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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hanseata

1971, when I was a student, I traveled with my best friend, Andrea, through England, Cornwall and Wales. We didn't have a fixed itinerary, we just followed our nose to places we had read or heard about.

We didn't stay in hotels (only once, and that was as dusty as it was expensive), we preferred B&Bs, always looking for interesting old buildings. We slept in grand manor houses, rustic inns, cozy farm houses, and even a water mill from the sixteenth century.

People always complain about the English food - I never had a really bad experience, I would always find something I liked, as long as it started with "apple" and ended with "pie"!

We often ate in pubs, having sandwiches with cheddar and chutney, and I was delighted to try the different beers.

With all these fond memories in mind - no wonder I wanted to try master baker Dan Lepard's Alehouse Rolls. You will find it in his book "Short and Sweet", or here.

I had just bought Newcastle Brown Ale at the Bangor commissary, and thought this was very appropriate for British rolls.

The dough is made with a hot beer soaker - ale and oats are brought to a boil, with butter and honey added to the hot liquid - and the rolled oats are toasted.

It also has some whole grain flour, to make the rolls even heartier (and give health conscious bakers a better conscience!)

Dan Lepard has a nice, minimalistic approach to working the dough, he handles it gently, kneads it very briefly, and allows it to develop while resting (autolyse).

As a psychotherapist this method appeals to me a lot: give the patient dough the means and time to develop, without pushing and hectoring - and it will grow just fine!

I chose rye as whole grain flour, and had to add a little more water to achieve a soft, slightly sticky dough. Instead of letting the dough rest for a final 30 minutes on the counter, I did what I usually do - and put it to sleep overnight in the fridge.



This cold fermentation of the dough fits much better in my schedule than doing it all on one day. Though I like baking in the morning, I don't want to get up in the wee hours, so I prepare everything the day before, and only have the shaping and baking left to do.

Having to choose between large sandwich rolls (à 235 g a piece) or smaller dinner rolls, I opted for the more petite version - 12 rolls à 92 g.

The recipe suggests rolling the rolls first over wet kitchen paper towels and then in oat flakes. I didn't read the instructions thoroughly, and, therefore, dunked only the tops in the oat meal.

Whereas the giant sandwich rolls have to bake for 20 minutes at 210º C/410º F, and then some more at reduced heat, my little rolls were golden brown after 26 minutes (without reducing the heat.)



They tasted just as good as they looked, a semi-soft crust with a little crunch, and a hearty, somewhat nutty flavor.

And, since I am a stickler to etiquette, I didn't dream of pairing them with anything else but traditional Newcastle Brown Ale!


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hanseata

The owner of A&B Naturals, the store that sells my bread, asked me one day: "Can you bake pitas, too?" I had never made them, so I said with conviction: "Yes!"

At least I knew where I could find a pita recipe!

In "Whole Grain Breads", one of my favorite baking books, Peter Reinhart has a recipe for whole wheat pitas - just the right thing for my grain loving customers.

I started my first pita dough. No big deal, until I got to the shaping part. The pitas had to be rolled out no thinner than 1/4 inch (6 mm), and to an 8-inch (20 cm) diameter. But my pitas already reached this thickness at 6 1/2 to 7 inches (16 to 18 cm.)

Pitas are shaped in three steps, first into rolls, then rolled out to 4"/10 cm. Don't skimp on the flouring!

Below: rolling out pitas to a larger round (6 1/2 - 7" or 16 - 18 cm.) Re-flour them, if necessary.

A high oven temperature is key to a pita's proper horizontal separation into two layers. This high temperature has to be maintained during the whole bake, from below as well as from above.

Many cheaper ovens don't heat up to the necessary 550ºF (280ºC.) Without that boost pitas can't produce the large gas bubble that creates a pocket. And without a pocket - no delicious filling!

A baking stone, or a rack lined with unglazed terracotta tiles (like I have), works best for keeping the  temperature stable, even when the oven door has to be opened several time during the baking process. And very hot stones make the best baking surface for pitas, too.

To reheat fast enough after each opening of the door I remembered Peter Reinhart's advice for baking pizza ("American Pie"), where the problem is the same: intermittently switching the oven to broil for a short time.

How many pitas can you bake at the same time? One batch of dough makes 8 (or 6, if you want larger ones.) Peter Reinhart says one at a time, but, of course, being a semi-professional I wanted to do it a little less time consuming.

After some trials, I found that I can put two at the same time in the oven. That's the maximum, with more it becomes very difficult to load and unload them without damage, and to keep control over their baking process.

2 pitas can be baked at the same time. Once out of the oven, they deflate quickly.

Of course, it takes a little bit of experience to slide the pitas into the oven without them folding over in one place, and to extricate them without nicking them with the peel.

But it's not rocket science, a smart child can do it:

  Josh, our carpenter's son, thought it was much more fun to help with my baking than reading his book!

Though Peter Reinhart's original 100% whole wheat pita is very good, I made a few changes to it. I substitute a 7-grain mix for some of the whole wheat flour, and add an overnight bulk rise in the fridge, this is more practical for my baking schedule, and, in my opinion, improves the taste even more. It also has the advantage that I can reduce the yeast amount by 2 grams.

Though I usually cut down on the sweetener in Peter Reinhart's recipes, this whole grain bread needs the full dose.

We like our pita filled with grilled Halloumi cheese, tomato and lettuce - the way we had it in Girne/Kyrenia on Cyprus. And how do my customers at A&B Naturals like them? They fly off the shelf so that I have to bake them every week!

Here is a link to the recipe in my blog "Brot & Bread".

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hanseata

 

A while ago I admitted neglecting some of my baking books, never giving them a second look, while shamelessly favoring others. To atone for my neglect, I pledged to give every book a fair chance with my "Equal Opportunity Baking" list, with one recipe from ALL of my baking books.

After a smooth start - three breads that turned out really well - I got bogged down with recipes that somehow didn't work quite right the first time I made them. It always took me a while before I felt like tackling them anew. The Muesli Rolls was one of them.

Published in 1997, I use "Brot und Kleingebäck" mainly as resource, adapting the old, labor intensive, same day methods to more modern techniques, like stretch-and-fold (S&F) that require less brawn and hands-on work, thanks to longer fermentation and refrigerator sleepovers.

I started the evening before, kneading the dough, then let it slowly rise overnight in the fridge. The next morning I baked my rolls. When they came out of the oven, they looked - and smelled - very appetizing. I couldn't wait to take my first bite, but..... what a disappointment! I found that "the proof was in the Muesli Rolls". They tasted good, yes, but were much too dry!

I was baffled. The dough had been well hydrated the night before, even a little sticky, as it should be with S&F doughs. If I hadn't really liked the taste of the rolls, I would have written off the recipe with a scribbled comment: "not that great!" So I took on the recipe again to find out what had caused this lack of moisture.

Was it the different fat content of German "saure Sahne" and American sour cream (10% vs 12-16%?) Not likely: more fat will make the crumb softer, not drier. American molasses instead of German sugar beet syrup? Nope!

But there was one ingredient that had puzzled me from the beginning - the "hearty muesli mix" ("kernige Müslimischung"). There are many muesli mixes on the market, and they differ quite a bit from one brand to the other.

I looked at the list of ingredients on the package. Bob's Red Mill's "Old Country Style Muesli" had rolled oats, wheat, rye, triticale and barley flakes, dates, raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds, flax seed and walnuts.

Peter Reinhart's S&F method (from ABED) doesn't require any pre-doughs (except for sourdough breads, of course). The understanding is that whole grains and seeds have enough time to soak when they spend the night in the fridge. But I find that pre-soaking coarser grinds doesn't hurt. And whole flax seed I always soak for 24 hours - to make them better digestible.

Even though my dough seemed well hydrated after the last S&F, those whole grain flakes and dried fruits obviously had swallowed every drop of water overnight.

The original recipe even mentions overnight refrigeration as a do-ahead option, but without the muesli mixture. That should be kneaded into the dough in the morning, before baking. But with just 10 minutes rising time for the shaped rolls, the flakes and dried fruits really don't have time to absorb much liquid - and the original recipe requires (besides sour cream) only 5-6 tablespoons water!

I do like chewing on nuts, but on hard chunks of dried fruit? No, thanks!

In a comment, the recipe suggests using a mixture of rolled oats, chopped raisins and hazelnuts, instead of store bought muesli. And that's exactly what I did when I made the rolls again - to have better control over the hydration. I hoped these tweaks would work, and I wasn't disappointed. The second batch of Muesli Rolls turned out just as nice as they looked!

Find the recipe here

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hanseata

If anybody wonders why, after a furious start, my Equal Opportunity Baking has somewhat slowed down - that didn't happen only because of my recent trip to Germany.

My last three breads proved to be tricky, they didn't turn out quite right. One was overly spicy, one too sweet and one too dry. On the other hand, they were not so disappointing that I didn't want to deal with them again, writing a bad review, and be done, once and for all. 

So I will get back to them, giving each of them a second chance to live up to their potential.

Though I had purchased "Bread Matters", by Andrew Whitley, a while ago, I hadn't really looked into it before I chose a recipe for my Fair Baking project. The Arkatena Bread, made with a chickpea starter, and inspired by a loaf the author found in a little village bakery in Cyprus, seemed intriguing. And I certainly go for a "bread with a hefty crust, chewy crumb, and intense flavor".

Like many baking book authors, Whitley doesn't cater to the sensibilities of thrifty housewives, making his starter large enough for the needs of small bakery - only to advise you later to discard the surplus. Though I'm not a miser, I hate trashing a perfectly good guitar starter, so my first step in mastering this recipe was recalculating the amounts I really needed for one loaf.

From then on it was pretty straightforward, though I have to admit I cheated a bit with the leaven. From my experiences with GF sourdough I know that chickpea flour (together with other gluten free flours), mixed with water, develops a lively fermenting activity if you just let it sit at room temperature over three days.

I didn't feel the urgent necessity, though, to make a leaven from the scratch, being the proud owner of a couple of healthy and hungry starters. So, instead of going through stage 1, I used a bit of wheat starter in stage 2, deducting the amount of whole wheat and adding the missing chickpea flour (from stage 1) to the production leaven.

Otherwise I followed the recipe instructions closely, but used steam for the bake, a measure Whitley, for some reason, doesn't suggest.

The result was this beautiful bread:

I couldn't wait to try it! But when I took my first bite, the only thing I tasted was FENNEL! Any other, more delicate aroma was completely knocked out.

Being a German, I love breads seasoned with anise, caraway, fennel and coriander - the typical German bread spices. And I do like fennel. But only as a hint of spiciness, not as full frontal attack. Whitley's original recipe has 6 g fennel seeds per 577 g flour = 1%!

We also found the bread could do with a little more salt (it had only 1.2%).

Everything else about the bread was fine, the crumb, the crust - and I still wanted to know how a chickpea leaven could flavor a bread.

So, after my baking break, when I came back from Hamburg, I made another Arkatena bread, this time with a little rye starter as stage 1 leaven. I added 10 g salt (instead of 7 g). And I reduced the pesky fennel to just 1 gram.

As before, the bread turned out beautiful:

I was a little impatient, and probably should have waited another 15 minutes before placing it in the oven, it "exploded" a bit. This time it tasted really nice, with a complex aroma, and still spicy enough with a hint of fennel.

Since I used a bit of mature starter, the overall development of the leaven didn't take 3 days, but only one.

ARKATENA BREAD

FIRST STEP LEAVEN   (45 g)
5 g whole wheat or rye starter
15 g water
15 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
 
SECOND STEP LEAVEN (91 g)
45 g all first step leaven
19 g water
23 g whole wheat flour
4 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
 
PRODUCTION LEAVEN (300 g)
91 g all second step leaven
68 g water
28 g whole wheat flour
28 g garbanzo (chickpea) flour
85 g all-purpose flour
 
FINAL DOUGH
100 g whole wheat flour
300 g all-purpose flour
10 g salt
300 g water
1 - 2 g fennel seeds
300 g production leaven (all)


DAY 1:

1. Prepare 3-step starter. Let the first step leaven sit for ca. 6 hours, the second one for ca. 4 - 6 hours, and production leaven for 4 - 6 hours, or overnight.

DAY 2:

2. Mix a dough with all ingredients except fennel and leaven, 8 - 10 minutes of vigorous action. Dough should be soft and elastic (82ºF/28ºC). Add starter and fennel, and work a few minutes more until smooth, but still somewhat sticky.

3. Transfer dough to a moistened work surface, cover with an upturned bowl (sprayed with water). Let rest for 1 hour.

4. S & F, using a scraper in each hand. Dip dough ball gently in a bowl with whole wheat flour, so that it's completely covered. Place in floured proofing basket, seam side up. Let proof for 3 - 5 hours (poke test, mine took about 4 hours).

5. Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC, including steam pan. Invert basket onto parchment lined baking sheet. Score 2 - 3 times.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 400ºF/200ºC, and continue baking for 10 minutes. Rotate, and bake for another 20 - 25 minutes.

NOTE: When I make this bread again, I would try working with autolyse, instead of long "vigorous" kneading.

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hanseata

Warnemünde is not only the harbor for Hansetown Rostock, but a graceful old Baltic Sea resort. Thanks to the former GDR's lack of money, none of the nice old houses was torn down to make place to modern non descript highrise hotels, like in West Germany.

When I first visited my cousin's family in 1957, houses were grey, with flaking paint, looking more and more dilapidated every year . That changed dramatically after the fall of the wall and the reunion 1989. All the houses were fixed-up, by and by.

The yacht pier, used by communistic party VIPs (and closed to the public), was opened and turned into a fish market,

with lots of smoke shacks (I never saw so many kinds of smoked fish before) and even an open air bakery

Those naughty boys on the bakery sign are Max and Moritz - characters from the classic German childrens' book.  After sneaking into a bakery, camouflaging themselves with dough, surviving being baked, and eating their way out of their bread armour, they get nabbed. Their long and successful carreer as juvenile delinquents ends as - kibbles for miller's geese!

Street bakery at the fish market pier (with a woodfired oven) with freshly baked Potato Carrot Breads.

 

In one of the many waterfront restaurants we had "all-you-can-eat" herring. You can't buy them in Maine, though there are plenty - they all end up at bait for the lobster traps. Much as I like lobster, nothing compares to fresh, pan fried herring.

 

Easter was cold but sunny, we walked along the Alster - a large lake in the middle of Hamburg -

had family dinner overlooking the habor, where paddle wheel boat "Louisiana" passed by

 

And when we went back to the airport, and had time for breakfast, we were utterly amazed to find this:

a bakery that made everyting from the scratch, from organic ingredients, right in Terminal 1

On the left is a dough divider (for rolls), the glass box a proofing cabinet.

 

"Marché Bakery" offers a large selection of breads and pastries. I chose this roll with a twist:

It was as good as it looked like! The best breakfast I ever had in an airport.

 

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hanseata

Visiting my family and friends in Germany I took some photos I want to share.

My friend Michaela likes shopping at an organic farm store at Gut Wulfsdorf. I never sah Laugenbaguettes (pretzel baguettes) or Laugencroissants (pretzel croissants) before. The baguettes tasted quite nice, the crumb was airy but a bit chewier than regular one.

The breads are baked in a wood fired oven at the farm bakery. (This is a batch of Easter Bunny Cookies.)

All breads are baked at the same time, for one hour, but in different places in the oven, where temperatures are higher, or lower.

 

They use only beech wood, or beech wood shavings, from a local forest, to achieve an even temperature (they tried it once with mixed wood, and that didn't work).

 

Their whole grain flours are milled on the premises.

The vegetable section in the store: six different kinds of heirloom carrots, in red, yellow, white and black.

My cousin Uta has an incredible bakery around the corner. This is a Sunday breakfast basket - every one of these rolls tasted great.

   SIGH!!!

And she baked us a wonderful Chocolate Apple Torte (I never heard of this flavor combination before - the apples went well with the rich chocolate frosting).

And when I visited the Hansetown Wismar, an UNECO world heritage monument - here the "Alter Schwede" (Old Swede) restaurant

we had in a nearby cafe this Marzipan Torte. It was really difficult to choose from Cafe Hegede's selection of mothwatering cakes.

SIGH!!!!!

 

 

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hanseata

Was it my childish resistance against praying with St. Jeffrey's faithful congregation, or an unconscious dislike of dealing with a tome - so far I haven't baked a lot from Hamelman's "Bread". Though one bread, the wonderful "5-Grain Sourdough with Rye Sourdough", made it straight into Karin's Bread Hall of Fame, and his "Rye Sourdough with Walnuts" formula I used for testing a 1-step versus a 3-step starter (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/19814/interesting-experiment-sourdough-starters).

For my "Equal Opportunity Challenge" I wanted kill two birds with one stone, giving "Bread" another chance, and finding a vehicle for the chia seeds I had just purchased for a bargain price. Therefore I chose a simple white loaf, one of the first formulas of the book: "Country Bread".

Working with the recipe wasn't very difficult. I refrigerated the mature pre-ferment overnight, and upped the amount of water in the dough a bit to accomodate the chia seeds (I didn't soak them, since, according to the description on the tag, "you can eat them directly out of the package"). The dough was slightly sticky, as intended, and I gave it an extra Stretch & Fold right away, and let it ferment for an additional 50 minutes after the last fold.

The result was a very pretty loaf, with a pleasant, slightly nutty taste - for people who don't care too much for sourdough tang. Unfortunately, the Andersons do not belong to these mild mannered goodie-two-shoes, we like our yeasts wild and free!

Therefore, this gentle bread will have to find another home, even jazzed up with chia seeds it is a bit too tame for us.

Country Bread - with chia seeds

 

 

 

 

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hanseata

The best recipe collection (bread, rolls and snacks) of German bakers' magazine, "Allgemeine Bäckerzeitung", supplied the formula for my third "fair baked" bread.

A heavy weight, scaled for 21 loaves, with selling points, marketing tips, production cost and time calculation, including sales tax (7%) and even a suggested retail price (1.83 Euro). The production steps are briefly listed - no need to explain to professionals what they do every day.

  Die besten Rezepte aus der Allgemeinen Bäckerzeitung - Brot, Brötchen & Snacks

Scaling the ingredients down to home bakering proportions was not difficult (a minimum of 3 loaves), and the instructions, though brief, were precise, and didn't overtax my mental capacities.

The recipe said (more or less) only: "make a dough". I tried to stretch and fold it, but that didn't work too well, the dough was too wet. Therefore, instead of soaking only the flaxseeds in hot water for 1 hour (original recipe) I would include some of the flour in the soaker, to have a larger preferment, and more water already absorbed in the flour.

I like to retard my doughs, overnight fermentation works better for my schedule, and, also, improves the taste (the original recipe had only the longer starter development.)

The Bäckerzeitung says: "roll the shaped loaves over a wet towel, and then dip them into the (topping) seed mixture". Though this coated the breads nicely with seeds, they didn't stick well enough, and a lot of them fell off during and after baking. Next time I would either take care to press them more into the dough, or brush the loaves with egg white, instead of just moistening them with water.

The breads turned out very nice, crusted with seeds they looked quite attractive, and the taste? Modestly (haha!) I will only quote my friend Lynn - beneficiary of this triplet bake: "Our seedy, seedy bread was delish! We toasted it which really brought out the flavor of the seeds! Mmmmmmm!"

 

SAATENBROT - MANY SEED BREAD (3 loaves)

SOAKER
143 g whole wheat flour
  84 g medium rye flour
299 g water
     4 g salt
129 g flaxseed

 STARTER
  21 g rye mother starter (mine is 100% hydrated)
214 g medium rye flour
214 g water, lukewarm
 
FINAL DOUGH

all starter and soaker
130 g medium rye flour
143 g bread flour
187 g water
    5 g instant yeast
  12 g salt
129 g sesame, toasted
129 g hemp seeds
    2 g anise, caraway, fennel and/or coriander
 14 g sesame seeds (for topping)
 14 g hemp seeds (for topping
 14 g flaxseed (for topping)

 DAY 1:

1. In the morning, stir together all ingredients for soaker, cover and let sit at room temperature. Mix all ingredients for starter (in 1-step), cover and let ferment at room temperature.

In the evening, mix together all ingredients for final dough for 1 - 2 minutes on low speed. Knead on medium-low speed for 4 minutes (or knead by hand). Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Resume kneading for another minute (dough will still be somewhat sticky). Divide dough into 3 portions, place in oiled containers, cover and refrigerate overnight.


DAY 2:

2. Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using. Shape into sandwich loaves. Roll breads over wet towel, and then over seed mixture. Gently press seeds into dough. Place breads in oiled loaf pans. (No scoring). Mist with spray oil, cover, and let rise for 45 - 60 minutes, or until they have grown 1 1/2 times their original size.

3. Preheat oven to 240ºC/465ºF, including steam pan. Place pans into oven, steaming with 1 cup of boiling water. Bake at falling temperatures: 10 minutes at 240ºC/465ºF, 10 minutes at 220ºC/428ºF, then turn loaves out onto baking sheet, remove steam pan and continue baking for 10 minutes at 200ºC/400ºF, and 10 minutes at 180ºC/355ºF. The internal temperature should be at least 200 F/93 C.

4. Let breads cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

Saatenbrot - Many Seed Bread

 

 

 

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hanseata


Fellow baker Hanaâ (http://hanaaskitchen.blogspot.com) instigated me to buy yet another baking book - as if my bookshelves were not already buckling down under the weight of my cooking library. She invited me to join her ABC baking challenge, every month trying out a new recipe, currently from Abby Dodge's: "The Weekend Baker". The author, contributing editor of one of my favorite magazines, "Fine Cooking", also posted the recipe here:

http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/glazed-cinnamon-rolls-2

My husband loves sticky buns and their sugar laden relatives, but, though I like cinnamon, I was never very fond of the overly sweet stuff he would sometimes buy. Therefore, without Hanaâ's challenge, I would probably never have thought of baking cinnamon rolls.

What I especially like about "The Weekend Baker" and this recipe, are the several "do ahead" options. I prefer working with slow fermentation for my breads, and most doughs show their appreciation for the cold treatment with a significant better taste, so, after a 30-minute rise, I put my my dough to sleep in the fridge overnight.

I always try to incorporate some whole grains in my recipes, a substitution of 10% white flour with whole grains doesn't require additional liquid, so I replaced 47 g of all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour.

The recipe was easy to follow, and the next morning the dough had nicely risen in the fridge. I rolled it out cold - it will come to room temperature quickly - and the filling was no problem, either. Next time I probably would add some toasted, chopped nuts, though.

Cutting a roll of dough in even slices with a bench scraper or knife is not that easy, the layers slipping away over the crumbly filling. Using dental floss, as Hanaâ suggested, works much better.

I skipped glazing the rolls, nice as it looks, it adds even more sugar, without contributing to the taste. And even without this decoration - the cinnamon rolls looked beautiful when they came out of the oven and their wonderful aroma filled the whole house, so that I could hardly wait to try one until they had cooled down a bit.

"... now I know their taste - now I'm a believer..." you don't have to be a Monkee to love these treats!
I am converted, and my husband could wallow in them, so good are they!

They, also, freeze well, wrapped in plastic foil and then placed in a ziplock bag. To enjoy them you only have to nuke them for a few seconds, and then re-crisp them at 350ºF/175ºC for a few minutes in the oven.

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hanseata

The second bread on my "Equal Opportunity Baking" list (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/26944/fair-baking-my-equal-opportunity-pledge) got its place near the top because of my curiosity.

In the past I had read several comments on the many errata in Leader's books, and, therefore, decided not to buy it. But Christmas came, and, being blessed with three daughters (2 step and 1 own), I found several baking books under the tree, among them "Local Breads".

With my fair baking pledge in mind, I searched for the errata posts in TFL again, and saw Mini's (MiniOven) comment on a translation error, a mixup between the German term for caraway = Kümmel (a typical German bread spice) and cumin = Kreuzkümmel (a spice used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes). Both taste totally different, and cumin has no part in traditional German cuisine.

I looked at the German bread section in the book, and found that Mini was right. Somebody had posted Sharon Burns-Leaders' contact address, and I emailed her about Mini's and mine observation. She answered me promptly:

"Thanks for the correction! Since it was pointed out it seems quite silly that we never questioned it! I do try to answer all of the queries from readers personally myself,  though reading through some of the posts on The Fresh Loaf was, I have to admit, a bit frightening.  We did work very hard on that book and I personally tested every recipe so the personal and passionate comments were a little hard to hear when they were critical, however, I am amazed, as always, at the dedicated and talented bakers that are out there!"

That was a very gracious answer, and I decided to cut Leader's book some slack, and find out for myself how his recipes are working. Because I like breads with walnuts, I chose a variation of his Whole Wheat Sourdough Miche, French Walnut Bread.

I have a lively 75% hydration starter in my fridge, so I didn't have to make a levain from the scratch. Leader's stiff levain contains a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour, so I started with feeding my whole wheat mother starter with AP flour, adjusting the water to make the stiffer levain.

Since I had decided to give my new KA 600 Pro a chance, I mixed the dough with it,  again regretting my jump at Amazon's "Black Monday" bait, when the bowl started wobbling and would have jumped out of the holders if it wasn't held down with brutal force.

Long experience with nut additions told me not to wait until the dough had fully formed (it's a real big pain to work the nuts in at this stage - I really don't know why all baking books, from Reinhart to Hamelman insist on doing that!), so I fed them slowly to the dough while kneading.

I basically retard all my doughs, so I did the same with the French Walnut Bread, placing it in the refrigerator after an hour of rising, and a brief kneading. The dough was, as expected, a bit sticky, but not too difficult to handle.

Overnight the dough had almost doubled, and, after it came to room temperature, behaved exactly as it should. Instead of steaming, with ice cubes I used a steam pan and boiling water - why lower the oven temperature unnecessarily?

The result was a good tasting bread, with the typical purple-ish color (walnut "dye") and a nice airy crumb.

Next time I might just use S & F as in Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day", instead of a long, slow knead.

 

 

 

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