Monday, April 18, 2011

Out of the ordinary

 15 April is the average last frost date around here. Just once in the 21+ years we've lived here has the last frost gone past that. So it was particularly surprising to see a butterfly in the yard on Saturday. It was feeding on the dandelion blooms which aren't among the endangered species in my neighborhood.
We did miss the system that delivered the tornadoes this past weekend. There was about 3/4"  of rainfall but nothing of note, especially in comparison to what happened in Oklahoma that same day. It will happen close to home someday but I'm in no hurry to see a tornado up close and personal. Despite the attention paid to tornadoes by the press, not everyone out here in Kansas will see one in their lifetime. For the most part, they're buried in the fury of our rather exciting and vivid thunderstorms. The majority of us here in Kansas do experience heavy hailstorms that cause damage to cars parked outside and roofs on our houses. My present car has been dinged heavily by hail twice in the past twelve years and my previous car went to the body shop once. I can do without ever experiencing that for the rest of my days.
I managed to coordinate two of the little gimmicks I've learned about baking better bread this weekend. My slashing still remains a work in progress but I enjoyed the results of this one. It was a combination of soaking the white whole wheat flour for about two hours and a two stage build for the sourdough starter. The WWW is from Norm's Flour, an organic hard winter white wheat flour from Kingman, KS, that is my favorite WWW due to its sweet flavor and excellent baking qualities. Two stage sour builds are a PITA due to the need to build a small initial stage that takes as much work as a larger build. Perhaps the nuisance value only matters when you build for a single loaf. This starter used KAF AP and some Hodgson's Rye. The first stage developed at about the usual rate for OCT-APR but the second got rolling much faster despite being kept in the basement. As a sidenote, my starter will pick up speed in doubling and tripling volume in May and during JUN-mid SEPT, it roars. Part due to temperature and I suspect part due to it's makeup. After all, it is a living organism.
Back in the real world, the loaf was a standard 1-2-3 loaf procedure that turned out to be light in feel. The crumb wasn't quite as open with lots of holes but it wasn't dense, with a sweet flavor- I only used 1/2 TBS of honey for a 825g loaf before baking, and great oven spring. The pictures will be added in a day or two.
I've already added the soaker thing to my procedure but the two stage build will be for the days I have the scheduling right and ambition to spare.
I'm thinking about making a pesto and chicken sauce to be served with penne and probably pine nuts for Wednesday so I may dig into the dry yeast tomorrow to start something vaguely Italian in the way of bread. If the rain doesn't dampen my attitude, there may be something in the line of a Pugliese loaf for Wednesday night.

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