Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hidden Bread Interiors, lots of pictures and text

My starter has been an up and down thing as of late. Partly due to the changing season and also due to switching over from KAF AP flour to feed it to Central Milling Organic AP. It still works but its growth rate during refreshment is erratic. As long as it works, it's good.

I've also run into skill set problems as I attempt to increase the hydration level in my sourdough breads with add ins. Pictured today are a 73% hydration loaf with cracked wheat and a 73% loaf with bran. I concede that I was looking for trouble when the loaves also had at least 25% white whole wheat as part of the total flour.

While both were made using my wooden bowl, mixing by hand, and turning the dough rather than using the stand mixer, I didn't help my cause by not having enough practice to deal with the dough when shaping. They looked a bit like focaccia loaves rather than a sourdough. The birds didn't their beaks on either of them.

I was pleased by the next two loaves that I baked for a meet and greet party for a candidate for the local Congressional district. I deliberately used the same formula but one was machine mixed and the boule by hand in my bowl. During the initial mix for the boule, I thought the dough was dry for a 71% hydration level so I added 1/2 TBL of water before I let it rest. This resulted in a slack dough that required more turns than usual. Since then, I've found that if I just let the initial mix rest for 20-25 minutes, the dough is no longer dry and behaves well.

In any case, the bread was well received by all. A retired teacher, a general practitioner, his wife, and the candidate all approved so I felt good about the results.

120 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough
270 g bread flour
70 g white whole wheat flour
20 g spelt flour
240 g water at 85F
120 g starter
10 g sea salt

The next loaf also is without a crumb shot because it was baked for the Cushing Hospital Volunteers Spring Bake Sale. Mrs PG gave me the OK to do only one loaf so I decided to create off the top of my head. It was called a Pain Menage, which is a catch all name for a French household loaf. Ordinarily, a Pain Ordinaire dough is used but since French housewives have been known to frugal enough to use what they have at hand and the bake sale customers not known to be sticklers for titles, the name was used and the loaf sold quickly. You might call it a Pain de Campagne and be correct. This loaf sang particularly loud after being puled from the oven and had cracks in the exterior crust during cooling off. It looked dramatic to me.

70 g white whole wheat flour
30 g KAF AP flour
20 g stone ground whole rye flour
120 g water at 85F
1/4 tsp ADY
Main Dough
300 g bread flour
152 g water at 85F
All of poolish
9 g sea salt
1/2 tsp ADY

The last loaf is one I sliced this morning for breakfast. It turned out well for 33% WWW flour sourdough with a nice open and moist crumb.It's not innovative or particularly spectacular but since my kitchen is going to undergo remodeling in about ten days, I'll need this and a few more loaves to be frozen as sandwiches and slices for the approximately three weeks that I'll be without an oven, counter top, and sink.

140 g at 100% hydration
Main Dough
240 g bread flour
120 g WWW flour
240 g water at 78F
All of starter
9 g sea salt

Lots of changes in the yard that seem to happen overnight. The pear tree outside my window is still blooming but the first leafs are emerging and the blossom petals are falling like snow. I've found four volunteer garlic growing in a flower bed. I didn't plant any garlic there so I guess that they originated in some of the mulch that was from our compost tumbler. They're growing faster than the garlic I deliberately planted last fall so I'm really curious to see what I dig up as they reach maturity. The juncos have left for their summer migration to Canada but we have lots of goldfinches at the feeders. There are broken robin's egg shells in the yard and lots of robins as well.

Some of the visitors to my obscure corner of the internet have dropped by from Tanzania, Brazil, and Switzerland

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Friday, April 04, 2014

City Limits Sourdough with Levain

The last couple of loaves that I've baked have taken a different direction. Rather than use my stand mixer, I simplified by using my large wooden bowl, minimal mixing, and a liquid levain in this loaf. The previous loaf used a 110% hydration levain so I am reluctant to brand that a liquid levain. On this loaf, I deliberately aimed at 125% hydration which I suspect qualifies for that "liquid" classification. Since it works, it really doesn't make that big a deal.

I started out by first mixing and whisking the levain, water, and about 70-80g of my mixed flours with the idea that it would help  disperse the yeast beasts. Then I added the remainder of the flour and mixed it up to the well known shaggy mass, covered the bowl, and let it rest for twenty minutes. The salt was added and I used my dough whisk to mix that salt as well as I could. At this point, the dough was slack and sticky. While turning the bowl slowly, I pulled the dough up from the bottom of the mass towards the center. I repeated this around thirty times and then turned the dough over, covered, and let it rest for thirty minutes. This was done three more times and the dough had gained enough strength that I felt confident enough to just put it in a covered and oiled container for the remainder of the bulk fermentation. At a 70F room temperature, this took three hours.

When the bulk fermentation was over, I went through shaping, rested the loaf in its brotform for 45 minutes on the counter and put it in the fridge for an overnight retarded proofing. In the morning, after two hours of resting on the counter at room temperature, the loaf was ready for a simple slashing and then into a preheated oven with a baking stone at 450F. After 15 minutes, I pulled out my parchment paper, turned the loaf around 180 degrees, and then dropped the oven setting to 425F for the last 22 minutes.

These pictures were taken after three hours of cooling. The taste is slightly sour and the crumb is tender. I estimated that my hydration for this loaf ran about 73% which helped the openness.I think it looks  good considering the 25% WWW content. The most important thing or discovery has been how easy this new process has turned out to be.

170 g at 125% hydration

Main dough
270 g bread flour
90 g fresh milled Prairie Gold WWW
230 g water at 90F
10 g kosher salt
All of the levain

Outside the window, the yard is starting to green up. We had some rain a couple days ago and it has made an immediate impact. If we get warmer temperatures, things will get going at rapid pace. I bought twenty 2 cu. ft. bags of cypress mulch for the flower beds and I probably should have doubled that purchase. I checked the herbs that I wintered over in the garden and found that the rosemary was, no surprise, quite dead. The sage and oregano do look somewhat rough but they can be coaxed back into production with some long, sunny days. The last picture is our first daffodil of the year. Their disposition makes up for the discomfort from the pollen of newly budding trees.

It seems that this blog has been discovered by a web crawler from I have no idea why they'd be interested in my obscure corner of the internet but obviously, I'm not so obscure anymore.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bran Dusted Levain Loaf

 I started out with the idea that I wanted to do a Pane Genzano, an Italian bread that has a bran coating on the crust. The bran adds some heating resistance to an already high hydration, 75% in Genzano, so a longer bake time needs to be planned for or you can play your intuition card. My loaf didn't quite turn out to meet the original's description due to a fortuitous mistake or two on my part. But, it did turn out really well in my book other than the lesson that the bran dusting can quickly become messy on the cutting board.

When Carol Fields included the Pane Genzano recipe in her book, "The Italian Baker", she described the bakers using leftover dough from the previous batch as the starter for the bread. IIRC, she called it a "natural leaven". I used a starter that ranged around 111% hydration, not quite a liquid levain, but far from my usual planned bread hydration matching starters. I was absent minded when scaling my ingredients, weighing out 400 g total flour instead of my intended 360g. The 240g of weighed water in turn should have meant a concrete dough but the 170g of levain appears to have fixed that error because my estimates seem to show that the dough had an overall 68-69% hydration. I cheated on the bran dusting in that I simply dusted the towel meant to sit between the dough and brotform with bran. It was an experiment that I thought might be easier than any other method I had read.

This loaf is one of my better efforts over the past few months. The crumb shot is typical of the loaf all the way through. The aveoli have a nice, shiny, gelatinized gloss. While I initially attributed this to using an almost liquid levain, I can't rule out that the bran on the crust slowed down the heat penetration, giving the yeast more time than usual to create that crumb. I'll have to try repeatedly using a liquid levain again to make heads or tails of what happened. If they work for J Hamelman, they can work for me as long as I put in the effort to observe and learn.

170 g at 111% hydration, 80% KAF AP, 20% Prairie Gold WWW

Main Dough
270 g bread flour
130 g WWW
240 g water at 85F
All of levain
10 g kosher salt
bran for dusting brotform towel

Other than a few crocuses blooming, Springtime appears to be late at Casa PG. There may be daffodils blooming this afternoon or tomorrow but that is still at least ten days to two weeks late. I haven't started in the garden due to cool weather and damp soil. It might be worthwhile to dig up a small area to plant snow peas but that will have to wait until I finish cleaning the property borders. Out by the bird feeders, there are the usual suspects from this past winter. The juncos haven't left yet but that could happen any day now. A few days with weather warm enough to work outside and about twenty bags of cypress mulch will do wonders for the appearance of the yard until the moles return to bedevil me and frustrate my efforts.

More visitors have shown up to view my obscure corner of the internet. Visitors have looked in from Singapore, Afghanistan, Chile, Ecuador, and Sweden.

Compliments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stureby Levain Loaf and Pane Canserricio con Semolina

 I think I finally figured out how to get past the problem with Picassa and get the images I want posted here on my blog. It's not elegant but on with the show.

The first few pictures are from my first attempt at a Stureby Levain Loaf, a formula I found on the Plotzblog site. While Lutz baked a large, about two pounds or 1900 g, I divided the dough into one pound batards before baking. After looking at the ingredients list, I thought it looked a lot like those of a lean pain de campagne or bauernbrot, only using the WWW and rye flours in the 100% hydration starter.

I did aerate the starter at the beginning of the process but for the most past, I followed procedure. The resultant loaf is a pleasant, lightly textured loaf with a soft crumb.
50 g bread flour
50 g water
10 g sourdough

Dough 1
All of starter
75 g whole wheat flour
25 g rye flour
100 g water

Dough 2
All of dough 1
375 g bread flour
                                                                                    225 g water
                                                                                    10 g salt

The Pane Canserricio con Semolina is a totally inauthentic name but very serviceable loaf of bread. I saw a small bag, two pounds, of semolina flour for pasta in a supermarket yesterday and decided to see what I could do with it. Even though I used KAF AP instead of bread flour, I got an acceptable oven spring instead of a flattened oval. I like the flavor enough to put out the ingredients to see if anyone else will give it a chance and report back.

132 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough
240 g KAF AP
120 g semolina flour
245 g water
10 g kosher salt

The weather is slowly turning to seasonal temperatures outside, warm enough that I can do some preliminary clean up work and start daydreaming about all the things I should do. The daffodils and tulips are finally starting to emerge. I checked on the garlic beds and there is reason for hope there as well. The juncos are still around and the year round suspects are gaining a few robins for company.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Pesto Pizza Progress

Building a pizza crust has turned out to be a fine solution for what to do with all that new starter that I have when I feed my starter to maintain its vigor. I've been taking out 20 g or so of my refrigerated starter, letting it warm up, and then do the first stage at 100% hydration to get 100 g. Due to a cool room temperature, I can never accurately predict when things are good to go to the second stage but after 10 to 12 hours I can hear the top of the plastic container burp off for the third time. As they say, third time is the charm and I mix in 60 g of flour and 40 g of water. I'm not always consistent with the flours, using KAF AP and either rye or WWW to complement the flavors.

Once ripe, I scale out 150 g of the 70% starter and mix it with some KAF AP, water, and salt. I don't knead the dough much, just enough to be sure the starter is well mixed. The dough goes into an oiled container, gets covered, and goes into a long bulk ferment on the counter. The rest of the starter gets packed with flour and placed in a small container for a one to two hour rest before being refrigerated. I'm not shy about slowing down the bulk fermentation by using the refrigerator if the dough isn't working with my schedule.

Most of the time I use a 14" perforated aluminum pizza pan that I found in Boothbay Harbor, ME. The pan gets greased with vegetable shortening before I place the now stretched dough. I parbake the crust with some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese thrown on. It helps minimize the "slippage" of ingredients. This particular pie was dressed with pesto, sliced Roma tomatoes- fresh San Marzano are my favorite but tragically not in season, a scattering of onions for my half, some cooked and chopped chicken breast, and finally, Feta cheese. The dressed pie then went in on a high oven rack into a preheated 450F oven for 10 minutes, turned around 180 degrees, and baked for another 7 minutes. It was cooled for a few minutes on the stove burner grates before the slicing commenced. It's a Mrs PG favorite.

150 g at 70% hydration

Main Dough
152 g KAF AP
28 g WWW
126 g water at 85F
5 g kosher salt

It's not a typical March here on the Middle Coast. The snowfall we've received is welcome by farmers and gardeners alike but it has fallen in very cold air so it has been the powder snow that doesn't quite satisfy anyone with an interest in growing plants or crops. The "polar vortex" weather that has bedeviled us means that the usual green shoots from daffodils emerging are yet to appear. Likewise, the peonies are reluctant to show up for work as well.

On the other hand, we are seeing quite a few of the usual suspects at our feeders. As we drive around town, we're now seeing more hawks on tree top limbs or light poles. I haven't seen any eagles overhead lately but they are more likely to be seen by the Missouri River which is about three miles East of here.

BTW, I'm not too happy with my photos that I've posted. I've been having trouble with the Picassa photo software when I try to export pictures for my posts. The photos are what I've managed to download from the My Pictures function on my computer. One day soon I hope to figure out a workaround or perhaps Google will fix Picassa. If someone has a tip for doing that with a Windows 7 OS and a Google Blogspot setup, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be waiting on progress from Google along with a few million other bloggers.

Some of the latest visitors to this remote corner of the internet have been from Mongolia, Serbia, the UAE, and surprisingly, a lot of page views from the Ukraine. It's better to bake bread than to fight a war.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Country Bread with Bran

This is a recipe or formula quite similar to a previous effort. I thought that it might just kind of pancake out when it hit the baking stone but as the pictures show, it held its own. It had a slightly high hydration and some bran but the flavor wasn't bitter and does well for a sandwich.

140 g at 80% hydration

40 g bran
40 g hot water, soaked for two hours

 Main Dough
270 g bread flour
248 g water at 80F
90 g stone ground whole wheat
All of starter
All of soaker
9 g kosher salt

There was a snowfall of 2-3" last night that brought the neighborhood birds back. While some have adopted us for our free lunch at the feeders, the more casual visitors have joined in the noise making. We are now regularly seeing goldfinches try to work their way in to feed. It also appears the red breasted woodpecker and northern flicker woodpecker both have mates or at least informed a friend of the buffet. A large group of starlings, at least 60 to 80 or so, were in the yard yesterday but gone today. They may be back Tuesday along with some blackbirds when more snow is expected.

I've got two loaves working for tomorrow night's Superbowl table over the river in Farley, MO. One is a sourdough light rye with caraway seeds and the other a variation on Rose Beranbaum's Tyrolean Multigrain Torpedo. Either one should go well with some smoked pork shoulder.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Slow Sponge Rye Rolls

 It tool a while but I finally got around to using Rose Beranbaum's sponge directions for a project. I hadn't been inspired by it the first time I read her "Bread Bible" but something sank in this time around.

It's  relatively simple and quite logical once you think about it and apply it. You use all the water, 1/3 of your total flour, and no more than 1/2 the suggested yeast for the loaf size.  Then you mix up the sponge, blanket the sponge with the remaining flour and yeast, cover, and let it do its magic for at least four hours or more. When your ready to mix, add your salt, mix, and start your bulk fermentation.

That's an abbreviated description of the process. As you'll read, I used a small amount of my active dry yeast in the sponge only. I wasn't in hurry and even went so far as to place the bowl downstairs in the 62F basement air and then into the refrigerator after a while. It worked for me. I also added the rye flour and a pinch of caraway seeds to the sponge. It seems like I just can't leave a recipe alone.

245 g water at 85F
52 g stone ground rye flour
48 g bread flour
3/8 tsp active dry yeast
pinch of caraway seeds

Flour blanket
250 g bread flour

7 g kosher salt
5 g caraway seeds

The dough was scaled out to 150g pieces, shaped and proofed in my couche. Baking was 30 minutes at 425F on a baking stone. The finished rolls had a light, tender and moist crumb with mild rye and caraway flavors.

I think that I'll repeat this recipe for a larger single loaf for a Superbowl Sunday dinner to go along with smoked and pulled pork. i think its worth doing over.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Country Cracked Wheat with Spelt Loaf

A little bit of spelt in the flour mix does add a measure of anticipation while the loaf in the oven. The aroma that slips into the kitchen environment just makes my nose perk up and my expectations rise. It's a good thing.

I noticed my container of spelt in the fridge while I was rummaging around for the cracked wheat and decided that another free style loaf surely wouldn't hurt. When I hot soaked the cracked wheat, I thought that I might end up with a rather flat loaf due to a climbing hydration level that I hadn't considered before the improvising but it did work out for me. As evidenced in the pictures, the crumb looks fine and the oven spring worked out as well. Yes, the loaf did pass the taste test of Mrs PG.

140 g at 80% hydration

60 g cracked wheat
60 g very hot water
Cover and soak for 4 hours. Most of the water should be absorbed.

Main Dough

260 g bread flour
60 g stone ground whole wheat flour
40 g spelt flour
244 g water at 85F
All of starter
All of soaker
9 g kosher salt
1/2 Tbs organic honey

The weather outside hasn't been very consistent. Yesterday, the temperature hit 57F with high winds and today only 22F with light winds. No signs of any plants or flowers sending up shoots or signs of green yet. Several goldfinches have started feeding in the past couple of days and a rare sighting of a bluebird, supposedly a year round resident, occurred Sunday. A few starlings are outside right now, gobbling up any and all seeds dropped from the feeders by the sparrows.

Recent visitors to my obscure corner of the internet include page views from Croatia, Libya, Lithuania, and South Africa.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Comfort Food Loaves Repeated

My usual entryway into posting isn't working today so rather than letting even more work backup in the camera, I've decided just to post these pictures, yellowish fluorescent cast and all. There are worse things in life to bear.

These two loaves are repeats of earlier projects that I thought would pair well with the kind of cooking I've been doing lately. Dishes like a Yankee pot roast and white chicken chili need breads with flavors that can match up well. The first is the repeat of my Pan Campesino recipe,
My first attempt used a couche during the proofing and this one used an overnight retarded proof in a brotform because I was hoping for something that would stand up better. I may be barking up the wrong tree here and should consider small boules as is typical of the bread.
This second loaf is a lean hearth bread with seeds. The original recipe is here,

I like this bread. It has a nice chew to it and has flavor spectrum, if that's the proper description, that pleases Mrs PG and is useful for all sorts of purposes.

The notorious "polar vortex" weather has passed and we are now heading into a slight warming, 40s and 50s for high temperatures, for a few days. A massive starling vortex descended on our pear tree and cleaned out the little sterile pods on the branches. They must have been convinced they did a thorough job in less than a day because they haven't been back since.

During the last few days some blackbirds and cedar wax wings made brief visits. I haven't noticed anything truly exotic or out of place, though there are no hawks in the local sky right now. There's a bald eagle viewing event in Lawrence, KS on the 25th of this month. They nest in the trees on the banks of the Kaw River, just downstream from the old Bowersock dam.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Friday, December 27, 2013

No Knead Pizza Crusts

 Lately, I've been playing around with two formulas for no knead pizza crusts as opposed to the "sponge crust" that I worked with in one form or another for the six months or so. The first one that I tried was an adapted for yield size from a recipe I found in the March 2013 King Arthur catalog. The second formula is an adaptation of a recipe from Rose Levy Berenbaum's "The Bread Bible". Most of what I did was to merely double the quantity of ingredients since her desired crust size was about ten inches. By doubling the ingredients. I can cover a 10x13 jelly roll pan. I'm sure Ms Berenbaum would recognize her recipe in a heartbeat if she were to stumble across my obscure corner of the internet.

"The Bread Bible" is turning out to be an interesting book. My first time around, I had to read it within the time constraints of a library loan. Now that I've actually bought a copy, I've had time to read and digest concepts more thoroughly. The book appears to be written as something approachable for raggedy home bakers such as myself as opposed to "Bread" by Jeff Hamelman which is aimed as either a textbook or more towards professional bakers. I haven't lost out on a thing by having bought and read both books.

The King Arthur formula is written as a much faster process to dough time. It can also be used a focaccia style flat bread without losing anything in the translation, just dress it in the appropriate toppings and go to town.

293 g KAF All Purpose Flour
187 g lukewarm water
4 tsp olive oil (about 20 ml)
5 g non iodized salt
3 g instant yeast

1/2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning

1. Mix ingredients together to make a slightly sticky soft dough. Cover and let rise 30-45 minutes depending on room temperature.
2. Place dough in a well oiled half sheet pan and let rest 10-15 minutes.
3. Pat and stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and let rest for 30-40 minutes.
4. Preheat your oven to 425F.
5.Dressing for focaccia. The dough will already be oily so top the dough with coarse sea salt and if desired, grated parmesan or romano cheese. If you want to use herbs, wait for about 12-14 minutes into the bake before adding to avoid burning the herbs. You can dimple the dough if you wish before dressing the dough.
6.Bake at 425F, adding herbs if you choose at the prescribed time, for at least 22 minutes and a golden brown  crust. Remove from pan with a sturdy, wide spatula to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes
7. Dressing for pizza. Sprinkle a thin coat of grated cheese over the top of the raw dough. Par bake for 5-8 minutes. Proceed to dress with a thin coat of sauce, a thin sprinkling of either grated cheese, some pepperoni, and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.
8. Bake for 15 minutes and turn the pan around to bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Ms Berenbaum's crust is the formula for the Hawaiian style pizza pictured at the top of the post. Her procedures are different but also produce a pretty good crust. I've substituted either rye or whole wheat flour for up 15% of the total flour in my crusts. She recommends as long a fermenting period as possible, up to eight hours, but it can be used after only one hour. The olive oil isn't added directly into the mixing bowl in this recipe. Instead, it 's placed in the fermentation container to oil the container and dough.Leftover oil is to be poured onto the sheet pan or pizza pan to coat the surface. I used my jelly roll pan when making a pie with this formula.

226 g KAF AP flour
158 g lukewarm water
7 g non iodized salt
4 g active dry yeast or 3 g instant dry yeast
4 g sugar (I used some brown sugar because it's on hand)
20-30 g olive oil for fermenting container

1. Hydrate active dry yeast if using. Mix ingredients in a bowl into a shaggy mass.
2. Pour the oil into the fermenting container and spread around. Oil a spatula to help lift the dough into the fermenting container, coat the dough and cover the container.
3. Leave your container at room temperature for 30-60 minutes, depending on your room temperature, until the dough looks puffy. Refrigerate for 6-24 hours and then take out of refrigerator at least one hour before shaping.
4.Gently place the dough on your pizza pan or jelly roll pan and use any leftover olive oil to grease the pan. Wait ten minutes with dough covered.
5. Stretch the dough out to cover the bottom of the pan, waiting five minutes or so if the dough resists, then stretching again.
6 Cover your pan and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes. After thirty minutes, preheat your oven to 450F.
7. Sprinkle the top of the dough with grated parmesan or romano and par bake for five minutes. Dress the dough with your sauce, scatter some mozzarella over the top, thinly add some of your favorite toppings. Too much isn't a good thing here.
8. Bake for 10 minutes and turn pan around. Pizza is done when the cheese is melted and golden brown, about ten to twelve minutes more. Cool on rack for AT LEAST 5 minutes, 10 is better, before slicing.

If you try these formulas, I hope you'll leave a comment or your suggestions for a better pizza.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Posted by Picasa