Saturday, February 19, 2011

Today's Baking Log

So in the spirit of trying to learn from my mistakes but not be definitionally insane (trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result), I decided to make two very different new bread recipes today.

For dinner tonight: I am planning (with Servia) to make whole-wheat no-knead pizza crust from Wild Bread (Rayner 102-103). It looked easy and allowed me to try again with my sourdough culture because the bread is almost entirely made out of sourdough culture. Thus far I have mixed the ingredients together, covered the bowl to proof, and it has been proofing for over an hour with almost no change whatsoever in the "batter dough." One of the problems with Rayner's book is that few of the recipes include the amount of time to proof. Being fairly inexperienced especially in this climate, I have absolutely no idea how long it is supposed to proof, only that it should "double in bulk." This may make dinner difficult. However, she has a recipe for pizza sauce (Rayner 101) that looks great (so long as I remove the fennel seeds-- I really hate fennel).

My other experiment is on the opposite side of the spectrum in every way: it uses baker's yeast, white flour, and provides exact instructions. When I first started baking bread, one of the supposed fail-proof breads was Peter Reinhart's Pain à l'Ancienne Rustic Bread (Reinhart 52-54). I received the book (Artisan Breads Every Day) for my birthday, but I had not gotten around to it yet. It looks fairly easy. It involves a cold-fermentation method where the dough rises in the refrigerator overnight. I tried his stretch-and-fold technique rather than my usual slap-and-fold technique. Reinhart's stretch-and-fold involves a puring the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and stretching it and folding it: first the front-end, then the back end, and then from each side. After this, tuck the dough into a ball and let it sit for approximately ten minutes boefore repeating the process. This happens four times (all together) within 40 minutes (Reinhart 52-53). Interestingly, I just found a similar technique demonstrated on Bread Cetera. As this bread rises overnight, I have no idea what the bread will look like until tomorrow. The dough I made seems to be within the general range of the dough shown by Reinhart, but I did notice that it seemed slightly firmer than Reinhart's pictures, which makes me slightly apprehensive. I will post an update tomorrow.

Update: After over 7 hours, the pizza dough has hardly risen at all. It's bubbly like a sourdough culture should be but it just does not seem to have changed significantly. Anyway, we're thinking of leaving it overnight just to see if it will do anything and trying to bake it tomorrow. I am just fundamentally at a loss as to what the problem is with the starter. My only guess it that it's too liquidy: Rayner recommends a "sponge" starter which used 1:1 ratio of flour to water (that's by weight. She says 2:1 by volume). I guess I will have some more understanding tomorrow.
Can this really be pizza dough?
On the other hand, the ciabatta has risen wonderfully and as long as the air incorporation and gluten development were sufficient with the stretch-and-fold technique, it should come out quite well.
Ciabatta- doubled in size.
More updates are forthcoming!