Thursday, May 21, 2009

Found some dry fruit!!

Some of you might know, but in case you don’t, we had a big change at the Green City market yesterday, we didn’t have California bread at the market and our scones were plain. The folks running the market had asked us to not use any of the dried fruit we had been using. They felt that dried fruit from far away places didn’t fit in the market model. They were right. Organic or not, they want local goods. The same day, my son found Steve from Seedling Fruit and we’ve secured some really nice, locally grown dried fruit. My son came back with some very nice dried cherries, and we’ve placed an order for apricots, pears, apples, blueberries and strawberries. So we will be back in business this weekend.

I mentioned yesterday that I would continue the flour discussion today. Might as well start at the beginning. We use red, winter wheat. It has the best handling qualities, fermentation tolerance, and flavour. It is also, by lab specs, the closest thing to type 55 flour used in France. Type 55 flour, in France, is how the French code their flour. To a French baker it means there is .55% ash in the flour. Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested around late June. It ages in the silo and makes it to market around the first of August. In the fall, once the Hessian Fly has laid its eggs, it is time to plant. It typically grows to a sprout of five or six inches high, and when snow falls, the ground freezes. The sprout will go dormant until the spring thaw, when growing resumes. I remember hearing as a young boy, at a bakery convention, that flour that is grown under stress makes the best bread. Makes sense now, what could be more stressful than having the growth cycle halted by freezing. The flour we use has a protein level of 11.8 to 12.1 percent. The ash content is from .46 to .49 percent. Fat is about 3 percent, moisture 13-14, and the balance is starch, wheat starch.

We will start with the ash content. The ash is the organic compounds in the milled wheat. In a lab, they “flash burn” a weighed amount of flour. They flash it in a very hot oven. Not any oven that either you or I would recognize, it’s a special lab type oven. I think it’s around 1000’. I guess this happens very fast, as you can imagine. Once it cools the remains are weighed, resulting in the ash content. The other components are burned away. The miller can adjust this percentage by adding more or less bran/germ to the mill stream.

It’s all very interesting to me. My kids think I’m weird. Had to be said by a wise old man, something like “caring more than others think is wise”?


Blogger Laminatrix said...

So how would a low or high ash content affect flavor or texture of the bread?

Also, thanks for the link to Seedling Fruit; i've been looking for better/local sources of dried fruit for my Very Healthy Breakfast Muffins.

May 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Jory Downer said...

I think the the fact that there is double the ash in the high extraction, over bread flour, is the key. As the % of ash increases, I think you'd be hard pressed to find any difference in flavour. The high extraction is around .85%. Whole Wheat flour is around 1.1%. So you see you can only go so far, unless you start adding straight bran or germ.another component of our miche is a long bake. Transformed starch, turns to sugar, and it caramelizes in the oven, creating a dark crust. That flavour flows through the crumb, as well.

As far as texture, the texture of our miche is a little different because of the increased hydration, that organic wheat allows. A baguette dough is around 65% hydration, our miche is almost 90%. Our organic flour is dry milled, no water added before milling.

May 22, 2009 at 9:02 AM  

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