Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Couche Loaf Experiment

As first tries go, this wasn't a terrible experience with my new couche. I ordered it from Amazon and it appears to be well made with the linen being stiff enough to fold around a loaf. There's still much to learn about shaping dough in order to make better use of the couche. I'll get there eventually.

This particular loaf had a bit of mashed potatoes added in place of some flour. I like the flavor from the addition of potatoes or potato flakes but do have some trouble guessing how to correct the hydration level when using the cooked potatoes. The tactile feel of the dough also seems to change but that may be my own lack of experience baking bread with potato. It's still worth doing again.

Starter
150 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough
270 g bread flour
80 g stone ground whole wheat
27 g mashed potatoes
230 g water at 85F
10 g kosher salt
All of starter

The summer time heat has returned with a vengeance, with daytime highs in the upper 90s, lots of pollen, other allergens, and poor air quality. Tomorrow may be the first time for a high temperature of 100F this year. If I have to work outside, it has to be done in the morning. There's a curious lack of birds at the feeders and in the neighborhood as well. I wish I had a lack of crabgrass in the lawn instead.

Some recent page views for my blog came from Norway and Hungary.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.  
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Multi Flour Loaf

I'm hoping that it was a bit of whimsy that motivated me to use a little bit of this and some of that in this loaf because Mrs PG and I have enjoyed this one quite a bit. The couche I ordered from Amazon.com arrived today so the loaf I start tomorrow should take a different appearance from the many that were shaped for the brotform. I'm planning on looking up all the Youtube clips I can find on shaping batards for my newest acquisition for the tool box.

Starter
150 g at 75% hydration

Main Dough
240 g bread flour
80 g stone ground whole wheat
20 g whole rye
20 g Spelt flour
240 g water at 85F
9 g kosher salt
1 Tbs (15 ml) honey

Some visitors from Denmark and New Zealand stopped by for a visit to this blog in the past week.      
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Multi grain (breakfast cereal) Boule

Mrs PG prefers that I use my oval brotform when baking bread but she was on the way to Omaha when it was time to shape this loaf. So I grabbed my floured towel and trusty colander for a change of pace boule. It has a healthy addition of  9 grain cereal from Montana Milling that was soaked and an almost sweet flavor from a lean dough. The oven spring was very good so I'm feeling pretty good about how it turned out.

Starter
150 g at 75% hydration, KAF AP flour

Soaker
70 g 9 grain breakfast cereal
57 g water

Main Dough
285 g bread flour
75 g stone ground whole wheat
240 g water at 85F
9 g kosher salt
All of starter
All of soaker


Lots of fine feathered friends at the feeders and in the yard this morning. There are a couple of hummingbirds flitting about the Rose of Sharon bush. There's titmouse pair and nuthatch flying back and forth from the feeder to the tree. We also have a brilliantly colored solo goldfinch trying to get a share of food from the finches, sparrows, and pine siskinds that are crowding onto every perch that has access to food. They're all very noisy or perhaps just full of songs this morning
Comments, humor, and questions are welcome. 
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

33 1/3 Loaf

I'm happy enough with my line of investigation on 360g flour loaves to continue for a while. There may be the occasional deviation into something off the wall for me but I can't help myself about that.

Anyways, I previously mentioned that I thought I may have been using too much dough for my brotform and now I'm fairly confident that I was right. The 360g loaves are similar in size to my 400g loaves at the end of proofing. I do need to tweak the hydration levels down but that's no big deal. Another pleasant result is that the texture of the crumb is turning out to be much softer and additional ingredients such as wheat germ or my 9 grain cereal only compliment the flavor and don't affect the texture very much if any. This isn't reinventing the wheel or something like that, only just another method in the tool box for building that better bread.

Starter
165g at 80% hydration, KAF AP

Soaker
24g wheat germ
16g water

Main Dough
240g bread flour
120g stone ground whole wheat
245g water at 85F
1 Tbs (15 ml) honey
9g kosher salt
All of soaker
All of starter


The weather has taken an unexpected turn to the pleasant for this corner of Kansas in August. If it continues on like this, as the forecast calls for, I may feel invigorated enough to wash and wax Mrs PGs car. It's really that nice. The color quality, if there is such a thing, of the sunlight is starting to change as well.  I think that if you're a photographer, you might know what I mean.

I took out the "English cucumber" plants a couple days ago in order to give the watermelon vines a chance to fill out the three watermelons that actually appeared this summer. The chile peppers remain an example of the vagaries of Kansas weather and why only the foolhardy or gamblers would put money into truck gardening in Kansas. The production levels coming out of my garden are quite convincing. In any case, the local supermarkets are promoting the arrival of Hatch, NM chile peppers and in my book, there may be a few that are better but I haven't found them yet so I'll stick with the Hatch when I want a chile at its best.

This week's guest of note on my blog dropped in from Thailand.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
     
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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Multigrain(Breakfast Cereal) Sourdough

Don't be mislead by the less than sterling pictures today, this turned out to be one of my better looking loaves when viewed in person. It also tastes very good as well.

This is the second loaf in my series of what can be called my 360g loaves. I had been baking loaves with 400g total flour and decided to cut down on the total flour by 10% to see if the loaves would be easier to shape on a consistent basis. I also had suspicions that the overall weight was causing my loaves to flatten out between knocking them out of the brotform and the beginning of the oven spring period. My conclusion from yesterday's bake is that I was putting too much dough into the brotform, limiting the expansion of the dough. I'm not totally comfortable with the wording of that explanation but it seems to be a line of thought worth pursuing. A 360g loaf has a volume of dough after proofing that is really close to the volume of a 400g loaf. I haven't measured this with precision so I won't seek the Nobel Prize for that work.

The multi grain aspect of this loaf derives from the use of a 9 grain cereal mix equalling 22% of the flour by weight. The cereal was soaked in water for two hours.

Starter
170 g at 82% hydration, using KAF AP

Soaker
80 g 9 grain cereal
56 g water

Main Dough
270g bread flour
90 g stoneground whole wheat
245 g water at 90F
All of starter
All of soaker
9 g kosher salt

 The recent rains have made a great deal of difference to the health of the plants and grasses in the yard. It also seems that they've been a boon to the insects in the yard as well. The forecast calls for another 2+" of rain starting tomorrow afternoon. These rains aren't monsoon rains coming up from the US Southwest but after a period of drought, I can't discriminate against their origin.

Next year's garden may be a little different. I obtained a copy of  "Straw Bale Gardening" from the library. Not only does it make sense, it looks like it would lend itself to my garden very easily. If I can find the straw next spring, I may plant half the usual garden in straw bales to see how well it works out. If it can make gardening easier and more productive, then I'm for it.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.     .
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Saturday, August 03, 2013

French Country Loaf Hybrid, An Experiment

I don't have my usual full length shot here because Mrs PG got to the loaf before I got around to taking pictures. Yes, she is still alive, she's been forgiven, and we're still married as well. After all, bread is meant to be eaten.

The experiment part of this bake was to reduce my total flour weight by 10% to see if I could get a better looking loaf with the brotform. I'm OK with those results for the first smaller loaf. The hybrid part of the experiment was using 1/8 tsp active dry yeast added to the dough during mixing. I admit that after starting late, I didn't want to stay up until past midnight to shape my dough. So I just folded in the ADY after the autolyse without hydrating. It worked out and the dough was shaped by 1130PM and placed in the fridge 15 minutes later.

Even though the loaf followed the 1 part 100% starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour method for sourdough bread, the bread doesn't have a lot of sour at all. The flavor is somewhat light on the tongue, not disagreeably so, but more than I expected considering such a small quantity of ADY.

Starter
120 g at 100% hydration, 80% AP/20% stoneground rye

Main Dough
240 g bread flour
100 g stoneground whole wheat flour
20 g stoneground rye flour   
240 g water at 85F
8 g kosher salt
All of starter
1/8 tsp ADY

The rains have returned for a while with about 2" total over the past week and more expected by tomorrow morning. It could be just my imagination but it seems that there are lot more insects out there right now. The garden plants have new vigor and its good thing because the weeds seem to have the same enthusiasm for growth.

The cucumber in the first picture is a variety that some in the area call an English cucumber. They're long and skinny and not my favorite but acceptable. I do have some of my favorites, Marketmore 76, available now as well. That tomato is a "Whopper Improved", one of three favorite tomatoes.

Today's guest of note on my blog is a viewer from Denmark.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.
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