18 November 2010

An Experiment in Breadmaking

Having not royally screwed up any of the last few batches of bread, I decided to experiment in the hopes of fixing the situation. I was not successful. That is, to say, I was successful in making good bread but not in failing.
Raisins really pop in a hot oven, its impressive
I based my recipe on the "Lean Bread" from Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday as seen before, but I wanted a few modifications. I really liked the polenta-grind cornmeal from the Struan I cooked as it gave the bread a bit of toughness and chewy. Given that, I was biking home on my way to make the bread when I passed by a coffee shop I frequent. They server donuts there in a rotating variety of flavors, and one of my favorite is the cornmeal cherry. And so it was set - I would make cornmeal cherry rolls.

Except I didn't have any cherries (dried or otherwise) and the closest grocery store was closing in five minutes. I did have raisins, however. You can find the recipe at the end of this post, but first a bit on what I would fix with it next time.
What the rolls looked like inside.
For one, the dough looked pretty good on first mixing, achieving that "shaggy ball" Reinhart talks so much about.
The shaggy ball
However, the stretch and fold steps felt far too much on the watery side - the dough was far too easy to stretch and flattened out immensely when I let it sit. For reference, this is what it looked like after overnight refrigeration:
Notice how it has spread out flat to fill the available space. It also had not risen much, but enough to go forward with the dough. I made rolls the usual way - oiled work surface, floured hands, shaping with the palm of my hand. Everything looked fine when I set the dough to proof
Rolls ready to proof for two hours
Rolls after one hour
They had completely lost their shape and were very sticky to the touch. I whipped out a cutting board, floured the hell out of it, floured the hell out of my hands, and rolled them around a bit before shaping them again. This second working probably saved the shapes:
Post second working/shaping
That means I either needed a little less water or a little more flour in the base recipe. I thought the cornmeal would soak up water like flour, so I replaced flour 1:1 with cornmeal. Given how watery the final dough was, and the amount of flour I added in while working the dough, my guess is a good ratio would be more like 1:1.5 (that is, if you remove 10g of flour, you can add in 15g of the cornmeal). However, a dough this liquidy can make rolls so it didn't really ruin my plans. If you wanted to make a loaf, definitely up the amount of flour by 20g or so.

Cornmeal Raisin Rolls (makes 8-ish rolls)

  • 310g unbleached bread flour
  • 255g warm-ish water
  • 30g polenta-grind cornmeal (coarse ground cornmeal)
  • 15g-ish raisins
  • 7g salt
  • 4g yeast

The night before:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Let rest in the bowl for 5 minutes, uncovered, at room temperature. Lightly oil a work surface and your hands and do the stretch and fold method 4 times, giving a 10 minute rest between each iteration. To stretch and fold, plop the dough down on the surface and pull the dough out from the top, folding it back over itself. Repeat on the bottom, left, and right. Put it back in the bowl and cover for 10 minutes before repeating. After the 4 iterations, cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The day of cooking:
2 hours before cooking the dough, remove it from the fridge. Flour a work surface, flour your hands, and form rolls with the dough ball allowing a layer of flour to get worked into each roll. Put parchment paper down on a baking sheet, flour the paper, and place the rolls on it.

1 hour before cooking the dough, if the rolls have sagged, gently work them again by flouring a work surface and your hands. Make flat palms and put a hand on each side of the roll, and rotate it gently. Place back on floured parchment paper.

30 minutes before cooking, heat the oven to 450 degrees (you can also use the hearthstone/steam burst baking method, but I didn't).

Cook the rolls for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, cook for 5-8 more minutes. Turn off the oven, but leave the rolls in for another 5 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes or so before serving unless you want to burn yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Dude, if you need help poison tasting any of this definitely let me know. You culinary artist you!