Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spelt Enhances Aroma

 Spelt seems to enhance the aroma of a baking loaf.  It makes my olfactory senses perk up and adds to the anticipation of a newly finished loaf emerging from the oven. Using spelt wasn't the idea behind this loaf . I'm still exploring limits to my baking skills when using high hydration dough.

The dough from this loaf was more sticky than the previous loaf but still within bounds for shaping. Scoring a high hydration loaf is a different matter but practice, practice, practice.

145 g at 82% hydration, 75% AP/25% whole rye

Main dough
280 g bread flour
80 g bolted Turkey Red flour
20 g whole rye flour
20 g spelt flour
295 g water at 85F
All of starter 

As evidenced by the pictures, my peonies have started to bloom. The stems are taller than usual with some plantings sending up stems taller than my waist and I stand 6' 1 1/2" tall. As the buds get closer to blooming the stems are beginning to droop a little but they are still fun to watch as they grow. The blooms aren't as well colored this year which I suspect may be due to the shortage of rain last year.

The garlic stems are nearly as tall. I have about 60 bulbs going to work and it looks like I'll be getting plenty of huge bulbs to save for next year's crop and to give to my brother and a few friends.

The leaf lettuce is getting close to the point where I can actually use some of the leafs from the plants as I thin them out. There is a difference between fresh and store bought lettuce.

The most recent unexpected page views have come from Argentina, Mexico, Serbia, Sweden, and Taiwan.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.          
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The New Lean Overnight Sourdough

While the ingredients for this loaf are the same as my previous lean loaf, the procedures did have to be modified. The original New Lean Sourdough was done when the room temperature was in the 70-72F range. This loaf started out in a room temperature of 74F for the initial stage of the starter build. The temperature kept going up all day long to around 84F and stayed there in the house until I put the shaped loaf  in the refrigerator for an overnight retarded proofing. The temperature affected the rate of the starter growth and the bulk fermentation  time. It was just one of those days where I had to watch the dough and not the clock.   The temperature also affected the level of humidity in the air so the dough was a little stickier at the end of bulk fermentation. The flavor had a little bit more tang to it but not so much that it was unpleasant.

I wouldn't bet the family farm on being able to bake with all brands of whole wheat at this hydration. It still has some rough edges due to my own lack of experience and knowledge, but this formula works for me and other people should be able to do as well if not better using my go to Dakota Maid bread flour and the Green River Whole Wheat flour.

My garden is finally all in. If the fore casted thunderstorms don't wash it away overnight, I'll be able to take a breather of a day or so and then get on the last few flower bed areas that I haven't yet terrorised. 

We added a bulb of fennel to the herb patch in my garden. The annual summertime migration of monarch butterflies goes through this area and they love fennel. They'll strip the leaves off the planting in a short time. We do, unfortunately, have some milk weed in the area which the monarchs feed on but I'd rather buy the fennel than to tolerate the milk weed.

Tomorrow gives me the opportunity to use some of our sage planting for a focaccia to go with the chicken I'll be serving tomorrow night. I've been able to use a few leaves of the basil on my pizzas over the past two weeks but the plants wouldn't make a cup of pesto between the two of them.

Someone dropped onto this blog from Viet Nam in the past week or so.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A New Lean Sourdough

   That wasn't a bad pie at all. I used an idea from an Academie Barilla booklet on breads to dress the pizza with sauce and the add ons before the final proof. I was also working with my "sponge" crust  which still needs some more tweaking, particularly in the hydration and amount of yeast used.
I was fortunate enough to be able to use some fresh basil and oregano from the garden

The New Lean Sourdough is my second effort in changing my procedures to get a bigger oven spring, a more open and moist crumb, and something a little bit more dramatic in appearance. As usual, I'm not being very scientific in my approach, just having some fun, exercising my curiosity, and getting a good loaf in the process. Rather than the Turkey Red I used before, I figured that I had to open up my bag of Green River Organic, stone ground, Whole Wheat Flour for this one.

Briefly, my process hasn't changed too much. I use an 87% hydration starter, 74% water for the main dough, and doing my three stretch and folds in the first hour of a 3.5 hour bulk fermentation. While the dough is at a foccacia level of hydration, it easily shapes because the whole wheat flour is very thirsty.

After four hours of proofing at a room temperature around 70F, I thought it was ready for the oven. It probably could have used another 30 minutes on the counter. The resulting finished loaf was baked at 450F for the first fifteen minutes and after turning around, at 425F for a final 20 minutes.

165 g at 87% hydration

Main Dough
267 g bread flour
133 g Green River Organic Whole Wheat flour
280 g water at 90F for 30 minute autolyse
15 g water adjustment during final mix
10 g kosher salt

Mrs PG and I both like this particular loaf. I've started to rethink my procedures and quantities for a bread like this. Adding to my conundrums, I picked up three pounds of fresh milled organic rye at the local farmers market on Saturday. I have the makings for what I think may be an excellent French Country Bread/ Bauernbrot in the near future.

Spring time has resumed out here on the Middle Coast. After a morning low of 37F on Sunday, the daytime temperatures are slightly above normal and forecast to stay that way. The difference in the quality of the sunlight is really obvious and very much laden with the characteristics that induce sunburn on the fair of skin or heat stroke for those who don't know how to play or work in this weather. The flower bed plants are growing fast enough that they now obscure most of the weeds. That isn't comforting in the least because the weeds will only be more difficult to remove in the near future. Pollen and mold counts are really high and benefit only the allergy specialist doctors and the pharmaceutical manufacturers. In most years, my peony plants have already bloomed by this date. As of today, nothing has bloomed and the buds look no where near ready to bloom. Local plant mythology has it that peonies are supposed to bloom for 31 May known as either Memorial Day or Decoration Day if your family has links to the Confederate side in the US Civil War. It could happen but most plants are about a month behind in growth compared to an average year.

The past few days brought in a page view from Viet Nam.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Turkey Red Flour Levain Loaf

This has turned out to be one of the best tasting loaves that I've baked in a long time. The crust had the right amount of crunch to it, the crumb was moist and sweet, and the oven spring could have been even bigger with a little more proofing. I'm not complaining.

This loaf had a higher level of hydration than I've used in quite a while and I'm looking forward to trying that out with some stoneground whole wheat in the near future.

165 g at 88% hydration

Main Dough
267 g bread flour
133 g bolted Turkey Red flour
288 g water at 85F
10 g kosher salt
All of starter.

The garden is almost all in and doing well with 3.25" of rain that fallen over the past week. The soil is easier to work than I expected, probably due to the yearly additions of compost and organic matter added from the wheat straw that I use as mulch.

Pageviews from Guatemala, Hungary, and Trinidad and Tobago have joined my list over the past few days.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.  
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Monday, May 06, 2013

Not Quite Psomi Yet

Of all my blog posts, my August 2011 post which includes my formula and procedures for a Horiatiko Psomi has gotten the most page views. A recent tip of the hat from another person's blog on "The Fresh Loaf" initiated a flurry of page views. That motivated me to look into Maggie Glezer's "A Blessing of Bread" for her formula for Horiadaki Psomi.

Using her formula more closely this time around, I started work on something that is simpler than my first formula and capable of producing a visually appealing loaf that brings out the "o-o-o-hs and a-a-a-ahs" . It's a work in progress so far. I'm not satisfied with the appearance of the crumb and the moisture content despite the fact that my first effort here should be in the 68-69% vicinity. There's also some work on shaping to be done because the bottom of the loaf had a few creases running across it and on the side opposite the initial slices, a big baker's house or cavity in the crumb. Nothing insurmountable as far as I can see but still worthy of close attention.

155 g at 68% hydration

Main Dough
288 g bread flour
112 g white whole wheat flour
280 g water at 85F
1 Tbs (15 ml) honey   
1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil
11 g kosher salt
All of starter

The garden hasn't been getting much attention since the rain moved in on Friday. We got about 2.5" since then and the soil is really too damp to work with. I suspect that the lettuce seed I put in on Thursday was washed out. I have lots of plants to go in but they'll have to wait for Tuesday which should be a hectic day. There's more rain forecast for Wednesday through Saturday so maximum effort will be called for. Somehow, I've got to wash and wax two cars as well so I should have some quality sleep time due as soon as the rain moves in.

We've seen some unfamiliar faces at the bird feeders lately. An indigo bunting is starting to become more familiar with the environs. A rose breasted grosbeak passed through and an eastern Meadowlark, as opposed to a western Meadowlark, surprised one our hairy woodpeckers with a sudden landing at the suet feeder. It's possible that those new birds have been feeding here all along and I just haven't noticed or seen them. We're hoping for lots more new varieties to brighten the yard as the new flowers and plants start blooming.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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