Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Country White Bread and Pizza

Tried a new formula and fermentation schedule over the past couple of days, this time dispensing with the usual cold temperature-retarded ferment that I apply to the formed loaves as they proof.  This loaf I left out to proof overnight, doing the shaping, bench rest, and final shaping at 4am today.  It was a really high hydration dough and didn't want to behave.
Country White Loaf
 This loaf is made with five varieties of flour, including two whole-grain flours that I mill myself.  It's not big on whole wheat...whole wheat constitutes only about 10% of the flour.  There's about 5% whole rye, and the rest is unbleached white flour.  It wasn't supposed to be sour, but the kitchen never cooled down like I expected it to, so it proofed much faster than I thought and developed a bit more sour than I'd planned.  It seemed sort of overproofed, but maybe that was just me getting used to the unexpected high hydration.   I didn't think a lot about this formula, really.  It had the sort of pretty crumb you'd expect of a wet dough like this:
Light, but slightly overproofed crumb of the Country White Loaf.

In any event, the flavor was nice, a little too sour for me to add it to the rotation without modification, and I'd surely want to give it a little less water next time, just so I'm not trying to manage a cibatta-wet dough in bannetons.  Ha!

This will go in the freezer and provide a week's worth of amazing toast.  We also made some pizza tonight, as a sort of dough-preservation experiment.  The dough from a couple of days ago, once divided, was cooked, frozen, and refrigerated.  Tonight we took a ball of the refrigerated dough, a ball of the frozen dough (which had been put in the fridge yesterday) and made margherita pizzas with it to see how it would compare to the pizzas we made the day the dough was done with it's initial retarding.  The results were great.  There's something comforting about a 100% natural levain dough when it comes time to pack it up for later baking.  Not only is everything going to happen at a slower rate than it would with commercial yeast, but I'm convinced (without any scientific evidence to back my empirical observations and assumptions) that natural levains are just more resilient.  Very forgiving stuff.
Pizza.  Three day old dough.  Nice.
I really got a kick out if baking pizzas with dough that had been saved for days.  I assume that it can be saved for months in the freezer.  Both the refrigerated dough and the frozen dough were just fine.  I think the frozen dough fared a little hadn't soured at all, since it was frozen.  It may have lacked the "poofing" of the refrigerated dough, bit it was also not as tough and chewy; qualities that you may or may not want too much of in your pizza.  As an aside, the need for high-gluten flour in making good pizza is a myth.  It's amazing to me how much baking "fact" ends up being wive's tales once someone comes along and calls your bluff.  Exceptional pizza can be made with all-purpose flour.
More later!

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