All Day Country Blonde, with apologies to Ken Forkish . . .

All Day Country Blonde, with apologies to Ken Forkish . . .

Submitted by Skibum on July 28, 2015 – 3:46pm.

I simply have not been able to make overnight work! The last time I tried, I finished the final bulk stretch at 5:30 pm and refrigerated it until 11:30 to slow things down. Here is what I had at 7:30 the next morning:

From 1 liter to more than four in about 8 hours. The loaves tasted fine, but were impossible to score, being so over proofed. To quote Mr. Forkish, ” When the dough is nearly tripled it’s original volume or possibly a bit less in winter, 12 to 15 hours after mixing it’s time to divide.” Time to change things up!

For this bake I mixed the levain in the evening and mixed the loaf in the morning. At 10:30 I began the bulk ferment, S&F’s at 45 and 90 minutes and by noon I thought I would let things sit on the counter and see what happens. After a little more than 4 hours the dough had pretty much tripled:

So based on the volume recommendation it was time to divide and shape. My kitchen was between 70 and 72F for the entire process and I am of the opinion the radical shortening of proofing times is more than just temperature, as Ken’s home kitchen for testing was 70F.

I believe there are other factors at play. Ken is in Portland, OR, more or less at sea level. I am 4,424 feet above sea level. While Portland will have coastal high humidity, my humidity is 51% right now. I recall that when I first started baking ‘French’ style breads at 67 percent hydration, I could not get all the flour incorporated and had to up hydration by nearly 5 percent initially. Now water boils at a lower temperature the higher you go and mine boils around 204F. Perhaps the altitude affects the way dough rises? I am speculating, but unless my levain is WAY stronger and faster than Ken’s how do I reconcile 4 hours bulk vs 12 to 15??? I doubt that my levain is stronger and faster, but the dough sure does perform differently!

“Proofing time should be about four hours assuming a room temperature of 70F . . .”  Using the finger dent test I was fully proofed and ready to score and bake in 1:10. I have been proofing seam side up in brotforms and scoring prior to baking. This was the first time I have been able to successfully score with a lame. While I didn’t get the ear, I did get good bloom and great oven spring. A couple of satisfying country blondes!!!

I baked a half of a recipe with the final loaves into the proofing forms at 430 grams each. After 1:10 proofing, baked for 13 minutes with steam and another 14 without and voila! Properly proofed and baked loaves:

Conclusions? Watch and listen to what the dough does. Apparently while temperature affects proofing times, I believe altitude and humidity, or perhaps lack of it may also have an effect.

I have had over proofing issues as well with David Snyder’s excellent  San Joachin Sour Dough, being unable to score. I am not sure how I will resolve this one yet.

Satisfying loaves to produce and eat!!!

Happy baking! Ski

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