Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Almost Gardening Season and a Starter Conundrum

I'm still on the learning curve with the starter that I was given by Paul. It is every bit as vigorous as presented, being able to quadruple in size in less than 10 hours and with a fine flavor as well. Just to do something different, I've taken to keeping a small, less than 50g, amount of very firm starter in the fridge rather than the 120-150g of 100% starter that I used to keep. It's been really reliable.

This most recent loaf is an example of my problem in that I'm getting blowouts using formulas that were dependable before. The latest psomi was my first encounter. Another troubling aspect is that the crumb on the bottom of the loaf is compressed relative to the rest of the loaf. There are three courses of action to be investigated.

The first is to simply use less starter which could affect the pH of the dough and its effects on the gluten structures. Whitley's book, "Bread Matters" suggested this course though I don't presently recall his reasoning.

The second course is to utilize much larger slashing, going down the length of the loaf rather than three shorter slashes.The reasoning behind that is to present a larger path to relieve the pressure of the gases built up before the yeast dies. Nothing original in that action.

Finally, I could just lower the starting bake temperature from 450F to 425F and bake longer.

There's still the possibility that I just need to improve my shaping skills but that doesn't sound like as much fun as my pseudo-scientific approaches. I'll start another loaf tomorrow so I still have time to fret and rationalize over any course of action I might take.

Outside, the yard is almost ready for some lackadaisical efforts on my part to prepare for Springtime blooming. There are no dandelions in bloom but the first crocus has opened up. I checked the garlic "plantation" and there are quite a few stalks that have emerged from the ground already. I've thinned out the wheat straw-what else would you expect?, canopy to let in a little of sun and fresh air. I need to move some day lilies that are being overshadowed in their present locations. Just for the amusement that a little bit anarchy can bring, cuttings from our Shasta Daisies and Black Eyed Susans will be transplanted among some Little Bluestem grass that I put in the alley way behind the house. It will be next year before I can start moving Purple Coneflower cuttings closer to the garden to attract the bees that will help in vegetable production.

All my bird friends are in the neighborhood presently. The robins are particularly fat this Spring and the pair of mourning doves are usually around in the morning and late afternoon. The red bellied woodpecker is making his appearances and the hairy woodpecker is dropping in regularly as well.They are amusing but they can't quiet down the neighborhood dogs yet. That would be something to observe.

A little recognition is due for the page viewers from Malaysia, Latvia, and the Ukraine. I hope you don't take my scribblings too seriously.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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