After ten weeks of no kitchen, I’m finally back. They finished the major work on the new kitchen the middle of last week. I was able to make some simple things, like scrambled eggs and vegetable tacos Thursday and Friday. But I didn’t have time during the week to unpack everything, so I couldn’t really give the new space a real work-out.
This weekend, I got enough unpacked that I could give it a test run. I decided to start with a loaf of rustic bread, using the home grown levain I started at the beginning of the remodel. There was some yelling and frustration (“Where’s my bench knife?” “Where’s my scale?”) and it’s going to take some getting used to the new layout, but overall I’m very happy.
I started with a bunch of new toys.
From left to right I’ve got a couche for shaping and proofing baguettes, two wicker bowls for proofing boules, my home grown levain (I named it Laverne, BTW), a golf towel and/or kitchen towel that came with my new sink, two New England Style Hot Dog Bun pans and a new digital scale that displays both English and metric units.
I cashed in my Amazon points while I was waiting for the remodel to finish. :-)
Here the first loaf baking. The lower oven door was damaged during installation, so I’m waiting for a replacement.
And here’s the inside.
I’m very happy with the color and crumb of the loaf. It’s a nice looking loaf
The flavor was also spot on. Laverne give it a nice sour tang. Not as sour as a true San Francisco sour dough. Just a nice background note. I’m looking forward to baking a lot more bread and pizzas with this starter.
The crust wasn’t up to standards, though. I had the hydration too high for this oven, so the loaf still had quite a bit of free moisture in it when the crust was done. That extra moisture made the crust soft as soon as the loaf started to cool.
I’ll adjust the hydration down next time.
When Amounts Count, Use a Scale
I’ve been baking with a scale for quite a while. Weighing fluffy ingredients, like flour, is much more precise than using volume measures like cups and teaspoons.
Even if you carefully sift the flour and level your measuring cups, you can still be off by five to ten percent too high or too low. That can mean the difference between a perfect loaf and a too dense loaf.
When you weigh your ingredients, you get exactly the right amount every time. Whether you’re using English or metric units, weighed flour is the exact same amount every time. If you weigh out 400 grams, it’s 400 grams. If you weigh out 14 oz., it’s 14 oz.
My previous kitchen scale only displayed English units, ounces and pounds. My new one also displays metric units.
That’s going to make it easier to scale recipes up and down. Imagine trying to triple a recipe that calls for 1 3/4 cup of flour.
1 cup x 3 is 3 cups.
3/4 cup x 3 is 9/4 cups. 9/4 cups is 2 1/4 cups. Plus 3 cups is 5 1/4 cups.
What a pain!
Even working in ounces, it’s difficult because my old scale displayed 17 ounces as 1 pound, 1 ounce. So it’s 14 oz x 3 is 42 oz. 42 oz divided by 16 is 2 lb 10 oz. Again, what a pain.
In grams though, it’s just 400 grams x 3 equals 1200 grams.
Simple, easy. Math I can do in my head.
Recipe – Makes two loafs
100 g levain or sour dough starter. Can substitute 2 tsp of dry yeast.
420 g water
590 g all purpose flour
10 g whole wheat flour
13 g kosher or sea salt
270 g water, divided for humidifying oven
Mix levain and 420 g water in bowl of stand mixer. Using paddle attachment, mix for 1 minute on low to combine.
Add flour, whole wheat flour and salt to mixer bowl. Using paddle attachment, mix on low for two minutes. Switch to dough hook and mix on medium low for five to seven minute. Dough will still be wet, but should start forming ball on the hook and begin pulling away from sides of bowl.
Let stand, covered, for ten to fifteen minutes.
Spread a small amount of olive oil on work surface and spread to cover an 18″x18″ square. Oil your hands.
Place dough in middle of oiled area and give one light stretch and fold. Cover and allow to rest fifteen minutes.
Repeat three times for a total of four stretch and folds.
At this point, the dough should be smooth, elastic and tacky. It should stick to the work surface and your fingers, but pull away cleanly.
Place in a lightly greased container, cover and refrigerate over night.
Place a baking stone on the middle rack of oven and a cookie sheet with raised rim on the lower rack. Pre-heat oven to 475° F.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide in half.
Being careful not to de-gas the dough, form each half into a tight ball. Place into lightly floured bowls and cover with a couche or clean kitchen towel.
Let rise until almost doubled. About one hour.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a pizza peel or back of a cookie sheet. Lightly oil.
Turn one bowl of dough onto parchment. Score top with a lame, razor or sharp knife.
Bring 135 g (about 2/3 a cup) of water to a boil.
Slide the dough onto the baking stone.
Working quickly, cover glass of oven door with kitchen towels to protect from splashing water. Pull cookie sheet out just enough to expose a place to pour the water onto it and pour boiling water onto sheet. Be very careful not to splash boiling water onto yourself or the oven door.
Close oven door and bake for twelve to fifteen minutes, until crust is dark, golden and crisp.