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February 20, 2005

Sourdough proofing box

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It is often cold in the loft, in the sixties, and sourdough needs to be at 78F and even 85F for rye doughs, which I make. So, I have been eager to make an insulation box for weeks. Finally assembled all the parts:

* styrofoam cooler (chilly box in New Zealand), which proved very difficult to find in Manhattan. None of the supermarkets had one. I finally found what I was looking for at the 24-hour Korean grocer down the road, but it was not cheap ($11.00, when it should be more like $2.50), but that's Manhattan

* light bulb attached to fixture that does not get hot, an electrical cord and plug. The lighting store up the road had everything I needed and the Chinese salesperson helped me find the various components. He told me what to do to assemble them, which I did. My fixture is plastic. Ceramic would be better, as a hot bulb can melt the styofoam.

* Insta-read thermometer--The 25 watt flametip bulb I bought is way too hot, with the temperature in the box getting as high as 140F, so my "themostat" is opening the lid, more or less, to regulate the temperature. I used a plastic funnel, which opened the box just enough to to maintain 80F. I'll try either a 15 watt bulb or the GE 25 watt flametip auradescent bulb that Ed Wood swears by. I did buy a little switch, which can cut the wattage in half, so if I can figure out how to install it, I will give that a try--just did (Anthony came in this morning and added the switch to the wire in a jiffy and 12.5 watts is perfect! Maintaining 85 degrees. And, hopefully, the cooler bulb will not melt the styrofoam.) I've lined the hole with tin foil so the socket fits more snugly and will not fall out when I open the lid--need to be careful about that in any case.

Last night I got my starter out of the fridge--it had been there three weeks without any attention--and brought it to room temperature, before refreshing it overnight. This was the first time I used the scale to weigh ingredients. I made the dough today, this time adding whole flax, which I soaked in cold water, and whole rye berries, which I soaked in boiling water and then pulsed in the food processor to make a kind of gruel. Plus caraway--the caraway I bought at Integral Yoga was so fresh the aroma exploded when I opened the jar. it brought back memories of picking up hot rye bread at Sherman's bakery on the way home for lunch when I was in primary school and eating the crunchy heel of the bread on the way. Triple kimmel rye is a still a favorite in my parents' home.

I could not find anything but rye flour and whole rye berries -- actually, in a moment of desperation, I looked for millers in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Saskatchewan who sell organic stone ground flour and considered ordering 25 lb bags. I also checked out home grain mills. Thank goodness I discovered that Integral Yoga sells organic rye flour in bulk. But, I really would like coarse rye flour, rye meal, chopped rye... Next batch of sourdough, I'll add a cup of Red River cereal, a combination of rye, wheat, and flax--I like the nice small size of the chopped grain. I brought three boxes of it back with me from Toronto and make hot cereal in the rice cooker each week. The company is located in Manitoba and has been in business since 1924.

Posted by BKG at February 20, 2005 04:18 PM

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