2 for 1

50+years ago I was labouring in a small works gang for John Laing. One day the agent, who was an obnoxious little man, said to one of the brickies, “What the hell’s wrong with you Jock? This week you’ve dropped more bollocks than a second hand truss.”

What made me think of this? In the past couple of weeks I’ve twice overproved loaves, and twice set the top and bottom heats on the Pico and forgotten to turn the power on. The first time I actually had the dough on the hearth before I realised and had to wrestle it off trying not to cause to much damage – it was one of the overproved ones of course. The second time I had the dough on the peel where it had to sit ’til the oven was up to speed.

But yesterday was a gem. First I put the coffee pot on the gas with no water in and ended up scraping off a gasket that had welded itself to the rim.

Then I set out to make a Raisin Challah – just one, that is. But I hadn’t noticed that my trusty spreadsheet calculator on the laptop was set to two loaves …

Weighed out the flour and switched to my tablet which was set to one loaf …

Most of the liquid in this formula comes from the starter, eggs, honey and olive oil so it is particularly sticky. I was expecting to have to adjust the hydration because I was using a new blend of 85% extraction flour. Added more water bit by bit as I kneaded by hand until I thought, this is rather more than an adjustment – something is ever so slightly wrong.

Over the years I have had a fair amount of practice at problem-solving doughs having started the microbakery well before there was anyone to shout help to on the internet.

All I had to do was to add the same amount again of each of the ingredients (except the flour of course) and then adjust the hydration to get the right consistancy. But I hadn’t realised, because of the comparatively small amount of water in the formula, that I had already exceeded to total amount of water for two loaves.

So with what you might call drought followed by flood, I ended up with something like lumpy cake mixture. Just had to work at it adding as little extra flour as possible until it was kneadable. At the end of the day I had 1945g where I should have had 1936g – pretty close really.

I seriously thought with all that mauling and mistreatment of the dough the final loaves would be pretty awful. So I have to say I was happy with the way it all worked out.

And Kev’s happy because he’s getting the second loaf.

My Pico settings: 2 x 940g doughs; 250C top, 220C bottom; steam 15 minutes, vent and reduce to 220C top, 200C bottom; 40 minutes total. Baked on tray. Egg washed before baking and after 15 minutes and 30 minutes.

You don’t think I’m getting old, do you?

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