The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Struan is the bread that truly launched his bread baking career, Reinhart says (p. 102). In Gaelic, struan means “the convergence or confluence of streams,” a good description for multigrain breads where all kinds of grains and seeds are coming together (the combinations are, of course, endless).


Because I love breads full of grains and seeds, I have bought Peter Reinhart’s book “Whole Grain Breads.” Most of the recipes in there consist of three parts: a soaker (part of the flour, the seeds and grains and part of the salt are soaked in water or often in milk, buttermilk or yoghurt for 12-24 hours), a biga (to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to three days) and the final dough.



The flour for this multigrain Struan is whole wheat (67%) and to it I added in about equal parts: sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds, and millet (seeds and grains 33%). Reinhart says that he prefers to cook the millet, but it can also be added to the soaker uncooked. I prefer it that way since it gives a beautiful crunch to the bread that we like very much.


I made a school lunch with this bread for my 15 year-old son and thought he’d tell me upon his return to never use such a seedy bread again. To my big surprise he announced that this was the best sandwich ever.




For guests I made one of my favorite desserts. It’s a Swiss recipe called “Quarktorte” which in English gets translated as cheese cake. Most cheese cakes in the US are made with cream cheese as you all know, in Switzerland however we use a product called “Quark” which is a type of fresh cheese, much lighter than cream cheese (kind of like a firm yoghurt) and very tasty. It comes in plain form (which is needed for this dessert) or in many fruit styles. It is available in the US in some specialty stores, at about 10 times the Swiss price. To substitute I use sour cream light. I had to get used to the different taste, but it works very well. Only the base gets baked, the rest is a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, stiff egg whites, sour cream, whipped cream and gelatin. I always import my yearly supply of gelatin leaves from Europe whenever I go there, thus I have never had to get used to gelatin in powder form, the only one readily available here, as far as I know.


It’s an elegant, fresh dessert that has a somewhat airy texture and the appearance of being very light.



I also made this typical, very common and simple French summer dessert: a clafoutis with apricots and blueberries. It is a very easy and tasty way to use up fresh fruit. The most common version is with cherries.


 


And finally for brunch at our neighbors this past Sunday I baked these cinnamon rolls (I myself don't like cinnamon in sweets much, I prefer it in savory dishes). They came out very light and fluffy. I used a recipe from the King Arthur site and substituted the potato flakes (which I don't have) with a freshly cooked potato (before cooking it was around 120g) that I mashed finely with a little water. This ingredient, I read, makes cinnamon rolls very soft, and it's true, as several people commented on how fluffy and light they were. 


 


 

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chouette22

Every time I spend five, six weeks with my family in Switzerland in summer, this is the bread I am looking forward to eating the most.



It is originally from Geneva (the French-speaking part of Switzerland) and its inventor is Aimé Pouly, the author of the book “Le pain” (available, but out of stock right now at Amazon, only in French, as far as I know).


         


He is one of the originators of the “Slow Baking” movement, where bread dough is made completely without the too commonly used industrial flour mixtures that speed up the fermentation. Most  bakeries have everything but time, it has to be fast and cheap, and the lacking taste is being helped with additives – a very common approach nowadays, as the well-known German baker Süpke (referred to recently by Hans Joakim) explains in this very interesting article about preferments (in German though). He says, that until he discovered the Slow Baking movement, the only preferment he’d use in his bakery was sourdough. All other dough was made with the use of “little helpers” or convenience additives, as most bakeries do. Now, he says, he doesn’t sell a single bread with yeast  that has not gone through some type of prefermentation, and the change was everything but easy, he adds. The entire rhythm of the bakery changed completely, but the resulting breads were absolutely worth it.


Aimé Pouly believes in the old approach of a very long fermentation (about 24 hours it seems) and all breads are hand-formed and therefore no two of them are the same. This is the first fresh bread recipe worldwide that got patented, in 1995. Since then, every bakery that wants to sell this bread needs to get the license from Pouly, and apparently only good, quality bakers are able to get it. Then an advisor comes into the bakery to teach the bakers. MANY bakeries in Switzerland now sell the Pain Paillasse, and in the meantime also over 50 bakeries in Germany, and many places in France, Spain, Austria, Italy, and probably more, but the flour will always get delivered to all of them from Switzerland, as part of the recipe. A true success story of slowness, as it is sometimes referred to.


It originally came in three types: white, dark, and rustique (with seeds), but now also with olives, or chocolate, as a provençal version, and more.


         


The crust is strong, and the crumb is very open, soft, sweet (there is, however, no sweetness added, it’s just the long fermentation) and very moist.



The taste is just wonderful! My favorite one is the rustic one with the seeds.


 



Since the recipe is a secret, I have recently tried to recreate a version of it. I saw a recipe for Alpine Baguettes in the blog Beginning With Bread. It is from Daniel Leader’s book “Local Breads” and he got it from Clemens Walch in the Austrian Alps. Since I liked the outcome so much, I have now purchased the book and intend to try many more recipes from it.


We really loved this bread! I have made it twice now, the first time with a whole-wheat starter and the second time completely according to the recipe, with a rye starter (that I have changed from my AP starter over the course of three or four feedings). I could not, however, detect a really different flavor or behavior of the dough, thus in the future I will just take my WW starter. If you like breads studded with seeds (it contains a soaker of sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds, as well as rolled oats), then give this a try!


This was my outcome:



The Paillasse rustique has most of its seeds on the outside (it specifies this on the paper sleeve in which it is being sold), the inside just has a few and is otherwise mostly like the dark Paillasse. The Alpine Baguettes are full of seeds inside, but since the hydration is quite high, it's not easy turning the final loafs in a mixture of seeds and grains to coat them.


 

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chouette22

Finally I am finding (or rather taking) the time to post about my recent baking activities. And since I am still on vacation, but the semester starts next week, I'd better not rely on having more leisure then...


I have baked quite a bit with my sourdough starter (which is now about 4 months old, but has already spent five weeks straight in the fridge when I was in Switzerland - seems to have survived it well) and we all love the resulting breads. Here are some examples:


The classic Vermont Sourdough (Hamelman):



Susan from San Diego's "Original Sourdough":



Sourdough Walnut and Sultana Bread (recipe by Shiao-Ping):



This bread was absolutely delightful. I put all kinds of dried fruit (the big black spots you see are prunes). The only change I will make next time is to include a tiny amount of sweetness, a spoon or two of honey probably.


Pain de Provence (Floyd's recipe; herb bread, no sourdough):



Delicious! I made it with all sorts of fresh herbs from the garden, chopped very finely.


King Arthur's Monkey Bread (no sourdough):



By the time I got the camera, the kids with the visiting neighbour kids had already torn into it ...


And for good measure, two desserts.


Blueberry Pie with fresh Michigan berries:



And finally, Eclairs filled with Vanilla Pudding and fresh strawberries. They certainly didn't last long!



 


As I said in my introduction, I LOVE a certain Swiss bread and have been trying to recreate some kind of copy of the patented original. I'll do a separate post on how that is coming along.


 


 

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