Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wheat Slipper

So, you try, roughly, the same recipe as the first, only lower the hydration (where the hydration is the total amount of liquids divided by the total amount of flour—all measured by weight—multiplied by 100; that is, 100g flour and 85g water is an 85% hydration mixture. This is standard baker's percentage, as far as I can tell, where flour is the yardstick by which we measure all things; it's like, you grew up in a house with flowers for wallpaper, and suddenly any place with paint is unfamiliar) to 85%—maybe, impossibly, without changing the amount of water or flour, somehow—and use whole-wheat flour in place of half of the regular bread flour. Also, slightly more impatience than last time.

Authentic Knead

This one you knead in the traditional fashion, as long as you keep a lightly floured surface, and try to brush off any excess flour as you fold the dough over the top, so you don't keep incorporating more and more.

But What Are We Looking For?

Also, having added more impatience from the beginning, you don't let the loaf proof for very long, and it doesn't really develop the flavor you're looking for. This is upsetting. You probably only give it about 8 hours total, the last 1.5 hrs after you shape it into a boule that quickly goos out on the floured linen and collapses when you try foolishly to move it with your hands to the baking pan.

Still, what an oven spring! It's about 1.5 inches tall when it goes in, and actually makes a reasonable loaf (minus the perrineal ridges on top, due to the stickiness issue).

My Advice, My Advice

My advice is to make the following immediately, while the loaf is in the oven, just after you've done your watering thing:

1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
1-1/2 teaspoon honey
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (acidic is nice).

You fluff the butter with a mixer, and whip in honey and juice, then add tarragon and mix more gingerly. I mean, you don't have to be too careful but you don't want to bruise the tarragon.

This loaf would be nothing without this butter. You put it in the mold of your choice when mixed, and refrigerate (you can cover it with some of the paper that was wrapping your butter initially). By the time the loaf is cool, you're in butter town, child.

Scoring isn't everything.

But it's something (isn't everything? No.). The thing is, you want to score the loaf quickly, with a watered or oiled or lightly floured very sharp blade, without fussing over it too much. At an angle, like you're separating meat from the bread-bone, so it can truly unfurl.

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