Plastic-wrap, Altitude, Flours, oh my!
Love the site, excited about baking better bread.
I moved to rural Kenya in the past few months to teach music at a high school and have been frustrated by the lousy bread (mostly wonderbread, or a whole-wheat version thereof). I grew up in a French city and I love to cook, but my bread-baking has been limited to basic loaves from the Joy of Cooking. Now I'm trying to elaborate (the white loaf is a little boring), and I want to take a stab at the Rustic Bread (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/rusticbread ) found on this site. I have a few questions:
1) I'm at fairly high altitude (about 7,000ft). Do I simply reduce slightly the amount of yeast I use?
2) The only yeast I can find locally is Instant, either in tiny packages or in 1KG packages (much to my surprise). Will this do? Should I be springing for the large packages (only thought here is that larger quantity implies bakery usage and therefore better quality).
3) I've found all-purpose and whole wheat flour, but many people here use a corn flour (maize flour) to make an "african cake" called ugali (it's a firm, gluey texture, just flour and water cooked). Can anyone suggest recipes that might use that flour? Can I mix it into regular bread recipes?
4) Is plastic-wrapping the Preferment necessary? I understand this is likely to seal in the moisture, but plastic-wrap would likely require a trip into Nairobi to find. Part of the reason baking my own bread is appealing is due to the fact that I can be a bit self-sufficient, so if I can avoid importing plastic-wrap I'd like to. Can I cover with a towel? Or cover with a plastic bag cut open with an elastic band around the edge of the bowl?
Thanks. I look forward to sharing my experiences and learning from yours! Now if only I could figure out how to import a copy of "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" ...