Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Today's batch

Owing to the technical difficulty of not having enough hours in the day, this is actually Saturday's batch, but I like the 'Today's batch' title so it stays...

Today I was mainly experimenting with new flours.

For the tin loaves, I chose the Doves Farm Kamut flour and used it in a 1:1 ratio with Shipton Mill Baker's No. 1 flour (I am having to lean right down into the sack now). I wasn't totally confident to go with 100% Kamut, but was interested to see what difference it made with flavour, texture, rise and so on. I didn't increase my normal amount of water, and kneaded in 200g of pinch back (pinchback?) which I'd remembered to keep back from my last batch. Sadly, it was only after the tins were in the oven that I remembered I needed to take some back for next time...

The loaves proved beautifully and after 25 minutes in the oven came out very nice, with an attractive golden colour, an excellent texture and a less pronounced flavour than I'd anticipated (perhaps down to the dilution with white flour).

I did two sourdoughs, one with white spelt flour and one with white bread flour. I used my homegrown mother for the spelt loaf, and a combination of my homegrown mother (of which it turned out there wasn't quite enough) and Clive's rye mother for the plain white. Not having used spelt before, I tweeted for help and got some good advice from seasoned baking types: "keep dough softer than you think it should be" said @HobbsHouse. Peter Cook @pricesthebakers suggested "Don't leave it too long before baking. It doesn't have much oven-spring" and Richard Bertinet @BertinetKitchen even had a pointer to a recipe " use the recipe in Crust and replace the yeast with ferment 250gr per kg flour".

As it happened, I had Crust open in front of me on the spelt bread page. It used a poolish and then some extra fresh yeast, so I could rule out the fresh yeast but debated with myself about the poolish (which had quite a bit of water in it). I reckoned that it wouldn't be a proper sourdough with a poolish so ruled that out too. But this only left 150g water per 500g spelt flour which made for a pretty solid dough and not the soft dough I'd been primed for. I wibbled and added another 100g of water which slackened it a little but I was still left with a fairly solid lump. I decided to go ahead with what I had rather than dribble more and more water in - at least I'd have a reference point for next time. After working, the dough was lovely and smooth and silky, but sat in its bowl for a bulk ferment was rather sulky and didn't do much at all. I proved it in the long banneton and it did decide to rise a fair bit, but it was over 3 hours before I was happy with it going into the oven.

So, in short, I managed to go against the advice of each of the helpful people who know exactly what they are talking about.

The finished loaf was very tasty, but with a dense crumb and an immense crust - I feared for Tallboy's teeth. I think I undercooked it by about 5 minutes too, giving it 38 mins at 230.

I was very interested in how the sourdough with the two mothers would work - I had visions of the mothers fighting each other to the detriment of the loaf, but they seemed to complement each other well. The oven spring was astonishing, with the smaller boule-ish loaf developing almost a pyramidical shape which I was convinced was simply top crust over a gaping cavity, but which turned out to be all bread. Vigorous, feisty bread. The crumb in both loaves was quite non-sourdoughish, much more even than I've had before, which felt strange. I've come to expect some nice holes in there (without going to the extremes of Swiss Cheese impressions).

Anyway, it's all been eaten now, which I suppose is the main test. I want to try spelt again, and this time I will try to listen carefully and follow good advice. Honest. Oh, and I've been trialling a way of keeping good records of my batches so that I can refer back and tweak them. But more of that another time...

Golden Kamut loaves

A very solid spelt loaf (background colour and worktop material changes down to technical difficulties with the back room not actually being light enough as the nights draw in...)

My mixed mother sourdoughs (experiencing the same lighting issues)

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