Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bread experiment

I was told by my friends that their bread is not necessarily rising so well, the crumb's structure is different, etc.. Anyway, all in all is not as nice as mine.

OK, I'm perfectionist when it comes to my cooking, even more when it comes to my recipes.
If I give a recipe it needs to be perfect :D.

So, I decided to start an experiment with my lovely bread, and about 5 types of flour, 'cause that was obvious to me from experience that the difference must come from the flour, and from the pot used.

I'm using two types of pots: the perfect one is the one meant for induction, has a thick bottom but lighter sidewall, the other is an Iittala Tools pot, perfect bottom, a bit thicker walls, makes good bread, but I prefer the other.. And now the flour..

I used the following flours:
- Red Mill organic unbleached white flour -
- Costo bread flour, bleached (unfortunately) the 25 lb package
- Sprouts unbleached white flour - from the bulk department
- Gold medal unbleached all purpose flour - I bough it from Target, but I found somewhere that Walmart carries it as well (feel free to try other types as well)
- King Arthur unbleached bread flour - from Sprouts, but other shops might carry it

We made a big tasting evening, baked all five breads at a time, and eat from all four breads except the King Arthur, as it was the last to go to the oven and it wasn't ready to cut before we started dinner.

Now, what I did and I learned..

The process:
First, I measured the 700 ml of each flour.
More precisely I started with the Costco.
I put it on the scale, and it wasn't 400 g as stated in the recipe, but 450 g. Whether is good or bad, you decide. I knew my bread is very good with the Costco 700 ml, turned to be 450 g, so I decided to go with the 450 g instead of the 400 g.
Next I measured the Red Mill, followed by the Sprouts and Gold medal, and last the King Arthur.
To my surprise, from the Sprouts and Gold medal 450 g wasn't 700 ml, but rather 750 ml. So, there you go.. And the dough was still more watery then from the Costco and Red Mill. I don't know how it was with the King Arthur, I lost patience to pour it back to the ml measurement bowl. 
I let them ferment overnight, about 20 hours.
Next day I started to dump the dough on the table (with two at a time as two of them fit in my oven) and let them rise for two more hours under a cloth.

The dough at mixing time:
- Costco and Red Mill organic flour behaved about the same
- all other three, Sprouts, Golden Medal and King Arthur (especially the last) were more sticky then I like my dough, but I resisted to add a bit extra flour, just for the sake of the experiment.

The dough after 20 and the +2 hours time:
They looked all nice and bubbly, with the fermented smell
- Costco and Red Mill organic flour behaved about the same, being able to form a kinda nice round loaf
- the Gold medal was OK-ish, with a bit more flour needed to make not to stick to the mat
- from the other three I didn't manage to make a roundish loaf at all, they were all deliquescent somethings, let's call the still loafs :D.
Same applies to the result after the two extra hours rising, or I would say the were even more deliquescent.
My biggest challenge was getting the loafs off from the pastry board, as they were so sticky the silicon slab was coming with them :).
I heated the oven to 440 F (435 is enough, mine is not working perfectly..).
I put the bread in the preheated oven AND pot for 30 minutes. Make sure the pot is VERY hot or the bread will stick to the bottom and it will be impossible to get it out.
Then I took off the lid, made the temperature to 550 and let it for another 20 minutes.
I took them out in 2 cloths / bread, and let the cool for at least 1.5 hour each.

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