Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Breads for the Family



 The reason I haven't posted for a while is that Mrs PG and I visited my family in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for Christmas. The first picture is the house where I grew up and where my parents still live. My brother and I shared the room in the front half of the garage/bedrooms addition where we slept, often fought, and sometimes tested the limits of our parents patience.


While visiting, I baked five loaves for two different meals. For Christmas Eve at Aunt Freda and Uncle Mike's house, I baked a sourdough Pain de Campagne and a sandwich loaf with a pre-ferment. For Christmas Day, I baked a sourdough Pain de Campagne, a Pain de Campagne with pre-ferment, and a sandwich loaf with a pre-ferment. The sourdough loaves were identical in formula, the yeasted Pain de Campagne and sandwich loaves all used 70% pre-ferments that were kept overnight in the cool cellar of my parents' house. That cool and slow build worked out very well for flavor. The sourdough breads were nicely tangy and got the big nod of approval from Uncle Mike.
We never sliced the yeasted Pain de Campagne but my brother didn't throw it back the next day so either he and Jan, his wife, liked it or he was simply exhibiting the good manners our parents drilled into our heads when we were young. Mark baked sourdough whole wheat loaves for a while before I ever started baking so I like to think that they liked my bread.

Pain de Campagne

Starter
133 g at 70% hydration

Main Dough
280 g bread flour
80 g white whole wheat flour
40 g rye flour
280 g water at 85F
9 g kosher salt
All of starter

Pain de Campagne with pre-ferment

Pre-ferment
100 g bread flour
70 g water at 85F
1/8 tsp active dry yeast

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
100 g white whole wheat
280 g water at 85F
9 g kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
All of pre-ferment

Sandwich Style Pan Breads with Pre-ferment

Pre-ferment # 1
80 g bread flour
10 g rye flour
10 g white whole wheat
70 g water at 85F
1/8 tsp active dry yeast

Pre-ferment # 2
90 g bread flour
10 g rye flour
70 g water at 85F
1/8 tsp active dry yeast

Main Dough
275 g bread flour
187 g water at 85F
8 g kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
Pre-ferment

Baking in my Mother's kitchen was really different than baking here where I can spread out my stuff and not worry about any messes. At the same time as I was staging my baking, Mom was making two "tourtiere" or French-Canadian meat pies. Her Kitchenaid Classic is a different animal than my mixer and instead of a baking stone, I used an inverted sheet pan. I found that her oven did a fine job at 425F whereas I'm used to starting at 450F and then lowering to 425F after turning my loaves around for an even bake. King Arthur and Gold Medal Better for Bread aren't my usual flours here in Kansas so I did do some adjustments during the mixing. Most of my breads are usually just taken from my own head or "influenced and judiciously modified" and these were typical of my lack of stylistic discipline so a little adjustment here and there wasn't too much stress.
My breads didn't get too many compliments at the meals but in our family, it's considered rude to try to speak with your mouth full. I liked the results.

 This rather "blown out" loaf is our current loaf. Essentially, it's a Pain de Campagne with a tablespoon of molasses added out of curiosity.I used a slightly large starter and less water than usual. Up to now, I've been starting out with a 450F oven but this time I warmed the oven to 450F, lowered to 425F after loading and then down to 400F after the turn around. Since this loaf was proofed at room temperature, I can't say that the lower oven temperature had anything to do with the dramatic blow out. But, it does seem like something to investigate.

Starter
165 g at 70%

Main Dough
267 g bread flour
100 g hard red winter wheat flour
33 g rye flour
272 g water at 85F
10 g kosher salt
1 Tbs molasses
All of starter

Yesterday marked the second anniversary of my blog in this obscure virtual corner of the internet. As of this evening, there have been some 3995 page views of record though I suspect that some of those were mine because I hadn't checked to see if the block against counting my views was still on.

Be that as it may, I admit that I'm pleased that a lot of folks from around the world dropped by to see what I've been doing. Neither my baking prowess nor my writing skills have improved by leaps and bounds but I'm still having fun at doing both so you have yourselves to blame for encouraging me. The newest examples of encouragement have come from  page views that originated in India, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. One of these days I'll find that widget that counts the page views and where they came from.


Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.






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