Friday, March 30, 2012

Trotting out the Turkey Red and some missing "City Limits" loaves

The top picture is my garden plot for this year's expected crop of garlic. I counted some 62 stalks the other day so I lost 6% over the mild winter or due to my haphazard methodology in planting that I covered back in November 2011 or so.   

Below that is a planting of Italian oregano that has overwintered without benefit of mulch. I haven't been getting any really good oregano from the garden for a few years now but the stuff doesn't seem to be malevolent so it can stay until I need the space. If I find a starter for Mexican oregano, that time may be soon.

I donated a couple of pan loaves to the bake sale for the Cushing Hospital Volunteers. In my hurry to get them to the hospital, I forgot to pose them for their beauty shots. I can, however, share a little bit , maybe too much, about them.

Rather than building a starter, I decided to use a biga. At 66% hydration, some would still call it a poolish but I'm not going pro so we are stuck with biga. As part of this lark or experimentation, I went with some Wheat Montana Natural White, which is their all purpose flour instead of the usual bread flour. Because of the biga as my preferment, I managed to get away with using just 3/4 tsp of active dry yeast for the results. After mixing, the dough was easy in handle, fermented and proofed well. The appearance of the end result now leaves me miffed that I didn't get with the program and get those pictures.

City Limits Bread

80g AP flour
40g white whole wheat
80g water at 85F
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
Mix well and let sit at room temperature for 11-12 hours.

60g whole rye flour
60g white whole wheat
120g water at room temperature
Mix well and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours.

Main Dough:
480g Wheat Montana AP
280g water at 85F, used to proof ADY, plus 15g to adjust during mix
14g kosher salt
All of biga
All of soaker

I consider that to have been a really safe formula and the bread probably turned out well. If it didn't, then I guess I can expect an angry email or two because I included my email address on the labels I printed for the loaves.

The loaf included is the latest "turkey red" flour loaf that I've attempted. The turkey red flour (bolted) still retains its flavor. I still don't think the formula is ready for prime time exposure. The loaf isn't bad but I do have to say that I need to learn how to deal with flours that have lower protein levels. The Heartland Mill malted AP  I used seems to be low in protein. There's no information on their old fashioned flour sack packaging and the Heartland Mill website doesn't seem to list that info, at least not any that I could find. I had similar problems with Hudson Cream AP flour which has around 10.5% protein. The Wheat Montana Natural White that I used in the above loaves hits somewhere around 12%, on the high side for AP. The WM acts more like bread flour. As it stands now, my problem doesn't seem to be in the flour but rather a lack of proper technique. French and Italian flours have low protein levels relative to US but their bakers have made magnificent, open crumb loaves for for a long time. Back to the books again because I must have missed something somewhere.

The trees outside are almost all filled out now. A few native red buds and some dogwoods are now blooming. The apple and pear trees have run their course. Our average last frost date is 15 April so if one happens in the next two weeks, there will be some heart broken gardeners.

There haven't been too many birds in the yard for the past few days. The feeders are well stocked but hardly touched. The number of juncos around the feeders has diminished over the past 10 days so they may be on their way north.

It's time to mow the lawn again because I'm going to do something counter intuitive, which is feeding the lawn with fertilizer. As much as I complain about mowing, I also know that the best way to prevent weeds from overrunning the lawn area is to apply fertilizer early enough that the grass  spreads out before the weed seeds germinate. Given that our temperatures have been more like early May than late March, I might be engaging in a futile effort. Oh well, I bought the stuff and if I engage in a little bit of denial about it, no laws will be broken.

This past week's out of the ordinary hits originated in Israel and Malaysia.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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