Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Chasing a Better Pain de Campagne

Careful monitoring, rather than a more or less casual approach, of the bulk ferment reaching the doubling of volume has proved to be a sound reason to eliminate a fault in my process. That also means that it's time to go back to study shaping methods and proofing. Practice, practice, practice....

The first loaf was a 1-2-3 loaf where 16% of the the total flour was a blend of white whole wheat and rye. The second loaf  has a 20% blend and had five grams of wheat bran in the starter just for fun. The second loaf definitely has the better flavor.

The starter was built in two stages with Wheat Montana Natural White AP, adding the bran in the first stage to soften the rough edges. I wanted to see if it would make any difference in the speed of the growth due to the additional wild yeast spoors. I couldn't tell that the bran improved the growth speed but that won't stop me from trying again and with more bran. My hydration level on this loaf was just a bit higher this time to adjust to the changing seasonal  "thirstiness" of the flour.

                                                                       120 g at 100% hydration

                                                                       Main Dough

                                                                        264 g Dakota Maid Bread Flour
                                                                        44 g WM Prairie Gold White Whole    
                                                                        Wheat Flour
                                                                        22 g Rye Flour
                                                                        220 g water at 85F
                                                                        8 g kosher salt

The local area here on the Middle Coast had its first snowfall on 15 October and there is a rumor of more to come in the forecast for this week. The hackberry and oak trees in the front yard are shedding and I can't keep up. It doesn't help that a maple tree in the neighboring yard is contributing as well. At best, I have an excuse to bring out the electric leaf blower to save myself from raking.

It's almost time for my annual garlic planting ritual. There's enough area in the garden that has been cleaned out but just out of habit I'll clean some more weeds out and get a bale of straw for mulching the garlic planting. I'm not superstitious enough to think that the very woolly caterpillar I saw has any significant meaning but after three winters in a row where there haven't been any significant snow events, I can't see anything wrong with being prepared.

Besides that, I've seen some juncos, AKA snowbirds, around my feeders. They're probably the scouting team of males that precede larger groups.Getting another "squirrel proof" feeder isn't a bad idea either. The usual suspects of the bird world have returned after scavenging in the recently harvested fields in our area.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Summer's End Loaf

It has been a  while since I found something to post about. I've been baking all along, trying different approaches to figure out how to get past loaves that didn't seem to want spring up and others that flattened out. I tried using more bread flour, lower hydration, retarded ferment, spiking with IDY, and lately, a shorter bulk fermentation combined with a closer track of the proofing.

This loaf was an escape from overthinking procedure. It's a lower hydration, half white whole wheat, half all purpose pan loaf. The recipe is based on "Mama's Bread" from the book "Breaking Bread" by Martin Philip. The quantities are for single loaf, derived by simply halving the quantities suggested by Mr Philip. I just changed a bit here and a bit there to allow for what I had on hand and a procedure that would give me time to run a few errands or go to the gym.

258 g Wheat Montana Natural White AP flour
258 g Wheat Montana Prairie Gold White Whole Wheat flour
330 g water at 82F
10.5 g salt
7/8 tsp Instant Dry Yeast, divided
26 g unsalted butter, melted
1 TBS or 15 ml honey

Yield: One 9x5 inch pan loaf

1. Add water to the mixing bowl, add 1/8 tsp IDY to water, rehydrate yeast for three minutes, and stir water briefly. Add WWW flour to the bowl, mix well, and cover the bowl. Let the bowl sit for at least 90 minutes, much more if your room is cool.

2. In another bowl add the AP flour, salt, and remaining yeast, stirring with a spoon or whisk to distribute the salt and yeast. When bubbles form on top of the mixture in the first bowl, add the melted butter and honey, stir briefly, and then add flour mix. Mix your ingredients by hand or with a dough whisk to incorporate all your ingredients. Since this is a low hydration formula, the dough will be on the dry side. Use any extra water sparingly. I suggest using a spray bottle for additional water. Cover the mixing bowl and let it rest for about twenty minutes. Fold the dough in the bowl and cover.

3. Fold the dough again after another 25 and 50 minutes. Let the dough rest until doubled, about an hour. Preshape the dough for use in a 9"x5" pan. Cover and rest for about ten minutes while you prepare your pan and clean up your work space and dishes. Place your dough, seam side down, in the pan and press the dough lightly to fill the bottom of the pan.

4. Cover your pan lightly and let the dough rise until it crowns 1-1 1/2" above the rim of the pan. Toward the end of the proof, preheat your oven to 400F.  Remove the pan cover and place the loaf on a middle level rack in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, rotate the pan and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, looking for a golden crust, internal temperature around 205F. Cool on a wire rack for at least two hours.

Springtime weather out here was relatively cool, followed by a week or so of warmth, and then we launched into a dry summer. The garden wasn't as productive as usual, a common complaint among other gardeners in the area. We're now in a pleasantly cool and wet spell, too late to save the garden but in time to put some green back in the lawns in the form of crabgrass. As the saying goes among the fans of the KC Royals baseball team, wait until next year.

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.