Tag Archives: pre-ferment

Roasted Potato and Onion Bread

Let’s start by pointing out that my oven is still very questionable. I had noted that when the oven hit it’s desired temperature – quite accurately, I’ll add – it decided that’s all it needed to do. It no longer kicked in to keep the oven temp at that level. So without knowing, the oven temperature would drop and drop and drop, all while the digital readout still said “450°F” as the inside plummeted to 350°F.

“I’ve baked a few things” said Punkin, pulling a Shepherd’s Pie from the oven a few days ago, “I think it’s OK again. I suspect it’s your steam that’s causing the problem.” OK, so maybe the steam is playing havoc with either the thermostat inside the oven or the actual chips inside the oven controls. So I figured, after a few weeks of not baking and staring to have serious withdrawals, I would give it another go.

So with that I decided to give a go at one of our July breads on MellowBakers.com and tackle the very well received Potato Bread with Roasted Onion from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.

Gathering all the required supplies I then set off to make this loaf, hoping the oven had got over its little fit. I would also steam the bread by putting it under pans to trap the water instead of steaming the oven cavity. That will rule out the “steam in the works” problem.

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Baguettes with Poolish

Here we are at bread no. 17 for the Mellow Bakers, Baguettes with Poolish from Hamelman’s amazing book, Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes

“What, baguettes again? Didn’t you just do these last month?” Yes indeed, I did baguettes last month. However, these are different!

This time around, the dough is made with a poolish pre-ferment (equal parts flour and water plus a tiny smidgen of yeast, left to mature for several hours). Last month’s French Bread was a straight dough and came together in about 4 hours.

So what does the poolish accomplish for us? Because it’s allowed to sit for 12 to 16 hours, it’s got time to ferment the flour and in so doing, develops a stronger dough, superior flavour, better keeping quality and actually shortens the time it takes to make the bread, in spite of requiring a long pre-ferment period. By mixing the pre-ferment ahead of time, taking just a couple of minutes, the action of the enzymes on the dough, when mixed together, speed up the bulk and final proofing considerably.

Of all these aspects, the one that will stand out most to those who eat it is the improved flavour.

Let’s move ahead then and see if this is indeed the case.

The night before, I mixed the poolish, 300 g flour + 300 g water + 1/8 teaspoon of instant dry yeast. This is left overnight to ferment. (Imagine I took pictures here.) So next day…

We have bread flour, water, salt & yeast and our now well-developed poolish which is easily twice its original size. Amazing how a teeny amount of yeast can do that.

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