Poolish Ciabatta 04/08/2010
 
I was very pleased with the Baguettes made with the poolish pre-ferment so I decided to use a poolish for my second formula. As expected the high hydration of the ciabatta dough made handling it a bit of a challenge. I have however come to enjoy working with the soft high hydration doughs. There is something about them after they have been properly developed that just feels alive.

The poolish fermented 14 hours prior to mixing the dough. There was nothing remarkable about putting the dough together, it was really straight forward.  I have however come to the realization that, for better or worse,  I have developed my own baking style and way of doing things. That makes it almost impossible for me to say I followed the written instructions to the letter.
Picture
Final Proofing
The way I handled the shaping of the loaves was to use Parchment paper as a couche to keep the loaves from spreading all over the place. I started by folding, misting with oil and adding a heavy dusting of flour to the parchment paper. Rolled dish towels were used as stops on either side. Not as prescribed by JH but it seemed to get the job done. The loaves were flipped just prior to baking. Baking them on parchment made getting the sticky dough off the peel a lot easier. As I found out on my Baguette adventure the formulas in the book are, to my way of thinking, a little large for the home cook. The volume stretches the capacity of my KA 4.5 and I couldn't get all the loaves on my oven stone at one time.

Picture
Two Bakings
Once again contrary to JH's instructions I pre-heated my oven to 500 degrees F for about an hour prior to baking. This gave the 3/4" thick FibraMent oven stone plenty time to stabilize at temperature. After putting in the first group of loaves and steaming with a cup of boiling water in a pan at the bottom of the oven, the oven temp was cut back to the prescribed 460 degrees F. After 10 minutes I remove the steaming pan and turned the loaves 180. At this point the bread had already acquired significant color. I reduced the oven temperature another 40 degrees to 420 and continued baking for another 12 minutes. This check found that the bread had good color and an internal temperature of 204 Degrees F. Next I tried something I had never tried before. I turned off the oven and left the door open about 6" for 5 minutes before removing the bread. My thought process was that this might give me a crisp crust that stayed crisp after cooling. I have been pleased with the results. It took a while for my oven to come back up to temperature for the second bake. By now the final proofing for the second baking had been extended by close to an hour. I couldn't detect any difference in the quality or taste of the breads between the two bakings. Because I didn't wait for the stone to soak at 500 for the second bake, my oven time was extended by about 5 minutes and I didn't have to go to 420 degrees F at all.

Picture
The Crumb
The bread has what I consider to be an appropriate crumb, a pleasingly crisp crust and wonderful flavor. I am pleased and I will continue to experiment with leaving the oven door open to finish my lean breads.

As with the Baguettes I used KA Unbleached Bread Flour and Red Star Instant yeast.

Comments/advice please. A big part of what I anticipated when joining this challenge was being able to establish dialogs with like minded ppl. I'm not looking for warm and fuzzy atta-boys but rather a give and take from with we can all learn and grow.

Mike.

 
Poolish Baguette 04/05/2010
 
My first "Bread" formula was only one of several firsts for me. It was the first time I had used a formula from Hamelman, the first time I had used a poolish as my pre-ferment, my first attempt at making an Epi de ble shaped loaf, and the first bread baked using my new FibraMent baking stone.

It didn't take long for this bread to get exciting. I generally use clear plastic rising buckets for my doughs. While I picked them up at my local restaurant supply they look very similar to those you can purchase from internet baking suppliers. Clear with calibrated marking and a plastic lid. Figuring that I wanted to start baking sometime in the morning and Hamelman indicated that it would take 12 - 16 hours for the poolish to ferment, I mixed it up late afternoon the day before.  I checked on the poolish before I went to bed, about 6 hours later, and found that it has risen to the top the 1 quart plastic container. I was a little unsure of what to do at this point because I originally figured the 1 quart container would be more than adequate for a 2 1/2 times rise. While mentally debating my options my natural clumsiness took over and I dropped the container to the counter top and knocked back to about 1/2 its volume. At this point I decided to heck with it and I went to bed.

The next morning I got up to a container that was again full of frothy looking pre-ferment. Now for the exciting part. The lids on these containers  snap on but they aren't even close to being air tight. However when I tried to remove this lid it seemed stuck tight. Not to be deterred I gave it a hard tug and  BANG a minor but loud explosion took place as the lid came off. No damage to anything except my shorts. Only a small amount of poolish was blown around the counter top but it startled the heck out of me. Evidently when the poolish rose to the top of the container the night before it oozed between the lid and container forming a seal that allowed the pressure to build as it rose for the second time.

At this time I know in my heart that I am not anywhere close to using the poolish at it's prime as I was admonished to do by Mr. Hamelman in the book. Now I was at a point where I either plunge ahead or drop back and start over. Naturally I chose the former.

One the things that I consider a minor annoyance about " Bread" is that the home bakers formulas are in Oz not Grams. It's not that I am a huge advocate of converting the world to the metric system it's just that I feel my scale is  more accurate using grams. Conversion isn't a problem for me just one more thing to do. The second thing I noticed about "Bread's" formulas, at least this one, they tend to be little large for my 5 Quart KA mixer. I noticed this as I was using the paddle for the initial mix and watched the dough trying to crawl up into the mixer.  I stopped that by switching to my dough hook.

After the initial mixing I let the dough rest for about 5 minutes. I realize that this isn't per Mr. Hamelman but it is something I discovered makes the dough a lot easier for me to handle during the gluten development stage. It has helped with my tendency to add too much flour. The rest of the process was pretty much to form until the actual bake.
Picture
The Bake
I made 3 baguettes, one of which I made the Epi from and a small round loaf. As I mentioned early this a first time use for my new FibraMent baking stone. Before using the stone the first time you need to go through a several hour oven seasoning process. Ending with baking the stone for a couple of hours at 500 degrees F. This process took right up until my baguettes were ready to go into the oven.

Due to space constraints I had planned 2 bakes. The first bake was 2 baguettes and the round loaf. The second bake was the Epi on a sheet pan. I lower the oven temp to the 460 Degrees F called for and steamed the oven. 12 minutes later I went back to rotate the loaves 180 only to discovery they looked done. A quick internal temperature check confirmed the baguettes were done (105 degrees F) but the round loaf had a little ways to go. 5 Minutes later the first bake was done.

I put the Epi sheet pan directly on the stone, it took about 22 minutes to finish, a time that was more in line with what I had expected. My only explanation for the short bake time on the first loaves was the oven had been on for several hours and the thermo-mass of FibraMent stone held the oven temperature at the higher levels it had been set at. Bottom line it didn't seem to adversely affect the bread.


Picture
The Crumb