Originally Posted by Mambo Dave
Please tell me I didn't just poison myself.
Mixing and matching bread theories, just before baking I saved a part of the no-knead mix I baked days ago as a 'biga' (if I'm even spelling that correctly). My loaves are smaller - like 3 cups of flour - because it's just me eating them (maybe I've accidentally poisoned too many girlfriends with my cooking?)
I went and mixed that in with my no-knead recipe (that I put slightly less yeast in with) yesterday, and cooked it all up just now.
Somehow I got a true sour dough taste (strong! a bit stronger than any sour dough bread I've ever bought... but good!) in just that small time of allowing that biga to sit, and then re-using it. Like strong enough that I'm wondering, now, if I have bad bacteria or mold or something in it, because I've heard biga for sour doughs takes quite a while to develop its flavor.
Anyone foresee a problem with using parts of the last batch as the biga with a no-knead recipe? It seems to be leading me down the path of adding taste to the traditional no knead bread.
While they aren't baking stones, I leave my four cast iron skillets in the oven for the 500 degree preheat. I use two of them, hot, to bake bread now as my poor-man's dutch oven. Three of my skillets are the same size, so I just use one on top of the other, but upside down, as the 'lid' for the dutch oven. Between those, and the two left in the oven while I'm dumping dough into the first, there is enough radiant heat that I seem to be getting away without a baking stone. It may not be traditional, but I'd suggest to a lot of guys out there who want bomb-proof stuff to just use cast iron.
For my smaller 3-cup of flour bread I cook for 15 minutes with the top one on, then 20 minutes this last time with the lid off, at 500 degrees. I was trying 15 and 15, but it seemed too short of a time for both the crust and the insides.
You're probably more likely to get some type of iron poisoning from using cast iron to bake your bread in than from any process to actually make the bread
alright, so what you did is kept a piece of one dough to use as a "pre-ferment" in your next one. The french do this all the time for baguettes. they'll keep a piece from a previous batch, add it to the next to create flavor, texture, hole structure etc. They call it a pate Fermentee when it came from a previous dough. The biggest difference between this and other pre-ferments is a pate fermentee, having come from another dough, has salt in it. I worked at a bakery that did that. We called it "scrap". Yours must've been pretty old, or kept out of refrigeration to get that sour. Eventually, bacteria will take over the yeast and you'll end up with a sourdough starter. It probably wasn't quite there yet, but you could've refreshed it over a few days and it likely would've become one. That's how you got the sour flavor.
The no knead bread isn't as revolutionary as the articles would lead you to believe. Mixing flour and water together will develop into a bread dough with little to no help as many are seeing. It is considered a "straight dough", so many would argue its inferior to one that uses a preferment, yeasted or sourdough, but it isn't because you basically ferment the whole batch in the same manner one would when using a preferment. Make sense?
The no knead method can be used just as well in 3-4 hrs, with 2-4 folds, as in the 12-18hrs of that article. The difference is that you would do what you just did and use a preferment to jump start the fermentation, thereby eliminating the need to have a full batch of dough sitting for 12 hrs. Bread takes time. There is no way around that. However, there are 100's of ways to create that time. The long fermentation of a straight dough as in the no knead recipe, or by using pre-ferments. You wouldn't want to perpetuate the dough. ie: keep pulling a piece to add to the next since that would become a sourdough, or maybe you would? It depends on how you want your bread to taste. In your case, it also might have been so sour because I'm assuming you still did that long fermentation from the no knead recipe. If you used more yeast to shorten the process, it might have been less sour, but more complex. It sounds like your bread when straight to bacteria.
As for the pans, you're looking for thermal mass. Cast iron pans have a ton of thermal mass. Probably more than most pizza stone. When you put bread into your cast iron pan (great that you're preheating-required), pizza stone, my new brick oven or my commercial deck oven, the bottom heat radiates bottom up creating lift and eventually (with enough steam) a nice crust. The reason you can't make really great bread in a convection oven which pummels your dough from all sides. You want a more even, gradual bottom up heat. the thermal mass creates that, and helps maintain a better baking environment.