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Your loaf keeps liftin' me higher - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Your loaf keeps liftin' me higher [Aug. 26th, 2011|08:16 pm]
Zoethe
Earlier this week I bragged on baking a beautiful bread. Little did I know that I would eclipse that bread in so short a time. And yet, here is today's loaf:



This enormous loaf weighs less than two pounds. It is the lightest bread I've ever made, one of the lightest I've ever eaten. Just look at the cracks in the crust where the oven spring was more than the gluten skin could handle. And check out this lovely crumb:

Good holes all the way to the bottom, no dense lower half. This bread was magnificent, and the baking accomplished with the wonderful dutch oven once again.

I can't really give you a recipe, because I just made it up as I went along. But I started by double-feeding my sourdough starter the night before so that I use take two full cups of sourdough starter in the baking. To that I added 6 oz. water and half a teaspoon of yeast (I don't have an issue with using yeast in my sourdough bread, because I'm raising it more for the flavor than for the rising capability). Into that went 11 oz. of King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, and then a long autolyse before adding oil and salt in the kneading.

A word about flour: if you want light bread, use King Arthur AP. It has a protein content higher than some companies' bread flours, but not so high that the gluten gets tough. Their AP. bread, and whole wheat flours are readily available in grocery stores, but they also have a great website with lots of baking goodies, specialty flours, and recipes. Many bakers consider a visit to their Vermont headquarters a kind of voyage to Mecca.

Anyway, this dough was springy and pliant with just a few minutes of kneading, and just wouldn't stop rising. I flattened and folded it after 20 minutes, and at 40 minutes it was already doubled in size. I gave it another 20 minutes, and it was clearly ready for shaping and proofing. After an hour it was almost too big for my dutch oven.

Not quite too big, though. The dutch oven is kind of fun, because you don't peak for the first half hour, so discovering how much oven spring you get is like a Christmas present.

In this case, the answer was, "plenty." And it tasted as good as it looks: crisp crust and tender crumb, a hint of sour but also plenty of wheat flavor.

Maintaining a sourdough is a bit of work, but bread like this is a definite reward.

Crossposting from Dreamwidth now. Sigh. If LJ won't let you comment, you can comment here: http://zoethe.dreamwidth.org/783347.html?mode=reply:
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: fallconsmate
2011-08-27 12:20 am (UTC)
that is a BEAUTIFUL loaf of bread! my granny made kolaches and cinnamon rolls and monkey bread with a sweet yeast dough, and french loaves from another recipe.

christmas was her "big" baking...smelling bread baking takes me back to her kitchen and being told not to touch the kolaches till they were cooled and iced. :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-08-27 12:31 am (UTC)
I want to experiment with more kinds of bread. Christmas was a big baking time around our house, though not yeast breads - I'm not sure my mom ever made bread by hand!
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[User Picture]From: metachaos
2011-08-27 12:51 am (UTC)
I love your bread and you sound so knowledgeable about baking it! What references have you been using to learn, if you don't mind my asking?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-08-27 12:57 am (UTC)
The main one has been Artisan Baking by Maggie Gleezer. I've also got The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, but haven't really started working with that one yet.

Plus my own willingness to mess around and play with the recipe. After all, what's the worst that happens? You waste a buck's worth of flour and some time, and you probably learn something anyway.
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-08-27 01:56 am (UTC)
i keep hearing king arthur is the way to go. i grew up on gold medal. :/
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-08-27 02:01 am (UTC)
It's a bit like growing up on Velveeta and then learning about real cheese. ;-)
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-08-27 02:02 am (UTC)
wow ... LOL
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[User Picture]From: domiobrien
2011-08-27 12:29 pm (UTC)

Dutch oven

I've baked Irish soda bread in a bastible or Dutch oven, but I've had a problem with it sticking on the bottom. I haven't tried baking a yeast bread in a Dutch oven yet. It doesn't look like you've having any issues with it sticking. Right?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-08-27 01:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Dutch oven

Parchment paper is the answer to any sticking problems. It's the most wonderful invention, and I don't bake bread without it. Because the dutch oven needs to be well pre-heated, an extra large piece of parchment paper makes for "handles" for dropping it in without burns. I can't recommend the stuff enough!
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-08-27 01:58 pm (UTC)

Re: Dutch oven

Sounds like a plan! Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: oceansedge
2011-08-27 09:05 pm (UTC)
are you familiar at all with:
http://www.thefreshloaf.com/

I have enjoyed it :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-08-27 10:01 pm (UTC)
They're on my toolbar!
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From: anonymousalex
2011-08-28 04:54 am (UTC)
Your bread adventures are going to get me to overcome my inertia one day and make my own. In the meantime, I can enjoy the pictures: this loaf I can practically taste.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-08-28 03:08 pm (UTC)
It's not as hard as people make it out to be. And the aroma of fresh-baked bread is one of the great pleasures of life.
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From: anonymousalex
2011-08-28 05:35 pm (UTC)
I know, on both counts. But some days, I'm lucky if I find time to do the laundry, you know?

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: fitfool
2011-08-30 12:19 pm (UTC)
ooh...I haven't baked a loaf in over a month now. You're making me want to attempt a bread recipe!
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