Sunday, February 27, 2011

Still Tweaking the Formula


The experiment with soakers in my bread goes on. I have to go back and re-read Reinhart's "WGB" to get more detail on the whats, whys, and whens of the procedure. I know it works, I just want to do less guessing and more doing in less time for better results. The returns seem to justify the efforts.

The latest loaf out of the oven is further delving into the process. I followed Hamelman's per centages for his Oatmeal Wheat from his "Bread" and tried to adapt it to a sourdough. Furthermore, I substituted flaked malted wheat for oatmeal. This might have been an oversight of ingredient characteristics because the flakes don't absorb as much water as oatmeal. The package they came in said they don't affect hydration in the loaf but previous experience showed otherwise. I never bothered to measure that capacity before I launched this loaf. In turn, that threw off my estimates for flour weight and water per centages. I ended up adding 30g of bread flour (yes, I measured that) after the autolyse to bring the dough into focus in the mixer.
I suspect that the 30g of butter and 30g of honey lent themselves to the darker than usual crust. I'm not familiar with brioche doughs to make a comparison but I can't recall baking a loaf with that much enrichment. Towards the end of the bake, at 425F, the aroma seemed to smell a little bit burnt but that flavor wasn't in the crust at all. The baking stone wasn't hurt either so the application of the rule, "Don't fix it if it isn't broke" seems to be appropriate.


The crumb turned out to be very tender and moist which could be expected when using a dairy fat like butter. It has a good "wheaty" flavor. The 50g of flaked wheat seemed to disappear into the interior. They don't seem to have added any texture and hardly any color. I may have to go to 100g of flakes the time I pull this recipe up.

A rather annoying cold has caught up with me and inflicted its misery on my body. If it hadn't snowed on Thursday, I think that I may have sought out some kind of retail therapy to divert my attention. As it is, I've been looking out my window for distractions from the monitor. The usual suspects, cardinals, finches, goldfinches, juncos, and titmice have been fighting for perches on the feeder. They have been joined today by a flock of spotted towhee that migrate through this area this year. The towhee are supposed to be winter residents but I haven't seen that to be applicable. They are robin like in appearance and size and I mistook them for that bird when they passed through about 6 weeks ago. They have been trying to strip the chanticleer pear tree of any leftover berries from their first attack. I saw them later this afternoon at some trees at the intersection of High St and S 21st going for what may have been hack berries. The towhees aren't interested in the spillage from the feeders so they co-exist with the other birds. There is one exception and that's the two blue jays that are in the neighborhood. Nobody seems to get along with jays so it must be some shortcoming in their character and not the other birds.

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