Saturday, February 6, 2016

Thank You Ken Forkish

I bought Ken Forkish's Flour, Water Salt, Yeast recipe book late last year and it has become my 'go to' book.

First step last year was to successfully created the levain using what ever wild yeasts are in my house and on my flour. Keep a portion of it in my refrigerator and take out and refresh when needed. This is what the levain looks like when its been refreshed.
Refreshed levain
Lots of bubbles and a sweet sour note. I'm going to use it in two batches of overnight country brown and a batch of baguettes from the Tartine book.

Next step is to weigh out the flours and water, mix, and autolyse for 30 minutes. The recipe calls for 276g of whole wheat flour, but I like the slight tang of rye so I weighed out 200g whole wheat and 76 g of rye flour.

After mixing for the autolyse the dough is nice, soft, and shaggy. Although Forkish calls for hand mixing, I prefer to use a dough whisk at this stage.

Flour and water mixed for autolyse
Autolyse is a simple technique where the flour and water is mixed together until no dry material is left. No kneading, just cover and leave. What is happening is the flour is absorbing the water to become fully hydrated. In turn, this releases enzymes in the flour that stimulates the proteins that start the gluten development. Other enzymes begin the process of breaking down starch into simple sugars that will later feed the yeasts.

After 30 minutes the salt and levain is added to the flour and water mixture. The salt is kept out until now to because it would retard the gluten development.
The dough after adding the salt and levain
Now we can get our hands in the mix, making sure to first wet them. The levain is incorporated by mixing first, then cutting the dough by squeezing the hand through it bringing the thumb and index finger together in a scissors type motion. Look at how well the gluten has developed already.

Now to start developing the dough. My oven had a proofing setting that is about 75oF. and the bins of dough are going in there for the next stage of bulk fermentation. No longer do we need to knead the bread, especially with higher hydration doughs.  This Overnight Country Brown has 78% hydration, that is 78g of water to every 100g of flour. The technique that has replaced kneading is generally known as stretch and fold. With a wet hand slipped under the dough about a quarter is lifted up until resistance is felt. The section is then folded down over the other side.

First stretch and fold before inverting
See how much smoother the dough has become

Working around the container, this step is repeated four or five times until the dough is in a ball. Then the ball is inverted so all the folds come together face down.

Three to four stretch and folds should see the dough really nice and subtle. That's it for tonight. The dough will now continue to bulk ferment overnight. Tomorrow's episode will be the final shape and bake.

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