The numbers refer to the first, second, third or nth time I have made the King Arthur Artisan Bread recipe.
1. Implementation note: it’s very dry here and I needed to use a little less flour. However, the pendulum swung the other way as my dough was too wet.
2. I remember that my first pouliche was too dry. This wasn’t because I mismeasured the flour, for I always weigh my flour when making bread. It’s because of how dry my climate is. I added maybe up to another ¼ cup of water.
2. I watched the DVD again; the presenting baker’s dough isn’t anything like as wet as mine was the first time. I’ll add a bit more flour this time, keeping within the guidelines, but watching the consistency instead of stressing over getting it wet and uncomfortable. It will be wet and uncomfortable, but not because I underused flour.
nth. I have a couple of times experimented with cultivating my pouliche over, say, two days instead of 12 hours. I don’t taste any noticeable difference. I expected maybe some sign of sourness.
nth. I made this bread each day for 4 in Oklahoma in June. I expected a big difference due to altitude and humidity. I noticed the humidity although I was also not using the same flour. I did not notice the altitude and even my first ovenful came out tasty.
nth I still think there’s much room for improvement although everyone’s insanely impressed with my bread now. I’m not certain where to begin, but I have been trying to decrease the ration of flour to water. I still don’t do the wet knead; my daughter does.
1. It’s important to remember that the flour listed is all the flour you should use. Normally, a home baker mixes in all the flour called for, then ends up kneading in yet more flour. Don’t do this.
1. I am at high altitude, it’s a very dry winter climate right now and I didn’t put enough flour in because I was over-compensating thinking about how I usually put too much into my dough. This is probably why my first try was disappointing.
1. Kneading is where this method really separates itself from normal habits: since the dough is so wet, the knead is more of a gathering up and pouring over or folding. It is delicate, aims to trap lots of air even though you pat down a little each time to make the air retained more distributed. It’s really a disorienting experience for the experienced breadmaker.
2. My pouliche still doesn’t have the same aspect as that in the presentation and the DVD. This seems unavoidable, at least on weekdays, as I cannot really make it and then get to it twelve hours later. While it was perfectly bubbly, it did not have the surface looked for. Retarding it in the refrigerator is a good idea, but who will take it out enough ahead of time for me?
2. Whereas last time I put in total the minimum of flour, this time, I put the maximum amount of flour in knowing that I had added ¼ cup extra water in the pouliche. I figured that any additional flour that got into it from working it on my surface would be compensated for. The dough was still very gooey as compared to what I would have tolerated prior to King Arthur Flour’s presentation, and it was easier to play with than last weekend at my first attempt.
2. I don’t feel like kneading went as well this time. I kneaded for less time and got more flour in than I probably should have. My counter is too high to perform the lift and pour over technique of King Arthur’ presentation lady. I don’t have a proper baking station built into my kitchen (lowered counter area).
3. I observe that a slight advantage is gained in ordering the mixing of ingredients of the dough thus: water, salt and yeast, pouliche, 10 oz. flour, 3 oz. flour. At each new ingredient, stir or mix thoroughly. This makes for less work to be accomplished during kneading. Kneading to distribute, for example, the salt all through the dough because it was not disssolved into the water in the beginning is hit and miss.
1. Implementation note: my dough was never tighter even after two folds, so I did a third before proceeding to preshape when it sill wasn’t tight. This grief continued throughout the rest of the process.
2. My dough was much easier to work and with care, I was able to keep it from sticking to me. I carefully implemented only two folds this time.
2. I didn’s get quite the tightness I was looking for and was used to getting before this new way of baking bread. However, it wasn’t anything as bad as my first attempt. It was hard to form the loaves without getting stuck.
3. I discovered that I had miscopied the recipe time for the final rise. It’s 40-45 minutes instead of 20. My bread turned out well anyway.
* This will ruin the temper of your skillet. Plan accordingly. I use a tiny cast-iron skillet for which I have no practical need; it originated from a set of three skillets.
2. While Julene liked this bread as being better than any I have ever baked before, I did not get the crumb I was looking for and I undercooked it, which, because she’s American, Julene especially liked. I found the crumb too bulky, like heavy Wonder Bread®. It’s not embarrassing bad quality, but it is very disappointing. My conclusion is that this second experiment went too far the other way. I’m disappointed in that I really do not relish the idea of returning back any closer to the goo that I worked with last Sunday morning. Perhaps, as the yeast was still pretty active, I could try extending the rise times a little bit to see if that doesn’t lighten the bread. Also, perhaps my kneading technique is inadequate.
3. I tried making two batches at the same time. This worked fine, but I had to put the first two loaves in, wait for them to stabilize, then move them to the back of the stone before putting the second pair of loaves.
4. I tried making three batches at the same time. This works fine until it’s time to shape and bake. For one thing, more peels are needed even when you put two loaves to a peel, something that only works if your peel is very large. Second, though I got a second stone, it was one of those cheap round ones that didn’t hold three loaves very well and I had a hard time with the size of my round loaves—since they were a bit bigger by reason of raising longer (see notes for trial #3).
What my friend Jeff said this would change in his habits after attending the same presentation.