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Let's (almost) forget about number four | Sourdough Companion

Let's (almost) forget about number four

Proof that it works in the fridgeMixing and kneading the doughStretch and foldYou have to be happy with that

It turned out that the day I chose to really prove that I had this under control was the hottest day so far.  The temperature outside hit 40C and the indications were that in the kitchen it was into the 30s.  I suspect that may have been behind a less than attractive (though still very tasy and edible) loaf.  This was also my first loaf with the starter in the fridge between uses.

As a matter of interest, I took happy snaps of the starter each day of its sojourn in the coolth.

You can see the growth and the start of the decline as well as the change in bubble size.  After the last shot, the bulk was discarded and new feed was added with overnight to get active ready to start the loaf in the morning.

I stayed with the autolyse time, then added the salt followed by the three short knead/rest intervals.  Things seemed to be coming along nicely as the next compilation shows.

Sorry about the differences in lighting and scale but I think you get the idea.  After this is where things might have started to go a bit astray.  Being a pedantic type, I was sticking to a fairly strict time schedule for the stretch and fold.  Perhaps, in the light of the higher room temperature I should have shortened it up a bit.  The next sequence covers this phase of the process.

I think it is clear that the characteristics of the dough were probably best at SF1.

Anyway, the outcome was that the loaf spread rather than rose and my disappointment was such that I didn't get a picture of the finished product although, as I said, it ate perfectly acceptably.

Undaunted, as the not quite perfect loaf disappeared from the bread box, I embarked on another.  The day was not so hot but I got a bit carried away and added the salt with the flour - so no autolyse.  Not to worry, it didn't seem to make any difference - the preparation and development went well and the loaf was excellent as you can see.

I think the take home messages are that there are many ways to make a great loaf of bread and you should 'listen' to what the dough is telling you rather than slavishly following a recipe or a time schedule.

1 comment

[quote=farinam]I think the take home messages are that there are many ways to make a great loaf of bread and you should 'listen' to what the dough is telling you rather than slavishly following a recipe or a time schedule.[/quote]

Absolutely! LIke you, farinam, I used to stick to recipe proof times rather than watch the dough for indications of when it was ready. You soon learn when baking in hot ambient temps (or very cold ones, for that matter) that the dough takes no notice of recipes!

When the inside temps are 30+, I find that I have to reduce my bulk proof from, say, 3 hours to as little as 1.5 - and even then, sometimes slight over-proofing can be an issue. Reduce the proof too much more and you're risking underproofing! Once the temperature gets above 32 inside, I give baking a miss for a few reasons.

Firstly, the fermentation time is so reduced that the flavour of the bread is compromised. Secondly, your margin for proofing error becomes less and less as the temperature climbs, and when it gets into the mid-30s it's just annoying as far as I'm concerned. Of course, you can do your proofing in the fridge, in which case it will be very extended, but I don't like heating the place up by having the oven maxed out for a bread bake when the house itself is already baking! Bring on autumn - or a wood-fired outside oven.

Cheers
Ross