I bake two sourdough loaves every week at home. Normally, I use the Peter Reinhardt recipe found in A Bread Baker's Apprentice. This time, I wanted to try something new. I made the Vermont Sourdough with whole wheat recipe found in the Jeffrey Hamelman Bread book.
I used my fed starter with a combination of King Arthur Four Bread flour and Farmer Ground Whole Wheat Bread Flour. Farmer Ground is a New York State wheat grower and mill. This particular flour is based on a red colored heirloom wheat.
As they say on their website, " Also sometimes called “half-white” flour. This flour averages between 12.5 and 13.5% protein. It contains all the original germ and a small portion of the original bran. Slightly darker in color than conventional white flours, but much closer in performance to a white flour than a whole wheat. This sort of high-extraction flour is what in Europe would be called “T-85,” the same sort of flour used by the Poilan Bakery to make their world-famous Miche."
I used this flour a few weeks ago to bake a Miche style bread (Miche is a very large 100% whole wheat bread produced and sold in French bakeries, like Poilan) and the results were incredible. It gave me a nutrient dense loaf that you would expect to be heavy, but it wasn't heavy. It was light, tender and delicious. What's more, the bread stayed fresh for almost a full week. Each day it changed in character and flavor, giving me a totally new experience.
So, I was excited to use it in combination with my tried and true standard bread flour from King Arthur Flour. Both of them are high protein flours, giving the loaves between 12 and 14% of protein each, which resulted in fabulous gluten development.
Now, most people allow this bread to proof overnight, and the next time I make it, I will do that. However, I started too late in the day and didn't have time to give it an overnight rest, so I was up at 1am folding my dough and 4am shaping loaves for a 6AM bake.
Because it's been hot, even overnight, the room temperature has been holding at about 75-77 degrees, so it was equivalent to keeping the bread dough in a proof box through the entire process.
I firmly believe that adding cold proof to any sourdough baking process will result in a pretty spectacular loaf. However, these loaves still gave me fantastic and complex flavor without the cold ferment. I had a pronounced sour flavor that sweetened on the palate. I loved the crumb structure and large air holes. My only issue was with the crust - and this was my fault. I knew that 420F degrees would be too low in my home oven to produce a beautiful crust. The book said bake at 420F and it was my first time using this formula, so I did. Next time, I am going back to working with higher oven temps - like 525F - for my sourdough baking.
All in all, I am a fan of this well tested and reliably delicious formula. I'll continue to keep in my weekly bake rotation.
I'm a home cook with a lifelong passion for learning, exploring and experimenting in my kitchen. You can find me at @Debs1 on Twitter and @Debs121212 on Instagram.
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