Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Semolina Sourdough, Take One

I did everything, "wrong" making this loaf, and still ended up with what Mr. ETB claims is the best crust I've ever made. I didn't use steam, though I did brush the surface with water to make the topping stick-that might have accounted for the crustiness.

Roughly, here's what I did:

1 1/2 cups fed, firm starter
2 cups water
3 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups semolina pasta flour
1/2 cup bread flour

I made a sponge with the starter and water, which sat for 12 hours. I added the salt, sugar and 1 cup of the semolina and I mixed it (with a hand mixer!) on low for about ten minutes, gradually working in the last of the semolina flour. I added the bread flour by hand and kneaded for about ten minutes. The dough was placed in an oiled bowl and let rise about 12 hours overnight. In the AM, I punched it down, let it rest 20 minutes, then shaped it and placed the dough on a cornmeal dusted pan. I preheated the oven to 375 degrees F. and let the bread rise until almost doubled-about 1 1/2 hours atop the stove.

Before baking, it was brushed with water and tossed with a coating of bran flakes and poppy seeds. I baked it 25 minutes, then rotated the pan and baked another 25. I went for an internal temperature of 205 degrees F. Then, let it cool on a rack. That was it. No steam, no folds, nothing fancy at all. Suddenly, I've baked, "the best crust ever", and I feel like a dunce having devoted all that time to steam, Dutch ovens, and the like. It could have been luck. The crumb was open and lovely as well-achieved with a hand mixer of all things. I swear, this bread just broke all the rules. The one complaint I have is the crust colour-I would have preferred something deeper, so next time I'll try some malt powder. That it supposed to help with crust colour. Overall though, I can't really complain-I'm just not sure I could ever duplicate it.

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