The Wood-Fired Blog

The Damp Towel Trick

Follow a tip from a reader, I covered my dough for overnight proofing in the refrigerator — and it worked really well. Thanks.

I don’t really like using plastic wrap (it just seems wasteful to use a manufactured product once and throw it away), so I used a damp linen towel. It kept the surface of my dough from developing a dry skin and because it was damp, it didn’t stick to the dough.

This one looks like a keeper.

One thought on “The Damp Towel Trick

  1. James – Here are some tips to help you on logistics in your bread baking journey. First, you don’t knead to use a big stainless bowl in the refrigerator. Any plastic food grade container will work, and they all come with airtight lids and take up a lot less space. You can do bulk fermentation or not in the refrigerator box. For eaxmple, see this one at KAF http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/dough-rising-bucket . You can get commercial grade containers at Smart and Final (DelMonte & Cyn del Rey in Seaside). The one shown in the King Arthur catalog is $12.95, but they buy it for about a buck, and there are plenty to choose from for a lot less. I use one about 6 qts and it will handle wet or dry doughs of up to about 1.5 Kg of flour. Alternatively, you can cover the top of any bowl with a plastic shower cap you saved from the last time you stayed in a hotel. Forget the plastic wrap and take joy in re-purposing the shower cap.
    Like you I started with grocery store flours. Then I learned that the flour millers build special qualities into the flour that make the job of re-producing artisinal bakery breads a hell of a lot easier. Expand your horizons away from TJ’s AP Flour. It’s safe to leave PB and venture out into little known areas like Seaside and Monterey. When I lived on the Penninsula I just asked the Palermo Bakery (Palermo Bakery 1620 Frem,ont, Seaside, 394-8212) guys to sell me a fifty-pound sack of the flour they use. Any of the wholesalers will sell to you direct, but it was easier to just buy it from Palermo. Btw, you can always take some of your bread to a professional baker for his comments and suggestions. Especially, you can learn a lot about fermentation schedules and temperatures. Bacteria (Cf. Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis) and yeast (sp. Candida Milleri, et al.) optimize at somewhat different temperatures, and bakers like Acme and Tartine in Berkeley use pretty sophisticated proofing rooms from which there is much to learn.
    On mixers: I think you jumped too quickly to the Cusinart, only because it’s a consumer-grade product. While I don’t even use a mixer for wet doughs (and I bake ten loaves a week in my Casa 2G), there are several specialized mixers for doughs. Consider the extremely highly rated MagicMill/Electrolux Verona Assistant (http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/magic_mill_dlx_mixer.aspx).These are too expensive and European for mass-marketed consumer products in the US, but for serious amatuers like us, and especially guys who made millions in the SilicionValley.Dot.com boom and moved to PB, they are just the ticket. Early in my bread building journey I started using a Zoshrushii bread machine to mix dough and found it to be excellent for dough mixing/kneading because it is specifically designed by oh-so clever Japanese engineers to do just that. I still use it to mix dough (I’ve never baked in it) for smaller batches up to about 1Kg of flour)
    Finally, actually sit down and read Peter’s book Artisan Breads Every Day (http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Reinharts-Artisan-Breads-Every/dp/1580089984/ref=la_B001H6W6I0_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1343741328&sr=1-2), especially the part where he discusses the evolution of breadmaking away from pre-ferments to retarded bulk ferments. And also actually sit and read Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (http://www.amazon.com/Artisan-Bread-Five-Minutes-Revolutionizes/dp/0312362919/ref=pd_sim_b_3). All of this will help you develop the patience every baker kneads to build great breads.
    Email me back if you’re interested in having lunch to talk about my experiences with my Casa and breadbaking when I’m at my place in Carmel in September.

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