Friday, November 10, 2017

Blue Pea Flower Yeast Water Bread


If you weren't a baker and I were to tell you I could use these blue pea flower petals to leaven my bread, I'll bet you wouldn't believe me. How can a flower petal raise dough without adding instant yeast right? Right?

Apparently, it's a thing. It's called wild yeast water and you can use flowers, fruits, herbs, veggies and unripe grains. Recently I joined this facebook group (Fermenting and baking with wild yeast waters) and the members are super talented and generous. There are lots of resources under "Files". (I think you need to be a member to access the info. Send a request and I'm sure the administrator will accept it.) So I had been following what the members were baking and they use all kinds of stuff to leaven their dough - mango, parsley stems, tumeric and some people married their yeast water with kefir water. Yes, I know. It's quite "perverse".

Last week my sister Julie asked me if I wanted blue pea flowers and coincidentally a friend of mine was fermenting blue pea flower yeast water. So I immediately said yes! What a stroke of luck. I used a recipe posted on the wild yeast facebook. Recipe author is Piotr Lesnianski. It was written for orange peel but it should work for other stuff as well.

I fermented the petals for 5 days. It was fed with raw sugar on day one. You need to shake the bottle vigorously twice a day to prevent mould from growing. On day 5 I fed the yeast water more sugar, I think one tablespoon or so because I didn't see much activity in the water. I let it ferment a few hours more and I made the starter - equal parts yeast water with equal parts bread flour. Looking back, I should have fed it more sugar earlier, like on the 4th day.

My strained yeast water looked quite blue but as I discovered later, it needs to be waaay darker in colour. By the way, blue pea flower yeast water smells really pleasant.

My first starter. See the blue is barely visible. I let the starter sit on the table overnight and although it doubled in volume, it failed the float test. (it sank in water) So I gave it one more feeding - one extra tablespoon of yeast water and bread flour. I forgot how long I waited but once it passed the float test, I mixed in the rest of the recipe. I think I was supposed to use some plain water but I forgot and I only used yeast water.

During the bulk fermentation, I noticed my dough didn't behave as normal. The dough felt different. It was not easy to do any slap or fold. The dough almost felt developed already. Does that sound strange? Shaping was also quite hard because the dough wouldn't listen. So I let it sit in the proofing basket and put in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I took it out of the fridge, sat on the table for one hour and baked on baking stone.

To be honest, I thought the bread would fail horribly so I didn't take many photos. I wish I have a pic of the dough before it went into the oven. It was close to overproofing because I forgot to watch it. I think one hour on the table is a bit too long for Singapore weather. Anyway, I used a torch to shine into the oven after a few minutes (my oven has no light) and almost had a heart attack. What an oven spring! The bread almost hit the top of the oven.  I got so excited. I rarely get good oven spring. When I finally finished baking, I took it out of the oven and I knew the loaf would be okay because it felt so light. I almost forgot to mention, during the bake, the smell was heavenly. Very fragrant.

The crumb is not fantastic or anything - I did not get the holey moleys but the bread was soft and airy and good to eat. I had no complaints. I wish you can see the blue in the bread. It's very faint.

I forgot to take a pic of the whole loaf!

Hubs brought the bread to work to eat. He sent me a pic. I think you can see a hint of blue in the pic above.

I don't think I will be able to replicate this bread because I feel that I did something wrong somewhere but somehow it ended up not too bad. If everything had gone smoothly, I believe I would have gotten a better crumb. I baked this loaf on baking stone instead of a dutch oven because my oven is not tall enough and I don't have a dutch oven.

I remember I have baked with raisin yeast water before here. And I also remember the bread was just okaaay and the final loaf did not rise much. Kinda squat looking. I feel that I've improved quite a bit in my bread making. So pleased about that!  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sourdough Paradigm Shift

So you probably know from my past posts (here and here) I've been seeking a very mild tasting sourdough pullman loaf. And failing.

Well, on Sunday before my last 10km run, I baked a sourdough sandwich loaf using a feeding ratio of 1:2:2 (starter:flour:water). Previously I had used 1:1:1 feeding ratio which I felt was not giving me the result I wanted. I used the same recipe from Sonia's Nasi Lemak blog. I figure using the same recipe allows me to gauge the difference in taste better.

Everything about this loaf went very well although based on experience that doesn't mean squat. The dough was silky and I hit windowpane stage without problems. Bulk fermentation was under 2 hours. Final rise took 3 full hours. Baking temp was 200 deg C for 55 min. I baked with the pullman tin lidded throughout. The bread baked slightly darker than normal. I left the loaf on the table to cool and went for my run. I did not get a chance to cut the bread until 7 hours later.

I forgot to take a photo of the plain bread. I sooo badly wanted this loaf to succeed but it still had the distinctive sourish taste. Certainly, it is much less sour and quite possibly my best loaf so far but the improvement in taste was very marginal and I was very disappointed. Thankfully, my family ate it as a sandwich for dinner without any complaints. Toasting the bread and heaping on lots of bacon does the trick. Also, I think I've finally trained my family to eat sourdough! Woo hoo!

Anyway, my friend Corinna had suggested as little as 1 teaspoon of starter when feeding. I did wonder if 1 teaspoon of starter was powerful enough to leaven the dough because I wasn't going to add any instant yeast. Some bakers use a balance of sourdough and a tiny bit of instant yeast but I don't think I've reached that "page" yet. I decided to try Corrina's suggestion but when I was mixing the starter, I accidentally used 1 tablespoon of starter instead of 1 teaspoon. Oops. Hahaha. Despite the mistake, I went ahead with the bake. Bulk fermentation and final rise were similar to my previous loaf.
This was my sourdough starter. I can't believe this resulted from just one tablespoon of sourdough. (I'd love to learn more about the science of sourdough but my brain is not willing.)

When I took the loaf out of the pullman tin, I sniffed it and I couldn't detect any sour smell. I sniff all my bread when it comes out of the oven. Doesn't everyone? I waited for the loaf to cool before I cut it and ate a slice. OMG. What a big difference a tablespoon of starter makes! I'm not going to lie to you and say there was zero hint of sourdough taste. But it was just a tinge (a tinge!) and my god, the improvement in taste was huge. Thank you Corinna! Definitely my most successful sourdough pullman loaf so far.

My family managed to finish the loaf. Hubs made fake pizza with the bread. The next time I bake this loaf again, I'll use one teaspoon of starter and we'll see how that turns out. But not anytime soon because I want to give the family a break from sourdough sandwich loaf before they stage a revolt!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Performance Series Race 3@Changi Exhibition Centre

Yo. I'm very happy because I'm finally done with my last run for 2017 which was held last Sunday. As you know I sort of lost interest in taking part in organised runs. Originally, I thought that when I "upgraded" from 5km to 10km, I could run with hubs. But he upgraded to 21km so because we went together, I had to wait for my flag off which is usually over an hour later.

The last run was held near Changi Exhibition Centre, very far from my home and quite close to Changi Airport. (I didn't see any planes go by though!) We went there by a chartered bus which left at 3:30am. Yep, you read correctly. Originally I thought I would take a nap before the run but I wasn't sleepy. I had to skip my anti-headache pill otherwise I would get too sleepy to run. I ended up baking a loaf of sourdough bread and I managed to complete baking at 2:30am.

The bus dropped us off at this huge empty space which I assume is the exhibition centre. I was happy I could use a real rest room instead of a mobile one.

I had one and a half hour to kill before my flag off. At first I did a bit of stretching because you know what dear folks? I haven't trained at all for this run. Usually I would make the effort to do at least one run the week before but this time, I was far too lazy to do it. I haven't exercised at all save for that one swim a week. I don't even weigh myself anymore. I'm too much of a weakling to see the number. Anyway, while trying to kill time, I realised I could play Candy Crush. Yep, I'm back to playing this silly game again. I sat on the floor for 1 hour 15 min. When it was time to walk to the start line, my buttocks had become numb.

The route was very straight forward. You literally run straight until you reach the 5km point, make a U-turn and run back. The most depressing route ever! The weather was nice though. Very cool and although it had rained earlier, the road wasn't very wet. We ran past the sea! As usual, you get the very uncool guys with poor running ethics. Push their way through, weave in and out. "Thanks" to my poor form, I was left far behind and I practically had the whole road to myself. Possibly due to my heavier frame (damn you croissants and Danish desserts!) and lack of any exercise, I ran at an extremely slow pace. However much I tried, I couldn't run any faster. I also stopped at every hydration point to have a drink. The last 3km, I was practically limping.

Hubs was at the finish line to catch me. I really want to sprint to the end but my left leg screamed "No". Anyway, I'm just glad to make it to the end without the ambulance coming for me. (I saw a runner being carted away)

I didn't finish last!

 Before run.

 After run.

Thanks to my lack of training, my knees couldn't straighten without hurting for 2 days and my thigh muscles hurt for 3 days.

Changi medal

And here are all the medals for this year's Performance Series. I wish I can solder this formation together somehow.

I had the idea that signing up for runs will motivate me to train. But it didn't work. I have lost the motivation to run. I hope to continue doing short runs on my own, maybe 3 to 5km. 10km is definitely out of the question now. My body just can't take it anymore.
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