You can see the stiff levain just after it has been mixed in the righthand bowl, this is mixed using more flour than water to form a dough like consistency, as opposed to a liquid levain which uses more water than flour. The liquid ones ripen faster and tend to be more acidic in taste in my experience, the stiff levains are milder in flavour. It is easier to mix the liquid ones into the final dough. If you are mixing by hand the stiff levains can be tricky to mix in so that you don't get a patchy crumb, something that happened to me a lot before I got a stand mixer.
Less than twelve hours later that little ball of dough was bursting out of the bowl and looked like this. You can see the gluten strands clearly in this picture. Maybe I should have used it a little sooner? I tasted it and it had very little sour taste, indicating that the yeasts had the upper hand.
Here I am mashing up well roasted and softened garlic into a paste to mix into the dough, you can't see the garlic in the final dough, but you can smell it and taste it.
I made three loaves all different sizes using a full 'home' recipe's worth of this dough, for a change I tried using ordinary wheat flour to line the bannetons, I probably used a bit too much, but they didn't stick. The dough was at the point of almost being over proved so the slashes didn't open up as well as they might have done had I baked it half an hour earlier.
I treated myself to this very functional long bread knife from Bakery Bits with birthday vouchers from my Dad. A new knife always cuts like a dream! I like this knife.
I dragged some slices outside to find some light to take a photo for you, it's been very dark lately. As you can see it is a light coloured crumb with a medium aeration and a nice crust.
It kept very well for several days. I griddled the end of one of the loaves with a light brushing of EVOO to go with some vegetable soup I made with celery, potato. leek and pancetta.
Celery, Leek, Potato and Pancetta in chicken stock broth
Embracing the Garlic: not only did I find the soup in the freezer but I also found a bunch of little tubs of wild garlic pesto from last April. I believe this is called layering flavours.... oh garlic joy!
So how was it for me?
It was a fun dough to mix up, easy to work and shape. I might do it again one day.
We tried eating it for breakfast and I managed but I think on reflection garlic bread early in the morning is asking a lot of me. We had loads of whiffy roast garlic cloves left over. I had to get it under control somehow. I asked on Twitter and I have mushed some up with some soft butter and made little flat packets of it and frozen them on Carl Legge’s advice. Easier to use that way, you can just cut little pieces off when you need them. Misk of Misk Cooks suggested freezing the mixture in an icecube tray and Carla Tomasi suggested using it to stuff a leg of lamb and making some amazing sauce with it to be used with just about everything. Thanks everyone for your advice, much appreciated.
I made the wild garlic pesto with olive oil, sunflower seeds, wild garlic, maybe some basil, pecorino and pepper, or something like that, it survived brilliantly for nine months in the freezer, coming out pungent and sweet and still as green as it went in back in last April.