Don't Be Poolish
My first (read 'foolishly ambitious') attempt at baking bread was an uneqivocal disaster. Not even fit for a doorstop. Sigh.
It all started last Fall... I was THRILLED TO BITS when Suganya of Tasty Palettes sent me some Amish Friendship Bread Starter! I rubbed my hands with glee and made all sorts of plans that involved the creation of a lovely loaf of bread. However, I was short on time and in a stupendous burst of thickheaded-ness decided to stop feeding the starter and use it right away. Text book example of 'Vinasha Kale Viparita Buddhi'. Eloquently translated here but perhaps more succintly summarized as, 'Grr'!!
Next thing you know, that manic gleam appeared in my eye. Whole grain bread was my objective and I would let nothing stand my way. Fortunately, the Fresh Loaf came to my rescue. Utterly. Fabulous.
The more time I spend on that site, the more I enjoy it. It had everything I needed to get started: recipes, pictures. To my complete and utter delight, breadmakers tend to be science enthusiasts. They keep track of their proofing and their experiments. They plot charts. Set up workbooks in MS Excel. These are my people. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, its all a matter of taste. And of course, theres no substitute for working the dough with your hands. Such an intriguing mix of personal experience and science.
In addition, I've turned into a Peter Reinhart devotee. This is my third time making the MultiGrain Hearth Bread from his latest book, "Whole Grain Breads".
Heres what I did:
I confess that I plan my life around this bread. I make the soaker with cooked grains, specifically: steel cut oats, millet and kasha. The biga and dough get fine ground whole wheat flour from Lori's. I've also chucked in organic oat flour in the final dough. I follow the recipe to the letter (how often do I say this, huh?). For this bread, I have been known bite the utility-bill bullet and turn up the heat so the dough will rise!
Its the best multi-grain bread I've eaten and it considerably improves my reputation as a cook! I've eaten it for breakfast, served it with soup and even as a post-run snack with peanut butter.
The crust turns out great, due to the dousing of the hot oven with water. The crumb is dense. Probably because of all the cooked whole grain in the soaker. This bread has personality. Its like that incredibly smart, quiet guy in the room. The one with calm eyes, who is so confident that he simply doesn't need to boast or brag!
All that apart, Thank you Suganya for the starter that started it all!
1. For copyright reasons, I did not post the recipe. A good multi-grain bread to start with: Peter Reinhart's Struan
2. More reviews of the Multi-Grain Hearth Bread