Saturday, March 21, 2015

Stubby Freestyle Loaf

This smallish loaf is something that I just wrote down on paper and then went to work because I needed something that would go with some pasta and my industrial red sauce.

My first idea was to use the "blanket sponge" from R L Berenbaum's "The Bread Bible". It was getting late in the evening and I've had some successful loaves using that method. Then I decided to borrow another idea and add some wheat germ to the sponge. Taking advantage of the 60F temperature in the cellar let me slow down the second stage while I slept and then the bulk ferment stage so I could spend time at the gym.

First stage

88 g Dakota Maid bread flour
19 g semolina
9 g wheat germ
1/2 tsp IDY
210 g water at 80F

After adding the water to the mixing bowl, sprinkle the IDY over the top of the water and let rest for two or three minutes. Stir the water. Add the flours and wheat germ and stir into a loose slurry.

Second stage

193 g DM bread flour
1/4 tsp IDY

In a small bowl, mix the bread flour and IDY and then gently spoon over the top of the sponge slurry to cover. Keep the bowl as level as possible until ready to mix.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest for at least four hours at room temperature. More time will be needed if the bowl is in a cool area. The bowl can placed in the fridge if need be but will need some room temp time to raise the internal temperature before the next stage begins.

Third stage

6 g kosher salt
1 tsp olive oil

Spread the salt over the flour and stir briefly with a spoon or dough whisk. Add the olive oil and resume mixing. Rest the dough for twenty minutes and air knead or turn the dough. repeat the air kneading or turning three times if needed at twenty minute intervals. Place in an oiled bowl or container and bulk ferment until doubled.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin shaping. I used a stubby batard but the choice is the baker's. I proofed on a couche at room temperature for about 1.5 hrs before preheating the oven and baking stone to 450F.

When the dough was ready, I placed it on some parchment paper and slashed it before loading it into the oven for fifteen minutes at 450F. I then turned the loaf around, removed the parchment paper, lowered the temperature to 425F, and baked for another eighteen minutes. I cracked the oven door open, left an oven pad on the door to keep it cracked open as the oven cooled for five minutes, then transferred the finished loaf to a wire cooling rack for two hours.

The resulting loaf had a nice crust and a sweet, tender, almost fluffy crumb. It's a very kid friendly loaf of bread.

Spring has sprung outside with slightly warmer than seasonal temperatures. There are some daffodils about to bloom next to the driveway and my peonies are starting to emerge from the ground. One of our flower beds was overgrown with day lilies so I've thinned that out knowing that the now empty spaces will be filled up by Mrs PG as soon as I'm out of sight.

I finally lifted the wheat straw off my garlic patch and found that 65 out of the 72 cloves I planted have survived. There's no explanation for the losses other than I may have been day dreaming when planting the garlic but with a total of 65, I'll have more than enough to eat and give away.

There are a lot of birds around the yard and they're providing a better soundtrack than an iPod when I'm working outside.The cheery little juncos are thinning out in numbers as the weather warms up and the days grow longer. We have a lot of cardinals every day and now and then, goldfinches swarm to the feeder outside my window. Red shafted and golden shafted flickers drop by for brief visits to the suet feeder. This morning, a red winged blackbird stood its ground at the suet feeder against a starling and then chased it off before finishing its snack.

The TV weather forecasters are now including the allergen and mold spore counts in their segments. The local trees are starting to bud out confirming our suspicion that we need to know where the bennadryl or Allegra is kept for calming down itchy noses. The grass hasn't kicked into gear but with the forecast of thunderstorms and warm weather next week, I suspect that I'll have that subject to start mumbling about under my breath in the near future.

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Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.