November has been wet, so a quiet month in the Forest Garden, although there has been plenty of activity indoors. Soup- and bread-making continued, and I have been improving my understanding of both the levain and the dough, and trying different flours. The one I am using at the moment comes from a water mill close to the Pyrenees, where they still use the traditional stone ground method. Fascinating to see, and the flour is good, but sadly it is the only mill of its kind left in my département.
I have learned to refresh the levain for just a few hours (four or five) before starting the dough, so that it is at its peak activity. And I have tried making and baking in a single (long!) day, as well as leaving the dough to proof overnight in the fridge and baking the next morning, as mentioned last month. On the whole, the overnight proofing seems to work best, as there is more time to fit in other activities during the day with this method. It also gives the yeasts and gluten a longer and gentler development, and the resulting loaves seem to be more consistent.Continue reading