Thursday, February 11, 2016

Oatmeal stout bread flops, plus pot pies, spelt bread, and beans

In this episode, I endure a frustrating series of failures, ended only by giving up. I also sing the praises of pastry flour, spelt flour, and heirloom beans.

Mini-mash oatmeal stout bread

My husband brewed oatmeal stout, using a kit from MoreBeer. They call this one a mini-mash, since it has so much grain. The recipe calls for 4 pounds of malted barley (half of it 2-row, and the remainder 4 different kinds of dark malts), 1 pound flaked oats, and 4 oz wheat—over 5 pounds of grains! Most recipes my husband has brewed use 1/2 to 1 pound.

The huge amount of grains (while not nearly as much as an all-grain recipe) meant my husband couldn't put all the grains in bags. (The first part of making beer is soaking the grains in hot water, as if you were making tea, but the soaking takes a lot longer.) As a result, he couldn't strain most of the grains, and (although I couldn't see this) they were apparently much wetter than usual.

That's a lot of spent grain

We saved about 6 cups of the spent grain for breads. The grain didn't look noticeably different from others I'd used, but they acted much different.

Flop #1

Sunken and inedibly gummy

The usual recipe, except that I used a full cup of water, not a scant cup.

Flop #2

Less sunken, and almost edible

I reduced the water to 3/4 cup, and I used the regular cycle instead of whole wheat. This one looked and tasted more like my normal spent grain bread, except that it was collapsed and gummy — both of which are exaggerations of tendencies that were evident but not problematic in my other spent grain breads.

Flop #3

Hensperger says the collapse due to too much yeast action, so I reduced the yeast to 3/4 teaspoon. I think I used the whole wheat cycle.

The result looked just like flop #2.

Try #4

Same as flop #3, except the honey changed (to something similar) and I added 30 g more of bread flour.

The result looked just like flops #2 & 3.

If I ever make bread from a mini-mash again, I'll be sure to squeeze the grains thoroughly before measuring them. Yeesh.

Turkey pot pie

During this time of failure, I took solace in my husband's delicious turkey pot pie. One double-crust recipe produced enough pot pies for me to eat one or two helpings every day. That's probably not good for my waistline, but they tasted so good!

Reheated for 20 minutes at 350 degrees

Nate's always made good pie crusts, but lately they're amazing—great flavor and texture. He credits a new flour he's been using: King Arthur's pastry flour blend. I'd bought that flour along with their excellent cocoa powders (both black and triple), cinnamon chips, and a bunch of bread flours that I have yet to try.

Better than all-purpose flour for pie crusts

Whole-wheat toasted sesame bread

After so many bread failures, I went back to an old favorite, Hensperger's whole-wheat toasted sesame bread. And I forgot to put the paddles in the bread machine. The result was, needless to say, inedible—a cracker topped by flour and yeast. Mmm, mmm, mmmmm.

The next day, having recovered enough to try again, I realized I was out of whole-wheat flour. So I made the bread again, using spelt flour I had in the freezer. The bag said you could substitute the flour one-for-one for whole-wheat flour, so I did.

And it worked. Yay!

Finally, a success!

Magical fruit

Finally, I recently when to the Rancho Gordo store in the Ferry Building (on my way back from watching adorable puppies play on a mock football field). My haul included some chile powder, oregano, and hot sauce, plus five kinds of beans:
  • Santa Maria Pinquitos
  • Royal Corona
  • Ayocote Amarillo
  • Vaquero
  • Alubia Blanca
I recently cooked the Alubia Blanca beans in the Instant Pot I got for Christmas.  Into the pot went1 pound of unsoaked beans, water to cover by 1.5+ inches, and a bay leaf. I put it on for 25 minutes on manual. The results were tasty, but unfortunately we aren't used to using beans in this household. I never got around to making a salad (perhaps Alubia Blanca salad with pineapple vinaigrette), but I did enjoy the beans as a quick snack/lunch when nothing else was available. I'd just stir up the beans with a few shakes of salt-free spice, and voila—a filling serving.

The next time I make a batch of beans, I'll plan better.

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