Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Pilot Knob Wheat Germ Loaf

Pilot Knob is a hill only a mile or two away as the crow flies from here. It overlooks Leavenworth and across the river bottom on the Missouri side of the river. It's home to a lot of deer that have lost all sense of danger because no hunting is allowed there and several cell phone towers that are notorious for the amount of radio frequency interference they throw into the nearby homes.

This loaf confirmed one of my suspicions about why my loaves weren't meeting my ever advancing benchmark for what's really good and what's only good enough. I baked it on a baking stone without any steaming pan underneath it and my perceived problem of an almost crushed crumb on the bottom of the loaves disappeared. In fact, that convinced me that I should preheat the stone longer than the time when the oven beeps after reaching the predetermined temperature. That's a great idea but I use a typical domestic gas oven, not a monster "gourmet" or convection oven. This is a low budget operation.

The two unplanned wrinkles in my procedure didn't detract from the effort. The first happened while I was scaling my wheat germ for the soaker. I just added an extra 25g before I caught my error and decided to just keep rolling along rather than obsessing on how to fix the mistake. How can there be a mistake when there was no fixed recipe, just a vague mental outline? I did find that I needed to add some water while mixing the dough.

The second wrinkle happened when Mrs PG and I had meet someone in Lawrence, KS while the bread was bulk fermenting. I took a chance on doing a stretch and fold then placing the dough container in the basement when the temperature was around 62F. We got back four hours later and while it had definitely risen, it wasn't terminal. A second stretch and fold was done and followed by an hour of room temperature fermenting before shaping. The dough handled very well so I didn't stop to worry.

There was need for the bread to be baked as soon as practical so I proofed for two hours, slashed- I still need practice, loaded, and at the end of the bake retrieved one of my better tasting loaves in a long time.

Soaker
100g white whole wheat flour
50g Bob's Red Mill wheat germ
150g water at room temperature

Starter
165g at 75% hydration

Dough
300g bread flour
150g water at 85F, plus adjustments
9g kosher salt
all of soaker
all of starter


I really do enjoy the flavor the wheat germ added. I've been using it for a while and could never really get a feel for it's use. I started with some supermarket wheat germ by Kretschmer's that looked better suited for use in a hot breakfast cereal. The BRM wheat germ appears to be more soft and fibrous for lack of better description. It too can be used as a cereal. Until I find a local source for fresher wheat germ, I'll stay with the BRM stuff.

The oven spring on this loaf surprised me. Given that I had so much WWW flour and the wheat germ, I didn't expect this result.

The temperatures climbed into the 70s today which made opening our windows possible. I didn't wash my car because along with the warmth came sustained high winds averaging 25 mph and gusts up to 40 mph. It wasn't a good day for hair or hats. Thunderstorms are expected for tomorrow night and rain through Friday morning. That means I have plenty of time to work on a batch of my industrial red sauce for pasta and pizzas.

It's time to proofread and start a biga for some pane de Como bread or maybe a couple of Stiratto to go with the pasta. It's also time to extend recognition out to new countries in the page viewership with Argentina, France, Greece, and Turkey showing up on Google list.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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