Friday, June 22, 2018

Lethal Weapon: Bread Edition

First, a disclaimer.

I can, actually, bake bread that turns out near-perfectly  -- brown crust, open crumb, great flavor.  I do this at least once a week, experimenting with flours and flavorings.

I explain this, because, once again, my June bread for the Babes has failed.  Oh, it looks fine on the outside and has a tangy flavor, but if one were to throw it at an intruder, and if it were to connect with said intruder, that individual would be knocked out cold.

The experience began on a promising note.

I revived my dormant starter.  It looked fine, smelled fine, and was all nice and bubbly.

I picked fresh lemons and tangerines from my backyard trees.

I used the emmer flour that I had purchased at a local, artisan bakery.

I used a seed mixture that I found at Trader Joe's.

All ingredients came together nicely, although there was little evidence of a rising dough.  That should have been a red flag.

But, I continued on.

The loaves went into the oven.  The loaves came out of the oven.

Dense.  Heavy.  Dangerous.  Small crumb.  Too sour.

Because of my initial disclaimer, I know I can bake bread.  I've been doing it successfully for decades.  Clearly, there must be a weak link among the ingredients.  I suspect it is the starter.

Before I condemn it to the compost bin, I have been experimenting with a different process.  Stage one was successful; stage two had mixed results, but I did take the stage two #2 starter and refresh it.  Stage three seems viable.  Tonight I have created a biga, using the stage three starter.  In 24 hours, or so, I will see if that works, then continue on to the next stage.  If it works, terrific.  If not, it's back to square one and a new process.

All that aside, the other Babes had great success with the June recipe.  All their breads look beautiful, outside and inside.

Cathy, at Bread Experience, was the Kitchen of the Month.  You can find the recipe for Pain au Levain on her website.  You still have time to bake this loaf and submit it to Cathy for the Buddy roundup. 

Also, be sure to check out the results from the other, successful, Babes. 


Karen said...

I was a bit frustrated with the timing of this one too. The final rise is supposed to be only 8 to 10 hours, but if you follow the timing, your final rise will be about 16, which mine was. I know mine was over proofed. You are a great bread baker!

Elle said...

We know you bake beautiful bread! Since I didn't use a sourdough starter my experience was different, but It could easily have been a starter that didn't have much ooomph. Have not used emmer flour. Does it have as much gluten as regular wheat flour? That could be part of what went on if it doesn't. Hope that the newest loaf is all that you expect. Seeds and citrus! love it.

Elizabeth said...

First of all, please excuse me for laughing at your misfortune. I know it's wrong; I really do.

I also know the frustration of making overly sour doorstops. Not even the birds and squirrels would eat one of the ubersour loaves I made.... In fact, that perennial sourness is why I committed Saccharomycicide not once but twice over the years.

I do hope that your latest version works!

(Any chance of turning your doorstop into breadcrumbs? It looks SO good!)

hobby baker Kelly said...

Oh dear! And it looks so beautiful on the outside. Fingers crossed for stage 3!

Cathy (Bread Experience) said...

You are an awesome baker and a trooper for making this bread and for trying it again using a different method. Thank you for sharing your experience with this loaf.

It does sound like the starter was the issue. Even though it was bubbly, perhaps it needed a few more feedings. Depending on how long it had been dormant, it may not have had enough oomph (technical term) to rise the bread properly. And, since you included some emmer flour, it would also make it a bit denser.