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hanseata

Now and then I need toasted bread. The supermarket varieties are, of course, off limits. A loaf that yields without putting up any resistance to my probing finger is not worthy of a Schwarzwald ham or Fontina topping. I want my toast delicately softening when I spread it with butter - not disintegrating into mash!


One of my favorite breads for toasting is the Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire from Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice". But it does need some adjustments! As usual the original is much too sweet for my taste - I use either 19 g honey or brown sugar, as the mood strikes me, not the suggested 28 g honey plus 42 g (!) sugar. Also, I found that 6 g instant yeast works just fine, it doesn't need 9 g.


Another curious thing - the original recipe calls for too much liquid: 113 g buttermilk plus 230 g water. Even though I substitute 100 g of the bread flour with whole wheat the dough is still far too wet for this kind of bread. Today I added only 170 g water, the dough was very tacky, soft, but firmed up nicely.


I also changed the technique a bit, including buttermilk and more flour in the soaker, and either pre-fermenting most of the bread flour in a biga, or doing stretches and folds. And, as usual, I bulk retard the dough in the refrigerator overnight.


The result is a very tasty, unsquishy bread that really deserves the goodies I put on top - even when it's untoasted.



 

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hanseata

One of the breads I bake regularly for sale is the Swedish Limpa Rye from Peter Reinhart's "Whole Grain Breads". The word "Limpa" sounds intriguing - but it simply means "round" in Swedish - I asked my Finnish friend Melita. Therefore, of course, my Swedish rye breads are always round.

I made some changes to the original recipe, though. I use less water for the starter - I found 142 g water results in a really wet dough: 127 g is sufficient. I also cut back on the molasses, adding only 37 g. The recipe amount with 57 g is, like many of the WGB recipes, too sweet for my taste.

As with all my breads I bulk ferment the dough overnight in the fridge - I need only 4 g instant yeast (instead of 7 g) - and bake it the next morning.

SOAKER
142 g rye flour
85 g whole wheat flour
4 g salt
170 g water
 
STARTER
64 g whole wheat mother starter
191 g whole wheat flour
127 g water
 
FINAL DOUGH
all soaker and starter
57 g whole wheat flour
5 g salt
4 g instant yeast
37 g molasses
14 g canola oil
9 g anise, fennel, cardamom, cumin, (cumin less than others)
7 g orange zest ( 3/4 - 1 orange)


DAY 1

In the morning, prepare soaker and starter.

In the evening, prepare final dough, place in lightly oiled container, cover and refrigerate overnight.


DAY 2

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hrs. before using.

Preheat oven to 425 F/220 C, including steam pan.

Shape boule and proof in floured banneton (seam side up) for 45 - 60 min., until it has grown 1 1/2 times its original size. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Score (I like a windmill pattern).

Bake 20 min. at 350 F/175 C, steaming with 1 cup boiling water, rotate 180 degrees and continue baking for another 25 min. until bread is a rich reddish brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom (internal temperature at least 200 F/93 C).

The breads I sell are a little smaller (80%), to fit into the oven - and to cost a little less!

Updated 11/4/14

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hanseata

German Feinbrot


When I moved to Maine in 2001, to get even - with the guy who had sold me a houseful of furniture - but refused to give me a rebate - I knew I would be in big trouble. And I was right, after two days my stomach started complaining and my brain kept sending "gag" signals, when I walked the supermarket aisles and encountered nothing but row after row of "wonderbreads".


Poking so-called rye, multigrain, oat nut or wheat breads with my finger, I found no resistance. I could squeeze them through their plastic bags and they would  spring back to their original size when I let go. Even when toasted they retained their squishyness and would not tolerate butter or jam without getting soft and soggy. 


The only place that sold some good bread in Bangor was (and still is) the "Bagel Factory". This bakery cafe was my oasis in the desert, and still, whenever I go to Bangor I take a bag of poppyseed bagels home. But great as these bagels are, they are white, a bit sweet and soft, and not dark, tangy and crusty, like the everyday rye sourdoughs I craved.


Having two warm meals a day was another thing my stomach refused to adapt to. German families usually eat bread and cold cuts either for lunch or for dinner.  German schools don't offer lunch, and Mother cooks at home. As a working mom I used to see this daily cooking as chore and a bad idea - until my daughter went to Bangor High, and had to eat at the school cafeteria (this experience made her learn how to cook, and gave birth to a career as chef!).


Finally I couldn't take my stomach's growling anymore. I started seeing bread Fata Morganas by day, and dreamt of crusty loaves by night. So I went on the quest to make "Feinbrot". The first step was, of course, a recipe. That was already a big hurdle. Nobody in Germany bakes Feinbrot at home, you can buy several varieties in every bakery and supermarket. There was none in my baking books, and none in the internet, only specialty breads, but not the simple loaf I was looking for.


And then, how to make sourdough? I didn't have the slightest idea. At a gift shop in Bangor, I found the "French Farmhouse Cookbook" and there was a recipe for Pain au Levain, with soudough. Full of enthusiasm I started my first starter, and, also, as backup and comparison, I mixed a starter from a store bought package.


My first breads, two twin loaves from the different starters and the recipe from the book, resulted in two almost identical bricks. Saving always a cup of dough to use as starter for the next bread, I kept on baking, producing more bricks on the way - my husband suggested keeping a supply next to our bed in case of a home invasion - and experimented with different amounts of rye, bread flour, temperatures and baking times, using the original recipe only as initial guideline.


After several weeks - and bricks - my homemade starter was way ahead of the store bought mix, in flavor and activity. Slowly, in trial and error, I figured out what bread flour/rye ratio I liked best, and what temperature settings and baking times gave the best results. Finally my bread had the right taste and right crumb - but the crust was either thick and and hard, or thin but too soft. Nevertheless, that was all I thought I could do - and Richard, the best of husbands, ate it all!


An open house tour with my daughter at the New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, left me green with envy. Valerie was going to learn how to make baguettes - from a real French pastry chef! I went home, and, since I couldn't be one, at least I could buy one "Bread Bakers' Apprentice".


Reading the instructions I was struck by an epiphany! I had always (as stated in my recipes) just placed a cup with cold water together with the bread in the oven. And now I learned how to set up my oven for hearth baking - with stone and STEAM. Finally I was not only able to bake French bread, but my humble everyday Feinbrot was transformed, too!



Feinbrot crumb


Recipe:    http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20242/karin039s-german-feinbrot


 


 


 


 


 

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hanseata

There's no doubt about it - Pflaumenkuchen (German Plum Cake) is my birthday cake. In the beginning of September the first prune plums show up on the market just in time for my birthday.

My birthday party was always arranged by my grandmother, my Omi, who invested all her love and imagination in coming up with games and other entertainment for me and my friends. She definitely was my role model on how to make a child's birthday party a huge success!

"Hide-and-Seek" (in the dark), "Choose-the-Right-Candy" ( with nail biting suspense) , "Say-Whom-You-Love" (good for many giggles) and "Unwrap-the-Chocolate" (with hat and mittens, fork and knife!) were some of the games that raised excitement and noise levels to heights that called for quiet intervals of soap bubble blowing, or story telling, to calm down all the boisterous little guests.

Of course my grandmother also baked my birthday cake, a large sheet brimming full of prune plums resting on a bed of sweet yeast dough, generously sprinkled with almonds and cinnamon sugar. I loved that cake, and could eat a lot of it (though not quite as much as on those memorable occasions when my cousin Thomas and I would compete at wolfing down Omi's famous yeast dumplings!).

Nowadays, if I don't have to entertain a horde of hungry cake monsters, I bake a smaller plum cake version, either with a short or a streusel crust, in a springform pan. They taste as good as the large yeasted cake - especially with Gifford's award winning vanilla ice cream...


 



There are hundreds of German plum cake recipes, this cake here is easy to make and tastes best slightly warm, with vanilla ice cream.


You'll find the recipe here: http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/09/german-plum-cake-pflaumenkuchen.html


 

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hanseata


Fall is the time of the year when Alsatians and wine loving Germans think: "Zwiebelkuchen"! For this mellow sweet onion pastry is the perfect companion to new wine.

If you travel in fall through the wine growing areas left and right of the Rhine, you will find inns, restaurants and many vinyards offering sparkling new wine (Federweisser). They often serve it together with freshly baked Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Tarte) or, an equally tasty variation, Porreekuchen (Leek Tarte).

But beware - Onion Tarte is an aider and abetter of that seemingly feathery light youngster, helping it go down so smoothly, that you are tempted to drink it like lemonade! When you wake up the next morning you realize why Federweisser is also called: "Sauser" (Buzzer) - there's something buzzing in your stomach and your head is spinning...


You find the recipe for Zwiebelkuchen or Leek Tarte here: http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/09/zwiebelkuchen-onion-or-leek-tarte.html


  Leek Tarte

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hanseata

Coming home from Portland late yesterday evening I had no time to make any pre-doughs for today's baking. So everything was stretched and folded, except for my usual Pain a l'Ancienne dough. No kitchen octopuses to battle this time, the doughs behaved and didn't try to take over the countertop. This morning I got an early start with my baking and was done just in time to Meet The Press.



Tyrolean Pumpkin Seed Mini Breads



 



These are real breads, not rolls, and are made with spelt, rye and Italian 00 flour - and, of course, lots of toasted pumpkin seeds.


 


 



Pain a l'Ancienne with Oat Flour (sorry, no crumb shot, these were all sold)


 



And since the oven was still warm, I finally fullfilled my NYB testing duties: Lace Cookies. They look as nice as they tasted.


 


 

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hanseata

I'm baking my own version of Peter Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne (from the BBA) regularly for three years now, it is a hot seller at our local natural food store. Since I wanted my bread to be a little healthier than 100% white, I substitute 100 g of the bread flour with whole grain flour, either rye, whole wheat, oat, spelt, corn or buckwheat. I also add a little sourdough just for the taste, and found the right baking technique for my oven. Thanks to DonD's - and others from TFL - advice to leave the breads for 5 minutes in the switched-off oven with the door slightly ajar, the crust comes out perfect now - and stays crisp for several hours.


After trying DonD's version of Pain aux Cereales (and loving it) I thought of doing something similar with my organic 7-grain mix (rye-, wheat-, barley chops, cracked corn and oat, millet and flaxseed), but in a simpler way that would better fit my time schedule, to be able to sell it. So yesterday morning I made a soaker from 100g multigrain mix and 100 g water. In the evening I mixed it with all the other ingredients and placed the bowl in the fridge overnight. I took the nicely risen dough out this morning at 4:00 am to de-chill and rise somewhat more. Three and a half hour later, with the Vollkornbrot already in the oven (I start with the breads that bake at a lower temperature), I divided the dough, placed the pieces in perforated baguette pans and let them proof for another 1/2 hour more until the rye breads were done and the oven reheated to 550 F.


I bake my Pains a l'Ancienne for 9 minutes, with steam, then rotate them, remove the steam pan, and continue baking for another 8 minutes, keeping the breads 5 minutes longer in the switched-off oven with the door ajar, before they are cooled on a rack. My oven is very well insulated (no steam escaping unless I open the door) and I bake with convection (fan-assisted, not "real"), since I bake on two shelves.


This is the result:





This one we kept and had for lunch, the others are sold. My husband's comment: "This is the best Pain a l'Ancienne you ever made".


 


 


 

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hanseata

There are happy testing days and there are less happy ones. This was definitely one of the latter! I decided to use the mandolin my husband bought a while ago. I never trusted that thing and usually take the box grater. But having to grate a lot of potatoes I didn't listen to my better instincts, put the mandolin together and started with the first potato. When the potato was two thirds grated the tool to hold it wouldn't let me chop off any more. I didn't want to end up with one third of the potatoes ungrated - and the other two thirds not enough for the recipe.


So I took the potato in my hand and - nearly chopped off the tip of my finger. Hands, as most valuable human tools, are well supplied with blood, and my index finger was living proof of it. I yelled for my husband and sucked my poor finger to keep it from dripping all over the place while he was looking for the Band-Aid (fortunately we have an emergency supply in a kitchen drawer).


When I was bandaged, my husband took over with some friendly comments about clumsy people who don't know how to work with something as simple as a mandolin. OUCH - there was another victim of the nasty thing, this time with a neatly delivered double cut. Our kitchen sink looked like a butcher's bowl when I finished wrapping Band-Aids around my husband's thumb.


Mixing the potato shreds that had nearly cost the lives of two innocent people with the other ingredients I started wondering whether there was something wrong with the recipe. How should a mixture rise with so little flour and so much vegetable mass in it? And, of course, it didn't. It sat there, in its baking pan, and did nothing but slowly oozing more onion and potato juice, so that it got wetter and wetter.


With deep misgivings I put it into the oven (what good is steaming something so wet, anyway?). It came out looking just like a gratin, nice, crisp and brown on top. But the mass under the crust was a disappointment, cooked potatoes without any special taste but a lot of salt.


The sacrifice of two healthy fingertips on the altar of culinary experiment had been in vain....


 


 

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hanseata

In this hot summer I find myself less eager to crank up the heat in our oven - thereby turning our kitchen into a sauna - my mind is more on something cool, tangy and refreshing. North German and Danish traditional cuisine has a treat just for this season: Rote Gruetze or Roede Groede (it's Danish name). Literally translated the name means "red gruel". That may not sound very enticing, but it's an old fashioned dish with an old fashioned name and soooo good!!!


My recipe is a modern version, using vanilla pudding powder instead of starch or tapioca, it's fast and easy to prepare. Enjoy it with cream, vanilla sauce or, even better, vanilla ice cream.


http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/07/rote-gruetze-red-berry-dessert_26.html


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hanseata

On Tuesday a horror scenario unfolded in my Bar Harbor kitchen. Preparing my breads for Wednesday's sale I made the fatal decision to give my doughs the stretch-and-fold treatment instead of just leaving them to the mixer. I had no idea what dark forces I unleashed!


Follow this link at your own risk:


http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/07/little-kitchen-of-horrors-or-tentacles.html



Pain de Campagne, one of the evil perpetrators - after his containment.

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