Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Cracked Wheat Sourdough

I like the touch of sweetness that cracked wheat adds to a good loaf. My experience with it has been that it needs to soak for at least an hour and more time is even better. If you have the opportunity, four hours will do nicely. In this loaf, 44 grams seemed appropriate but when it came to the finished product, the cracked wheat seemed hardly visible. Because Casa De PG is kept at a cool 68F during most of the working day and 63F at night, a small 1/8 tsp of IDY was added to the main dough to assist in the fermentation and proofing. That was just enough to work and not so much that it affected the flavor.

44 g cracked wheat
33 g water

120 g at 100% hydration with 10 g wheat bran used during the build

First Dough Soak                                     

49 g White Whole Wheat Flour
51 g Bread Flour
All of soaker
All of starter
220g water at 83F

This step is meant to give the WWW
time to soak up some water and help
loosen up the starter for mixing when
the remaining bread flour and IDY
are added after 20 minutes. I've been letting the roughly mixed dough rest while I wash some the dishes and put away the ingredients that are no longer needed. Once the dishes are done, I mist the dough using a spray bottle and sprinkle the salt
over the dough.

Main Dough

230 g bread flour
8 g kosher salt
1/8 tsp instant dry yeast

After the salt has been mixed in, a quick knead and the dough goes into an oiled bowl or Cambro container. That's not how the bread books do it, they almost always have fewer steps. However, the extra time I take hasn't seemed to hurt the flavor of my breads so I'll indulge in those eccentricities until I read about something better and faster.

I've seen most of the daffodils and surprise lilies start to emerge from the ground already along with a few of the peony plantings showing up for work. The grass in the yard is still mostly brown which I like to attribute to the dry weather and temperatures rather than a dead lawn.

The usual suspects among the birds are still here. The juncos haven't left as of yet but will be soon. A red tailed hawk happened to perch on the top of the chain link fence, about 20 ft away from my window, on the north side of the property recently. I watched for a few minutes while it scoped out the area and enjoyed every minute.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Pain de Campagne Alternatif

 Before any French speakers descend upon this blog to heap scorn upon me for abusing the language they love, I hope they'll have some perspective on how little influence my blog has on the rest of the world. The title is just for fun as was baking this recipe. The classic Pain de Campagne, AKA French Country Loaf, has used either whole wheat, rye, or a combination of the two as the secondary flour. I used white whole wheat and rye and got what I consider to be a really nice loaf.

The minor details I used in this recipe included a two stage build for the starter, an overnight stay in the fridge as part of the proofing, a cross hatch slashing pattern to enable a better oven spring and an eccentric appearance, and finally, the initial baking stage being done under an aluminum foil roasting pan. In return, I got a great crust and a moist crumb with a pleasant tang to the flavor.
120 g at 100% hydration

Main dough
264 g DM bread flour
33 g whole rye flour
33 g WM white whole wheat flour
220 g water at 85F
8 g kosher salt

 This is a variation on the recipe using 50 g of white whole wheat rather than the WWW and rye combination so I'm confident that I can replicate the success.
I'm also working with IDY on other recipes. Basically, I'm targeting 70% hydration as a starting point. The boule was baked in my stoneware bowl, using a 200g poolish with 60 g of WW flour. The total flour weight was 360 g. The batard like creation utilized a 70% hydration preferment of 170 g, including 30 g of WWW. Total flour weight for the batard was 300 g. Both were a bit under proofed but with good flavor that I attribute to the slow overnight builds for the preferments.

Winter has been dry around here in that no one has really been able to justify hauling out their big snow blowers. We did have some actual, rare January thunderstorms last month that brought the most precipitation so far.  We're not fans of the brief spells of brutally cold air that have visited us here on the Middle Coast but we do tolerate them as best we can and acknowledge that they kill off some of the more obnoxious insects, especially the notorious oak leaf itch mites. You'll never see those mites in action because of their diminutive size but you'll know they've been around in a couple hours.

There have been a lot of hawks  in the area during the past five weeks or so, mostly red tailed and Cooper's hawks. The usual suspects have been populating the feeders with a lot more goldfinches than usual. The flickers and blue jays are only occasional as are the starlings. 

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

WWW Sourdough with Bulgur

I was just looking at all the odd ingredient leftovers in the spare fridge when I ran across the last of the bulgur. Using it would mean an excuse to stop by the bulk food section of the supermarket and perhaps a side trip to the wine and spirits section. Fridays are the day that the selections of bourbon and rye whiskeys come in. We can never tell when something interesting or new might come in so checking out the arrivals doesn't hurt. Back to the bread.

As I recall, I've done a quite similar loaf in the past. This loaf is bit different because I didn't slash all the way across the loaf. I indented about 1 1/4 inches in on the ends. That got me a higher than usual oven spring after starting the bake under a foil pan which was quite welcome after the slow bulk ferment and proofing.

43 g bulgur
34 g water at room temperature, 2 hours

120 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough
264 g bread flour
66 g white whole wheat flour
220 g water at 85F
All of starter
All of Soaker
8 g kosher salt

The temperature outside dropped from 56F at Midnight to around 28F at 730 AM. In between those two times, rain fell and changed to sleet. Around 800 AM, a fine grained snow started falling. That's when the birds started showing up at our feeders. Sparrows showed up today for a change and a flicker showed as well, keeping the starlings away from the feeders and suet block.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Winter Time Wonder Bread

The past Summer and Autumn weren't seasons for notable loaves. I was still baking a least once a week but nothing that I thought was new enough  or deserving attention. Then in November I had an accident that resulted in my not being able to stand at the counter and work on bread. Even though Mrs PG tried to find healthy bread, store bought bread motivated me to get back to healthy and through physical therapy. The PT continues but I'm already back to flinging flour.

The winter weather is playing games with my hydration estimates. It seems that all my loaves need at least an extra 5 g of water and often a few more. This dough turned out to be just short of sticky but I did manage to wrangle it into the banneton where a 16 hour rest in the fridge helped me out. The loaf had a nice interior crumb that was soft and open. Some more practice to get back into rhythm wouldn't hurt me but as always, if it tastes good, it is good.

125 g at 100%, using KAF AP

Main Dough
264 g Dakota Maid Bread Flour
66 g Wheat Montana White Whole Wheat Flour
215 g water at 85F
All of starter
8 g kosher salt

Part of the wonder in this loaf was my choice to use tap water instead of the filtered water from the refrigerator's ice maker system. It didn't appear to add any off flavored tastes so I guess I'll continue to use it. I also wondered about the pictures that were taken with my smart phone. The little details of an aggressive bake don't show through but I need more practice with that as well. Usually, I back off the bake temperature when I take off the foil roasting pan and turn the loaf around but this time  it was baked at 450F throughout the 45 minutes and I got a fine, shattering crust in return.

I also tried my hand at making some scones this past week. These were chocolate chip buttermilk scones. I subbed some white whole wheat into the recipe but I wouldn't say these were very healthy but they're good at breakfast time. Any time is a good time for chocolate, right? The shaping left a lot to be desired but they were a fun project for a day when the outside temperature was around 15F. There will be more quick breads before the winter is over.

The wintertime assortment of birds at the feeder is missing any sort of sparrows right now. The juncos probably miss the sparrows most of all since they're such sloppy eaters and the juncos, who are ground feeders, usually clean up after them. The blue jays are this season's funniest looking birds since they seem to puff out their feathers an extra 1/2 to 3/4 inch to keep warm in below freezing temperatures. Cooper's hawks are in this neighborhood but I've also seen some red tailed hawks closer to the river.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Stoneware Bowl Breads

As of late, my sourdough loaves haven't been all that picture worthy. On the other hand, my loaves made with either ADY or IDY have been more interesting to me from a curiosity perspective.

I purchased a stoneware baking bowl at the King Arthur Flour store in VT and while I haven't learned everything about it, it has been fun to use. I can use it to proof and then bake a boule or a reasonable fact simile.                                                                                                                               
The first loaf was built using a total of 300 grams of flour, including the preferment. The second was a 1-2-3 loaf using 120g of 100% hydration poolish . The top loaf had a gap between the finished loaf and the wall of the bowl. As the picture shows, the second loaf had kind of a belt line due to expansion above the rim of the bowl. I think the sweet spot for appearance will be something like 380-385g total flour.

Cleanup is really easy. Before you proof your loaf., wipe down the interior with a neutral tasting oil. I used sunflower seed oil though canola oil is also suggested on the literature. Once you've finished your bake, all you have to do is to wipe the interior of the bowl and then store the bowl.

Once again, I'm losing my perpetual battle with the weeds in the flower beds. It's getting hard to find them all when the day lilies have grown with so much exuberance. The peonies, which had an average bloom this year, are also spreading out their foliage to add to my frustration. The garden isn't quite ready to go into major production yet, I can pick some herbs and lettuce but nothing else. There are tomatoes on the plants but they're far from ripe. The garlic isn't ready for digging up yet. We've had 3" of rain recently so I'm hoping that I'll be able to let the soil dry out before I start my harvest.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

20% WWW with Beer Poolish

This project loaf was derived from a post over on the Fresh Loaf site. It didn't require any new ingredients and is a safe enough recipe that I've been using lately. The beer in question was some KC Pils from Boulevard Brewing in KC, MO. I decanted the 55 g of beer from a bottle that I was going to finish anyways and let the beer warm up before I used it. The poolish was slower to mature than usual by a few hours but I couldn't discern any harm done by that.

55 g Wheat Montana Natural White AP flour
55 g Boulevard Brewing KC Pils at room temperature
1/8 tsp IDY                                                                                                                                                                                

Main Dough
264g Dakota Maid Bread Flour
66g Wheat Montana Prairie Gold WWW flour
220g water at 85F
All of poolish
7g kosher salt
1/2 tsp IDY

Once again, I used my disposable aluminum foil roasting pan for the first twenty five minutes of baking to get a better oven spring from the loaf. I also tried out a three arc slashing pattern that I saw in D Leader's "Local Breads" that doesn't show up well in my pictures but looks good in person. There was a lot of singing emanating from the loaf right after I placed it on a wire rack to cool.

I have to say that I didn't notice any great beer flavoring in the finished loaf. It tastes quite similar to other loaves I've baked lately using the same recipe but no beer. It has a good, tender crumb, nice flavor, and was reasonably moist when I sliced the loaf. The next step would be to use the beer instead of water for the entire procedure. However, Mrs PG bought a bag of Dakota Maid Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour for me when she was last in Omaha so I'm going to be playing with that for a week or two first.

Today is a snow day outside my window. It appears that Winter is back for a brief spell. The snow is very fine and accumulating only on the grassy areas. The daffodils were just starting to bloom and the trees and bushes were budding out. The colder temperatures may be keeping me from working in the yard but on the other hand, it will slow down any growth for the weeds. My bird feeders are well stocked and are quite popular with the usual list of suspects, minus any sparrows, as patrons.

Guests from Czechia, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania (no Estonia as of yet), Morocco, Nigeria, and Viet Nam have found their way to my obscure corner of the internet lately.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Recycled Recipe Loaves

 For SuperBowl Sunday, I recycled a couple of recipes I had recently used and tweaked them a little bit. For the ciabatta, I switched from using KAF AP to Wheat Montana Natural White AP. In case readers aren't familiar with this flour, I found that it doesn't have the same behavior as KAF AP in that mixing it required a couple extra minutes and even then, it was somewhat slack pouring out of the mixer bowl. I also added some semolina, about 14 g, to add a little sweetness to the dough.

I followed the same procedures that I used in my 30 DEC 2016 post and figured that if the dough wasn't manageable, I could just divide it, put it in a pair of 9" cake pans, bake away, and proclaim the resulting bread to be focaccia. Fortunately, persistence paid off and the one 14" long loaf was a favorite at the supper table at our friends' house in Farley, MO.

The other loaf was a repeat of bread from my 7 JAN 2017 post. The difference for this loaf was in the baking procedure, not the ingredients. This time around, I preheated the oven to 450F and kept it there for a twenty minute period after I placed the aluminum foil roasting pan over the loaf rather than lowering the oven to 425F. When I removed the pan, the loaf had impressive oven spring. I then turned the loaf around and lowered the oven temp to 425F for another twenty two minutes. After the bake was done and the loaf was on the cooling rack, it appeared to be "breathing" at the top of the loaf. As a skeptical sort, I thought it might just be that the variable lens glasses I wear were distorting things.  This same phenomenon occurred on the next loaves I baked, a multigrain WWW sourdough and yesterday's loaf, a simple 3-2-1 WWW sourdough. One thing I can state with certainty is that all of these loaves sang their glutenous hearts out for me.
That was definitely cool.

While my family in New England has been getting slammed with cold and snowy weather and my uncle in Cupertino, CA has been witnessing  heavy rains, we've been having an unseasonably warm spell here on the Middle Coast. Daytime high temperatures  have been in the high 60s and today's high was around 73F, probably a record. These conditions are expected to last through Thursday. Seeing bees fly about in February isn't very common here in NE Kansas. There might even be some overnight thunderstorms.

Out in the yard, daffodils are starting to emerge in the flower beds next to the concrete driveway. The day lilies are starting to show some bright green underneath last year's leafs. I've pulled the straw off the garlic bed and there are about 45 shoots growing out. The straw will go back over the bed before the warm spell comes to a halt on Thursday but by then, the garlic will have grown at least another inch or two taller.

Visitors from Finland and Latvia found my obscure corner of the internet in the last week or so.

The next loaf on my "to do" is probably going to be one where I use some flat, warm lager beer as the liquid in the poolish. It won't be English beer but rather something from the Boulevard Brewing Co. in KC, MO called KC Pils. I'm not the guy who named a lager as a Pils so make your complaints or inquiries to the brewery or better yet, buy some if it's available in your local stores and see what you think. I think it's a wonderful beer for the weary soul who has finished mowing the lawn in the oftentimes brutal heat of a KC summer.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

White Whole Wheat with Poolish

This not quite little loaf was part of an experiment. I had been reading that if I were to use a disposable aluminum foil pan to cover a freshly loaded loaf on a baking stone, I could get results somewhat similar to using a dutch oven. The operative word was similar but it didn't come that close at all. When I removed the pan about twenty minutes into the bake, the crust wasn't caramelized as usual without a pan and the loaf was softer than the usual loaf. Oven spring was good but there wasn't much of an ear. No harm was done so no foul was committed.

55 g KAF AP
55 g water at room temperature
1/8 tsp IDY
The poolish took about 12 hours to mature due to the usual coolish wintertime temperatures here in Casa de PG.

Main Dough
264 g DM bread flour
66 g WM Prairie Gold WWW flour
220 water at 87F
8 g kosher salt
1/2 tsp IDY

For this loaf, I used my small mixer so I could aerate the poolish with the water and IDY of the main dough using the whisk attachment. That led to a reasonable time of about two hours for the bulk ferment. My cellar came into play when the ambient temperature of 60-62F slowed the proofing down. That gave Mrs PG and I an opportunity to eat dinner without my rushing from table to oven and back. After dinner, I retrieved the loaf and started baking at 450F about 1 1/4 hrs later. As mentioned earlier, the covered bake lasted twenty minutes and the uncovered bake was another twenty minutes at 425F.

Besides using a foil pan for experimentation, I also finally got around to using the oven light trick to speed up proofing on a couple loaves. Going from a room temperature of around 68-70F to close to 80F made a difference. with the 720 g sourdough loaves. Using some IDY, about 1/4 tsp, also helps but has a slight loss in flavor when compared to an entirely, natural leavened loaf. Production convenience can have a cost.

The two inches of snow that fell from Wednesday night to Thursday morning is still on the ground due to below freezing temperatures since then.The usual suspects have all shown up including the red winged blackbirds, mourning doves, and a surprising number of goldfinches.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Beginner's Ciabatta

The thought of baking ciabatta ran across my mind recently so I gathered up my current favorite bread books to search for recipes and learn about the necessary techniques involved. I also spent a lot of time viewing Youtube videos. None of them agreed with the previous video so I went back on my old favorite, "Bread" by J Hamelman to borrow as much as I could .

After changing his work into metric measure and cutting it down to a small test batch size, I proceeded with my usual naivete that if I follow the instructions I couldn't go too far wrong.

I don't think I did too bad, the loaves were better than just edible and I should be able to duplicate the results in the future. This time around, I used my smaller mixer and used KAF AP as dictated in the book.

136 g KAF AP flour
136 g water, room temperature
1/8 tsp IDY

The IDY quantity is a larger than what the book would suggest for a batch this size  but I went bigger since I started the poolish in the evening when our inside temperature on the thermostat drops from 70F down to 65F for about eight hours. It worked out.

Mr Hamelman directs readers to add all the remaining or main dough ingredients and the poolish into the mixer bowl and start mixing at a slow speed. I went along using the paddle attachment at first speed for three minutes. Then I switched to the dough hook and revved up to second speed for four minutes. The dough cleared to side of the bowl but stayed connected to the bottom. The hydration of this dough is around 73% so it's sticky but in my effort, it wasn't so loose as to fall back into a blob. Mr Hamelman refers to the dough having some strength or muscle.

Main Dough
318 g KAF AP
198 g water at 85F
8 g kosher salt
5/8 tsp IDY
All of the poolish

The bulk fermentation took about three hours. After mixing, I shaped the dough as best I could on a floured surface. From there, it went into a oiled- EVOO, container and after one hour, I gave it a fold. A second fold followed at two hours. The bulk fermentation ended and the dough, now puffed up, went onto a well floured surface.

After a gentle shaping into a rectangular form and patting out the largest bubbles, the top of the dough was lightly floured to facilitate dividing. A metal bladed bench knife is a good tool to use in this situation because a fast, strong cut with a quick twist at the bottom is called for to divide the dough. Check out the Cyril Hitz video showing him trimming the edges for a well defined edge and placing the trimmings on the bottom of the dough to give it some height. I chose the "rustic" or unfinished look and just stretched out the two pieces before placing them on my floured couche. I just eyeballed the dough but scaling the dough is doable if you choose. Moving the dough will probably call for the use of the bench knife to help keep the amount of handling to a minimum. It worked for me.

Proofing took about 1 1/4 hours for me. YMMV since the dough rises to an almost cartoon like  height and it will spread if there isn't a fold in the couche. Once the proofing is done or when you get concerned that you may be overdoing things, transfer the dough to a floured bread board or some floured  parchment paper that is well supported. An inverted sheet pan or a cookie sheet pan will do. Slide the dough onto your baking stone which has been sitting in your preheated oven, 450F, and utilize some steam if your situated for doing so. Otherwise, mist the tops of the dough, close the oven, and peak through the window in the door as the bake progresses. They do rise. After fifteen minutes, turn the loaves around and remove the parchment paper if your using it. Another twenty to twenty five minutes of baking should reward you with nicely colored loaves. As always, let the loaves cool on a wire rack before serving.

That's it in brief. I would suggest that everyone take a look at Mr Hamelman's book. His instructions are far more explanatory and an excellent tutorial but if you just want to have fun, I think that this will get you through the basics and you can make up the rest as you go along.

Outside the window, the temperatures have been unseasonably warm for a few days and there's no snow on the ground. While my family back East in Massachusetts is dealing with snow, today I mowed the last of the leaves in my backyard into mulch. There haven't been any unusual birds at the feeders but I have seen a lot of red tailed hawks in the area, perched on light poles, near the tops of trees, or on wires and looking for their next snack.

This obscure corner of the internet has gotten a lot of visits from Poland over the last couple of weeks. I wonder if my father has been spreading the word about my follies here to relatives over there.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sunflower Seed Sourdough

I didn't stop baking over the past four months. Some of the time was spent experimenting with dry yeast, shaping techniques, washing my starter, different brands of flour, and even bringing out the stand mixer. The rest of my time spilling and throwing flour involved revisiting old recipes. Nothing bad happened but I didn't produce anything new or different enough to get excited about hitting the keyboard.

I did find that I had been overlooking the importance of not over extending the bulk fermentation time. It appears that most of my dough will produce good results with a simple doubling in volume during the bulk fermentation instead of a tripling. I haven't kept copious notes or made comparison studies but it appears to me that the difference shows up during baking with better oven spring and a more open crumb. I'm curious as to whether it would be that there is more active yeast or just the same phenomenon that occurred during these bakes. In any case, this calls for new equipment. My next order will include a 4 L Cambro container which should make it easier to observe 

dough reaching a doubled volume than
in my present 6 L container.

The first loaf is the Sunflower Seeded Sourdough. It isn't a direct copy of J Hamelman's "Sonnenblumenbrot" though I admit to having perused the recipe several times this year. I used a simple 3-2-1 foundation and added 10% by weight-33 grams, of roasted sunflower seeds. It probably could have supported another 16 grams of seeds.

110 grams at 100% hydration

Main Dough
280 g bread flour
50 g WWW flour
220 water at 85F
33 g roasted sunflower seeds
7 g kosher salt

The second loaf is another 3-2-1 sourdough using 20% WWW flour in the main dough. It's the other loaf that started me on this doubled bulk fermentation dough thread.  It's one of my "standard" house recipes.

The availability of ground flax, chia, and hemp seeds at the local Walmart means that as soon as I exhaust the present seed mixes in the freezer, I should be able to just supply my own mixes

The garden wasn't as productive as usual this past summer. The hot weather at the end of June and beginning of July diminished the setting of just about all the vegetables. The local county extension service offices tried to comfort local gardeners but no one was really happy. Today was the day for planting garlic. After working the 3'x5' plot, adding compost and fertilizer, I set out 48 cloves for next year's crop.

We haven't been seeing very many birds at the feeders over the past month or so. I did see a couple of blue birds recently and some early juncos. Back in August, I saw the only turkey vulture of the year feasting on some roadkill a few blocks north, something I may not see again for quite a while.

The first serious, killing frost is expected for Saturday morning. While the frost will kill the oak leaf mites that have been particularly bothersome this year, it will also mean a bumper crop of falling leafs as well. Then there's the necessity of cleaning out the garage to make room for my electric snow blower. A local TV weather personality said that the old timers who predict winter weather according to the seeds inside persimmons are calling for a cold winter with lots of wet snow. That's not something I look forward to at all but somewhere way back in our dining area hutch is a bottle of Gran Marnier that only sees daylight after I've finished shoveling snow. I'd rather that it continue to accumulate dust.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.