Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A note on how I count loaves....

It occurred to me that someone might wonder why I'm showing multiple loaves in a post but only counting one loaf. I consider for the purposes of this project that I only do one loaf a day that counts, but I may do multiple experiments on the same day.

In my opinion a loaf only counts if there is something new about it, either in the way I created the dough, or the process I used to bake it. Doing 100 loaves of plain white bread in boule form would be easy and i could probably crank them out in under a month. But actually learning something new about how bread works? That's the goal.

I also plan to do something special every 10 loaves, an overview of the different breads I've made and celebrate the event by sharing the best bread I can make with friends.

Loaf #5, sourdough and new loaf pans

Yesterday I received my loaf pans, so after cultivating a large batch of sourdough slurry I made a batch with regular bread flour and another with high gluten flour. The high gluten flour rose faster and was shaped into French loaves (on the right) and the regular bread flour became Italian loaves (on the left). I sprayed the pans with nonstick spray and sprinkled cornmeal on it, which did a nice job. next time I'll probably just use parchment paper for easier cleanup. The loaves formed beautifully, but between over baking them and probably not hydrating them enough the outside ended up a bit tough. The sourdough taste was pretty good, though, so it's worth another try.

Next time I try using the loaf pans I'll limit baking time to 20 minutes or so, since they seem to get done so much faster in this form.

When I made the dough, I just put about 2 cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt into a bowl, then dumped in enough slurry to form the dough. Not very scientific, but it worked ok except for the over baking.

Loaf #4 and Food Slicer review

To try something a bit different I tried the No Knead Bread, this time with 1/3 rye flour and 2/3 all purpose flour and 2 tsp caraway seeds. I also did it as a double batch, and kept it on parchment paper after shaping so I could hold onto the corners and drop the whole thing into the pot so it would hold more of it's shape. The result was a tasty loaf, although pretty big. I'm thinking a regular size loaf baked in a round pan would be nice.

I also got a food slicer (bottom of the picture), which works real nicely for cutting up the loaves quickly and into even slices. The only drawbacks in my opinion is that if the loaf is too tall or long it may not fit against the cutting blade, and have to be cut smaller to fit. Not worth the investment if you only do the occasional loaf, but for the avid baker it's a nice addition to the kitchen.