Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's a "66"

The latest loaf out of the oven turned out to have a 66% hydration level. I think the interior crumb is good and this variation of the recipe will get better as I raise the hydration to 68 or 70%. I shaped this into a batard and placed it on parchment paper that had been dusted with semolina. I used a rolled up towel to slip under the paper and hold up the loaf's shape while proofing. The slashing is a still a weak point and better slashing might be a contributing answer among others for a more open interior.
I've got a couple of books from the library on baking. First is Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads". I've yet to try his method developed for this book. he calls it an epoxy method where half the flour is soaked for about 12 to 24 hours and another half is used in either a biga preferment or a sourdough starter. The two bowls are cut up and mixed in a larger bowl with the salt, a fat when called for, a sweetener, and some yeast. The dough undergoes a short fermentation, then shaping, and a quick proof. At least that's how I'm understanding it works. It looks like it it's worth a try for the curiosity approach and for the fact that I have so much whole wheat flour that I needn't worry about a mistake or two. The other book is E Kastle's "Artisan Breads". My only quibble with the book is that it really doesn't help the person that's starting a square one to get the basics down pat. Most bread baking books are a little bit light in this aspect. Maybe it's because the authors have been baking for so long they assume every one has some experience in the craft. the recipes do make for good reading. I've already tried his yeasted rye with caraway seeds and then adapted the recipe to utilize a sour. That was my Super Bowl rye. There are what appear to be some proofreading errors in the recipes concerning the baker's percentages. I think if someone understands the concept of the percentages, they'll recognize the errors and move on. This book is at the local library so I think I'll not buy a copy for a while. However, if I see a used copy at a good price, I'll grab it.
Outside, the snow is quickly melting during our February heatwave. We may see a night or two where the temperature doesn't drop below freezing. I've seen some soil mounds in the yards of the neighborhood and that means that it won't be long until the moles are back in town. I can at least take some small comfort in that I'm not the only person whose yard is afflicted by these rodents.
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