Monday, January 09, 2017

Bread For The Storm

It's funny how the prediction of a major rainstorm coming our way spurs different folks to do different things. We are lucky enough to live up a hill, so flooding isn't a problem. We did move the cars out of the way of potential falling cedar trees and we made sure to have flashlights ready and extra bottles of well water for power outages, but beyond that there wasn't too much to do.

Turns out that my neighbor and I both decided that fresh bread was a necessity if a storm came, plus soup of one kind or another. I made a loaf using my sourdough starter (100% hydration), some Irish Whole Meal Flour from King Arthur Flour, and some unbleached bread flour. The Irish Whole Meal Flour has little flakes of bran and bits of wheat germ in it so you get a nice texture and flavor. The bread flour gives that added gluten for rising. I've been feeling like a failure lately with my sourdough breads (too dense and too flat), so this time I kneaded it by hand to make sure that it felt right as well as looking right. I also beefed it up with a bit of added dry yeast in the flour mixture. The crumb was somewhat airy as a result.

Now I could try to give you a recipe, but the truth of the matter is that there were many parts that I didn't really measure.

Basically I took 1 cup of sourdough starter and added a mixture of half wholemeal flour and half bread flour, plus water. It was about a cup of the mixed flours and a cup of water. I let that mixture sit and bubble for a couple of hours, then stirred in another cup of the mixed flours and some salt. I let that sit an hour, then kneaded in more of the flour mixture (here is where the measurements don't happen), until the dough was soft but firm. I let that rise until doubled, then turned the mixture out onto a floured board and degassed it, then rolled it up into a loaf shape, put it in a loaf pan and let it rise until it barely rose over the top of the pan. I painted it with soy creamer and slit it across the top in three places. I think I messed up on the slits because the top sank where I had cut the slit.

Into a preheated 350 degree F oven it went for about 40 minutes. I cooled the baked loaf on a rack for about 10 minutes, then tried a slice while it was still a little warm. Delicious!

The next morning I woke to the generator running at the fire station next door, which usually means that the power is out...and it was. How nice to have fresh bread to enjoy with a cup of tea made with water heated on our gas stove. If you live where the power goes out during storms, a gas stove that you can light with a match is a great thing to have!

The power came back on in about three hours, but the winds were so fierce and flooding of the roads around the area so bad that we didn't even think to venture off the property. Still, we had the Sunday paper to read and enough light coming in to read by, so we were the lucky ones I think.

My neighbor just came over a little while ago with some of her porridge bread, based on a recipe I baked, but she went even further and ground her own flour with rye berries and a red hard wheat called Fife as the grains to use.

It is a delicious, hearty bread with the moisture typical of porridge bread and of rye bread. The flavor is phenomenal and the grain tight and crust dark and lovely. If you look closely at the slice you may be able to see some of the bits of grain. It has a nice chew, too, which mine didn't.

Hope you are staying warm and dry wherever you may be!


  1. We're so grateful we live on a hill as well! We watch the river flow by on the street below us...

  2. Great minds, I say. I've got a poolish that's been sitting on the counter for a couple days, which will likely get made into some loaves later this afternoon. Again, no recipe, just however it comes out. :) It's best, that way, I think.

    As to the rye berries: I've found that they're much easier to incorporate if you steam them (1 cup berries, 4 cups water at least) and then just add them whole. That way the rye doesn't interfere with the gluten of the wheat, and doesn't affect the rise profile. Plus: you get chewy rye berries.