Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It always rains on Wednesdays

If you ever decide to lay sod, do it on a Tuesday afternoon. You can count on rain on Wednesday. What a spring we've had! I hear from farmers at the market that all the crops are delayed because we haven't had any heat. Gotta say with weather like this, the bakery has been very comfortable. I've never been a fan of summer because of the discomfort it causes here in the bakery. I mentioned all-butter puff pastry dough. It can be a challenge in the summer, same with our croissants. The tables get warm, the mixing kettles get warm, the freezers get iced up from condensation, real pain in the neck.

Ever wonder why bread goes stale? It's kept in a plastic bag. How does it dry out? One of the things that the miller checks in the mill stream is the percentage of "damaged starch particles". As you know the flour is mostly starch. Starch is the substance that gets transformed during fermentation into simple sugars that are digestible by the yeast. The starch particles are so hard and dense, the only ones that are fermentable are the ones that get cracked open during the milling process. The starch particles are very hygroscopic. They will absorb water up to two hundred percent of their weight. So in 100 pounds of flour, there is 72-74 pounds of starch that will absorb 145 pounds of water or so. The issues is the density of the particles. They are so hard and dense that it takes days for them to fully hydrate.
Therefore, as the bread on your counter sits the starch continues to soak up any water. I'm not to familiar with the process used to produce the bread that most people buy. I'm not sure whatever it is that I can't pronounce, that commercial bread bakers use. If it doesn't come out of the ground, you shouldn't put it into your body. I'm guessin' they use somethin' that is spelled with most of the letters of the alphabet, including x's and z's.

A baker friend of mine really enjoys our miche. It's made from a simple process, lengthy but simple. Organic flour, water and salt. It is sourdough bread. Same loaf of bread you could buy centuries ago. Slow long bake, thick crust. Anyway, he eats that bread for one month. ONE MONTH. Sure it gets dry, but it won't mold. The ph of the crumb is to low. When the bread gets dry, you gotta put wetter stuff on it.

Give this try. Slice of miche, unsalted butter, thin sliced radishes, and a little salt, coarse if you please. I promise you'll consider vegetarianism.


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