Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Whole Wheat Genzano Country Bread

Interestingly, whole wheat bread is very unusual in Italy. 

This bread is actually mixed with equal parts whole wheat flour and bread flour in the final mix (The biga naturale is made with bread flour). Another wonderful thing about using a biga naturale is that it lasts a very long time, up to five days at room temperature (although mine is half gone after less than half a day). That is not to say that this is the best bread I have made, it is just that I was away and have not made an actual loaf of bread in quite some time, so I was ready to chew chomp and savor.

This biga is wonderfully developed. Click on this and you can really see the wonderful gluten development which is a product of both the biga and the use of liquid levain.
As mentioned above a Biga Natural is used in this bread, this means that a biga was made with some liquid sourdough starter. The result is wonderful gluten development and a wonderful flavor. In addition to the preferment, dry yeast is used in the final mix, this helps to create a light loaf even though 50% of the flour in this bread is whole wheat flour. 

In the mixer this bread actually took quite a while to come together. Daniel Leader instructs the home baker to combine the water and the biga in the mixing bowl and to mix it thoroughly with a rubber spatula to break up the preferment, I agree with this suggestion 100 percent. After this is done all of the other ingredients are added. This bread according to Daniel Leader should be mixed at 8th speed for 5 minutes and then 10th speed for ten more minutes. I did no such thing and I have no intention on ever mixing a bread at that speed! I think it is harmful to the dough, not to mention, at such high speeds you have to babysit your mixer to ensure that it does not 'walk' off the counter. I mixed this dough on first speed for three minutes, then on second speed for three minutes, I finished mixing on third speed for about two and a half minutes. This is about as fast as I will mix bread dough; you have to draw the line somewhere. In the words of Walter, from the Big Lebowski, on of my favorite films:
 "Dude. I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line, you DO NOT... Also, Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please."

What an incredible film, I am a huge fan of the Coen Brothers. Back to the bread,  Jeffrey Hamelman mentions in his book Bread not to mix bread dough any higher than second speed, but I did not think it would hurt the bread. To be honest it took a while for the biga to be dispersed amongst the rest of the dough, even after mixing on second speed there were pieces of the biga that were not completely mixed into the dough, which I found to be weird especially since I combined the water and the biga together before mixing on first speed. This is  the only reason why I decided to mix at third speed for a short period of time. 
Just after the mix, as you can see there is quite a bit of whole wheat flour present.

After a fold and three hours of bulk fermentation. Look how smooth the dough looks!
One of the things I noticed about the flavor of this bread was that it is a bit salty. There is a chance that there was a scale error, but I do not think so. I did halve this recipe, because I had a feeling this was not going to be the best bread, but it was not too bad, like I said above I have eaten quite a bit of it, so much that I am going to have to bake the day after tomorrow (I would bake tomorrow but I have class in the morning and afternoon, so I can not.) I would also like to mention that this bread is quite 'fluffy'. Which is something that would not be expected from a bread that is 50% whole wheat flour. I think this would be a great loaf for kids who are really into whiter breads, the flavor is not to strong and the crumb is light (once again this is due to the yeast in the mix). 

The proofed loaf just before the bake, as you can see it has a slightly bumpy or rough appearance.

A lovely golden crumb, almost the color of a fine IPA. 
Well more to come soon, I think I am going to be baking a pissaldier, as I am in the mood for it. I am have a friend for dinner and I want her to try it, and that is enough of an excuse for me!

Bake on

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