Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Holy Grail Bread for Dabrownman

 It was probably yesterday that I was checking out a post on the Fresh Loaf and I saw a reply from a home baker from the Phoenix area who calls himself Dabrownman. H e mentioned that one of his favorite flour formulas for a country bread, his Holy Grail, included whole, rye, and spelt. I think I could learn a thing or two from Dabrownman and since I had a stater in the second stage of a build, I'd try to build my loaf with those ingredients   The results included a nice moist crumb with an almost sweet, smooth flavor. Its not very difficult to understand why he enjoys this style of bread.

150g @ 100% hydration

Main Dough

294g bread flour
66g white whole wheat
20g whole rye flour
20g Spelt flour 
10g kosher salt
All of starter
Attention to detail, patience, and time

While building up my starter, I noticed that it seems to have slowed down by about 15-20%. In the past, I've blamed the weather for that behavior, but today I think I just need to rebuild the starter by elaborating it around the clock for at least 72 hours to build up a very high level of activity.

The work at cleaning up my garden remains in progress. There was a killing frost for the past two nights but the oregano, rosemary, and sage still live.If I pick up two bales of straw for mulch, I should have enough to cover the bed for the garlic planting, cover the surviving herbs from winter weather extremes, and still have some straw left over for any bare spots. I've seen a skunk and a possum in the yard at night time and am at a loss as to how to convince them to relocate. The best bet so far is to use coyote urine. Given how close we live to the undeveloped land of the county, that could bring new problems for which I'm even less suited to handle such as coyotes.  

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pain de Campagne, Do Over

It had been a while since I used some of my rye flour so a French Country Bread was in order.Since I have more than enough to do to get my garden and flower beds in order, I haven't been indulging in a seeking  new inspiration among my bread books. "A Blessing of Bread" by Maggie Glezer does sit table side these days and I may have to break down and buy a copy before Christmas so I can show off what I've learned when I visit my parents. That's a tall order since they're in their mid 80s and have seen real neighborhood bakeries in their youth. Time to go to work.

165 g @ 100% hydration

Main Dough
260g bread flour
40g whole rye flour
100g white whole wheat
270g water at 85F
10g kosher salt
All of starter
Attention to detail, patience, and time

The hydration of this loaf challenged my modest shaping skills in that I didn't get as good an oven spring as hoped, even Mrs PG noted that. The interior crumb did turn out nicely moist and baked thoroughly.
While I have Ms Glezer's book on loan from the library, I think it would be a shame not to take advantage of her work by attempting her sourdough Pan de Horiadiko, a Greek country recipe that originated in Thessalonika, Greece. The first time I worked on that formula, I won a blue ribbon at the county fair. The blog post with my derived formula has been one of my most popular posts. There are also some beginner's level recipes for challah that look like a project for holiday baking.

The latest page views of note have been from Cambodia, Columbia, and Spain.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Likeable Scoring Pattern

Scoring or slashing my loaves hasn't been a strong skill of mine so when I saw the results on this loaf, I was particularly pleased. This pattern allowed for a lot more oven spring than I used to on a 33% whole wheat loaf. i wouldn't call it a signature pattern for my baking but it will be used often enough until I find something as easy and effective.
There's nothing avant garde or creative in the formula for the bread but its a more than pleasant effort.


150g @ 100% hydration

Main Dough    

266g bread flour
134g hard red whole wheat
260g water @ 85F
10g kosher salt
1 Tbs Easton Hillside Honey
All of starter
Attention to detail, patience, and time

As predicted previously, the trees have started to shed in rapid fashion. All my flower beds have to be raked free of leaves before I can clean them up. Unfortunately, this also leads to the appearance of clouds of gnats or some kind of minuscule nuisance insects. The insects don't bite but they do swarm all over me and usually my glasses as well. There's lots of other work to do so I can put that off until a really windy day or the next frost which is due on the 26th of October.
In particular, I need to clear a bed for planting next years garlic crop. There are also quite a few dropped tomatoes that have to be picked up. I'm already guaranteed an excellent crop of volunteer cherry tomatoes so the need to clean up well is important.

The cardinals, goldfinches, robins, titmice and woodpeckers have all been noticeably absent from our feeders lately. Since they're all year round residents of this area of Kansas, it probably comes down to they've found food sources they prefer to what they find in our yard. It's either that or their feeding schedule doesn't match up with my random observation periods. No big deal, they'll be back.

The most recent notable page views for my obscure blog site have come from Bangladesh and New Zealand.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

The 125% Solution Bread

The latest loaf from my kitchen taught me the value of writing down notes of what I'm doing. Don't bet on my applying the lesson learned but I will endorse the practice. I got distracted while building my starter, it was 730AM-GMAB,and my original target hydration went out the door before I even had my first cup of coffee. Coffee is my friend at that time of day. I had intended on a 150g build at 100% but ended up with about 310g at 125% hydration.

Adding foolishness to the ridiculous, I couldn't recalculate my formula because I had an appointment at the opthamologist office where I thought I would scratch out some numbers while waiting for the exam with dilated eyes. Working out arithmetic with eyes that look as big as pie pans is very much as silly an idea as it sounds. Mathematics isn't my strong suit in academia. But the doctor was slow in arriving at the exam room and after presuming I had scratched a groove into my head while working out the numbers, I reached something that appeared to be reasonable.

The starter reached its desired state by 730PM so I applied the following formula that did work out with only an additional 8g of water added as an adjustment.

180g at 125% hydration.

Main dough
266g bread flour
134g white whole wheat
236g water at 85F
9g kosher salt
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
All of starter

This is somewhat similar to J Hamelman's sourdough loaves but I used more whole wheat than in his formulas. There was also a big difference in results but I don't mind, he's had a lot more practice than I ever hope to achieve.

1. Build starter
2. Add starter, whole wheat flour, water, and  226g of bread flour to the mixer bowl. Using a dough hook, mix for up to one minute or when a shaggy mass is formed.Cover the mixer bowl and rest for 20-30 minutes.
3. Add remaining flour. Mix at first speed for 3 minutes.
4.Add salt to the bowl and fold into the dough. Add the ADY or IDY, if using, and fold into the dough. Adjust dough for moisture if needed, with one Tbs of water at a time. Mix at second speed for 3-4 minutes.
5.Turn the dough out of the mixer bowl and transfer into a covered, oiled container for bulk fermentation.
6. Stretch and fold at 50 and 100 minutes.
7. At 150 minutes, preshape the dough into a ball, cover, and allow 10-20 minutes for the dough to relax.
8. Proof for about 2 hours at room temperature or do a retarded proofing in your refrigerator overnight. Bring the dough out and let it rest covered, on counter, until fully proofed.
9. Preheat the oven and baking stone at 450F.
10. Slash the loaf before loading.
11..Bake on a thoroughly preheated baking stone and oven at 450F for 15 minutes. Turn the loaf around and lower the oven to 425F. Bake for 22 minutes or until the internal temperature is 205F.
12. Turn off the oven and leave loaf on the baking stone for 3 minutes with the oven door cracked open.
13. Cool the loaf on a wire rack for at least 3 hours before eating.

The trees in the yard are shedding their foliage as quickly as I expected. Before long, I'll get to enjoy the spectacle of watching flocks of birds descending upon the Chanticleer pear tree outside my window. I don't know what type of birds to expect this year but in the past, flocks have exercised ferocious gluttony and eliminated almost all the sterile seed berries on the tree. That's better than my having to rake up the dried berries and much more amusing.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

The New Malted Wheat Flake Loaf and Pie Pan Focaccia

Last week Mrs PG and I took a road trip across the Great Plains to visit Yellowstone National Park. On the way, we stopped at Carhenge in Alliance, NE, and the Little Bighorn Battlefield site. While visiting the Park, we toured the Yellowstone Inn- a must see for lovers of architecture and woodwork, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in W. Yellowstone, MT, and the Geyser Basins. I'm a big fan of YNP because it renews the sense of child like wonder in me. We've been there twice and I still can't scratch it off my bucket list.

Right after we emptied the car of the accumulated detritus of a road trip, I started the build for my New Malted Wheat Flake Loaf. The shaping for a pan loaf could've been better but I'm way out of practice. I was really quite fortunate on my guesswork for the formula because KAF states on the package of the flakes that no soaking is needed. It wasn't the first time I didn't follow instructions.

150g at 100% hydration

120g malted wheat flakes
120g water at room temperature
Pinch of salt, < 1g


266g bread flour
134 white whole wheat
250g water at 85F
10g kosher salt
1 Tbs honey
All of starter
All of soaker

The Mrs and I thought it had a good flavor, well suited to a schmear of peanut butter in the morning. We usually don't toast our bread in the morning so I can't report on that.

The other bread that I experimented with this week was a focaccia that for better or for worse, that was baked in a couple 9" pie pans. One was to accompany the pasta dish planned for that evening and the other went into the freezer.

Without adult supervision looking over my shoulder to see if I followed the rules, I started with a sponge instead of a biga to get a little flavor going and give me some time to go to the gym. What, you think those calories and carbohydrates self deport themselves?

70g bread flour
30g bolted Turkey Red flour flour
210g water at 85F
1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Main Dough
200g bread flour
6g kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbs olive oil
All of sponge
2 Tbs grated Parmesan for topping (optional)
1/4 C shredded mozzarella for topping(optional)
Up to 2 Tbs fresh roemary for topping(optional)
olive oil to brush pans and top of dough before baking.

Pie pans or cake pans aren't the best but are acceptable as a compromise for focaccia when you just can't eat all the bread. I have used some parchment paper and a baking stone for a larger project and that works out fairly well. This style hasn't been a regular in my baking rotation scheme but I enjoy it when I take my shot at it.

Outside, the there are some sever thunderstorms in the area, accompanied by high winds which should strip a lot of leaves of the trees and create clean up work for me. I've identified a red breasted nuthatch as an early season visitor to the feeders. My next bread project is cooling off on the counter as I type away. It's an almost accidental loaf that looks very good so far. The report will follow in a day or two.

The latest pageview of note this week originates from Greece.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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