Sunday, December 14, 2014

City Limits Sourdough with Bran and Honey

 Been there, seen that, and got the coffee mug. BTW, it's a really good mug, with a nice heft and capable of holding about a pint of my favorite caffeinated beverage.

Mrs PG and I took a road trip to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to spend Thanksgiving with my family. While we were in New England, we took the time to visit one of my favorite places to spend money, the King Arthur Flour retail store in Norwich, VT. If you've ever heard that the store is a mad house from just before Thanksgiving through the Christmas holiday, rest assured that the word is true. If you need some sustenance either before braving the crowds or to recuperate from that experience, I suggest that you stop at the Norwich Inn or their in house pub, the Jasper Murdock Ale House. Try the Montreal smoked corned beef reuben sandwich and a pint of their porter.

We also took the time to find the A&J King Bakery in Salem, MA. Set your GPS to find the bakery because its on a narrow one way street in the downtown of Salem. Mr and Ms King have a nice, smallish shop where they sell their baked goods, coffee, and other foods for either their small dining area or take out. The real action goes on in their bakery adjacent to the retail area. I admit that I wanted to ask for a quick view or tour of their production area and perhaps plead for some of their levain but it was Tuesday before Thanksgiving so I dismissed that idea and settled for one of their brownies.

I haven't posted any recipes for a while because I hadn't baked anything interesting or unique for a while. We didn't suffer from a carbohydrate shortage though and I plugged away, baking for the house, and scratching my head in the hope for some inspiration. I'm not bragging that this loaf is a breakthrough thing but it exceeded my expectations.

First of all, I used Central Milling AP flour, about 10.7% protein, rather than my usual Dakota Maid Bread Flour, 12.0% protein, so I was in the dark as to how much water I needed for my loaf. The next thing was I wanted to use a soaker for some bran because I was concerned about the bran slashing the gluten strands. Then there was the bulk fermentation that lasted about seven hours before the dough got close to doubling. The dough was still on the slack, sticky side when I shaped so I just threw it in the fridge for an overnight proof. I figured that I had nothing to lose.

The shaped loaf sat at room temperature for three hours before my guesswork said it was time to light the oven. I was pleased when the dough didn't start doing a decline into pancake land when I went to slash. After the bake, this rather rough looking loaf with an interesting crumb came out of the oven. It tastes great and there's no bitterness from the bran.

Starter
150g at about 100% hydration, fed with 55 grams organic AP, 5 g wheat bran, 60 g water, 30 g starter

Soaker
44 g water at room temperature
22 g wheat bran
Soaked for six hours before mixing.

Main Dough

288 g organic AP
72 g home milled hard red wheat
230 g water at 85F
120 g starter
All of soaker
8 g kosher salt
1 Tbsp organic honey- Thanks to Thad and Tam!

As the weather here on the Middle Coast continued to get colder and more bleak, I expected to see more birds at my feeders. The usual year round resident suspects became more frequent visitors and lately. The juncos have come to town and taken up residence. Despite having bought some of the food that they have always devoured with great enthusiasm in the past, the birds haven't been outside the window for my constant amusement and diversion from the keyboard. I got an explanation yesterday morning when, in a blur of colorful feathers, a Cooper's hawk perched on top of the wrought iron support for the feeders. This was only the second time I've seen a hawk outside my window so it's still kind of a big deal for me. The Cooper's Hawk does visit feeders but only to prey on unaware or unsuspecting birds so the hawk may have been here before when I haven't been at the keyboard and it may be back in the future. I look forward to future visits.

Lately, visitors to my obscure corner of the internet have included addresses from Cypress and Macau.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.