Monday, July 11, 2011

Sourdough Pioneer Bread

Adapting my earlier yeast risen formula to a sourdough formula was much easier than expected. After working out the math involved to confirm that my quantities were reasonably accurate, I launched into what I thought would be my final step in developing a reliable formula as a keeper. Well, as good as this attempt turned out, a big thumbs up from Mrs PG, I'm not quite satisfied.

Instead of using a yeast preferment, I replaced that with a sourdough starter of the same weight and hydration. With an air conditioned indoor temp of 80F, the starter build hit the mark in only 6 hours.
As per usual, I didn't keep my ingredients very consistent. I switched back to using Dakota Maid bread flour and Arnold's white whole wheat. The next time I work with this formula, I'll use unsalted butter rather than sunflower oil. I like sunflower oil in other breads because it has no strong flavor and has a high smoke point so the smoke detector doesn't get twitchy. Butter will smoke at a lower temperature and throw off the hydration by a small degree. I'm also considering using only 1 Tbs of butter rather than 2 Tbs. The original formula from the KS Wheat Commission uses 2 Tbs of brown sugar in the recipe. Once again I used maple syrup because I have some. When the syrup is gone, I'll get a zipper bag of brown sugar. Lately, the humidity here is high and I'm sure it would not be friendly to brown sugar.

Despite my complaints, the bread tastes great. The sourdough starter adds more mouth feel to this bread. That's not to say it's dense or gritty but more of the satisfaction derived from eating a good bread. The use of three types of flour and corn meal create a nice palette of flavor that goes well with sandwiches. This may end up as one of my submissions in the Leavenworth County Fair next month. I have the formula on an Open Office .odf document that can be emailed to anyone who needs or wants a copy. Just email me or leave a request through a comment or my account at the The Fresh Loaf.

There's an unidentified bird that has been dropping by the feeder lately. I haven't found it pictured in the Birds of Kansas identification guide and since I'm not an enthusiastic birder, I'm not surprised I've not seen one before. The bird is about the size of the local woodpeckers. It has a white chest, gray body, black wings and tail, a black head, and a black beak as long as any woodpecker I've seen around here. The library seems to be a logical place to go to find more pictures to ID this bird.


The weather outside is typically Kansas brutal hot. At 10 PM, the outdoor temp was still 90F. The high was about 98F at the airport-MCI, but that is more than 15 miles away. The lawns are starting to show cracks, the garden needs watering, and only the weeds are thriving. Just above the state lines in Nebraska and Iowa, there are regular rainfalls that prolong the flooding of the Missouri River. We checked out the river on Saturday and it's really high. The only thing saving the area from more damage has been the breaching of private levees. The levees built by the Army Corp of Engineers have been for the most part sturdy. The levee protecting Ft Leavenworth's air field was breached and won't be repaired for quite a while.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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