The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Last week I mixed, and baked my first pandoro, the Italian cake, rich with sugar, butter, and eggs, as well as cocoa butter, and a bit of vanilla extract (from Maggie Gleezer's Artisan Baking).





This was much more a batter than a dough, and was not easy to shape into a log, and from that, into a ball…in fact, I was happy to get it into the pans.


I did let it rise from about 6:30 P.M. until  almost 7 A.M., and by then it had still not domed above the tops of the tins. I put both tins in my upper oven, and turned on the oven to "proof," and they did rise a bit more. Then I baked them in my lower oven at 350° F for 30 minutes, rotating the pans at 15 minutes.


 


 


Can't yet comment on flavor as these will be served on Christmas day, but the aroma is wonderful. Hope I don't forget the powdered sugar.


 


Update: I didn't forget the powdered sugar (My wife, Linda, made sure some was placed in a baggie for each cake when we took them to two separate family food events christmas day).


Flavor was excellent—sweet, but not too sweet. Cakes were light, and altogether well received by all who had a slice. I am pleased, and will make these again (as I now have a lot of cocoa butter).


 

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I baked two sourdough loaves yesterday, using my recently acquired, and fed KAF starter (reported to come from starter that began 250 years ago in New England). 


the bread is the best sourdough I've ever made, and perfect for sandwiches. I followed the KAF recipe that came with the starter, except for to changes. I had the starter in  the fridge, and just used one coup of it, but did not throw out a cup, and refresh the starter before using it in this batch. Also, in the deep south, it is not possible to let a sponge or the dough rise in a room at 68°–70° F. I couldn't afford the power bill if I kept my house tht cool in the sumer. Actual room temperature was more like 78°. So, the sponge  reached its time for overnight refrigeration in less than the anticipated 5 hours (it was more like 3 hours), and likewise, the next day, the dough, and then the loaves did not need as much time to rise as anticipated. 


A photo of the bread and the recipe are here:  http://jeffgrillsblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/kaf-rustic-sourdough_26.html


 

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As I was paging through BBA to find the various sourdough and other rye bread recipes, I discovered two recipes, with great photos, that I had somehow missed in my many, many trips through that wonderful bread book—Potato Cheddar, and Chives Torpedos, and Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche. Both recipes are from bakeries in Sonoma County, CA, one of my favorite places, home to great wineries, and great wines, and home to some astounding artists, among them, Ginny Stanford, whose portraits of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the late, wonderful food writer, M.F.K. Fisher can be found in the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery.


In fact, my first exposure to Sonoma County, in 1981, was under the guidance of Ginny Stanford, who led me on a day tour of some of Sonoma County's wineries, including what immediately became my favorite, Kenwood Winery. To this day, the 1978 Kenwood Zinfandel remains one of the best wines I have ever tasted. After the tour, I baked some baguettes at the home of one of Ginny's friends, to accompany a fine dinner of lemon chicken and pasta with pesto. And, though I'd love to be counted among the fine Sonoma County bread bakers, I can at least say I have baked bread in that county that is loaded with all kinds of talent—in art, food, wine, and more.


But, I digress—let's get back to today's bake.


I knew when I saw the two recipes and the accompanying photos, that I would soon bake both—it was just a matter of deciding which one to bake first. My wife, Linda, solved my dilemma. She suggested saving the miche, a three-pound wonder that should be presented on as pictured in BBA, on a pedestal, for a festive occasion (and the recipe yields two of these hefty loaves).


Of course, that festive occasion will be here soon. As I'm sure you know, Mardi Gras originated here in Mobile, AL, and we'll begin the two weeks of parties and parades in the city on January 29. So, yesterday I tried the Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedos, reserving the miche for sometime in the next few weeks. And the results were just great—so great that I will submit this bread to Susan at her wonderful blog, Wild Yeast, for her regular Friday feature, Yeast Spotting.The recipe, slightly abridged, follows. Immediately following the recipe, you'll see what I did, some of which digressed from the recipe (mostly because of my ability to carefully read and then to follow directions).


 


Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedos from Bread Baker's Apprentice




Ingredients


For two 1.5 pound loaves


 


8 oz. un-peeled potatoes, coarsely chopped, boiled in 3 cups water until soft, and cooled.


4 to 8 oz. potato water, lukewarm (from above)


10.5 oz. barm


18 oz. unbleached bread flour


.22 oz (2 tsp.) instant yeast


.5 oz. (2 tsp.) salt


1 oz (one-fourth cup) chopped fresh chives


6 thin slices (about 4 oz.) sharp Cheddar cheese


 


Directions


1. Prepare potatoes in advance and allow time for potatoes and cooking water to cool. Remove barm from fridge about one hour before making bread, to take off the chill.


 


2. In a 4-qt. bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the barm, half of the flour, the yeast, the cooked potatoes, and one half cup of the potato water (or, use paddle attachment with the mixer). Let this sit uncovered for 30 minutes.


 


3. Add remaining flour and the salt, and mix until ingredients form a ball adding as much or remaining water as needed.


 


4. Sprinkle some flour on counter, transfer the dough to the counter and knead the dough for about 6 minutes (or mix on low speed with the dough hook). Add flour or water as needed. Add the chives and continue kneading until they are evenly distributed (about two minutes). In a mixer, the dough should clear the sides and bottom of the bowl. The dough should pass the window pane test, and be very tacky, but not sticky, and should be about 77° to 81°F. Lightly oil a large bowl, and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


 


5. Ferment art room temp for about 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.


 


6. Transfer the dough to the counter and cut it into two equal pieces. Press each piece into a rectangle about 6 inches wide by 8 inches long. Lay three slices of cheese on each rectangle, covering the surface, but leaving about a half inch border uncovered around the edges. Tightly roll up the dough from bottom to top, jelly-roll style, creating a spiral with the cheese. Seal the ends of the rolled dough, which should look like a log , into points by rolling them more forcefully with your hands. this will give the dough a torpedo look, plump in the middle and tapered at the ends. As you roll down the ends, be sure to squeeze out all the trapped air pockets to avoid separation of the layers. Seal the bottom seam closed with the edge of your hand.


 


7. Line a sheet pan with parchment, mist the parchment lightly with spray oil, then dust with cornmeal or semolina flour. Lay the two loaves across the width of the pan, mist the tops lightly with spray oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.


 


8. Proof at room temp. for about one hour or until the dough nearly doubles in size.


 


9. Prepare the oven for hearth baking (i.e., have your stone in place) and be sure to have an empty steam pan in place. Pre-heat the oven to 500°F. Score the the top of each loaf with two diagonal slashes, making sure to cut through the first layer of cheese.


 


10. Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or corn meal and very gently transfer the loaves, with or without the parchment to the peel or the pan. Slide the loaves onto the baking stone, or bake directly on the pan. Pour one cup of hot water into the steam pan and shut the door. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door again. Repeat twice more at 30 second intervals. After the final spray, lower the oven temp. to 450°F and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. After 15 minutes, rotate the loaves 180 degrees, if necessary for even baking. The loaves should register 200°F in the center, be nicely browned all over, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. the cheese will bubble up out of the cuts, crisp up, and also brown.


 


11. Transfer the finished loaves to a wire rack for cooling for at least 45 minutes before slicing and serving.


 


As I said, I didn't follow the recipe exactly as presented in BBA, but I am happy with the results.


 


 



 


I have learned the value of mis en place and adhere to this basic principle at every bake.


 


 

 

As it happened, I didn't need to take my barm from the fridge, as I had refreshed it twice over the past two days, and it was already en place in a covered bowl on the counter.

 

 

I had also previously (about 45 minutes earlier) cooked the potatoes and saved and measured out the cooking water.

 

 

 

 

Next, I mixed half the flour with the yeast (and it appears that I was about a tenth of an ounce over, on my flour)

 

 

 

I mixed the barm, flour, yeast, potatoes, and a half cup of the potato water…

 

 

and added the remaining flour, and the chives (which were to be added just a bit later, according to the recipe)

 

 

 

 

and a bit more water. Then I kneaded the dough with the dough hook until it cleared the sides of the bowl.

I then, transferred the dough to an oiled bowl, and covered it with its own lid.

 

 

 

It seems I have a tendency to use a bit more oil than what might be considered "lightly oiling a bowl."

 

After the dough had fermented for about 90 minutes,

 

 

 

 

I divided it into two rectangular pieces, and placed the cheese strips as directed. However, I had a narrow brick of white sharp cheddar cheese, and so, I used about 10 strips for each rectangle, and then, because I didn't carefully read the directions, I rolled the dough up on the eight inch side, making for rather longish torpedos that would not fit across the pan, but would only fit lengthwise.

 

 

I realized that it seemed silly to proof the loaves on a half-sheet pan, and then transfer them to a peel or to the back of another pan,so I quickly pulled out my new SuperpPeel™ (again without the cloth conveyor belt) and gently moved the loaves, on the parchment to the peel for proofing. that worked really well and the loaves on the parchment slipped perfectly onto the stone when it was time to bake. I much prefer the SuperPeel™ to my aluminum peel—it's bigger, and can easily accommodate loaves crosswise, which helps getting them into the right position on the stone. Now I use the aluminum peel mostly for removing loaves, one at a time from the oven when they are finished baking.

After proofing for a bit more than an hour, I scored the loaves (at this point on parchment on the Super Peel)…

 

 

 

but, as you can see, I scored the front loaf three times instead of two (because my placement of the first score was too near the end of the loaf).

 

Nonetheless, and despite my mis-steps, the loaves turned out well, with a soft crumb, an astounding aroma and flavor, and a pretty decent crust.

 

 

 

My guess is that I didn't roll the dough tightly enough, and that caused the holes you see (and that is where the cheese is).

All in all, this was bread that was fun to bake, and once again, I learned a great deal (especially about reading directions).

I can tell you that after the requisite cooling period, the first slice was not enough, and my wife and I happily (but with some guilt) ate about a third of that loaf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today I baked KAF baguettes, but I used KAF unbleached bread flour instead of all purpose flour as called for in the formula. It's a simple formula for four loaves—34 oz. warm water, 24 oz. flour, 1T salt, 1 T instant yeast (I used SAF Instant). Mix, knead for just a few minutes (4 by hand, 2 by machine), and let ferment at room temp in a covered container for 2 hours, then into the fridge overnight. The dough can stay in the fridge for several days, and you can bake a loaf at a time, over that period, but I divided it and made four loaves for one baking. 


Because the dough was cold when I divided it and pre-shaped into an oval/rectangle, and let it rest for 15 minutes covered with oiled waxed paper, and still pretty cold when I shaped it into baguettes, I put the pans into my upper oven, covered with the same oiled paper, and set the oven to the "proof" setting for the hour and a half proofing. 


I still have a problem getting the scoring right, and so I scored two loaves before proofing, and two, right before going into a 450° oven. Neither version looked great, but the traditional scoring did look better than my experimental version when the baguettes came out of the oven.


I forgot to spritz the loaves with warm water right before baking, but a 30 minute bake with one rotation at 15 minutes resulted in a nice crust, and a pretty good crumb. Nice flavor, too, comparable to some of my better attempts.

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Friday was my first bake of the new year, and I tried my hand a BBA's Italian bread.


 


I mixed the biga Thursday afternoon, before heading of to the South Alabama basketball game (we lost, by 3, in OT), and put into the fridge during halftime in the BCS championship game ("Bama won, if you hadn't heard—Roll, Tide, Roll).


 

Friday morning I took the biga out of the fridge, cut it into 10 pieces, and let it warm up while I had coffee, and read the paper.

 

 

I mixed the flour, yeast, malt, sugar, and salt in the bowl of my KA mixer, immediately after cutting the biga into pieces.

 

 

 

When the biga was about room temp, I completed mixing—adding the biga pieces to the bowl, adding the olive oil, and some of the water. and began mixing on first speed with the paddle, adding more water gradually until the dough came together in a ball. I then switched to the dough hook, and kneaded at 2nd speed for about eight minutes, and put the dough in an oiled plastic bowl with a lid, for a two hour rise. 

I gently removed the dough to the counter and divided it into two more or less equal pieces (one was 19.3 oz., the other 19.6 oz), and shaped each piece into a bâtard.

 

 

 

I put a sheet of parchment on my wooden Super Peel (without the cloth gizmo) and dusted it with cornmeal, and then gently placed the bâtards on the dusted parchment to rise, for about an hour.

 

My oven is not as wonderful as I would like it to be, and it doesn't reach temperature when it claims to reach temp. So, even though I set it for 500°, it finally reached 475° after about 40 minutes. By the time I added water to the pan on the bottom rack for steam, and then slid the bâtards (still on the parchment) onto the stone, the temp had dropped to just over 400°.

I baked the loaves for about 13 minutes, and then turned them, and baked them for about 8 minutes more, tenting with aluminum foil for the last 5 minutes because they were getting darker than I had expected.

 

I took the bâtards out of the oven and placed them on wire racks to cool.

 

 

 

I think I'm getting better at scoring loaves, but I still need more practice. For this I used a single-edged razor blade, and I seem to do better with that then with either of my lames.

If anyone can offer advice on scoring, I will welcome your wisdom.

I used KAF unbleached bread flour, SAF Instant yeast, Morton Coarse Kosher salt, KAF diastatic malt powder, and Carbonnell extra virgin olive oil.

The loaves turned out well, with fairly tight crumb, nice flavor, and a chewy crust.

I've sent this along to Susan for possible inclusion in Yeast Spotting at her great blog, Wild Yeast.

 

Here's the recipe for BBA's Italian Bread.

 

Biga

21⁄2 cups      (11.25 oz.)      unbleached bread flour

1⁄2 tsp.         (.055 oz.)        instant yeast

3⁄4 C + 2 TB

to 1 C           (7 to 8 oz.)      water at room temp.

 

1. Stir together flour and yeast in 4-qt. bowl or bowl of a mixer. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 TB water, and stir or mix at low speed with paddle attachment until everything comes together in a coarse ball. Adjust flour and water as needed so that dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff.

2. Sprinkle some flour on counter and transfer dough to counter. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes (or use dough hook and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes).

3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. cover bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temp for 2 to 4 hours, until dough nearly doubles in size.

4. Remove dough from bowl, knead it lightly to degas, and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. According to BBA, you can keep this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze it in an airtight plastic bag for up to 3 months.

 

Italian Bread

Makes 2 one-pound loaves or 9 torpedo (hoagie) rolls

 

3 1⁄2 Cups      (18 oz.)      biga (see previous recipe—use the entire recipe

2 1⁄2 Cups      (11.25 oz.) unbleached bread flour

1 2⁄3 tsp.        (.41 oz.)     salt

1 TB               (.5 oz.)     sugar

1 tsp               (.11 oz.)    instant yeast

1 tsp               (.17 oz.)    diastatic barley malt powder (optional)

1 TB               (.5 oz.)     olive oil, vegetable oil or shortening

3⁄4 cup to

3⁄4 cup+2 TB   (7 to 8 oz.) water (or milk, if making rolls) , lukewarm (90° to 100° F)

 

1. Remove biga from refrigerator 1 hour before making dough. Cut biga into about 10 pieces, with a pastry scraper. cover pieces with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take chill off.

 

2. Stir together the flour, salt, sugar, yeast , and malt powder in a 4-qt. bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the biga pieces, the olive oil, and 3⁄4 cup of water and stir together (or mix on low speed with paddle attachment) until a ball forms, adjusting water or flour as needed. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft.

 

3. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter and knead (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook) Knead for about 10 minutes (I mixed for about 8 minutes with dough hook at speed tow or three on my KA six-qt. mixer), adding flour as needed. Dough should pass the window pane test, and be tacky but not sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it, rolling it around to coat all surfaces. cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

 

4. Ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

 

5. Gently divide the dough into two equal pieces of about 18 oz. each, or into 9 pieces of about 4 oz. each for torpedo rolls. Carefully form the dough pieces into bâtards or or rolls, degassing the dough as little as possible.  Lightly dust with a sprinkle of flour, cove with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rest for 5 minutes (a step I neglected). then complete the shaping extending the loaves to about 12 inches or shaping the torpedo rolls. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment (I placed the parchment on a large wooden peel) and dust with semolina flour or cornmeal. Place the loaves on the dusted parchment and lightly mist with spray oil. Cover loaves loosely with plastic wrap.

 

6. Proof at room temp. for about 1 hour or until loaves have grown to about 11⁄2 times their original size.

 

7. Prepare oven for hearth baking. Place baking stone on middle rack, remove racks above that rack. Place pan for water for steam on bottom rack or floor of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Score the breads with 2 parallel diagonal slashes or one long slash.

 

8. Rolls can be baked directly on the sheet pan. For loaves, generously dust a peel or back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and very gently transfer the loaves to the peel or pan. Transfer the loaves to the stone (or bake on the sheet pan). Pour one cup of hot water into the steam pan and close the door. Lower oven temp. to 450°F and bake for about 20 minutes, or lower temp to 400°F and bake a bit longer. rotate loaves 180° if necessary for even baking. Rolls should bake for about 15 minutes.

Note: BBA suggests spraying the walls of the oven twice at 30 second intervals and then lowering the temp. to 450°, but I don't do this because I've fond that so much opening and closing the oven door causes too great a loss of heat at a time when I want maximum heat.

 

9. Transfer loaves or rolls to a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

 

I think it's now time to slice and taste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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