Wulf's Webden

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Rising Higher

As I mentioned last week, I have cottoned onto the fact that a small bread machine is more efficient at baking than a large oven. For tonight’s bake, I decided to tweak some of the variables. The main one was to increase the amount of water in the dough. Rather than using ratios of 100:70:2:2 (bread flour : water : yeast : salt), I increased the liquid to give 50:40:1:1 (or 100:80:2:2 if you want to start from a base of 100). That produces a slightly softer dough but I wonder if the extra moisture helps develop the gluten content?

My other experiments were to put the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl and add the water before mixing them into the flour (potentially giving the yeast a little more time to work before being retarded by the salt) and to use a little oil on the board rather than flour when working the dough. The latter trick further reduces the amount of flour going into the dough, although I did use a little in the final folding over.

Anyway, the upshot was a loaf that was a good inch taller than my previous experiment but still with a close enough crumb to provide good slices. Tasty!

  • Ian Jones

    Hi Wulf, your findings also concur with what I learned from the excellent LOAF course I attended last year (www.loafonline.co.uk).  I found that adding more liquid makes a stickier dough, and so takes longer to knead, but the results were good.  If you have the time to make a ‘sponge’ (of all your water and yeast and half your flour) in advance and let it ferment, that also gives longer to ferment before you add the salt.

    • basswulf

      I make a sponge sometimes but rarely manage to plan that far ahead. When I do, it is normally because I want to use a higher proportion of brown / wholemeal flour; strong white bread flour (80-90% of most of my mixes) is a bit more forgiving.

      • Yes – it does make better brown/wholemeal.  In fact I had misremembered where I got the 100% water/yeast and 50% flour from – it in fact comes from the River Cottage bread book.  However, I tried a sponge of equal quantities of flour and milk, plus all of the yeast at the weekend, and I found it made silkier dough.  BTW next time we see you there’s a bottle of nice red wine awaiting!