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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rustic bread using preferment

Bread made using preferment, a pseudo-starter

After a long bread making break, the itch is back  to make a decent loaf of bread. Hubby loves bread made by the water roux method but more so, he yearns for sourdough and the likes. There is a mental block when it comes to sourdough and starters but an overnight preferment sponge - this, I can accept.

Preferment is a 'cheat starter', requiring miniscule amount of yeast to kick start an overnight sponge. Its science is hazy to me, but other than a cup of bread flour, I do not have much to lose. Making a rustic bread using preferment demands a continuous stretch of time to see it through. In between kneading and folding, there is the waiting for the dough to rise,  something I am not very good with. This kind of sporadic activity is best done when there are loads of DVDs to finish off in a day. It makes the waiting more meaningful.

It took a good 7 hours to complete the bread, with me skipping the overnight wait. I made the preferment in the morning, left the 'sponge' somewhere warm and used it within 4 hours, not the most ideal duration. Other than that, everything is done as logged. I am very proud to declare that my first bread made from preferment is a tremendous success.

Verdict  : this is a light, moist and airy bread with a thin chewy crust. It would taste better with more proofing but under the rushed conditions, it is a very decent bread. If I had shaped it like a batard, it would have looked like an artisan bread from the boutique store. Sliced, it makes a good sandwich bread.

1 rustic loaf for 3.

Admittedly, it will look more rustic if round. But to eat as a sandwich, functionality overrides appearance.
1 3/4 C bread flour
1/2 C water
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/16  teaspoon instant yeast

Final dough:
1 1/4 C bread flour
3/4 C   rye flour ( use whole wheat if this is lacking )
3/4 C water
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
all of the preferment

Preferment preparation :
Mix water with yeast. Whisk flour and salt. Add in yeast mix. Stir with a wooden implement. If possible, leave overnight, covered.

The next day, mix ingredients of final dough. Add all of the preferment. Knead thoroughly, about 15 minutes. Leave it to rise in an oiled bowl until dough doubles, about 2 hours.

On a floured surface, flatten dough to a rectangular shape. Fold into thirds, like a letter. Rotate 90 degrees and fold. Do this a couple of time.

Return folded dough to oiled bowl and let rise until it doubles in size again. Repeat folding process.

After the second folding, transfer to a oiled baking tray, and let rise for another  1  hour.

Put a little metal tray of water under a baking rack in the oven. Meanwhile preheat oven to the highest possible. The steam and extra high initial temperature gives the bread a nice ' oven spring '.

Score risen dough through the middle  with a sharp knife slanted at an angle. Bake at 230 C for 35 minutes. Bread is ready when its bottom is tapped which gives off a hollow sound.

Cool bread before serving.

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