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!