Monday, October 20, 2014

Bread Mission part 2 and Fermented Vegetables Too!

So I've moved ahead a couple steps in my bread baking.  The second and third loaves are made with a pre-ferment.  This is a mixture of a small amount of yeast and a small amount of whole wheat bread flour, which ferments overnight.   Then you mix this with the bread flour, water, and salt to make the dough.  Basically, you get a sufficient amount of gas in the dough with much less yeast.  The flavor is better.  It's a step closer to wild yeast (sourdough).  I'm really looking forward to getting into the sourdough.  But I am taking my time.

The second loaf was made in a pan, like the first.  I had an old oven thermometer lying around, and it read quite a cooler temperature than what our oven was set at.  So I turned the oven up higher.  The crust got a little charred, so I think it was the thermometer that was less accurate.  But the crumb of this loaf was nice - better than the first loaf.  And the flavor was significantly better.  A step in the right direction.

Loaf #2 



The third loaf was really exciting, my first hearth loaf.  One that is shaped and cooked on a baking stone, not in a loaf pan.  It was made of the same dough as the second loaf.  It turned out well, but it could be better of course.  It flattened out before I put it into the oven.  My neighbor Joe, who has been providing most appreciated pointers throughout this experience, said it probably happened due to a combination of over-proofing and loose shaping.  I've studied up a bit on shaping, and I'm excited to give it another go.  I was very happy with the crumb and the flavor of this loaf.  

Loaf #3 in the proofing basket

Slashed and ready to bake

Hot out of the oven

Nice crumb. 


Along with fermenting grains, I've been fermenting vegetables!  I've actually been working on this for six weeks or so and it's bringing me lots of joy.  I started with sauerkraut.  I bought a crock over the summer, but waited until September to try my first batch of sauerkraut, simply so I would be around to monitor it.  I had attended Chris Jenkins' pickling class at the Kushi Institute Summer Conference, which was nice and straight forward.  I followed his method.  

My first batch of Sauerkraut blew my mind!  It worked!  I was so excited when I tested it after one week of fermentation and it was delicious.  I thought it was done, but I wasn't really sure.  So I divided it and refrigerated one half, while I let the other half ferment a little longer.  It turns out that the stuff that fermented longer became even more delicious as it sat out for about another week.  I later pulled the jar out of the fridge so it would also ferment.

The magic happening in the crock:

My first taste test.  Delicious and it didn't kill me.  Win win!

I put caraway seeds in the first batch.  They're delicious, but I over did it a bit. 
 I'll try a little less in the second batch.  


The taste of living sauerkraut is so magnificently better than dead pasteurized sauerkraut.  No wonder I didn't like it before I actually tried the real thing.  We've got a couple of good brands available here in NYC, Real Pickles and Hawthorne Valley, so I've got some good sauerkraut to compare mine too.

After the sauerkraut was done, I decided to try Kimchi.  Again, I was so thrilled when I taste tested it for the first time.  Fermentation is amazing!

My first batch of Kimchi:
The Nappa Cabbage chopped and ready:





My second batch of sauerkraut is fermenting.  It will probably be done in a couple days. 
Minnie's not sure if she likes cabbage yet.  

Mixing the sea salt in




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