Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pain Menage, a Taloa Experiment, Garden Talk, and Something About Tornadoes

 Our usual latest frost date out here is 15 April. that went out the window this year. Most years on this date, My yard is barely coming to life. The roses will have have a few leaves and the canes will be barely able to take thinning. Not this year, one of my floribunda plantings is already blooming and the David Austin rose is only a few days away.
 Peonies in this area have been blooming about 15 May in most years but the plantings in my yard didn't get the message this year. They're taller than they have been for many years and even the latest blooming variety I have will be ready to go by 1 May. This just happens to be the first bloom for this year. It happened today.

The other perrenials are coming along nicely. I think this one is called "false indigo". Don't mind the change in fonts, the blogger page is having a mind of its own again.

 Yesterday's experiment in baking taloa didn't turn out well. I took some chances with the recipe from Bernard Clayton's "Breads of France", changed quantities, and ended up with less than stellar results.

The first thing I did after deciding to ignore the instructions was to make a poolish rather than treating the bread as a straight dough. Had I been thinking, I should have used a stiff biga since I was concerned about using AP flour instead of bread flour with the corn meal.

Most of the taloa recipes found on the internet through Google use the same ingredients with the exception that the bread is unleavened. The dough is patted flat and cooked in a hot skillet with, and sometimes without, cooking oil. The recipe sounds like the result is a Basque tortilla of sorts. Some recipes included yeast and have a lower, 60-63%, hydration level. I thought that if I cranked up the hydration to around 66%, I'd get a big muffin type bread with a crumb similar to that of an English muffin. That didn't work out at all. I don't think that if I had used bread flour in the 50% flour/ 50% corn meal mix that there would've been more dramatic results. Since I'm not satisfied with the results, I'll go back to the original recipe to see if I over thought this project.

The tornadoes that ripped through Kansas last weekend didn't touch down anywhere near here. Unlike horse shoes and hand grenades, tornadoes really don't matter if they're close. If you can't see them or hear them, 99 times out of a 100 you're OK. It will just be the large hail, high winds, and heavy rains that you have to contend with. Tornadoes are most common in the Spring in Kansas but that doesn't mean they don't happen later in the year. Friends lost the roof to their house, located about ten miles from here as the crow flies, to a tornado on 31 October several years ago.
The name pain menage sounds great, doesn't it? While some women might say that it is a perfect description of what they are afflicted with as soon as their boyfriend or husband has a mid life crisis, according to Bernard Clayton in his BoF book, it means a family loaf. That takes a lot out of the name.

This is my pain menage that came out of the oven lately and is much more successful than the taloa experiment.
It's a simple sourdough bread that didn't require exotic ingredients or arcane techniques. As a bonus, it tastes good as well.

180g 72% hydration starter

60g white whole wheat flour
50g wheat germ
110g water

Main Dough:
All of starter
All of Soaker
25g whole rye flour
265g bread flour
170g water at 85F
10g kosher salt
15g sunflower oil

Finally, my thanks to the folks who stumbled across this blog for the first time from Mexico and India. Then my appreciation to the reader from France. With all the great breads available there, I'm amazed that you'd spend some time with my amateur attempts.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.


  1. I also tried the Taloa recipe from Bernard Clayton and my comments were that they were "more like heavy crackers and were hard!" - that was years ago so I might try them again. Shouldn't the yeast in his recipe give it some lift?

  2. Thanks for commenting on my obscure post. I suspect that part of my problem, and perhaps Mr Clayton's problem, was that I didn't use fresh yeast. Fresh yeast has been impossible to find in stores here in the Kansas City area for many years. Fresh yeast is known for its quality of generating more gas than either of the two popular dry yeasts, ADY and IDY. Mr Clayton did his best to translate the French recipes for use with ingredients that were easily available to US home bakers at the time of the book's release.

    While fresh yeast was available in the supermarkets at the time of publication, the convenience of active dry yeast was rapidly becoming more attractive to home baking enthusiasts.

  3. Interesting! My mother baked bread and used cubes of fresh yeast - in fact I liked to eat them - how weird is that! I might try to beg some yeast from a local bakery and try the recipe again. Thanks for getting back to me!