The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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This bread was made from the Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread recipe in George Greenstein's book Secrets of a Jewish Baker.  It's a really good bread, which has a very nice flavor and somewhat reminds me of a Scandanavian bread in texture; fairly open but substantial.  The recipe call for a sponge but this bread isn't difficult to make and is baked in a loaf pan.  As Mr. Greenstein says in the short intro: "The bread is best when baked in a loaf pan and sliced for sandwiches or toasted'  Oatmeal adds a distinct rough texture and nutty flavor and keeps the bread moist."  Like Mr. Greenstein said, it's excellent sliced and eaten with butter and marmalade or toasted.  My wife, who critiques the breads I bake really likes this bread.  I like to try different recipes and this one, for my taste, is a winner.

Greenstein's Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

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 This German Farmer's Bread (Bauernbrot) was made from a recipe in Gini Youngkrantz's Authentic German Home Style Recipes - Fourth Edition (pg. 21).  This bread is made from approximately half rye flour (48.8%) and equal amounts of whole wheat flour (25.6%) and AP flour (25.6%), excluding starter.  The recipe calls for a cup of active sourdough starter along with yeast in the final dough.  Ms. Youngkrantz's recipe produces an excellent German sourdough rye bread very much like the Bauernbrot I remember from Germany.  The recipe calls for "free form" loaves but I used German unlined willow brotforms for the final proofing and placed them on a parchment lined peal and docked them about a dozen times with small 8 inch bamboo skewer slighly larger in diameter than a tooth pick (they held their form nicely) then slid the parchment and loaves onto a baking stone, then a cup of boiling hot water to produce a blast of steam at the onset of the baking cycle.  This recipe calls for a slow-bake on low temp. (350 deg. F. for 70 minutes) with steam.  Instead, I baked them at 450 deg. F. for the first 10 minutes (to get max. oven spring) then lowered the oven temp. to 350 deg. F. for the remaining time.  I checked them at the end of the 70 min. baking cycle and they read 210 deg. internal temp.Howard - St. Augustine, FL 

Bauernbrot (Farmer's Bread) - Gini Youngkrantz:

This German Farmer's Bread (Bauernbrot) was made from a recipe in Gini Youngkrantz's Authentic German Home Style Recipes - Fourth Edition (pg. 21).  This bread is made from approximately half rye flour (48.8%) and equal amounts of whole wheat flour (25.6%) and AP flour (25.6%), excluding starter.  The recipe calls for a cup of active sourdough starter along with yeast in the final dough.  Ms. Youngkrantz's recipe produces an excellent German sourdough rye bread very much like the Bauernbrot I remember from Germany. 

The recipe calls for "free form" loaves but I used German unlined willow brotforms for the final proofing and placed them on a parchment lined peal and docked them about a dozen times with small 8 inch bamboo skewer slighly larger in diameter than a tooth pick (they held their form nicely) then slid the parchment and loaves onto a baking stone, then a cup of boiling hot water to produce a blast of steam at the onset of the baking cycle.  This recipe calls for a slow-bake on low temp. (350 deg. F. for 70 minutes) with steam.  Instead, I baked them at 450 deg. F. for the first 10 minutes (to get max. oven spring) then lowered the oven temp. to 350 deg. F. for the remaining time.  I checked them at the end of the 70 min. baking cycle and they read 210 deg. internal temp.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL 

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 Today I made Michel Suas' Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread from his book Advanced Bread and Pastry.  I was pleased with the results.  Although Mr. Suas book is written primarily for the professional baker his book is an amazing book, which covers both bread and pastry with an interesting history of bread making and many photos, illustrations and much detail re: techniques.Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Michel Suas Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread - Advanced Bread and Pastry:

Today I made Michel Suas' Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread from his book Advanced Bread and Pastry.  I was pleased with the results.  Although Mr. Suas' book is written primarily for the professional baker his book is an amazing book, which covers both bread and pastry with an interesting history of bread making and many photos, illustrations and much detail re: techniques.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

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As some of you are aware, I have been experimenting for the past few weeks with various English muffin recipes in an attempt to determine what I think is the recipe that truly creates the closest thing to an authentic English muffin.  The exercise has been quite interesting and productive.  So, here's my opinion, for what it's worth.  Dan Lepard's recipe has no equal.  Mr. Lepards recipe is easy to prepare, produces terrific results and is far and away the closest to what I believe is an authentic English muffin.  I previously posted his recipe with some of my comments and measurement conversions.  The photo below is of my second batch from Mr. Lepard's recipe.  Here are some tips that I used during my second baking itereation of his recipe. 

I doubled the recipe and made something like a dozen slightly larger size muffins.

I cut the rounds for the muffins 4 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

Use lots (I mean LOTS) of flour on the towel they sit on in the baking tray to proof.  Don't skimp on the flour or they'll stick to the cloth and at that point they're fully risen and very fragile, so use lots of flour.

Slide your hand under the floured towel to flip them onto your (floured) hand and place them in the skillet or on the griddle.    DO NOT try to pick them up with your fingers, spatula, etc.  REPEAT: Flip them onto your floured hand.

I reduced the cider vinegar (50ml single batch or 100ml for doubled recipe) by half (25ml for single or 50ml for double recipe) making up the difference in liquid with water and it worked great.  Just a hint of vingar, which really works well to contrast with the butter, marmalade, jelly or jam.  Incidentally, Charlene checked the Thomas English muffins package in the supermarket and they also include vinegar as an ingredient.

When cooking them, set your electric skillet or griddle at 300 deg. F. Cook the muffins covered (if possible) to capture the steam and hold the heat as they cook.  "Dry fry" them (no oil in skillet) for 10 minutes on side 1 and 5-7 minutes on side 2, longer if necessary.  Take a temp. check with a thermometer.  They should read 200-210 deg. F. internal temp. You can cook them in a skillet on the stove just be extremely careful with the heat under your skillet.  Otherwise, you run the risk of scorching them.
Let them completely cool on a wire rack (or they'll be gummy in the center) before serving them and split them using a fork, don't cut them with a knife.  That way you get the nice holes and great texture, as you can see from the photo below.

If you like English muffins I sincerely hope you'll try Dan Lepard's recipe... and let us know how it goes.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

 

  Dan Lepard's English Muffins - Second Baking

Dan Lepard's Cider Vinegar English Muffins Second Batch

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Dan Lepard has hit a home run with these English muffins.  They're what I imagine English muffins should be and, in my opinion, they're about as good as it gets.  Mr. Lepard posted a link to his recipe in The Guardian newspaper article, which I have inserted below the photo. 

I used an electric skillet to cook them.  No oil, just "dry-fry/bake".  Preheat the skillet, with the cover on to get it heated like a small oven, before placing the muffins into the skillet.  The lid goes on the skillet while they're cooking, which holds the heat nicely and allows them to steam a bit.  I followed his directions and they're very easy to make and, as I said, his recipe produces terrific muffins.  For those who like a nice sour bite, you'll really like these muffins.  The dough needs to be prepared the night before, as it has to stay in the regrigerator overnight. 

Mr. Lepard calls for 50 ml of cider vinegar in his recipe, which gives the muffins a nice crisp, slightly sour taste on the order of a sourdough.  For my taste the sourness was fine.  However, I think next time I will reduce the vinegar slightly to about 30 ml vinegar mixed with 20 ml water just to see the difference.   I took the liberty of adding/imbedding some conversion notes (without making any changes to the original recipe) i.e. ml to ounces and cm to inches, etc.  Hope it was alright to do that.  I [bracketed] my entries and italicized them so it would be clear as to what I added.  Mr. Lepard says they can be made either in rectangles or rounds.  I chose 4 inch rounds because that was the largest cutter I have.  Mr. Lepard calls for 12 cm diameters, which is close to 4 3/4 inches.  He make them large to compensate for shrinkage after cutting. As for the leftover dough, after cutting the rounds, I simply rolled it up, kneaded it a bit and rolled it out and made 2 more muffins, for a total of 9 muffins.   They're great toasted with the holes absorbing the butter and marmalade.

Dan Lepard's Cider Vinegar English Muffins

Dan Lepard's Cider Vinegar English Muffins

Cider vinegar muffins

What the Americans call an English muffin we used to call, well, a muffin. But since those little cakes in paper cases have invaded the supermarket shelves and stolen the name, our own little plain bread muffin has become neglected in Britain. In the US, bakers have raised the quality of their English muffins to something close to perfection. Crisp on the outside, sour and holey inside, and chewy when toasted and slathered with butter. Make these and you'll see what we've been missing all these years. In this recipe, the dough gets mixed and lightly kneaded the night before and is left in the refrigerator overnight to rise slowly. You can even leave it until the following evening if that works better for you.

Makes 8-10 muffins

50g unsalted butter

100ml warm water (by weight: approximately 4 oz. or 116 g.)

50ml cider vinegar [by weight: approximately 2 oz. Or 58g.]

100ml plain live yoghurt [slightly less than ½ cup]

1 large egg

1 level tsp salt

375g strong white flour

2 tsp easy-blend yeast [I used instant yeast and it worked fine]

Oil for the bowl

The night before, melt the butter in a saucepan [use stainless steel with the vinegar], then remove from the heat and beat in the warm water with the vinegar, yoghurt, egg and salt until smooth. Measure the flour and yeast into a bowl, tip [pour] in the butter and vinegar mixture and stir to a thick batter. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Lightly oil the work surface and knead the dough gently for 10-15 seconds (see Basic techniques). Scrape the bowl clean of scraps of dough, wipe the inside with a little oil, place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a plate or cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The following morning (or evening), lightly oil a dinner tray and upturn the dough on to it. Stretch and fold the dough in by thirds (see Basic techniques), then cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 1-2 hours until it warms and begins to rise again. [It takes a full 2 hours at 75 deg. F.]

Line a dinner tray with a tea towel and dredge the surface liberally with flour. Gently roll out the dough [on a work surface] about 1½ cm [approximately 5/8 inch] thick, trying not to knock too much of the gas from it. Cut the dough into discs using a 12cm-diameter [approximately 4 ¾ inches] cutter (yes, that large, as they'll pull inwards as they bake), or take a sharp knife and cut the dough into 6 rectangles or something close to that. Carefully lay the cut dough on the floured cloth. Dust the tops with flour and cover with a tea towel. Leave for 1½-2 hours [they’ll take the full 2 hours at 75 deg. F.] or until doubled in height.

Get a large heavy-bottomed frying pan with a snug-fitting lid if possible. Place on a moderate heat until the surface is hot but not scorching.

Uncover the muffins and flip them one by one on to your hand with the cloth, then slide them into the pan. You should be able to fit 3 or 4 in at a time. Cover the pan with the lid to create a bit of steam to help them rise and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Then check to see that they're not burning. If the bottom is a good brown, flip them over using a spatula. Cook on the other side for about 3-4 minutes. [I used an electric skillet with a lid, set at 340 deg. F. cooking them in a dry pan for 6 minutes on side 1 and 4 minutes on side 2 until they reached an internal temperature of 190 deg. F.] When done, remove to a wire rack, drape a tea towel over to keep them soft, and continue with the remaining muffins. Freeze in a zip-lock bag as soon as they're cold.

Variation

Crispy bacon muffins

Add 250g smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped finely, in with the flour, then continue with the recipe above.

 

 

 

 

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For my first attempt at English muffins I decided to try Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe from her Bread Bible.  The recipe uses a sponge/poolish and is an enriched (with butter and honey) dough.  I followed her recipe to the letter, except for diameter size.  After mixing I placed the dough in the fridge overnight for retardation.  She says it can stay in the fridge up to 24 hours. I left it in for about 12 hours.   The recipe calls for rolling the dough out while it is cold and cutting round 3 1/2 inch diameter  rounds (I cut them 4 inches in diameter).  Place them on a pan sprinkled with corn meal and sprinkle the tops lightly with corn meal, then allow them to rise (covered) until double in volume.

 Rose Levy No. 1Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 1

Photo below: Then place each dough round on a lightly buttered, griddle heated to medium.  Cook on one side for 10 minutes, flip them over and cook on the other side for about half previous time (5 minutes) until they reach an internal temp. of 190 deg. F 

 Rose Levy No. 3

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 3

Photo Below: The front 2 rows are the tops (after being flipped and cooked 5 minutes).  The back 2 rows are the bottoms (after cooking for 10 minutes).

  Rose Levy No. 3

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 3

The photo below is the crumb of the muffin.

 Rose Levy No. 4

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 4

Summary

In the opening passage of her recipe she says: "This incredibly smooth and supple dough is almost identical to the one for Basic Soft White Sandwich Loaf (page 244).  Therein lies the problem. The muffins DO NOT resemble English muffins with the firm texture and craggy holes in the crumb.  The crumb was way too doughy and more like the texture of Wonder Bread than English Muffin. 

With all due respect to Rose Levy, who I think has written a terrific book (Bread Bible), which I bake from frequently---I would be less than honest if I didn't say strike this one from your "To Bake" list.

Dougal has posted a version of Dan Lepard's recipe for crumpets that I plan to try next.  Thank you Dougal.  I'll keep you posted.

 

 

 

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This is my first attempt at multigrain bread using an overnight "soaker" for the grain.  These loaves are made from Mark Sinclair's recipe for Multigrain Bread, taken from his wedsite Back Home Bakery (under recipes).  I followed his recipe except I used King Arthur's (KA) mixture of multigrain (total of 188 grams), which I recently purchased in one of my orders from KA.  This bread is delicious.  Thank you Mark for sharing this great recipe.  The recipe produces 4 1/2 pounds of dough.  I divided it into three 1 1/2 pound loaves and used 2 unlined brotforms and an unlined boule bannton for the loaves. I dusted the brotforms and banneton using a mixture of half KA AP flour and half rice flour.  Incidentally, as you can see from this photo, I use a large plastic bin to cover the loaves during final proofing, which works well for me.

 Multigrain No. 1

Brotforms after final proofing.  At 1 hour final proofing time (75 deg. F) the loaves were ready for the oven.

 Multigrain No. 2

The scoring needs practice but the loaves came out pretty well.

 Multigrain No. 3

The crust was excellent and I was very pleased with the crumb and this bread tastes delicious.  Again, thank you Mark for this terrific recipe.

 Multigrain No. 4

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If anyone is interested, King Arthur has marked their videos/DVDs 1/3 off.  There are some very good instructional videos/DVDs available from their site and you can't beat their marked down prices.  A while back I purchased two DVDs; The Baker's Forum - Artisan Breads with Michael Jubinsky and the Ciril Hitz - Simplified Bread baking: Baguette to Pretzel.  They're very good for entry level home bakers and also good for experienced bakers, to brush up on techniques.  When I purchased the Artisan Bread DVD it was $15.00 and is now $9.99, etc.  Here's a link for anyone interested: 

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/landing.jsp?go=DefaultSearch&stype=product&term=baking+videos&x=20&y=16

Howard

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Using Mike Avery's refreshment method (every 8 hours), after a 2 day refreshment I placed my starter in my jar (slightly less than half filled) clamped on the lid (with rubber gasket) to seal it and placed it in the refrigerator.  Next day I had a very active starter.  So, instead of tossing 2/3 and refreshing it again before storing it back in the fridge, I decided to hold out the 2/3 "discard" and make some whole wheat sourdough bread.  Incidentally, this is a 10 year old Nancy Silverton starter.  I'm not suggesting that Ms. Silverton's starter is better than other starters but it's what I made when I first started my sourdough journey and, as is evident, it still works quite well.  I'm Just thankful that I checked it when I did.  This is the same "bad boy" starter that lifted the lid off my dutch oven a while back during the baking of  a 3 pound boule.  

 Refreshed Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter and Container: Refreshed Sourdough Starter

Anyway, I made a couple of whole wheat boules, mixed by hand.  I did two "stretch and folds" during a 2 hour bulk frementation, then placed the container of dough in the fridge for a 14 hour retardation.  The following day I took the dough out of the fridge (it had risen during retardation, which is unusual), divided it, shaped it, placed the 2 shaped boules into 2 heavily floured (half rice flour mixed with half KA AP) linen lined bannetons and let it do it's final fermentation for about three and a half hours at room temp, as it was still cold from being in the fridge.  Then turned the boules onto parchment lined pans, scored them, placed them in the oven and baked them at 450 deg for about 40 minutes, using a heavy dose of stream at the onset of the baking cycle---and turning them half way through the baking cycle.   

 Whole Wheat Sourdough Boules

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

They may have slightly overproofed because they dropped a bit after scoring, but overall I was pleased with the results. They tasted very good, had a good crust and very nice, rather complex, flavor and good texture.

 Whole Wheat Sourdough No. 2

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

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Yesterday I made Rose Levy's Cinnamon Raisin Loaf from her Bread Bible.  It's an enriched dough, using a sponge and lots of butter (no eggs, except one beaten as a wash for the interior of the rolled dough.  It gets rolled out, an egg wash applied, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and rolled into a loaf.  It's somewhat labor intensive but the recipe produces a really good bread.  However, there's a mistake in her recipe, which if you have Bread Bible, you should note.  On page 261 - "Flour Mixture and Dough", she lists the ingredients: flour, dry milk, instant yeast, unsalted butter, and salt.  In Step 2 she tells you "Combine the ingredients for the flour mixture and add to the sponge."  She fails to tell you to reserve the salt until after the flour, which you cover the sponge with, has bubbled through and you have mixed the butter into the dough.  She later tells you (Page 262, Step 3), after adding the butter and mixing it into the dough, then add the salt.  So, make a note on page 261 to hold the salt out of the Flour Mixture until Step 3: "Mix The Dough".

Anyway, for the "scoring artists" out there, the crust/exterior "look" of this bread is unexciting, but it's great tasting bread.  I mixed it by hand, as I have been doing each time I make a new recipe lately, and I'm going to do it again later.  My "unprofessional" opinion is she over handles the dough a bit.  After 1 hour in the fridge the dough gets divided, rolled out, egg washed sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, rolled up and put into baking pans.  At this point (make a note in your book) the dough needs about 2- 2 1/2 hours at room temp to allow the butter to soften sufficiently so that cold butter (in the center, doesn't inhibit the oven spring/rise).  So, I'm going to try making some changes to the mixing technique and final proof it longer next time and see how it works out.

Instead of using only raisins (per the recipe) I used a mixture of half golden raisins and half dried cranberries and that worked out nicely for both color and taste. 

 Cinnamon Raisin Loaf No. 1

Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cinnamon Raisin Loaf: Cinnamon Raisin Loaf No. 1 

 Cinnamon Raisin Bread No. 2

Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cinnamon Raisin Loaf: Cinnamon Raisin Bread No. 2

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