Friday, March 4, 2011

The River is Rising, and so should my bread

Well, here in Cochrane, in early March, the river is rising. Quite frightening too. Ice has jammed up our river causing very high levels of ice. It makes for some great photos.


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This is down under the bridge. The town has shut down the river pathways until the ice goes down.


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This road typically goes down to the boat launch, but as you can see, that’s all under water and ice right now.


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I can’t go on the paths right now as they’re all under water. Probably for the best.


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There are markers on the bridge that show how high the waters are. I believe it said that it was at 4 meters. Wow, that’s something else. Our river is controlled by Ghost Dam about 15 km upstream, and generally that doesn’t fluctuate the river too much. Usually it’s low in the morning, and higher in the evening, but this is like nothing else. Reminds me of being back in Peace River during our floods there.


So in an effort to maintain my New Year’s resolution to bake one artisan loaf of bread per month, I have kept up with that as best as possible. February’s entry was a Ciabatta loaf and March’s was an Enriched White Bread. All recipes were courtesy of Peter Reinhart’s Breadbaker’s Apprentice book. A great read and must for artisan baking.


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Like most of the Artisan Breads in the book, they start with a starter, which ferments overnight to add flavour. This is a poolosh, quite runny and spongy once done.


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The next day, you mix all the ingredients and do rising and proofing of the loaf. The ingredients are simple, so I think there’s more to the technique in the bread making.


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Home-made proofing bowl. To keep the heat in and let it rise.


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After some time, I ended up with these. Like I said, I think more of the art is in the technique and shaping, but these turned out pretty good. One went to our neighbours for sampling (they were delighted). It still needs a bit of work, but it’s coming along.


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I’m attempting to make a sourdough (acutally, a Pain a Poilane). Sourdough needs starter, also known as barm. Barm needs seed culture, whatever that is. So this is an attempt at seed culture, which takes about 6 days. It’s rye flour and pineapple juice, fed daily until it ferments. I think it relies on yeast in the air, which may or may not work. Regardless, this should lead to my sourdough loaf in a week or so.


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The day after the Ciabatta, I went straight into a one-day bread to play with shaping. In the book, there is a recipe for enriched white bread. Enrichement (butter, egg, milk) being the source of flavour in the bread, these breads take only a few hours to make start to finish. A great way to play with shaping. This picture is the dough ready to rise. It says to rise it a room temp, but I cheated and used a warm oven to speed things up.


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After rising. This is a very sticky dough and it’s best to handle it as little as possible.


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For shaping, I chose to make 2 Boules (balls, monsieur Francais, oui oui!). Again, one would be going to our neighbours for sampling.


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The book didn’t call for slash marks or flour dusting, but I wanted to play with it, so I did. X and O shaping.


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Post baking. These turned out really well and tasted great! Enriched bread can sometimes have a chemical taste (in my opinion), but these were tasty. Quite sweet and delicious. I gave the X slashed dough to my neighbours, who were again delighted! The little man of our house also enjoyed some bread too (Nom nom Yummmmmm).


I will continue to play with shaping and baking breads. I need to iron out some technique, but this is definitely something I am really enjoying. Lucky I have people to help eat these batches of bread and provide comments and feedback. I am quite sure that everyone who gets a hot loaf of bread at 10pm is happy, but you never know. Maybe I will purposely make a really gross loaf to see if they are good sources of feedback.

Next blog is about my new bike. Oh yeah, did I mention I got a new bike (for dirt cheap too!).


1 comment:

  1. Awesome! I'm getting in to baking bread too - the problem is, I'm eating way too much of it ;)