The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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“The Cooking of Parma,” by Richard Camillo Sidoli is the kind of cookbook I most enjoy. It has many marvelous recipes from one of the greatest food regions of one of the greatest food countries in Europe. It also presents a culinary history of the region, integrating the history of local foods and their preparation into the broader history of Northern Italy.


Alas, I have hardly scratched the surface of the delightful repertoire of this Italian province's cucina, but I have repeatedly made one recipe: “Torta di Patate.” This open-faced, rustic savory tart was for me an instant comfort food – perhaps because it's what a potato knish really wants to be when it grows up.



 


Torta Dough


Ingredient

Amount

Flour

2 cups

Salt

½ tsp

Water

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon

Olive oil

4 tablespoons plus ½ tsp

 

Basics of torta preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the water and 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

  3. Mix to form a dough, but do not over-mix. The goal is not to develop the gluten.

  4. Let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes. It can be left refrigerated overnight.

  5. On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough thinly. (About the thickness of 2 sheets of paper)

  6. Spread the remaining ½ tsp of olive oil in a 15 x 11 inch baking pan, and put the dough in the pan, leaving a 3 inch overhand on all sides.

  7. Spread the filling over the dough, and fold the overhanging dough over the edges of the filling, leaving most of the center open.

  8. Brush the torta with a beaten egg.

  9. Bake until golden brown (about 25-35 minutes.)

Parma-style torta's can be filled with a variety of vegetable mixtures, and this cookbook gives recipes for several, including squash, rice and savoy cabbage. I've made them all, except for the torta di riso. We like the torta di patate best.

Filling for potato torta

Ingredient

Amount

Potatoes (russet or yukon gold)

2 ½ lbs

Butter

6 tablespoons

Onion, chopped

½ medium

Leek, chopped

2/3 cup

Parmigiano cheese, freshly grated

2/3 cup

Milk

¾ cup

Salt & pepper

To taste

Eggs

2 large

Torta dough

1 recipe

Procedure for preparing potato filling

  1. Prepare torta dough, as above.

  2. Boil, bake or microwave the potatoes until just tender.

  3. Sauté the onions and leeks in the butter until soft but not browned.

  4. Peel the potatoes and put them through a ricer into a large bowl.

  5. Add the sautéed onions and leeks, the cheeses, milk and salt and pepper to the bowl and mix.

  6. Beat the eggs. Add ¾ of them to the potato mixture, reserving the remaining quarter to brush the torta.

  7. Assemble the torta as described above.

This mixture can be used immediately or kept , refrigerated, for use the next day.

Tortas are often eaten as antipasti, but we ate this as our main course for dinner, along with a green salad.

For dessert --- Well, what should follow a rustic savory tart? It has to be a rustic fruit tart!

Rustic sour cherry tart

Happy baking!

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting on SusanFNP's Wildyeastblog

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I baked a couple boules of Susan from San Diego's "Original" favorite sourdough today.



I used BRM Dark Rye and KAF Sir Lancelot high-gluten flours. The bread was delicious - even better than usual - with our dinner of Dungeness Crab Cakes and a green salad with mustard vinaigrette. My wife even cut herself an extra slice after she'd finished her dinner. I gotta tell you: That's unprecedented. Still, not surprising. The bread was exceptionally yummy.


The surprise was that the crust, while fairly thick and wonderfully crunchy, developed crackles like crazy.



I'd convinced myself that this kind of crackly crust was achieved (at least by me) only when using lower gluten flour. But there it is. Another theory shot to heck!


I wish I knew how I did it. 


David

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I'm rather fond of challah, but my wife isn't. Most challah is too rich and too sweet for her taste. The closer to brioche it tastes, the less she likes it. So, when I made “My Sourdough Challah” from Maggie Glezer's “A Blessing of Bread,” and both my wife and I loved it, I was delighted.


Of course, all challah was made with sourdough before the introduction of commercial yeast. Since then, according to Glezer, challah has tended to be made sweeter and richer. Sourdough challah has a “moister, creamier texture” and stays fresh longer that the yeasted variety. Glezer's version has a delightful sourdough tang which lends it an almost “sweet and sour” flavor. It is wonderful plain, as toast and as French toast.


 


Ingredients

The starter

Amount (gms)

Active firm sourdough starter

35

Warm water

80

Bread flour

135

 

 

The final dough

Warm water

60

Large Eggs

3 eggs + 1 egg for glazing the loaves.

Salt

8

Vegetable oil

55

Mild honey

65

Or Granulated sugar

60

Bread flour

400*

Sourdough starter

All of the above+

    * I added an additional 3 tablespoons or so of flour during mixing, because the dough seemed too wet. This may have been needed due to my using more starter than Glezer specifies. See below.

    + Glezer says to use only 200 gms of starter, but I used all of it (250 gms)

Procedures

  1. The night before baking, mix the starter and ferment it at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

  2. In the morning, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the starter in the water, then mix in the 3 eggs, salt, honey and oil until completely combined.

  3. Mix in all the bread flour until it forms a shaggy mass.

  4. Knead the dough on the bench or in a stand mixer until it is smooth and there is moderate gluten development. Add small amounts of water or flour to achieve the desired consistency. The dough should be quite firm.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it tightly. Ferment for about 2 hours. It may not rise much.

  6. To make two 1 pound loaves, divide the dough into two equal portions, and divide each portion into the number of pieces needed for the type of braiding you plan to do. (I did 3-strand braids.)

  7. Form each piece into a ball and allow them to rest, covered, for 10-20 minutes to relax the gluten.

  8. Form each piece into a strand about 14” long. (I like Glezer's technique for this. On an un-floured board, flatten each piece with the palm of your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece to about ¼ inch thickness. Then roll up each piece into a tight tube. Using the palms of your hands, lengthen each piece by rolling each tube back and forth on the bench with light pressure. Start with your hands together in the middle of the tube and, as you roll

    it, move your hands gradually outward. Taper the ends of the tube by rotating your wrists slightly so that the thumb side of your hand is slightly elevated, as you near the ends of the tube.)




  9. Braid the loaves.




  10. Place each loaf on parchment paper in half-sheet pans (I used a quarter-sheet pan for each loaf.) Cover well with plasti-crap or place the pans in a food grade plastic bag, and proof at room temperature until the loaves have tripled in volume. (Glezer says this will take “about 5 hours.” My kitchen was rather cool. I proofed for 6 hours.)




  11. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF with the rack in the upper third of the oven.




  12. Brush each loaf with an egg lightly beaten with a pinch of salt.




  13. Optionally, sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds.




  14. Bake until done – 25-35 minutes for 1 pound loaves.




  15. Cool completely before slicing.





David


Submitted to YeastSpotting on SusanFNP's Wildyeastblog


 

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Jewish Sour Rye, eh?



Hmmmm ....



Say, this isn't bad!



You did say there's more, didn't you?


Who asked why I bake?


David

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dmsnyder

We're going away for Thanksgiving for the first time in over 30 years. The good news is that we will be with both of our sons and their families for the first time in several years. And we'll be together for nearly a week, which will be wonderful.


If we were at home, I'd bake differently, but I need to take breads that travel well and keep well. I am not planning on baking there. So, here's the plan:



Polish Cottage Rye (from Daniel Leader's "Local Breads")



San Joaquin Soudough (2 lb bâtards)



San Joaquin Sourdough crumb (I cut the one that's "staying home")


And, just in case we get tired of turkey and really crave a corn beef sandwich ...



Jewish Sour Rye (from Greenstein's "Secrets of a Jewish Baker")


David

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dmsnyder

We're invited for dinner tomorrow at the home of one of my favorite high school teachers. He and his wife have become our good friends over the years. I offered to bring bread and decided to bake two different breads that I think they will enjoy: The Miche, Pointe-à-Callière from Hamelman's "Bread" and my own San Joaquin Sourdough. (This version)


My wife thought the miche would be just too much, so I divided the dough and baked two boules of 820 gms each.



Boules, Pointe-à-Callière


Rather a "bold bake" of these, but I expect the caramelized crust to be very tasty. 



Boules, Pointe-à-Callière crumb


Here's another photo of the boule that's going to dinner.



 


And the San Joaquin Sourdough. I think it was a bit under-proofed. The oven spring was ... exuberant. 



San Joaquin Sourdough 


David


Submitted to Yeast Spotting


 

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Today, I baked Hamelman's "Normandy Apple Bread" for the first time. This bread is a pain au levain spiked with instant yeast. It uses a firm starter and bread flour and whole wheat in the final dough. The apple flavor comes from chopped dried apples and apple cider.



Jeff (JMonkey) posted the formula and instructions for this bread May 19, 2007, so I won't duplicate them here. For those interesting in making this bread, Jeff's entry can be found here: Hamelman's Normandy Apple Bread


I followed Hamelman's instructions pretty much to the letter. I machine mixed for about 7 or 8 minutes and did a French fold before bulk fermentation. I did one more fold after one hour of a 2 hour bulk fermentation. I had to refrigerate the formed loaves for about 3 hours to work around an afternoon outing. I then let them proof about 60-75 minutes at room temperature before baking.


The loaves smelled wonderful while baking. The crust was crunchy. The flavor was somewhat disappointing. The apples do give pleasant little bursts of sourness, but the crumb flavor was not my favorite. It was basically like a light whole wheat levain, and that is not a type of bread I particularly like.


Your taste (undoubtedly) varies, and you may enjoy it more than I.


Then again, the Vermont Sourdough had such spectacular flavor, anything else would be hard to compare. Again, that's my taste.



 


David

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dmsnyder

These were made with the San Francisco Sourdough starter from sourdo.com. 



Vermont Sourdough on the left. San Francisco Sourdough on the right.


Please note the 3 distinct shades of browning of the Vermont Sourdough bloom. This is a sign that the blooming occurred gradually over a large portion of the bake. To me, this is an indication that the stars (loaf proofing, scoring, baking stone temperature, oven steaming, etc.) were all aligned propitiously. The oven gods smiled on these loaves, as you can see from their smiles' reflection on the loaves. (Eeeeew ... That's corney! Well, that 's what writing while listening to Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 does. Consider yourselves fortunate I wasn't listening to the Dvorak Cello Concerto!)


Okay! Enough, already! On to crumb shots ...



San Francisco Sourdough from "Crust & Crumb" 


The crust was crunch-chewy. The crumb was a bit less open than expected. (The loaves were a somewhat over-proofed and collapsed slightly when scored.) The flavor was inoffensive but had no particular wonderfulness. It was mildly to moderately sour, which was what I'd wanted.



Vermont Sourdough from "Bread"


The crust was crunchy and nutty-sweet. The crumb was about as expected. It could have been more open, but I'm not unhappy with it. The crumb was quite chewy and the flavor was marvelous! Complex, sweet and moderately sour. It was close to my ideal for sourdough bread. 


The Vermont sourdough did have whole rye (10%) and the San Francisco Sourdough was straight white flour (except for a trace of whole wheat and rye in the starter feeding). Both of these formulas can make blow your socks off delicious bread. I credit the rye with the superior flavor in the Vermont Sourdough today. I certainly recommend a flour mix of 90% white and 10% rye to anyone who hasn't tried it. You don't taste "rye," but it does enhance the overall flavor greatly.


David

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dmsnyder

 


Ed Wood, who sells sourdough cultures from various parts of the world, insists that a culture will maintain its unique combination of yeast and lactobacillus species and, thus, its unique growth characteristics and flavor, forever. My experience has been otherwise. I've bought his San Francisco Sourdough culture on two previous occasions. Both times, after a couple weeks of feeding, they produced bread with the characteristic San Francisco sourdough flavor, but after six months or so the flavor changed. The eventual culture was in no way "bad," it was just different. I assume the original organisms were replaced by others, and, from what I've read, the new ones derived from the flour with which I was feeding my culture.


My understanding is that the yeast and bacteria which inhabit grains are mostly on the outer surface, that is the bran. I have fed my starters with a mixture of white flour, whole wheat and whole rye for some time. Also, I keep my starters at about 75% hydration. Dr. Wood does not address what kind of flour one should use for feeding starters, but he does recommend keeping the San Francisco culture as a liquid. I believe this favors the homofermentive (lactic acid producing) bacteria over the heterofermentive (lactic and acidic acid producing) bacteria which prefer a less liquid (and cooler) environment.


With these considerations in mind, I have purchased Dr. Wood's San Francisco Sourdough starter a third time. I am feeding it only white flour. I still use whole grains in final levain builds, but I will not feed them to my "stock" cultures.


It is now a month since I activated the SF SD culture. I've baked a few breads with it, but I made no special effort to bring out the distinctive SF SD flavor to date. The breads I baked were very tasty – among the best tasting I've made. The dough rose very well, indicating good yeast activity. The sourness has been mild.


I figure it's time to start following the procedures I understand to optimize the culture for making breads with the authentic, distinctive San Francisco Sourdough flavor.


The first goal is to generate a mature starter with good numbers of active yeast and lactobacilli. Second, to have this starter ferment at the hydration levels and temperatures that enhance the production of the “right” balance of lactic and acetic acid. Third, to mix and ferment a dough with the desired flavor balance.


Incidentally, for this bake, I also incorporated Eric's (ehanner) recently endorsed addition of a small amount of Durum flour to a white flour mix to enhance flavor.



 


Penultimate levain build

Ingredients

Ingredient weights (gms)

Baker's percentages

Stock starter (67% hydration)

50

50

KAF AP flour

100

100

Water

100

100

 

 

Ultimate levain build

Ingredients

Ingredient weights (gms)

Baker's percentages

Activated levain

250

167

KAF AP flour

150

100

Water

150

100

 

 

Final dough

Ingredients

Ingredient weights (gms)

Baker's percentages

Ripe levain

200

37

Fine durum flour (from KAF)

35

6.5

KAF European Artisan-style flour

500

93.5

Water

360

67.3

Salt

10

1.9

 

Procedures

  1. Make the penultimate levain by dissolving the firm starter in the water and mixing in the flour. Ferment at room temperature until it is actively bubbling but not foaming. (8-10 hrs) I mixed this early one morning and let it ferment while I was at work.

  2. Make the ultimate levin by dissolving the penultimate levain in the water and mixing in the flour. Ferment at room temperature for 2-3 hours, then at 78-85ºF for another 10-12 hours. I mixed this after dinner and placed it in a warmed microwave oven over night. In the morning, I refrigerated it while I was at work.

  3. Mix the final dough by dissolving the ripe levain (Feed the extra and save it for another bread.). Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let it sit for 20-60 minutes. (Autolyse)

  4. Add the salt and mix thoroughly. Knead by french folding or in a stand mixer until the gluten is moderately developed. If using a KitchenAid mixer, this dough will not completely clean the sides of the mixer. With the flours I used, this was a moderately slack and somewhat sticky dough, even though the hydration was actually lower than what I most often use for sourdough breads these days. I assume this was because I have generally been using about 10% whole wheat or whole rye flour, which absorbs more water.

  5. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover it tightly. Note the volume of the dough.

  6. After 20 minutes, “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 30 strokes. Cover tightly.

  7. Repeat Step 6. two more times.

  8. After the third “stretch and fold in the bowl,” let the dough rest for another 20 minutes, then transfer it to a lightly floured board and do a stretch and fold (“letter fold”). Return the dough to the bowl.

  9. After 45 minutes, do a second stretch and fold on the board. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly. Continue fermenting until the dough has doubled in volume from the original volume that you noted in Step 5.

  10. Transfer the dough to the board. Divide it into two equal pieces, and pre-form each piece into a round (if making boules) or log (if making bâtards). Cover the pieces and let them rest for 10-20 minutes to relax the gluten.

  11. Form your loaves and transfer them to bannetons. Cover with plasti-crap or place each banneton in a food-grade plastic bag.

  12. Cold retard the loaves until ready to bake. (12-16 hours at 40ºF)

  13. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator and allow them to warm up and continue proofing until they have expanded by 50-75%

  14. One hour before baking, preheat your oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  15. Pre-steam the oven.

  16. Transfer the loaves to your peel. Score the loaves. Transfer the loaves to the baking stone. As anticipated, the loaves spread some when transferred to the peel and spread more when scored.

  17. Steam the oven and turn the temperature down to 460ºF.

  18. After 12 minutes, remove your steaming source. (If it is already dry, you can leave it in place, but do open the oven door for 10-20 seconds to vent the steam.

  19. Continue baking until the loaves are done – about 18-20 minutes more. (Their internal temperature is 205ºF, and thumping their bottom gives a hollow sound.)

  20. Leave the loaves in the turned off oven with the door ajar for 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  21. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  22. Cool thoroughly before slicing. (At least 2 hours)

 

The crust is very crisp and crackly. The crumb is moist, tender and quite full of lovely holes. The flavor is sweet and "clean" with no perceptible sourness. This is a wonderfully tasting bread, but the absence of any sour flavor is a mystery.

My next experiment needs to be to bake the "San Francisco Sourdough" from Reinhart's "Crust&Crumb." If that is not sour, the lactobacilli must have missed the plane from Idaho!

David

Submitted to Yeast Spotting.

 

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dmsnyder

 


My San Francisco Sourdough starter from sourdo.com is now two weeks old. I made another pair of my San Joaquin Sourdough breads with it yesterday. I modified my formula somewhat. I used a 60% hydration starter fed with AP flour only. I increased the amount of starter by 50%. I used KAF AP flour for the dough. I used no added instant yeast.



 


Ingredients

Weight

Baker's Percentage

Firm starter

150 gms

30.00%

KAF AP flour

450 gms

90.00%

BRM Dark Rye flour

50 gms

10.00%

Water

360 gms

72.00%

Salt

10 gms

2.00%

 

Procedure

  1. Mix the firm starter (1:3:5 – Starter:Water:Flour). Let it ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

  2. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the starter and dissolve it in the water.

  3. Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let it sit for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix thoroughly using the “stretch and fold in the bowl” technique. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

  5. Repeat the “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 30 strokes 2 more times at 30 minute intervals.

  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, and do one stretch and fold.

  7. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Note the volume of the dough. Cover the bowl tightly. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

  8. Repeat the stretch and fold on the board. Reform the dough into a ball and replace it in the bowl.

  9. Allow the dough to continue fermenting until the volume has increased 50%.

  10. Cold retard the dough for about 20 hours. (The dough had more than doubled and was full of large and small bubbles.)

  11. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and immediately transfer it to a lightly floured board.

  12. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape them into logs or rounds, depending on whether you want to make boules or bâtards. Cover the pieces with plasti-crap and let them rest for 60 minutes. (Give them a shorter rest if the kitchen is very warm. You don't want them to expand very much, if any.)

  13. Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  14. Shape the pieces and place them in bannetons or on a couche. Cover the loaves and proof them until they have expanded by 50-70%. (30-45 minutes)

  15. Pre-steam the oven. Then transfer the loaves to a peel (or equivalent). Score them, and load them onto your baking stone.

  16. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.

  17. After 12 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus. Turn the loaves 180º, if necessary for even browning.

  18. Continue to bake the loaves for another 15-18 minutes or until their internal temperature is 205ºF.

  19. Turn off the oven, but leave the loaves on the stone with the oven door ajar for another 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  20. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  21. Cool the loaves completely before slicing.

 

The loaves were already singing when I took them out of the oven. The crust developed crackles, which can be credited to the use of AP rather than higher gluten flour and the drying in the oven (Step 19., above).

 

The crumb was nice and open.

 

The crust was crisp when first cooled and crunchy/chewy the next morning. The flavor was sweet and wheaty, like a good baguette, with the barest hint of sourness. This was po

ssibly the best tasting San Joaquin Sourdough I've made. I think I'm going to stick with this version. Next time, I may use this dough to make baguettes.


David


Submitted to YeastSpotting


 


 

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