Baking with a small-batch, whole grain, locally sourced wheat

I was sent some small-batch, whole grain, locally sourced flour. I baked some bread.

One of my oldest friends recently went BreadCore on me. He is baking beautiful loaves, paying attention to hydration and scoring some cool designs with a fancy schmancy lame. To thank me for being his on-call baking consultant, he sent me 7.5 lbs of two different small-batch flours that he loves.

I am a no-stress it'll all work out in the bake, baker. I am over a decade into delicious bread, pizza, pretzels, waffles, and bagels and I don't like to stress over baking. Baking is a relaxing and fun food preparation method. I guess this is the opposite of everything a highly technical Breadcore baker wants to hear. I do not weigh my ingredients. So, my first thought about specialty flour was "Fuck, this'll complicate things!"

I was wrong.

I opened the bag of Hard Red Spring Wheat. I baked my first loaf at 70% Trader Joes AP flour and 30% HRS. I did reserve some flour from the initial mix, as I was afraid the HRS would drink more water than market flour. I ended up adding it all in and developed a very sticky ball of dough that rose very well. It baked up beautifully.

On this bake, I lowered my oven temperature 5 degrees. In my mind, I was holding back one Kadam for the imaginary Hebrew god to whom my parents dedicated the 12th year of my life. In reality, I'd noticed that my friend who baked at the same temps I did got a much less explosively crumbastic crust on his loaves. I decided my oven must be running hot so I reduced the temperate. The crust came out exactly as I had hoped.

Score one for observation and logic.

The bread had the crust, texture, and crumb of good sourdough. My daughter and I ate the loaf very quickly

Next up I tried a 30% Trader Joe's AP and 70% HRS wheat. I held back 1/4 cup of water as the last loaf had been so sticky, but ended up putting in 2 tablespoons of it anyways. The dough felt very sticky but also super dense.

I was unsurprised, however, when the dough appeared to be rising just fine. Perhaps even faster than I had anticipated. I decided, after 4 or 5 hours of watching the ball puff up, that I'd put it in the fridge to retard the ferment a bit. This, theoretically, would enhance the flavor of the bread, allowing more acetic acid to form and giving the bread more of the San Francisco sourdough tang.

I warmed the dough up the next AM and it remained a little flat for hours. I poked it and the dough felt like its first round of fermenting was done. I hoped proofing would pick it back up! Once in the basket, the loaf did puff up nicely.

The baked the loaf came out of the oven looking beautiful, albeit dense. This bread reminded me of Brown Soda Bread in flavor. Super Duper Wheat Flavor. Texture-wise it was surprisingly sourdough-y, chewy and moist. There was no sourdough tang, however, which I found strange with all the extra effort (putting it in the fridge and warming it up.)

I will use the rest of the Hard Red Spring Wheat in a real loaf of fruit and nut-filled Brown Soda Bread, as going for that flavor with this wheat seems like a good idea.

I still have yet to try the Hard White Spring Wheat.