Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Second Loaf



With less water, the correct amount of yeast, and a 19-hour initial rise, my bread turned out almost exactly the same. It smells a little less yeasty, and it's harder and crustier because I didn't hear my kitchen timer go off and the bread stayed in the oven about 15 minutes too long. Other than that, it's identical to the first loaf. It still tastes better than just about any bread I've gotten in a store.

I still want a lighter texture and bigger holes though. I just read a post on eGullet saying the looser the dough, the bigger the holes, as long as you don't overleaven. So next I'll try using 1/4 tsp. yeast and 1 5/8 cups of water. I can see I could spend years fiddling all the little details of this recipe. I haven't even begun to think about trying a sourdough version yet.

Speaking of that, I haven't mentioned my other revelation in recent days, namely that a container that formerly held yogurt is probably the worst one to use for starting a sourdough culture. The stench... oh, dear god, the stench...

6 comments:

An Briosca Mor said...

We were wondering in the other set of comments why it is that this bread works without the need to knead. The other night in my pastry class at L'Academie I asked the teacher about it. She had heard of the NYT bread but had not yet tried it herself. But here's her take on what's going on with it: She says that what happens when you knead a dough is that the proteins in the gluten line up, making the dough elastic and stretchable, The classic test of readiness (pull a bit of dough off, stretch it out, and if it makes a nice windowpane then you've kneaded the dough enough) is basically a test for elasticity. But in addition to the kneading, doughs require a rest period during which the proteins do some lining up on their own. Her theory on why the NYT bread works is that the rest period is so long that the proteins are able to line up just as much as they would have during a kneading and a shorter rest. I think that makes sense.

As for getting an airy, light bread, I think that it's true that the wetter the dough, the better. The air bubbles in the bread come from two sources, the air given off by the feeding yeast, and the steam given off by the water molecules when they get heated up. I would think the more powerful of these two actions would be the steaming of the water, and the more powerful the reaction the bigger the resulting bubble would be. So it seems that the more water molecules you have mixed in the dough, the more steam reactions you'll have, and the more potential you'll have for really big air bubbles.

Rob said...

All that is quite logical. Loaf three will show some of the wisdom of experience, I'm sure.

Sara said...

By the way, my dish for this bread is low and the lid doesn't fit over, so I just put an aluminum foil tent over the bread and it worked out fine. Am curious about just throwing it on the pizza stone sans container.

Rob said...

Right, isn't that how you did your pizza crust, John?

heather said...

you should have seen the stench when i left a sour dough culture in a little crock of m's for a year or more. and then opened it one springish morning. you could walk out the door screaming on that stench.

your breads look yummy!

Rob said...

Oh, man. I can imagine.

In my case, I just kept on feeding the thing because the references I'd read said not to worry about "off odors" at first. The idea is that the bugs you want will eventually breed and overrun the bugs you don't want. Which may be true unless you've got a bunch of dormant lactobacilli hanging around looking for a snack. The stuff smelled like the yogurt of evil.