All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Wild Yeast version of Preston's Zucchini Bread with Moroccan Spices


A Sourdough WW Version of 
Lou Preston's Zucchini Bread with Moroccan Spices
using grated, got-away-from-me zucchini

Since I learned about Lou Preston and his bread, I've been watching for opportunities to make one of his other bread recipes that I had found.  This week, my friend gave me a few overlarge zucchinis for my chickens, and I decided to try some of those tough old antediluvian squashes in a variation of the online recipe, Zucchini Bread with Moroccan Spices

I'm pretty certain that Lou would not approve of using these giant, "got away from me" zucchinis that are so very tough.  There is much more taste -- and moisture, and freshness, perhaps food value -- in a zucchini of more reasonable size.  Somewhere I read that Lou once placed a few of these monsters in a wheelbarrow, with a sign on them telling visitors that the "prehistoric dinosaurs" were free to a good home.  Even he didn't know what to do with them.  The Preston farm grows nice, regular-sized zucchini that are toted fresh to market for sale, so I assume Lou would use a less monstrous zucchini in his original recipe.  But we didn't grow any in our garden this year.  Beggars can't be choosers.  I takes what I can get.

Piece of Monster Zuke beside dough, just before the salt is added.
A piece of that tough old squash similar to this was grated fine and put into the dough.

How I altered the recipe for Soudough Techniques
I also believe that Lou Preston's original recipe would have used sourdough (although perhaps he used a variation on a pre-ferment/biga for extra flavour, too).  I've ignored most of the instructions for mixing the ingredients in the original recipe, and have made this in the Tartine Bread style.

I've used the Internet to determine the weights of various ingredients in the original recipe, finding various sites that describe the material and give weights for the volumetric.  Then I scaled them up to a Tartine Bread amounts.  As I went along mixing, though, I ended up changing the target amounts to fit the materials I had on hand.  And of course, I'm using whole wheat here, and not bothering with any bread flour.

From the table below, using the column "Target Weight" you can easily get baker's percentages for this bread (e.g. salt, at 20g, is 2%; flour at 1000g is 100%, etc.):

Ingredient Target Weight I used: Scaled Volume Target
ww flour 1000g 1000g ?
wheat germ 50g 50g ?
salt 20g 20g ?
starter 200g 200g ?
water 650g 700g ?
grated zucchini 120g 240g > 1 cup
( 1 c + 1 TBSP +  1/3 tsp)
cornmeal 93g 0 > 1/4 cup
chopped parsley 14g 30g > 1/2 cup
diced red bell pepper 95g 80g > 1/2 cup
roasted unsalted pistachios 55g 60g > 1/2 cup
roasted ground cumin 8g 7g > 1 TBSP
chil flakes 27g 25g > 1 1/2 tsp

A note on hydration.  Internet sources (e.g. Sandra Bastin's "Water content of Fruits and Vegetables") say that zucchini is 95% water, and I've included this amount in my target hydration scaling (see below for more, boring details).  I'm not convinced that this old gynormous zuke has that much water; and I wasn't afraid to increase the amount of water I used.  Perhaps that is another reason why the bread did sag a bit when flopped into the oven for baking. Or it was simply overproofed.

I didn't use any cornmeal.  It wasn't meant to be part of the dough, but rather would have gone on the pizza peel, to slide the bread into the oven, but I cooked mine in a dutch oven.  I could have poured some cornmeal on the proofing dough, but didn't think of it.  The addition of the cornmeal is probably important though, for a more authentic Moroccan taste.

The grated zucchini didn't look like enough, so I just kept adding some to my dough.  It virtually disappeared as I mixed it.  I used about double what the original recipe (scaled) called for.

I didn't have enough red bell peppers.  I found one small green one in our garden, under the grape vine, and cut it up too, but it still didn't bring it up to the weight I'd decided upon when I scaled the recipe.

I used ground cumin rather than roasting my own cumin seeds as the recipe described, and I'm sure I used too much.  I also tried to hit the 27g of chili flakes, and felt I was overdoing it -- this weight is a LOT more than 1 1/2 tsp, maybe three times as much volume.  I suspect that this is going to make this loaf extremely spicy, maybe too spicy for some people to eat.

The dough was mixed in the Tartine Bread style, with a short autolyse before adding extra water with the salt, and then elaborating the dough over the bulk fermentation with evenly spaced stretch and folds.  I fell asleep once the dough hit the proofing basket -- I hadn't slept at that point for over 24 hours, since I didn't go to bed after my last night shift.  The alarm woke me three hours later to put the bread in the oven.  And by then it was slightly overproofed.  Scoring it merely deflated the dough which had already flattened out some when I dropped them in the pan.


This bread was made on a fast day, and it smelled pretty spicy.  I was too tired to think about anything but sleep, let along eating, though.  So again, the fasting didn't bother me.

All day long, while I made this, I was sleep deprived, but I was determined to stick to the Tartine fold and stretch schedule for this bread.  I would set my alarm for the next stretch-n-fold, even as I rose from the horizontal position to perform the three or four minute task.  So I rested, after a fashion.

I broke my fast the next morning on this bread, a crust unadorned by butter.  Yowzha!  This is spicy.  My mouth was suddenly awake. But it was good.  Was it good because I was suddenly hungry?  Nope, that's not the only reason.  It was good.

The next couple of slices I ate toasted; one with a very thin slice of good cheese, and the other with some mint-and-lime jam that my wife made last month.  The cooling sensation of the mint jam went well with this bread.  Both slices were very nice.

Then we had some for lunch with our backyard chicken's eggs, turned into egg salad.  We both agreed it complemented the egg salad very nicely.

I bet it goes just fine with a certain California wine, too.

Thanks for the recipe you probably forgot you gave the world so long ago, Lou!

Notes to Myself
  • It occurs to me that most authentic artisan bakers have odd sleep/waking cycles, getting up from sleeping at different times to deal with their dough. I shouldn't keep using this as an excuse for my terrible looking loaves. They deal with it: so should you.
  • Despite what other bloggers have said about how difficult it is to fast when you are an exorphin junkie, or hooked on grain carbs, I haven't found this to be true for me (e.g. see J.D.Moyer's blog entry "What it feels like to regain your insulin sensitivity").  Light headedness on fast days still occurs, but that's probably due to dehydration -- or in my case, sleep deprivation.  On the other hand, I usually eat my grains whole.  Your mileage may vary, depending on how much highly processed flour you eat.  I'll continue to fast a couple days a week.  It's going to cost us $70 Canadian to get our Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 levels tested.
  • Although this bread is inspired by Moroccan cookery, it is not a typical Moroccan bread.  A short online search sent me to locate a recipe for a whole wheat Moroccan Khobz by Priya.  Not only is it a whole wheat bread, it also contains lots of sesame seeds and some anise.  Priya's bread looks very nice, and I might try that soon.  
    I think that the bread is fairly plain because it is used to mop up the spicy Moroccan food.  The Moroccan spice blend that is frequently talked about is the "Ras-El-Hanout",  for which there are several quite different recipes online.  This Ras-El-Hanout from "Gourmet", April 2004 seems to be very popular, according to the response it got from those who made it.  Would Ras-El-Hanout be a nice spice to put on zucchini, I wonder?  How would it fare in this bread?
  • More on this bread's Hydration, for notes.  The original recipe had 593g of water, plus 95% of the zucchini weight (about 107g) for a total of 700g.  This is pretty close to the 72% hydration that I had learned that Lou's Sourdough breads had.  The ratio of realt water to zuke-water in any scaled recipe is therefore 85% : 15%.  To get 15% water from your zucchini, you'd then need 121g of total grated zuke, and according to some volume-ingredient website I visited, this worked out to 1.07 cups.  I figured this to be 1 cup + 1 TBSP + 1/3 tsp.  But how accurate is this really?  And who cares, since I doubled up on the grated zucchini anyway because intuitively I just felt it wasn't enough.  Use your common sense.
  • The original recipe had bread flour and only a bit of whole wheat flour, and if you want to duplicate that, the scaled version would be 762g bread flour, 180g whole wheat.

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