Monday, December 26, 2011

After the Flour Dust Settled

I baked this particular loaf for Christmas dinner at my brother in law's house yesterday. It was a simple enough loaf that could be called either a rye bread or a bauernbrot depending on where you come from. I don't have any crumb shots but the interior was nicely open and the flavor was good enough that a 15 year old niece asked for a second sample as I was slicing the loaf for our meal. 


Starter
150g of rye starter at 100%.
I used a two stage build that took about 14 hours to hit its peak. This wasn't a 100% rye starter in that I built it from my ongoing starter or madre.

Soaker
80g whole rye flour
20g white whole wheat flour
100g water.
Soak for at least 4 hours

Main Dough
All of starter
All of soaker
300g bread flour
166g water at 85F
9g kosher salt
1 Tbs sunflower oil
1 Tbs molasses

This formula is more than useable in its present development stage. The molasses definitely does leave a subtle addition to the flavor of the bread and to the color of the crumb. Whole wheat flour can be substituted for the white whole wheat for a darker crumb than I saw. Unsalted butter can replace the sunflower oil. After shaping the loaf, I sprayed the top of the loaf with water and rolled the loaf over some caraway seeds. About half of the caraway seeds fell off by the time I sliced the loaf. Mixing the seeds in the dough would be a better option for me to try in the future.
Before we left Omaha, I picked up 10# of bread flour, 5# of all purpose, and 5# of stone ground whole wheat, all milled by Dakota Maid. The prices had increased by 30% or so since last summer. In any case, I've got lots of flour to play with now.

Last summer, I posted about the extensive flooding in the Missouri River basin. During our trip to and back from Omaha I got a chance to observe some of the damage. We traveled on I-29 from just outside Kansas City up to Omaha. I-29 is situated to the east of the river, close to the bluffs that the glacial run off created at the end of the last Ice Age. The damage that I saw as we drove by was really impressive. A more thorough observation and analysis of losses will probably be depressing to the farmers who will have to remake their farms and lives.
Most of the route is at two or more miles away from the river yet it was easy to see how far in the river had spilled during the summer once we approached Hamburg, Iowa. The river had flowed over the highway and the waters had been there so long that even hedge trees, which are notoriously tough to cut down, had been killed. The railroad bed to the east of the highway was washed away and had to be replaced in many sections. Mile long railroad trains that carry coal for power plants are back on schedule on those tracks.
Lots of fields that normally grew bumper crops of corn or soybeans have been covered by silt up to four feet in some locations. It will take years before the farmers can restore the acreage to its former fertility. The F-5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO was certainly more dramatic in its destruction but the amount of destruction by the river flooding this year will exceed that tornado in dollars lost.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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