More from In Search of the Perfect Loaf

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Having already recommended Samuel Fromartz’s In Search of the Perfect Loaf, I will refer you to my earlier comments as to why.  However, I can already identify two benefits from reading Fromartz.  One, it has given me the confidence to experiment with recipes and tailor results.  Two, should those experiments fail - or, more accurately, fail to meet expectations - I now have a better sense of why.  Both applied in this instance.

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The first time I made this loaf, Jim Lahey’s.  There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with that; it’s just not my preference.  This time, I felt confident enough in my baking to use a different temperature and cooking time, based on Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s Modena Mountain Bread. This involved not only a lower temperature, but also retaining steam in the oven.  This variation was, unquestionably, a success.

 

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Unfortunately, as you can see here, the crumb is anything but light and airy.  It’s dense and chewy, which is fine, but that wasn’t what I was going for.  What went wrong?  Fromartz’s recipe calls for letting the dough rise in a pantry that’s roughly 55 degrees.  Given the absurdly low temperatures last night, I am guessing our pantry was significantly lower than 55.  However, that wasn’t the real mistake; the real mistake was not trusting my instincts when I pulled the dough out this morning.  I was following the recipe exactly, but I should have known it needed a longer rise. 

Having written that, I now realize a third benefit of reading ...The Perfect Loaf: rather than discouraged by this disappointment, I will simply try again.

Posted by Kevin on 02/15 at 05:20 PM


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