Monday, January 19, 2015

Pain au Pecan with Whole Spelt and Wheat

An older post from prior to my move, that I forgot to post!

Today I am off, because I am working the weekend, and I could think of no better way to spend my day than to make two last loaves of Pain au Pecan prior to leaving New Jersey and starting my new venture in Massachusetts, my old stomping grounds. I have been working and perfecting this bread for the past few months and I saw it as a perfect opportunity to test run my latest changes, the addition of whole spelt. At this point, this is the formula that I am most proud of as an inventor. It suits my personality, nutty, earth, loud and very crunchy.  

To me, the thing that makes this bread shine, is a very full roasting/toasting of the nuts. If I had a deck oven I would toast the whole pecans in the deck and 400 degrees, but since I do not I toasted them in a sauté pan. My method is very simple, place a pan on medium low heat and cook the nuts low and slow. I think I had them toasting for at-least fifteen minutes. You really want to get as much aroma and flavor as you can. 

This is a wet dough, and you really need to shoot for four solid folds. This helps to create structure, none the less, the bread has a low profile, its spreads in the oven rather than growing up, but this reminds me of Miche, which makes me happy. And in fact, this bread is miche like, with only 25% bread flour and all found in the sourdough build. I previously was using the white flour in the final mix, but realized that I could get better gluten development if I prefermented the white flour. 

Since my apartment is on the colder side, I extended the bulk fermentation by thirty minutes and I completed it in the laundry room where my water boiler and furnace happen to be to give it a little temperature boost. The other thing I did was to wet my hands during all the folds, with a dough as wet as this (85%) it really does help to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. This is a technique I learned from Douglas Rae, when I staged in his bakery. 

After fermenting, I split the dough into two relatively equal sized pieces and pre-shaped them into rounds. Twenty minutes later I gave them their final shaping and placed them in heavily flour-lined brotforms for the long haul. They proofed for 130 minutes and were then baked in preheated dutch ovens at 460 degrees for twenty minutes, the lids were removed and the bread was baked for an additional 25 minutes. 

These loaves came out pretty, but to be honest the highlight of my day as finding my little red pairing knife, which has been missing since about July. It last was seen when my sister was visiting. I am so excited to have my scoring tool back, as it is what I am most comfortable with and what I like using most.

Bake On
-DW, The Rye King

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