064 - Spelt Wholemeal Loaf

getting there. first american sourdough loaf that didn't break! a minor detail, maybe, but after a quick refresher on shaping it looks like I'm slowly inching towards nicer looking loaves again. I unexpectedly had a busy day and ended up baking after a (longest ever?) 32.5 hr proofing period. Total time from start to finish was nearly 36 hours. 

MIX // 400WM 100SP 350WA 230LE // AUTOLYSE // (1200)

Used Community Grains' "Hard Red Winter Wheat Flour" which I'm going to categorize as a wholemeal flour. I used Bob's Red Mill Spelt flour. 30 minutes of autolysis - the dough swelled up pretty nicely, and was easy to work with. 

MIX // 7SA 50WA // (1230)

Used hot water to speed up the bulk fermentation - I had forgotten to use it in the initial mixing, but decided I wanted to speed things up a bit. The dough took in the extra water pretty nicely and was not very sticky. 

BULK FERMENTATION // STRETCH & FOLD // (1300, 1330, 1430, 1500)

I was already baking a loaf (063) so I decided to use the warmth of the oven to speed up the bulk fermentation process. The stove itself was too hot so I put my bowl of dough on top of a muffin tin which I placed on one of the burners (turned off, of course). I stepped out for what I thought would be a short trip, and missed one of my stretch and folds at 1400. The dough developed really quickly, gaining lots of volume and becoming very stretchy and airy. It was easy to fold this dough into itself, unlike my last two loaves which didn't stick very well - I'm guessing higher gluten content in the hard red flour (rye has very low gluten content), plus the spelt flour (I've always had very airy and workable doughs with moderate hydration and spelt flour) contributed to this a lot. 

SHAPING // (1500)

I did a much better job of shaping this time, using a pretty standard technique for shaping a batard. The dough was not very sticky and required minimal use of flour to get together. Still need to find a better work surface, as I'm using a medium sized wooden cutting board to do my shaping. I skipped the bench rest because I was impatient and the dough was pretty pliable. 

PROOFING // (1505 - 2330) // 32:30

The dough nearly doubled in size during this time, and I was surprised at how well it managed to rise. The bottom of the loaf (topside during the final fermentation) had hardened but looked to have been sealed well, confirming my optimism about the shaping going better this time around. Flipped the loaf out of the pyrex container onto a light dusting of flour, and slashed twice near the corners of the loaf after a minute of indecision. Didn't make it very pretty. 

BAKING // (2330 - 0030)

Heated up the oven for about an hour at 550°F and placed an empty pan on the bottom shelf for the last 15 minutes of heating. Threw a cup of boiling water into the empty pan in the oven to generate some steam and jammed the loaf into the top rack. After 20 minutes at 550°F, I lowered the temp to 450°F and kept it going another 40 minutes.

Oven spring wasn't super impressive, but the loaf didn't split on the sides, which I was thrilled about. Poor choice of two slanted lengthwise slashes made the loaf open sideways rather than up, so the resulting bread was pretty wide. Must have been quite high sugar content in the flour, as the crust darkened substantially in only an hour. Probably burnt it a bit. 


Right out of the oven, the bread made that lovely crackling noise it makes as the dough begins to shrink and crack as it cools. Didn't slice it open until this morning, so it had about 8 hours to cool. It turns out the crust did burn slightly. Not noticeable when eating a slice, but a big bite out of the endpiece proved otherwise. The crumb structure showed small to mid-sized air bubbles and was very evenly distributed with lots of consistency except for the ends of the loaf, which had larger pockets of air. Crust was just barely what I call a "double crust" which has a sort of inner lining layer that's soft and chewy and an airy, crunchy outer layer which is both hard and shatters easily.

The bread was very sour for my taste after the long proofing process. And I think the spelt flour contributed to a weird chalky(?) odor that I've never quite been able to describe adequately. 


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