Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Return of the House Loaf

Just about everybody has a house loaf that they've made so many times that they are comfortable baking it for family and friends and I'm no exception. My house loaf is some sort of an enriched French Country Loaf. As winter settles in here on the edge of the Kansas plains, the air is drying up so I add a little bit of sunflower oil and honey to help maintain some moisture. The baker's percentages are as follows: 67% bread flour, 25% white whole wheat or or whole wheat, 8% rye, 38% starter, 66% water, 2% kosher salt, 3%honey or maple syrup, and 3% sunflower oil in a loaf with 400g of flour. There may be some occasional changes but that's a good formula for a satisfying loaf of bread.

After my production run of lean sourdough loaves and the sponge bread experiments, I couldn't stop myself from adding a wrinkle or two in what I had planned to be a return to the comfortable safety of my house loaf. I started with the starter. Usually, I maintain the starter with a 85% AP/ 15% rye flour blend and get consistently good results. This time I used all rye flour in the second stage of the elaboration to see what would happen. I also substituted molasses in the main dough for the honey. Molasses and rye flour seem to make a nice blend of flavor.

The resultant loaf turned out particularly well; excellent flavor, a moist,tender crumb, and a good, chewy crust. I think the starter was a step in the right direction but a dedicated rye starter for the loaf may be an even better choice.

The temperatures outside are falling into the typical range of early December in Kansas. Fortunately, the doctor has said I can walk without the post-operative boot as long as I'm not foolish in what I do so I may get some yard work in before the bottom drops out of the thermometer. There are more birds at the feeders now. They don't seem to object to the new brand of food in the least. I've seen three different varieties of native woodpeckers in the past few days, an increase in the number of cardinals, and some starlings occasionally show up to feed on the berries on the pear tree. There aren't any eagles overhead lately but they're expected to be in numbers at Smithville Lake and along the Kaw River in Lawrence by early January. The lawn is still being targeted by moles and other burrowing nuisances. Obviously, the moles aren't smart enough to go into hibernation or to Texas for the winter.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcomed.
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