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.