Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The "au Levain" experiment

The boule bloomed nicely, allaying my fears about it being overproofed
So I spent the last quarter hardly making bread at all. It's been a rough time. It's been really nice to be able to start baking bread again. I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm taking breaks to bake some bread and do some Christmas things. I started off by baking a version of my Sourdough Imitation Prophet Bread. It was good, but not quite as fluffy as the last time. The house has been really cold lately so maybe I underproofed  it.

One of the other things that I've been meaning to try is this bread mix I got: Bob's Redmill 10-Grain bread mix. Usually, I would not use a bread mix. I like picking out my own ingredients for recipes. However, I was excited because it contained "7 grain cereal, whole wheat flour, rolled oats,...dark rye flour, brown rice flour, corn flour, millet flour, oat flour, barley flour, white bean flour, triticale flour, corn grits, millet grits, dry yeast, and soy lecithin" (Bob's Redmill). I had seen a post on Au Levain about using a bread mix that had lost of interesting grains but no additives. However, I didn't realize that in contrast to her mix which was basically just flour with added gluten, mine contained dry milk, salt, and evaporated cane juice. The salt was unfortunate, only because I didn't know how much was in their. More importantly, the milk and sugar would soften the crust and change the texture of the bread.

However, since I had bought the mix, I made it anyway. Like in the Au Levain's version, I added 30% sourdough starter by weight (whole grain, 161g), and 4 grams of salt which seemed like it would get it to approximately 2% salt content. Then I used the following method:
  1. Mix starter, flour, and 350g of water (making the hydration about 70% because of my 100% hydration starter). I mixed it in my kitchen aid. I realized the bread was basically the consistency of thick batter so I started adding in bread flour until it turned back into the consistancy of bread. It must have been 6 or so ounces of flour.
  2. I let it autolyse for 40 minutes.
  3. Then I added the 4g salt and needed the bread for about 2 minutes on low. It didn't seem to help in the least in developing the gluten.
  4. As such, I did a set of stretch-and-folds, 2 every 10 minutes for an hour. It finally, grudgingly, passed the windowpane test.
  5. My house was cold...maybe 65 degrees or so. I let it sit out for 2 hours before I put it in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. In the morning, I let it sit out for 2 hours.
  7. Then I shaped it, but it in a banneton, and let it sit for 3 hours.
  8. I baked it for 50 minutes at 425 degrees F, the first 30 minutes under steam.
  9. The bread registered at 210 degrees F and I took it out. I let it cool for an hour before slicing.
Ultimately, while the bread seemed like it was going to be a failure  plenty of times throughout the process, it turned out ok. I added a huge amount of flour so the bread turned out to have a really closed crumb. However, it was still nice and crusty, despite the milk, and the flavor was good. It wasn't overwhelmingly dense either. There was one funny flavor that I couldn't quite pick out in there that I didn't like, but with so many grains I had no idea which one was responsible.
It had a very tight crumb, probably because much of the dough had non-gluten flours.

The experiment was interesting certainly, and tasty, but I'm going to check the ingredients more carefully before I buy another bread mix.
The texture was nice, even though the crumb was tight
 An interesting experiment.

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