Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've Changed my Mind

I pretty much knew something like this would happen when I recently wrote a post on my bread recipe and used the words  "My Final Answer..." in the title.   ;-)

I'd previously decided not to let my sponge rise overnight, thinking it was too difficult to schedule.  But I was also previously thinking the sponge would have to sit in the refrigerator.  Starting with the frigid sponge added time and uncertainty to the process that stressed my day's plan.

Monday night I realized that we were running out of bread, and since I hadn't made granola in a few weeks, there was nothing for the early-risers to grab for breakfast.  Rather than have them start their days without, I decided I'd better make an evening batch of SOMEthing.

Not really thinking it through, I milled some flour and started bread dough.  While mixing the sponge, I realized there was no good way to finish the bread without staying up all night... Unless I drastically cut the sponge rise-time.  I just couldn't do that; using all the effort and ingredients to make a full batch of less-than-optimum bread. 

I often let the sponge raise all day long...So why not all night long?  The house is cooler then, so an extra couple of hours should be fine.  But I still wasn't planning to make this a regular habit... and I set to work on granola, then called it a night.  


I woke up Tuesday to a beautiful, frosty fall morning, brighter and cheerier than the photo shows.  I could see the sun illuminating colorful leaves outside the kitchen window, which, I admit, may have enhanced my baking mood.  

When entering the kitchen to finish bread, I realized how nice it was to have the sponge ready and waiting.  Most of the work was already done, so starting in early wasn't daunting at all.  This meant I could have bread ready by lunchtime, when it's needed, instead of around dinnertime or after.  
--Some very compelling reasons to turn nighttime sponging into my regular routine.

Lesson Learned for Next Time:  I was a little too impatient in letting the loaves rise long enough.  It must be that the chillier overnight temperatures had more affect than I'd figured.  The result was bread that 'blew out' on the sides, like my rye bread of last week.  This shows me it wasn't the rye, but just too short a rise time.  When the bread hits the oven heat without reaching its full rise, the crust develops quickly and the ensuing rise has to break through.
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