Thursday, June 28, 2012

Using a Whole Wheat Starter

Just for the fun of it, I decided to use some Dakota Maid whole wheat flour for a two stage build starter for this loaf. There wasn't anything particularly difficult in doing that but I should mention that the result was smaller in size than if I had used some white flour.

It turned out to be a nice loaf, suitable for how we eat bread here with the exception of Italian foods. I have healthy basil, rosemary, and sage plants now for either a pan Marino loaf or foccaccia. 

Starter
170g, 80% hydration starter made with whole wheat flour
in two stages

Dough
20g whole wheat flour
40g whole rye flour
340g bread flour
280g water at 85F
10g kosher salt
All of starter


Presently, we're in the middle of a prolonged drought accompanied by a vicious heat wave. The daily high temperatures have been between 94-104F. Because the night time temperatures aren't all that cool, the tomato plants won't be setting fruit until this heat spell breaks for a few days. I don't know about the chile peppers and how they'll do but I haven't given up on watering them. When I bake these days, it's usually after 6 PM but the room temperatures are still at 80F or so which means I read more about baking than actually get the opportunity to do so. The County Fair is scheduled for the first full week in August so I need to bake to get the creative and competitive spirit going.

Recognition goes out to the brave souls from Israel and Bangladesh that stopped by to look at this little corner of the internet.  


Comments, humor, and questions are welcome 
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Monday, June 25, 2012

It shoulda been a ciabatta! With apologies to Marlon Brando!

I would rather say that I've been learning from experience with the last few loaves than to say that they've been bad. Despite my use of baker's math, the hydration levels didn't turn out to be anywhere expectations.

The first loaf here was in the style of my Pain Complet au Son yet despite using similar ingredients, differences in procedures brought about a dough that was slack and wet. I did consider just cutting two log shapes and placing them on a floured towel for proofing. Instead, I tried the Tartine shaping style and placed the dough in a towel lined brotform for a retarded proofing. As long as practice makes perfect, then hope does truly spring eternal for me with this formula. Getting good oven spring when I use wheat bran in the loaf may take eternal practice. 

The second loaf is a French Country Loaf with Poolish that I made for a party at Rob's house in Farley, MO. I followed the 1-2-3 method that I've often used with sourdoughs. Using a poolish with this type of bread does seem to work when shelf life isn't a priority. While I wasn't 100% happy with the loaf, a tight crumb, most of party goers didn't notice and left only crumbs by the time dessert was served. That was good enough for me but there is always room for improvement.

My gardening has produced better results than my baking. I picked my first ripe tomato yesterday and it was excellent. There are more to follow soon and I'm particularly interested in the "Tommytoes" cherry tomato plant. It's supposed to be resistant to the "early blight" disease that has been troubling my garden. The chiles are just about on time rather than ahead as the other plants have been due to the warm winter.

I finished digging up this year's garlic crop which had some oddities that I can't recall seeing before. A few of the soft neck type plants had seeds forming in the necks. A vendor at the Leavenworth Farmers Market told me that will happen on occasion. The seeds can be planted in the fall but it will be about three years before there is head of garlic that is of sale size. Doing that hardly seems to be worth the effort unless you're really hardcore curious to see if that's true or if your food supply is so tenuous that everything counts.
My hard neck garlic plantings also had some surprises for me. About a third of the cloves that were planted produced bulbs that sent up two or more scapes. Since I've forgotten the names of the varieties I planted, it isn't possible to figure out whether it is something due to the particular strain, the winter weather, or just a coincidence.
The garlic will take another week or so to dry out in this hot weather that we're experiencing in Kansas. I've somewhat foolishly given four classes to both crops. The largest sized bulbs will be set aside for my next years crop. Big bulbs come from big cloves. The next size is still big enough for seed usage but if no one wants to plant my garlic, I'll keep it for eating. At the third level down is garlic that isn't a pain to peel for use in cooking but not worth bothering to plant. The smallest bulbs will be given away. I'll have more than enough to plant, plenty to eat, and enough to give away and spread the love of good garlic.

My thank you note goes out to the page viewer from Slovenia that dropped into this obscure corner of the internet.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Another Big Biga Experiment

  Despite my preference for sourdough loaves, I sometimes lack the self discipline to resist playing with my abundant supply of active dry yeast. It's a shopping at Costco kind of thing I guess.

This loaf started off with a 70% hydration biga, or preferment if you'd rather, that contained 50% 0f the flour in the loaf. I was aiming at a 70% overall hydration to see If I could get an open crumb when I used high extraction Turkey Red flour in the biga. I even added another 15g of water during the mixing which should have given me a 74% hydration. When the mixing was done, the dough was somewhat sticky but not difficult to handle. The fermentation was good, shaping was easy, and I proofed for at least 1 1/4 hours before loading in the oven.

Biga
200g bolted Turkey Red Flour
140g water at 85F
1/2 tsp active dry yeast  
After mixing, the biga sat at an 80F room temperature for 6 hours

Dough
200g bread flour
140g water at 85F
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
7g kosher salt
All of biga

I mixed the biga, bread flour, and water together for about a minute and let the mass rest for 20 minutes. Then I folded the salt into the dough and sprinkled the ADY over the top of the dough. I mixed at first speed for three minutes and then went to second speed for another three minutes. After that, I turned out the dough, shaped it into a ball, and placed it into my oiled Cambro container so I could monitor the progress of the fermentation.

I did a S&F at 45 minutes and 80 minutes. Total fermentation was 2 hours. A preshape, covered rest of 15 minutes, and shaping followed that. Proofing at room temperature for 1 1/4 hours led to a preheated 450F oven for 15 minutes.  A quick turn around of the loaf and lowering the oven to 400F for the last 20 minutes gave me a loaf that had an internal temperature of 205F.

There are several things that I could do differently the next time. First, use less yeast and a longer rest for the biga. While I could change to whole wheat flour I don't think using it in the biga needs to change. Shorter mixing times might lead to a better looking crumb as long as I match that with less handling of the dough. The proofing time definitely needs to be extended.

Using a large percentage of fermented flour in a loaf isn't that difficult though recipes using the big biga aren't very common. Fortunately, with few and simple ingredients required, bakers can just figure out their own after the first or second recipe they follow.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.































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Friday, June 15, 2012

A Pain Rustique Variation

Posting about this particular loaf has been a PITA in that twice my  pictures made the transition from the Picassa blog link to the posted page but the text didn't. When your typing style is hunt and peck, that's frustrating. I have to find a work around that's faster than what I've done so far.

The loaf is only adequate because I didn't follow the proper procedures from the recipe in J Hamelman's "Bread". I plead guilty to over thinking on this loaf. Shaping was supposed to be minimal, almost like a ciabatta loaf. Proofing, according to the directions, is a brief 45 minutes at room temperature. I used a retarded proofing and probably didn't help my cause.

Here are the ingredients and some notes on the procedures. I see potential but I'll have to find it in the "do over" loaf.

Poolish
70g bread flour
90g white whole flour
40g rye flour
200g water at 85F
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
If using ADY , hydrate it in the water before mixing the ingredients. After mixing, cover the poolish and rest at room temperature for 12-14 hours.

Soaker
40g wheat germ
40g water at room temperature.
Start soaker about 6 hours after the poolish is mixed and leave at room temperature.

Dough
200g bread flour
70g water at 85F
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp kosher salt. Total weight of salt for the loaf is 7g.
All of poolish
All of soaker

Cucumbers have finally started showing up on my vines. They are a tangled mess even though I'm trying to use a trellis type system to support them. They won't need any more fertilizer for a while. The garlic isn't quite ready yet. I've dug up a few and they are still on the small side. All my peppers are starting to show fruit with the jalopeno plant being the first to deliver the goods. All my time spent staring at the tomato plants hasn't moved matters along there. I do, however, expect to have some ripe tomatoes by 4 July. A farm located by the Lawrence, KS airport is delivering its first pickings from the sweet corn crop today. A truck farmer at the local Farmers' Market has predicted that he'll have sweet corn, the "Temptation" variety, for Wednesday's market.

For me, fresh sweet corn says "Summer in Kansas" more than watermelon or a cold beer after mowing the lawn. Not that there's anything wrong with watermelon or cold beer but I can get both of those all year long. Fresh, local sweet corn is special.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.













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Saturday, June 09, 2012

Road Trip Report and Honey Wheat Germ Bread

Mrs PG and I are back from a road trip to New England to visit my parents and attend her nephew's wedding in Troy, NY. I didn't seek out any local flours or notable bakeries this year but I did add some new pieces to my collection of baking equipment. My father donated a recipe card stand that keeps my papers off the counter and away from spilled flour or water. At a store in Vermont called Basketville, I bought a grapefruit knife. It looks like a double serrated edge steak knife with a tipped up end of the blade. I thought it also looked something like a lame so I put down the required $2.59 for purchase. I tried it out on the subject loaf of this post and it seems to work well enough on my first effort.

The big addition is the cherry wood bowl that I found at Peterman's Bowls and Boards in Turners Falls, MA.
www.spencerpeterman.com
It's about 14" wide with a not too shallow depth to the bowl that should lend itself to the minimal handling procedure for making bread as described in this post from The Fresh Loaf site.

     http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22990/illustration-stretch-and-fold-bowl

The steps describe what happens after you've mixed your dough to the prescribed "shaggy mass" and left it to rest for 20-30 minutes under a cover of some sort. I have yet to try the method myself but plan on doing so once I've treated the bowl with enough food grade mineral oil. Reports on that will be posted in the future.

The pictures of a loaf of my sourdough version of an  Abfrisch (Bohemian Bread) as posted by Plotzblog were unceremoniously and unfortunately deleted due to my operator error with my new camera. The Google translation wasn't entirely clear but I took some guesses on this 46% rye bread and got some pleasant results. You can find the recipe in Plotzblog's post on "Wild Yeast" or try to find it at his blog. Plotzblog has posted many different German, Swiss, and Austrian recipes that may interest bakers that are willing to take some guesses with the translation. If you can read the posts directly in German, you'll have it made in the shade.
The subject loaf is something that I worked out on my own. I have no idea if someone posted or published something like this before but I think that any novice sourdough baker should be able to figure this one out and replicate it well. It's a great loaf for sandwiches or with a healthy schmear of peanut butter.

Starter
175g of 66% hydration white flour starter

Soaker
100g stone ground whole wheat
30g wheat germ
100g water

Dough
300g bread flour
178g water at 90F + 15g (1 Tbs) for correction
10g kosher salt
1 Tbs local organic honey
All of soaker
All of starter

I think the crust turned out well with good thickness and crunch. The color is probably due to the honey in the dough but that doesn't need to be fixed from my perspective. Hamelman's "Bread" has a suggestion for toasting the wheat germ used in one of his recipes. That sounds like an excellent idea to try in a future loaf.

Out in the garden, everything grew up while we were on the road. The tomato plants are about 4-5' tall and more like bushes than anything else. My snow peas didn't do well in the heat so they're on their way out. The dill and cilantro plants look like someone fed them plant steroids. That's OK for the dill, I guess, but the cilantro is too tall to use for food so after it goes to seed, I'll pull it out. Fortunately, nothing is wrong with the basil, oregano, rosemary, or sage. They all look like they're ready to contribute to some focaccia or ciabatta. The lawn already has cracks in the soil due to the dry conditions. Yes, Kansas could use some rain here but elsewhere in the state, the wheat harvest has begun earlier than usual so not everyone would agree with me on that wish. For some information on the progress of the harvest, sometimes called "The Big Haircut", go to www.kswheat.com.

New page viewers have originated in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Sweden, and Taiwan.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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