Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Using Leftovers

I did manage to successfully rebuild my starter after two a day refreshments for three days in a row. It's now reasonably vigorous for something kept in a refrigerator. The process did leave me with a lot of discarded starter that I refused to dump down the disposal or put in the compost bin. The thought of wasting 200 g of starter didn't sit well with me so I applied the discard to making some bolilos, a type of Mexican enriched roll.


The process started by building a large quantity of starter to 70%. I then mixed that with an autolysed dough, followed with olive oil, brown sugar, and salt. Not necessarily authentic but good enough for a raggedy home baker. The four rolls were scaled out to around 215 g or so.

The sesame seeds were on the towel I used for proofing but didn't stick very well. I should have just used an egg white wash and sprinkled the seeds. While I got a decent oven spring, the crumb wasn't very open. The flavor was on the sweet side due to the brown sugar but certainly not offensive. I'm just not someone that goes crazy over rolls. I can appreciate the work involved but my tastes lead me elsewhere.They were a good lesson.

Starter
340 g starter at 70% hydration

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
200 g water at 85F
10 g kosher salt
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs brown sugar

The other two loaves are a 33% whole wheat and a 30% whole wheat with extra bran added. The dough is behaving differently in this summer heat so my answer for the next loaf is lower hydration and perhaps smaller in size. I haven't found a brotform smaller than the oval shaped one I've been using for quite a while so I may be adding a sheet of bakers linen to my inventory. As some wit from days past once said, "the only difference between man and boys is the cost of their toys". I suspect that she has been proven right many times over.

The most unexpected guest dropping in on my blog recently was from the island of Guernsey along with other guests from Sweden. S. Korea, and Romania.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

   
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Lazarus Loaf or you can't keep a good starter down

To tell the truth, I thought this loaf was going to be a brick. It had gone through twelve hours of retarded proofing in the fridge, then some eight hours on the counter at a room temp of 80F, and it had not gotten to the top of my brotform. In the first picture, it looks like it was really underproofed. That's what a good oven spring will do. I was fretting that my seed stock starter was on a steep decline so I started what would turn out to be a 72 hour rebuild before the loaf hit the baking stone. The loaf turned out just fine and the starter is also doing well.  I also have plans for the
200 g or so of leftover discard to be used in a batch of dough for bolilos. Doesn't that sound overly ambitious?

Starter
150 g at 100% hydration, 75% AP/ 25% rye flour

Soaker
40 g malted wheat flakes
30 g water
1 Tbs (15 ml) organic honey

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
100 g stoneground whole wheat
280 g water at 90F
11 g kosher salt
All of soaker
All of starter

The drought here continues on with little to no promise of relief. There may be some August monsoon rains that will come up from the Southwest but I'm not planning on them. The tree outside my window has been losing leafs for a while now and there are deep cracks in the hardened ground. My garden doesn't thrive of city water because I won't soak the whole of the garden. I just soak at the bottom of the plants or vines to keep them alive. When you garden for two, you can get away with that.

This past week someone from Bahrain found their way to my blog.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
     
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Rosemary Bread with Biga

The first few pictures today are of the current house loaf. I added a soker of wheat germ to add a little more flavor and texture to the crumb. I'm beginning to think that my starter is either getting tired and needs to go through a several day refreshment regime to bring back its vitality or that its not reacting well to the change in brand of AP that I'm feeding it. The alternative is to go back and review my procedures to make sure that I'm not the problem. Raggedy home bakers such as myself can't always get by with good intentions or on luck alone.  In any case, the birds outside my window here won't be seeing the crumbs from this one.

Starter
150 G at 75% hydration, AP flour

Soaker
20 g wheat germ
15 g water

Main Dough
280 g bread flour
100 g stone ground whole wheat flour
20 g whole rye flour
11 g kosher salt
280 g water at 90F, plus 15 g water correction during final mix
All of starter
All of soaker

The second loaf is the rosemary bread with biga. I went to work with my wooden bowl again, using some of Ken Forkish's techniques from the book "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast". The techniques are interesting and for the most part effective but I'm not yet able to get the open crumb that I like to brag about. he has an advantage of experience and equipment so I'm not neurotic about my skill level yet. The bread itself needed more minced rosemary than the Tbs I used. However, if I didn't include the rosemary in the ingredients, I could still serve this bread to friends and family without shame. This is a good, uncomplicated bread with a clean flavor that goes well with Italian style pasta dishes.

Biga
80 g AP flour
20 g stone ground whole wheat flour
68 g water at 90F
1/8 tsp active dry yeast

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
200 g water at 90F
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
8 g kosher salt
All of biga
1 Tbs (15 ml) minced fresh rosemary
Olive oil for hands in final mix

We are finally getting fresh tomatoes on all our plants. I particularly am waiting for the San Marzano tomatoes. Once the plant gets going, it produces well until the early blight or frost overtakes it. The plant is supposed to be determinate but since the plant I bought is the "improved" strain, it may not know that as of yet. All the garlic is in, cleaned up, and drying. The softneck garlic is smallish and I'll probably order some new bulbs from Filaree Farms next month. The hard neck garlic isn't bad, not as large as last year, but there's still plenty to save for planting, eating, and giving away. Given the dry weather and forecast of more of the same, all the garlic will be ready for storage early next week. I still have edible garlic from last year so I think I've learned a little about growing that crop.

The sparrows and finches seem to have discovered the suet feeder as of late. They hadn't noticed its existence for quite a while but now are jumping over to the feeder. I haven't seen any hummingbirds in the past few weeks but I'm not sure that we have what they like around the yard. while the monarch butterfly migration will be here in about three weeks, I'm not anxious to leave the milk weed plants in the yard. They don't do much for me or the appearance of the house.

My thanks to the readers that have dropped in to view the blog from Italy, Ireland, Malaysia, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.


     
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Sunday, July 07, 2013

Mixed Results on a Multi Grain Loaf

I think I let my ambition and imagination get ahead of reality with this loaf. Most of the tricks that I've been playing with lately went into this loaf but I'm not really happy with the outcome. This list of tricks included high hydration, an aerated starter, a soaker, and a longer oven preheat for the baking stone. I'm thinking that a smaller loaf would have gotten more dramatic results. Otherwise, I like the flavor just fine. The next time this comes up in the planning rotation, I hope to keep that memo to myself in the front of my mind.

Starter
150 g at 85% hydration, 75% AP/ 25% whole rye

Soaker
80 g Montana Milling 9 Grain Cereal
80 g water

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
100 g stoneground whole wheat flour
280 g water at 90f
11 g kosher salt
All of Starter
All of Soaker

Good news and bad news on the gardening front today. The bad news is that it appears a deer found its way over to my garden last night and started eating some of my cucumber vines. The damage isn't fatal but Bambi and her kind aren't welcome here. The tomatoes are just starting to ripen and I'd rather not share. The better news is that I've got all my garlic dug up now. The hard neck garlic that I planted last fall turned out as an average size crop. I do have enough big bulbs to plant next season's crop and give some to my brother to see if they'll thrive in Massachusetts conditions. There's also enough to give away to some other local gardeners as samples of what kind of flavor they can expect if they plant their own. One of our flower beds holds a wild garlic bulb of unknown origins that I want to dig up this week. It may be truly wild and it may be the result of something that I did years ago. I'm looking forward to finding out.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.      
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Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Pain Italien and Absolving Myself of Guilt

Pain Italien has been described as an interpretation of Italian bread by French bakers. I didn't carry out the translation as well as I had hoped to because I just couldn't resist playing with the recipe. My first readings of the recipe didn't include a preferment of any type so I had to include one of those.

Second, I was feeling guilty about not having used my bread bowl so I took it out and tried some of Ken Forkish's technique in mixing the dough. After the autolyse, I added the preferment and started the mix with wet hands. . My  suspicion is that the wet hand mixing on a relatively small amount of dough added too much water and resulted in a roughly 69% hydration dough heading towards ciabatta country. OOOPS, that was my bad.  I did get some strength from doing three turns in the first hour of bulk fermentation.Because I was skimping on the yeast to add flavor through the use of time, I managed to get an hour in at the gym during the remainder of the bulk fermentation and get back in time.

The two loaves were baked in my Italian bread pan, another piece of forgotten equipment at 425F. The wet towel on hot rocks trick might make a difference in the end product the next time I make this bread at a lower hydration. That's all speculation for now and it doesn't matter because the bread did work with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Preferment
100 g bread flour
70 g water at 90F
1/8 tsp active dry yeast

Main Dough
300 g bread flour
200 g water at 90F
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
8 g kosher salt       
1/2 Tbs olive oil
8 g dry milk powder
All of preferment

The second bread pictured is another variation on my basic loaf. It's disappearing quickly so I'll be building another starter in the morning.

Starter
150 g at 78% hydration

Main Dough
280 g bread flour
80 g stone ground whole wheat
20 g whole rye flour
20 g spelt flour
280 g water at 85F
10 g kosher salt
1/2 Tbs honey
All of starter

While we are presently enjoying some cool weather that entices me to be outside, there are also quite a few insects that have gotten my name, number, and blood type. I am being bitten every day in some place different and not always some place that can be ignored.The bright side of things is that bees have started to show up in some numbers in the garden itself.

My resistance to the temptation of digging up my soft neck garlic finally wore down and I now have twenty bulbs drying out. Most are on the smallish side but about four or five of them are big enough to be set aside for next years crop. The hard neck garlic refuses to be hurried and hasn't displayed any readiness in the form of 60% yellowed leaves. Pictures to follow when the all the garlic is out.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.