The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hanseata

Dan Lepard, master baker from England ("The Art of Handmade Bread"), travels (and bakes) all over the world. He also contributes regularly to the weekend issue of the "Guardian", and is always good for an interesting recipe.

I tried several of them, and never had a bad experience. Whether marmalade, pancakes, pasties, cakes or his "boozy" Ale House Rolls, we liked them all. When I saw his recipe for Stilton Crust Sausage Rolls, I was intrigued by the idea to spruce up simple store-bought puff pastry with layers of blue cheese.

There was still some puff pastry in the freezer, and I overcame my inner Scrooge to purchase real, imported Stilton.

Preparing the crust was easy. I crumbled the Stilton evenly over one sheet of thawed puff pastry, placed the second sheet on top, pressed it down with my hands to adhere, and then rolled it out to two times its original size.

The package is then folded, re-rolled, and folded again, creating several layers of cheese within the pastry. After these turns it needs a nap in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.

While the dough was resting, I prepared the sausage filling. An opened package with Johnsonville's "Stadium Brats" - the only American bratwurst that tastes like a German one - was my sausage choice, and, instead of the ground pork the recipe suggests, I took 80% lean ground beef (another leftover in the fridge.)

The idea of a fennel seasoning didn't appeal to me too much. Though I like fennel, and use it regularly in my breads, I do not care for the pervasive anise-y flavor of American Italian sausages (something never heard of in Italy, as my half Italian husband assures me.)

Bratwurst, ground beef, marjoram and white breadcrumbs are mixed for the filling

With the German type bratwurst a marjoram seasoning instead of the fennel seemed the obvious choice (I used only 1/2 teaspoon.) "Stadium Brats" don't have casings that need removing, and my food processor made mixing a cinch. (I recommend chilling the filling until using.)

The next step was arranging the filling on the chilled pastry. I wasn't quite sure what size of rolls I would end up with - you have to consider that before you roll out the dough - but mathematical imagination is not my forte, and my rolls turned out a bit larger than Dan Lepard's.

 

The blue cheese is visible through the  pastry

I placed the filling on the lower half of the pastry, leaving a free edge for the seam. The upper half is then folded over, and crimped with a fork. To create a neat edge, I used a pizza roller to cut off the excess dough.

Shaped loaf with crimped edges

Since I wanted to freeze some of the rolls, I did not apply egg wash over the whole loaf, but cut it first into slices. My loaf yielded 10 slices/rolls (about 1 1/2 inch wide.)

After brushing the rolls with the beaten egg, I slashed them with a sharp knife, parallel to the cut sides.

The sausage rolls baked for 25 minutes, at 400ºF/200ºC, to be golden brown and sizzling. I realized, though, that a lot of fat was rendered from the filling during the bake, leaving the bottom of the rolls soft. Next time I would follow Breadsong's advice to render the fat from the meat before mixing the filling. Or elevate the rolls with a rack on top of the baking sheet.

We had the Stilton Crust Sausage Rolls for dinner, and LOVED them! The blue cheese in the crust added a pleasant spiciness, and the seasoning of the sausages, plus the marjoram, was sufficient to flavor the whole filling - no extra salt or pepper is needed.

Dan Lepard's recipe in the "Guardian" you can find here.

TO MAKE AHEAD: The cheese pastry and the filling, or the filled loaf (without egg wash), can be kept in the refrigerator for at least a day.

The shaped rolls (without egg wash!) can be easily frozen, individually wrapped in plastic, and placed in a container with lid. They don't need to be thawed, but before baking, brush them with beaten egg, and slash the top with a sharp knife. The baking time will be a bit longer for frozen rolls.

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hanseata

Long time no see - after I baked four breads from my Equal Opportunity Baking list that I wasn't 100% satisfied with, I got a bit burned out on them. The anal Virgo me didn't want to continue with yet another Fair Baking Bread without having tried to coax and tweak the grade C candidates to a better performance or more satisfying taste.

Slowly I revisited and rebaked (I learned to use the prefix "re" from the creators of our daily crossword puzzle - it is amazing how you can put a "re" in front of any given verb and come up with a new term never heard of before!) the soso breads, Arkatena Bread, Muesli Rolls (both fine now), Camembert Grape Bread, and then the Beer Rye.

I had picked Bill Middeke's contribution to Kim Ode's "Baking with the St. Paul Bread Club" because of the combination stout and rye. In my opinion nothing made with beer can be bad (unless, perhaps, it's made with Bud Light, aka dish wash water, or other beer abominations).

The amount of sweeteners, molasses and brown sugar (both 1/4 cup for two small loaves) seemed a lot, so I reduced them by half, to 1/8 cup each.

The recipe, originally been posted in the "St. Louis Globe-Democrat", had called for lard or bacon fat instead of the shortening listed in Kim Ode's book. As a German accustomed to cooking with lard, and no friend of shortening, I switched back to the original piggy fat.

For the active dry yeast I used instant, my default, and, also employed my preferred S & F, plus overnight cold fermentation, instead of making and baking the breads on the same day.

Everything worked well, only the baking time was a bit longer. The bread looked really pretty, but even with the reduced amounts of sugar and molasses it was still way too sweet for my taste!

Bill Middeke, an ardent bicyclist, surely needs sufficient carbohydrates to fuel him for his athletic rides, but my bike carries me mostly to the nearby supermarket, and I get plenty of extra carbs from chocolate and desserts.

Not only that, the best of all husbands complained about the caraway. While I like it, Richard doesn't care for the taste and always finds it overdosed.

So I had another go at the Beer Rye Bread, this time cutting sugar and molasses again by 50%, adding a little more water, to make up for the molasses reduction, and using only 1 teaspoon caraway instead of 1 tablespoon.

We were eager to try the new bread - the sweetness was just right, but with less sugar the bread was a bit bland, and clearly needed more salt. And my spouse, known to be a delicate little flower, found himself OD'd on caraway again....

Relentlessly adapted to the Andersons' preferences, this final version received the stamp of approval: a tasty bread, slightly sweet, with a hint of caraway, and full of the good stuff: black Ruthless Rye.

 

BEER RYE BREAD

(2 small breads)

1 ½ cups stout, or other dark ale (350 g)

70 g water
34 g lard
9 g light brown sugar
21 g molasses
12 g salt
1 tbsp. orange zest, (ca. 8 g)
1 g caraway seeds, (1/2 tsp), or more, to taste
5 g instant yeast
325 g rye flour
320 g all-purpose flour


DAY 1:

In saucepan, heat beer and water until just starting to bubble. Add lard, sugar, molasses, salt, orange zest, and caraway seeds. Let cool to lukewarm (not more than 95 F.)

Stir yeast into beer mixture, until dissolved. Pour in mixer bowl, and add flour. Mix at low speed (or by hand) for 1 - 2 minutes, until all flour is hydrated. Let rest for 5 minutes, then knead at medium-low speed (or by hand) for 6 minutes, adjusting with more water or flour, if necessary (dough should be soft and still sticky.)

Transfer dough to lightly oiled work surface. Stretch and pat into square, fold top and bottom in thirds, like a business letter, then the same way from both sides. Gather dough into a ball, place seam side down into a lightly oiled bowl, and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Repeat this S & F 3 times, with 10 minute intervals, after last fold cover and refrigerate overnight. (I divide the dough at this point in halves, and refrigerate it in two containers.)


DAY 2:

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, it should have doubled.

Preheat oven to 350ºF, including steam pan. Shape dough into 2 boules or bâtards. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down, and score. Mist with water, sprinkle with rolled rye, cover, and let rise until doubled, ca. 45 - 60 minutes.

Bake breads for 25 minutes, steaming with 1 cup boiling water. Rotate breads 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 25 - 30 minutes. ( temperature at least 195 F.)

Cool on wire rack.

As pretty as it gets - whether as boules or bâtards - here with rye flakes as topping

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hanseata

 When we traveled for the first time to the Yucatan, I wanted (of course) to try some typical Mexican breads. The bakeries in Cancun and Tulum had beautiful displays, and we were very eager to purchase a selection of those pretty little breads and pastries.


But what a disappointment! The attractive exterior was misleading - everything we bought tasted more or less bland and sweet.

   Bakery in Tulum - a pretty disappointment!

I couldn't believe that this was all there is to Mexican breads. Moreover, I remembered having seen once a ghoulishly decorated bread for Halloween, and, back at home, consulted with my trusted advisers on all things food - "Fine Cooking" and "Cook's Illustrated".

Fany Gerson's recipe for Pan de Muerto in "Fine Cooking" seemed promising, and had already some good reviews.

This Bread of the Dead is traditionally baked during the last weeks of October, before the Dia de los Muertos (November 1 and 2), and eaten at the cemetery, at the grave of a family member. The bone decoration is a reminder of the deceased, and the little roll on top represents a tear of grief.

I made some slight changes to the original recipe, substituting 10% of the white flour with whole wheat, and changing the technique to my preferred stretch and fold (S&F), with a slow overnight rise in the refrigerator.

Since other reviewers of the original "Fine Cooking" recipe warned that the actual baking time was shorter than stated in the instruction, I checked early, and found that my breads were done in approximately 36 minutes.




PAN DE MUERTO  (adapted from Fany Gerson's recipe in "Fine Cooking")

127 g/4.5 oz whole milk, (1/2 cup)
  78 g/2.75 oz unsalted butter (5 1/2 tbsp.), cut into small pieces
2  4x1-inch strips orange peel
1 tbsp. orange blossom water (or more)
       3 eggs, lightly beaten
    6 g/0.2 oz instant yeast (2 tsp)
400 g/14 oz all-purpose flour
  47 g/1.75 oz whole wheat
  50 g/1.65 oz sugar (1/4 cup)
    2 g/0.1 oz salt (1/2 tsp)
  14 g/0.5 oz butter (1 tbsp) melted, for brushing
  22 g/0.8 oz sugar (1/8 cup) for sprinkling

Peeling the orange with a vegetable peeler is easy.

 DAY 1
1. Put milk, butter, and orange peel in small saucepan over medium heat; stir until butter melts, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool until warm. Discard orange peel, add orange blossom water, and whisk in eggs.

  Melt butter in milk with orange peel

 2. In mixer bowl, stir together flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add milk mixture, then mix at low speed until dough comes together and all flour is hydrated (1-2 minutes). Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

3. Resume kneading at medium-low speed for 6 minutes, dough should be smooth but still slightly sticky. (Resist the urge to add more flour, it is not necessary!)

4. Place dough on lightly oiled work surface. With oiled hands, stretch dough into a square and fold it in thirds like a business letter. Repeat this folding from both sides. Make a ball, pulling edges underneath, and place it in lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes. 

5. Repeat S&F 3 times, in 10 minute intervals. After last fold, place dough, tightly covered, in refrigerator overnight. (Remove from the fridge 2 hours before using.)

DAY 2
6. Cut off lemon-sized piece (100 g/3.5 oz) of the dough and reserve. Divide remaining dough in halves and shape pieces on lightly floured surface into 2 rounds. Place rounds on parchment lined baking sheet and flatten tops with your hands.

7. With some of reserved dough, form 2 small rolls (à 7 g/0.25 oz), cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

8. Divide rest of reserved dough into 6 equal pieces.  Roll into ropes (slightly longer than width of loaves.) Starting in the middle, press and twist ropes with your index and middle fingers about 1 inch apart to make knobs (the pinched parts should be really thin, too keep the pattern when the bread rises.)

Pinched into knobs to resemble bones

6. Arrange 3 ropes on top of each dough round, overlapping in the center and tucking ends under a bit. Mist with baking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place, about 45 - 60 minutes, or until breads are doubled in size. Poke dough gently with your finger, the indentation should not fill back again (if breads don't rise long enough they will burst in the oven and destroy the pattern!)

Decorated breads (without the "tear" on top) before rising

7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Adjust rack in oven middle.

8. Dab a little cold water on top of each round where ropes meet, and put reserved dough balls on top, pressing slightly so that they stick.

Ready for the oven

9. Bake breads for 18 minutes, then cover loosely with tin foil, and continue baking for another 18 minutes, or until they are golden brown (internal temperature at least 190ºF.)

10. Let breads cool for a few minutes on wire rack. Then brush them all over with melted butter. Holding loaves from the bottom, sprinkle sugar over the top, tilting them slightly to help coat them evenly.

 

Variation: Use 147 g/5.2 oz whole wheat and reduce all-purpose flour to 300 g/5.6 oz. Adjust with a little more milk, to keep the dough a bit sticky.

 

 

Orange blossom scented Pan de Muerto - better enjoy it while you are among the living!

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hanseata

When I made my wonderful rose hip jam a month ago, temperatures were in the eighties, t-shirt weather for weeks, and we even used the air condition in our bedroom - in Maine!

The glasses were sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting to be properly tagged before going into the basement. But my husband, immobilized by a broken foot, needed special attention, and, between baking twice a week for our local natural food store, answering student questions online, and taking care of our undeserving critters, I didn't get to it for quite a while.

After a week or so, I noticed that one of the glasses showed ominous signs of frothy activity. Obviously I didn't fill it quite high enough to establish a vacuum, and, with the prevailing heat as incubator, my rose hip jam had started to ferment.

I was pretty annoyed with myself. Why didn't I pay more attention, and place the compromised glass into the fridge, before it could turn itself into booze?

No help for it, this was a goner, and had to be thrown out..... Or not? Suddenly I remembered my experiences with apple yeast water two years ago. Made from fermenting apples, the yeast water had proved to be a powerful leaven, my bread even grew a horn!

But in the end the apple yeast water died a slow death from starvation in a dark corner of my fridge, all but forgotten, since we preferred the tangier taste of sourdough.

Wouldn't it be worth a try to experiment a bit, and see what would happen if I fed the tipsy jam with  flour?

I measured a teaspoon of jam in a little bowl and added equal amounts of water....

....and whole wheat flour to the bowl: 

5 g fermented rose hip jam + 25 g water + 25 g whole wheat flour.

Eleven hours later the reddish mixture had become bubbly and spongy, and emitted a wonderful fruity-sour smell.

I fed it two times more, aways with 25 g flour and 25 g water. It ripened faster each time, first after 3, then even only after 2 1/2 hours.

   Fully developed rose hip mother

I was very pleased and contemplated my next move.

I wanted to make a fairly simple levain, with a bit of whole grain, but not too much. I expected a rather mild taste, but I didn't want the blandness of an all-white bread, nor a too hearty loaf that overwhelmed more subtle nuances.

So I adapted a recipe for Pain au Levain, made with apple yeast leaven, from Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads and Pastries". I had made this bread before, with apple yeast water, it had been nice, but rather mild.

Hedh's book is gorgeous, with wonderful recipes, though not without some pesky errata - my first attempt of an attractive looking Levain with Bran and Vinegar had ended in a dense, compact brick - thanks to one erroneous Zero too many in the bran department.

Even though it was already evening, I didn't want to wait, and started with 16 g of my newborn rose hip mother - mother, chef and levain are the classic French terms for the 3 steps to make a leaven - to make the second stage: the chef.

 Chef after kneading

I woke up at midnight, went downstairs, eager to see how my starter was doing, and found a nicely grown chef, wide awake, and hungry for more.

  Fully developed chef

After feeding the little guy with more flour and water, I tottered back to bed. The next morning my levain was fully ripened and ready to go!

 Fully developed rose hip levain

PAIN AU LEVAIN  (adapted from Jan Hedh: "Swedish Breads and Pastries")

CHEF
21 g mother starter (it doesn't have to be rose hip, an ordinary mature wheat or rye starter will do)
   8 g water
21 g bread flour

LEVAIN
  50 g chef (all)
  50 g water
100 g bread flour

FINAL DOUGH
200 g levain (all)
 16 g spelt flour
 16 g rye meal
282 g bread flour
219 g water
    6 g salt

DAY 1:
1. Mix together all ingredients for chef. Knead for 2 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes. Resume kneading for 1 more minute. (Dough should be stiff, but not hard, moisten your hands to incorporate more water, if needed.) Cover, and let sit for 4 hours, or until doubled in size.

2. Mix together all ingredients for levain. Knead for 2 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes. Resume kneading for 1 minute more. (Dough should be stiff, but not hard, moisten your hands to incorporate more water, if needed.) Cover, and let ripen for 5 - 6 hours, or until doubled in size. Knead briefly to degas, and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 2:
3. Remove levain from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up. Cut into smaller pieces and place with flour and water in mixer bowl. Knead for 3 minutes at low speed, then let dough rest for 5 minutes.

4. Add salt and continue kneading for 7 more minutes at medium-low speed. Stretch and fold 1 x, gather dough into a ball, place it in lightly oiled bowl, turn it around to coat with oil, cover, and let rest for 90 minutes.

5. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, place hands in the middle and push out the air, stretch and fold 1 x, gather dough into a ball, return it to the bowl, and leave it for another 80 minutes.

6. Push out air again, and let dough relax for 10 more minutes. Shape into a round, place in banneton (seam side up), or on parchment lined baking sheet (seam side down).

7. Sprinkle bread with flour, mist with baking spray, cover, and proof for 60 - 90 minutes (in a warm place), until it has grown 1 3/4 times its original size.

8. Preheat oven to 250º C/482º F, including steam pan. Score bread.

9. Bake bread for 5 minutes, reduce heat to 200º C/400º F, and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Rotate bread 180 degrees, remove steam pan, and bake for 20 minutes more, venting the oven once to let out steam in between.

10. Leave bread in switched-off oven with door slightly ajar for another 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

  Rose Hip Levain crumb

I changed Jan Hedh's recipe a bit. Instead of long kneading, I added a period of rest (autolyse) while mixing the dough, thereby shaving off some hands-on time.

A total baking time of 60 minutes, as stated in the recipe, was not necessary, my bread was already done after 40 minutes. And leaving it a while longer in the switched-off oven with the door a bit ajar guaranteed a nice crisp crust that didn't soften soon after baking.

Did it taste like rose hips? No. But is was delicious! And not only that: The best of all husbands found it "the crustiest bread you ever made". 

One question remains: what was it exactly that gave the bread its marvelous lift? The rose hips? The apples? Or the red wine the jam was made with?

Bar Harbor Shore Path - where Rugosa roses grow in abundance
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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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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.

hanseata's picture
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.

 

hanseata's picture
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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