When last we baked the summer monsoons were in full tilt! I was standing outside in a dust storm that made national news for being 3 miles high and 50 miles wide along with a raging summer rain. It was like working in a wet, muddy, blanket that a group of pit bulls had been sleeping in. The bread refused to rise. This made me think long and hard about my choice to bake in an oven that was outside in our yard.
On our current bake I, once again, made a few changes. In an attempt to lower the moister content of the loaves, I reduced the hydration percentage by 37 grams per 600-gram loaf or about 21%.
This is huge and can only be achieved after learning how to handle wet, sticky dough! In past bakes when the rise was weak I think it was from not working the structure enough. In my bench rest I would not pay enough attention to the sag of the individual loaves. This is key, if the loaves are sagging after the bench rest re-stretch and rebuild the tension and allow an extra bench rest.
The loaves should have a smooth but tight feel after the stretch. I’m also starting my fire earlier and burning less wood, in an attempt to get more even oven heat. I sweep the oven very well after the fire has been removed and only use a damp mop not a wet mop… just enough to remove the ash and coals. And last no additional pot of water. Just a few moist towels on the door and a few sprays of water as most of the humidity comes from the loaves. The result is beautiful loaves that have complete oven spring and full caramel color. The sponge is just right. So… I’m off to deliver bread!
See you on the net.
Mad Coyote Joe