Pannier Week Four

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I spent the weekend on a mini-vacation in West Virginia visiting friends and playing music—my perfect holiday!  It was a little odd heading south into snow, but life was nevertheless stirring.  And did I mention there was a butter tart tasting? My personal favourite and the hands-down winner in the neo-trad category was appropriately created by OMG.

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This week I will be making the multigrain again, for Conny who requested it, and little baguettes that combine wild yeast and commercial yeast starters to create an aromatic bread with a crisp thin crust.  Eventually I would like to tell you more about the ingredients, but for now, here is a simple list.

Multigrain (except where noted, all of the ingredients are organic and locally grown and milled).  Oh, and Sky Pilot is the name of my starter.

K2 sifted red spring wheat flour, water, levain (P&H white flour (Western Canada), water, Oak Manor sifted stoneground wheat flour, Sky Pilot), multigrain mix (in equal parts: Hack Farm flax seeds, Oak Manor stoneground yellow cornmeal, conventional pumpkin seeds (somewhere), K2 rolled oats, K2 millet flour, K2 purple cornmeal, Cedar Down Farm whole unhusked barley, Forbes Wild Foods wild rice, whole K2 rye kernels, whole K2 spelt kernels), K2 red spring wheat flour, conventional K2 white winter wheat flour, sel gris from (France).


P&H white flour (Western Canada), water, K2 sifted red spring wheat flour, levain (P&H white flour (Western Canada), water, Sky Pilot), poolish (P&H white flour (Western Canada), water, yeast), sel gris (France).


Week 2: A spelt family

An unexpected pleasure last week was how well the fougasse sliced and toasted up. I had never thought to try eating it that way before, but toasting brought forward the nutty-sweet flavour of the sifted red spring wheat. Plus, its topography makes for many delightful little pools of butter.  Two buttered slices paired with Mennonite prosciutto from Fresh From the Farm made the perfect afternoon snack.

This week, my spelt flour is aged enough to make one of my favourite breads–a whole grain sourdough spelt.  No white flour here, just a 90:10 mixture of sifted and unsifted whole grain spelt flours.  To complete the little spelt family, I’ll be adding unmilled spelt grains this week, which also helped make last week’s multigrain pleasantly nutty. I’m hoping they’ll do the same this week.  Plus, I think they’re adorable.

Pannier’s first week

First things first: Thank you all so much for making Pannier’s launch party such a success! The positive energy hangs in the air even now as the reality slowly sinks in that this is actually happening!  I am intensely grateful to everyone who has helped me get here.  I plan to write about you and your individual contributions over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

As for the sinking-in part, I am equal parts exhilarated and anxious, which I suppose is completely normal when you start something new!  Pannier is off to a fantastic start with sixteen subscribers, so I’ll be making the equivalent of 9 full shares of bread this week.  I am nervous in part because I’m dying to try to figure out what the heck I did to make the multigrain loaves that turned out so well at the party.

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I mean, this is the bread I’ve been aiming for for so long–I mean, look at that gorgeous open and glistening crumb. Do I know what I did? Well, sort of. I had decided to take a risk and modify a recipe I hadn’t tried before to achieve this bread, but the night before baking I didn’t like the looks of the starter, so I mixed a new one by expanding some extra Sky Pilot (you’ll meet her soon too) I always try to have on hand.  The multigrain mix didn’t seem like it would be enough so I added more.  I forgot to measure the water I added to the dough so I just added it till the dough “felt right”, which is even hard to say what that is, because I had never tried the recipe before!  Its true, I thrive on a little risk, but this was WAY more than I had bargained for!

I wasn’t planning on trying to figure it out this week–I had thought I would make a 100% spelt sourdough that I love–but the multigrain is what is happening instead.  Why?  Because the first thing that I did last week after the party was head up to visit Mark at K2 Milling, about 80 km north of Toronto, with my friend Cynthia, who just launched her own artisan shortbread company.

Mark supplies most of the flours that I use, and he just moved his mill to a new-to-him facility in Beeton.  You walk into the draughty old wooden building and you are met with plump cotton flour sacks, a dusty collection of interesting old tools, machinery and household objects, and a contented cat.  He had some samples of flour out on the counter that you could touch and smell and look at.

And I went nuts.

Half an hour later I had loaded up Betsy with nearly 300 pounds of flour and grain, all grown organically within 100 km of the mill.  I got sifted and whole grain spelt flour, rye and spelt kernels, millet flour, oatmeal, a winter white wheat, a sifted and whole grain red spring wheat, and my personal favourite: purple corn grits!

So one reason to do the multigrain this week is that I am dying to try out these new flours–this week’s bread is going to have all of these things in it except the spelt flours.  I’m also going to try replacing some of the white flour (which is organic but grown in western Canada–more on that in a later post) with some of Mark’s sifted red spring wheat to bring the whole grain percentage up to 75% from last week’s 58%.

The other reason to not do the spelt this week is that the spelt flours are too young–turns out there’s a sweet spot immediately after grain is milled, and then again after three weeks of ageing.  Use a two-week-old flour, and you are asking for trouble.  Please don’t ask me why just yet!  I really have no idea, but this is a tip that was passed on to me by Jesse at Polestar Hearth in Guelph, and I am grateful!