At LAST.

 

 

 

Just BEFORE the 3 hours are up, preheat your oven to 500oC and place a Dutch oven pot (with its lid) in the oven. Dust the surface of the loaf with rice flour. Once the oven has reached 500oC, remove the Dutch oven pot and lid (CAREFUL, THIS WILL BE VERY HOT). Gently turn the loaf out of the kitchen towel and into the Dutch oven pot. Using a very sharp knife, cut two long slit into the top of the loaf in the shape of an “x.” Replace the lid to the pot and place the pot in the oven.

 

Reduce the temperature to 450oC and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake the loaf for an additional 20 minutes until the crust is a dark, golden color. Remove the pot from the oven. Turn off the oven. Remove the loaf onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool for a while.

 

AND BOOM!

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After weeks of prep work, days of tender love and care and hours of baking its finally ready. And I must say, all that hard work was delicious. I must say I have never, ever spent so much time on a project before. Towards the final hours of this project, I felt some sort of attachment to my bread. It was like a baby that I fed and cared for everyday and the end result was spectacular. My bread tasted like sourdough straight from the store, except it was hot, and fresh out the oven. It was crispy and I am glad to have done something new and learned a new skill.

Day 21 5:00 PM Float Test Positive On to the next steps

It finally worked!!!! I have been stressing out all morning because my float test was failing!  But finally at 5:00PM my float test finally worked. The reason why the leaven needs to float is because of the gas formation that has been occurring all night. Essentially, the gas formation is what is keeping it afloat.

Now that I have explained that, my directions are:

Discard half of your leaven, add 1⁄2 plus 1⁄3 of a cup of the flour mix and a little more than 1⁄3 of a cup of water and mix to combine. Allow the culture to ferment for 21⁄2 hours and repeat the float test. Your leaven is ready if it floats. (Why do you do this? Because the overnight leaven will have fermented for a longer period and its flavor will be more acidic. You are trying to remove some of this by creating a younger leaven)

If everything is successful, you will hear from me in 2 and a half hours. Cross your fingers.

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EDIT:

Float test #2 was successful! Time to make that DOUGH!

To make the DOUGH, combine 1⁄2 a cup of your leaven with 11⁄2 cups of lukewarm water, 31⁄2 cups of bread flour, 1⁄3 of a cup of whole wheat flour in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside for 30 minutes.

I noticed that each time I turned the dough, the top part was a little harder than the bottom. Turning the dough every thirty minutes prevents the dough from hardening during this prep time.

After 30 MINUTES, add 31⁄2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the dough and mix. If needed, you may add more water (possibly as much as 1⁄4 of a cup if the dough is breaking up). For the next 4 hours, you should check on your culture every 30 minutes. Each time, you should turn your dough over inthe bowl by lifting the bottom to the top a few times. This is considered a gentle kneading/mixing of the dough. You will notice the dough becomes softer and well aerated and you do not want to disturb this softness or billowiness too much.

You may wonder why add Kosher Salt?

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2011/03/16/worth-its-salt/

In short, adding kosher salt makes it less sticky, reduces oxidation, and most importantly helps fermentation go at a constant rate.

After 4 HOURS, gently remove the dough out of the bowl and onto your lightly-floured kitchen counter. Lift the edges of the dough inward towards the center making a ball shape while trying to keep the flour on the outside (crust-side) of your ball. You want to make a tight ball but you do not want the dough to tear. Just keep shaping the dough gently in this way until you have a smooth, tight ball. Leave the dough on the counter to rest for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, your ball will have flattened slightly and spread on the countertop.

For the FINAL form, lightly flour the surface of the slightly flattened ball of dough. Flip the dough over so the floured side is now underneath. Stretch the right side of the dough without tearing and fold over to the left side of the dough (like folding it in half). Repeat this stretching and folding process in a clockwise fashion, stretching next from bottom to top, then from the left over the right and finally from the top to the bottom. You will have folded the dough four times in the end. You should be mindful to be as gentle as possible always maintaining as much of the softness and aeration as possible. Place a fresh kitchen towel in a clean large bowl. Dust the kitchen towel with some rice flour onto the kitchen towel. Transfer your shaped dough onto the kitchen towel with the seam-side up (smooth side down). Gently cover the dough with the ends of the kitchen towel and allow another 3 hours for the dough to rise.

Kneading dough helps develop gluten, and this step was especially fun!

http://www.wisegeek.org/why-do-you-need-to-knead-bread-dough.htm

Stay tuned tomorrow for a picture of my bread and feel free to come over for breakfast. We’re having sourdough.

Day 20. The prep work for the leaven.

It is 6:00pm and I have made my leaven.
What is in a leaven you may ask?

According to the oxford dictionary, it is generally a substance, typically yeast, that is added to dough so that it may ferment and rise

My instructions were:

For the leaven, transfer into a fresh small, clear bowl 1 tablespoon of your culture from the bottom of the last bowl (as before, just a little bit more). To this, add 12⁄3 cups of flour mix and 1⁄2 plus 1⁄3 of a cup of water. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Incubate it in a cool, dark corner in your kitchen overnight. You should probably prepare the leaven by 7pm at the latest. Post a photo of your culture.

As you can see from the picture, the leaven is huge compared to what I called my previous culture. It’s definitely not as liquified, and it actually stuck to my hand a lot and was hard to get off.

Now that I have my leaven, I will let it incubate over night and in the morning I will do my float test. Curious to see what a float test is? Check back tomorrow morning. I will make sure to clearly explain it with a picture!

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Day 18 Hourly Watch

Today I watched my culture to see it grow. In an 11 hour period, I honestly expected to see more. I purposely left a hole in the middle to eventually see the culture expand and eventually close the hole up. Unfortunately, after an 11 hour period, it still hasn’t fully closed. The pictures are in order starting from 12pm all the way to 11pm.

Notice the big hole in the middle.

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You can definitely see the hole closing here.image

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Again, a more noticeable growth closer to the hole. This is the end of the growth towards the circle.image

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This is the last photo. You can definitely see the culture hardening here.image

Day 16 The Home Stretch.

I’m coming into the final week of my project. Included in todays post are directions for the next couple days. I am excited to dedicate a day to really watch my culture and the mystery behind its growth, smell, and crust formation. For today’s observations, I saw nothing out of the ordinary. It smelled like it should, and it looked like it should. Hopefully this week I’ll see something exciting.

 

Directions:

In the next few days, you will also be repeating the routine of DAY 5, but you will be picking a day in your schedule where you will have some more time to monitor your culture. On this particular day, you will check on your culture hourly after you have replenished it with fresh flour and water. Describe what you see. Is the volume of the culture expanding/contracting?If so, how much (i.e. has it doubled in size? collapsed?) If possible, post

hourly photos of your culture showing the expansion/contraction.

Day 15

Whenever I allow my culture to incubate for two days, I can smell it outside of its closet. I hope my roommate doesn’t get annoyed of how stinky it is.

Other than it’s smell, it looks like the same old culture. And I also did the same steps today. Tomorrow, however, marks a new day! I must repeat adding fresh new flour, but also, on Saturday or Sunday, I will be monitoring my culture every hour and watching it grow! I cannot wait to see the movement of my culture. This should be exciting.

Day 13

Today I checked on my culture. When I incubate it for two days, the smell is a lot stronger. There is also a more defined crust. Like usual, I pull off the crust and I grabbed a teaspoon of culture, transferred it into a new bowl, and added my fresh flour mix. I will continue the 48-hour incubation period. I will check on it tomorrow, but I will not add fresh flour for another two days.