Monday, August 25, 2014

Shiao Ping's House Bread

I haven't been satisfied with my progress on baking as of late. The dough just doesn't seem to feel right so I've tried changing the ingredient ratios, particularly the hydration and the flours, but the dough remains slack and tacky. I talked to the vendor at the City Market who provides me with home milled flours at a very reasonable cost and Jenni is having similar problems. The weather is our best guess and an easy target since it won't talk back.

My next variable to change is the flour ratios for feeding the starter. I've been using Central Milling AP almost exclusively so it may be time to concoct a batch of 70% AP, 20% white whole wheat, and 10% whole rye to use over the next month or so. I've long favored the use of a bit of rye to enliven my starter and it looks like now is a good time.

This first loaf is a sourdough with a Tbs of raw honey from Thad and Tama's hives. There was also 5% spelt added for the special aroma that comes out of the oven as the loaf bakes.

The second loaf got its start from a recipe in "Baking by Hand'. The recipe appears to be their derivation of J Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough. I dug out my big wooden bread mixing bowl for this one. With 20% white whole wheat, this tasted pretty good but I had done something like this before so it didn't give me that feeling of accomplishment.

This last loaf did get me going a bit and despite its ugly looks due to my shortcoming in shaping, I felt pretty good about it. If you've hung out at the Fresh Loaf or Sourdough Companion for a while, you've probably run across some posts by Shiao Ping, a very accomplished home baker. I scaled down her recipe for her house miche using Baker's Math to adapt her work to a loaf size better suited for Mrs PG and I. This was another loaf that I mixed by hand to relearn that technique. It's going to take a while.

On the other hand, this one came out with a great tasting crust that had the tang that lingers in your mouth after the bread has been eaten. It had a nice crumb and the walls of the alveoli were gelatinized.I have a feeling this is going to be one those loaves that I keep going back to until I feel I've mastered the technique.

166 g at 100% hydration

Main Dough
288 g bread flour
72 g white whole wheat
236 g water at 80F
9 g kosher salt

Even though we are now into the late summer season and the color of daylight is changing, my tomato plants are showing very little signs of early blight and the other afflictions that are common in my back yard. Good tomatoes are so common in the area this year that I'm having trouble giving them away. Joe F told me that he too hasn't had great luck with his cucumber and pepper production despite the better and timely rainfall of this year. The weather has brought us some very seasonal temperatures lately so lawns are turning brown, some trees are losing leafs, and the weeds are more easily overlooked.

The monarch butterfly migration has barely started so I'm reluctant to dig up some of the more raggedy looking flowers or to kill the milkweed. If I had planted some fennel in the garden, I'd know for sure they were in the area because their larvae(?) not only are attracted to the plants, they seem to strip everything off the stems.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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