Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cellar Bread Variation

Times have been slow around the oven due to my efforts at clearing out the freezer of odds and ends that I put away, out of sight and out of mind until lately. This week has marked an increase in projects and the gas bill starting with these two efforts.

The first picture is of my initial attempt at making scones. I used the Cream Scone recipe from the KAF Baker's Companion. Let me say that the process turned out messier than I expected but nothing that didn't respond to soap and water and some elbow grease. Being positive, I can say it was a learning experience.

I followed the recipe as well as I could for a first timer, even to the point of weighing ingredients when I had that information. The end result is a essentially a tasty buttermilk biscuit. You can add some kind of dried fruits pieces or nuts, which I forgot to do. The KAF Baker's Companion has several other scone recipes, one of which includes chocolate chips, so I think I'll dabble in scones for a while as a side venture since the dough can be frozen for baking at a later date.

Winter's arrival has meant the average temperature in our cellar sits around 60-62F, almost ideal temperatures for a slow bulk ferment or proofing and coaxing a little bit more flavor out of the dough. For this loaf, the dough had three stretch folds over two hours then almost seven hours in the 60F cellar, at which time it had more than doubled in size.

Since I was fooling around with time and temperature for this loaf, I changed my percentage of starter by an admittedly small amount that actually worked out. The crumb isn't wildly open but on the other hand, I threw in some wheat germ along with the white whole wheat flour so I'm happy for now and can take this recipe for the wintertime a little bit further in the next six weeks or so.

 Starter
140 g, at 100% hydration, fed with KAF AP

Main Dough
290 g bread flour
60 g white whole wheat flour
20 g wheat germ
230 g water at 85F
7 g kosher salt
I've got admit that this winter hasn't turned out to be as bad as I expected. I have had to shovel the driveway a few times but that was more indicative of the paucity of snowfall rather than any ambition on my part. I have my little snow blower in the garage but so far it has only gathered dust.

We're getting to the time of year where freezing rain becomes more likely than snow and that is a most unpleasant prospect to consider. In order to combat that dread, lawn and garden shows look very attractive and they should start up in a couple more weeks. I don't need more seeds but I will be looking for the yard toys that that spin and make noise. They annoy the neighbors more than they do any critters or vermin that may cross the yard but their bright colors do bring a smile to my face. They'll have to do until the daffodils start to show up and the dandelions rise up to risk my wrath with a tools of destruction and possible injury.

Lately, this obscure corner of the internet has gotten a lot of visits from Asia. Among the countries represented are S Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Pakistan, and Viet Nam.Whether accidental or deliberate, I'm always happy to see where my visitors come from.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Sourdough Bloomers and another Bran Crust Sourdough

"The Bread and Bread Machine Bible" by Ingram and Shapter was one of my first bread baking books. By no means is it the best ever, but it's usefulness is evidenced the spin off books that use portions to create different titles. One of the breads included is an English loaf called Poppy Seeded Bloomer. According to the book, the loaf is an English answer to a batard. The recipe didn't attract me but the slashing pattern caught my eye and I finally gave it try.

While the original recipe called for a lean dough of about 64% hydration and an extended bulk fermentation due to using a small amount of yeast, my loaves are sourdough with about 70% hydration.

I have been proofing larger loaves in my banneton but these are smaller by 30 g of flour so the banneton was lined with a towel. While none of these loaves are picture perfect, the slashing pattern worked out well in that the loaves didn't widen out. That was a small accomplishment to be sure but since it worked, I don't regret it.


This last loaf is another 1-2-3 sourdough pain de campagne, boosted with a Tbs of honey due to slower yeast action in my somewhat cool, winter environment, 68-70F, in the kitchen. The bran was added to the outside of the loaf by rolling the shaped, somewhat sticky dough onto some bran. Just to be sure I got the desired result, I also dusted the banneton liner with bran.

Outside, the first measurable snowfall we've had is slowly melting as the temperatures flirt with rising above freezing temperatures. I'm located just a few miles from the Missouri River but there are no flooding concerns here, unlike downriver in the St Louis area. The ground is saturated due to rainfall and snow melt so occasionally I'll be surprised by the sound of the sump running. Fortunately for us and the US Postal Service, the 2016 seed catalogs are arriving daily to start us daydreaming about Springtime and getting our hands in the dirt again.

The usual suspects are visiting my bird feeders with occasional visits from starlings, who will eat everything, and flickers. While the sparrows still don't exhibit good table manners at the feeders, the juncos, who are primarily ground feeders, are once again the beneficiaries.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.