It seems I have trouble getting this right. It’s been a while since doing any baking and I rushed through the process. My main mistake was that I didn’t refrigerate the biga so I noticed this morning it had risen too much (at room temperature). So this is now closer to Jim Lahey’s approach – what to do?
The basic idea in the slow ferment is that you start with way less yeast but ferment for much longer time. What is happening is that the yeast is doubling at the same rate and the extra time allows more doublings, so at the end of the rise (fast with more yeast, slow with less yeast) you have the same amount of yeast. But the slow rise will have more bacterial action and more enzymatic action and thus more flavor.
Reinhart’s approach with cold ferment is then to add more yeast when making the final dough. The cold suppresses yeast doublings but allows the bacterial and enzymatic actions. Since the biga is low in yeast you have to add more. But how much more? The recipe is clear (when done right) so I figured I’d try to adjust. Given how much rise I saw in the biga I figured I could cut added yeast in half, so I did. Well, not quite right and I suspect this loaf will be too dense when I cut into it. Comparing the current loaf to picture from last post lets me see the lower and denser profile.
But as I’ve found before bread is pretty much impossible to completely ruin. You get something no matter what you do. The taste of this loaf should be about the same but the crumb won’t be as good, but for sandwich bread I don’t think that will matter. Now, OTOH, if the slices fall apart, that’s not good.
But in doing this baking I realized there is another ambiguity in Reinhart’s process. To save ink Reinhart has some recipes do their unique steps and then simply use the remaining steps from a previous recipe. That occurs with this recipe, that is, the final steps are obtained from another loaf’s instructions. So you don’t have a complete set of instructions for each loaf. To make matters a bit more confusing Peter includes making loaf pan and hearth loaves in the same instructions, again with the unique steps merged with the common steps. So in the instructions mostly the hearth method is being described for baking. Reinhart likes to overheat the oven during preheating, so he then tells you to turn down the temp. BUT, here’s the ambiguity, are you turning it down just for the hearth method or both methods? I can’t remember how I interpreted this in the past but this time I decided to believe the 350F is used for both. One consequence is that the loaf did take longer to reach internal temp this time. BUT, is that due to the less rise or the lower temp?
So I still have to be more careful and experiment more with this recipe so I have my own version tied to my own process (when I don’t do it wrong). While I’m sure this bread will be edible I’d still like to get it exactly right.