Monday, April 30, 2012

Pain Complet au Son, imperfect

This bread is on a par with my title, imperfect, but with lots of good intentions and not that bad for a first attempt.

The translation of the title is approximately "whole wheat bread with bran". Originally, I was going to do a "pain au son" or "bread with bran" from Clayton's "Breads of France". Then I saw a bread called "Campognolo" from Field's "Italian Baker" which was quite similar. As one good acquaintance reminded me, there are only so many types of flour and only so many combinations possible so I decided to launch off into my own ideas just because I can. So I did.

 This was the first time I worked with bran as a component. While researching recipes on Google, I ran across several French recipes where there was prominent mention of the importance of bran in assisting the "transit time" through the digestive track. Clayton's BoF was the only resource that mentioned the first time user would be surprised by the amount of water that the bran is capable of absorbing. He was right on target with his advice. Throw out your preconceptions about hydration when using bran and be ready to adjust your water higher during the mixing.

 I started out with the not too novel idea of presoaking the bran. I put 100g of water in a small container and by the time I had added 37g of bran, the container was full. After stirring down the bran and water, all the water had been absorbed and the bran was only damp, not wet. Adding to the difficulty in estimating hydration was the fact that 25% of my flour was white whole wheat.

100g water
37g BRM wheat bran

Soak bran for AT LEAST one hour before mixing dough. It probably wouldn't hurt to go as many as four hours.

140g of white flour starter at 66% hydration

Main Dough:
300g bread flour
100g white whole wheat flour
9g kosher salt
190g water at 85F, plus additional water to adjust during mix. I used two Tbs or approximately 30g.
All of soaker
All of starter

During the initial mix, I included a wrinkle in my usual procedures. I added the soaker, the water, starter, and 100g of the WWW flour to my mixing bowl and then used the whisk attachment to disperse the starter. I learned about this step from the Breadcetera blog site. After that, I followed my usual procedures for the loaf. While I was baking using the "magic bowl" method, I made the mistake of not quite clearing the loaf as I removed the bowl. That probably didn't help a bit.

This can be a very good bread, despite the dubious authenticity of its title.  It can't truly be an authentic "Pain au Son" because French law dictates a 25% bran content in the loaf. Something like that should be effective at speeding up any one's "transit time".

There's still a little bit of the bran bitterness in the taste that should be familiar to folks who use hard red winter wheat for their whole wheat component. Soaking the bran for one hour didn't hurt and four hours should be better. Experimentation with the hydration of the soaker is in order for the truly obsessive. My first thoughts are that 300% will be my starting point in my next experiment with bran. Hydration for the rest of the loaf will also be a little high, around 70%, since bran is still new for me. Besides having nutritional value, bran adds an interesting flavor. Learning how and when to use bran will be  more difficult than using wheat germ but it will be just as rewarding.

The yard has responded well to a 2.25" soaking rain fall on Sunday. Everything seems to be a little greener and the plants in the garden look a little taller. I doubt the rain had anything to do with it, but there are some new birds and some long absent showing up at the feeders. A red headed woodpecker was a guest this morning as was a rose breasted grosbeak. There was a bird that looked similar in size to a goldfinch but had a bright blue body with black wings. That may have been a migratory bird since it doesn't show up in my "Birds of Kansas" book. I also saw a dark grey and black bird that, judging by its behavior, may be another type of woodpecker that's not native to this area. The birds are feeding quite heavily and spilling almost as much onto the ground. The squirrel that had been climbing up the support poles to the feeders seems to be more than satisfied with all the seeds it can find on the ground. Hummingbirds and orioles should be here shortly so it's time to find some poles and feeders to hang around the yard.

My new camera should be here on Saturday but I'm thinking I should have ordered some binoculars as well. There's a lot to be seen outside the window by my keyboard.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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