I thought I had solved my bread problem, and had high hopes for my most recent batch, 1 but it was not to be. The dough was just incredibly sticky. Not slack, sticky. It clung tenaciously to hands, bowl, scraper, worktop; I really felt completely unable to manipulate it. I did, gingerly and with extra flour, manage to form a sphere of sorts and to plop that, upside down, into a little basket I bought at the local plant nursery. Lined with a clean towel and liberally dusted with flour.

Dough in banneton

I left the formed loaf in its basket out on the counter (at 30℃) for about an hour, maybe more. It rose quite a bit in that time. Then I put it into the fridge overnight at 4℃. In the morning it was still risen, so once the oven had heated up I carefully inverted the basket over a baking tray and was horrified to watch it spread out like something that had just plopped from a cow's bottom.

Hurriedly I slashed it, vaguely thinking that perhaps it had all this hidden potential to spring, and bunged it in the oven with a steaming pan of water below. I didn't even grant myself time to photograph the plop.

It barely moved during the baking. Spring? Hah! Overdeveloped for sure.

Loaf cooling on rack

Much disappointed I stuffed it in the freezer for a rainy day, and dove back into the internet to investigate further. The good people at The Fresh Loaf suggested other options, which I am doing even as I type. The starter now has feasted on strong flour, and rather than 20% I used only 10%. I allowed 30 minutes to hydrolyze and then folded in the bowl. I've been doing that every half hour for three hours, almost, and it is now time to shape. I shall retard the loaves overnight, and bake them directly from cold in the morning.

The flat loaf, however, had its moment in the sunset sooner than expected. I had been planning to go out for a bite with some friends. In the event, so many places are closed that I offered to cook. Out of the freezer came the loaf, into the oven for 10 minutes just before we ate just to crisp up the crust a bit, and it went down a treat.

Crumb of previous loaf

Handsome is as handsome does, as I once read in a book on training lurchers.

  1. Based on 500 gm total flour, at 60% hydration, using 20% starter.  

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