slow bread: an experiment

15 Dec

This is what I do on winter break!
Combining information on poolish starters, biga, and yeast growth patterns to try and create a very slow bread that can be made within the confines of a normal 8-5 work schedule and can be made into a nice sandwich loaf…. with a nice sourdough-esque texture…
This .pdf was helpful, as was this one. I’ve been sifting through the forums at
I did not get very far with my hopeful excel spreadsheet that outlined yeast growth patterns. So I will experiment with trial and error… not nearly as much fun as math!

So, the problems that I have been mulling over in my head: the pre-ferment phase is what gives it the sourdough-like flavor without actually using sourdough starter, which I know that I will never remember to feed. But, if you use a preferment phase, then there is the first rise, and the second rise in a pan. Which is three rises. And that just seems unwieldy. So what happens if you preferment the whole shebang?? Will that work?? I know that the amount of moisture has something to do with outcome of the yeast in the preferment. hmmm…

I want to make something as easy as possible, with as few bowls as possible, and still get the desired results…. do I want the world??
editing as I try it out…

3/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups room temp water
7 cups UltraGrain flour, divided
2 1/2 tsp salt
(any additions such as rosemary, caraway, poppy)
1 Tbsp olive oil

Step 1 (2 minutes active, rise 10 minutes):
7:25 PM
In the KitchenAid mixing bowl, whisk together yeast, water and 1 cup flour; stir until combined. Let sit 5-10 minutes to get a bit foamy. While the yeast is getting busy, measure the remainder of the flour and whisk together with the salt (don’t add to yeast yet).
Step 2 (5-10 minutes active, rise 8-14 hours):
With mixer on speed 2, add flour 1/2-1 cup at a time until combined, then knead on speed 2 for 6 minutes. Coat dough with olive oil.
Dough seemed a little too dry and not very elastic. This could be because I am choosing to use a heavier flour, or not enough water. May reduce the flour by 1 cup. Also, the KitchenAid seemed to start to smoke – will have to check in on this. 😉
Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temp for 8-14 hours.
Step 3 (10 minutes active, rise 6-12 hours):
13 hrs later, 8:30 AM
Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes. Form into two loaves in greased/floured loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours.
Dough did rise well (perhaps doubled? You know, I never can tell) but was still not as tender/elastic as I would have liked. Definitely reduce the flour next time.
Step 4 (15 minutes oven heating, bake 45 min):
Take loaves out of oven and place on counter. Preheat oven to 350 for 15 minutes. Wash with oil, soymilk or spritz with water if desired. Bake for 35-50 minutes, until browned and hollow sounding.
After 12 hours in the fridge, dough had not risen much. After 24 hours, still no luck. I took it out of the fridge and put it on the counter and it began to rise…. Not sure how the refrigeration will affect the experiment, but I may try increasing the yeast to 1 tsp and doing both rises on the counter…
After 3.5 hrs of rising on the counter, the dough had risen but not nearly popped up over the top of the pan. I baked it for 35 min and it produced a pretty, although not large, slightly dense, slicable, mildly nutty loaf. Not much sourness, mostly nuttiness. Not a bad turnout, but definitely has me excited for experiment #2.


2 Responses to “slow bread: an experiment”

  1. Neesha December 16, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    Ooooh when did you get a kicthenaid mixer? I want one I think.

  2. rm December 16, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    It will change your life. Seriously.
    I have been wanting one since I was 14. I sold books on amazon specifically to not feel guilty about the large chunk of $ I would be plunking down on a kitchen appliance. I ended up getting the Professional HD 475 watt lift-bowl mixer from Costco the day after Thanksgiving — It is normally $279.99, then a $50 coupon for thanksgiving wknd, then a $30 mail-in rebate (that, yes, I mailed in)= 199.99

    The empire red beauty looks fantastic in the kitchen. I am in love.

    In looking for one and pricing, sometimes sears online has cheaper prices than amazon, especially if they have sales. You can also find refurbished ones, and also sometimes folks are selling them for pretty cheap on craigslist.

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