Yesterday I started a biga or poolish depending on your nation. Basically flour water and yeast that sits on the counter overnight to improve the taste of bread. Early this morning before church, I made the dough and used the biga. All day I have been fussing and turning the dough, rising and deflating until the moment of truth, making the loaves. They are in the oven now and look pretty good. Now I will admit I cannot pass the window pane test. Some say its crucial but others not so much. I may no have had enough water in the dough but it was impossible to knead so wet.
Yesterday I also removed a pork shoulder with every intention of making pulled pork. Low and slow in the oven for hours, it still would not pull so I placed it in the crockpot before bed. This morning it was falling apart nirvana.
Ok the bread is done a looks great externally but I can tell its too heavy and the crumb reveals it too dense for an airy french loaf *sigh*. Back to the kneading board.
So what did do differently? Firstly I started with the biga. Not something I normally do. Secondly it was a long series of rises, very long. Most of the day as a matter of fact. I placed the dough in the fridge to go to church but it had already doubled by then. I removed it and let it come to room temp. I removed it, stretched and folded it then let it rise again. I did this several times before the final shaping. It rose quickly in the house at about 80 degrees. I could have just let it in the fridge for a few days to develop. It had large air pockets and although I could not make the window pane test, the dough eventually had large poufs that proved it. I could have probably have made 4 loaves instead of 2 and let all four rise to this size and maybe I would have achieved the crumb I sought.
It is a tasty loaf of bread and the crust was sharp and crackly. I sprayed it with water before hitting the hot oven that I dropped a few ice cubes in to create some steam.