Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Baurnbrot with Buckwheat

      Baurnbrot, also spelled bauernbrot, is another name for the "farmer's bread" that is known in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. If you look really close, you might think you  mistook it for the French "Pain de Campagne " or country bread. A closer yet inspection of the formula for the breads might convince you they are the same bread. Break out the old "A rose is still a rose.." cliche and insert here.

Baurnbrot can be made with a large number of combinations of white flour and other popular flours, especially whatever is to be found in the cupboards and pantries of the bakers. There are formulas that use a sourdough starter and others that use yeast. It is a wonderful name that allows the baker to be as creative or as frugal as they please while retaining an air of authenticity. Could things get any easier than that?

Today's loaf is a combination of bread flour, whole wheat flour, and buckwheat flour, a combination that was suggested to be popular in Switzerland. After following my now usual procedures to prepare the dough, I thought the dough to be on the dry side and ended up adding three Tbs of water to the dough that was already scaled out to approximately 71% hydration. Even as I was slashing the loaf for loading, the dough seemed to be dry.

Fortunately, my misgivings were alleviated when I removed the stainless steel bowl that I was using as a cloche during the first fifteen minutes of the bake. The loaf had risen nicely. At the end of the bake, the loaf had good color on the crust and did a bit of "singing" as it cooled off.

Usually, I wait 7 to 10 hours before I slice but today I rationalized into a three hour wait, the smallest "acceptable" period suggested for letting a loaf cool off. That turned out to be just fine for this loaf. The crumb was light and moist without being gummy and the crust was firm. Most of the first two slices were used for a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich but I did sample a bit of the heel that wasn't dressed with mustard because, after all, the heel still remains the baker's prerogative.


Starter
175g  75% hydration, 75% AP flour/25% fresh whole wheat flour

Dough
267g bread flour
100g whole wheat flour
33g buckwheat flour
280g water at 85F, three Tbs were used to adjust
9g kosher salt
All of starter

Attention to detail, patience, and time


Other than an oriole, I haven't sighted any new birds in the back yard at the feeders. My neighbor has temporarily stopped his bird feeding while he deals with an illness. We seem to have become the providers of choice for quite a few more finches, siskins, and sparrows as a result. The monarch butterflies should be passing through on their migration sometime soon but due to the drought, may find food harder to find. The milk weed Monarchs enjoy isn't doing well in this weather. When weeds are having a tough time, you know the drought is bad.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Potato Water in a Sourdough Loaf

      Let me say that the flavor of this loaf is much better than my awkward title. If you think the title is bad now, you should have been here with me at the keyboard before my internal editor function took over and convinced me to be a little bit restrained. The ghost of my high school freshman English class instructor, Ms Dorothy O'Neil, would've hit upside my head had I not done so.

The potato water came from making mashed potatoes for another loaf earlier this month. I simply saved the water used and froze it for use at a later date that happened to turn up yesterday. Using water from mashed potatoes in bread is an old practice, old enough that my mother and MIL both used it.  My Mom used it back when I was a child as did Delores when Mrs PG was a child.
Besides being a more thrifty use of water, the practice also helps to give a more tender crumb to the bread. I can't say with scientific certainty that the starches in the potato water are easily converted to sugars by the yeast but that could be the case. Any reader with a more technical background that can definitively say yea or nay on that subject is welcome to weigh in. Besides being a novelty to folks that don't bake, the practice may also make the bread easier for children and elderly to digest. Other than taking up freezer space when you can't use the water in the near future, there doesn't seem to be a downside.

Another aspect to this loaf was the use of 40% white whole wheat flour. I have used that much before but I stopped while I was trying to tie down other loose ends in my technique. This didn't turn out perfect but the use of two variables when I'm not accomplished in using either doesn't make for a scientific approach.
Tomorrow morning, I'll be attending a class at a local 4-H building in Lansing, KS that will be taught by a representative of the Kansas Wheat Commission. The class will have two main focus points, shaping bread and utilizing more whole wheat and grains in bread. Those are both subjects where I can use more knowledge then put that knowledge to use in getting a couple loaves ready for the Leavenworth County Fair bread competitions.

Outside, the drought and heat continues. We've had a short break from the 100Fs and are enjoying weather in the cooler 90Fs. It's all relative, you know. At least I don't have to worry as much about which is louder, the A/C unit or the wheel spinning in the electricity meter, both of which are just outside my window.

Starter
160g of 75% hydration starter, built in two stages

Dough
267g bread flour
133g white whole wheat
280g of water used in making mashed potatoes, at 85F
9g kosher salt
All of starter

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Spelt is Back

  Way, way, way back in the Spring of last year, Mrs PG and I stopped off at Heartland Mill in Marienthal, KS. Part of my purchase was a 2# bag of spelt flour. Upon return to our home, I promptly placed it out of harm's way in the freezer for future use.The future arrived a short time ago when I decided to open the bag and use the flour in a new loaf.

Stylistically, I think it can be classified as either some kind of country loaf or bauernbrot. These classifications have been so loosely interpreted over the years that even a raggedy home baker such as myself can make a claim to either name. As has been said before, if it tastes good, it is good. This has turned out to be a very good bread despite the lack of any name or title.

Once again, I followed my now familiar procedures to prepare this loaf. Because I was already planning to bake a pizza for supper, I did time the proofing of the loaf to take advantage of an already very hot baking stone for better oven spring. The satisfactorily open crumb confirmed my expectations. My slashing doesn't show up well, more camera operator error, but I was trying to get an alternating cut pattern. Maybe it will work out better in the next loaf.

Starter:
160g, 75% hydration white flour starter

Dough:
267g bread flour
100g white whole wheat flour
33g spelt flour
280g water at 85F, plus 10g correction during dough mix stage
9g kosher salt
All of starter
Attention to detail, patience, and time

While there is a new rumor of widespread soaking rains by Wednesday or Thursday, the expectations have inadequate foundation for the moment. Even if the rain does arrive, the current drought and predicted drought conditions through September do not bode well for the greenery in my yard. Our poppy plant has browned out entirely though I have no idea if that means it's dead. We may have had an abundance of day lillies at the beginning of spring but some of the plantings have succumbed to the persistent heat wave. A few of my peonies are fading fast as well. If the peonies hang in for a couple more weeks, I should be able to trim them back and save them for next year. Tonight's local area forecast called for temperatures around 106-108F for Tuesday and Wednesday. That ought to provide a lesson or two in gardening.

The Kansas State University Extension Service will be coming to town next Saturday morning with a class in bread baking. The focus will be on bread shaping and on the utilization of whole wheat flours and grains in breads. It sounds good enough that I'm making the class a kind of gift to myself. The class will be taught by a representative of the Kansas Wheat Commission.

Visitors to the blog this week have included guests  from Ecuador and Ireland .

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.




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Monday, July 16, 2012

A Fresh Flour Loaf

  Saturday mornings  during the summer time are often spent getting to the Farmers Market early enough to purchase some sweet corn from the Jirak Family. While looking over the other vendors stalls, I happened upon a new business called Family, Grace, and Grains. They sell a variety of wheat berries which they will mill for customers, cereal grains, Bosch mixers, Wonder Mills, and other varied baking supplies. I bought a 5# bag of hard red wheat for $4.50 which I thought was reasonable since they milled it for me right away.

A few hours later, I started my procedure for a simple sourdough loaf that has turned out to be dependable. I built a starter of around 170g at 75% hydration in two stages to get an active sample. When it came time to start mixing the dough, I got my sticky mass stage and let it rest for 30 minutes. Whether I add the starter at the beginning or do the more formal autolyse and add the starter after the rest, the rest works for me. YMMV.

After the rest, I added my salt, mixed at low speed for three minutes, determined it needed an extra Tbs of water, and then mixed at second speed for four minutes. The dough was shaped into a rough ball on a floured surface and then placed into an oiled Cambro container for a three hour bulk fermentation with stretch and folds at 60 and 120 minutes. Preshaped, covered, and rested for ten minutes, Shaped, placed in a brotform, covered with plastic bag, rested on the counter for 30 minutes at room temperature, and then into the refrigerator for a retarded proofing. Because of the heat spell we've been enduring here in Kansas, I decided that the dough could sit in the fridge until the evening to lessen the work load on our air conditioning.The dough came out of the fridge two hours before the bake to finish the proof.

After placing the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, I slashed and loaded onto a baking stone in an oven that had been preheated to 450F. Fifteen minutes at 450F, pulled the paper, turned the loaf around, and continued the bake at 425F for twenty more minutes. The internal temperature was 205F so I turned the oven off and left the loaf on the stone for five more minutes. We like a good crust in this house.

The loaf cooled and rested for about ten hours before I sliced it. It's a good bread. I'm certain that the fresh flour contributes to the slight tang in the crust. The crumb was nicely moist and is neither red wheat bitter or overly sour from the starter. I suspect that people who don't ordinarily eat sourdough bread would notice that aspect at all. This loaf used 33% hard red wheat but I think I can push that percentage up and still get an attractive loaf as long as I improve my technique.

Starter:
170g at 75% hydration after a two stage build

Dough
267g bread flour
133g fresh milled hard red wheat flour
280g water at 85F
9g kosher salt
All of starter
Attention to detail, patience, and time

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.









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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Catching up with the baking

 I've been remiss at posting due to the purchase of a new computer. The old one was so old that it was an XP OS before the first SP with only 256 MB of RAM before I hot rodded it up to 756 MB. It was slow. The new computer is a quad core with 8 G of RAM and MUCH faster. All of which means I can make my mistakes even faster than before. Setting up this computer was an instruction in why one should seriously consider paying for the transfer of files by qualified personnel.
I found it was possible, though tedious, by assuming the attitude of teenager and saying to myself, "What could possibly go wrong?" I still have some housekeeping utilities to download and a bunch of bread recipes that belong in my Favorites function but so far, so good.
  The top picture includes a couple of improvised loaves that were my recovery from some bad calculations for a potato bread recipe. The dough was incredibly wet, almost a batter, so I changed my plans and started heading in the direction of ciabatta type loaf. The crumb was ordinary but the bread was still good enough that both loaves were finished in short order at a party held in the middle of Council Bluffs, Iowa corn fields. The second picture is a plate of strawberries covered with chocolate and some frosting. The host of the party was justifiably proud of her creation.  

The other loaf of bread is another WWW sourdough loaf following the same procedures and using the same ingredients as the loaf from my last post. The only difference was that I used 120g of WWW instead of 115g. The results are just as convincing and it will probably the formula I use for my submission in the whole wheat category at the County Fair.

Our yard has been invaded by Japanese beetles. They have already devastated a decorative planting that I thought was immune to everything but Agent Orange or tactical nuclear weapons. All the leaves have been stripped and many of the interior vines are dead. Personally, I won't miss the plant since it spreads lots of seeds that take root and are impossible to control with out extensive measures such as using a bulldozer.


However, the beetles have since targeted my tomato plants. I used some organic insecticidal soap on the plants tonight but I'm not sure that will do the trick. I may have to resort to other treatments because the beetles do look like they have determination in their DNA.

Visitors from Ethiopia and Indonesia have taken a look at this blog recently.


Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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Friday, July 06, 2012

A Simple Successful WWW Sourdough Loaf

I enjoy using Wheat Montana flours. I first heard about them from a post on "The Fresh Loaf" website and since I was planning on driving up to Glacier National Park, I made a mental note to look for their flour/ gas station/ restaurant conveniently located next to I-80.  It's worth a stop if you're driving by because they serve great coffee and a plate size cinnamon roll. They also had all their products available for sale in the different sizes. A small mill was located by the front door for customers who wanted to grind the wheat they bought in the store. There were also some Wheat Montana delicatessens located about the state. One of those delis was located in Kalispell, MT when Mrs PG and I were staying there during our visit to Glacier NP. That was three years ago and they were doing a brisk business. I hope they're still going strong.

For a while, some of the KC area Hy-Vee supermarkets had the Wheat Montana mills in their stores which gave me access to freshly milled whole wheat or white whole wheat. For the last ten months or so, the local Walmart store has carried five pound  bags of the WM flours which is convenient but lacking the cachet of fresh flour. However, the bags are unique in that they made of a sturdy plastic with a zipper top for storage. That's a thoughtful touch in my book. I like to use their "Natural White" AP flour for my pizza crusts and the "Prairie Gold", a white whole wheat, for bread as I did for the subject loaf.

This was about as simple a sourdough loaf as I've made in a long time. No soakers, no specialty flours, or experimental techniques were involved. I did a two stage build for the starter and used a 30 minute autolyse for the dough. At just over 71% hydration, the dough was only a little bit sticky but handled well. I merely sprayed the loaf before loading. It tastes great and the crumb has stayed moist after slicing. The only change I might try is to do an overnight retarded fermentation. Alas, I haven't given it a name so I'll refer to it as the SSWWWS loaf until I get the urge to call it something else.

Starter
165g of 75% white flour starter, done in a two stage build process.

Dough

285g bread flour
115g Wheat Montana Prairie Gold flour
280g water at 85F
10g kosher salt
All of starter


The enduring heat wave is expected to come to an end tomorrow night with the arrival of a "cold front". I guess that's all relative since the forecast highs will be 86-90F for the next week. That should allow the tomato plants to recuperate and start setting fruit again.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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Monday, July 02, 2012

Ring Around the Boule

  Mrs PG wasn't enchanted by this slashing pattern  but I think that it has merit.In particular that allows for expansion during the oven spring phase at the beginning of the bake. It's not original in that I saw a loaf with the circular pattern in Clayton's "Breads of France".

I had fun with this loaf in that I just played it by ear again and ended up with a variation on my wheat germ loaf from a while back. I thought I had aimed at a 70% hydration dough but I'm not tasting that higher moisture level in the crumb. Perhaps my expectations are on the high side in this situation.

Starter:
160g at 75% hydration, fed with 75% organic AP and 25% whole rye, in a two stage build.

Soaker
100g whole wheat flour
40g BRM wheat germ
                                                                  140g water at room temperature
                                                               
                                                                   Dough
                                                                   300g bread flour
                                                                   180g water at 85F
                                                                   All of starter
                                                                   All of soaker
                                                                   9g kosher salt

My next off the wall project is a couple of loaves of potato bread. The recipe has been around for a while and I have yet to see it written down in weight measurements. Here's what has been handed down to me in volume measurements.                                      
                                                                   3 C. AP flour
                                                                   1/2 C. mashed potato
                                                                   1 C. water from cooking the potato, 
                                                                   cooled to less than 105F
                                                                   1/2 Tbl salt
                                                                   1 Tbl Butter

Many of the recipes I've seen on the internet call for a baking temperature of 375- 400F.

There was a surprise rain shower on Saturday night that dropped 1/2" of rain but that hasn't been enough to cheer up the local gardeners, myself included. There are signs of mole activity around the back of the house and it perplexes me as to how they can dig through the baked, dry, and hard soil. There's got to be a high level of determination in those critters.
I'm very pleased with cherry tomato plant now that it's producing for me. A healthy handful of them, some diced onion, a sliced cucumber, and a little bit of vinaigrette dressing makes for a healthier addition to my lunchtime 1/2 sandwich than the usual tortilla chips and salsa. It's a start at eating a little bit better, not a slow dance with asceticism.

By some odd chance, viewers from the PRC, China, have found this little corner of the internet.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.