A Stir The Pots Post

A Baking Conundrum

by | Apr 21, 2012 | Baking, Bread, Fermentation

Most bakers agree the first bulk ferment gives more flavor development to the dough. But in my experience, that rarely happens. So often I start a project bread dough on a whim. Then, half-heartedly looking at the clock, I have to rush or retard the dough.

With the bread, below, I did the opposite. A sourdough wheat formula from Alain Coumont's Cook + book, I was using my wonderful half white flour from Trumansburg. I baked it at home, during a break between my first and second shift. In need of a knead and a new loaf, I had a levain build at the last stages of a long ferment, and had just under two hours to make the dough. That was a short time for full bulk ferment; ideally an hour and a half to two for a kilo of miche.
Given my schedule, there would not be time for a preshape, just straight into banneton and a long final proof. I asked Daylesfords Organic's Head baker Eric Duhamel about my cunundrum regarding short bulk versus long final rise. He advised me to give it a longer bulk, adding that this is a subject about which "you could talk the beard off a billy goat if you like." Anyway, I went for it. In this first cut the crumb showed large holes. But as I sliced the crumb seemed more dense like the Miche I've had at Le Pain Quotidien. It worked. 


1 Comment

  1. Norbert Vollkornbrot

    Nice pictures, especially the first. Although it’s tempting to get caught up in the aesthetics of bread with ridiculous open crumb, I believe that what’s most important is the flavour, not the “open crumb look”. For taste and user friendliness a more modest open crumb can make the difference between enjoyment and frustration. I have scaled back on hydration levels of some breads after several customers returned their loaves claiming they were too “holey”. Who am I to argue?


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