Breadmaking diaries: Bâtards

I haven’t quite gotten the hang of Peter Reinhart’s idea that you can ferment dough very slowly – as in overnight. When I try do overnight proofing in the fridge (aka retarding the dough), I consistently get overproofed dough. Overproofed dough rises big then collapses with a wrinkly looking skin and doesn’t really regain its volume.

The last batch of French bread left me with a bowl of dough in the fridge, which I decided to use as a pâte fermentée (pre-ferment) for another batch. The old dough was fresh and pliable, but confusingly kept forming a few large internal bubbles, which I read as a sign of overproofing – or perhaps of too much yeast.

When I mixed up today’s dough, I used considerably less yeast than called for – reduced the 37 g (amount given for fresh yeast) to 25 g. I also used 1/3 wholewheat to 1/3 white bread flour to 1/3 cake flour. Mr Reinhart (who is American and uses imperial measures, urgh) calls for 16 oz of white bread flour and 16 oz of cake flour. My measures make 3 cups of flour equal to 16 oz, so I just adjusted to 6 cups and varied according to the flour types I had on hand. This made a surprisingly smooth, pliant dough.

I sort of intended to leave a couple of loaves overnight for baking tomorrow. But they rose so nicely that they looked ready to bake today, and I didn’t feel like more overproofing-collapsing episodes.

So. Here’s Kolya with today’s French bread, shaped in happy bâtards.


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About Lisa

I live in South Africa with my husband and two small children, doing things, thinking about things and sometimes writing about them.
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4 Responses to Breadmaking diaries: Bâtards

  1. Oh my gosh. Your little boy is just about the cutest thing ever, and I’m all asquee to see him holding gorgeous loaves of bread.

    I’ve read two of Peter Reinhart’s books, and I was humming along nicely (really respecting his passion for bread) until I realized that he looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy. It took me two months to be able to pick up one of his books without giggling.

    You are what you eat? I guess?

  2. Gwenn Segura says:

    These photos are really gorgeous I have to say! And what a lesson for Kolya to be carrying freshly-baked home-made bread – Mmm! You can see the sheer delight in his eyes! Wonderful.

  3. Lisa says:

    Thanks Gwenn! Unfortunately the nice stoneground flour we use has been out of stock at the supermarkets, so it’s been shop bread this last week. Hoping to get back to it next week…

  4. Gwenn Segura says:

    Excellent Lisa! Hoping that the supermarkets get their stock of stone-ground flour in soon so that you can get back to making the genuine article, n’est-ce pas….. and then lucky little Kolya will once more have the aroma of freshly-baked bread in the house….. I have to say that your article almost won me over to trying to bake my own bread but I have the feeling that there might be too much kneading for my arthritic old wrists to do! More’s the pity I say. Enjoy y’all!!

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