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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