I worked with a local baker for a day in hopes of picking up some tips and tricks regarding my pursuit of baking great bread. I picked up a flour – water – starter ratio (3:2:1) and better idea of the final feel dough post kneading. I kneaded a lot of dough that day. I still have work to do in order to get the bread dialed in just right, but here is the next segment of my bread baking journey.
Bread # 4
(We’ll call it number four to be consistent with the blog, but it is really like Bread #9.)
1/4 Cup Warm Water
2 tsp Yeast, dried
In a medium bowl, add the water then sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 or so minutes.
55 g Water
Stir into the yeast liquid. Then add your flours:
55 g Whole Wheat Flour
55 g All Purpose Flour
Stir it all up, cover, and let that rise for 2 hours.
The dough should be nice and poofed/bubbly by this point.
You’ll want to do this next bit on a kitchen scale. Scrape the starter dough into a large bowl which is on the scale. The starter should be about 212 grams, give or take a gram. This is now 1 part.
Add that starter:
424 g Water (or two parts)
Stir it around to loosen up the starter a bit. Now add 3 parts Flour which would be 636 grams. The flour gives you some room to customize. I used:
100 g Whole Wheat Flour
536 g All Purpose Flour
3 tsp Kosher Salt
Mix all this up until the spoon becomes ineffective and then turn out onto a well floured surface.
Knead the dough for about 30 minutes. Your are looking for the dough to be lightly tacky, but not sticky. I ended up adding another 1/2 to 3/4 cup All Purpose flour during this kneading process…
Once you get the dough where you want it. Toss it into a bowl, cover, and rise for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Then take your big ball of dough and separate it into two pieces forming each piece into a tight boule. Put those back into the bowl, cover it again and let them rest for about 20 minutes.
Next, I did a final shaping making nice and tight, but also trying not to press out all of the air bubbles that were in the dough.
Place these onto a floured cloth, somewhat covered with the extra cloth. Let it rise for another 1-2 hours.
About an hour before you expect to be ready to bake the bread, you’ll want to get your oven heating up. Get your baking stone and a pan for a steam bath in place in your oven and preheat to 500 F.
Now your bread is ready. Prep a peel or, as is my case, a wooden cutting board with a dusting of semolina flour. Gently move the loaves to the “peel.” Score the tops any which way you like, but aim for having your knife at a 45 degree angle. Turn the heat on the oven down to 450 F. Have a cup of hot water (from the tap is fine) standing by.
Open the oven slid on in your soon-to-be bread and pour the water into the hot pan. Set your timer for 25 minutes and listen to the oven roar.
Cool on a wire rack.
The crumb was still a bit more dense than I want it to be. The crust was a nice color, however, I didn’t get the spring I was hoping for, since “skin” looked as if it had sagged during baking. See:
It could be that I didn’t shape the final loaf tight enough… I probably could have baked it another 5 minutes and maybe next, time I’ll keep the oven 25 degrees hotter. Another tsp of salt wouldn’t hurt either.
On the plus side, it wasn’t dry or crumbly. It had a very nice flavor and texture, maybe a little bit more chewiness would be nice, but I won’t fault that. At least not at this point. Possibly adding 1oo – 200 g Bread Flour would help add a tough of chew.