Bread making experiments

On 23rd November 2019 I carry out a couple of experiments.

Firstly, I used Neven Maguire’s starter and recipe for his wholemeal sourdough. But I made two significant changes:

  1. I increased the water content to 300 ml of warm water (hydration rate 80% rather than the usual 175 ml and hydration rate of 47%)
  2. I used the stretch and fold technique to knead it, rather than the usual technique of more vigorous pushing and pulling back

The dough was very wet and sticky and I did not attempt to knead it; I used the stretch and fold technique as per Bake with Jack and stretched and folded over as follows:

  • I mixed the contents in bowl and left for 30 minutes
  • Did the first fold and left for 2 hours
  • Did the second fold and left for 2 hours
  • Did the third fold and left for 1 hour
  • Then I sprinkled the top of the dough with flour and dusted the work surface and shaped it into a ball and left if for 1 hour with a covering cloth
  • Then I did a final shape and placed it in the banneton basket and left it out at room temperature for approximately 5 hours.

 It puffed up quite significantly, as big as I have seen any of them, and I was expecting great things from this one.

However, it had puffed up so big that it went up the sides of the banneton basket-which were not floured-and stuck to the basket when I went to remove it and place it on the tray. I got it out, with a struggle, and placed it on the tray but it was very flat and had deflated to a certain extent when I removed it from the basket and placed it on the baking tray.

Wholemeal sourdough

I was still hopeful that it would have good oven spring, but it did not rise up well at all and it looked like a poor, flat effort when I removed it from the oven.

However, when I cut it the crumb was probably the most open, lightest crumb I have achieved yet and the taste was probably the best insofar as it was the strongest/sourest sourdough I have made yet.

Nice open crumb

The questions which arise are:

  1. Was the dough over proofed or under proofed?
  2. Would it have made a difference to put it in the fridge, or another cool place for the proving phase?
  3. Why did the bread not benefit from any oven spring?

This method, and Neven’s recipe, are well worth pursuing, I believe, because if a couple of small changes remedy the small problems that arose it can be a very nice loaf of bread, not just from a taste perspective but an aeshteically pleasing loaf, too.

Second experiment

The second experiment involved using Bake with Jack’s recipe and starter and recipe but rathter than stretching and folding it I kneaded the dough after leaving it rest for 30 minutes.

I then let it ferment at room temperature for approximately 5 hours, then put it in the fridge overnight.

This one had an excellent rise in the oven and looks great; however, the crumb is quite thick and closed. I have not tasted it yet, though, so will have to finish this post when I do. Should be having it for my lunch tomorrow ?

Update: it passed the taste test and was a very agreeable loaf of bread.

White sourdough loaf
White sourdough crumb-not bad

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