Farina Sourdough Bread
Lately I've been fascinated by the baking properties of the material that is left after milling wheat berries and screening out the fine flour and (some of) the bran. One thing that has daunted me for awhile was what to call it. At first I tried the term middlings, but that made me uncomfortable because of the squishiness of the term. I have found in my readings at least 4 different uses for the word middlings, some similar to each other, and some not. Bah. I used this material several times as hot cereal, and it distinctly rang a bell from my childhood and beyond both because of flavor and texture - Cream of Wheat! I loved cream of wheat when I was a child, and strangely, as an adult I was hooked on it if and only if I was pregnant. Who can understand these mysteries. So look up Cream of Wheat and what do you find - Farina. Farina seems to be defined quite a bit more consistently than middlings, and describes my mystery substance quite well. So farina it is.
I have baked several times with farina (plus other flours) and have been very happy with what it adds to the mix. Now I find myself milling just so I can get the farina, and the heck with the high-ex flour - that's just a byproduct.
The next thing I tried with it was using it as the flour in starter. I had a "desem" starter that I had begun with a dab of rye starter, but had never been happy with the results. But I had a bit of it tucked away in the refrigerator
So I built that up with farina, and got it ready for use. I fermented it in an outer room which is colder than the rest of the house at between 62 and 65F. The second morning it had grown and cracked and as I was planning to be out most of the day I put it into the refrigerator. If there is one thing I've learned about whole grain starters, which I extrapolate to farina starters, it is that they can over-ripen when you turn your back on them, and then your bake is doomed no matter what you do.
Here is what the starter looked like when I removed it from the refrigerator after around 7 hours and cut it in half.
At the same time, being piqued by A.P.'s suggestion of a long autolyse, I did an autolyse for that 7 hour period as well. Finally I put all ingredients together, and mixed and fermented, and then retarded overnight only because time had run out for a bake yesterday. This morning after proofing until the dough softened, I baked it and this is what I got after cooling:
Flavor is excellent - mild and creamy. I somewhat dislike the squatter shape of overnight retarded loaves but that's a quibble.
Skip this section if you are bored to death with milling and sifting.
I have developed a more streamlined milling and sifting process which I believe gives me as good results as the more elaborate one I was using previously. First I got a sifter holder so I could sit down and sift instead of standing and hurting my back (ok, you younger folks might not need this.) I wanted something where I could see what was coming out during sifting, so this is my set-up:
Yes, you're right, that's a plant stand. It works great. I place the sifter on top, sit down, and rub my hand through it and I can see the flour flowing down into the bowl.
My milling and sifting log and notes:
Mill berries fine
Sift in 55
When streams get very light
sift leavings in 30
This separates off bran
Had to remill leavings at fine during this
Resift results in 55
This was as simple and effective
as other methods I've used
No appreciable difference between
this strategy and milling coarse first
I used plant stand with wooden bowl
and thick plastic on the floor
This was my lowest loss yet
Here is formula and method:
Ferment starter at 62-65 degrees starting on 1/18
Refrigerate starter at 9 am on 1/19 as don't want to get overripe
Mix flour and water at 9:15 for autolyse
Mix all at 3:45 in mixer for 8 minutes to blend, and 4 more minutes
to strengthen. Dough comes out very stiff and windowpanes
BF 30 minutes, S&F
BF 30 minutes, S&F
BF 50 minutes, S&F
BF 40 minutes
Cut and preshape
Rest 20 minutes
Place in couche on tray
Put whole tray into plastic trash bag and tie
Place in refrigerator around 8 pm
Remove at 8:45 am
Proof for 1.5 hours until proofed
Bake at 450F with steam for 20 minutes
and 20 minutes without