Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Big Dance and an exuberant starter

Everybody that's familiar with American college basketball know that the NCAA tournament began this week. Mrs PG and I were fortunate enough to get two tickets for the first round game between Detroit and our local favorites, the University of Kansas Jayhawks in Omaha, NE. Since I had enough time to plan, I baked this pan loaf for my MIL who lives in Omaha.

It's a relatively simple loaf of with no formal name yet and Is probably going to be the foundation for the loaves I've been asked to donate to the Cushing Hospital Volunteers bake sale at the end of the month.

Starter:
155g  70% hydration, two stage build

Soaker:
100g white whole wheat flour
100g water at room temperature

Main Dough:
300g bread flour
180g water at 85F, plus another 15g for adjustment
9g kosher salt
15g honey
All off soaker
All of starter

The Tonganoxie Split is a bit of local weather lore that has been disputed by media weather forecasters but still believed by many. Usually those people are the ones who are looking for something to blame for the current conditions that they want to complain about. It's all based on the belief that the land formations around Tonganoxie, KS (home of the County Fair where I've participated in bread baking competitions) affect weather patterns that come up from the southwest. Either the weather goes toward the south of KC, MO or north towards Atchison, KS and St Joseph, MO. That, the local gardeners argue, is why KC and Leavenworth come up on the short side of the rainfall when we really could use some for our gardens and lawns. It's a much less harmful form of mythology to have faith in than the ephemera being spouted by our politicians in this election year.


It is a stretch to somehow put that previous bit of local trivia in the same banneton as a loaf of bread but this one is my Tonganoxie Split Loaf. I used a small portion of my newly remodeled starter to do a two stage build of rye flour for this loaf.
After 24 hours, the build had doubled but was nowhere near tripled or quadrupled which I've found possible when using mostly all purpose flour with this starter and warm,76-80F, temperatures. I bulk ferment my dough in a 4L Cambro container and its easy to see the dough growing by 50-60% in volume after an hour. My previous starter struggled to get to 50% in only the warmest conditions, 80-84F room temperature. Paul told me that this starter was vigorous but that seems to be an understatement. Perhaps by building up an almost entirely new culture I've gotten new pH levels and have been rewarded for doing so but that's just conjecture. This is a situation that demands an attitude of if it works, don't fix it. My loaves that have been made with the new starter are improving in taste  after 24-48 hours. There's a mild sourness that is pleasing to both myself and Mrs PG. With the dough being easier to handle and shape, it's all bonus right now.

Tonganoxie Split Sourdough Loaf
Starter:
160g rye sour, 70% hydration after two stage build
Soaker:
85g white whole wheat flour
85g water at room temperature

Main Dough:
315g bread flour
195g water at 85F, plus 15g water for adjustment if needed
9g kosher salt
All of starter
All of soaker

One last note from our trip to Omaha. Last summer I mentioned the flood damage caused by the river levels of the Missouri River. Today, a lot of the fine grained silt left on the bottom land that was flooded became air borne due to high winds in the 30-40 MPH speeds. Visibility dropped to 1/4 mile at times as we drove down the highway from Omaha. While not quite Dust Bowl conditions, it wasn't what anyone would call healthy fresh air. Some of the dust had to come from farmers tilling their fields for planting but down in the bottoms the dust was rising right there in front of us, not a distant condition on the horizon.

There is a weather pattern approaching my little house on the edge of the prairie that is forecast to bring about four days of rainfall that may be in the 2-4" total rainfall. We could use that to clean off the dust.

Brunei and India brought in new readers this week.


Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.





























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