The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hanseata

Fellow bakers, many of you rose to my last year's challenge, re-creating a Vollkornbrot for Schlosshotel Cecilienhof in Potsdam ("When Taste Meets Tradition").

I fully trust you to come up with another loaf with a historical connection - a bread worthy of Götz von Berlichingen, the Knight With the Iron Hand.

This is what it is all about:

My husband and I are romantic souls. We like to visit fortresses and castles, and whenever we travel in an area where those are plentiful, we check for hotels with turrets and moats, commanding views and a rich history.

On our recent trip to Germany we stayed two nights at Schlosshotel Götzenburg in Jagsthausen. The medieval Castle Jagsthausen is the birth place of Götz von Berlichingen.

Götz von Berlichingen (1480 - 1562)

This notorious knight spent his life as mercenary, engaged in the never ending feuds between Emperor, nobility, church, wealthy cities and farmers, losing his arm, being incarcerated, outlawed and re-installed in the process (amazingly, he nevertheless lived to a ripe old age!)

He would have been probably long forgotten, if not immortalized by Goethe in his drama "Götz von Berlichingen with the Iron Hand", who turned the belligerent knight into a pillar of integrity against a deceitful and decadent society - in other words: a German Robin Hood.

Goethe turned Götz into a German hero

 When besieged by the Imperial Army and asked by its captain to surrender, Goethe had Götz say the famous (and, in the last part, often quoted) words of defiance:

"Me, surrender! At mercy! Whom do you speak with? Am I a robber! Tell your captain that for His Imperial Majesty, I have, as always, due respect. But he, tell him that, he can lick me in the arse!"

My husband quotes Götz von Berlichingen

 Schlosshotel Götzenburg doesn't only offer an lovingly restored medieval environment, beautiful views, and fine dining - its courtyard also serves as stage for the annual theater festival Burgfestspiele Jagsthausen.

One of its highlights, is, of course, the drama about the outspoken knight with the iron hand.

Scene from this year's theater production "Götz von Berlichingen"

The (comparatively moderate) price for our hotel room included breakfast (thankfully, something you still can expect in most German hotels!)

The ambiance - dark paneled dining hall, solemn ancestors looking down from the walls, body armor and tapestry - couldn't have been more appropriate. The dinner the night before had been fabulous, so we had high expectations for the breakfast.

Everything was fine - except for one thing that really matters for this bread loving baker: the rustic looking loaf on the table was sadly lacking - in crustiness as well as in taste!

Breads at the breakfast buffet - a mass produced disappointment

When I asked about it, I learned that it was not baked in a local bakery, but supplied by a whole grocer: hence its blandness and rubbery crust. Not at all worthy of the legacy of a fierce old knight! (He might have fed it to his dogs.)

Grumbling at the breakfast table, I pondered what to do. Whine about it to the manager? Or smite this nice hotel with a nasty comment at TripAdvisor? I had a better idea.

I WOULD GIFT THEM WITH A BREAD!

So, please join me, dear friends, in creating a special loaf, worthy of the noble Götz and his beautiful castle (which is, by the way, still owned by the Berlichingen family!)

Even though this loaf is meant for a medieval castle hotel - please, refrain from submitting an "Authentic Bread" à la Don Sadowsky. The tough old fighter might have had his share of those, while embattled, but he surely would not have served them to guests of his castle.

I won't give you a deadline, most of you are hard working people with little spare time, and if you want to participate, you will bake your bread as soon as you can, anyway.

Every contribution will be posted and linked to your blog (if you have one).

I will present our results to Schlosshotel Götzenburg, and, hopefully, when any of us visits there next time (it is well worth it!) you'll find a bread that (like Cecilienhof Vollkornbrot) marries taste with tradition.

Schloss Götzenburg

 

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hanseata

After reading Don Sadowsky's guest post "The Hole Truth" on Barbara's wonderful blog "Bread & Companatico", I knew I had met a kindred spirit.

Beginning with his nouvel interpretation of Munch's famous painting - how lame seemed my 12th grade essay on the same subject in comparison! - he mused on the holeyness of bread, going back to the caveman's gritty gruel and ending his discourse with St. Chad's holey grail at Tartine.

Eager to further this hole discussion I invited Don to share more of his eye-opening insights with a guest post on my humble blog. He graciously accepted, so I'm happy to present to you:

AUTHENTIC BREAD - YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!

 I have a huge amount of respect for people like Daniel Leader. He treks all the way from the U.S. to Europe and dodges rolling boulders, booby traps and angry natives to find THE guy who makes the best kringenschmaltzenblinkenbrot in the world.

Daniel Leader's French Walnut Bread - not authentic?

Then he spends a decade cleaning out the stables so that the master will teach him the secrets to put in a cookbook for the likes of you and me. I’ve made some of his breads, and they’re fantastic. Authentic breads, people say.

You know another group I have great respect for? Bakers who take difficult ingredients that have been used since the dawn of time to make bricks, and manage to turn them into gorgeous, airy and perfectly shaped loaves better than anything I could make with the finest wheat flour and Peter Reinhart looking over my shoulder making helpful suggestions.

They’ll use 100% einkorn or barley to create a boule that’s better supported than a suspension bridge (and tastier too!).

100% Einkorn Bread - solution to our crumbling infrastructure?

Well crafted, impressive breads? Certainly. Authentic bread like what folks ate in the old days? Not so much. Do you really think that most people dined upon lovingly baked loaves made with golden wheat from tall fronds waving in a gentle breeze and harvested on a sunny afternoon by a smiling Tuscan ragazza in colorful garb?

To find out what authentic breads were all about, including a downloadable BreadStorm formula, please follow me to my Brot & Bread blog here!

:) :) :)

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hanseata

Looking for a seasonal specialty for my customers at A&B Naturals, I came upon an Italian Christmas bread, Pinza, that, after crossing the border to Austria, switched holidays - and turned into Easter bread, Pinze.

After a solemn blessing in the church, this lovely Styrian Easter bread (often adorned by a red egg, and cut three times, to symbolize the Holy Trinity) is served with the meat on Easter Sunday.

Styria - Steiermark, home of this lovely Easter bread

There are several versions for Pinze, and it is either seasoned with vanilla or anise. The anise can be steeped in wine or cooked in milk to extract its flavor. All recipes include lots of eggs and egg yolks, so keep the Lipitor at hand, but I'm sure it is good for you, since it comes with a blessing.

I tried a Pinze version with anise, soaked in wine. Though the bread turned out quite nice, I couldn't detect much anise aroma. Therefore I decided on Petra's Easter Pinza (from her Chili und Ciabatta blog), substituting some of the white flour with whole wheat.

The bread, made in 3 steps with 2 pre-ferments, was wonderful. The only problem: its time consuming schedule would not work for my little bakery, unless I pulled off an all-nighter. So I turned to my favorite method: stretch & fold plus overnight stay in the fridge.

All egg-y goodness!

That way I could work the dough all at once, and let the folding and cold fermentation do the rest. No pre-doughs needed, very little hands-on time, and no standing around, waiting for pre-ferments and dough to rise.

In other words, the baker could hug her pillow, while the yeasties did their job!

My overnight version was just as good as the original, more involved one!

My Easter Basket

The Easter Pinze is a soft bread with a wonderful flavor. Though slightly sweet, it can be served with Easter Ham, like in Austria. Or, as we did, enjoyed simply with some good butter, or jam.

You find the recipe (plus a download for BreadStorm users) in my blog Brot & Bread.

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hanseata

Plötzblog is one of Germany's best bread baking blogs. When Lutz Geißler (author of "Brot backen") invited us to his blog event blog-experiment: "Wir bauen uns ein Brot" (Let's build a bread), I was intrigued.

Of course I wanted to attend the very first "Bread Olympics"

 

Each participant has to bake a loaf, roll or small bread with these ingredients and these amounts:

  • 450 g (90%) wheat flour Typ 550 (or bread flour)
  • 50 g (10%) whole rye flour
  • 10 g (2%) salt
  • sourdough and/or yeast
  • water

And that's it: nothing else should be added.

But there are no restrictions on how to make your bread - method, level of hydration and leaven are entirely up to you.

This challenge was hard to resist, especially since the best of all husbands was still traveling all over Vietnam, and, after sanding and re-oiling all my kitchen counter tops, I could do with some entertainment.

 

My husband indulging in imperial dreams - at Dalat Summer Palace

 

I knew at once what kind of loaf I wanted to create - a French bread, made with Forkish's minimalistic method, and baked in a Dutch oven. I'm really enthusiastic about how you can bake a fabulous bread that is "pinched instead of kneaded."

So I opened my BreadStorm program, entered the ingredients, and started to play around with hydration levels and percentages of pre-fermented flour.

 

I also had to take into account the amounts of flour in my refreshed levain - 5 g bread flour and 2 g whole rye flour - and deduct them from the total.

 

Whether my Pain au Levain de Seigle will win at the Plötziade, or not - it definitely was a winner for me. I enjoyed its aromatic taste, crackling crust and open crumb so much that it went straight into Karin's Bread Hall of Fame!

You'll find the recipe for Pain au Levain de Seigle on my blog "Brot & Bread" here.

Or, if you are a BreadStorm-User (including the free version), you can download the formula here

 

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hanseata

A while ago I needed to add another book from my Amazon wish list to qualify for free shipping. More or less randomly, I picked Ken Forkish's: "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast" - the price was right!

When I started leafing through the book, I was intrigued by his approach to kneading - or, better, not kneading the dough. From Dan Lepard's Pumpkin Whey Bread I knew that very brief kneading (30 seconds), followed by some folds, can be sufficient to process some doughs - but pinching?

Usually I don't mix my doughs by hand (my skin is very dry) so I used a large wooden spoon for stirring flour and water together. But Forkish is right, using your hands is much faster, and you have less cleanup afterwards.

My first take on Forkish's breads: Walnut Levain

During the pinching and folding process, the dough behaved exactly as it should: rising, then leveling out after each fold, calling for the next round. And getting more elastic and smoother after each turn!

Forkish's descriptions are precise, and detailed, but, nevertheless, there were stumbling blocks on the way, and it took more than one trial to finally master the whole process.

Why the waste? You are supposed to build a huge amount of levain, only to use a small percentage of it for your final dough - the rest goes in the trash. Sure, flour and water don't cost much, but this is definitely not my idea of frugality and environmental consciousness!

The rationale behind this waste? Beats me. The breads taste great, even when made without all this splurging. Does a loaf, made with just as much levain as needed, taste any different from one where the starter came out of a big bucket? Hard to believe!

Sticky wicket: if you don't flour the rising basket really, really well (whether lined, or not), this can happen:

Oh, nooooo!

Don't think you can ease the proofed bread with your usual gentle coaxing from the basket. Forget your good manners - your dough needs slapping! After the sticky wicket of breads that stubbornly clung, and then deflated in the extraction process, I finally checked YouTube.

Bread turned flounder (Overnight Brownie)

And there it was: I saw master baker Forkish slamming the banneton with gusto on the counter - brutal force did the trick! After this eye-opener I was less timid, and the breads finally let go.

Soft skin vs. hot pot. Not afraid of third degree burns, Ken Forkish places the bread smoothly into the Dutch oven. Others, with less experience, might not be so lucky. But there is an easy way out: the paper sling!

Use parchment paper for a painless transfer (Overnight White)

This worked well for other DO  breads I baked, like Aroma Bread. Therefore, save your skin - use parchment for a painless transfer.

Once these snafus were overcome, every bread I made from "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast", plus my "à la Forkish" variations, turned out great. "Bold baked" crust, holey crumb, and extraordinary taste - my random pick to fill my shopping cart at Amazon became one of my favorite baking books!

A&B Naturals, my favorite food store (they sell my breads!) just started carrying Einkorn flour, and I love hazelnuts.

Combining both in a loaf à la Forkish, this is the bread I came up with: EINKORN HAZELNUT LEVAIN: Here you can find my formula and description to make this tasty bread - pinching instead of kneading!

Einkorn Hazelnut Levain - pinched instead of kneaded!

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hanseata

Americans and Germans have a lot in common. One is their love for cheese cake. Though both pastries taste great, Käsekuchen is distinctly different from its US cousin.

Cheesecake crust is made with cookie crumbs, very practical, and a good recycling of even stale cookies. German Käsekuchen has a short crust, more fuss, but buttery decadence.

The real difference, though, is the filling. American filling, made of mild, more neutral cream cheese, can be varied with many different flavors (like Limoncello-Cheesecake). Käsekuchen is made with quark, a fresh cow milk cheese that is less creamy, more acidic, and contains more water.

Quark (curd cheese), the base for many different types of European pastries and desserts is unfortunately hard to find in the US, or outrageously expensive - and it doesn't taste the same.

German Käsekuchen with sour cherries - my husband's favorite

Though in desserts quark will be often paired with fruits, German cheese cake bakers tend to purism, the filling might have raisins, and sometimes other fruits, like sour cherries or apples.

Another important difference: German Käsekuchen is notably less heavy and dense than its somewhat massive American counterpart (in spite of the short crust!).

Though I do like American cheese cake with its seemingly endless variations, I love my German Käsekuchen. But how to re-create it in this sadly quark-less country?

Here is how I did it - and you can, too!

No quark needed to make this Käsekuchen, lighter and less dense than it's US cousin

 

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hanseata

When I first caught sight of these pretty rolls in a Mexican bakery, I was totally smitten. But my enthusiasm quickly deflated when I took the first bite - the cute little shells were overly sweet, but other than that: no taste whatsoever! 

Sadly, this was the case with almost all the pastries we had at the Riviera Maya: they looked very appetizing, but tasted only bland and sugary.

 Conchas in Mexican bakery: pretty but bland

But shouldn't it be possible to bake Conchas whose attractive exterior matched a delicious interior? The idea intrigued me and kept me thinking. Back from our trip, I started searching for a recipe.

A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate didn't only have a recipe for this Pan Dulce, it also had a very entertaining story about a nightly encounter with a mysterious woman and her ardent desire for revenge! 

Before we flew to Mexico this year, I finally wanted to tackle the Conchas. Remembering the "Mujer Misteriosa" and her dark desires, I dug through several pages with recipes until I finally rediscovered Clementina's blog post.

Mexico's Mayan ruins are worth a trip - here the recently discovered Ek Balam

Mexicans seem to have a real sweet tooth. All Concha recipes I had googled, contained lots of sugar. Being a gringo, I cut it down drastically, and, also, exchanged some of the flour with white whole wheat.

And how to force taste into even the lamest bread dough? Two words: overnight fermentation! I reduced the yeast, stretched and folded the dough, and put it to sleep in the fridge.

Rolling and cutting out the chocolate and cinnamon toppings evoked an early Christmas spirit, but with a little patience (and the help of a large cookie cutter) this was achieved, too (though some misshaped cookies had to be crushed, cooled and re-rolled.)

Baking brings out the pretty two-colored pattern

After their rise the Conchas looked already quite attractive, the cuts in the toppings had opened, and after baking the two-colored pattern had fully emerged.

Of course I was extremely eager to see whether my Conchas had escaped their compañeros' fate of bland and boring sweetness. We tried them, and - here they were, delicate rolls with a hint of cinnamon, topped by a crisp sugar cookie: a real treat!

Delicate rolls with a hint of cinnamon, topped by a crisp chocolate or cinnamon cookie

 

You find the recipe on my blog "Brot & Bread" here.

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hanseata

In September I offered this challenge to my fellow TFLers: to recreate an ancient grain bread I had enjoyed during my recent stay in Potsdam, in Cecilienhof Palace, where Churchill, Truman and Stalin met for the Potsdam Conference.

Several of you rose to the occasion, and came up with your own versions of this interesting bread.

Inspired by all this activity I sat down with my Breadstorm program to create my own formula. Except for the emmer, I had all the ingredients from the list in my pantry.

The bread turned out to be one of the best loaves I ever made, we absolutely LOVED it! Whether it was the complexity of the ingredients, or just an optimal process to develop and marry the different flavors I can't say.

Here you find my post with my formula and the links to all TFL friends' who took the challenge.

Thanks, Janet, DBM, Brian, Jürgen and Ian for your enthusiasm!

 

 

 
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hanseata

Dear fellow TFL bakers, I have a challenge for you!

During our recent trip to Germany we spent a few days in Potsdam, to visit Frederick the Great's Sanssouci. We stayed at Schlosshotel Cecilienhof, a wonderful hotel right inside another historic site, Cecilienhof Palace.

Cecilienhof Palace

Named after a crown princess, this palace was also the place where those three jolly old guys met:

Churchill, Truman and Stalin at the Potsdam Conference

To honor the history and importance of this heritage, the hotel's pastry chef came up with the idea to create a special bread for the guests' breakfast buffet:

Bread buffet at Schlosshotel Cecilienhof

An ancient grain bread, "Urbrot", a rye sourdough with a lot of different grains and seeds. To educate their guests, the hotel had placed a little brochure on the table, with informations about the bread: "Taste meets Tradition", including a list of the ingredients:

Ingredients of the Cecilienhof Ancient Grain Rye Bread

Rye meal

Water

Sunflower seeds

Ancient wheat meal: emmer and einkorn

Wheat flour (white or medium, not whole wheat)

Rolled spelt

Chestnut flour

Rolled oats

Barley meal

Barley malt extract

Vital wheat gluten

Rolled barley

Flaxseed

Steel cut oats

Spelt flour

Potato flakes

Sea salt

Vegetable fat (shortening)

Whole spelt sourdough

Table salt

Yeast

Unfortunately they didn't supply the bakers' percentage!

We really enjoyed the bread, and I think it would be wonderful to have another bread in my repertoire, associated with an important historic event (like the wonderful Wild Rice Sourdough - The Bread That Ended The Cold War.)

A moist, very flavorful loaf - created to honor the history of Cecilienhof Palace

I couldn't stop thinking about it, and see this as a challenge worthy of my talented fellow bakers at TFL. Certainly not all ingredients will be available for us, and we have to come up with a formula, but that is the fun part of it.

WHO WANTS TO JOIN ME AND TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE?

Happy Baking

Karin

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hanseata

I'm baking a lot, but, since it's summer, mostly for sale.

And then there are other time consuming projects like painting windows (with some tireless mosquitoes for company), massaging my husband's cramped neck (after installing aforementioned windows), and hunting for those friggin' Japanese beetles that turn my raspberry leaves into lace.

  Beetle "Lace"

My list of "Equal Opportunity Breads" still waits for more items to be checked off - I did some more, but got a bit listless after a few stubborn loaves just didn't turn out the way I liked.

But in a recent weekend edition of "The Guardian", master baker Dan Lepard published an interesting bread made with whey instead of water. From my last batch of Greek yogurt I had a lot of whey left over, sitting in my fridge, while I wondered what to do with it.

Pumpkin Whey Bread was just what I was looking for!

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Seeds and Whey - main ingredients for this autumn loaf

Dan Lepard cooked fresh butternut squash for his puree, but here in the US good quality canned pumpkin is readily available, and preparing and draining pumpkin puree a time consuming process.

I always have a supply of pumpkin puree in my pantry (to satisfy a sudden craving for pumpkin pancakes or pumpkin chocolate chip muffins). But for those who don't (or prefer making their own), here is a link to the procedure.

The dough looks a bit dry still, but will be soft and a bit sticky after brief kneading

What I like about Lepard's loaves is his minimalistic approach to kneading. Much as I admire Richard Bertinet's breads: compare his 30-minute-complete-upper-arm-workout to Lepards 10 seconds of gentle handling.

Normally I would use a stand mixer, but this soft dough can be easily (and less fussy) made by hand.

Threatening dough overflow - next time I will reduce the yeast!

Preferring longer fermentation I mixed the dough the day before, and let it slowly rise overnight in the fridge. It rose so mightily that it almost popped the lid. A sure sign that the instant yeast can be safely reduced to 5 grams down from the 7 grams the recipe requires. 

And, (for the good conscience) I substituted some of the white flour with whole wheat.

Ready for the oven

My Pumpkin Whey Bread turned out really nice. It had a delicate crisp crust, and a rich, dark golden crumb. Very flavorful, it is a true multi-purpose bread, and can be enjoyed with ham as well as jam. It is also good for toasting.

Stored in a brown paper bag, it kept fresh for several days.

Dan Lepard's formula you find HERE.

 

MY CHANGES:

  • Use good quality canned pumpkin (like Libby's or One-Pie) instead of fresh
  • Reduce the amount of instant yeast from 7 g to 5 g
  • Substitute 100 g of the bread flour with white whole wheat flour
  • Cold bulk fermentation in the fridge overnight (remove 2 hours before shaping)

Striking gold with this wonderful tasty loaf!

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