Thursday, August 12, 2010

Five-Grain Bread

The five grains in this bread come from high-gluten and whole-wheat flour, rye flour, cornmeal, rolled oats, and flax seeds. Since it can be argued that flax seeds aren't really a grain, the name may not be totally accurate. Nonetheless, this is still a terrific bread. It has a lovely, complex flavor without being too heavy. The crust, in particular, has a nice toasted nutty flavor.

For these loaves, Hammelman suggest either a two-hour bulk fermentation or an overnight retarding. I tried both scheduling my baking so that I could compare these loaves. The loaf on the left (overnight retarding) was started the day before the loaf on the right (two-hour bulk fermentation). Both loaves were baked in a soaked cloche. I preheated the cloche before putting the bread into it, cooking first the overnight retarded loaf and then the two-hour bulk fermentation loaf. Consequently, baking conditions were not identical but were close. (I did not cool and resoak the cloche.) I set the retarded loaf out for an hour or so before baking, but it wasn't up to room temperature.

Differences between loaves were slight. I got slightly more oven spring and a slightly softer crumb with the two-hour fermentation. Overall, there was little difference in the taste of the loaves. I slightly preferred the retarded loaf, but probably wouldn't have been able to distinguish between the two loaves if I hadn't had them side-by-side. Both were excellent and well worth the effort, not that either was difficult to make. This is a keeper.

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