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.
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.

The Crumb

4/16/2010 04:36:06 am

If you'd like a spread sheet that allows you to plug in the desired final dough amount to bake any size loaf in grams I have one. I have both a sourdough and straight dough version, designed especially to work with Hamelman's book. Mainly because I had the same complaints as you. Converting from ounces to grams, too big of Home recipes and if you do the "easy" conversion of the Kilogram recipe divided by 100 it still might not be the quantity desired.
Anyway, email me if you'd like a copy. I'm happy to share. I've sent out many and everyone has been pleased with it.
Very nice Epi, lovely crumb and crust!

5/7/2010 02:26:18 am

I would very much like your table for the instant yeast and the sourdough ingredients. I hope my Website reply is what you wanted.
Thanks again. I hope my baguettes turn out as nice as yours. Herb


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