Artisan bread class at King Arthur Flour, Day 3

Here we go again!  It's time to mix our sourdoughs, the primary focus of day 3 of artisan bread class at King Arthur Flour. Our liquid levain and stiff starter had rested at room temperature over night and were looking nicely bubbly and poofy as we then proceeded with the final dough.  We mixed both of these by hand, followed by the "slap-pull" kneading technique that we had practiced on day 2.

Notice the difference in appearance:  the "L" (liquid) version on the right appears more tan, while the "S" (stiff) version is bordering on white.

After a rest:

"L" version

"S" version

We then folded them into "dumpling" shapes with seam side up.

Above: awaiting final shaping

Jessica demonstrated how to shape the final boules (which we accomplished pretty handily) before placing them into brotforms. Part of the experiment was to place our boules in both the floured bare form (as we did for the roasted potato fendu) for baking today and the same form lined with cloth (seen below) for overnight refrigeration and baking tomorrow.

Above: an "L" loaf waiting to go into the fridge

The dough in the floured forms was given a good rise, after which we turned them out onto peels and scored them with whatever pattern we wished.

I chose a standard approach with this one . . .

and into the oven they go!

Out of the oven, looking good!

Day 3 also involved sourdough bagel making.  This was the one dough during the entire 4 day class that we did not make ourselves. Since Jessica was mixing a huge batch, and it required the commercial spiral mixer (a VERY cool piece of equipment by the way) for kneading, she took over the helm to accomplish that very thing.

Whoa baby!

My apologies for not having a pictorial history of the process, but, suffice it to say, we all had a chance to shape, boil and garnish the bagels. Half of them were baked today and the rest would be refrigerated and baked tomorrow.

The results:

Upon tasting, the chewiness and texture were OK, but I couldn't help but think back to those med school days while living in Detroit.  My roommate Jane and I purchased the best bagels at the Detroit Bagel Company perhaps?  I'm no longer sure of the name, but they were oh so good - still warm from the oven and the perfect road food as we drove to our familial homes on our weekend breaks!

Now, on a completely different note, I don't want to forget the more scientific side of this whole process, and I'll try not to bore you with the details.

Yesterday Jessica talked about determining the proper water temperature for dough, starting with a desired dough temperature (DDT) and also taking into consideration other factors such as flour and air temps and the temperature that friction adds in the mixing (i.e. by hand or in a mixer). Pretty fascinating for the science-geeky types.

We also received information about bakers percentages based on the amount of flour one is using, from figuring out how much hydration you might need in a particular dough, as well as the common percentages for salt and yeast.

Today she regaled us with all things sourdough - starters, feedings, room temp or refrigerator, expanding for baking - you name it, it was there! Up until now this topic has held a good deal of mystery for me, but, at least after this class, I've gained a novice's understanding of the process. Will I pursue the sourdough track? Now that's an entirely different matter.

As the day was coming to a close we accomplished one of the coolest projects of this 4 day class - as a group, we created our own bread recipe! Using what we had learned about bakers percentages and working with a list of ingredient options, we developed a semolina-olive oil-sunflower seed bread recipe. And we'll make it tomorrow!

As if we hadn't already accomplished enough, we quickly put together our 2 rye starters for day 4 using rye cultures that had been fed each day by our instructors.

More coming - stay tuned for day 4!