Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lessons in temperature and time

It would be easy to say that there are no mistakes in baking bread, only opportunities for lessons that haven't been been recognized yet. But most of us have or will soon enough "brick" a loaf so there's no need to go all existentialist about having created something the birds wouldn't eat. Despite appearances, I found lessons in this loaf. Not ground shaking or paradigm shifting lessons but enough to take what I read in books and place them into real life baking.

My first lesson was derived from starting this loaf  with an hour long, honest to goodness autolyse; just flour, water, a good mix, and time. I had some clean up shoveling to do Friday morning so I mixed the ingredients to the well known shaggy mass and left them covered while I worked outside. When I got back, I added the starter and a little bit of honey and mixed at first speed. After a few minutes, I added my salt and moved up to second speed. The resultant dough was really easy to handle as I prepared it for bulk ferment. The hour long time worked out well.

The second lesson was an excellent demonstration of how temperature affects fermentation. In order to fit the proofing stage of the loaf around preparing supper, I set the shaped dough in a towel lined colander and bagged it. The bag was then taken downstairs to my 60 F basement with the intention of bringing it back upstairs in four hours. As things turned out I didn't quite find myself on that proverbial paved road but it was actually more like 6 1/2 hours before I recalled my dough. An old fashioned poke test determined that I was right on the mark and there was no time like the present to preheat the oven. Such a good lesson. A ten degree temperature difference made it possible for the dough to proof for twice as long as normal and for an escape from an imminent instance of brain flatulence.

So, a dough that was around 72% hydration turned out to be a loaf that didn't flatten while being loaded into the oven.The dough that proofed for six hours still had enough sugars to caramelize during the bake for a handsome looking crust. I've got to do this kind of lesson again before the basement warms up but I don't need the snowstorm to recreate all the conditions. I do want to recreate the fine appearance  and flavor of the bread.

Starter
150 g at 75% hydration

Main dough
300 g bread flour
100 g bolted Turkey Red flour
( or other high extraction flour)
285 g water at 90F
10 g kosher salt                                                                                    
                                                                                  15 ml (1 Tbsp) raw honey
                                                                                  All of starter

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 22, 2013

Kansas Poolish Focaccia

Yesterday was a snow day in the Greater KC area, a good day to shovel snow, bake some bread, make some of my industrial red sauce, and eat spaghetti. The Knob Creek bourbon on the rocks at 5PM after shoveling seemed appropriate as well.

I baked this bread in a 10" pie pan though in retrospect, I think I'd have been better served using either a 1/2 sheet pan  or using some parchment paper on the baking stone. There was too much dough for the pan but that's the lesson learned yesterday.  

I used Western Family bread flour on this project, something I found in Jackson, WY. It seems to be weak as a bread flour goes but the soft resultant dough worked well enough for a casual bake such as a flat bread. It also tasted good enough that the neighborhood birds didn't have a chance to try any.  

Poolish
75 g Western Family bread flour
25 g white whole wheat flour
100 g water at 90F
1/8 tsp (.63 ml) active dry yeast

Main Dough
140 g WF bread flour
68 g water at 90F
1/2 tsp  (2.5 ml) active dry yeast
5 g kosher salt
All of poolish
Sea salt and grated parmesan (optional) to sprinkle on top
In the first edition of J Hamelman's "Bread" is a formula for ciabatta at about the same hydration and almost identical ingredients so that's another direction for me to investigate the next time I want to serve spaghetti.

We also had some rare visitors here during the snow storm. A flock of blackbirds, numbering 20 or so, landed and stayed in our pear tree which is just outside my window here. They didn't seem interested in the food in and on the ground below the feeders but did eat some of the remaining pods on the pear tree. Blackbirds are native and year round residents in this region but  I haven't seen any at the feeders since we put up them up. They didn't return this morning but I'll be looking for them on Monday and Tuesday when we may see some more snowfall.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Simple Pao de Caseira and a Malted Wheat Flake Loaf, Again

The first loaf is something I'm working on and it's based on a formula from Mr Forte's Portuguese Breads blog. Traditionally, the loaf is round in shape but since I baked it to mail to a college room mate and his wife, I used my oval brotform instead.

Anyone who looks carefully at my formula might think that it's almost identical to the horiatiko psomi recipe that I posted in 2011. That's what I thought as well but since the psomi was so good, I'm hoping that Gary and Jeannie will confirm my expectations.

Starter
140 g at 75% hydration, fed with 75% AP and 25% white whole wheat, built in two stages.

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
60 g white whole wheat
250 g water at 92F
8 g kosher salt
10 ml olive oil
10 ml honey
All of starter


I still haven't run out of malted wheat flakes and since I keep them in the freezer, there are no grounds to suspect that they're reproducing themselves. So I grabbed them to soak while I was waiting for my 125% hydration starter to hit its stride. I'm beginning to like the results from using a 125% starter but I admit to guessing on quantities because I don't bother to learn how to use a spread sheet to save myself the time I spend hammering a calculator to establish either a ground point or an alibi. My guess work on the results is that I could have used less water in the soaker or adjusted the main dough water down 10 g. On the other hand, considering the use of the flakes and 25% whole wheat flour, a spectacular oven spring may have been out of the question to begin with. It still tastes good with winter foods so I did alright.   

Starter
160 g at 125% hydration

Soaker
80 g malted wheat flakes
80 g water at room temperature

Main Dough

300 g bread flour
100 g whole wheat flour
260 g water at 90F
15 ml honey
11 g kosher salt
All of starter
All of soaker


It seems as if all my fine feathered friends are loading up on food in expectation of the snow storm that is supposed to arrive late tomorrow night. I finally managed to identify another woodpecker type. It's a Northern Flicker, sometimes called a black shafted flicker, and sometimes a vulgarity or two since they will drum on houses in a fit of misguided expectations of food. It's a male as far as I can tell since it has a bright red, triangular cape on the back of its neck. Most of the time he can be seen digging away at the suet feeder but sometimes he'll go to the seed feeders in search of the peanuts and raisins found in that food blend.

New countries have been added to my pageviews recently. They've come from Sweden, Venezuela, and from the home of some of the world's finest beers, Belgium.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pane Di Como Antico O Pane Francese

I got the motivation to try my hand at baking an Italian bread after dining at an Italian restaurant in Omaha, NE on Friday night. The food was very good but the bread sticks should have been an embarrassment to the establishment. They were bland and soft as American white bread from a supermarket.

The formula for this loaf is derived from Carol Fields "The Italian Baker". I tweaked the formula by using a starter of the same weight and hydration as the biga that she utilized. I also added a smidgeon of active dry yeast to the main dough to help move the proofing stage along. Ms Fields prefers using an overnight proof in a refrigerator but I needed a loaf for this morning so I went on my own road there with a room temperature proofing. The pictures don't lie about the loaf being under proofed but the bread was still more than good enough to eat. The ADY didn't affect the flavor in the least. The formula, for a smaller loaf than Ms Fields' suggested size, is good as is.
That doesn't excuse me from more homework in shaping and slashing or judging the readiness for baking.

Pane Di Como Antico

Starter
144 g at 82% hydration

Main Dough
348 g bread flour
52 g whole wheat flour
280 g water at 92F
8 g kosher salt
1/8 tsp (0.63 ml) active dry yeast

1. Prepare starter.
2. Hydrate ADY in water for about 10 minutes.
3. Add starter, flours, water-yeast solution to mixer bowl. Mix briefly, up to 1 minute, to a shaggy mass. Cover mixer bowl and rest for 20 minutes.
4. Mix for 3 minutes at first speed.
5. Add salt and use a spatula to quickly stir in some of the salt.
6. Mix at second speed for 4 minutes. The dough should clear the bowl, leaving only a small strand attached to the bottom of the bowl.
7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead briefly, and place in an oiled container. Cover and bulk ferment for three hours with stretch and folds at 60 and 120 minutes.
8. Turn out dough and preshape. Cover and rest for 15 minutes. Shape and place in a brotform or on a couche, seam side up. Proofing in a refrigerator is suggested by Ms Fields, the developer of this formula, but I proofed for 2 1/2 hours at 70F before loading into the oven.
9. Preheat oven and baking stone to 450F. 
10. When dough is proofed, place on peel and slash before loading. Spritz the top of the loaf with water lightly and place in oven.
11. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes. Turn the loaf around, lower the oven to 425F, and bake for 20-22 minutes. Loaf is done when the internal temperature is 205F.
12. Cool on a wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.

On a lighter note, I've been accepted into the Master Food Volunteer Program sponsored by the Kansas State University Research and Extension Service. I don't expect to exclusively do bread baking projects but do hope to get the opportunity so I can use some of the skills that I picked up for my degree in Elementary Education during my overextended adolescence period in my life. The idea of teaching adults who want and expect to learn something is somewhat daunting after 42 years out of the classrooms and halls of academia. On the other hand, it does sound like fun.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.



Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Mediterranean type Sourdough, again

First of all, let me bring attention to another blog that specializes in posting about baking Portuguese  breads. I ran across the blog while looking for Portuguese bread recipes for something to send to a college room mate and his wife who live in New Bedford, MA, a town with a large number of people of Portuguese descent.

    http://portuguesebreads.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html

I found Mr Forte's recipes interesting and admire his determination to make and bake breads the way his grandmother did when he was growing up. The measurements are by volume rather than weight and he thoroughly enjoys kneading by hand.

Mr Forte almost exclusively uses what he calls a slow rise starter. After reading his instructions for building a starter, I suspect that it's a 125% hydration sourdough starter.

Mr Forte doesn't appear to be blogging for the glory of seeing his posts on the internet. He just enjoys baking and wants to pass on knowledge about the breads he ate when growing up. It's worth our while to see what he's done and will be doing in the future.

My recent bake is similar to Mr Forte's Pao de Caseira or "house bread". In turn, it's similar to a Greek pain de Horiatiko and an Itailian pane al Olio. I think there's a Spanish loaf that fits in as well. It's a good bread to have around the house.

Starter
160 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough

267 g bread flour
133 g whole wheat flour
260 g water at 90F
10 g kosher salt
1 Tbs olive oil
All of starter

While driving home from Omaha, Mrs PG and I saw several large flights of geese in the air and in some open water in the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge area. I can only estimate thousands in the air at different altitudes and flying in different directions stretching for at least a couple miles. The refuge is located in one of the great migratory flyways for N. American birds and should be visited when the flocks are in residence. There is a website that page that posts counts of the number and variety of birds.

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Squaw_Creek/wildlife_and_habitat/waterfowl_count.html

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.











Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 04, 2013

Superbowl Chipotle-Tomatillo Salsa and Sourdough Rye

I had no intentions of inflicting punishment on the bathroom scale after this weekend but it did happen.Besides some excellent barbecue at the Smokestack in N. KC, these two culprits aided and abetted in my caloric intake.

The salsa recipe is similar to one that has been posted on the internet as a clone of one developed by Rick Bayless for his restaurants in Chicago. It's simple in the techniques required and needs only four ingredients. Makes about 2 cups or 16 oz of salsa, sometimes more.

8 medium sized tomatillos, stemmed, washed, and cut in half
6-8 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3-4 unpeeled garlic cloves
2-3 large, thick slices of raw onion
1/4 C. water to moderate heat from chiles, optional

Prepare the tomatillos, garlic cloves, and onion slices. Preheat your oven broiler. Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil and place tomatillos,skin side up. Spread onion slices across one end of the pan and find room for the garlic cloves among the slices. Slide pan into the broiler for about 10 minutes or until the skins of the tomatillos are browned. Remove the pan and let the contents cool. Remove the skins from the garlic and trim the scar end.
Place the tomatillos, roated onions, and garlic into a large food processor or blender. Add chipotles to the food processor. Use the pulse mode initially to break up the tomatillos and then puree the contents.

Divide as needed and place in refrigerator for at least four hours before serving. The salsa will taste quite hot before refrigeration. After chilling, it will have a tart, smoky flavor where the heat of the chiles won't be immediately tasted upfront. It's a really sneaky heat. Extra salsa can be frozen for at least 14 days.

Since the hosts of the Superbowl party, Rob and Sachiko, were planning on serving a barley and beef vegetable soup, I made a sourdough rye bread for the event. The loaf might be considered a Pain de Meteil in France since it was 33% rye. I added a little molasses for crumb color so that might disqualify it as being French but my intentions were more of the stomach and pleasing our hosts rather than being a purist. It turned out to be a success with a nice chewy crust and a sweet, moist crumb. I exercised my baker's prerogative and grabbed the heel before anyone noticed.

Starter
160 g at 70% hydration, fed with 75% organic AP/ 25% whole rye flour in two stages.

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
150 g whole rye flour
300 g water at 90F
2 g active dry yeast
11 g kosher salt
1 Tbs molasses
All of starter

I took a peek under the straw mulch in my garden today. There are a few short sprouts from the garlic but I don't expect terrific growth for a while until the soils warms up. The rosemary branches have all browned out but since rosemary is a perrenial plant, it should be good for the Spring as long as I keep the straw mulch in place. My sage plant doesn't look like it has suffered much at all through this mild winter. Out by the chain link fence, our poppy plant is a bright green and hasn't been bothered by weather or animals. Daffodils are coming up slowly by the driveway and moles have made an unwelcome return in the front lawn.

It feels like its time to make a large batch of my all-purpose industrial red sauce for pasta and pizza. Just the motivation I need to delve into my files for an Italian bread recipe.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.


     
Posted by Picasa

Friday, February 01, 2013

Light Whole Wheat with Wheat Germ

I was just playing around with some dough, nothing very serious, adding some wheat germ because my doctor said "Eat more fiber" and I thought the wheat germ wouldn't hurt. Don't look to me for nutrition advice but even if it doesn't come under the fiber classification, wheat germ has a lot of flavor merit when I add it to a loaf of bread.  YMMV.

Soaker
60 g Bob's Red Mill wheat germ     
80 g water

Starter
180 g at 72% hydration

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
100 g white whole wheat flour
280 g water at 85F
11 g kosher salt
All of soaker
All of starter

At the end of mixing, the dough was on the sticky side, something to be expected with the hydration level. The slash down the middle of the loaf did lead to a wide expansion of the loaf but since I didn't have a sourdough pancake loaf, it's OK. The size matches the flavor. I used a bold bake and got rewarded with a nice, crisp crust that still left a lot of pieces on the cutting board after an overnight rest. The wheat germ is relatively invisible in the crumb so this formula could be used to slip a few good ingredients past a fussy eater.

The current roller coaster weather has brought quite a few birds to our feeders in the past few days. A yellow shafted flicker, a usually ground feeding variety of woodpecker, has been dropping by to partake of our suet feeder. The rest of the usual suspects have been hunting through the shallow snow cover under the feeders which is fine by me. The finches that stop and eat are guilty of atrocious table manners in that they spray more food over the surrounding real estate than they manage to eat for themselves. I suppose the juncos, ground feeders, are grateful that the finches are in sore need of more etiquette.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
Posted by Picasa