Monday, April 13, 2020

putting the tragedy behind me

Okay, maybe tonight, I'll talk a bit about yesterday's bread tragedy.

I was using Jenny Jones's recipe to try to make no-knead crusty rolls. The video shows what is a pretty typical procedure for no-knead bread. My mistake was to follow Jones's recipe from her website, which calls for 1.25 cups of hot tap water. Depending on which webpage you consult, this converts to about 300 grams of water:

I put 300 g of flour into the mixing bowl, per the recipe's instructions, along with the other dry ingredients. But even as I was pouring the water into the bowl, I could tell this was way too much liquid. By weight, the flour:water ratio was 1:1. That seemed like a hell of a lot of hydration. But, blind follower that I am, I shrugged and poured 300 g of water into the mixing bowl, anyway.

The result was a slurry, not a dough. I left the slurry to, uh, "rise" as best it could, and the result was about what I expected: barely any rise at all, and very little bubbling (not because the yeast was bad, I think; the yeast wasn't that old). So, because I'm still a neophyte when it comes to baking, I'm passing the blame over to Jenny Jones and her poorly written recipe. She obviously did everything right in her video, but she failed to convey the correct proportions in her recipe, which is how I ended up with crusty, dense hockey pucks of protobread.*

Tonight, I'm trying again, but with Maangchi's recipe for roll-bbang.

*"An unstable substance which every ethical scientist in the galaxy has denounced as dangerously unpredictable." —Saavik, Star Trek III


Charles said...

Yeah, there is definitely something wrong with that recipe, as 100% hydration is way too much. Even if you figure a 200 ml cup (which is what a Korean cup is), that's still over 80% hydration. The max hydration I generally go with is 70%, and that produces a very sticky dough.

If you're looking for a good roll recipe, I could help you out--unless you are specifically looking for a no-knead bread. Kneading isn't really all that hard, though. In fact, it can even be fun! It's a good way to work out your frustrations, for one.

Kevin Kim said...

I'm trying Maangchi's recipe tonight, but I'm open to suggestions. If all else fails, I'll do what I did last year and buy ciabatta from down the street.

Lesson learned: if the by-weight ratio of flour and water is 1:1, then something's very wrong.

How does one calculate hydration %age? You're saying that 300 g water and 300 g flour = 100% hydration, but 200 ml water (200 g) and 300 g flour = over 80% hydration, not 67%? No entiendo. What's the formula?

Charles said...

Ah, I should have been clearer. When I said that even if you used a Korean cup at 200 ml, I was still calculating the 1.25 cups in Jenny Jones' recipe, e.g., 250 ml. That comes out to 83.3%. 200 ml of water for 300 g of flour would be a much more reasonable amount.

I rushed my comment last night a little, as I was already running a bit late (I generally like to shut my computer down an hour before I get to bed), but there was something else I was thinking as I read your post. A 1:1 flour-to-water ratio by weight is actually the proper ratio for a poolish or a starter. This is often done to get a little more flavor out of the bread by mimicking (or at least attempting to very vaguely approximate) the sourdough process. You basically take the total amount of water you are using in your dough, and the same amount (by weight, of course--everything is by weight) of flour and then some yeast. If you let that sit for a while, you should get a very bubbly starter after a few hours. The "very little bubbling" sort of set off tiny alarm bells in my head, and I wondered if in fact your yeast was still good. But then I remembered that you put everything in, including the salt, and salt inhibits yeast growth. So that might have had something to do with it. Still, it's worth asking how old the yeast is and how you store it. I generally keep my yeast in the freezer, and it lasts basically forever (i.e., until it's gone).

Anyway, I will send you my recipe for rolls when I get home this evening. It does have some ingredients that you might not have on hand (like agave syrup and plain yogurt), but it's relatively easy to swap out ingredients--it's a pretty fool-proof recipe, I think, tested over many years by yours truly. In fact, there's a good chance you've had these rolls before.