It’s back to baking and I’m baking up a storm for Thanksgiving. The first challenge was bread for stuffing. This will be my first year of home-made instead of stale store-bought so hopefully it will be worth it.
The first contribution is the Lahey recipe for stirato, but with my sourdough culture (which seems to be losing its oomph). I’ve done this multiple times since my first article and basically learned: a) to do at least 20 hour ferment, b) do a portion of the time with proofing in the oven. As a consequence I get a loaf comparable in texture to the cultivated yeast but with a bit more flavor. Naturally neither of us could resist “tasting” the product so there isn’t enough for stuffing.
So the second contribution to the stuff comes from the King Arthur book, labeled as “stuffing bread”. It’s basically a quick slightly enriched loaf (just a bit of oil plus some milk powder) with two main additions, some cornmeal for that great stuffing taste and some poultry seasoning. I left out the grains the recipe calls for to meet dietary requirements of our guests.
So the stirato form factor provides a lot of good chewy and crispy crust to center and the loaf (boy did it puff up out of the pan) mostly center, but hopefully with more flavor than simple white bread. Once cooked up tomorrow I’ll add comments on this post to indicate whether this was a success (it can’t possibly be “failure”, but was it worth the extra effort, that remains to be seen.)
Now, for the meal itself I’m repeating a Reinhart overnight cool-ferment recipe for butterflake rolls which still means about six hours of total time tomorrow before dinner and with a mob coming these have to be done. The rolls may not be enough, plus they’re a little tame (excellent for lots of butter), so I also did the standard Lahey stirato with cultured yeast and a short ferment. That seems to have come out fine despite switching flours.
When I started I followed the standard of unbleached and premium flours but over time ended going to bulk and bleached bread flour. In consecutive loaves, although not side-by-side tasting, I really couldn’t tell much difference. But interestingly, not having used the premium flour for a long time, the dough definitely was a bit different. First, the flour itself (King Arthur) was a little finer and actually seemed whiter. Second and the main difference the dough was definitely not as wet, even though with my scale and using grams I usually manage to get within 0.5% of the recipe. So somehow the finer flour needs just a touch more water. I was surprised at the substantial rise over night definitely showing the cultured yeast is so much more active than my sourdough culture. And finally, the fermented dough texture was entirely different, not as sticky and stringy as my usual. I’m saving this loaf for cutting at the table so again I won’t get side-by-side comparison but it is interesting that there is as much difference in the process.
So four different breads for one meal. Quite a lot of progress for me who this time last year had never done a single loaf. Now I need to move on to more complicated stuff, especially shaping which is still a challenge for me. But I really do enjoy creating this very basic product from scratch.