Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mock Italian Bread and a Rye starter experimental loaf

Something that started out as an almost throwaway effort to make some bread for a meal with pasta earned approval from my most devoted critic, Mrs PG. Technically, it's not a true Italian loaf since my preferment isn't in the right hydration range for a biga and I can't really call it a Pain Italien because my ingredients aren't true to style. But, as long as it tastes good, it is good indeed.

I started out with a 68% hydration preferment that included some fresh white whole wheat from Jenni at Family, Grace, and Grains. The flour is sweet and as thirsty as most WWW flours that have been through the kitchen. With just 1/8 tsp of IDY, the twelve hour development fit into my schedule. 

70 g KAF AP
30 g white whole wheat flour
68 g room temperature water, about 80F
1/8 tsp IDY

Had I been in search of the classic Italian bread, I would have found room for some milk or used some dry milk powder and more olive oil than I did here. The new olive oil that I found at Costco was Greek. I didn't know what to expect so I lightened up on the quantity in the bread. The oil seems to be lighter in body than the Italian EVOO but I don't expect that to be much of a factor in most of my breads. The dough was mixed by hand, with three stretch and folds during the first 90 minutes of bulk fermentation, shaped and proofed in a couche for about one hour.

Main Dough
200 g Dakota Maid bread flour
140 g room temperature water, about 80F
All of preferment
3/4 tsp olive oil
6 g kosher salt
1/2 tsp IDY

The loaf was first baked in an oven preheated to 425F for thirteen minutes using parchment paper on a stone, then rotated after pulling the parchment paper. After another twenty minutes of baking, the bread was a golden color coming out of the oven, giving off a fine, wheaty aroma, and singing quite loud. Once on the table, it was excellent company to a garden salad (hats off to Lucy) and some pasta with my industrial red sauce. The crumb was moist, sweet, and tender.

This second loaf is part of my experiments using a rye starter. The idea came from reading A. Whitley's "Bread Matters".  At the time he wrote the book, Mr Whitley was using a rye starter that had seeded his loaves for more than a few seasons. He advocated using a rye seed and adapting it to use in other breads through a three step build process. I'm keeping my starter in the fridge, taking a 10 g seed out and from there, proceeding through two stages, trying to include a little extra in the build for a new 40-60 g piece to maintain he source when needed.

My first observations have been that the initial build is faster than an AP or AP/WWW fed build, about 6-8 hours at summertime room temperatures. The second stage requires close observation because it has been faster than the initial build. It was active enough that managing its growth with a short stint in the fridge didn't hurt it at all.  Just in case my fascination with this experiment fades, I do have a sample of the KAF AP fed starter, sometimes called Nelson, in the freezer.

Bulk fermentation for this loaf was about 45-60 minutes shorter. Since I used an overnight retarded proofing, I can't supply any substantial comments on the proofing but I do expect that the rye starter would have imbued the dough with the same kind of  vigor. The slashes need more work or practice since I've started using a double edged blade on a coffee stirrer stick as a lame once again.

The actual mixing and baking was a repeat of my usual procedures when mixing the dough by hand. Cleaning up my mixer takes longer and for the weight of dough that I'm mixing, it's just easier to leave the mixer alone and get my hands into the dough.

120 g rye starter at 100% hydration

Main Dough
288 g Dakota Maid bread flour
72 g home milled whole wheat flour
240 g water at room temperature, 78-80F
All of starter
8 g kosher salt

   The rye starter didn't make a "slap you in the face" difference in the flavor. I've often referred to rye as my subtle flavor advantage ingredient so I can't say that it was a distraction in this loaf. Mrs PG has asked for some rye hamburger rolls and rye bread for   sandwiches so there's more work to be done for this pleasant investigation.

Tomatoes are slowly coming out of the garden now, some twelve days later in the season than years past. The plants aren't as bushy and really don't look very healthy. There has been a great deal of rain in the area and the six inches of rainfall in the past ten days or so is already more than our average July rainfall. The cucumber plants, OTOH, are near jungle in appearance but not terribly productive either. I'm not seeing very many bees in the yard this year so that may be a part of my problem. The garlic has finished drying and I've been sampling this year's production. It's a very good but not great vintage if there is such a thing for garlic. I've got enough to give away to my in laws and friends. 

Someone from Albania happened to visit this odd little corner of the internet.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome,  no Donald Trump jokes please.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

City Limits Sourdough with a touch of maple syrup

I had another fit of "clean out the bins" when I started this loaf. There was some Wheat Montana Prairie Gold and some Dakota Maid Bread Flour that I had to use. I was getting anxious to open up some new bread flour.

Mrs PG and I went to Chapel Hill, NC for my niece's wedding and while on the way, I purchased some flour milled at the Weissenberger Mill in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky. I took a chance the local area work ethic that also makes Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve bourbons would be reflected in this purchase. There was so much confidence and curiosity that I also bought some AP flour and a few muffin mixes. My road trips usually mean I have to make space in the cabinets and hutch for the latest purchases. We don't collect spoons or plates or other kitsch, we just try to find some local food specialties. When they're gone, they're gone.

Anyways, I've pretty much reached the end of my KAF AP experiments. The flour is just as good as touted, I just think that I'm hindered by not baking more often. It's not easy to justify a freezer full of bread for two people.So now, I'll just blend the AP with my usual bread flour until I get fired up with enthusiasm after the next new book or startling insight.

What has been working for me is the use of some bottled spring water during the building of my starters. It has shown itself to be helpful in getting a more vigorous starter. My next experiment with starters will be to try building a rye starter, using the spring water, in about three stages for a "country loaf". The discard from the first and second stages can be used to build a pizza crust. No sense in letting good starter go to waste.

120 g at 100% hydration, with KAF AP

Main Dough
185 g Dakota Maid bread flour
90 g KAF AP
85 g home milled whole wheat
240 g spring water at 78F
All of starter
1 Tbs Quebec maple syrup
8 g kosher salt
instant oatmeal flakes for the banneton

The persistent rainfall of Spring has continued into our Summer here. It seems like everything is green with a vengeance and taller than in previous seasons. The tomato plants and chile pepper plants are an exception, not growing with their normal enthusiasm due to the lack of heat and sunshine. I wish I could say the same about the weeds. I've picked five grape tomatoes but none of the full sized tomatoes are near ripe yet. Usually, I'm bragging on my tomatoes by the 4th of July.

However, the cucumber plants are finally at work and producing better than anything I can find at the supermarket. I'm also in the process of drying my hard neck garlic which turned out satisfactorily. There's enough to plant in late October, enough to keep for eating, and plenty to give away to family and friends.

A hard drive crash in late May demonstrated the wisdom of having a back up drive so I'll be sure to have one soon. The drive crashed in less than twenty four hours and I lost a lot of recipes, most of which I had never baked. But it's not too big a problem since most of them were found through links posted on The Fresh Loaf. I may run across a recipe I lost and I'm sure I'll find something new. It will also give me an excuse to create some more "freestyle" recipes as well.

As of yesterday, this obscure corner of internet has had over 15,000 hits, a statistic that I find both amazing and amusing. I extend my thanks to all my visitors.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.