Last time I said:
One thing I'm finding is that my fridge is too cool to get much action going during the final rise. In other words, it really doesn't rise in there at all. Setting the fridge warmer to get more rise is a sure recipe for spoiling the rest of the food in there and killing me. Getting a second fridge just for this seems a little silly.Yes, but there is a third option that I've thought of. I have a Sous Vide controller that I built myself that can hold a temperature very accurately. And it just so happens that winter is hanging on enough where I live that it still gets below freezing in the evenings. It occurred to me that I don't need a second fridge. What I need is something I can leave out in my unheated garage that will keep my dough warm enough, not cold enough. See where I'm going with this? Behold!
|Baby, It's Cold Outside|
|Rube Goldberg Would Be Proud|
- bread dough in a mixing bowl covered by a tea towel and plastic cap to keep drafts at bay
- temperature sensor taped to a coffee mug to keep the sensor in place
- light bulb for heat, clamped in a plastic vise, and controlled by my Sous Vide setup to keep an internal +46.5F (or +8C if you are metric inclined)
- an old PC fan to circulate the air and keep things at an even temperature. This is powered by the wall wart power supply I mentioned above
Another thing that has been bugging me is that my bread is always darker on top than it is to the sides. I figured that this is because I don't have the Lodge combo cooker that is recommended in the book. All I've got is a KitchenAid dutch oven that I got for a steal at Canadian Tire this past fall. I figured that the tall sides of the DO were shielding the bread from the heat on the sides somewhat. I'd have to break down and get a combo cooker, or do the pizza stone / metal lid thing.
Or not. Here is a picture of my KitchenAid dutch oven. A combo cooker is really just an upside-down dutch oven. I noticed that the concave indentation below the handle would provide a stable surface for the dutch oven if the handle wasn't there. And it is just one screw on either side of the handle holding it on. I had that bad boy off in a minute.
|Am I the First Person to Hack A Dutch Oven?|
Things were looking good. I put the big part of the dutch oven over top of the lid and put the whole thing in the 500F oven. I dropped the temperature to 450F, waited 20 minutes and went in to take the lid off. Here is what I got.
Back into the oven it went. This is what I got 25 minutes later.
And no bread porn would be complete without a crumb shot.
And the pluses just keep on coming. The KitchenAid lid actually has a bunch of dimples on the concave part of the lid, probably so that steam condensing on the lid collects on the dimples and drops back in to the stew, or whatever. For upside-down bread making, it creates a bit of a gap between the bottom crust and the heat coming up from below. This does a great job in preventing scorching of the loaf's bottom.
All this wouldn't mean much if the taste wasn't there. But the taste was great. The crust was crispier and more flavorful than I'd ever tasted. The crumb wasn't too far different from previous efforts, but perhaps it was a bit lighter than previous attempts because of the great rise I got.
All in all, I was ecstatic. I got more rise and oven spring than ever. I got a beautiful deep brown crust and a flavorful crumb. If you are making this bread and just putting your boule in the fridge overnight, you have got to try to find a way to do it in the range of 45F - 48F. And if you are using a regular dutch oven, take a close look and see if there isn't some way to use it upside down. Do both of these things, and then thank me later. If you are going to all the trouble of making Tartine bread, it is worth it to go the extra mile to make it the best you can with tricks like these.
Both of these tweaks to my technique easily added up to the best bread I'd ever made. I don't know if this is the best bread I can make, but I have the feeling I'm getting pretty close. And that feels good.