Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Harvest Bread and Jimmy Nardello is back

While not a perfect loaf, the results are encouraging that I'll be tweaking and working on this formula very soon. It has a moist crumb and the flavors imparted by the wheat germ and bran are almost strong enough that you might think I was deliberately aiming for something healthy. While the oven spring isn't bad considering the ingredients, I think that the flattened aspect of the bottom of the crumb might be due to the fact that the baking stone wasn't hot enough for a loaf this size.

The ingredients might produce a better result were I scale down enough to produce two smaller loaves that would fit on my perforated Italian bread pan. The hydration is deliberately high because of the wheat germ and bran included. In other bakes I used a pre soak but this time I just put those ingredients in, hoped that the hydration would compensate, and this time it all worked out. I did heat ceramic briquettes  in an old pan along with the baking stone, throwing a wet towel on the briquettes for steam during the first fifteen minutes of the bake.

160 g at 85% hydration, 75% AP/ 25% whole wheat.

Main Dough

300 g bread flour
100 g stoneground whole wheat
20 g wheat germ
20 g wheat bran
290 g water at 90F
10 g kosher salt
All of starter

The biggest compensation for the hot weather that is currently annoying us here on the Western banks of the Middle Coast is the growth spurt in our cucurbits and nightshade plants, the cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. I think the Jimmy Nardello frying peppers will be the first of the chiles to be picked this year. The soft neck garlic has been tempting to dig up but so far, I've resisted that temptation.

I am somewhat troubled by the scarcity of bees in the garden. There are plenty of blooming flowers in the yard, mostly daisies and day lilies, but that hasn't done much so far. Hummingbirds are scarce as well so it may be more the type and color of flowers than say a problem like hive collapse. We do have cone flowers in the yard but they're not in full bloom so I'll have to wait and see. The Rose of Sharon plants also attract a lot of bees but they seem to be behind schedule due to the erratic Spring weather. As an example of the vagaries of this year's weather, snow peas which usually do well in my garden are only 2-2 1/2 feet tall rather than the expected four feet tall.

My blog attracted visitors from S. Korea and Sweden in the past week. An unusual number of guests from Russia have dropped in as well. Probably because I keep my political comments out of this space. Maybe some of them enjoy the formulas, I haven't heard yet.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Bold Bake and I Need a Coffee Maker!

Sometimes a bold bake is intentional and sometimes it was caused by a distraction. If it worked out, don't fix it. This loaf was the result of a fortuitous distraction. The only thing missing was for me to have tried a wet towel on some heated ceramic briquettes in an old bread pan in the oven. Maybe next time if I can stage my bake time correctly.

The area is forecast to be under one of those notorious "Ring of Fire" high pressure domes that bring high temperatures and  never leave. At least the heat will be good for my pepper plants.

Anyways, I have one of those Italian bread pans that look a lot like a baguette pan except its for two slightly fatter loaves. I'm thinking about either pane Francese or a suspiciously similar fac simile. We'll see how that works out.

Here's the list of ingredients for this loaf.

152 g at 80% hydration,
75% AP flour, 25% whole rye flour

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
100 g stone ground whole wheat flour
20 g wheat germ
282 g water at 85F, 1/2 Tbs water correction added during final mix
10 g kosher salt
All of starter

I'm looking for a new coffeemaker. After forty six years of drinking the adult caffeinated beverage, I haven't lost my taste for good coffee. In fact, I want better coffee these days. My somewhat ancient Braun drip machine is durable and dependable for a good cup. My investigations have led me to the Aeropress, the French press method, the Chemex pour through style which has its own furious fanatics, and the coffee cone #4 filter pour through. I'm surprised that Amazon.com isn't filling my inbox night and day with offers of coffee nerd nirvana after entirely too much time on that site. The one drip maker that looks good is the $170 Bonavita that is hard to justify for only three cups a day. I invite all coffee lovers to weigh in with their favorite machine and why. Please, the Moccamasters by Techivorm look great but aren't in my atmosphere of cost.

I've added cucumbers to my fresh from the garden list. The ones available now are long and thin. I forget their name. They're alright but not as crisp as Mrs PG and I like. The snow peas are ready to pick and if I don't get out there soon, the expected heatwave may cause a shortened availability in my kitchen. I have to cook with them at least once this season. My soft neck garlic is showing signs that it will soon be ready to harvest. The hard neck garlic will likely be six to ten days later. The tomato plants have some fruit but not much. I haven't seen any sign of deer in my yard as of yet so I have put aside thoughts of a high powered assault weapon for herd thinning for now.

There haven't been new species of birds at feeders lately though some of the female cardinals appear to be molting and look disoriented.

Someone from Norway made their way over to this blog lately.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.      
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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Loaf du Jour- A French Country Loaf

This is the current loaf around the bread board this week, a simple French Country Loaf. Its a very versatile bread that lends itself to turkey, ham, or smoked sausage sandwiches as well as peanut butter.

150 g at 75% hydration, 75% AP, 25% whole rye flour

Main Dough
267 g Dakota Maid bread flour
100 g Green River Whole Wheat
33 G Hodgson's Mill Whole Rye flour
286 g water at 85F
11 g kosher salt
All of starter
1 Tbs organic honey
The weather is typical of June in Kansas, meaning that air conditioning is a good thing to have in our house. The plants in the garden are responding to the heat with growth but I suspect they will demand deep watering very soon. The cool, damp weather trend appears to be going away and I doubt that the root systems are very deep or strong. Loose leaf lettuce and garden herbs are all that's available at the moment with the cilantro ready to die. I have lots of sage and rosemary for any occasion that the urge to bake some focaccia arises. The rose bushes are quite prolific currently and will need a quick trim soon.

I extend my thanks to the page viewers from Brazil, Greece, and Mexico that dropped in at my obscure corner of the internet.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.     

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sunday Roast Light Rye

Did you ever have an idea for a project come to mind while you were in your morning shower? Thats where this loaf originated to accompany a roast that we were planning on serving Sunday night.

Due to time limitations, I kept it simple and while not perfect, it was suitable. This is a 20% rye bread using a preferment, 70% hydration, and some caraway seeds.All of the rye flour was included in the preferment.Four hours after mixing the preferment, I could hear the sound of bubbles bursting, kind of like bacon cooking in a pan. I could bake this again with no problem.


54 g whole rye flour
26 g all purpose flour
49 g water at 90F    
1/8 tsp active dry yeast

Main Dough
200 g all purpose flour
140 g water at 90F
5 g kosher salt
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
All of preferment
1/2 Tbl (7.5 ml) caraway seeds

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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Friday, June 07, 2013

Working the aerated starter technique

I'm still working at using the aerated starter procedure for my loaves. This can work with the higher hydration formulas that I've also been flogging but there's work to be done on making my understanding and technique into a coherent approach.The goal is consistency of being able to produce a loaf that is appealing in appearance and appealing in flavor.     

This paticular loaf is a simple sourdough with 33% stoneground whole wheat. Just for fun, I added 15 g of non fat dry milk.I can't say that there was any drastic alteration to the flavor from the dry milk but the crumb does seem to be bit softer in this loaf. In any case, as long as it tastes good, it is a good loaf of bread.

140 g at 75%  hydration, 90% organic AP/ 10% whole meal rye

Main Dough
267 g bread flour
133 g stoneground whole wheat
292 g water
15 g non fat dry milk
11 g kosher salt
All of starter

Aerating the starter is just dispersing the starter into the water used in the main dough. In this case, I also added about 60 g (a large spoonful) of flour to help keep the starter/water slurry from splashing while I mixed it up with the whip attachment for my mixer. So far, taking this step seems to enable a more reliable bulk fermentation time. It also means another piece to be washed but I can live with that. It does seem possible to do something similar for folks are doing their mixing by hand.

The late Spring peony bloom has come and gone after a brief display. There has been a lot of rain lately so many of the plants had their stems fall over. The lawn is still going well and starting to thicken up as well. I've been picking lettuce about every other day. My three tomato plants all have small green tomatoes and it can't be too soon to present me with ripe ones as a reward for my efforts. I don't expect to see that reward in the next few weeks. I've found some wild garlic of reasonable size growing in a flower bed and I'm looking foward to harvesting that just to see what it tastes like. We have no idea if its purely wild or somehow got started from a seed or clove from one of my crops over the past ten years.

There were unexpected pageviews from Finland and Libya in the past week.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Multigrain Breakfast Bread

It certainly does seem that I got ahead of myself on this loaf. First of all, I had too much dough for my oval brotform. I should have used the oblong which would have happily swallowed the dough or made a boule or shaped two loaves. That's all water under the bridge now .

The most interesting thing I found in the process was the effect of using my mixer's whip to help disperse the starter into the water. I think I read about the technique at the Breadcetera blog site and hadn't used it in a while so I figured it was time to do it again. I simply scraped the starter into the mixing bowl, added my water, added about 60 g of the flour, and let the whip stir up the bowl contents.
The result was a soupy looking liquid.

Usually, I do at least 20 minutes of autolyse before adding my starter. This time around I added the remaining flour and mixed at first speed to a shaggy mass. After 20 minutes under cover, I went back to the first speed with the dough starting to come together after three minutes. The honey, oil, and salt all went in for the final four minutes of mixing at second speed.

The bulk fermentation went better than I expected, doubling the dough in three hours. After pulling out the loaf from a six hour snooze in the fridge, it was still rising. As evidenced by the squashed looking bottom of the crumb, I didn't let the proofing go on long enough. Live and learn.

160 g at 80% hydration, 75% organic AP/25% organic whole rye

80 g 9 grain cereal
56 g water

Main Dough
260 g bread flour
112 g bolted Turkey Red flour
28 g whole rye flour
285 g water at 85F
11 g kosher salt
1 Tbs (15 ml) honey
1 Tbs (15 ml) olive oil
All of soaker
All of starter

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome

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