Sarah Palin is allowed first dibs on Alaskan wolfpack kills.

calendar   Thursday - August 06, 2020

Bowling Shut Down

Well, so much for bowling tonight. We ate dinner early for once, almost finishing off the fantastic brined chicken I’d grilled up yesterday, so we were able to leave at the right time for once.

Got up there with hardly any traffic, arrived 10 minutes before practice was scheduled to start. Got the balls out of the trunk and walked across the parking lot, took one step up the front steps, and the place went dark. Total power failure.

Large parts of NJ are still without power from the big terrible storm Tuesday. Out here in the stick we’ve mostly avoided it, but “mostly” is a relative term. Thousands are without power, but not us. Our power was out for 6 minutes during the peak of the storm. But the utility guys are out doing their repairs, testing and rerouting as necessary. So I guess some areas get shut off for a while. Because.

So we sat on the front steps as more people arrived, and we all hung out, chatting and seeing what would happen. Almost nobody was wearing a mask, so I guess we’ll all be dead tomorrow. The alley folks kept coming outside to give us updates, while some of us made calls and checked the news. Most of Warren County was out, from the Pennsylvania border all the way east to Morris County. Some spots were still on. Chuck called his wife, found out that his house had power, and asked her if she could bring over all his extension cords to power the place. He lives 5 miles away ... nobody has that many extension cords. Wise guy! Actually, it was pretty good socialization, everybody has something to say about the storm, and the masks and the rules and our wonderful much loved governor. Plus we all blamed Mary for the outage, as she made meatloaf tonight. The last time she made meatloaf hurricane Sandy hit and their house was without power for a week and a half.

After 45 minutes, 8 o’clock, the boss man came out and said he had no idea if or when the juice would flow again. So we’re all going to post bowl at some point the coming week. If we can. Assuming there’s power then. As we drove home, we saw that parts of Washington had power, about a mile south of the bowling alley. Meh, what can you do? Everybody else probably waited longer and the power came back on. Sorry, we can’t stay there to 11pm when some of us have to be at work before 8.

~~~~ !!! !!! ~~~~

So we came home, ate a little more of that awesome chicken, had a drink and watched a little TV. I’ve got a biga going in the kitchen, as we’re going to auntie’s final pool party Saturday (they’re moving) and she asked us (me) to make a few dozen rolls for the sausage and peppers she’ll be making. I’m the only non-Italian in the bunch, so I’m making some real old school Italian bread dough to make the rolls from. And that means a biga.

A biga is kind of like young sourdough, only made with commercial yeast. Flour, water, and a pinch or yeast, mix it up and let is sit around for 12-16 hours, or fridge it for a day or so. Even commercial yeast will excrete alcohol, acetic acid, and lactic acid, which are the flavors that put the sour in sourdough. It just goes a lot faster, and you get a great breediing up of the good strong commercial yeast. Add the whole thing to a bunch of other flour and water, and it makes flavorful bread pretty quick.

Actually, an Italian biga is almost exactly the same as a Polish poolish, exact the poolish uses a wetter, 100% hydration pre-dough. So a poolish is even faster, but you have to watch it closely and use when it’s just ripe. A biga is only 50-60% hydration, so the thick dough matures slowly. Yeast likes the wet. A biga probably gives you a bit more flavor too, but both are pretty easy ways to make tasty bread with commercial yeast.

Italian bread is the same as French bread, except you add a little olive oil and a touch of sugar. The sugar also kicks the yeast into high gear. Sourdough, poolish, and biga are called preferments, because they are dough that is pre fermented. Which means that the rise time for the whole dough, once you add in the biga, is a good bit faster than the typical 2 1/2 hours. Way faster than sourdough’s 6 - 12 hours.

I’m going to make up a tiny batch of plain dough tomorrow at the same hydration rate, to see how much I need to make a 6” long roll. That’s enough for 2 sausages and some onions and peppers. When I have that dough weight, I can figure out how much dough I’ll need to make 2-3 dozen rolls. I’m making enough biga for a double recipe, but I can spread it out to a triple recipe if necessary. I want a rather soft bread, not a crusty loaf. A smaller crumb would be Ok too. Taste and strength are what I’m looking for. ( Ever try using Wonder bread for a sausage & pepper sammich? It lasts about 3 seconds. )

She’s promised to help, so that should be fun. I think I can make about a dozen rolls per bake. And we’ll make the rolls the night before, so we won’t have to get up before dawn to bake for an afternoon pool party we have to drive 2 hours to get to. Saturday morning is for sleeping late.

~~~~ !!! !!! ~~~~

chicken brine: your typical brine of kosher salt and water, half a cup of salt to 3 quarts water. Slice up a few lemons, smash 5 gloves of garlic, rough chop half an onion, and then add a bunch of dried herbs, a tbl each rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme, allspice, and a big handful of peppercorns. Bring to a boil it in a big pot, let it cool, stick a chicken in it, cover, then 18 hours in the fridge. Rinse, pat dry, and then put the uncovered chicken back in the fridge for 2 hours. Get it out, cook it on the grill using offset heat, 400F for a bit over an hour, flipping it a couple times. Super brown, crispy skin, juicy as all get out, and doesn’t need any seasoning at all. Mmm, mmm, good. Next time I’ll use a bit less salt and toss in a bullion cube instead. Moar chiken flava!!

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Have a drink! While I am partial to Manhattans, made the old way with rye whiskey and cold red vermouth (not in an ice shaker, maybe add 1 or 2 ice cubes to the glass), sometimes something lighter and sweeter hits the spot. I don’t have a name for it, but a measure of golden rum and a measure of Kahlua over rocks tastes pretty good and it still packs a punch. A touch sweeter than a Black Russian, but made with booze that actually has flavor. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/06/2020 at 08:58 PM   
Filed Under: • Bowling BloggingBreadClimate-WeatherFamilyFood •  
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calendar   Thursday - June 25, 2020

pizza pizza

I’m thinking of trying to make pizza dough. I’m a bit tired of making bread at this point. Pizza dough is simple, and it looks like a good one needs actual kneading and a long retarded ferment; make it, shape it, and let it sleep in the fridge for several days. So you wind up with something that’s starting to be sourdough. So it’s right up my alley. I don’t know if I can learn to flip the dough in the air, but that always looked so cool to me.


A guy goes in to a pizza shop to get a slice. Several customers are there, watching the baker behind the counter make the pies.

Instead of throwing the spinning dough in the air, he’s got his shirt off, and is stretching the dough across his fat hairy sweaty chest.

“That’s disgusting!” says the guy.

“If you think that’s bad”, says the woman in line next to him, “don’t ever watch him make the bagels.”


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/25/2020 at 09:26 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - June 20, 2020

doing it all night long

Ok, the Father’s Day bread is starting. I want it to rise slowly overnight, so I can give it an hour or so in the banneton in the morning, and get a decent night’s sleep, without the dough being over-proofed. So I used cool water instead of warm, left the starter slightly underfed, and only used a small dollop of honey to wake the starter up. I changed the unit from my usual 40gm to 50gms, so it will make a loaf 25% larger, enough for 6 people. It ought to be about the most dough the banneton can handle, but if it’s too much I’ll just make a giant boule and bake it up. No worries. And if it is a bit over risen, they won’t know. It tastes the same; it just doesn’t stand as tall. Like they’ll even notice. Usually the bread is practically torn from my hands when I walk in, and is mostly gone in 10 minutes. Fine by me.

It’s the same 4 flour sourdough I’ve been making for a couple months now, but thanks to the lockdown, they’ve never had it. I haven’t seen anybody since March 20, and I didn’t bring bread then. It was a quicky; show up, watch the wedding with our masks on, have a quick drink, talk with folks long distance for a bit, then go home. Done in 90 minutes. Before that, I guess it was Christmas the last real visit we had.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/20/2020 at 10:23 PM   
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calendar   Friday - June 19, 2020

online again

yay I have internet again, at least for a little while. I don’t know what is going on with that. Whatever.

So today’s loaf has a bit of honey in it. My usual 4 flour sourdough. I fed the starter last night, saw that it was kind of dry so I added a bit extra water. Left it out overnight and it rose up so much it overflowed. And that’s after I disposed of a goodly amount of it. There’s always too much starter, that’s just how it is unless you bake 4 loaves a day. Um, no. I’m good for 1 a week, maybe. But we’re going visiting Sunday, and that means I’ll bring bread, so I always get the starter primed up a few days in advance, and make a test loaf just to make sure everything is proper. So far, so good. Dough came out a bit wet today, so at the 3rd folding I worked in a little extra flour. You get a feel for this stuff after a while, knowing when the dough is right, and not too wet or too dry.

So into the proofer, and let it ferment for 4 hours or so. Sourdough goes slow, but that’s where the flavor comes from.

The first of my tall lilies opened this morning in the lower garden. That’s my best plant too; it grows 4 feet tall and this year has a dozen blossoms. The lilies in the upper garden get more sun, so they’re open too, and a nice height, but they aren’t quite as hefty as this one plant. She’s a sturdy girl for sure.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/19/2020 at 12:12 PM   
Filed Under: • BreadDaily Lifegardening •  
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calendar   Wednesday - June 03, 2020

This May Not End Well

Riots, protests? Nah. Muesli bread!

I wanted to try making some kind of mult-grain bread with nuts and goodies in it, so I had the genius idea to use Alpen. Turns out Alpen is pretty hard to find where I live, so I got some of the Bob’s Red Mill stuff. Found some fairly fresh raisins in the cabinet, and some Craisins that weren’t too ancient. The dates were like gravel, so I tossed them. Oooh, let’s go all granola-squad and put some honey in.

And then when I was most of the way through getting out all my kit and collecting all the ingredients, I figured I’d look online ... and found out that my “original” idea has been done a million times already. Well fine. So I adapted a recipe, but added some extra bits anyway.

It makes a rather sticky dough. Not quite bread, but not quite muffin batter either. At least it has actual yeast in it, unlike those quick breads. Which are fine, but not what I wanted to make today.
ff w
So it’s in the big 4qt Cambro, rising. About time to check it. Update later maybe. A 2qt Cambro would work too, filled right to the top when the first rise was done.

It came out pretty darn nice. On the one hand, very tasty with lots of yummy bits inside. On the other hand, most of those bits were solid things which don’t dissolve. So the volume of the dough got quite large even though there wasn’t all that much flour in it. I wound up finishing the final rise in my biggest meatloaf pan lined with parchment paper. I don’t usually do pan bread, but the pan holds a wet and sloppy dough in shape, and the baked loaf is easy to make sandwich slices from.

So, based on this recipe, I enhanced it to become:

UPDATE: This is the revised recipe. The original dough was far too wet, so I cut down on the water and added some bread flour.  Also, it had too much yeast, so I cut that in half. Worked just fine. This recipe makes a kilo of dough, a very solid loaf.

Crumb is better with the less moist dough as well. Not super open, but not lead bread either.

Muesli Fruit Loaf

1 cup (248gm) warm whole milk. I used the organic kind, which has more fat in it.
1/3 cup (82gm) water
1 1/2tsp SAF instant yeast
3 tbl (62gm) dark honey or a tiny bit more (75gm is OK)

1 1/4 cup (150gm) bread flour
1 cup (120gm) all purpose flour
1 cup (120gm) whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp (12gm) salt
1 cup (140gm) Bob’s Red Mill old country style muesli
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup Craisins
1/8 - 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Warm milk in the microwave for 1 minute. Dissolve honey in milk, then add the water to cool it. When below 100°F add yeast and stir. Let sit 10 minutes to activate. It will be very foamy.

Whisk together all dry ingredients including muesli and fruit.

Add the liquid to the dry in your mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly at low speed, using soft spatula to wipe sides of bowl. Adjust the feel of the dough; it may need a little more flour. 5 minute rest. Dough will be somewhat sticky.

Knead. Transfer to large (4 liter) greased rising bucket, let double. With the small amount of yeast this took almost exactly 90 minutes.

Dump dough onto a well floured work surface. Do 2 or 3 stretch and fold kneads, working dough into a rough batard ( stubby log shape ) and pinch seams.  Transfer dough to a well floured banneton, seam side up. Let rise 1 hour. Flip dough from banneton into a parchment lined large meatloaf pan, let rise another 30 minutes while the oven heats to 450F. Deeply score top of loaf, then bake 25 minutes. You can add steam if you want. Remove from oven, lift loaf from pan. Check brownness on sides and bottom; it may need a couple more minutes baking. Fruit on surface will char if over baked. Return loaf to pan, let cool 10 minutes then remove from pan and let cool fully.

VERDICT:YUM. This is almost desert bread. It’s got a slightly sweet taste from the honey and the coconut. It has lots of tasty bits inside. Texture is like a hearty whole wheat bread, slight crumb.

It is not a hard crusty loaf. I’d call it a keeper.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/03/2020 at 02:06 PM   
Filed Under: • Bread •  
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calendar   Tuesday - May 19, 2020

Just loafing around again

I made another loaf of that bread I posted about the other day. I should have started it early in the morning, as sourdough takes a good long time to rise. Instead, I mixed it up in the middle of the afternoon, didn’t put it in the dough warmer, and by bedtime it was still just sitting there. So it went into the fridge overnight, and then I put it back out on the counter at 6am when I got up to feed the cats. Back to bed, slept to 10, sweet. Put the dough in a banneton and into the warmer for a bit. Got the oven and the Dutch oven heating, and by 11:30 the dough went in. It looked a little flat, so I jacked the heat up to 515 for the first 8 minutes to get the most oven spring I could. After that I put the heat back to the regular 500 for another 12, and then took it down to 450 when the lid came off and the cold iron griddle went in under the Dutch oven. That keeps the bottom of the loaf from scorching, in theory.

I should have pulled the bread out after 10-12 minutes at 450, as the first phase baking at 515 accelerated things. And the dough was a bit mature - over proofed - which may bake faster too.

Whatever. It came out a little dark, just slightly scorched around the gringes. It didn’t oven spring as much as I’d hoped, and the slashes didnt’ open much either; another two signs of over done dough. But the crumb was very nice; that’s the air bubbles inside.

And yet the bread tastes great. It’s a good recipe. Sourdough does allow you quite a bit of rising time flexibility. The previous loaf went in the oven less than 7 hours after it was mixed. This one went in 20 hours after. Probably 12 hours is the better limit, even with a partial retarded rise.

No pictures this time ... not that I’m embarassed by it, but it’s just another loaf of bread.

Bread is always a balancing act. Young dough will have a more pronounced yeasty taste, mature dough will have a stronger sourdough taste. Adjust the rise times to give you what you want, and don’t go too hot with the first part of the bake. 500 is more than hot enough; 475 or even 450 all the way through works just fine.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/19/2020 at 12:33 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - May 12, 2020

One of the best recipes so far


Yup, I made another loaf. After leaving the starter in the fridge for at least 3 weeks, I had to revitalize it a bit; it was pretty sharp. Two feeds of whole wheat in one day, another feed of AP the next day, and it was sweet and strong again. The starter was probably a bit wet, call it 120% hydration ... which means this is another No Knead dough, somewhere around 81% hydration overall. Doesn’t matter, I knead it in the mixer, half and hour in, an hour in, and when the dough has doubled. And then again, gently, with a bit of countertop flour - a good handful - before it goes into the banneton for about an hour. This brings the total hydration down to around 77%, which is plenty, and guarantees huge overn spring. After 4 hours rising at room temperature, I got impatient and put it in an 83° warmer for a couple hours. Once the dough was in the banneton I jacked the temp up to 87° for an hour, then let it come down to room temp while the oven and Dutch oven got hot.

I used a part = 40 grams, so my dough came out to exactly 700gm, which baked up to 612gm. That’s a nice size. a 22oz loaf.

1 part rye (40gm)
1 part whole wheat (40gm)
3 parts all purpose (120gm)
3 parts bread flour (Gold Medal this time) (120gm)
3 parts nicely fed starter (120gm)
2.5% salt (9gm kosher salt)
6 parts warm water (240gm @ 100°F) [ might need a bit more or less water, so don’t dump it all in at once. You want a very wet dough, but not runny as cake batter ]
1 tsp sugar or a small dollop of honey

Feed your room temperature starter 4 or so hours ahead of time. If it’s been in the fridge for weeks, take it out, let it warm up, and feed it several times over a day or two.

Whisk the flours and salt to blend. Dissolve starter and sugar or honey in the water in a small bowl.

Combine wet and dry, mix on slow, rest 15, knead on slow, knead on medium, get impatient and knead on high until all the dough comes off the bottom of the mixer bowl, then knead it another minute or two. Transfer to greased covered rising bucket. Let it go for at least 6 hours but less than 12. You can knead itt in the bucket a few times, but you really don’t have to.

When it’s time to bake, preheat oven and Dutch to 475. Put dough in on parchment, crank heat up to 500 for 20. High heat gives awesome oven spring, and those nice big air holes in the crumb.
Remove lid, lower temp to 450, bake another 20, with cold iron griddle under Dutch so the bottom doesn’t char. Turn off oven, open door, take bread out of Dutch, let everything cool 5 minutes, put bread back into cooling oven with door held open 1” with wooden spoon; allow to cure for 20 minutes.

This is one of the best bread recipes I’ve come up with so far. Not hard to make if you scale the ingredients. Yum!!!!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/12/2020 at 08:12 PM   
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calendar   Thursday - April 23, 2020

old mill fresh flour

Flour Power

I haven’t figured out how to copy paste on this android device yet, so no text quotes.

There is a flour shortage in England too. Everybody stuck at home has decided to start baking. So flour is very hard to find in stores right now. It turns out that hardly 5% of all the flour milled goes to retail. Nearly all of it goes to commercial bakers, in huge amounts. Your local bakery probably buys flour a ton or more at a time. Industrial bakers buy it by the train load. Literally; it comes bulk in tanker cars. Most big mills are not set up to bag it any smaller than a 50lb sack.

The Sturminster Newton mill in Dorset England is responding to local needs. For many years they have operated as a museum, grinding perhaps a ton of flour for the tourists per year. Now they’re grinding that much in a day or two.

What makes this interesting is that the mill is ancient. There has been a water wheel powered mill on this site since the Dark Ages. 1016 or earlier. The place was already old when it was listed in the Doomsday Book. That’s William the Conqueror era. 1086-ish. Granted, the current mill was recently rebuilt in 1650, which is practically new in Olde English terms. Is it stone ground? Yes. No pictures from inside in the news story.

Pretty cool.

here’s a link to the mill

and a link to the news story

Links made by hand the old fashioned way. Hope they work. I want my mouse!!


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/23/2020 at 07:36 PM   
Filed Under: • BreadMiscellaneous •  
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calendar   Wednesday - April 08, 2020

A Well Finished loaf

I made the other half of the 4 flour bread dough today. It has been in the fridge for a day and a half. When I cut the dough in halves yesterday, I formed this chunk into a nice boule and put it back in the fridge. So I took it out today, tightened up a boule a little, slashed it and let it rest on parchment paper while the Dutch oven heated to 515°. But before I popped the loaf in, I generously brushed it down with water. That’s what gave it the freckly speckly crust. And that extra moisture may have helped add some oven spring to the somewhat tired dough. This loaf came out just as tall as the one I made yesterday.

515 for 6 minutes in covered Dutch oven, reduce heat to 450 and bake another 14 minutes. Remove lid, place unheated baking sheet under Dutch oven, bake another 20 minutes. Remove loaf, turn off oven, open door for 4 minutes, return loaf to cooling oven, prop door open 1” with wooden spoon, let bread cure for 20 minutes, remove to cooling rack.


That is one gorgeous loaf. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/08/2020 at 01:04 PM   
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calendar   Monday - April 06, 2020

Bread By The Liter

Same basic recipe, slightly different technique. No extended autolyse. Mixed it all together, let it sit 1/2 hour, then power knead until all the dough pulls up and away from the mixing bowl. It’s still a “no knead” bread recipe, but I know better. You have to knead it some at the beginning for better results.

Put it in the Cambro rising bucket; it made exactly 1 liter of dough. 1363gm, because you lose a little water during the rest and the knead. Let it get going for 90 minutes on the counter, then onto the top shelf of the fridge until tomorrow.

This makes two nice sized loaves, which is a dough load size that my mixer is happy with. And unless I can find some bread flour, this is about the last artisanal bread I’ll be making for a while.

400gm KABF
150gm Whole wheat
50gm rye flour
50gm All Purpose flour ( Gold Metal )
13gm kosher salt
487gm 90°F water
200gm sourdough starter, fed 4 hours previous

I store the starter in the fridge. I feed it every week or so. I brought it out this morning, gave it some AP and water for breakfast. It smelled like old sneakers. A few hours later it smelled sweet. So I fed it again. By this evening it smelled even better, so I made dough. And fed the starter a little more, and put it back in the fridge for next time. When the aroma changes from eeewww to yumm, it’s ready to use.

So tomorrow I’ll cut it in half, work one half into shape and let it rise up in the banneton, then bake it. The other half will go back in the cold, and we’ll see how it is the day after that.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/06/2020 at 09:23 PM   
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calendar   Sunday - March 22, 2020

Another exciting bread recipe

I know, you’ve all got your mixers on standby, waiting for my next baking post to drop.

Here you are. This makes a damn good loaf of bread. With gentle dough handling it makes a decently open crumb.  A big blop of sourdough starter gives it a nice rich flavor without having to sit around for nearly a day, and the taste of rye flour adds a bit of complexity. This is my 4th loaf with this recipe, applying minor variations in ingredients and process. Autolyse really helps smooth out the dough; it mixes better and rises sooner. Adding salt to the autolyse does slow it down a bit, so I extended the original 60 minutes to 90 minutes. It’s plenty; 45 minutes is probably enough even with the salt. An ounce of all purpose flour gives a better crust and helps the crumb. Letting the dough have two actual rises is a better approach than a single unspecified time of “overnight” in the fridge. Baking it while the dough is a little young - not risen to the maximum extent - gets me better oven spring, and a bloody hot oven with a fully pre-heated Dutch oven does the job so much better than the original cold oven baking method. So there you go. You could substitute more AP flour if you don’t have rye flour. Or use Pumpernickel for a stronger rye taste. A marked dough bucket really helps the rising process. No guesstimation at all.


This is what the recipe looks like from my end, all weights in grams:

autolyse no-knead slightly rye bread

200 bf
75 ww
25 ap
25 rye
100 starter @ 100% hydration
8 salt 2% of total flour
375 ttl flour
281 75% hydro including 50 in starter
231 net hydro; add this much water

autolyse 90 minutes:
225 80F water

mix and rest 90 minutes:
6 80F water

Combine in mixer then a couple minutes of mixer kneading

No retard, did a few S&F turns in the bucket first hour, it took 6-8 hours to double at 80F, then another 1-2 to form up in the banneton. Will take longer at room temperature.
Dutch oven bake at 500 lid on for 5, reduce to 450 for 15, lid off for 20, cure 20 in cooling oven.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/22/2020 at 10:21 PM   
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calendar   Tuesday - March 17, 2020

I was thinking of calling it Joe Biden bread

I made up another batch of that bread, and baked it this morning. It still seemed overproofed, or at least lacking in body height, but the crust and browning were much better, and the taste is pretty intense.

This iteration was doubly retarded. Hence, Biden bread. It didn’t start out to be that way; I was following the instructions I found in that comment. But 5 hours into the immediate retarded bulk ferment (mix it and stick it in the fridge) I realized that her description did not mention any kind of first rise or second rise. So, pissed off, I took the dough out of the fridge, got it warmed up, and gave it 6 or 7 hours of rise time. Then it got shaped, went into the banneton for forming, and went back in the fridge overnight. And this morning it has risen fully. Too fully perhaps, because it again baked up flat.

One benefit to a retarded ferment is that the flavors develop better. With two periods of chilling out, this bread is strongly flavored. 22 hours start to finish. Sourdough is slow, but I bet that a 4 hour warm bulk, shaping, banneton for an hour, and then into the fridge may have been better.

On the downside, today’s loaf had the same height and crumb that the last one did. I did get better openings on the scores, which indicates that this one was less overblown. But not less enough! Next time I will really keep a finger on things, doing the poke test to judge ripeness, and get that sucker in the oven before it peaks. I may never get a really tall loaf since it’s such a high hydration recipe, but I should be able to get a more open crumb.

[ someday the photo will get here from my cellphone ]

Aha. I may have learned something. This recipe is 1/3 starter. That’s quite a bit. It’s also 75% hydration, which is also quite a bit. And the flour is autolysed, which breaks it down even more. And it has rye flour in it, not known for lots of gluten. So this recipes has 4 difficult aspects to it, 5 if you count sourdough itself as a challenge compared to plain yeast breads. Master level stuff maybe. So the rise time may be quite short overall if not made in a fully retarded manner. And like I said, this loaf is very full flavored ... which means pretty sour sourdough, which is a symptom of overripe dough. But there has to be a balance: I followed her method - straight into the ice box - and after 5 solid hours the dough hadn’t lifted at all. Not a millimeter.

Maybe try it yet again with NO retarded ferment, just to see how long it takes the normal way, then to figure out how much of that can be modeled by the cold ferment. 5 to 1? 4 to 1?  The nice part is, this is a tasty recipe, so it’s worth making again and again. And it’s just a little loaf, which we’ll eat up in a day.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/17/2020 at 09:29 AM   
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calendar   Monday - March 16, 2020

It’s Quiet. Too Quiet

Impacts Of Isolation

Our local grade school and high school are closed. They’re going to do distance learning for the next couple of weeks. Traffic was very light on the highway near us; usually I can go outside in the early morning and hear the cars and trucks thundering by, and often the road behind us is used as a shortcut when traffic backs up. Today, nothing. With the airlines reducing flights there aren’t even any contrails up in the sky. No little planes up dancing around either.

I’ve got another batch of Stupid Easy Bread autolysing, and after I mix that together and throw it in the fridge I’m going grocery shopping. Shouldn’t be much of any crowds there mid-morning, and maybe I can stock up on corned beef, which is on sale for St. Patrick’s Day. Except that’s canceled this year.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/16/2020 at 09:09 AM   
Filed Under: • BreadPandemic Pandemonium •  
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calendar   Sunday - March 15, 2020

Give Us This Day

Fail Bread: To Me This Is A Brick


I made up a recipe I found online in the comments area of a post somebody had made about autolyse. That’s a bread baking thing where you mix just the flour and the water then let it sit for a while. This breaks down the flour and makes a smoother bread. It was one of these “no knead” recipes that has a really large amount of water in it - “high hydration” - that is supposed to give you a big open artisanal crumb. In other words, big air bubbles in the loaf. It’s a retarded autolysed sourdough, which means most of the rise is done overnight in the fridge.

I’ve managed to talk our new bowling teammate, Mrs. Newbie, into baking bread. She’s a good cook, and is willing to give it a whack. She’s made two loaves so far, so I’m hoping. I sent her pictures, saying how sometimes you make a brick, because I consider this loaf a failure. It didn’t rise much, there wasn’t any oven spring, and the cold oven baking method did not create the nicely browned and super crispy crust I’m used to. Nor was the crumb anything spectacular. OTOH, the dough has a little rye flour in it, so it tastes really good. She texted back that the loaf looks real good to her. Well sure; she’s just a beginner so she’s at the start of the learning curve. I might pass this recipe on to her, because it’s really pretty darn easy to make. However, sourdough is tricksy, and the autolyse seems to speed up fermentation. So mine came out over-proofed, which is why I call it a brick. But a good recipe turns out tasty bread even when the method is not the best.

I’m going to diddle the recipe a bit, and try it with all the flours autolysed together, instead of just the bread flour. Also I’ll bake it in a hot Dutch oven, not the author’s cold one. And if that works out, I’ll try it a third time with AP instead of rye, because not everybody has rye flour on hand. Except for breadheads like me ... I think I’ve got 7 kinds of flour sitting in the closet.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/15/2020 at 07:16 PM   
Filed Under: • BreadFood •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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