I learned to bake bread through community loaves. I’ve donated 7 times, and today I baked the most beautiful loaves to date. I admit that I’m pretty pleased with myself, but mostly I’m in awe of the process of bread making. With practice it’s getting easier, and my loaves are evolving. I tried a couple of new techniques after reading Katherine’s New Modern formula step by step tutorial. Katherine explained that our hands and fingers are sensitive to the feel of the yeast and salt being absorbed, and to the tightness that comes when adding salt. I was curious about this, so I combined my autolyse and poolish in a new way, twisting off chunks of autolyse into the poolish, working in the yeast, then the salt, stretching and folding until I had a consistently dense mass, all evenly combined. Then I combined the oatmeal mix and did maybe 30 minutes of slap and fold until I achieved the windowpane test. Taking more time to combine individual ingredients made me more aware of the changes happening in the dough. I could feel the grains of yeast and salt disappear.
The new loaf shaping technique is a game changer. My loaves are round and smooth on the top. Degassing is genius, and so is rolling the dough from the top down, pressing forward against the surface of the countertop to create strength in the dough where it’s needed most: the top.
I baked my loaves for 48 minutes. 8 minutes more than usual. They’re a nice rich amber brown all over.
4 loaves cooling on my rack, sitting tall. I’ll package them up tomorrow.
I love how they turned out.
Claudia- Rainier Beach