Thursday, November 03, 2005

Baking, The Second

I decided last night that I was going to make my first loaves of the season today. Since I'm a big fan of pre-fermenting the dough (I'll explain in a moment), I wanted to make the pre-ferment (or 'sponge') this morning before work. To make that easier, I decided to measure out the ingredients before bed last night. Everything was going very well until it came time to measure out the flour, and I got a nasty shock.

*gasp*

No all-purpose flour! Not even bread flour! What was the house coming to?

Luckily enough, after an emergency trip to the grocery, I came back with plenty of milled goods...we also took care of our outstanding grocery list.

As I said a moment ago, I'm a big fan of pre-fermenting the dough, which is exactly what it sounds like. Basically, you take a percentage of the total flour in a recipe, mix it with a percentage of the total water in a recipe, and add about half the yeast from a recipe, and mix them all together. The percentages of flour and water vary, depending on the type of pre-ferment, or starter, you want. A wet starter is usually referred to as a sponge, and it contains about equal measures of flour and water. Bakers like wet starters because you can wisk air into the mixture before you let it ferment. On the other hand, a dry starter, or biga, uses about half the measure of water as flour, which bakers like because it gives the dough a deeper flavor than a wet starter.

The purpose of the starter is to create a more complex flavor in the bread by allowing some yeast to slowly do their thing. After about 8-10 hours in the refrigerator, the starter is ready to be incorporated into the main dough ball (which should be about the time I get home from work tonight).

And what, pray tell am I making?

Why, a cinnamon-spiral bread with dried cherries in't. ;)
posted by S.C. @ 7:52 AM |

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