I belong to two wonderful bread-making groups on Facebook. Two methods/books are often the subject of much civil discussion. We have our favorites and accept the fact others might feel differently. It’s wonderful we feel free to share our preferences.
I’ve blogged before about Jim Lahey’s My Bread. Since I’ve been a part of these groups, I’ve learned a lot about Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza. I confess to not knowing much about the book until this group, but I soon decided to buy the book.
One of the first things I noticed about the book is his technique’s similarity to ones used by Peter Reinhart and Jim Lahey. There’s an autolyse and a long ferment. The long ferment is one of the things I love about Lahey’s recipes. He calls for a 12-14 hour ferment, but allows that it can take longer in the winter. The last few loaves of bread I’ve made using Lahey I’ve fermented for 20-24 hours! What wonderful taste development.
Back to Forkish. His method includes an autolyse period. Salt and yeast (if called for) are added to the dough using a pincer method. Yes, you turn your fingers into lobster claws and pinch the dough to add the salt and yeast. He calls for folding the dough periodically. It’s certainly not a complicated method.
I decided to make his pain de campagne, using his instructions for making a levain (sourdough starter). The above is a picture of it at Day 1. His levain instructions call for 500 grams whole wheat flour and 500 grams of water. I didn’t have 500 grams of whole wheat milled, so I used 456 grams of whole wheat and 44 grams of rye I had milled. Leave uncovered for an hour or two, and then cover and leave in a warm place for the next day.
On Days 2 through 4, you remove starter and add whole wheat flour and water. On Day 5–the day you can make bread–you use mostly white flour with a bit of whole wheat.
One of the most convenient things about Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza is that Forkish provides a sample schedule for making the bread. For example, for the bread I made, he suggests feeding Mrs. Hudson (my levain) at 8 a.m., mixing the final dough at 3 p.m., and form into loaves at 8. They proof overnight in the fridge and will be ready to bake the following morning between 8 and 10. Once you have some experience, you won’t need the schedule, but it helped me on this first foray into Forkish land.
As I waited until time to form, I have to admit I was doubtful this was going to work. I couldn’t imagine how this very hydrated blob would turn into bread. I folded diligently, and because I wasn’t sure what to expect–and because I bake my bread freeform–I was disappointed when I’d return to my dough tub and the nice ball of dough I’d made had flattened again. But I soldiered on.
Forkish uses bannetons/brotforms to shape his dough. So I did too. And here’s what my blobby dough looked like the next morning when I turned it out of the brotform.
Pretty cute, huh? And it looked even cuter when it came out of the oven.
And there’s a nice crumb structure. And most important, it tastes wonderful!
Forkish’s bread recipes make 2 loaves. I made one and saved the rest of Mrs. Hudson for future use.
Now, he calls for using a 12-quart round tub to mix his doughs. I bought one, but if you have a large rectangular one, that should work as well. The idea is to have one large enough to be able to do the folds in. This cuts down on the dishes to wash!
As for the levain, you do throw away a lot of it in the making phase. If you’ve made sourdough, you know that’s not abnormal. But it seems like more than most recipes I’ve found. Someone wrote that you don’t have to throw away as much (therefore not use as much flour), but I don’t really have the skill set to be able to figure out the ratios, etc.
My first time for Forkish bread has been a huge success, and I will certainly be making more. That doesn’t mean I’ll abandon Lahey. There is room for both of them as well as Reinhart.© Copyright 2014 Ida Walker, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Enabling Cook