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.

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