One of the aspects of daily bread baking that I am continually running over in my mind is the trade-off between attempts at perfection and time. The law of diminishing returns, and where you reach the cross over. Return on time investment. Time and motion analysis. Operations research.
Earlier, I wrote about how I usually proof larger batches in the mixing bowl, with a linen cloth covering the dough. I know this isn’t the best way of doing it, as it doesn’t do a good job of keeping air away from the top of the dough. But I don’t like moving my dough into a large Tuperware container with a lid, because I end up with two large bowls to clean (and cleaning up dough is a big pain in the ***). And I don’t like to use plastic wrap because I don’t want to throw away a bunch of plastic every time I make bread. So I accept a second-best alternative in order to be able to stay true to my values and find the time to pursue my hobby most days.
This is a long winded lead up to a second time investment decision. Whether or not to wet swab the oven cooking floor. The last few times I have baked, I was in my usual hurry, and decided to not clean all of the ash off the floor — I just used by soft brass brush to push the fine ash to the sides, after shoveling out the coals.
And guess what. I now have ash on the bottom of my loaves. Which leads me to an interesting question. Do I care? I guess I should do some analysis on just how much time it takes to get a rag, soak it with water, wrap it round by oven brush, swab the floor, and then throw the towel into the wash, and compare that time investment with the benefit of not having ash on the bottom of my bread (and perhaps of putting a little more steam in the oven). Gotta think about this one.