Saturday, September 17, 2011

What They Say Is True

Friday's lesson was a verification of the warning that a starter may need to adjust to the use of new flours in the build or elaboration. I had finally finished up the rye flour that I had bought at Whole Foods and decided to open up the rye flour from Heartland Mills. The HM rye is described as a whole meal rye and does have some visible bran in the flour.
I prepared  a starter and refreshed the seed starter or "Madre". Both were made up to have a 75-80% hydration. My scale isn't scientifically exact so I often adjust on the fly when baking. I could have made it easier by starting Wednesday but didn't. The starter ratio was 1:3:4 of seed, water, flour. They both sat on the counter at 70F room temp for 12 hours and had doubled but weren't quite at peak dome stage when I put the madre in the downstairs fridge and started a pan loaf of 75% AP/25% whole wheat.
Bulk fermentation was just so-so but I thought an overnight proof would finish the job. That didn't turn out too well for either. I preheated the oven to 450F thinking there would be some oven spring and I could finish at a lower temperature.
The loaf isn't a total failure and it isn't a brick. It's ugly and uneven in shape. I know what I did wrong and I've adjusted.
I took the madre out of the fridge Friday and used about half in a pizza dough, more for flavor than anything else. My old active dry yeast, two years in the freezer, did the honors for the pie. The rest was kept and I refreshed at about 80% hydration.
This time around the starter did build up much better and just before peak, I put it in the fridge. I'll have to refresh it more often for a few weeks to get a benchmark for its performance. The plan is to simply use a 1:2:2 feed for the starter during builds and somewhere make the time for a careful drying of an active batch. It's doable.

On the music side of things, the MJQ "The Complete Last Concert" is one of my desert island albums. Because it was originally recorded on analog tape, there are moments when you hear the limitations of that format, especially in the recording of Milt Jackson's vibes, if your system has good resolution. Once you get past that, the music is a joy. All the musicians were outstanding artists on their instruments and their discographies read like a who's who of post WW2 jazz.
Another desert island album is Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks". It's been around for more than 40 years for good reason.
Melody Gardot has a very strong effort in "My One and Only Thrill". It's worth buying, whether as a high resolution download or a disc.

The Missouri River has finally dropped below flood stage and is slowly opening up to river traffic. Local damage in Leavenworth County is currently estimated at $6 Million and will probably rise. There are few birds in the area of the house right now. I've seen quite a few hawks, mostly red tail hawks, in the area lately. Farmers have been harvesting a second, smaller crop of hay lately so I'm not surprised at all about the number of hawks. I haven't seen any bald eagles this summer but they should be back in the area soon.
There is one small reward for the end of the season for flowers. That's in the fact that the blooms are now at their brightest.


Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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