Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bran Dusted Levain Loaf

 I started out with the idea that I wanted to do a Pane Genzano, an Italian bread that has a bran coating on the crust. The bran adds some heating resistance to an already high hydration, 75% in Genzano, so a longer bake time needs to be planned for or you can play your intuition card. My loaf didn't quite turn out to meet the original's description due to a fortuitous mistake or two on my part. But, it did turn out really well in my book other than the lesson that the bran dusting can quickly become messy on the cutting board.

When Carol Fields included the Pane Genzano recipe in her book, "The Italian Baker", she described the bakers using leftover dough from the previous batch as the starter for the bread. IIRC, she called it a "natural leaven". I used a starter that ranged around 111% hydration, not quite a liquid levain, but far from my usual planned bread hydration matching starters. I was absent minded when scaling my ingredients, weighing out 400 g total flour instead of my intended 360g. The 240g of weighed water in turn should have meant a concrete dough but the 170g of levain appears to have fixed that error because my estimates seem to show that the dough had an overall 68-69% hydration. I cheated on the bran dusting in that I simply dusted the towel meant to sit between the dough and brotform with bran. It was an experiment that I thought might be easier than any other method I had read.

This loaf is one of my better efforts over the past few months. The crumb shot is typical of the loaf all the way through. The aveoli have a nice, shiny, gelatinized gloss. While I initially attributed this to using an almost liquid levain, I can't rule out that the bran on the crust slowed down the heat penetration, giving the yeast more time than usual to create that crumb. I'll have to try repeatedly using a liquid levain again to make heads or tails of what happened. If they work for J Hamelman, they can work for me as long as I put in the effort to observe and learn.

170 g at 111% hydration, 80% KAF AP, 20% Prairie Gold WWW

Main Dough
270 g bread flour
130 g WWW
240 g water at 85F
All of levain
10 g kosher salt
bran for dusting brotform towel

Other than a few crocuses blooming, Springtime appears to be late at Casa PG. There may be daffodils blooming this afternoon or tomorrow but that is still at least ten days to two weeks late. I haven't started in the garden due to cool weather and damp soil. It might be worthwhile to dig up a small area to plant snow peas but that will have to wait until I finish cleaning the property borders. Out by the bird feeders, there are the usual suspects from this past winter. The juncos haven't left yet but that could happen any day now. A few days with weather warm enough to work outside and about twenty bags of cypress mulch will do wonders for the appearance of the yard until the moles return to bedevil me and frustrate my efforts.

More visitors have shown up to view my obscure corner of the internet. Visitors have looked in from Singapore, Afghanistan, Chile, Ecuador, and Sweden.

Compliments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Stureby Levain Loaf and Pane Caserricio con Semolina

 I think I finally figured out how to get past the problem with Picassa and get the images I want posted here on my blog. It's not elegant but on with the show.

The first few pictures are from my first attempt at a Stureby Levain Loaf, a formula I found on the Plotzblog site. While Lutz baked a large, about two pounds or 1900 g, I divided the dough into one pound batards before baking. After looking at the ingredients list, I thought it looked a lot like those of a lean pain de campagne or bauernbrot, only using the WWW and rye flours in the 100% hydration starter.

I did aerate the starter at the beginning of the process but for the most part, I followed procedure. The resultant loaf is a pleasant, lightly textured loaf with a soft crumb.
50 g bread flour
50 g water
10 g sourdough

Dough 1
All of starter
75 g whole wheat flour
25 g rye flour
100 g water

Dough 2
All of dough 1
375 g bread flour
                                                                                    225 g water
                                                                                    10 g salt

The Pane Caserricio con Semolina is a totally inauthentic name but very serviceable loaf of bread. I saw a small bag, two pounds, of semolina flour for pasta in a supermarket yesterday and decided to see what I could do with it. Even though I used KAF AP instead of bread flour, I got an acceptable oven spring instead of a flattened oval. I like the flavor enough to put out the ingredients to see if anyone else will give it a chance and report back.

132 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough
240 g KAF AP
120 g semolina flour
245 g water
10 g kosher salt

The weather is slowly turning to seasonal temperatures outside, warm enough that I can do some preliminary clean up work and start daydreaming about all the things I should do. The daffodils and tulips are finally starting to emerge. I checked on the garlic beds and there is reason for hope there as well. The juncos are still around and the year round suspects are gaining a few robins for company.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Pesto Pizza Progress

Building a pizza crust has turned out to be a fine solution for what to do with all that new starter that I have when I feed my starter to maintain its vigor. I've been taking out 20 g or so of my refrigerated starter, letting it warm up, and then do the first stage at 100% hydration to get 100 g. Due to a cool room temperature, I can never accurately predict when things are good to go to the second stage but after 10 to 12 hours I can hear the top of the plastic container burp off for the third time. As they say, third time is the charm and I mix in 60 g of flour and 40 g of water. I'm not always consistent with the flours, using KAF AP and either rye or WWW to complement the flavors.

Once ripe, I scale out 150 g of the 70% starter and mix it with some KAF AP, water, and salt. I don't knead the dough much, just enough to be sure the starter is well mixed. The dough goes into an oiled container, gets covered, and goes into a long bulk ferment on the counter. The rest of the starter gets packed with flour and placed in a small container for a one to two hour rest before being refrigerated. I'm not shy about slowing down the bulk fermentation by using the refrigerator if the dough isn't working with my schedule.

Most of the time I use a 14" perforated aluminum pizza pan that I found in Boothbay Harbor, ME. The pan gets greased with vegetable shortening before I place the now stretched dough. I parbake the crust with some grated Parmesan or Romano cheese thrown on. It helps minimize the "slippage" of ingredients. This particular pie was dressed with pesto, sliced Roma tomatoes- fresh San Marzano are my favorite but tragically not in season, a scattering of onions for my half, some cooked and chopped chicken breast, and finally, Feta cheese. The dressed pie then went in on a high oven rack into a preheated 450F oven for 10 minutes, turned around 180 degrees, and baked for another 7 minutes. It was cooled for a few minutes on the stove burner grates before the slicing commenced. It's a Mrs PG favorite.

150 g at 70% hydration

Main Dough
152 g KAF AP
28 g WWW
126 g water at 85F
5 g kosher salt

It's not a typical March here on the Middle Coast. The snowfall we've received is welcome by farmers and gardeners alike but it has fallen in very cold air so it has been the powder snow that doesn't quite satisfy anyone with an interest in growing plants or crops. The "polar vortex" weather that has bedeviled us means that the usual green shoots from daffodils emerging are yet to appear. Likewise, the peonies are reluctant to show up for work as well.

On the other hand, we are seeing quite a few of the usual suspects at our feeders. As we drive around town, we're now seeing more hawks on tree top limbs or light poles. I haven't seen any eagles overhead lately but they are more likely to be seen by the Missouri River which is about three miles East of here.

BTW, I'm not too happy with my photos that I've posted. I've been having trouble with the Picassa photo software when I try to export pictures for my posts. The photos are what I've managed to download from the My Pictures function on my computer. One day soon I hope to figure out a workaround or perhaps Google will fix Picassa. If someone has a tip for doing that with a Windows 7 OS and a Google Blogspot setup, let me know. Otherwise, I'll be waiting on progress from Google along with a few million other bloggers.

Some of the latest visitors to this remote corner of the internet have been from Mongolia, Serbia, the UAE, and surprisingly, a lot of page views from the Ukraine. It's better to bake bread than to fight a war.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.