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Yippee

Many years ago, I used to go with you and other friends on Sunday mornings to the Hot Bagels and Bialys on Main Street, often before it was open for business.  We were just there waiting, hoping to be the first to grab one of those freshly baked bagels, as if they were going to run out any time soon.  That's when my love for those crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside 'rings' started to grow.  My favorite was cinnamon raisin. Those were the moments of our young lives.  It's been a long time since then, yet it feels like it happened only yesterday, as those scenes still vividly come to my mind and leap up before my eyes.  Sadly, today I can only seek scenes of you in my memory only. 


The news of your passing came too suddenly. I'm still in disbelief that you're no longer with us. It probably would be easier for me to think you've only arrived at a subway transfer station, be it Grand Central or Forest Hills, and you've gotten off the train and made a transfer without us this time.


"Uncle Alan", as my kids would call you; you're a kind-hearted, intelligent individual, a great dancer, and a competitive tennis player. If our paths ever cross again, I promise I'll make you delicious sourdough bagels that we never had at the bagel shop and we'll hustle again at Dance New York.  Shalom and Kol Tuv, my dear friend. Thank you for leaving all the wonderful memories behind. My thoughts will always be with you.


This entry and this bake are dedicated to my long-time, beloved friend, who consummated his journey of life in May, 2010.


Bagels produced in this batch did not only possess the characteristic combination of crunchiness and chewiness you would normally expect from a decent, fresh bagel, but they also had these robust flavors that you can't find in a regular bagel, largely due to the multiple levains and mix of flours used in this formula.  My family enjoyed them very much.  If my friend were still around, I'm sure he'd love them, too.  


Bagels are one of the relatively labor-intensive bread projects that I've been trying to avoid.  The scaling, shaping and rests in between take up considerably more time than shaping a simple boule.  Much to my disgust, the prices of the Guisto high protein flours used have either doubled or tripled at retail since last year.  The cost of these bagels, in terms of labor (billable hours) and ingredients, is sky-rocketing and way beyond any economic justification.  However, cherishing the memories of an old friend and experiencing the gratification of successfully meeting a new bread challenge, like they say in the Visa/Master commercial, are 'priceless.'


A summary of the formula and procedures is as follows:



 





Here are some photos:


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41705172@N04/sets/72157624279745564/show/

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Yippee

This was another white bread with a small amount of whole rye flour.  I’ve started to enjoy the simple shaping of a boule.  Actually, as they say in the commercial, ‘I’m lovin it.’ It does not require much intense planning or attention to details.   Processing of this type of bread is quite soothing, especially at the end of a long day, to an exhausting body and mind.   My original plan was to make baguettes but it was running late so I switched to a boule instead.


This loaf was quite similar to the previous one except for a few things.  Multiple levains were used in this bake and they were refreshed the night before mixing.  As a result, no commercial yeast was needed this time and fermentation was relatively speedier. Diastatic malt powder was used in anticipation of an extended fermentation. I was still experimenting with my oven temperature in order to achieve the right balance between optimum oven spring and color. The loaf still came out a bit too dark to my liking.  Further adjustment of temperature and timing is needed in next bake. 


I’ve been constantly on the look out for a more care-free way of making bread, as long as the quality of my loaves is not compromised. Retarding is one of the methods that enables me to complete the final proof without being too attentive to the dough. However, I’ve found that the temperature of my fridge is too low for the dough to rise to its full capacity. I’d like to have the dough ready to bake when I take it out of the fridge and not have to wait for it to warm up and complete its final proof afterwards.  Hmmm, wouldn’t it be nice to own a retarder as well? Well, before I have that extra gadget, here’s what I did: During my waking hours, I raised the temperature of my proofer a bit so the dough was about 80% complete of its final proof before I shut down.     The remaining phase of final proof carried on in the fridge overnight until I was ready to bake in the following afternoon. This ‘strategy’ worked out pretty well to further fit bread making into my schedule.


The multiple levains had brought more elaborate depth of flavors to the loaf.  It’s slightly tangier than the previous one as extended, cooler fermentation was employed. The initial light and velvety mouthfeel contrasted distinctively with the soft crackling of crust into smithereens that followed. What a sensation! Everybody in the family was satisfied.


A summary of the formula and procedures is as follows:



 



Here are some pictures:


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41705172@N04/sets/72157624142112386/show/


 

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Yippee

This was a simple white bread with small amount of whole rye flour.  The first time I made a similar loaf was coincidently around the same period last year.  Since then, I’ve acquired many new skills and made some progress in making artisan breads.  I felt that I’ve grown in the past year, as a learner, from an infant to a toddler, who is now on her feet confidently and curiously exploring in a giant Breads-R-Us. Thank you again to those of you who have helped me up and walking along this wonderful journey.


 


I don’t bake very often.  Therefore, I like to take advantage of every opportunity in each bake to experiment with new things. Some of the things I try are new techniques I’ve learned; and some of the things simply come out due to the situation.  Like this time, I wanted to get rid of some of the previously built starters that were not used due to cancelled bakes. They must have been sitting in the fridge unattended for months.  I decided to use them as is and complemented them with a trace amount of instant yeast and a longer fermentation.  Luckily, since I’ve had my proofer, I’ve been able to manipulate the fermentation process at will. Mixing of the dough was done exclusively by machine as usual. Gluten was fully developed and oven spring was superb as I sealed all the vents during steaming. I used the method David (dmsnyder) had shared with me to flour the brotform.  I rubbed rice flour into it and I got the Sbeautiful patterns I’ve always wanted on my loaf. I also found Mr. Lepard’s oil-your-work surface technique a very practical alternative to dusting the counter with flour as it eliminates the clean up of mess afterwards.    


 


The crust turned out very crackly but was a bit too dark.  I think I need to lower the oven temperature sooner next time.  The crumb was light, springy and fluffy and had a very, very mild, almost undetectable tanginess, which my family enjoys.     


 


A summary of the formula and procedures is as follows:


 



 



 


 Here are some pictures:


 


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41705172@N04/sets/72157624044659700/show/


 


 

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Yippee

Decades ago, my elementary school teacher Miss Yeung wrote down 'Simplicity is Beauty' in my graduation autograph book.  Even though I knew every word in this phrase, it was too complicated for a 6th grader who was then indulging in Hello Kitty and Melody dolls to fully appreciate the profound meanings behind it and I haven't given it much thought since. Today, the same phrase just dawned on me when I completed Mini Oven's 100% rye. Isn't this bread a true reflection of the message my teacher was trying to convey years ago?  It's a simple loaf made with Mini's magic ratio. The moist, airy, glossy, and flavorful crumb is the beauty I've witnessed and experienced. 'Yummy' would be an understatement to describe her bread. In order to appreciate the combination of the complexity of flavors and the spongy-yet-substantive texture, you've got to try it yourself!


Last time, I was uncertain what my relationship with rye would be when I made the 90% rye loaf.  Remember, we're Asians and we did not grow up with and are not even familiar with rye breads.  In fact, my kids had refused to eat rye bread again after trying a terrible sourdough rye loaf from a famous local boulangerie. Hear this:  "We have a personal grudge against rye bread!!! We won't eat it again!!!" That's how bad it was but that has changed. This time, these 100% rye loaves have received accolades from my entire family and we're in love with them!  I sincerely thank Mini Oven for her time and generosity in sharing 'trade secrets' unconditionally and it has made my first 100% rye experience very successful and enjoyable.


The details of procedures are discussed in Mini's blog.  I doubled her formula and adapted to a 3-bulid, 50% hydration firm starter. A summary of my formula is as follows:


 


 


 


The specifications of the flour I used are as follows:



Approximately, slightly more than half of the dough I prepared went into an 8x4x4 Pullman pan, which was filled to about 1" below the rim. Next time this amount should be reduced to make a perfect Pullman loaf.  The remaining dough went into a greased Pyrex bowl.  Fermentation took place at 80F for 8 hours.  


 


I removed my baking stone and replaced it with a sheet pan prior to baking.  These loaves were covered and went in the oven when it was cold. They remained covered until 15 minutes after the oven had reached 410F. Then the probe of a thermometer was inserted in one of the loaves and baking continued until internal temperature registered 205F. 


 


This time I didn't forget about my rye breads in the oven.  They were sliced 36 hours later.


 


Here are some pictures:


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41705172@N04/sets/72157623703922158/show/


 

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Yippee

This is a very exciting moment.  Many weeks of research and planning have paid off.  My dream of making elegantly curved, crescent-shaped croissants has finally come to fruition.  Along the research process, I’ve consulted sources from American, Chinese, French and Japanese professionals and reviewed several forum and blog entries at TFL about croissants.  If any of my procedures sounds familiar to you, it is probably inspired by your input and I thank you for sharing your experience with our community.


My procedures are a conglomerate of all the essence from different sources that I found helpful in achieving an effective workflow which produces quality results. This is a primary principle I’ve stood by in my day-to-day practice. There are numerous good croissant formulas out there.  It’s just a matter of settling down on the ones that best suit my needs.  For my first attempt, I was looking for a simple formula that doesn’t take forever to produce. After all, it’s merely a big lump of butter encased by bread dough.  It shouldn’t be that complicated to handle.  Luckily, I’ve been very familiar with the sweet dough used from making many loaves of Asian style breads. Therefore, once I understood the fundamentals of preparing a butter block and making turns, I was ready to tackle this part pastry, part bread challenge. 


I adapted the croissant formula from “Teacher Zhou’s Gourmet Classroom” (周老師的美食教室), a Taiwan based Chinese website dedicated to introducing foolproof recipes of a broad variety of foods. The host of this site is an author of three well-received cooking and pastry books in Chinese.  She currently lectures at a baking institute and is also a high school home economics teacher. The reliable recipes and formulae on her website are a guarantee of quality outcomes and I consider this Classroom the Chinese version of "the America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated". I particularly like her systematic approach of coaching and scientific approach of handling food.  I simply felt that our styles ‘clicked’.  Her croissant formula caught my attention because it was the easiest one I’ve seen and it only takes a few hours to complete.  With this formula, I won't end up having a full freezer of uneaten croissants.  The portion of flours called for is so small that I could even use my semi-retired Zojirushi to handle the job. 


The following is an outline of my formula and procedures:


 





I am very happy with my first croissants.  They look and taste like the real deal.  Next time, I’ll try the sourdough version.  The following are some pictures and photo credit goes to my husband.  Thank you, honey, for your help. 


 


http://www.flickr.com/photos/41705172@N04/sets/72157623822219114/show/


 




This post will be submitted to Wild Yeast Yeastspotting!

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Yippee

This year is the Year of Tiger.  It’s a tradition for Cantonese to make cakes for the Chinese New Year.  The pronunciation of cakes, which is ‘GO’, is the same as the word ‘tall’ in Cantonese.  Seniors in the family like to wish their grandchildren grow tall and healthy (快高長大) in the New Year.  Therefore, cakes are an indispensable part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. 


 


We make all sorts of cakes, sweet and savory, from rice or glutinous rice flours.  My favorite is radish (daikon) cakes.   You’ll find them where dim sum is served in a Chinese restaurant or they are sold pre-packaged in a Chinese grocery store when it’s close to the Chinese New Year.  But let me tell you, these are no comparison to the homemade ones. For the ones money can buy, they are usually made with a very high proportion of flour and very little radish and other ingredients.  Therefore, these cakes often turn out very hard and have very little flavor. 


 


Before the New Year, I usually prepare a very fancy version of daikon cake which consists of Japanese dried scallops(瑤柱), dried shrimps(蝦米), Virgina ham (金華火腿), Chinese style cured and smoked ham(臘肉), Cantonese style sausage(臘腸), plenty of shredded daikon and a small amount of rice flour. The mixture of all ingredients is steamed for about 45 minutes and let cool on wire rack.  During the New Year, we normally lightly pan fry the cake before enjoying it. It is crispy outside with flavorful seafood and meats.  Instead of the usual gumminess you’ll experience from store-bought daikon cakes, the mouthfeel of the inside of this cake is moist and soft, with the fibrous chunks of shredded daikon coming apart.  With all the ingredients, it’s a big, tasty meal in itself and I like to dip it with Lee Kum Kee (李錦記) chili sauce before serving.


 

I must give credit to my husband for his efforts to assist me in the preparation of radish cakes this year.   He took on the role of dicing and weighing ingredients and shredding the radish, which are the most time consuming parts of the process.  He wanted to do this with me so that we can spend more precious time together.  I truly appreciate his thoughts and prepare many good foods in return. The radish cake served today was pan fried and pictured by my husband as well.    

 

As a parent, I too wish my children grow tall and healthy after eating my radish cake, the ‘GO’, and have a head start in the New Year.

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33569048@N05/sets/72157623330067415/show/

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Yippee

I've been very curious about other bakers' enthusiasm for rye breads, which, from their appearance and my past experience, I could only associate with tree bark and the nasty tasting caraway seeds. Mr. Hamelman's 90% rye bread has completely changed my impression.  Not only did this bread turn out moist, but it also had that complex, mild, tangy aftertaste which evolved slowly and lingered in my mouth. This was a new experience for my taste buds.  The earthy, almost chocolaty aromas of the flour plus the crunchy crust have made my biscotti-shaped slices a perfect tea time snack.


These loaves were not sliced, tasted and pictured until three days after they were baked, since I left them inside of the cooled oven and forgot about them.  They tasted both moist and crunchy on that day. However, the next day, they started to taste a little dry.  I then froze half and left the other half at room temperature in ziploc bags.  Today, it is day 12 and the slices left in room temperature have shown no signs of molding but they have lost most of the moisture in the crumb.


This formula used the Detmolder method, which required precise temperature controls at three different stages, to develop a rye sour with vital wild yeasts and well balanced flavors.  With the help of my new proofer, I can say that monitoring temperature is piece of cake!   


The following is a summary of my interpretation of Mr. Hamelman's formula and procedures:


 



 



 


With my background of growing up with all the Asian style fluffy white breads, it's probably too soon to make a statement that I'm falling head-over-heels for rye bread, but it is an interesting category I'll definitely explore further. This was the first bread I made from Mr. Hamelman's book and it was also my first bread in this new decade. I'm celebrating these 'first time occasions' by doing something special: I'm taking the extra time and steps to resize and attach a photo in my normally text-only entry.  I think it's about time to learn, at least for once, how to upload pictures and add some colors to my blog.



 


For the remaining pictures, please visit my album of Mr. Hamelman's 90% rye at Flickr.


 


 


This post will be submitted to Wild Yeast Yeastspotting!


 

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Yippee

Like a child, I was eagerly waiting for my Christmas gifts last year.  Instead of Santa, it was my hubby who delivered them.  The first gift was a homemade proofer based on SteveB's brilliant design with some enhancements. The few modifications my husband made were using three storage bins, instead of one, to enhance insulation and using digital thermometer(s) for easier reading and monitoring.


I had been longing to own such an awesome tool.  However, I'd been very reluctant to enter the workshop in the garage because it's really not my department and things there are so unfamiliar to me. Therefore, when my husband volunteered to build it for me, I accepted the offer with great delight.  As part of the Christmas package, he also extended the stones in the oven to the full length of the racks. His thoughts were surely heartwarming and these gifts were the highlights of my holiday season.


I first revisited my sourdough pain de mie to test my new proofer.  I monitored the dough temperature during mixing so that results could be more predictable.  With the proofer set at 86F and 96F respectively, it took 3 hours for bulk fermentation and 2.5 hours for final proof. I felt very comfortable that I had complete control of all the procedures from mixing to final proof, and without the hassle of folding dough and checking temperatures back and forth.  In addition to the 1-hour-autolyse and brief mixing combination I learned previously, this device has brought me more peace in bread making.  


I was quite satisfied with the crumb texture, which I'll share a few shots today.  However, a third trial is probably needed to fine tune the weight of ingredients and oven temperature before this formula can be finalized.  


Next, I used this new tool to make homemade yogurt, which I gave up in the past because the results were less than satisfactory and the procedures required to maintain an optimum temperature for the culture were giving me headaches.  With my new toy, all of these have become history. I've accomplished the best results ever with the least effort this time. 


This tool is another indispensable addition to my gear. I'm sure I'll put it to good use in the future.  Thank you, SteveB, for sharing your design with us and thank you, honey, for supporting my new hobby. 


Here are some pictures:


Homemade proofer


Sourdough pain de mie crumb shots


Homemade yogurt by new proofer


 

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Yippee

I tried SteveB's double flour addition/double hydration techniques to make his ciabatta, one of the three beautiful breads I promised myself to learn from some of the most sophiscated, well-respected home bakers here at TFL when I first started making bread back in February this year. Since then I'd tried dmsnyder's baguettes and Susan's ultimate sourdough.  I've always tried my best to emulate the orginal formulas so that my breads would not 'disgrace' the beautiful creations by these bakers.  My ciabatta is no comparison to Steve's picture perfect creation, but at least I can say 'I've tried it'.  Thank you, Steve, for your inspiration of pursuing professional quality breads from a home kitchen.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/33569048@N05/sets/72157622813299190/show/

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Yippee

Inspired by Nathan's recent post, I made Mr. Dan Lepard's sourdough walnut bread (page 111, The Handmade Loaf).  This was an experience of assimilating existing and new techniques learned, making independent judgment, and testing new gear.  I experienced the one-hour autolyse technique, which worked seamlessly with my spiral mixer to achieve my goal of streamlining home baking procedures in order to minimize hands-on time.   As Nathan mentioned in his post, the dough was well developed after the one-hour autolyse.  It only took additional 4 minutes and 30 seconds of mixing by my mixer to reach the windowpane stage.  This did not only save me the follow-up stretch-and-folds of the dough, but also prevented its temperature from rising too high from over mixing.  It registered 75F when mixing was completed.


I was very relieved to have learned this effective technique-plus-gear combination because it means more flexibility in my schedule. With the added peace of mind, bread baking will be more enjoyable. I did not perform any subsequent S&F to this dough but the crumb still turned out very springy since gluten was sufficiently developed through extended autolyzing and brief mixing.


Like Nathan, I did not use commercial yeast in this bread.  It was leavened by 18% of pre-fermented flour maintained at 80% hydration. My percentages were a bit different from Mr. Lepard's, since my presentation took into account the water and flour content in the starter as well. The weight of all ingredients used (except for water), however, is identical to Mr. Lepard's formula. 


In this bread, I made my favorite water roux starter with all the rye flour called for in the formula. I made sure the rye roux starter had reached 176F, so to destroy the amylase in the flour (thanks again to Mini Oven for the information). In order to achieve a reasonable consistency of the roux starter, I had to raise the final dough hydration to 79%.  However, the dough was not difficult to handle, probably due to the presence of (pre-roasted) nuts and good gluten development.  It just felt very pliable after the 3-hour bulk fermentation.   The dough was then shaped and retarded overnight.  It was baked in the next morning at 500F for 20 minutes, then 460F for 15-20 minutes.


Nathan's beautiful breads in another post also inspired me to purchase Mr. Hamelman's book, which I used primarily as a reference for shaping and scoring this time.  


The taste of this bread was divine.  The crust was crunchy and the crumb was springy, buttery, and fragrant with the walnut paste mixed in the dough.   I enjoyed it very much. I no longer need to dream about Nathan's bread because now I have my own. Thank you, Nathan, for bringing this bread and Mr. Lepard's book to my attention.


And here it is, Mr. Lepard's sourdough walnut bread:


 


http://www.flickr.com/photos/33569048@N05/sets/72157622767229982/show/


http://www.flickr.com/photos/33569048@N05/sets/72157622767229982/


 


This will be submitted to Wild Yeast Yeastspotting!


 


 


 


 


 


 

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