Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pain au Levain with Toasted Barley Flour and Black Sesame

The Rye King is back in the Swing! 

It has been way to long, it seems like it has been months since I last baked a bread. This one has been a long time coming. This baker is a happy to announce that his starter is up and running. She is off to a slow start, but that is nothing a little freshly ground rye flour can't solve. 

Today I decided that it was time for a feeding with rye flour. Since when I started the building process I did not have access to rye flour, because I was in the process of moving, it was a slower start, and do to my commuting schedule I was only able to feed it once per day in the evening. The other factor is that overnight when my starter is doing its thing it is cold as hell in my kitchen, since I have been turning the heat down, so that is not exactly helping, but I must say, the advantage to an unheated room is a very handy retarder. It really has been cold and snowy here in central New England of late. We have been absolutely blasted with snow. My home town of Worcester is currently number one in the country for snow fall which is absurd. This never happens. This must be another one of Al Gore in convenient truths, global freezing.

I am so happy that my kitchen is now more or less in working order, its not perfect, but all of my bread related things have a place, and that is a decent start. I really was not sure what I wanted to bake this week, so I went back to my 75% hydrated Pain Au Levain. I knew I wanted to try out a new grain with it, so I ground some whole barley kernels and then I toasted them lightly in the oven at 200 degrees for thirty minutes, to make them slightly more aromatic. Setting this aside, I was putting my kernels away and saw some black sesame seeds and decided that this would be a nice addition. Having never baked with black sesame, I went on the lighter side, 1 percent by weight. I think I could have gone with two or three percent, but I did not want to overpower the bread as that was the main change and flavor that I was looking for. 

The autolyse for this bread included all of the flour including the barley flour the levain and the water, the salt was held back until the final kneading. The bread was then hand kneaded for about four minutes. It was covered with a wet linen and was fermented for three hours with 5 folds. I tended towards a longer fermentation period secondary to the colder temperature of my kitchen. The barely absorbed quite a bit of water, I would have expected this dough to be much looser. I shaped this bread into a rough boule and placed it in a linen lined brotform that was dusted with bread flour. The bread then proofed overnight in my guest room (roughly 50 degrees). I did notice that in the morning the loaf had a slight skin, but I was pleased that this did not inhibit oven spring too much. I gave the bread four parallel slashes with my favorite red paring knife. And placed it in a 3 qt dutch oven pre-heated to 500 degrees. I then reduced the oven to 450 degrees and baked the bread covered for 20 minutes and then removed the cover and baked an additional 20 minutes. 

The bread came out with a wonderful earthy, crust with nice yellow tone around the gringe! I am very pleased with the appearance of this loaf. And excited to try it! 

After review, this loaf needs help, its dense, I think my starter needs to really get its act together! 

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