Medieval Style Bread part 4

Medieval Style Bread part 4

21. part 2

Hmmm… I think I should start giving these posts better names.  Like Rolof.

Anyway.  The next part of my mission is accomplished.  I made bread this week that seems to fit the descriptions.

It is thick, and hard to kneed, and has a tight enough crumb that I can easily see the stale version being good for trenchers.  It’s also whiteish.  Although I haven’t done my flour experiments yet, I imagine that this bread would not be dissimilar in colour to what was eaten in the 16th century.

I kinda winged it this time round.  Here is the recipe that I used (created retroactivly):

  • 4 cups flour (1 c ww, 3 c white)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (I ended up adding an extra 1/4 cup of water before kneading)
  • 2 1/2 tsp yeast (my yeast is getting to the end of its life, and I should probably get more)
  • 2 tsp salt (if kosher, grind in mortar)
  1. Take 1 1/4 cups warm water and put it in a large bowl, whisk in yeast let sit for 10 minutes
  2. Slowly add 1 cup whole wheat flour and, stirring, let rest out covered lightly for a half hour
  3. Once the yeast mixture starts bubbling add 2 tsp salt, stir then add the rest of the flour mix it together (not all of the flour was incorporated)
  4. Cover and allow to rise 12 hours
  5. Punch down, dd 1/4 cup water and kneed for 5 minutes, you may need to wet your hands once or twice
  6. Divide into two loves
  7. Preheat oven to 170F then turn off oven and put bread in on stoneware
  8. Let rest for 8 hours
  9. Set oven to 450 with baking stone and broiling tray in
  10. Pour 1 cup water into broiling tray
  11. Bake for 45 min or until crust is browned and firm

Results:

  • Shape: A good rising action on this one.  It was a bit cold when I was trying to rise it, so I preheated my oven to 170, then turned it off and put the bread in to rise.  I think I’ll do that again.  Also, I had to add water after the first rise, as the moisture hadn’t seeped through the whole dough.  I’ll have to increase the moisture amount in this bread I think.  Also, I read in  “English Bread and Yeast Cookery” by Elizabeth David that Manchets would have a small cut around the top to create a pleasing secondary crust.  I’ll give this a shot next time.
  • Crust: Perfect.  Hard, slightly crackly.  I have the crust down nicely.  Great flavour.
  • Crumb: I think I have the correct crumb now.  It was still close, as a low hydration bread should be, but now it was properly risen, so it worked out a lot better.
  • Taste: I think I had the right amount of salt this time.  Also smaller crystals helped.  This bread has a good filling taste that I really like.  The bread isn’t too heavy.  I would have liked the bread to have matured a bit more, but the recipe doesn’t actually call for much maturing, so we’ll see how that goes in the future.

Conclusion:

This time was kinda a spur of the moment bread making.  I did this to try out a few things.  I’ll be doing this again on Friday for the Saturday event.  With luck it will work well again.

I worked out the hydration and it was about 64% hydration.  I have a feeling that my hydration calculations have been off though, as I’m doing conversions from cups to lb etc, and that’s not very accurate.  I think I’m going to go with this recipe and do it by feel instead of by science.  It’s more fun that way.  I found that the hydration was a good way to work out the recipe at first, but now it just gets in the way.

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