Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hidden Bread Interiors, lots of pictures and text

My starter has been an up and down thing as of late. Partly due to the changing season and also due to switching over from KAF AP flour to feed it to Central Milling Organic AP. It still works but its growth rate during refreshment is erratic. As long as it works, it's good.

I've also run into skill set problems as I attempt to increase the hydration level in my sourdough breads with add ins. Pictured today are a 73% hydration loaf with cracked wheat and a 73% loaf with bran. I concede that I was looking for trouble when the loaves also had at least 25% white whole wheat as part of the total flour.

While both were made using my wooden bowl, mixing by hand, and turning the dough rather than using the stand mixer, I didn't help my cause by not having enough practice to deal with the dough when shaping. They looked a bit like focaccia loaves rather than a sourdough. The birds didn't their beaks on either of them.

I was pleased by the next two loaves that I baked for a meet and greet party for a candidate for the local Congressional district. I deliberately used the same formula but one was machine mixed and the boule by hand in my bowl. During the initial mix for the boule, I thought the dough was dry for a 71% hydration level so I added 1/2 TBL of water before I let it rest. This resulted in a slack dough that required more turns than usual. Since then, I've found that if I just let the initial mix rest for 20-25 minutes, the dough is no longer dry and behaves well.

In any case, the bread was well received by all. A retired teacher, a general practitioner, his wife, and the candidate all approved so I felt good about the results.

120 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough
270 g bread flour
70 g white whole wheat flour
20 g spelt flour
240 g water at 85F
120 g starter
10 g sea salt

The next loaf also is without a crumb shot because it was baked for the Cushing Hospital Volunteers Spring Bake Sale. Mrs PG gave me the OK to do only one loaf so I decided to create off the top of my head. It was called a Pain Menage, which is a catch all name for a French household loaf. Ordinarily, a Pain Ordinaire dough is used but since French housewives have been known to frugal enough to use what they have at hand and the bake sale customers not known to be sticklers for titles, the name was used and the loaf sold quickly. You might call it a Pain de Campagne and be correct. This loaf sang particularly loud after being puled from the oven and had cracks in the exterior crust during cooling off. It looked dramatic to me.

70 g white whole wheat flour
30 g KAF AP flour
20 g stone ground whole rye flour
120 g water at 85F
1/4 tsp ADY
Main Dough
300 g bread flour
152 g water at 85F
All of poolish
9 g sea salt
1/2 tsp ADY

The last loaf is one I sliced this morning for breakfast. It turned out well for 33% WWW flour sourdough with a nice open and moist crumb.It's not innovative or particularly spectacular but since my kitchen is going to undergo remodeling in about ten days, I'll need this and a few more loaves to be frozen as sandwiches and slices for the approximately three weeks that I'll be without an oven, counter top, and sink.

140 g at 100% hydration
Main Dough
240 g bread flour
120 g WWW flour
240 g water at 78F
All of starter
9 g sea salt

Lots of changes in the yard that seem to happen overnight. The pear tree outside my window is still blooming but the first leafs are emerging and the blossom petals are falling like snow. I've found four volunteer garlic growing in a flower bed. I didn't plant any garlic there so I guess that they originated in some of the mulch that was from our compost tumbler. They're growing faster than the garlic I deliberately planted last fall so I'm really curious to see what I dig up as they reach maturity. The juncos have left for their summer migration to Canada but we have lots of goldfinches at the feeders. There are broken robin's egg shells in the yard and lots of robins as well.

Some of the visitors to my obscure corner of the internet have dropped by from Tanzania, Brazil, and Switzerland

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Friday, April 04, 2014

City Limits Sourdough with Levain

The last couple of loaves that I've baked have taken a different direction. Rather than use my stand mixer, I simplified by using my large wooden bowl, minimal mixing, and a liquid levain in this loaf. The previous loaf used a 110% hydration levain so I am reluctant to brand that a liquid levain. On this loaf, I deliberately aimed at 125% hydration which I suspect qualifies for that "liquid" classification. Since it works, it really doesn't make that big a deal.

I started out by first mixing and whisking the levain, water, and about 70-80g of my mixed flours with the idea that it would help  disperse the yeast beasts. Then I added the remainder of the flour and mixed it up to the well known shaggy mass, covered the bowl, and let it rest for twenty minutes. The salt was added and I used my dough whisk to mix that salt as well as I could. At this point, the dough was slack and sticky. While turning the bowl slowly, I pulled the dough up from the bottom of the mass towards the center. I repeated this around thirty times and then turned the dough over, covered, and let it rest for thirty minutes. This was done three more times and the dough had gained enough strength that I felt confident enough to just put it in a covered and oiled container for the remainder of the bulk fermentation. At a 70F room temperature, this took three hours.

When the bulk fermentation was over, I went through shaping, rested the loaf in its brotform for 45 minutes on the counter and put it in the fridge for an overnight retarded proofing. In the morning, after two hours of resting on the counter at room temperature, the loaf was ready for a simple slashing and then into a preheated oven with a baking stone at 450F. After 15 minutes, I pulled out my parchment paper, turned the loaf around 180 degrees, and then dropped the oven setting to 425F for the last 22 minutes.

These pictures were taken after three hours of cooling. The taste is slightly sour and the crumb is tender. I estimated that my hydration for this loaf ran about 73% which helped the openness.I think it looks  good considering the 25% WWW content. The most important thing or discovery has been how easy this new process has turned out to be.

170 g at 125% hydration

Main dough
270 g bread flour
90 g fresh milled Prairie Gold WWW
230 g water at 90F
10 g kosher salt
All of the levain

Outside the window, the yard is starting to green up. We had some rain a couple days ago and it has made an immediate impact. If we get warmer temperatures, things will get going at rapid pace. I bought twenty 2 cu. ft. bags of cypress mulch for the flower beds and I probably should have doubled that purchase. I checked the herbs that I wintered over in the garden and found that the rosemary was, no surprise, quite dead. The sage and oregano do look somewhat rough but they can be coaxed back into production with some long, sunny days. The last picture is our first daffodil of the year. Their disposition makes up for the discomfort from the pollen of newly budding trees.

It seems that this blog has been discovered by a web crawler from I have no idea why they'd be interested in my obscure corner of the internet but obviously, I'm not so obscure anymore.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.