are you in the NY area, more specifically in the Hudson valley?

  2. No, I am a Brooklynite in exile. I live right on the DC/Maryland border. I do get up to the city every few months.

    1. Ahh, ok. I am formerly from Flushing. Moved to the Hudson Valley some years ago. I got bitten by the bread bug and it is bad! I visit The Fresh Loaf several times a day but am craving for a more personal (and geographically closer) bread-lationship. Anyway, am making my first sourdough starter and I used your tips! Thanks! The rubber band marker tip is heaven-sent. Who knew?!