Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Rye is released...

I made 2 kinds of rye bread, same recipe but one I used the rye flour for the preferment, the other I used regular bread flour for the preferment. I made 4 mini boules from each, differentiated them by one slash for regular and two for rye preferment, and they went to a couple different households. Preliminary feedback (my wife) said that the rye preferment doesn't taste as strongly of rye, which would make sense if it got broken down during the prefermentation. Which would be sad, because rye preferment lends more structure than if the rye flour is added later.

While I wait for two households outside my own to give me feedback, I'm working on a quantity over quality study, seeing how many loaves I can bake at once on the average cookie sheet. In prep for this I made a simple preferment which is 3 times that of Alton Brown's basic bread recipe, which alone calls for 1 lb of flour. So all told I will have about 5-6 lbs of dough to make into probably mini-boules, which range about 7 oz on average when I quarter a single batch of dough that takes 1 lb of flour. I'm looking forward to this one, because it will be plenty of bread to give away for no apparent reason other than I wanted to see how many fit on a pan.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Great Rye Experiment

My basic bread recipes are derived from Alton Brown's Very Basic Bread. My default ratio of flour is 1/3 each regular bread flour, high gluten flour, and whatever type of specialty flour defines the loaf (whole wheat, rye, etc). About an hour ago I started the Great Rye Experiment, where I did up preferments with 5 oz each of bread flour, high gluten flour, and rye flour. When they are aged a day or two I'll make loaves out of each, using the exact same recipe, except each will have a different flour within their loaf that was the preferment. The objective is to see if there is a taste and texture difference, and if so which one tastes best. My mini boules seem to bake fastest so I'll probably do them, which will also make it easier to pass them out to a couple different households for the great taste testing.

One major ingredient I've forgotten in my recent rye loaves is caraway seeds, which defines the rye flavor for most people. I was so infatuated by my overnight room temp preferment that I left out a major ingredient. Silly me.

So the experiment is started, preferments are fridged (I've pretty much established that fridged preferments are better than room temp preferments, which usually have a sour taste), and I'll do the baking Monday or Tuesday, depending on how my days end up playing out.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Quest for Farmer's Market

I've been a stay at home dad for over 5 years. Over 3 years ago I started retailing cloth diapers from home, and made some hobby money that paid for my new digital cameras and other stuff. But the market has changed, there are now a ton more retailers and my main supplier has changed a couple of their rules that pretty much blew away the reason most of my customers came to me. Markets change, I can deal with that, but it was also the final straw that made me decide to get out of the cloth diaper retailing market. So what should I do once the stock is gone?

Why, perhaps I could sell some of my bread at the Farmer's Market. I'm not sure if it would be a good idea or a bad idea, but the feasibility study for it involves baking lots of bread for taste testing. That has lead to the conclusion that fridged preferment makes much better bread than room temp preferment. I also realized that I'd been forgetting the caraway seed in my rye for awhile (silly me).

So today's experiment (or tomorrow) is making a double batch of wheat, and seeing if halfing the salt makes a better loaf or not. Preferment was made last night, we'll see when I get it done today or tomorrow.