The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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loydb

Being a 3-minute drive from Seven Stars Bakery here in Providence meant that I essentially stopped baking (other than the occasional buttermilk biscuit or cornbread) for 2013. I've resolved to change that for 2014, and have already made my first loaf of 2014 (Reinhart's transitional wheat sandwich bread).

Happy New Year (a little late) to everyone!

 

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loydb

I'm continuing with the theme of 'corn' this week. This time, I'm starting with a 50/50 mix of Heartland Mill's organic blue and yellow corn. It took me a little time to get the mill dialed in for the coarseness I was after -- and I ended up sifting out roughly 50% of the meal, leaving me with true grits (and a bunch of corn flour for my next loaf of bread).

I had a cup or so of a mixture of onion, hot peppers and garlic left over from making tacos the other night, so I used it as the base for the polenta along with chicken stock and (at the very end) butter and shredded cheddar cheese. After 45 minutes in the oven (stirring every 10 minutes), I had a nice creamy polenta that I served with marinara sauce and sour cream. The rest of the polenta was poured into a baking tray and put in the fridge. I'll grill it up over the next few days as a side dish.

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loydb

Saturday was pickup day for Pioneer Valley's grain CSA. I am really impressed with the variety and quality of the grains and beans we got. I'll do a more extensive post on what we got later, but here's the first cooking effort. I used the same recipe from my blue corn cornbread entry, using Red Llamas Wheat and Mandan Bride Corn.

The Bride Corn kernels were so big that my mill had a hard time 'grabbing' them and pulling them into the stone. I ended up having to mill it twice -- the first time with the outer wheel very loose to get a coarse, rough grind, and then a second pass at a finer setting. It was a pain in the butt, but it worked.

The flavor of the final product was superb, I paired the bread with a berebere-rubbed pot roast with yams and carrots.

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loydb

Round one of this fight can be found at this blog post.

The problem I had the first time was insufficient hydration. I certainly solved that problem...

I changed a bunch of things around this time, resulting in a far superior flavor (IMO), but going completely overboard on hydration to the point that it was more like ciabatta than bread. Here's what I did:

  • First, instead of the spelt poolish, I mixed 1 ounce of my KA New England sourdough starter at 1:3:3 with whole milled spelt. After that sat overnight, I fed it again roughly 1:1:1 to get the volume for my poolish.
     
  • Second, I made a soaker with water, all of the durum flour, and 100g of the spelt flour that was called for in the final dough. I didn't sift any of it -- though I did sift to 85% the final addition of spelt the next day. The soaker sat on the counter overnight. I did add the yeast called for into the final dough, so it wasn't a 100% sourdough fermentation.
     
  • Third, I added a bunch of extra water to get the hydration up. Too far up, as it turned out. As you'll see below, the dough just spread out after having stuck to the banneton...

The taste came out fantastic. I still have half a loaf of the first round I baked of this, so we could do side-by-side tasting. It's not as sour as something done without any commercial yeast, but the tang is still there. So, for round three, I'll repeat everything except the flood of water and see how it comes out.

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loydb

Last week I finally found the elusive box that had my DLX bowl & paddles in it. Although my KA makes an appearance here for its whipping prowess, it has now been relegated back to the pantry until I next need it for grinding meat or extruding pasta. I've really been enjoying Hanne Risgaard's Home Baked: Nordic Recipes and Techniques for Organic Bread and Pastry. It has some great looking recipes, many of which use grains other than the standard wheat. The first one I've tried is her Spelt-Durum bread.

I had durum flour on hand, and got some of Bob's Mill's spelt. This is the first time I've milled it. The recipe calls for both sifted and whole spelt flour. For the sifted, I used a #30 mining seive. I don't know if the spelt grinds differently, or if I just had the stones set further apart than normal, but instead of the 15% extraction I get with wheat, I got right at 20% extraction with the spelt.


The bread uses a poolish, and calls for it to be "whipped." When I think whip, I think Kitchenaid (well, I actually think Catwoman, but that's a whole 'nuther thing). I used the KA wire whisk to beat the hell out of the 100% hydration starter. When it was done, it was like pancake batter. I poured it into a small bucket to sit overnight.





Fortunately, about 6 hours later, before going to bed, I happened to glance at it to see how things were going... Good thing I did, the top was swollen up and it was about to explode. After enduring the Great Homebrew Cherry Stout Kitchen Explosion of 1997 (a debacle that sent fermenting stout spraying across the ceiling, blinds, and cabinets -- stout that we still found traces of 5 years later when we moved out), which nearly led to murder and/or divorce, I was happy to catch this one before it decorated our new kitchen. I dumped it into the DLX bowl, covered it with a damp cloth, and went to bed.


The next morning, it was nice and bubbly. I added the rest of the water and the dry ingredients and began to mix the final dough. As you can see, it was very dry at the end, and I added just enough water with a spray bottle to get it to come together. First takeaway from this batch is that I need to add more water, as you'll see later.

As per instructions, I proofed for an hour, did a stretch and fold, and proofed for another hour. The dough felt pliant, but a little dry, and was prone to the type of small surface tears I get when I do a whole grain challah.



Finally it was time to shape. I had a really hard time getting the bottom of the bread to seal -- it just didn't want to form a homogenous mass. With the long loaf, I put the seams on the bottom and hoped for the best (and it ended up working. For the round loaf, the seams went up, which didn't work too well.

When I lifted the cloth in the proofer, I was greeted with this:

I decided to try and use its own weight to work it together (which worked with the long loaf), and inverted it on the board to finish rising.

The long loaf did well. I scored it and stuck it in the oven.

I let the other loaf continue to rise for the 25 minutes of cooking, but still had this to deal with:

Here are the final results. One good, one not so good. Fortunately, the taste is fantastic -- I'm just not entering the second loaf in the county fair :). The bread almost tastes like it has cornmeal in it to me, and doesn't need any butter at all. I'm going to try this again in a couple of weeks, but this time make a spelt sourdough starter to use instead of the poolish, and then spike it with yeast in the final dough. I'll also add more water...



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loydb

I subbed Karo syrup for malt extract in my sourdough pizza dough. It came out good, but I feel dirty. :)

 

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loydb

I just ran across http://www.localgrain.org/csa, and have signed up for a share. I'm excited to try out some of the heirloom wheats. More info in December when I pick it up.

 

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loydb

The oven that was in our new house was pretty much the cheapest exposed-element electric that they could find when they did the kitchen remodel pre-sale. We replaced it with a Frigidaire FPEF3081MF, from their 'professional' range. It's my first glass-topped unit, and my first convection oven (sadly, no steam). While I still can't find the (in a box somewhere) stuff I need for breadmaking, I used it last night to roast some potatoes and carrots and a pork tenderloin. 

I am now in love with convection. I wish I'd gotten some picture (camera -- in a box somewhere).  These were - by far - the best roasts I've ever produced. The potatoes were well-browned and slightly crunchy on the outside. The carrots were sweet and caramalized. The roast had a perfect crust.

I don't know how much use it will be for bread, but I'm in love with the feature so far...

 

 

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loydb

Just to prove that I still do actually bake -- here's a sourdough-only version of PR's whole wheat sandwich bread from WGB. Instead of using yeast, I let the sourdough take over. The initial fermentation was 4.5 hours, the final banneton proofing was 3 hours.

And let me just say I really, really, like the Brod & Taylor proofer. 

 

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loydb

My wife has an offer for a tenure-track position in Providence. Anyone from there that can tell me a little about it? We'll probably be moving in June/July...

 

 

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