I’ve been baking mostly the same bread: a 72% hydration mostly white loaf. I’ve learned a lot from this one dough, but I’ve been feeling like, “This is still not what I want.” I focus on “What does my crumb look like?” and “Does this taste good?” It always tastes good! Then, I tasted a 80+% hydration porridge bread from @fullproofbaking and I realized that’s what I want to eat and that’s what I really want to share with our friends in our community who I bake for every week.
I am first focusing on strength and structure to get a tall well-rounded loaf – more on fermentation later. I learned a lot about this in @trevorjaywilson’s great e-book, but I just wasn’t getting it!
I had two revelations. First, I always made 900g loaves. I don’t know why really. I guessed that it would be easier to shape 700g loaves, and it really is! Second, I didn’t understand strength nor what a strong dough felt like. So, I decided that I was going to start making 60% hydration 700g loaves. I also took out the whole wheat since whole wheat soaks up more water.
I was worried that this bread wouldn’t taste good because it had no whole wheat flour and definitely “no” water as compared to the bread I see baked by all my friends on Instagram.
So, here’s the crumb of my (almost) first loaf that I posted with this newer technique. To me, it looks nice. Not too dense. Most importantly, it tasted great! I always cut two slices for breakfast on a just-baked loaf. I eat the first one just like it is, and I throw one in the toaster. I take a bite of crumb first to get a sense for taste and texture. It was good. And then I take a bite with some of the crusty ear (well if I get an ear!), and it was good too. There’s nothing at all wrong with a 60% hydration bread!
Like most of us, I do want to chase that high hydration loaf with a soft, custardy texture like I tasted from @fullproofbaking. So, I’m trying to build a stronger foundation. I hope we’ll get there together through this series of posts talking about my experiments to learn this wonderful craft of baking naturally leavened bread.