Sunday, January 27, 2013

Starter did the first loaf turn out?

Bread made from flour, water and salt.  The only yeast was developed from a starter of flour and water, carefully cultivated, and well documented in my starter trials.  No commercial yeast, and the taste and texture would be quite impressive, even with a few mistakes I made during the baking stage, and those leading up to it.

Yesterday was quite an adventure.  It had been a few weeks of developing starter to even get to the baking stage, so my anticipation was understandably high.

The bulk rise went well, with everything coming to pass as I expected, given Chad's photos and tutorial in Tartine Bread. Shaping went well.  Loading the shaped loaf into the floured basket went well.  The final rise went well...just as I understood it to be.

It was at the point of loading the loaf into the combo cooker where things took a slight turn.  The loaf collapsed just a bit as I transferred it to the cooker.  This was my first disappointment.  Onward I pressed, however, committed to finishing what I had started.

My second disappointment was in removing the lid of the cooker after 25 minutes.  The dramatic oven spring I'd come to expect from my artisanal loaves wasn't as dramatic as I know it should be, and can be, and certainly not what Chad's beautiful photos showed.

My third disappointment was in the weight of the loaf after I removed it from the oven, thinking it was done.  It wasn't done.  It was close, but the moisture hadn't baked out of it enough to allow for the light feel and hollow sound I was expecting.  Unfortunately, by the time I realized this, it was too late to put it back into the oven.

None the less, even with my mistakes, I can't complain all that much.  Yes, it was flatter than I wanted, due to the collapse, and it wasn't as light as I'd wanted, due to the retained moisture, but it still had an unexpected  display of holes when I cut into it, and the flavor of the olives, lemon and herbs was wonderful.

Equipped with more information now, and an idea for a better transfer technique from basket to cooker, I'm looking for the home run loaf I know I can make.  Oh, so close...but not quite there!

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