On Sunday evening, before heading off for a few days in Ottawa, I made a loaf of bread so my family would have some breakfast toast. The way that Michael Ruhlman describes this bread, I thought it would make a delicious whole-grain loaf. Alas, it did not meet my expectations.
The headnote on the recipe describes “how un-dense, how un-heavy” the loaf is, which is often an attribute of whole-grain loaves. Unfortunately, this bread was crumbly, dense and heavy.
My only substitution was brown rice flour for buckwheat. I followed every other measure, and did 10 minutes of kneading in the mixer. It didn’t pass the windowpane test, and at that point, I should have kneaded longer. I did give it a full 3 hours to do the first rise, and almost 90 minutes rise after transferring to a banneton.
While in the basket, the bottom of the loaf (on top) split and cracked. I preheated the baking stone, and flipped the risen loaf directly onto it. The loaf split unattractively in the oven, despite the slashes, and didn’t brown very much.
There’s a pretty high proportion of whole grains to bread flour, so it’s not surprising this didn’t turn out the way I expected. Perhaps this crumbly, dense texture is acceptable for some, but not to me. Maybe a little bit of sugar or honey would encourage the yeast a bit, or maybe more white flour would help. Ruhlman has a followup recipe which is very similar, but uses a bit more water, and uses a Dutch oven for baking. However, I don’t think I’ll try it.