New World Sourdough: Mallorcas + Baguettesplosion

New World Sourdough is a 2020 cookbook by Bryan Ford. I will not be reproducing Ford’s recipes in my blog. Read his blog, buy his book, support his work.

Bang Bang

I want to say that this week’s baking started with a bang, but that would be untrue. There was a bang—my oven light exploded—but it was not at the start. 

Forty-one hours after mixing a poolish, 29 hours after kneading dough until smooth, one and one half hours after preshaping the bulked dough, one hour after shaping baguettes, 45 minutes after preheating the oven to its highest temperature, moments after scoring the loaves in overlapping, slanted strokes, and simultaneously with misting the oven with water, my week proceeded with a bang. 

With glass shards surely embedded in the dough, I closed the oven door, turned off the heat, and walked away.

Large baking stone on the top rack of a dark oven, topped with four underbaked demibaguettes. On the baking stone and on the floor of the oven are pieces of broken glass, two of which are circled in red.
These are only the pieces big enough to be visible in a dark oven.

The foiled baguettes baked quite a bit from the residual heat. Regardless, glints of glass reflecting from the crust kept me from attempting any taste test. 

Underbaked demibaguette, cut open longways showing airy crumb, on top of a bright yellow plastic mat.
So much potential

How to Deal with a Broken Oven Lightbulb

I googled “how to clean broken glass” and found this helpful tidbit:

A photo of a hand pressing a slice of bread onto broken glass on a wood surface. Beneath it reads "2. Slice of bread. Glass pieces will stick right into a soft slice of bread, plus it has a nice, wide surface area to cover a lot of ground."
But doctor, I am Pagliacci.

With no glass-less bread in the house, I used a pastry brush to sweep the bits into a general area and vacuumed up as much as I could. Removing what was left of the lightbulb was more challenging. 

My dad recommended using another lightbulb. The idea is you twist the good bulb into the hollow of the broken bulb and then twist them both out together. As I attempted this procedure, my thoughts turned to the future: What if this bulb shatters?  How badly will my hand be cut? Will I be able to drive myself to the hospital? Does my insurance cover ambulance rides? Do Lyft drivers accept rides when the destination is “emergency room?”

With these rosy visions in my head, I put down the light bulb and picked up a pair of pliers. After cracking more glass and bending a lot of metal, I spun the broken socket free and closed the oven door on that saga.

Pliers hold a mangled metal lightbulb socket in front of an open oven.
A moment of triumph.

Mallorcas

An oven light is not necessary to use the oven qua oven, but I depend on the small amount of heat they generate to create a “room temperature” space for feeding my starter and rising dough. A few months ago I may have been able to depend on the actual ambient temperature of my apartment, but this week’s 63° kitchen would not do.

At first I placed Bradley on the floor by the vent in a small room and closed the door. I was not happy with this option, both because it was not effective and because it is unnerving to have a jar of starter loose in the house.

To make more efficient use of space, I microwaved a small bowl of water for a couple minutes. Then I quickly opened the microwave door, placed Bradley inside, and closed the door. This proved an effective solution.

Inside of a microwave, there is a small, plastic, orange bowl of water and a mason jar. The mason jar is 2/3 full of bubbly starter, risen well past a dark line showing starting height. It is topped with a coffee filter and metal ring.
Bradley seemed happy with this arrangement.

Gathering the ingredients for this mallorca recipe was simply pleasant. The recipe calls for 5g of lemon zest, which amounted to one lemon’s worth.

Blue bowl with fresh lemon zest on counter next to a microplane grater and a grated whole lemon.
This is what 5g of lemon zest looks like.

Additionally, 100g of egg equaled two large eggs. I used vanilla bean paste instead of extract, and Kerrygold butter when called for later. 

Red bowl containing beaten eggs and milk. Above it, a hand holds a blue bowl with lemon zest, brown sugar, and vanilla.
All the elements that make this More Than Bread.

Kneading has always been a struggle for me, simply because I don’t know if I’m doing it long enough. I think my natural tendency is to underknead, so this time I set a timer for five minutes. I went a minute or so over, and I am satisfied with the result.

Left: wooden table with mound of shaggy dough and clean bench scraper. Right: same table with smooth ball of yellow dough and dirty bench scraper.
I kneaded for about six wonderful minutes.

Too big for the microwave, I put this dough in the oven for bulk fermentation and added two bowls of microwaved water to generate heat.

left: small ball of dough in clear container. right: same dough but expanded to touch all the sides of the container.
Bradley works in mysterious ways

I am not sure of “the right way” spread a heavy dough into an even rectangle, but with enough prodding and pulling and light action with the rolling pin, I got a fairly uniform block. The butter spread easily, and I took time to sprinkle sugar evenly over the dough.

Rubber mat with rectangle of dough pressed out on top. Near the dough is a yellow bowl with butter and a spoon, a small clear bowl with sugar, and a wooden rolling pin.
As uniform as I was gonna get it.

I used rulers on either side of the block of dough to make sure my strips were semi-even, otherwise I would have absolutely created awful rhombus-shaped cuts of dough. I have a terrible eye for straight lines, measurements, and the like. I used my bench scraper to mark each strip before cutting them. They cut cleanly so long as there was not much dough on the scraper.

Rectangle of dough, smeared with butter and sugar, and showing eleven roughly parallel verticle lines. Beneath is a rubber mat with an embebbed ruler. Above is an actual plastic ruler with six "historic flags of our country," i.e., six versions of the U.S. flag. It reads "Modern Woodmen of America."
I called in the troops to assure some semblance of even strips.

With butter to keep them together, it was no trouble coiling mallorcas into giant snails.

twelve spirals of mallorca dough, newly shaped, on parchment paper
More snail than bun.

I proofed the buns in the oven with boiling water, as Ford prescribes, and they grew beautiful and fat. A couple of tails went rogue from the body, but the coils mostly stayed put without my repositioning them. 

Two sheets of six mallorcas each, in the oven to proof. The oven light shines from the top left.
That’s fresh light beaming on these boys.
Two trays of six mallorca coils each, after proofing. They had spread out, and the strips of butter and sugar are yellow and crackled.
I love the way they look. So mature.

I brushed them with a little water and baked as directed. They turned a wonderful golden brown, followed by a snowy white when dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

Six baked mallorcas on a wire cooling rack.
Before adding powered sugar, they have a satisfying brown crust.

If it is within your power, eat these mallorcas as soon as possible out of the oven. I regret eating only one before they cooled down. The first bite spoke of lemon. The second bite said sweetness. The third discussed butter. 

Two trays of mallorcas, covered in powdered sugar, on wire cooling racks.
Freshly dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

I can only eat these by starting at the tip and circling my way to the center. The inner edges, where the coils meet in buttered union, are lightly crisp and delicious. Imagine a cinnamon roll without the frou frou nonsense; imagine a donut with substance and satisfaction. I am in love with these buns.

Close up of mallorca
They taste as good as they look.

Fresh is best, but I ate many many pan de mallorca in the days after baking. I found that 15 seconds in the microwave heated them up just enough to restore them for optimal enjoyment.

Hand holding a cross-section of a cut open mallorca. The crumb is very tight.
See the crunchy brown crust and buttery soft crumb with the naked eye.

I put this mallorca recipe in the same category as Artisan Bryan’s regular pan de coco, muffuletta rolls, and semitas de yema: their flavor is unlike any traditional American baked good, and I will be making them again.

Hand holding mallorca, showing bottom of bun. It is flat and dark.
Nothing like a little burned butter to please the palate.

Next week: toasty seed sour

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