Monday, November 12, 2007

5 lb loaf.

From June 2007, multiple posts from my personal journal leading up to the making of the 5 lb loaf.

I'm also going to attempt a single 5 lb loaf probably tomorrow, which requires the two batches of preferment increased from Alton Brown's recipe by 50% (or just a third batch, now that I do the math. Whatever.) But the preferment will go into two separate 2.5 lb batches of dough (the max my mixer can handle without emotional trauma) which I will combine into a single lump for proofing and shaping. I'll probably use my pizza stone for it since it may be wider than my sheet pans, so a parchment covered pizza peel will by the oven delivery system. It may actually fit on a cookie sheet, but I can't mentally calculate the second proof diameter. Bake time should be interesting, good thing I have a probe thermometer to check interior temp, and I suspect I'll have to use foil to stop crust browning towards the end. Those huge slices should make kickass panini sandwiches.

Someone on pointed to the site, so I checked it out and decided to dive into no knead bread just one more time. There is something very zen about the idea of just stirring the dough and letting time do the work for you, but my luck with no knead has been mediocre at best.

A big premise of the no knead, besides more hydration and a long room temp first rise (18 hours), is baking it in a heavy covered dish for a hard crust. For the fun of it I just made up two batches, which were going to be rye but I ran out of wheat flour without realizing it, so rye it is. One will be made in a covered container (enamel stock pot, they call for cast iron dutch oven but I don't have one) the other I'll bake on a cookie sheet just to see what the difference is. If nothing else, the dough has a nice feel to it after mixing it up.

Tomorrow I'll also be doing my 5 lb bread loaf experiment, which should be interesting. It'll be twice the size of my biggest loaves to date.

The no knead dough is looking wonderful. I think the problem with my earlier attempts may have been too much hydration, and a lack of a tougher grain (whole wheat or rye) for structure. It's supposed to have an 18 hour rise so I'll be messing with it around and after dinner tonight. At least I won't be doing stuff with it at 2am again.

I'll work on the 5 lb loaf after Pari goes to camp today, so that I don't throw off my timing and need to do something during pickup time. if nothing else, this loaf will make a groovy picture and awsome paninis, assuming I give it enough structure and it holds upright enough.

Part of me wonders if I could build a really long oven to make super long loaves, but I think that would be a quest just to see what it would take rather than actually doing it. Googling "how to make an electric oven" should give me an idea. If I knew of 6 foot long insulated tube that could be turned into an oven with heating elements at minimal cost, then I'd have to start building plans, but so far I am coming up with zip. Besides, I'd have to have custom loaf pans made, unless they make 6 foot loaf pans (great, now I'll have to look that up on ebay.)

5 lbs of dough are made and in the cold oven with a hot pan of water for it's first proof, which should take about 2-3 hours (hard to tell with that much dough sometimes). So I'll check it after lunch to see if it's ready for shaping into a bigass boule loaf.

And the no knead rye loaves continue to...sit there and wait until I do something with them this evening. It takes so long, I almost feel like I should give the two batches of dough a deck of cards to keep themselves entertained while they proof.

I must say, 5 lbs of dough isn't that difficult to lift, but it's almost more than a handful to shape. The loaf is formed and on it's second proof, in about 40 minutes I'll preheat the oven and 15 minutes after that I'll bake.


So here it is, five pounds of dough turned into a single huge loaf of bread. I think it's the single largest loaf I've ever made, and couldn't do any bigger without a different pan (maybe a huge lasagna pan). When I checked it after 45 minutes with a probe it was about 15-20 degrees below target temp so I covered it in foil to stop more browning of the crust and gave it another 10 minutes, which worked fine. I was able to wrestle it through my slicing machine enough to get huge slices to make 3 panini sandwiches for dinner.

The loaf was Alton Browns Very Basic Bread recipe x3, with whole wheat for the preferment, the remaining flour half bread and half high gluten, and 3-4 tablespoons flax meal.

I decided that this was too much of a hard act to follow, so screw the no knead bread. That glop just landed in the trash.

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