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GSnyde

[Note: after the very detailed bread-making posts of recent weeks, I think it's time for something a bit more....ummm lesser].


It was a dark and stormy morning.  I woke alone.  I looked around.  Someone had set the clock back an hour.  Strange.  If today is an hour longer than yesterday, and no one else around, I should probably bake something.


Then I remembered!  There's really great fresh sourdough downstairs!  I walked downstairs.  I made coffee.  I fed the cat. I ate some sourdough toast.  I drank some coffee.  I watched the rain fall.  I read the paper.  I drank some more coffee.


Later, I made a cappuccino and ate some sourdough toast. It was good.


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I listened to the rain pounding on the window.  I flipped through my one and only bread book (I gotta go to the bookstore).


And then....AHA!!!


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I hatched a plan involving the Beloved's returning from her business trip to find her favorite bread (along with her favorite spouse and favorite pet).


I mised everything en place.  I mixed dough.  I kneaded nuts and fruits in.  It rose.


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I flattened it, and poured on the cinnamon sugar (adding a proven aphrosdisiac, grated bakers chocolate).


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I rolled it and panned it.  It rose.


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I baked it.  I cooled it.  I cut it.


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It was good.  


I had lunch of sliced chicken on San Francisco Country Sourdough Baguette.  It was good.


It stopped raining.


I went to the bookstore.  I found used copies of Bread Alone (Leader and Blahnik), Artisan Baking Across America (Glezer), and The King Arthur Flour Cookbook.  That was good too.


I returned home.  The Beloved returned home.  She smelled cinnamon.  She was happy.  She tried the bread.  She was very happy.


We dined on yesterday's soup and the SFCSD boule with butter.  It was good, even better today.  


The kitty again has the requisite two laps.  She is happy, too.


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And when Kitty's happy, everybody's happy.


 

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GSnyde


 


I was very pleased with my San Francisco Country Sourdough a couple weeks ago (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20228/shall-we-call-it-san-francisco-country-sourdough), but no formula is exempt from tweaking.  This week I tweaked it as follows: (1) I used KA AP flour in place of KA European-Style Artisan Bread Flour; (2) I increased whole wheat from 6% to 8.5%; (3) I increased hydration from 66% to  67% in light of the increased whole wheat;  (4) I refrigerated the dough for 17 hours after the 3 hour room-temperature primary fermentation; (5) I baked smaller loaves instead of two 750g boules; and (6) I went with the latest steaming craze.  The tweaks led to improvement.


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I don’t know if my starter was more active this week or loved the increased whole wheat  or the water was a bit warmer or what, but the dough got somewhat larger and gassier in the primary fermentation than it did last time.   There were many big bubbles in the dough when I put it in the fridge.


Right out of the fridge, the dough was divided into three 235g pieces for mini-baguettes.  The remaining 815g piece was formed into two mini-boules.  I decided to bake bats and balls in celebration of the Giants World Series Championship.


Bat and Ball IMG_1744


Dividing the dough into appropriately shaped pieces was interesting.  I ended up with three different shapes of mini-baguettes.  I could have shaped them more uniformly, but I sort of let them shape themselves based on how they were divided, and this is what they wanted to do. 


After carving off the mini-baguette pieces, I returned the rest of the dough to the fridge for another 90 minutes, so the mini-boules (baked after the mini-baguettes) started proofing around the time the mini-baguettes went into the oven.  I had to leave time to re-heat the cast iron pan and lava rocks for the second bake.


After 75 minutes proofing, the mini baguettes were baked on the stone at 500F with steam for 10 minutes and dry at 475F for 12 minutes more.  


The mini-boules proofed 90 minutes and were baked on the stone at 500F with steam for 12 minutes and dry at 460 for 16 minutes.


The steam was produced using the Sylvia’s-Luxury-Spa-Method-plus-good-old-cast-iron-pan-with-lava-rocks combination I used last week.  My oven was exuding steam throughout the first 10 minutes, so there’s no doubt it was moist in there.


The results were very satisfactory.  Like last time, the crust was thin and crispy and the crumb was light but chewy.  The taste is a bit nuttier with the increased whole wheat.  I like it so far and look forward to trying the “next day flavor”.


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Baguette CrumbIMG_1735


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I had most of a mini-baguette for lunch and part of one mini-boule with my scrumptious “Greek Gumbo” (soup with lamb meatballs, lentils and vegetables) for dinner.


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With my wife away, Tasha thinks she should join me at the table.  “Just meatballs for me, thanks”.


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Here’s the revised formula:


San Francisco Country Sourdough (Sourdough Pain de Campagne)


Yield: Two 750g  Loaves or Three Mini-Baguettes (235g each) and one 800g Loaf or…   


Ingredients


LIQUID-LEVAIN BUILD


100 grams   AP flour


24 grams  Whole Wheat flour


12 grams  Whole rye flour


170 grams   Water, luke warm


28     Mature culture (75% hydration)


FINAL DOUGH (67% hydration, including levain)


660 grams   KAF All-Purpose flour (85.5%)


65 grams  Whole wheat flour (8.5%)


45 grams   Whole rye flour (6%)


435 grams   Water at room temperature (56%)


17 grams   Salt (2%)


306     Liquid levain  (40%)   


Directions


1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 12 to 16 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F


2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the levain, but not the salt. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Correct the hydration as necessary.  Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for an autolyse phase of 30 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, and finish mixing 5 minutes. The dough should have a medium consistency. 


3. BULK FERMENTATION WITH S&F:  3 hours. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl twice 30-strokes at 45-minute intervals.  Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, and stretch and fold on lightly floured board at 45 minutes.  If the dough has not increased in size by 75% or so, let it go a bit longer.


4. RETARDED BULK FERMENTATION (optional):  After second S&F on board, form dough into ball and then place again in lightly oiled bowl.  Refrigerate 8-20 hours, depending on sourness desired and scheduling convenience.


5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Divide the dough into pieces and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30-45 minutes, and then shape into boules or batards or baguettes.


6. PROOFING: Approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours at 72° F. Ready when poke test dictates.  Pre-heat oven to 500 with steam apparatus in place.


7. BAKING: With steam, on stone.  Turn oven to 460 °F after it hits 500F after loading loaves.  Remove steaming apparatus after 12 minutes (10 for baguettes). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes total (for 750g loaves; less for smaller loaves).   Rotate loaves for evenness as necessary.  When done (205 F internal temp), leave loaves on stone with oven door ajar 10 minutes.


Happy Baking!


 


Glenn


Submitted to Yeast Spotting (http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting)

 

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GSnyde

I planned to try proth5's sourdough baguettes this weekend, per Brother David's recommendation.  And that turned out to be an especially good idea.  It's rainy.  My wife and I both have colds (or maybe we each have half of the same cold).  Perfect time for chowder.  And we have several pounds of Alaska Halibut in the freezer, caught by our neighbor.  And chowder just needs to be accompanied by baguette.   


My previous attempt at baguette was with the Anis Bouabsa formula.  It was a very trying experience for a near-novice working with that high-hydration dough (though the results were really good).  My wife wanted something a bit sourer, and I wanted to believe that Pat's 65% hydration formula would also make a superb baguette.  Now I believe.


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I followed proth5's formula, as reported in David's blog (http://tfl.thefreshloaf.com/node/10852/baguette-crumb-65-hydration-dough), using KAAP flour.  I wanted to make three 9 oz baguettes (about 14 inches in length), so I increased the formula by 30%.  And I used Sylvia's magic-steam-towel technique (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20162/oven-steaming-my-new-favorite-way) for pre-steaming and supplemented it with the usual lava rocks in cast iron pan. 


The dough was much easier to work with than the Bouabsa dough.  And the result is just the crispy-crusted-creamy-crumb-slightly-sour baguette I was going for.  I think I'm becoming a better baguetter.  The hot towels were also helpful in clearing my sinuses.


The chowder was exceptional, too.  A variation on my favorite clam chowder (Taddich Grill recipe), but with meaty chunks of Halibut.


Hasn't cured the common cold, but I'd feel worse if I didn't have such good soup and bread.


Thanks, Pat, and David, and Sylvia.


Glenn


 


 


 

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GSnyde


 


Or maybe World Series Sourdough?!! [Go, Giants!!]


I have enjoyed Acme Bread’s Pain de Campagne a couple times recently.  It’s a moderately sour boule with a thin toothsome crust and a somewhat fluffy, but chewy crumb.  I think it has some whole rye flour and some whole wheat flour.  It's about my favorite bread ever.


So, today I tried to bake something like it.  I used the formula and procedure for Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough as a starting point, but used KA European Style flour and some KA whole wheat flour and used a longer bulk ferment.


I studied dmsnyder’s boule-shaping tutorial and did my best to follow his tutelage and was very pleased with my shaping effort.  I got good oven spring and a nice crust crackles.  The crumb is just what I was  going for--light but chewy.  And the flavor is also pretty close to the Acme Pain de Campagne—nutty and complex and just a little sour.  I think this is the best tasting Sourdough I’ve made.


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Here’s the formula:


San Francisco Country Sourdough 


Yield: Two 1.5 lb Loaves


Ingredients


LIQUID-LEVAIN BUILD


100 grams   AP flour


24 grams  Whole Wheat flour


12 grams  Whole rye flour


170 grams   Water, luke warm


28  grams   Mature culture (75% hydration)


 


FINAL DOUGH (66% hydration, including levain)


680 grams   KAF European-Style Artisan Bread flour (88%)


45 grams  Whole wheat flour (6%)


45 grams   Whole rye flour (6%)


425 grams   Water at room temperature (55%)


17 grams   Salt (2%)


306     Liquid levain  (40%)


   


Directions


1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 12 to 16 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at room temperature (about 70 F).


2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the levain, but not the salt. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Correct the hydration as necessary.  Cover the bowl with plastic and let autolyse for 30 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, and finish mixing 5-7 minutes. 


3. BULK FERMENTATION WITH S&F:  3 hours. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl twice 30-strokes at 45-minute intervals.  Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, and stretch and fold on lightly floured board at 45 minutes.


4. RETARDED BULK FERMENTATION (optional):   After second s&F on board, form dough into ball and then place again in lightly oiled bowl.  Refrigerate 8-20 hours, depending on sourness desired and scheduling convenience. [I skipped this step this time].


5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Divide the dough into two  pieces and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30 minutes, and then shape into boules or batards.


6. PROOFING: Approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours at room temperature (about 70° F).  Ready when poke test dictates.  Pre-heat oven to 500 F with steam apparatus in place. 


7. BAKING: With steam, on stone.  Turn oven to 460 °F after steaming.  Remove steaming apparatus after 12 minutes. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes to

tal.   Rotate loaves for evenness as necessary.  When done (205 F internal temp), leave loaves on stone with oven door ajar 10 minutes.




I recommend this bread to anyone who likes sourdough with a moderate amount of whole grain.


Glenn

 

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GSnyde

Sports fans are notoriously superstitious.  Whatever they do on the day of a big win somehow becomes the cause of that win, and must be repeated in order to assure the next win.  So, I guess I have to bake Babka again today, Tuesday and Wednesday or the Giants are bound to face defeat.  Well...if they don't make it to the World Series, I'll take the blame cuz one Babka bake is enough for now. Yesterday, my first attempt at Babka (Chocolate-Cinnamon-Pecan) led to a thrilling one-run win in the Giants first NLCS game against the Phils.


Babka preparation is quite a big deal.  As Emperor Joseph II might have said to Mozart if he were a baker, there are just too many ingredients.  (No, I'm not comparing myself to Mozart; when he was my age, he'd been dead for 20 years).  Flour, yeast, salt, milk, butter, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, grated baker's chocolate, sugar, butter, pecans, flour, sugar, butter....and butter and sugar. There are also lots of steps.  But the results are worth the effort.


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Now that I've mashed together themes from Baseball and Classical Music, here's the recipe, an adaptation from Glezer, as told by Stan Ginsburg:



Cinnamon-Chocolate-Pecan Babka (Adapted from Glezer via Stan Ginsburg)


Makes 3 loaves.


Dough Ingredients (measured in ounces)


BreadFlour 36  


WholeMilk 17.25


Unsalted butter 6.75 


Egg Yolks, large 2.5 - approximately 4 yolks


Sugar 9.75  


Instant Yeast 1.0 


Salt 0.25 


Vanilla Extract 0.65 


Ground Cinnamon  .30


Filling Ingredients 


Sugar 11.5  (1 ½ cup)


Unsweetened baker’s chocolate, grated 4.50 (1 ½ cup)


Toasted and chopped Pecans,   8.0 (2 cup)


Unsalted butter, melted (also for greasing pans)   6.00 (1 ½  stick)


Streusel Ingredients


Bread Flour 3.0


Sugar 1.50 


Unsalted butter, room temp 1.50 


Method



  1.   Warm the milk to 105-110 degrees F.  Stir instant yeast into milk. Meanwhile, melt the butter for dough and allow to cool.

  2.  Add half (18 oz) of the flour to milk and yeast and mix until smooth. Allow to ferment about 30 min, until very foamy and volume triples.

  3.  Add remaining ingredients and blend using hands. Knead in the bowl until gluten forms and dough comes away from sides of bowl. This is a very rich, slack dough and it will take time for the gluten to form, but it will happen, so be patient.

  4.  Allow to ferment 45-60 min, until more than doubled in bulk and very gassy. Grease three loaf pans with butter. Turn dough out onto a generously floured board and pat firmly  to degas. Divide the dough into six pieces (two for each loaf).

  5.  Roll the first piece of dough into a very thin sheet, preferably less than 1/4". Using a silicon mat helps. Otherwise, make sure you have enough flour on hand to prevent sticking. When you finish rolling the first sheet, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle it evenly with one sixth of the sugar,  chocolate and pecans. Roll it into a spiral, jelly-roll style. Repeat for other five pieces of dough.

  6.  Preheat your oven to 325 and set rack in lower third of oven. Twist two rolls of dough together to form a double helix, a/k/a a spiral, and arrange in the pan.  Repeat for other two loaves.  Allow to proof for 30-45 minutes, until the dough extends above the rim of the pan.

  7.  Brush top of babka with melted butter. Blend flour, sugar and softened butter into a coarse mixture and sprinkle generously on top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until loaf is a rich, dark brown and it sounds hollow when tapped with a finger. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before tapping it out onto a rack to finish cooling for an hour.

  8. After cooled, enjoy Babka during final innings of Giants' victory.


These Babkas are a delicious moist coffee cake, not too sweet.  The only change I'd make is to add cinnamon to the filling as well as the dough.


Go Giants!  Go Nuts!


Glenn

Submitted to YeastSpotting (http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/)

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GSnyde

I baked Greek Bread (Psomi) today, using Brother David's Sourdough version with some Durum flour (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15470/greek-bread-improved).  The first time David baked Psomi was at our house last December, with the assistance of his Greek daughter-in-law (one of our very favorite nieces).  That occasion was reported in his blog post here (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15237/greek-bread-i-finally-make-it-my-greek-daughterinlaw).


I loved that first Psomi, and have been Pso looking forward to trying to bake it myself. 


Well...as is usually the case with my baking, all did not go perfectly with these Psourdough Psomis.


It started out alright.  David's formula was clear as always, and the dough handled nicely.  This was my first attempt at shaping boules, and I'd say I did ok, helped by his tutorial on the subject (geez...I'm starting to sound like his PR agent).  And I have to say I love my proofing baskets from TMG.


But as I looked at the two loaves and the size of my pizza peel and the size of my baking stone, I realized I might have a space problem.  When I flopped the loaves from the proofing baskets onto the parchment-covered peel, each overlapped the peel a bit.  And when I slid them onto the baking stone, the loaves were only an inch or so apart and both were near the edges of the stone.


So I was not surprised, when I opened the oven to pull out the steaming stuff, to see the two loaves had [ahem] become engaged.


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I was surprised to see how unevenly my poor old oven was baking these two conjoined loaves.  So, I clove them apart with a bench knife, turned them around to try to even out the browning, and turned the oven down to 425.


I may have more than my share of baking misadventures, but I also have my share of surprisingly happy outcomes.  In this case, though they are a bit carbonized at the tops, the two loaves have a nice thin crispy crust, a medium density moist toothy crumb, and a delightful toasty flavor.


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Even the surgical scar healed up nicely.


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Next time I bake this bread, I will use a cookie sheet instead of the smaller pizza peel.  And I will start the bake at 450 and turn it down to 425 right after loading, to reduce the char.


 


This dough could be made into a very nice sandwich loaf or roll.  I think I may need to try this recipe for buns for Greek sausages. Importantly, my chief taster has declared this bake to be a success and worthy of repeating.  And Pso I shall.


In closing, I will repeat the tale of Seseemeus which I shared in David's first Psomi blog post.  A lesson whose moral is: don't let pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of enjoying the purdy dang good.



I am sure you are aware of Aeschylus' unpublished play, The Bakers, in which the hero, Seseemeus, maniacally pursues perfection in his Greek Loaf, and keeps coming SO close but--at least in his mind--never attains it.   Poor Seseemeus neglected to appreciate fully the very very very good bread he baked, so keen was he on achieving the unattainable perfection.  And those who enjoyed his very very very good bread thought perhaps that their enjoyment of it reflected some defect in their taste.  A real tragedy!



Glenn

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GSnyde


Three bakes this weekend—from the lean to the…not!  All were good to eat, and all contributed to my learning process.


Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Loaf


In my quest for a good multi-grain sandwich bread, I decided to try Oatmeal-Cinnamon-Raisin bread (Floyd’s recipe from Hamelman posted here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/cinnamonraisinoatmealbread), but without the raisins and cinnamon.  It is a very large recipe—made for three 8.5 x 4.5 pans—from which I made two loaves in 9 x 5 pans.  The oat soaker had very little free water and the dough was too dry to blend with the prescribed quantity of liquid (honey, oil, water and milk), so I added about another half cup of water.  It was still the densest dough I’d made and very hard to mix by hand.  But it came together after about 15 minutes of on-and-off folding and resting.


The large quantity of yeast did the job of loosening up the dough ball in the first ferment, and it pre-shaped and shaped nicely.  The loaves came out very well.  Very much the texture I was looking for, moist but not squishy.  It was great for toast and for BLTs.  This formula would make good hamburger buns, I think.  My one adjustment, besides the added water, would be to increase the salt by 25% if doing this recipe without the raisins and cinnamon.  The recipe is simple and the whole process only takes about four hours from start to sandwich.


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This bread passed the PB&J test with flying colors.


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Anis Bouabsa Ficelles


After my first try at baguettes—using San Joaquin Sourdough—came out pretty well, I decided to try a higher hydration dough.  Going for the crispy crust and open crumb, I settled on the Anis Bouabsa formula Brother David has posted (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9839/ficelles-made-anis-bouabsa039s-baguette-formula”).  What an adventure for a near-novice!  The headline for this story could be “Everything went wrong except the results”.


I mixed the dough easily, a complete texture contrast to the Oatmeal bread.   The dough was very sticky and almost batter-like for the 10 minutes or so of hand-mixing.   With each stretch-and-fold-in-the-bowl, the dough got a bit more cohesive and silky, but was still very loose.  With a bit of flour on the board and my hands, I managed to do the last two stretch-and-folds with the majority of the dough cohering in the dough ball.  Then, into the cold fridge for 18 hours (I didn’t have 21 hours to play with).


The next afternoon the single-handed Three-Stooges-Meet-Molten-Gumby-Snake routine began.  I read that one should use no (or very little) flour on the board in shaping baguettes.  Because the dough was super-gluey, my choices were to flour the board and my hands or to maul the poor defenseless breadlings into indescribably grotesque deformations.  I chose flour.  Even so, each little (180g) dough glob was a handful.  The pre-shaping was fairly simple, with help from a dough knife.  Then I rested them on a rice flour/AP flour mix on the board for an hour.  In final shaping, I tried to use a light touch, but found myself spending most of my effort in keeping the globs together and off my hands.  They eventually got formed into more-or-less cylindrical shapes, about 13” long.  Extremely extensible.  Wrestling the semi-liquid snakes onto my improvised couche (parchment atop a big flour sack towel) was comical.   I had visions of the snake extending to 20 or 30 feet and wrapping my entire kitchen in its gluey grip.  But dusting them all over with the rice flour blend did the trick, and the ficelles did not stick too much to me or the plastic wrap.


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Scoring was likewise a mess.  The sharp and wetted lame continually dragged the sheath of the ficelles.  That maneuver will take more practice.  Then, when I tried to load the ficelles, on parchment, from the “couche” to a cookie sheet to the baking stone, the four snakes would not fit nicely on the stone with all the parchement.  So, while the oven temperature dropped, I scissored away some of the parchment, arranged the snakes on the stone, steamed, and slammed shut the oven door.  I was sure the bread would be as far from my ideal as the process was.


Wrong!  Though not much grigne, there was good oven spring.


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And the crumb was exactly what I was going for—holey but with some substance to chew.


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The texture is wonderful. Very crisp thin crust, with a creamy crumb.  My wife says it is the perfect baguette except she prefers some sourness. So, my next baguette experiment will be a slightly lower hydration dough with levain.


Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!


After the pizza discussion on my last blog post, I had to try a totally lean pizza dough, with just flour, water, yeast and salt.  I used the PR Neo-Napalitano recipe but with no honey or oil.   We had guests over and made two pesto and sausage pizzes, one with fresh corn and one with tomato.  The fresh corn and sausage combo is a winner.  Our guests loved the baguette and the pizza.  They think I'm a baker [heh heh].


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The pizza's outer handle wasn't as puffy as the enriched recipe, but the texture was excellent.  Next pizza will be with real 00 flour.


So all told, it was a weekend of baking variety.   Some lean, and some not.  If I’d made cinnamon rolls, too, I would have hit for the cycle.


Glenn

 

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GSnyde

With Brother David and Sister Susan visiting from the Great San Joaquin, I had to bake San Joaquin Sourdough, and I had to bake it good!  I made a double batch of dough to try Mini-Baguettes along with a couple Batards.  The process was uneventful (sorry, no Stupid Novice Baker Tricks this time).


After reading lots of descriptions and looking at several instructional videos, my first attempt at shaping Mini-Baguettes went pretty well.


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My scoring technique improves a bit each time and my new baking stone gives good spring (thanks, Stan).


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For a medium-hydration dough, the crumb was pretty holey.


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It was a big baking day.  Baguettes cooling, Batards proofing, pizza dough resting for its next stretch.  Pretty good production for a one-oven kitchen.


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David seemed to enjoy the Baguette, but perhaps not as much as the Pizza and Pinot Grigio.


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The Batards were proofed in my brand new bannetons.  Though not as gorgeous as the best our family produces, I'm easily pleased with Batards that look like Batards.  The crust was crunchy and the crumb was nice and moist.


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And one could get lost in the holes.


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Tonight, before dinner out, we'll have more bread and cheese and wine.  I'm expecting few complaints.


Glenn


 

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GSnyde

My first attempts at baking bread-like objects involved pizza.  About a year ago, Brother David made pizza.  It was good. I mean, it... was... GOOD!!!  I figured I could do that.  So I asked a few (too few, I now realize) questions, and he pointed me to the Pizza Primer on TFL, where I found the Reinhart Neo-Napolitano recipe.  I followed it (I thought) a few times, and the results were passable (I thought).  The crust was thin (I like that) but not crispy and it didn't really get a big holey crumb around the edge.  I sorta gave up on homemade pizza for several months.


Now as (both of) you who've been following my novice baker adventures know, I have recently come to realize that I had a defective baking stone.  It was advertised as a baking stone.  It looked and felt like a baking stone.  Only problem was it didn't seem to get really hot.  So, after many blond-bottomed breads with little or no oven spring, I've replaced it with one from NYBakers, and I'm making San Joaquin Sourdough this weekend for said Brother David to sample, critique, and hopefully enjoy.


But I couldn't wait for tomorrow to try the new stone in the old oven.  And I happen to have Mozzarella, Parmagiana, Sweet Italian Sausage, Pesto, fresh tomatoes and Mushrooms in the house.  So I set out on a preliminary test of the stone.  I went back to look at the Reinhart recipe, and started to mix it up.  It says "1 tsp instant yeast".  I slapped by forehead with the heel of my hand (a gesture so common among us d'Oh Boys that we usually have very flat foreheads).  Back before I started baking bread, how was I to know that the little yeast packet my wife had in the fridge was not instant yeast?  Now I know better.  I'd been making the dough with dry active yeast.  


So tonight, armed with real instant yeast and my New York baking stone, I made magnificent pizza!  Nice air pockets in the crust, big wholey crumb within the crispy rim.  So was it the yeast?  Was it the stone?  Was it my much improved dough handling?  I'm not sure I care.  It was GOOD! The dough had so much pop, I think it's still expanding <urp!>


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Tasha really wants some.


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Anyway, it's always a comfort to know I'm not as stupid as I was before (at least in one respect).


Glenn

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I'm probably trying to learn too much too fast.  And my brain is not as absorbent as it once was.  But surrounded by the centuries--maybe millenia--of collective knowledge on TFL, I want to both catch up and enjoy the learning process.  I know I'm doing the latter.  


I want to perfect something and I want to try everything.  So I'm kind of alternating--make a second (and third and fourth) attempt at lean sourdough bread (what I want to perfect), then try something very different (Curry-Cheese Bread, Cinnamon Rolls).   I have a feeling that this unintentionally methodical approach to learning about bread is the right way to learn a lot fast, at least for me.


So today, not having much time, I decided to try a yeast-leavened whole wheat bread.  The goals were: (1) to get the feel for a different kind of dough, (2) to get better at shaping pan loaves, and (3) have something to make a smoked turkey and tomato sandwich (this was the most important goal since we bought a bag of delicious farmstand tomatoes and my wife promptly left town for a business trip).


I looked at a number of recipes and settled on Floyd's Honey Whole Wheat.  The formula seemed simple and fairly quick, and I learned a lot from the commentary from ehanner and JMonkey (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/wholewheathoneybread).  I soaked the whole wheat flour as prescribed, and (having no electronical mixer) found it a bit difficult to incorporate the other ingredients.  Adding honey to a sticky dough seemed, for the first 5 minutes of tiresome hand-mixing, to be the sort of cruel joke a website owner might inflict on his community.  But Floyd doesn't seem like the cruel type, and lord knows I need the exercise, so I carried on.  Once the thing seemed fairly mixed I let it rest for 15 minutes.


The dough glob was extremely sticky and hard to work, but I didn't add flour, except a sprinkling on the board and my hands, because I'd felt the transformation of dough before and I had faith in the gluten.  And, sure enough, after about ten minutes of alternating folding and kneading, the dough started to become silky and less sticky.  After a while, I plunked it in an oiled bowl, stretched and folded it at 20 minutes and 40 minutes, and watched it grow....fast.  Just an hour after it was mixed, it was doubled, even with the S&Fs.


I divided the dough into two and shaped it per JMonkey's great video tutorial (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/2461/video-tutorial-shaping-sandwich-loaf).  Again the rise was quick, and they went into the oven with steam (from my brand new lava rocks!).  I forgot to turn the oven down for a few minutes, so the top got kinda dark.  But the overall result was pleasing.  A nice simple whole wheat loaf.  Great for a sandwich!


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I did start to get the feel for whole wheat dough.  I still need to practice loaf-shaping.  And I might try a sandwich bread with a lower percentage of whole wheat flour to get something a bit lighter in weight.  I'm not sure if the heft of these loaves is just what you get from a mostly whole wheat blend of flours, or if I might have overproofed or not formed the loaves gently enough. Not that they're super dense, just a bit too.


Thanks, Floyd, ehanner and JMonkey for the education.


Glenn


 

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