what i love most is that people write to me and tell me that when they use my formulae, that their bread comes out perfectly. this was my goal, and i love giving it all away for free. there are not enough people in the world just sharing for the sake of sharing, for the sake of helping other people to make their lives just a teeny bit more enjoyable. i love it when someone tells me that they have set up their ipad in their kitchen and used my blog like a book. what's better than a free book anyway?
so, no, this is no iconoclastic blog, but what you will find here are some answers to the simple questions that everyone has, and some sure-fire ways to make sure that your levain is proofing nicely, and that you are achieving good ears and a good crust and crumb. i will get around to some other flours (and methods) i promise, but i'm actually really busy.
so, went to seattle to visit a friend this past week, and i took the opportunity to see what happens when we work with refrigerated starters. this is something that i have long been wanting to try. my findings are outlined below.
also, lots of people have been asking me about my scoring. i take such pride in my scoring, and i love that i am seeing my 'SWIRL' all over the net. hooray. a blogger friend in spain just did one and emailed me sublime photos, and then the opera singer in switzerland who did a lovely post about it. if you end up scoring the swirl, please send me photos or a link to your blog so i can see it. our little connection.
the thing about scoring is that your hydration cannot be mega high if you want to get those prominent ears. if you will notice, my hydrations are pretty moderate. i get a great shattery crust, fully gelatinized crumb, excellent flavor, moist interior, and RIDICULOUS EARS. always, it's about those ears! those ears make a tasty, caramelized crust, and they're just fun to look at, right?
so, the first key to good scoring is an appropriate hydration. not too high. have a look at some of the breads on my blog and check out the hydration levels. it's hard to resist the urge to add more water in the beginning, because everyone always talks about how mega-high hydration is what makes the irregularly-holed crumb, but when you get your first set of ridiculous ears you will never go back. and the crumb of all of my breads is always fantastic.
the second part of scoring, once you've shown restraint in hydration, is to score DEEPLY. and score TWICE. that's my secret. yes, twice. you score the pattern that you want, then you go back in and cut through the dough again, deeply.
the third rule is to hold your blade at an angle -- i use a regular razor blade from walgreens (one that fits in a man's razor). no handle. pinching the blade between your fingers allows you to have total control over the scoring. so, always hold the blade as horizontally as possible. this will lift the ears. you cannot make that swirl by holding the blade perpendicular to the dough. you've got to hold it parallel. keep in mind that shallow scoring, with the blade held perpendicularly, makes the slashes bleed rather than lift the ears.
i try to photograph my slashes so that you can see how deeply i get into the dough. don't worry if the edges seem ragged on the bends, it will bake up just fine and they will smooth out. just follow the instructions, try to slash as smoothly as possible, and send me pictures of your loaves!
without further ado, here is your city bread in stout with toasted hazelnuts. let me know how yours turns out!
here is how my feeding went after i returned from seattle:
- saturday: fed twice: at 2pm and midnight
- sunday: fed twice: at 8am and 8pm
- monday: fed twice: at 8am and 8pm
- tuesday: fed three times: at 8am, 3pm, and midnight
- wednesday: made the levain at 10:30 in the morning
i began mine at 10:30 in the morning, and fermented it until 5pm, so, 6 hours 30 minutes.
50g 100% hyration, 100% organic rye flour starter
100g chocolate stout beer (or guinness, perhaps)
100g organic BRM rye flour
mix the above and let ferment for 6.5 hours.
250g of levain
170g chocolate stout beer
170g + 25g cold filtered h2o
90g BRM organic rye flour
410g KA organic bread flour
150g toasted hazelnuts, skinned and very coarsely chopped
mix all of the ingredients above MINUS the +25g H2O, the salt, and the hazelnuts; until you reach a shaggy mass. autolyse for one hour.
over the next 4 hours, your bulk fermentation takes place. for the first two hours of the bulk fermentation, perform a series of turns every half hour for a total of four series of turns. refrigerate the dough for the last two hours, unmolested.
after the bulk ferment, turn the dough out onto a workspace that has been dusted with organic brown rice flour. i use BRM. rest the dough for 15 minutes, then flip it over onto a CLEAN part of the workspace and form into a boule (the clean workspace creates friction under the dough, helping to make a nice, tight boule).
pop the dough into a linen-lined bowl that has been dusted with brown rice flour. cover, and leave to ferment at cool room temperature for an hour and 20 minutes. after 1 hour and 20 minutes, refrigerate for 15 hours and 40 minutes more for a total final fermentation time of 17 hours.
the verdict: another winner. i like the subtlety of the beer in this loaf. remember the last loaf? how it used ALL beer in the formula? and because of that particular beer, it made a rather stalwart bread, which i loved, but i wanted to see if i could attain a sweeter more 'beer redolent' a loaf instead of a definitively BEER loaf. this time round, i decided to go with 1/2 water and 1/2 beer to see what the result would be, and the result was a malty, fabulous crumb, fully gelatinized; it tasted a little smoky, slight sweet. of course the hazelnuts did their magical thing. what harmony, the nuts and the stout. the uber shattery crust was incredible. i do have a little stout leftover, and i think i will try my hand at a loaf using all stout and no water. that loaf will be sweeter than the arrogant bastard loaf, more malty/smoky/nutty, since, as we know, the beer translates directly unto the bread, leaving none of its nuances out. i will let you all know how it goes!
to the staff of life!