Feb. 22nd, 2010 11:58 pm
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Roadrunner - Going faster miles an hour)
Hooray, I found another 9 GB cache of junk to wreck destruction on! Believe it or not, there was a folder up in there called "iTunes Exile," whose purpose was just too packratty and anal to even get into explaining here.

(You've probably already guessed, but this scrubbing mission didn't start because I needed the space; it's more that the kipple just offended me. I mean, really: I'm to spend that much disk and backup on a wad of data toward which I feel... nothing? (Aside from some weaksauce vestigial anxiety?) Balls to that. Spring Cleaning, Dracula!)

ALSO! Holy shit guys, I have finally recreated the Rustica miche. It was my favorite bread in the world, and now I have it back, in all its sour-ass funky glory.

brown boule


brown boule

See that?!

So, I pulled it off once, at least; as usual, I reckon the tough part'll be repeating it. Still!

Anyway, I can't really call it "miche," because that's a shape rather than a recipe, and these are basic boule shapes. (Most efficient use of flowerpot space, plus I kind of prefer that taller shape anyway for sandwich purposes.) For now, I guess it's just the brown boule.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Roadrunner - Going faster miles an hour)
[livejournal.com profile] itastelikelove has apparently been leveling up in beer lately, and in one of those blips of family synchronicity, I've been cashing in some Baker job points. The big news lately is this thing:

This is your bread on pot

This trick comes from my latest baking crush over at Wild Yeast, who will helpfully explain the whole concept for the curious. And yes, it is in fact a big fat clay flowerpot. (And yes, I am paranoid and tested it for lead.)

A pot that looks like the ones in her article would be probably be better, but this one's working fine. It's FINALLY solved the mystery of how to get that perfect crust; at long last, I'm getting that serious golden shit, along with huge oven spring and razor-sharp grigne just like I routinely sliced myself up on over at Rustica. (And that's just with my newly revitalized sourdough; I haven't even tried any yeasted bread in it yet.)

'Course, it puts a bit of a crimp on the shapes of loaf I can make. Even a bâtard is pushing it a bit (yesterday's attempt at stuffing two bâtards in there was downright comedic), so I'd better learn to love the boule. Anyway, given how well this is working, I'm thinking the next step is to follow the rest of her advice and rustle up a junky pan, some chunks of lava rock, and a long-spouted watering can. I'd been down on steam for the longest time because Reinhart's techniques turned out to useless, but now I'm a believer.
roadrunnertwice: Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便)、 minding the bakery. (Kiki - Welcome to the working week)
Last night's baguettes turned out stellar. Not on absolute terms (remember, I used to chuck arguably the best baguettes in the Midwest across the counter, so humility is a must around here), but they're the best I've ever made by a long shot. Nice crackly explode-everywhere-on-bite crust, nice open-but-not-TOO-open texture, great taste, pretty decent all around! Things and Differences:

  • I think I'd been making the dough FAR too wet, because this time I held fast and just worked it bone-dry instead of wimping out and adding more water, and WOO, vive la difference. I also used warmer water than I had the last few times, to try and counteract the winter chill in the apartment.
  • Also, I aged the poolish a day longer than the last few times, and I think that may have helped a bit.
  • OH, and I actually coated the whole ball of dough with oil this time, which I think kept the moisture balance steadier over the age of it.
  • Reinhart is right about replacing 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat bread flour sifted way fine. The taste makes it absolutely worth the hassle. Now I just need a project for bran.
  • I ran out of bread flour a while ago, so I just used Safeway brand all purpose for these. And it worked brilliantly. What the fuck? This is why I don't pay for that King Arthur stuff, is because I obviously haven't got my technique to the point where I hit the limits of my flour.
  • My shaping technique is better than it was, so hurray for that.
  • I brought back the steam pan. It never worked well before, but I figured it was worth another try now that I own some heavy-gauge baking sheets.

Of course, the sides did comically blow out. So now I'm reading up on scoring technique, and also about steam. Here, among other places, which gets big points for the post title "Everybody Must Get a Stone." (Also, l--lava rocks? WTF!)
roadrunnertwice: Parking lot stencil: "ALL TREES WILL BE TOWED," with tree glyph in "no" sign. (All trees will be towed)
This week shall be bagel week.

So the word on bagels seems to be that it's a two day process, and, here's the crucial bit, the stages of production are slid around all over the place. (Mind you, I'm looking at a Reinhart recipe and that's kind of his gig anyhow, but it's odd even by his standards.) I actually can't quite tell what happens where! It looks like you shape the dough before it's even done a single fermentation (not counting the pre-sponge), then slap it in the retarder before the first fermentation is finished. Wha? Also, boiling. Does the yeast survive this? It has to, right? But it must also be the first stage of cooking, because the longer you boil, the tougher the finished product?

I'll need to get baking sheets sometime this week; maybe Fred Meyer has some. I kinda want to get a half-sheeter made with good quality heavy-gauge steel, just so I can be done with sheet pan shopping for basically ever. I've heard Chicago Metallic is the one to go for; we'll see who's got what.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Ryoga is lost.)

I wasn't reading LJ for about a month, but I'm back now. How's tricks?

  • Photos of my new digs. Hi, Mom!
  • Man, SO many Portlanders have no clue how to use a 4-way stop sign. In the interest of public education, I'd like to re-iterate that in the event of a simultaneous roll-up, the furthest-counterclockwise person has right of way—if the other guy is to your left, you go; if they're to your right, you wait. Easy and fun!

    On the other hand, being forced so frequently to play traffic cop and traffic at the same time seems to have granted me the Pointer Finger of Authority and the ability to make recalcitrant drivers shift immediately. So that's pretty cool.

  • I am seriously considering learning Cocoa in order to cobble together a functional Dreamwidth client for Mac. I am obviously insane and should be stopped, and this is blatant displacement activity, but it would be reeeallly nice to have one. And since there's already a promising LGPLed Cocoa framework that talks to a Livejournal server, it may not even be as hard as all that.

    My immediate problem is that Cocoa still generally means Objective C—yes, there are Ruby and Python bridges, but you're still calling functions from a bunch of other folks' ObjC code and have got to be able to understand it. And ObjC, of course, requires knowing some C. So I'm boning up with one of Schwern's O'Reilly books whenever I need to take a break from writing. We'll see where this goes.

  • Finally had enough pay+expenses data to run a hard budget (i.e. "stay under this limit or you will bleed savings") instead of a calibration budget (i.e. "what does my lifestyle cost?"), and surprise, I'm not loaded. Say what you will about the middle class, but boy, it'd be nice to feel financially safe for a while.

    I mean, it looks like I'll be self-sufficient, barring catastrophe, and my ass is insured, which counts for a lot, even if American health insurance companies are criminal rackets run by vile subhuman pieces of shit. And I should even be able to sock a little money away. But when I say "a little," I'm talking like $30-50/mo. Not satisfactory, especially since I'll be needing to pay for some routine maintenance on Leslie sometime soon.

    I looked at food stamps, but after playing with that estimator over a wide variation of likely pay, I can't get it to say I'll get more than $10/mo, which really doesn't seem worth the hassle. If anyone here has been on Oregon food stamps within the last few years, I'd LOVE to hear your take on it.

    So barring some windfall, my options are to keep squeaking by in a state of mild worry, while working hard and hoping the shop does well enough in the coming year to give me the raises I need to live in comfort; get really creative with my scrimping; and/or drum up some source of supplementary income. I don't have any good answer for this yet. It is, however, making me think some very interesting thoughts.

  • Was dogpaddling and playing it safe for a while with my breadmaking, but a visit to the market struck me with a sudden desire to start pushing things forward again. So I made my first truly ridiculous bread tonight, a slightly deformed version of those Tim Decker via Pete Reinhart tater/cheddar/chive bâtards. I don't even wanna get into all the unexpected shit that went wrong here, but the loaves are cooling right now and they look and smell fantastic. Will update with taste report. (Edit: It is bloody delicious. Photos one and two.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Poulet free)
Hellfire, I am still not getting the hole structure right in this ciabatta. What's the secret? Am I spending too much time on the initial mixing? Is the dough not wet enough? I wonder if it's absorbing too much flour from the resting/fermenting surface? I think next time, I'm gonna try making the dough as wet as I can get it without having it collapse into a puddle. No idea what that will do, but at least it should provoke a reaction!

(Also, my french bread is still weak, and I keep forgetting to slash my baguettes! I think I actually like the flavor of my french rolls better than the ciabatta (and the rolls are definitely better than the baguettes), but the crust is unimpressive. Higher oven temp? Longer baking time? I definitely want to shoot for a European bake instead of the lighter American style, but how to get the lustre I want...?)

I never realized baking was so much like getting a piece of code to work. It's like a puzzle! I must figure it out!
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (WELL?! DO YOU?!?)
I mentioned earlier that Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice was a pretty awesome book, and now I have his more recent (2007) one out from the library. And my first reaction reading it was a good old-fashioned LOL WHUT.

It's all about whole grain breads, which is cool, but the entire book is built on this incredibly weird theory of baking.* Reinhart over-sells it a bit in his introduction (soooo much talk of breakthroughs and revelations and serendipity and arrgh), but pretty much every recipe in there uses two separate pre-doughs plus a really large amount (like, tablespoon-per-loaf large) of commercial yeast, and I have to agree that is pretty fucked up.

Totally friggin' works though, or at least it worked last night. I could have sworn that I badly mishandled that dough, but my first ever 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf (no extra gluten and no white flour; enrichments including yogurt, honey, and oil) turned out goddamn near perfect. It may even have been the best loaf I've ever made. Heavy, yet fluffy; rich, yet sweet; holds together at any slice size, and has that thick grainy smell that my East Olympia childhood trained me to crave. The roommate described it as having "no flaws," and, uh, yes. (I credit the recipe; like I said, I had no idea what I was doing.) Furthermore, it was surprisingly time-efficient, with a remarkably small amount of active work involved.

I will be investigating this further, 'cause damn. In the meantime, PB&J for lunch.

Also, I've been thinking more about that ciabatta. The hole structure in the crumb was still all wrong last time, although the loaves tasted great and looked right from the outside, and I'm trying to figure out which stages need to extend, contract, or slide around. One of my theories is that Reinhart's "spray the walls" technique is actually a bullshit heat-theiving trap, so I'm going to try ditching it next time. I'm also thinking that the water I drop in the steam pan needs to get fairly explosive when it hits, so I'll try a rolling boil straight from the kettle and see what that does. The two of those things together might increase my oven spring, and if I can also improve my rustic dough handling technique, that miiiiiiiight give me the air I need. We'll see.

God, I love a project.

* So far as I understand it, it's all about letting enzyme activity run way further than it's generally supposed to, setting up delayed-effect limiters on the enzymes to keep them from causing structural damage, and then skipping the enzyme-related parts of the traditional baking process. In practice, this means making a dough with salt but no yeast and a dough with yeast but no salt, and letting them both just sit around overnight (with the yeasted one in the fridge). Like I said, it's bizarre.
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (WELL?! DO YOU?!?)

Bread nattering. Anyway, I made ciabatta... )

[livejournal.com profile] benefitz asked for the recipe, which I'm only too happy to share, but the greatest strength of Reinhart's book is also a significant weakness: it contains a LOT of foundational knowledge and refers to it quite freely, which makes it tough to extract any given recipe as a self-contained nugget of information. But it seems like good practice for future efforts, so here goes: CUT FOR BREAD )


roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
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