Sunday, November 06, 2011

This weekend's pain de campagne

I might be wrong but from what little I've read about the breads of France, pain de campagne can be found all over the country and in many different forms. Perhaps the name  has become one of those generic titles but I wouldn't be surprised if every province and arondissemont was fiercely loyal to the local boule or batard.

A local baker of note, Thom Leonard, has had version of this "French Country Loaf" written up in Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking". Mr Leonard has also had a good relationship with Heartland Mills, the flour suppliers that are responsible for some of the flour I used in this loaf. I can truthfully say that I didn't slavishly imitate his formula but I did take a fair share of "inspiration" from his work. If you're going to borrow, borrow from the best. This is a good loaf.

I used a 66% bread flour, 25% HM White Whole Wheat, 8% HM Whole Rye combination of flours. It's a lean loaf but still sweet, moist, and has just a little bit of that rye tang. With the winter holidays approaching, I think the trick with this loaf would be to use a rye sourdough as a starter. All those sandwiches with beef, pork, and smoked sausages need a hearty bread rather than the tasteless grocery store white breads.

Sparrows and finches are showing up the feeders in greater numbers now. Juncos are regular in attendance and goldfinches may be back in the neighborhood. Sadly, there are no woodpeckers to amuse me right now but that may just be a seasonal thing since they're year round residents in NE Kansas. Bald eagles aren't overhead lately and the hawks are few in number. We do live under the great North American migratory flyway so if I pay more attention I may get to see some new species in the yard. The wildlife sanctuary at Squaw Creek is already reporting incoming birds but the largest numbers are yet to arrive. Much of the wetland acreage along the Missouri River was flooded this past summer so it will be worth while to follow the reports of the migratory birds. The Marais De Cygne refuge is south of here but I've not followed any reports from there before. There are several Federal impoundment reservoirs, built to control flooding along rivers here in Kansas, that are also coming into play for migration patterns.

I finished Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" yesterday. It's the basis for the John Cusack movie of the same name but immensely more entertaining. There's an air of unease that runs through the book that will prevent most men from overly identifying with the main character. It was either that or I was in denial that I had exhibited some of the same behavior as I plodded into adulthood.

The rosemary plant seems to have survived the trauma of being dug up out of the garden and is now providing a teaspoon here and tablespoon there of fresh rosemary for the kitchen. As I look at it, I must say that it looks more like an anorexic bonsai rosemary plant than a bristling and rude shrub about to take over the table top. It's an experimental work in progress, as am I some days, but I'll report on the plant's survival or demise as the case may prove to be.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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