051 - Spelt Country Loaf

Spelt Country Loaf
December 19/20, 2011
Still don't know what loaf number I'm on but I'll get to it soon enough. I'm a bit discouraged about my last loaf so I thought it best to jump quickly to the next one, hopefully with better results.
[300W - 100WM - 100SP - 7YE - 250WA] autolyse 30 minutes (2050-2120)
[7SA - 50WA] bulk ferment, 2 hours - stretch and fold every 30 minutes (2120-2320)
shaped into round, bench rest 30 minutes (2320-2350)
final folding and shaping, left for 2 hour final fermentation (2355-0155)
baked with lid on for 25 minutes (0155-0220)
baked with lid removed for 80 minutes (0220-0340)
This dough expanded a bit during the autolyse, and it was quite smooth after mixing in the salt and a little bit of water. By the first fold, it had expanded by at least 30% from the original size, and was very smooth, stretching with relative ease. On the second stretch and fold, the dough was notably pillowy with some larger air bubbles appearing just below the surface of the dough. Still, by the end of the bulk fermentation the dough did not expand enough to create a completely uniform surface, and it roughly retained the shape that it was last folded into.

After a 2 hour bulk fermentation, I shaped the dough into a rund and gave it a 30 minute bench rest. Surprisingly, the dough held it's shape quite well and did not flatten out at all. I gave it final round of folding and shaping after the bench rest and left the dough for its final fermentation. During the final shaping the dough remained quite airy and light, and I was trying to be delicate with the dough as not to lose any of the gases trapped inside, but I deflated the dough a bit by the time I had it in the right shape.

The dough fermented for another 2 hours after final shaping, during which time it ballooned to about twice the size it was during the bulk fermentation. The dough was very pillowy, but the surface had broken on top, likely indicating my lack of skill in the final shaping. I carefully floured the dough and transferred it to the pre-heated dutch oven, but still managed to deflate the dough significantly. It lost about 30% of its volume during the transfer. I did not slash the dough, since I don't have an adequate blade available to me and would only have deflated it more. After a quick spray with water, I closed the lid and left it for 25 minutes.

The loaf was a pale brown color after 25 minutes, with a smooth crust starting to break in one or two places. Oven spring was considerable, forming a much more appealing shape than my last loaf.

When I removed the lid I discovered one of the culprits of my recent baking maladies: a tray lodged at the top of the oven, presumably blocking a non-trivial amount of heat. It was a bit too stuck to remove given the temperature of the oven and the lack of implement available to me. So I'll remove it for the next one and hopefully that will improve my results starting with the next loaf.

Due to the above, cooking time was long, as it was last time. And I didn't get the crust or color that I wanted on the bread. I'm worried that the lower sections of the loaf were undercooked, but I also didn't want to risk over-baking. In any case, I took the bread out and snapped a quick photo. I'm leaving it to cool, now.
By the end of tomorrow, I may have a bread knife, a baking tray, and an oven without a tray blocking the heat. More photos and taste notes to follow.

The crumb structure was at least not displeasing; roughly consistent. It was light and moist after sitting on the counter for almost a full day. As expected, the crust was nothing to write home about. Undercooked on the sides and bottom, at least for my liking, and the top was decent but missing the double crust that I like. The color of the crust was also unsurprisingly pale. The taste wasn't bad at all, the moistness and crumb structure easily made up for the rather neutral flavor of the bread itself, it will make great toast with or without butter. Quite airy and soft.

Looking forward to baking my next loaf with the oven tray removed.


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