Saturday, June 04, 2011

Suddenly Summer

After a cool and wet spring that meant late flowers and a slow garden, full blown summer has arrived and it's just as hot as it usually is at the end of June. The A/C was called into action on Thursday and will probably stay that way until the middle of September. It's good for the tomato plants though and when they finally produce, we'll momentarily forget today's weather. I did check my plants this afternoon and there are no little green tomatoes yet. There are snow peas now and in another day or so, enough for me to use in a meal. There are quite a few romaine lettuce heads that show no sign of being affected by the heat.
I've already used some of the basil, oregano, and rosemary but the garlic draws my attention again as it always does. The top picture is a scape from one of my bulbs that are hard neck garlic. I have at five different varieties of hard necks and one soft neck. From past experience, I expect to be digging up my first bulbs around 10 July but after the strange spring time weather, I can be flexible. The scapes should always be trimmed back to help the plant direct its energy back to the bulb. After trimming and a quick cleaning, a young scape can be cut up for use in a stir fry. If left too long, the scapes get woody. When left longer than that, the false flower will produce tiny, little bulbs that can be planted,
harvested, and replanted once more for a full size bulb. That's a lot of work to prove something I've only read about. I grow more than enough to keep for next year's seed stock, eating here at home, and giving away the rest.
No one should mistake me for an artisan baker or craftsman baker, I'm really just an eccentric baker because while I have some of the craft down well, I never keep working on one aspect long enough to learn more than what I need to know. Today's loaf serves as an example of that. It's a sourdough wheat loaf that started as a basic 1-2-3 loaf but I decided to soak the whole wheat and throw in some malted wheat flakes after I saw them during an expedition into and through the downstairs freezer. Then I added some sunflower seed oil into the dough and some maple syrup to help the color of the crust. Then there was that 14 hour retarded proofing. I may not have followed a classic formula but it sure does taste good.
Having used AP flour and that oil, I got a tender crumb. Due to a high hydration, over 72%, I got a more open than normal pan loaf crumb. While I still haven't gotten the right percentage of wheat flakes for a loaf, I do have an idea about how to apply the sunflower seeds on the top for appearance and a nice little roasted flavor. Using a small pinch, <1g, of salt in the soaker can add a flavor note of salt in the crust that is much greater than you'd expect. I hope to use that the next time I top a loaf with sunflower seeds.
The Leavenworth County Fair is about two months away so it's getting close to decision time about how many and what kind of loaves to submit for judging. My Green Light Rye that I made back in February is a likely candidate as well as a classic sourdough-pain au levain loaf. The recipes aren't broke so I won't have to fix them.
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