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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by gsquared

  1. First part of the experiment is underway. The test jars: Improvised bannetons for the dough: I am doing the folding one now - it will lag behind the others by the 2h40mins needed to make it. Folding the dough started me thinking about Devlin's post upthread. I have lots to ponder on. The temp of the 1 min whizz was 29C, the 2 mins 35C.
  2. I think I hate you. No, I know that I hate you. In fact, I hate all bread bakers. That looks simply great, TP. In fact, that is exactly how I want mine to look. You have given me great encouragement. Thanks.
  3. Humidity is high - generally around 85%. For the rest, nothing springs to mind. I will post the start of the experiment below, but will privately confess that I have made a real mess of the kitchen. Somehow transferring the (intended) leftover preferment to the mother, half of it landed on the floor. The dogs attacked it with gusto. I chased them off and they have been leaving a trail of preferment though the house. The Artist is not giggling.
  4. That looks sooo good, Michelle. There is hope after all! I am so pleased that I am not alone.
  5. The preferment after 8 hours. No doubt that it is alive.
  6. The Artist, Lori, is a fount of useless advice in this endeavour. "Play it some Mozart" she shouted last night, giggling like train. As a person attempting to apply the scientific process, I did not find it particularly helpful. Not the advice nor the giggling. Thanks for the good wishes.
  7. Do you think going for all 5 methods is overkill, Jack? It seems to me that one of three results are possible: 1. No rise in any of the 5 batches. Assuming, as we must, that the yeast is alive going in, that would mean that something is killing it later. This result would be the least desired, as I have no idea where we go from there. 2. Some rise and some don't or not to the same extent. That would point to the mixing method. 3. All rise. That would leave me flabbergasted. And discombobulated. I have just had a short siesta. It is going to be a long evening.
  8. I don't think so. Bottled mineral water and Maldon salt.
  9. Here is then the plan for today: 1. Make the preferment. I'll quintuple the quantities. And add an extra one to return to the mother. 2. Mix two batches in the food processor, one for 1 minute, one for two minutes. Take the temps. 3. Make one batch with Dan's folding method. 4. Make one batch in the mixer with the dough hook. 5. Make one batch in the bread machine. 6. Set up five jars, with 100g from each batch. Mark the jars. Form the batches into balls. Label the batches. Place with jars in the proving environment. 7. Take jar measurements every 30 mins. It is maybe overkill to do 4 and 5, but if this is to be a day of experimentation, it may be interesting.
  10. Anna, my bread machine has arrived. I think that Jack prefers the minimal kneading approach. I seem to remember him writing in another thread that the hydration is the main driver for gluten development, and not the kneading. Vide Dan Lepard's folding method where there is to all intents no kneading at all. Perhaps Jack could expand on this.
  11. The crust tasted fine. Maybe the Zen thing is where I come up short. I am more a "The algorithms of bread baking" type of person.
  12. For the nonce, I am off to bed. To sleep, perchance to dream of bread.
  13. Much food for thought there, Devlin. Thanks. I wish that you were producing your bread next door. I share your sentiment regarding the quick and easy culture and would love to apply its antithesis to my breadmaking. There has, however, to be middle ground somewhere. I am not and never will be dedicated to bread making. I love good bread, and would love to serve my guests a decent loaf, but my life is simply too full of other things to allow the attention required by the slow process. I know that it will simply not work. The day of an innkeeper is punctuated by interruptions. It is not so much the time, as it is the requirement to attend to a process at reasonably precise intervals. I take your point regarding quality vs. time, but there has to be a compromise that will allow me to produce decent bread, not perfect, not breathtaking, but simply decent within the contraints imposed by what I have to do to keep the inn. If that is a chimera, then so be it. I am not ready to accept that. Not with Jack lurking. And thinking. I hope.
  14. Does this mean that you think that the food processor is the problem? I will do the folding bit if you are sure that this is the only way of eliminating the most likely problem. I am not too keen on the amount of interaction required, at least not as a permanent solution. There is no way that I can set aside 2.5 hrs every day to be available for the folding. Also, the timing is out for baking for breakfast, unless I can still retard in the fridge. How about simply doing the food processor whizzing and then taking the temp of the dough. If it is ok, it cannot be the food processor doing the damage. I am really keen to retain the food processor part, because it is so quick and easy. Please rethink - the more I think about Dan's method, efficacious as it may be, the more I realise that the exigencies of my life would not allow it as a daily routine. If the food processor is not the culprit, I am at a loss where to go from there. That is, assuming the the dough temp is fine. Is there any way to determine whether the dough, after proving, has had yeast activity? Drop a ball into hot oil?
  15. Correct on all points. I also did not sing. Not hot. Warm. It is still a possibility - I did not concentrate on the temp of the dough. Although I think I would have noticed if it was hot. I'll take its temp next time around. This seems to be the only point where the yeast can get killed off, isn't it. Assuming that the yeast in the preferment is ok. Can the foaming only be attributed to activity by good yeast? Can we perhaps debug this by inserting checks at crucial points, even if it means a day or two spent doing just that without an actual baking attempt?
  16. By the way, the baguette pan I used, the type that looks like expanded metal, is no good for baking a wet dough. The dough seeps (slithers?) minutely through the small holes during proving. Baking then expands the "seepage" on the wrong side of the pan to anchor the bread securely to the pan. For tomorrow, I am back to linen. And rice flour.
  17. So here we are:- another failure to report: I did not think that this was going to be easy - if it was, I would have got it right about 3 years ago. Maybe it is easy, just not easy for me. In any event, not ready to give up. JACK?
  18. Today's effort under way. Here are the loaves before proofing: And after 2 hours, just before slashing and baking: In the oven right now. What bothers me is that there is so little difference between the pre- and postproofed loaves. I would have expected some evidence of activity....
  19. Jack, to summarise, the plan for the day is to leave the preferment for the full 12 hours, then mix using 300g water (with the preferment that gives 66% hydration, right?), proof for 2 hours in the baguette pan and then bake. As an aside, I found it difficult to get the Magimix going again if I stop halfway through whizzing. The dough wrapped around the spindle and the machine started labouring. I had to stop it to add the ascorbic acid. Is this normal or indicative of anything significant regarding the consistency of the dough?
  20. Thanks. You are right about the walking. But I could recite "The boy who stood on the burning deck" at 3.
  21. Amen on the fun. I have always believed that, in matters where you have a choice, if you don't have fun doing it, stop doing it. That is why I retired early.
  22. Thanks to everybody for all the good wishes and encouragement. I am still of good cheer. The preferment is made and fermenting away. Jack, I think I will use the baguette pan for proving and baking. It makes sense to get to a good loaf first via the easiest route and then get the couching bit sorted out. Adding insult to injury: Four guests told me at breakfast yesterday that they would be visiting Knysna and would bring me a baguette from Ile de Pain, a famous bakery on Thesen Island. Bless their hearts, I found this in the foyer this morning. They had no idea of my delicate state, of course....... Jack, can you explain the knobs at the ends? Simply a sort of trademark, or does it have any significance?
  23. Not a good bread baking day, Jack. I am retiring to lick my wounds. I refuse to post pics of today's attempt. When I pre-heated the oven I used the thermofan setting as I always do. This time I forgot to turn the thermofan off when I put the loaves in. Must be the panic at not getting them out of the couche. Thermofan at 240 = normal oven at 280. Loaves burnt and discarded - even the seagulls would turn their noses up. Sorry about that. Shall we cancel today and repeat exactly the same procedure (without the sticking and burning bit) tomorrow? I have a baguette pan, so maybe the more we can do right now to focus on getting the dough right, the better. Question: if you prove in the baguette pan, and then put the pan in the oven, is the oven spring less? If so, how do you compensate for that?
  24. Disaster! The shaped loaves got totally stuck to the couche and would not release. I had to tear them off, losing all shape. And whatever rise there may have been. I reshaped, slashed, and stuck them into the oven in any event. I had less difficulty yesterday in the process couche-to-peel-to-oven, but it was still a hassle. Is there any easier way?
  25. 2 hrs 45 mins. Some rise, I think. Or is it my fevered imagination? The oven is pre-heating, the slash thingy (term pse Jack?) is sharpened. I am halfway through a bottle of Blauwklippen Cab 2002. Stop pacing, Jack, you are making me nervous.
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