Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Countdown Begins for the County Fair

The Leavenworth County Fair begins on 9 August and any loaves I enter in competition will have to be there before 9AM. The entry fee is a meager $0.25. The categories open to me for bread entries are: white bread, whole wheat bread, rye bread, multi-grain bread, raisin bread, sourdough bread, and French bread. I haven't done any serious work on raisin or white breads so those categories are eliminated. Here in LV County, French bread is thought of as the middle of the road and very bland long loaf, white crumb, garlic bread type of loaf. I did win second prize in French bread last year with a pain de Campagne or farmhouse loaf but the thought that there may have been only two entries has crossed my mind more than once.

The pictures for today are what I consider the "house bread". In the past, I called it a "Yankee Farmhouse Loaf" for a bakesale for the Cushing Hospital Volunteers Group. Since I use a sourdough starter, I could enter this as a "Yankee Farmhouse Sourdough". There are no published judging guidelines as far as I know, so technically, this fits in the sourdough class. However, the local 4-H judges, all good Kansas people, may be looking for something closer to the San Francisco style sourdough loaf. One of those earned me a first prize last year. First prize money is a grand $1.50 and second is a not so princely $1.25 which should tell you that I'm not in the competition for money, just the fun of the competition. That doesn't mean I'm not going to try to win.

While I'm still undecided about my entry in the sourdough class, I'm definitely in favor of the flavor of this loaf. Let me give you a brief rundown on the formula.

30 g seed starter
56 g water
20 g rye flour
60 g KAF AP

115 g white whole wheat
79 g water

50 g rye flour
235 g Dakota Maid bread flour
all of soaker
all of starter
185 g water at 85F
9 g kosher salt
15 ml or 1 Tbs sunflower oil
15 ml or 1 Tbs maple syrup

The starter had a long 10 hour build at a warm 82F room temperature. That was cutting it real close. The retarded fermentation lasted about 16 hours and by that time, it was above the rim of the banneton. I took it out of the fridge when I started the preheat for the oven. Baking was at 450F for 10 minutes, 5 minutes at 425F and turn the loaf around, another 5 minutes at 425F, and finished with 17 minutes at 400F. Crumb, crust, and flavor are all excellent.

The other loaves that I'm STILL considering are my Greenlight Rye, Molasses Wheat, and a white sourdough style loaf from the Jewish community in pre-WW2 Thessalonika, Greece named Horiadaki. Even those are subject to change. I'm glad that I'm not a professional bread baker because my indecisiveness would cost money.

The heat wave goes on outside without relief until Wednesday and I'm not betting the ranch on that. I haven't mowed in a couple weeks and it hardly shows. The garden is limping along but there are still enough tomatoes and peppers to keep me supplied, cucumbers not so much. It's just about time to start making and freezing pesto. Basil pesto is outstanding in either a pasta dish or a pizza. We're doing a roasted chicken in apple sauce for tomorrow night's dinner and the left over chicken will be chunked for use in those pesto meals.

The river remains high, much of the flooded areas remain under water, and the damages done will only be seen once the water recedes. The Gavin Point Dam is scheduled to lower its release rate but only by 10%. Normal release rate may only come when its time to prepare for the migratory birds in November.

We're still getting birds at the feeders. On days when the temperature exceeds 95F, they aren't around at all, I don't even hear them until after 6-7PM. I suspect they go into the deeper wooded areas just to the west of our house. We're seeing more strangely feathered female cardinals as well as male cardinals, a few chickadees, doves, house finches, an occasional chippy or two, and a female downy woodpecker. Those are just the birds we see while sitting at this desk and looking out the window. We put out the food and their antics remind us there 's a world beyond the borders of our monitor.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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