"Are we going to see Star Trek today?"
"Uh...uh...but...uh...I'm making bread..."
So I am two hours into the fermentation and it could go for another 3 like it is supposed to or it could be done in 2...my only option was to park it in the fridge till we got back from the movie. After the movie it took it a few hours to warm up and finish the fermentation. Then shaped and baked it was done a bit later then dinner, but it was decent bread. Consider the minor hiccup.
Later in the week I tried to make a "weekday" bread that ferments overnight at room temp. In the morning I had dough soup, so I am not exactly sure what went wrong, but my guess is that I didn't properly account for the ambient temps and it over fermented.
But let's not dwell on that...let's talk about poolish. Pretend for a minute that you have a bakery and you want to make good flavor filled breads. Fermentation creates flavor, longer slow fermentation creates more flavor. So you mix up dough before you go home at night and leave it to ferment overnight. So far so good...but you have limited space to ferment enough dough to make all the bread you need to make. It turns out the solution is pretty easy, you just make a "pre-ferment". This is basically like a flavor concentrate that you ferment overnight then mix in with the dough in the morning.
Last night I made a pre-ferment called a poolish. It was equal parts by weight of flour and water, with just a tiny bit of yeast. (I mixed it up just before I went to bed hoping that I would be awake well before it went "too far"...)
When I got up this morning I seemed to have something that looked like what the book described so I went ahead and mixed up the rest of the dough. I am pretty sure I have mentioned before that I do not like working with "wet dough"...well this dough is wet. It actually seemed too wet to me even after it tripled in size it seemed like it would be too wet to hold a shape, but as I worked it into a ball it seemed to come together. An hour later it was in the oven baking...a few hours after that and half of it is already being digested.
This might possibly be the best tasting bread I have made yet, but I do have a bit of a nit. This book recommends baking the loafs inside of a dutch oven that has been heated in the oven. This helps develop a thicker, crispier crust. I am not sure I am sold on this just yet...The biggest issue for me is that the bottom of the loaf gets really crispy...aka hard. The partial solution is to park the loaf in a plastic bag for a bit and it will soften up the crust, but the bottom is still a bit tough. I also prefer the batard over a round loaf, but a batard isn't going to fit into a dutch oven all that well, so for now I will continue to work the recipes as the book instructs...