This week we revisited the Hackney Wild. This time however, instead of preparing loaves for ourselves, we baked over 55 loaves for our east London subscribers. We worked all morning to shape the large batches of dough that Mariana, our bread teacher, had begun working on earlier. We worked on perfecting the pre-shape, which, as the dough is still quite sticky at that point, is not the easiest time to handle the dough. But with much practice, the loaves began to look rounder and hold together tighter when we put them on the board to rest. Lots of the women have their own methods of working with bread dough and while learning the methods used at E5 Bakehouse, they also incorporate their own touch.
After allowing the bread to rest up until the point that it felt soft and airy but not on the point of collapse, we loaded the deck ovens and spoke about the use of steam in helping the bread to rise and the crust to form. So much of the learning has to come through touch and repetition, there are no set rules for working with dough but one must always be attentive to all the factors that are constantly affecting the behavior of the leaven, flour and water.
Next week we will be working with Spelt flour and understanding what hydration it needs to best form a loaf and how best to work with this particular, ancient form of wheat.