Some Failed Bread Experiments, #1

I love baking. It’s not a secret to people who know me that baking has become something of a longer term goal, i.e. I like my job well enough but my long term plan is to figure out how to bake for a living. That requires learning a lot, and that learning involves some failures. So here’s the first of an occasional post about trying things and failing. 

I’ve been making my variation on the Ken Forkish Saturday Bread for a good long while now. It’s such a great one day bread,  flavorful and pretty forgiving. Since I’m getting to know the bread well I decided this is a good way to experiment. It’s easy for me do in a day, and like this past Sunday, I can whip up two very different loaves without much scheduling. 

Experiment 1: Heavy on the rye
I bumped up the rye flour in this one to about 1/3 of the total weight. Rye is a weird little flour. It’s easy for it to get gummy if you don’t have some acidity, and because I’m still working with commercial yeast I don’t have that acidity naturally. So I wanted to see whether I could push up the rye flavor without sacrificing texture. 

This is the second time I’ve done this, and I was mostly hoping to learn more and get a better sense of adjusting the hydration with the rye. I did 125 g dark rye, 50 g whole wheat and 325 g AP. Because the WW and Rye are so different than AP I also bumped the liquid up by about 30 g, although I was liberal with the hand-wetting while I mixed. I did three folds and was feeling good, but realized pretty quickly while it was rising that by cutting the formula in half I had less of an idea how to tell it tripled in volume. 

I pulled it out at 4 hours, it was starting to really heat up in the apartment, but even so I think it could have used more time. It shaped up okay, and I proofed it for about 1.25 hours. After 50ish minutes in the dutch oven at 460 I pulled it.
I’m happy with the color, but that’s sadly about it.

The bread was mostly under done. Internal temperature was good, but it needed a bit more fermentation time and was under proofed for sure. Flavor was nice, but texture and crumb were way off.  Lesson learned, I need to figure out volume tracking on one loaf bakes better.
(sad, sad) crumb shot:

Experiment 2: Roasted Garlic and Rosemary 
Normal Saturday Bread, all AP flour, but roasted three heads of garlic and some fresh-ish rosemary. I get requests for garlic bread a lot, and I’ve done one experiment with it, but the results were mixed. Great flavor, kind of a terrible bake. With a really dense crumb, very little oven spring, etc. This one was… actually sort of the same! 

Autolyzed for about 20 minutes, then added in salt, mixed, yeast, mixed, and then finally garlic and rosemary. I realized quickly once I added the garlic that I should have taken into account the extra hydration. More than that though, the garlic adds oil which completely changes the characteristics of the dough. I gave it a few more folds than normal, did 4 instead of 2. 

This bread refused to tighten up as much as I wanted. Just really really slack, but that’s not shocking with the extra moisture. Next time I’ll back off on the water by maybe 10 grams  or so. Shaping was less fun than I’d have liked, but here it is in the banneton next to the finished rye-heavy loaf.

Proofed about an hour, a little over, but not much. I did the poke test and even if it was incredibly slack it seemed to bounce back slowly in the right way. Baked at 460 for 50ish minutes, it smelled so, so great throughout.

But it was the same story, just worse. The loaf was incredibly flat, and the inside barely baked. Flavor was somewhat promising but it was ultimately pretty inedible. 

So why post my failures? A lot of people I know look at my breads and tell me they could never bake bread as good as I can. Setting aside that I’m still a relative newcomer to this world, anyone can bake amazing bread! And on the flip side, lots of people who make amazing bread can still have days full of failed loaves. But as I’m learning… there’s always the next loaf!