Monday, August 24, 2015

An Improvised Bulgur Loaf

I was just exercising my prerogative to improvise a formula the other day when I baked this loaf. I had a batch of 70% hydration starter reaching its peak in mid morning and I needed to bake something for the pasta supper that I had planned for Mrs PG and I. The dough lost much of its initial stickiness during the bulk fermentation. While I suspect that some of the moisture was soaked up by the bulgur, I don't have a firm evidence for that but as long as it worked, I wasn't complaining.

Not quite a ficelle and not quite a batard but it possessed the sweetness derived from the bulgur and some tenderness from the olive oil. The bread is better for dipping into olive oil or sopping up leftover sauce than as a sandwich bread, not that there's anything wrong with that. It's worth baking again.

Proofing the loaf was done in a couche. For baking this smaller than usual loaf, I used 425F for the initial 14 minutes and continued with it for another 18 minutes to finish.

40 g bulgur
40 g water

130 g at 70% hydration

Main Dough
200 g bread flour
24 g white whole wheat
147 g water at 80F
All of starter
                                                                    All of soaker
                                                                    1/2 Tbs olive oil
                                                                    6 g kosher salt
                                                                    1/8 tsp Active dry yeast

This second loaf will soon be finished , justifying the dough that's presently undergoing its bulk fermentation. I revisited an old recipe for this one, adding a little honey and some 9 grain cereal from Montana Milling.

The garden continues to be a disappointment in the production level this summer. I've gotten to the point where I'm planning on taking out what's left of the San Marzano tomato plant and the Park's Whopper beefsteak tomato plant is living on borrowed time right now. The grape tomato plant is long and scraggly looking, having spread over quite a bit of square footage but it is the reliable source of fresh tomatoes so it has a reprieve for now.  On the other hand, I have more basil than I need for cooking or pesto. Lets not discuss the chile peppers today.

Hummingbirds have started to return to my yard as the weather has cooled off in an unusual but very welcome manner.We have our windows open for the breeze which means we hear the birds and traffic noises. That's still much better than the repetitious hum of the A/C. I like having A/C but I prefer the open windows.

Visitors from Bangladesh and Ireland have recently found their way to my obscure corner of the internet.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Resurrected Starter Sourdough

I was rummaging through the freezer, looking for stuff that could be put out with the trash when I ran across a bag containing some dried sourdough starter. This was some really old starter, about six years old, my first and only attempt at drying some starter as a Plan B effort. It had its roots in a sample of "Overland Trail" starter from Stan at New York Bakers. It certainly was the right sample to set aside.

I took five grams of this dried starter and let it soak in thirty grams of bottled spring water. After thirty minutes, I broke up as much of the remaining bits as I could and added thirty grams of DM Bread Flour. The room temperature was around 80F so it didn't take long to show signs of life. I added some more flour and water to adjust it to 75% hydration and the starter continued to roll. In about twelve hours, I had a surprisingly active sample that looked ready for a life (albeit a short life) in dough.

If I were truly hard core, I'd have waited through another stage of building up the starter but I couldn't resist the temptation to start the flour flying.

Let me interject a note about how I've changed my starting procedure. In my large mixing bowl, I add my starter, water, and my flavor flour, the whole wheat flour in this case. After mixing those ingredients to a loose, soup like consistency, I let them rest a few minutes with the idea that the WW flour will be quickly soaked and then I go about my business as usual. It seems to work well enough in that my dough is usually quite sticky at the time of autolyze and remains sticky through the stretch and fold stages.

The end result was a good loaf with a very "clean" flavor and moist crumb. There's another fifteen or so grams of this dried starter left in the freezer so I think it's time to find an excuse to build a bigger than necessary batch  and dry some more for storage over the next five years.

108 g at 75% hydration

Main Dough
288 g DM Bread Flour
72 g home milled whole wheat flour
240 g water at 80F
8 g kosher salt.
olive oil for greasing the bulk fermentation container

Outside, the garden is in fair to middling condition and I don't expect to see much production of tomatoes by the end of the month. The persistent rains have ceased and the ground is hardening. I just got a bale of straw for a mulch over the bare spots to help keep the moisture in the soil. Even the peppers are reluctant to produce which means I may not be able to freeze enough to get through the winter. Store bought peppers just aren't the same as something from my garden.

The usual bird suspects- cardinals, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, sparrows, and woodpeckers, are still around but I haven't seen hummingbirds in the yard for at least six weeks. We still have the plants that they're attracted to but they must be dining somewhere else.

Visitors from Egypt and Sri Lanka have found their way to my obscure corner of the internet in the past two weeks.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.