Pure Magic. Even when they don’t turn out as expected. I started baking bread using a Bread Maker that I had gifted to Sudha. What started off as tentative steps that always ended in disasters is now slowly but surely becoming an obsession. Here are a few experiments that have risen to my expectations.
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I’ve been guilty of no updates for quite some time now and this is being done primarily to document an experiment. So, I’ll just report the essentials. Another one of my renewed experiments with 100% Whole Wheat. And unlike all the previous one that I could probably kill someone with, this turned out good. Crackling crust and a moist, chewy crumb.
453 grams Organic Whole Wheat Flour. I got the berries freshly stone-ground from the neighbourhood chikki (mill)
463 grams of Water (102 % hydration)
91 grams Young, stiff levain (50% hydration. I used Mozart - a culture from Vienna)
11 Grams of Himalayan Pink Salt (2.5%)
Autolyse: Mix the whole wheat flour well with 90 %(418 grams) of the water in a bowl ensuring that you don't have any dry spots. Leave covered for 30 minutes. When water and flour mix, gluten formation begins - a step that is vital for dough development. Also, enzymes present in the flour are activated and these convert starches into sugar - a step that is vital for yeast to start feeding and for them to produce carbon dioxide that causes the loaf to rise.
Mix: Add the starter to the dough. Mix well till the starter is incorporate well into the dough. Now add salt to the balance water, stir well and add the salt and water mixture to the dough. Mix well to ensure that the salt is well dispersed across the dough. My dough was sticky and you should expect yours to be gooey or sticky depending on the flour you're using. Let the dough sit covered for three hours at room temperature. I always let my dough ferment at temperature between 76F and 78F. If it’s hotter your dough will ferment faster and on days like that, I create a micro-climate by letting the bowl sit next to or on an frozen pack of ice in a closed carton. The slower your dough ferments, the more flavour will be eked out and of course better health benefits will accrue.
Pre-Shape: Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Stretch the dough gently from under and pre-shape your loaf into a boule. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
Shape: Dust a kitchen napkin with a 50-50 mix of Rice flour and Atta and place in a banneton. Shape into a tight boule and transfer into the banneton. Cover with a plastic wrap and cold-proof (refrigerate) for 3 hours
Bake: Pre-heat the oven with a Dutch Oven (DO) to max temperature (250C) approximately 45 minutes before it’s time to bake. When the cold proofing is done, remove the plastic wrap, and transfer the dough gently into the pre-heated DO. Score the dough, and transfer the DO back into the oven with its lid. Reset time to 20 minutes. When done, remove lid and bake at 225C till the crust is well browned and the bread registers an internal temperature of 212F.
Cool: Remove when done and cool for at least an hour before slicing it.
This is how my loaf looked. Loved the coppery tones from the caramelisation.
Not enough rise, but then this was stone-ground and so lots of bran - no surprise for me.
And the crumb - not as open as I'd like it to be and perhaps there's a lot more work required - but then the wheat that we grow in our country is primarily meant for flat breads - so how can one possibly eke out more? Food for thought!
All in all. Quite easy and delightfully flavoursome. Recipe inspired by Dave Miller’s Basic Whole Wheat Bread
Thank you Prem @lakshmifarms for shooting this while I was lost. This is, more often than not, how I play with dough - letting the pattern emerge, rather than pre-decide what to do. 💝