010 - Basic White #8

Basic White Bread
January 28, 2011

This marks my first big jump in quality thanks to extended reading and discussing. Started with 500:350:5:10 ratio using Dove's strong white. Used warm-to-hot water from the tap. Mixed thoroughly in bowl and left to autolyse for 20 minutes. Added slightly more water by sight and kneaded dough very briefly (less than 5 minutes?) before the dough easily stretched super-thin. Bulk fermentation (first rising) was 3 hours on the dot. Shaped the loaf into a round without deflating at all, left to bench rest on the counter for another 20 minutes - dough flattened somewhat but not as much as expected. Shaped loaf into round again and left to rise in a tea towel/mixing bowl coated with flour for another 3 hours. Heated dutch oven (casserole) in the oven until hot, coated the dough with some flour and placed directly into the dutch oven - completely failed to slash dough properly because of the hot dutch oven and lack of sharp implements. Removed lid after 20 minutes, revealing a glistening dough which had expanded about twice the size of where it started. (The dough deflated when I was attempting to slash it with dull objects vaguely resembling knives). Left for another 30 minutes in oven, removed and cooled on a wire rack. The loaf crackled in anticipation.

Crust was terrifically thick and crunchy, while the crumb was as airy and beautifully flaked in a way I've only dreamed about. Strangely, the crust tasted somewhat deep fried both in taste and texture (tasted of wheat, and was hard but hollow-feeling). The crumb was gorgeously soft with even sized obtuse bubbles - no oddball air pockets. The loaf wasn't pretty to look at because of the slashing failure as well as the somewhat clumsy dump from the tea towel to the dutch oven. But I'm sold on it's ability to retain moisture better than the spray/steam entire oven. And autolyse. and bench resting. and patience.


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