Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Anis's bread v 1.0

I got a comment from a bread blogger! "What's so special about that?" might you ask. Haven't I gotten comments from food bloggers before? Ah, but it's not a food blogger, it's a bread blogger. They are a completely different breed. They don't wax poetic about their ingredients, they don't take sexy pictures, they don't try to make you forget your cubical and imagine that you are in Tuscany. They write about skill and skill alone. They expect you to speak a certain jargon and know your stuff. If you don't know what autolyse, preferment, and gluten development mean, you might get a little lost, and if you still don't weigh your ingredients, you should not touch bread baking forums and blogs with a 10 foot pole.

As you can imagine the geeky person that I am, I find a great sense of kinship with these folks. But I am a lurker on all these boards and blogs, so all these serious bread bakers don't know I exist. But finally, last week, not only did I get a comment from SteveB from Bread Cetera, but it was so inspiring, I grabbed my bag of flour within a few hours and started baking.

He told me about Anis Bouabsa's baguette method that involves very little yeast (1/4 tsp per 500g flour) and a very long fermentation period (1 hour room temp and 21 hours refrigerated). I decided to give it a try, but shape it into a boule since I don't know how to shape baguettes yet. The following are my notes to myself and lessons learnt.


500g AP flour
0.8 g instant yeast (about 1/4 tsp)
11g salt (about 4 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher salt)
413g water (about 1 3/4 cup)

What I did
Mixed flour, yeast and water and let sit for 20 minutes (atolyse).  Added salt and kneaded by slapping and folding on the counter about 30 times.  Then let it rest in a bowl 20 minutes and knead again. Then let it rest in a bowl 20 more minutes and knead again.   In other words, let sit at room temp for 1 hour kneading at 20 minutes, 40 minutes and 60 minutes.  Then put in the fridge for about 24 hours.  It didn't seam to rise as much as I am used to, so I let it sit at room temp about 1 hour before shaping.  Shaped into a boule.  I did a lousy shaping job this time -- forgot to deflate and trapped some flour inside the loaf.  Proofed for 2 hours and baked in a cast iron pot.  I preheated it to 500F for 30 minutes, lowered the bread on a parchment paper sling.  Reduced oven to 425F, baked 30 minutes covered.  Then 25 more minutes uncovered reducing the oven to 400F for the last 10 minutes.  Internal temp was 209F.

The good
The flavor was wonderfully wheaty and sweet.

The bad
I ended up with some huge holes and some very dense and doughy areas.  Probably a combination of not enough rising during primary fermentation, forgetting to deflate, and poor shaping.

What to try next
  • I shouldn't take "1 hour at room temp" literally.  It depends on the kitchen temp of course, and I should have given it longer.
  • I should try it with half AP and half Bread flour (I didn't have any bread flour until today).
  • Don't forget to deflate before shaping.
  • Reduce water to 1 2/3 cups
  • I really need to learn to shape -- anyone knows of good videos?
  • Need to bake longer.

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