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La grigne

“La grigne” (lah-grin-yeh), as the French call it, or the “grin”. A result of scoring (or slashings) made during the final proofing stage before baking. What happens is that the slashes open up in the oven, releasing some of the trapped gas beneath the surface of the bread. Americans call it a bloomer. This is one grin that went over the top like a Cheshire Cat, not the nicest result for artisan slashes, but the volcanised effect was devastatingly beautiful for a picture.

This is Peter Reinhart’s basic sourdough bread in bâtard or torpedo-shaped form, made with my recently cultivated sourdough starter, so no commercial yeast was used. The crumb can be improved, but flavour is very good, far better than usual direct methods used by commercial or machine-made bread.

What’s really important to get a nice brown crust is to place a steam pan at the beginning of the baking process to mimic hearth baking (old school fireplace/furnace baking) and cranking up the heat to 240°C (fan-assisted) while frequently spraying water into the oven (which I skipped, no sprayer!) for the first 2 minutes to develop a hardened surface. This will kickstart the process of caramelising the crust. After that, drop it back to 200-210°C (fan-assisted) for the remaining 20 minutes, or until the crust turns golden or brown.

I had another earlier batch which were a little more sour which tasted great like how sourdough should be (probably due to over-fermentation or some burst of starter activity) , but were less presentable for pictures due over-proofing and bad shaping. So this is my second smaller loaf which had a nice oven spring and better air pockets.

Although this appears to be among my first posts on bread making (or like some strange sudden fascination for it), I have actually been on a gradual learning curve for a few years, moving from direct “quick yeast” methods, to sponges and pre-ferments (poolish, biga, pâte fermentée), and now onto the coveted sourdough/levain breads.

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to be posted on 22 October 2020, 00:15

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