Friday, August 30, 2013

Let Go of the Brotform Mr Miche, Let go!!

It has been quiet a while since I last baked this bread, at least 6 months. I actually think the last time I baked this bread was last summer or fall. I remember this because my editor got to try it and we spoke about how the bread really changes in flavor during its shelf life. It seems to gain in acidity as time passes. 

The last time that I baked this bread, I used a portion of rye flour. This time I relied on the power of wheat alone. This bread is supposed to be made with something called high extraction flour, which is an almost whole grain flour. Almost all of the bran is included, but not quite all of it. This enables the baker to make a wheat bread which is almost 100% whole grain. I made a high extraction flour of my own. This can easily be done by creating a blend which is 85-90% whole wheat and 10-15% bread flour or high gluten flour. I easily accomplished this by taking 900 grams of whole wheat flour and 100 grams of bread flour. This left me with one kilogram of usable high extraction flour. 

One of my motivations in baking this bread was to have a very thick and crusty bread which would be perfect for potato and leek soup, which I have cooking on the stove as I am writing this. I added my own flare to this soup  by using some fresh corn, some seared mushrooms and some chili to give it a little heat. This soup will be wonderful with a few thick slices of this bread. I cannot use the bread until it has been allowed to rest for at least 12 hours. This will allow the acidity to climb and it will allow the crumb to settle. Since this bread is made with a large amount of whole grain, it requires a fair amount of water, and thus requires a very long bake to ensure that the bread is full cooked. The bread should take on a thick and chewy crust. This bread always makes me think of the Middle Ages. I can picture a rustic man of roughly 250 pounds ripping at the heel of it with his teeth to break it down. It brings me great joy to bake a bread that has passed the true test of time. 
Fold One
When I went to make the sourdough build for this bread, I went into my bread cupboard and was disappointed to find that I had none of my home-milled spring wheat and none of what I typically use in a pinch, King Arthur Whole Wheat flour.  I really did not want to use white whole wheat flour for this bread. I was forced to use some Gold Medal Whole Wheat flour, and to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. My build did not grow too much overnight, probably because I have not fed my wheat starter in months.  I was a bit worried, but the truth of the matter is that this bread used an autolyse, and has a very long bulk fermentation. (Nearly three hours) This bulk fermentation incorporates three folds, and you really have to make them count. This bread also has the gift of a long final proofing of about 2.5 hours. I had a feeling that it would be just fine. The starter had a blackish alcohol-containing liquid floating on top, so I just mixed it in and went to work. In a perfect world you would feed the culture a few times to get it ramped up, but I knew that I had the advantage of time. 

Fold Two
As mentioned earlier, this bread contains an autolyse which means that the final flour and water are mixed to form a shaggy mass, which is then left for about 45 minutes. Salt is then sprinkled over the mass and is built in chunks. The dough is then mixed on second speed for about three minutes. Very little gluten development will be seen and the dough will tend to be very loose. Do NOT add more flour! Be patient, remember that we have three folds and we will incorporate some flour with each of these folds. 

I knew this bread was going to be huge if I made into only one loaf, so I divided it to make two smaller 'round' loaves, I put "round" in quotation marks because the shape was not so pristine. The dough stuck to the brotforms, even though they were heavily floured. I feel that my brotforms have been a little less successful with these wetter breads ever since the dough got stuck to them. However, we must deal with what we've got, and in the best way that we can! I do like the idea of two smaller breads for this formula. The  resulting bread is intense, and smaller slices would not be the end of the world. Knowing I have a future heavy stew bread just chilling in my freezer makes me quite happy! The resulting breads did not have perfect rings. In fact,
one of them does not have any rings at all, but they will taste great regardless. 

This is another Hamelman formula that I can stand firmly behind, with confidence saying that not a single change is necessary. I am also reading the Fellowship and every time they speak of bread I think of this one, so this one's for you Frodo!

Bake On!

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