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Barley: The biga the better

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The biga blew the lid off ... literally.
There was a loud pop and I looked over to the plastic bucket that was holding the preferment and found the cover on the floor. In hindsight, I shouldn't have pressed the lid on so tightly. Those organisms in fermenting bread doughs are mighty powerful!
The next time I made the bread, I used a bowl and just covered it with a tea towel.
The recipe was the white bread with 80% biga from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. I followed it exactly, baked it in a Dutch oven and it turned out to be the tastiest and best-looking plain bread I had made in a while. It had a wonderful aroma and the crackling as it cooled was so loud I could – no exaggeration! –  hear it across the room. Although it didn't have the crack on the top like the loaf on the book's cover (the breads in Ken Forkish's book are not scored but baked seam side up so the crust opens up naturally), I thought it still looked pretty.
The crumb was springy and airy and when I bit into a slice, I knew that this was the gold standard by which I would have to judge all my breads henceforth.
Ken Forkish's white bread with 80% biga
But it is made with 100% white flour and if I wanted to eat more healthily I needed to use "browner" flours.
I have added barley flour to bread dough before but in very small amounts. Then I read about how The Vicar Died Laughing uses up to 20% barley flour in his sourdough bread (it looks great!). Since Ken Forkish's recipe had worked so well, I thought I might substitute a fifth of the white flour with barley.
I shaped the dough into a batard and proofed it in a rectangular basket, then baked the loaf using an improvised "hearth" baking method (a preheated upturned tray in the oven with a steam tray below it).
The oven spring came 15 minutes into baking. The crust didn't get as brown or as crusty as the all-white bread but I put that down to the oven not being steamy enough. The bread had a slight tang which I think is because of the slow rising overnight, and a hint of nuttiness from the barley, which also gave the crumb a yellow tinge.
Overall, a very nice bread. It's going to YeastSpotting.
Barley gives the crumb a yellow tinge
20% Barley Bread with 80% Biga
Makes a 750g loaf. Adapted from Ken Forkish's white bread with 80% biga

400g strong white bread flour
Pinch of instant yeast
272g water

Final dough
100g barley flour
103g water
9g salt
1g yeast
All the biga

Combine the ingredients for the biga and mix well. Place in a container and cover but not so that it is air-tight. Set aside to ferment until it has risen and the top is slightly domed and bubbly, 8-12 hours (depending on room temperature).
Combine the barley flour, water, salt and yeast in a bowl and mix well. Incorporate the biga and mix into a dough.
Develop the gluten using whatever method is comfortable (I did three stretch-and-folds over 1½ hours), then bulk proof (total time: about three hours at a room temperature of 27°C).
Shape and place into a proofing basket. Place basket into a food-grade plastic bag and leave to rise in the refrigerator overnight.
Do a poke test to determine if the loaf is ready for baking (this loaf was baked straight from the fridge). Preheat the oven to 225°C. If using a Dutch oven, preheat in the oven. Or put a steam tray in the oven for hearth baking.
Slash the loaf and bake until the crust is a deep brown and the loaf feels light for its size, 35-40 minutes, rotating the loaf halfway through the cooking time. The internal temperature should be around 95°C. Cool on a wire rack.

1 comment:

  1. The bread looks absolutely delicious, definitely going to try making it!


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