Saturday, 15 October 2011

Today's Batch

Another mixed bag this time, with plenty of long time development as well as the quickest of all the breads.

I wanted to try sourdough left to bulk ferment at ambient temperature rather than the overnight in the fridge stuff I've been making for convenience - feed it Friday morning, make and work dough Friday night, leave it in the fridge and all ready Saturday morning for the baking session, early start. I found that leaving it overnight meant I couldn't keep a little eye on it to see if it were happy, and that my 1000g of flour dough was crawling out of the bowls by morning. The dough was also pretty stringy which felt strange.

My recipe suggests more sourdough mother for ambient bulk fermentation than for overnight in the fridge, so I've had to remember to keep them well fed. I fed them all on Friday night so they'd be ready on Saturday morning, but only remembered to do it very late so it was half ten in the morning before I could even make my dough. The rye based mother had been very vigorous but the white one seemed quite sluggish. I could have left it a bit longer but this would have shunted the end of baking to a late late finish so I just went for it.

Part of the reason why the feeding of the three hungry mothers was so late was because I was making up the brioche dough that I had promised Junior I'd do two weeks ago. Once I'd checked the recipe I could see that it required a very long bulk fermentation so promised him I'd do it when he was here again. Once worked, the dough required a two hour rest, followed by a fold and then a 14 hour session in a cool place. It spent the night and the next morning in the garage with the motorbikes.

In the morning, I whipped up a batch of Half and Half dough for tins. I set a bowl of strong white dough to one side to use for pinch back because I'm very good at remembering to put it in and terrible at remembering to take it back at the end - now I have some chunks living in the freezer. I used the rye mother with 80% strong white and 20% white rye, and the white mother with added ground seeds for seeds and good stuff. The white mother dough continued the sluggishness, not having made it to the top of the bowl after 4 hours, while the rye mother dough was threatening to waterfall over the edge. Again not wanting to string out the finish time, I used the white dough even though I suppose I could usefully have left it for longer. It would have thrown out the timetable a fair old bit to have done that, so I chose not to.

I realise during the sourdough bulk fermentation that I'd not made any dough for pittas, and that my lunches would be severely lacking next week if I didn't make any, so I made some quickly using strong white flour and a mill of salt with herbes de Provence for a spot of extra flavour. I had learned a lesson during a previous session where I was in the middle of a batch of pittas, which had to go in, but which delayed the bake for some tin loaves, which overproved - so I was keen to get them sorted in a quiet spot during the day (and the long bulk fermentation for the sourdoughs did afford me the kind of gap I needed).

I wasn't totally sure of the amount of brioche dough I needed for my large from-France birthday present brioche mould, so I guessed. I made a mistake of putting some in first, then putting the rest on top, as there was a distinct line around the finished brioche. I overfilled the mould a little bit so had to put it in to bake after two hours' proving rather than the hour and a half's proving recommended in the recipe. I found the bobble bit hard to get right too, it looks a spot depressed in the finished article. The egg wash was in fact one egg with a pinch of salt, which I was supposed to whisk up an hour before use. I was too busy and forgot, so the wash was a bit thick and eggy (although the chaps don't seem to mind). When I looked at the remains of the egg wash some time later, I could see that it had thinned dramatically and would have been much better in that form. I'll remember for next time. Probably.

I'm still getting used to my four way digital timer (which is brilliant) so I managed to muck up the proving time for the tin loaves. I gave them half an hour and they hadn't done much so was tempted to give them a bit longer. Goodness knows how long I actually put on the timer - but when I came to slash them they sagged in the most dispirited manner.

The sourdoughs acted as expected in the bannetons - the rye one zoomed up nicely but the white/seeded one was slow slow sluggish slow. The white/seeded one had a super amount of oven spring so it wasn't all dreadful. I still can't get the slashing right through!

With the sourdoughs, the texture is coming out more like normal bread, and most unlike the arrangement of holes held together by a spot of bread that some of my earlier experiments produced. Maybe the stringier dough produced by the overnight bulk fermentation is more what is required? They still taste brilliant though, whatever the texture.


Brown tin loaves

Brioche (contains ~one million eggs)

White seeded sourdough

White rye sourdough

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