The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

LindyD's blog

  • Pin It
LindyD's picture
LindyD


For the past year and a half I’ve been trying to generate a healthy dose of steam in my extremely well vented gas oven. Steam that would be present in good volume for at least the first 15 minutes.  My experimentation had mixed results.  The bread tastes great, but I want the appearance be as good as the taste.


I’ve tried water in a preheated pan, ice cubes in a preheated pan, a cup of water over preheated lava rocks in a pan, spraying the bread, covering the bread, plus the great tips offered by Giovanni and SylviaH using hot wet towels.  While these techniques sure did humidify my house, open cuts and a nice grigne just didn’t materialize. 


One method that did work with some success was SteveB’s.  Alas, my thrift-store aluminum roaster cover is a tad wider than my stone, so I don’t have a good seal between the lid and the stone.  


David Snyder had written about the steaming technique recommended for home bakers by SFBI 


It looked interesting, but I didn’t want to buy yet another gizmo.  So I made my own version by  poking holes through a foil loaf pan (three for a buck at the local dollar store) and setting it on top a layer of lava rocks in the bottom of a metal loaf pan.   The holes were large in the first version.


I experimented with both steaming versions over Thanksgiving weekend using Hamelman’s sourdough formula.    


The loaf in the background was baked covered, using SteveB’s technique. Oven and stone preheated to 500F, loaf loaded and covered (the cover was not preheated).  Two shots of steam were directed through the hole in the cover, plus one cup of water was poured into a wide broiler pan containing lava stones (done because of the cover overlap).  I forgot to turn down the heat until I removed the cover, 15 minutes later. Bake finished at 460F.


The loaf in the foreground was baked uncovered.  After loading the bread into the preheated 500F oven (and stone), one tray of ice cubes was placed in the foil tray resting over the lava rocks on the left side of the oven and about 1.5 cups of water poured into the broiler pan containing lava rocks on the right side of the oven.  Temp reduced to 460F.  After 15 minutes the broiler pan was dry and emitted no steam so it was left in the oven.  The foil-trayed loaf pan was removed.  Although I screwed up the scoring on the bread in the foreground, the results looked promising.


I didn’t think the sufficient steam had been generated, so I made much smaller  holes in another foil pan and replaced the original version. 



I mixed the same dough the following weekend.  Oven and stone again preheated to 500F.  A  batard was scored and loaded.  This time TWO trays of ice cubes were dumped into the foil tray and 2.5 cups of water poured into the broiler pan w/lava rocks.  About 16 minutes later I removed the loaf pan; I could see the steam still coming off the lava rocks.  I left the broiler pan in, as that water had evaporated.  Here’s the result.   



To make sure this was no fluke, I followed the same procedure with the second batard.  It worked again!  



I am overjoyed to finally have figured out how to generate an abundance of steam in my oven for those crucial first minutes.



Finally, my bread looks as great as it tastes! Thank you SteveB, David, and all the other fine bakers who have been so inspiring.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

                                                       


"A bagel is a round bread made of simple, elegant ingredients: high-gluten flour, salt, water, yeast and malt. Its dough is boiled, then baked, and the result should be a rich caramel color; it should not be pale and blond. A bagel should weigh four ounces or less and should make a slight cracking sound when you bite into it instead of a whoosh. A bagel should be eaten warm and, ideally, should be no more than four or five hours old when consumed. All else is not a bagel."


So wrote Ed Levine in The New York Times.  Having tasted (and baked) various bagels,  the elegant simplicity of Jeffrey Hamelman's formula, both in ingredients and technique, perfectly fits Levine's description.


Prep time is about ten minutes to scale the ingredients and complete the calculations for the desired dough temperature (76F).   Figure another couple minutes to very lightly oil two sheets of parchment (wiping off any excess oil), which are then placed on two baking sheets.  This is your insurance policy to make sure your bagels won't stick to the parchment after the retarding period.  BTW, these two sheets can be used over and over again.  Just let them dry out before storing them and lightly re-oil before using again.


The dough is then mixed for three minutes to incorporate the five ingredients, then five to six more minutes in a stand or planetary mixer.


Now, about mixers.   Over the past year I've been using my KA Artisan mixer to mix this 58- percent hydration dough.   It easily handled the first three minutes of mixing at speed one,  but began to heat up during the second mixing stage at speed two.  I resorted to strapping an ice pack on top of the mixer to keep it cool and even shut it down for a few minutes if I thought the mixer was straining too much.  That worked and my KA Artisan has survived mixing 30 pounds of Sir Lancelot high gluten flour for bagels, but I've paid very close attention to it every minute of the mix.  


Not wanting to push my luck any further because my KA grain mill and food grinder attachments are important tools, last month I found a Bosch compact stand mixer for sale.   After mixing two batches of bagels, I remain amazed that the little Bosch (which I can hold in one hand) doesn't even get warm while mixing this very stiff dough.  


                                                                    


Once the dough is mixed, it is bulk fermented for one hour, then divided into 13 (a baker's dozen) four-ounce pieces (roughly 112 grams).  Each piece is rolled into a log shape with blunt ends to a length of 10 to 11 inches.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video worth a million or more, here's a link to a great video by Ciril Hitz demonstrating the same shaping method described in Hamelman's Bread.


It takes about a minute to divide, weigh, and shape each bagel.  Divide the 13 bagels between your two lightly oiled parchment sheets, bag the pans or cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight.  I prefer at least 12 hours.  Retarding is important because it slows down the fermentation of the dough and encourages lactic acid to develop, as well as that lovely crust.  The bagels remain in the refrigerator until you are ready to boil and bake them.


The next morning preheat your oven (and stone) to 500F and add three to four inches of water to a large pot, which will be brought to a boil.   While waiting for the oven to preheat, assemble a large bowl to contain ice water, a plate and cake rack to hold the bagels after their ice bath, a spider or slotted spoon, and another plate to catch any droplets of malted water as you move the bagels from the boiling water to the ice bath. You'll also need a couple sheets of parchment and your peel.


                                                 


Add enough barley malt syrup to the water (before it begins to boil) so that it's the color of dark tea.  Once the water is at a rolling boil, dump a tray of ice cubes into the large bowl and add water.  Remove one tray of bagels from the refrigerator, uncover, and place two or three in the boiling water for around 45 seconds.   They'll pop right up and float.  The syrup adds a touch of sweetness and color; boiling begins to gelatinize the starch and creates the glossy crust, but boiling too long (some authorities say a minute is too long; others say two minutes) can cause the dough to collapse or  develop patches of yellowed, thickened crust.   

Remove the bagels from the boling water and immediately place in the ice water bath to chill for a couple of minutes. I don't use bagel boards, so I move the chilled bagels to the cake rack for about a minute, then to the parchment on my peel (after adding toppings, if any).   Once all the bagels from that batch have been boiled, chilled, and moved to the parchment covered peel, into the oven they go for 15 to 18 minutes.  Proceed with the final batch and enjoy while still warm.


The results: authentic, elegant bagels that even Ed Levine would love.


               






                                                                                     





This recipe is my first bake of The Bread Challenge

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Grissini are pencil-thick bread sticks, 14 to 16-inches long, and easily made in a few hours.  The dough is mixed, bulk fermented for an hour, then divided, rolled, and baked at 380F.



I tweaked Jeffrey Hamelman’s formula from Bread by using garlic infused olive oil and adding two ounces of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. 


Some Grissini were plain; some were rolled in sesame seeds, and some were rolled in a mix of Parmesan and sesame seeds.  Before starting, I removed both the stone and my steaming pan from the oven as the Grissini are baked on a baking sheet without steam.


Place the following ingredients in your planetary mixer bowl:


507 grams, bread flour


263 grams, water


60 grams, olive oil (garlic infused)


51 grams, unsalted butter


2 tsp, salt


1/2 tsp, instant yeast


57 grams, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated


Mix at speed one until the ingredients are well mixed (about three minutes). Increase the mixer speed to two and mix another four or five minutes.  Dough temperature should be 76F.  The dough will have a lovely scent from the infused olive oil and is very easy to handle. 


Bulk ferment for one hour, then divide the dough into 24 squares, each weighing  37-grams.  Set the divided dough on a very lightly floured surface, cover with plastic, and allow to rest for around 10 minutes.  Place parchment on your baking sheet(s).


Roll each 37-gram square of dough into a thin log measuring 14 to 16 inches long.  You do not need to flour your bench: the dough contains butter and olive oil and is not at all sticky.


Once you have rolled to the length you wish, you can scatter more grated cheese and sesame (or other) seeds along the length then do a final roll over the seeds to cover the dough.  Or leave them plain, as shown in the photo.  Your call.  


(Yeah, I got carried away with that long one!)  Continue rolling until you have filled the sheet, allowing sufficient space between each bread stick, then place the pan into the preheated oven and bake at 380F for 20 minutes.  The bottoms are going to be a deeper brown than the tops, which provides a nice contrast.


While the first batch is baking, continue forming the remaining portions and cover them with plastic until they’re ready to go into the oven.


Allow the Grissini to completely cool, to allow the flavors to develop.  They have a lovely taste of cheese with a hint of garlic, are crunchy, and wonderful with dinner, as a snack, or with your favorite dip.  Keep them in an airtight container for up to five days.  


Check out Bread for some delicious variations. Or experiment on your own.  They're a wonderful canvas to highlight your favorite flavors.  I might try bleu cheese next!

 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

"Cheese Bread" is a rather drab description of this strongly flavored bread, so I decided to give it the name of the cheese I used.  



The overall formula (which includes a stiff levain) is:


Bread flour - 100%


Water - 60%


Olive oil -  5%


Salt -  1.5%


Yeast -  1% (or half that amount if you plan to retard the bread overnight)


Parmesan cheese -  20%


Half the cheese is cubed and half grated, then added to the dough after it has been mixed to moderate gluten development.



I was unable to retard the dough overnight because of lack of refrigerator space.  


The bread was wonderful lightly toasted and served with a breakfast egg.  It would be a terrific accompaniment with spaghetti, as well as broiled with a bit of garlic, olive oil, sliced tomatoes, and maybe a dash of fresh mozzarella.  



Am betting it will also make excellent croutons and bread crumbs.


This is a great recipe for a special occasion and the quality of the cheese you use will have a major effect on the result.  


Only one caveat:  it will make one very lousy PB&J!

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Inspired by Hansjoakmin's five-grain rye sourdough, I decided to try a sourdough rye. I chose Hamelman's Flaxseed bread, which is a 60 percent rye, because I've never tasted such a rye (let alone baked one). Plus, flaxseed is good for you.


Given my inexperience, I went by the book and followed Hamelman's instructions precisely, starting with building a rye sourdough from scratch.  That began on February 16, using Arrowhead Mills organic rye flour, and feeding it twice a day from the third day on.  


On February 28 the rye sourdough culture looked and tasted ready, so I built the sourdough that evening (rye flour 100%, water 80%, mature sourdough culture, 5%). The flaxseed soaker was also made and left overnight.  


The overall formula is:


Medium rye flour 60% (No medium rye available, so I used Arrowhead Mills organic rye)


High gluten flour, 40% (didn't have HG flour - used KA bread flour)


Flaxeeds, 10%


Water, 75%


Salt, 1.8%


Yeast, 1.5%


The mix the next day was short and gentle, per Hamelman's counsel, in my KitchenAid mixer.  Desired dough temperature is 80F.  Mine was 81F and while doing the calculation before the mix, I wondered why the soaker temperature isn't included in the calculation.  My soaker temp was 74F but I had to ignore that number.  I don't know the answer but have sent off a post to KAF asking why it isn't included.


While I had expected a really sticky and tacky dough (Leader advises to embrace stickiness when working with rye)  it wasn't really difficult to handle nor did it stick to my counter when shaping into boules.  


Bulk fermentation is 30 to 45 minutes and final fermentation 50 to 60 minutes at 80F.  Just about everything I've baked over the past six months has been retarded overnight, so I have to consider the flaxseed bread as a  "quick" bread!


I sprayed the top of each boule with water, dipped them in a bowl of sesame seeds, and baked at 460F for 15 minutes (steamed once), then at 440F for an additional 35 minutes.  Twenty-four hours later, on Tuesday, I tasted the bread.   It has a nice light texture and a very pleasant tang.  The sesame seeds in the crust add a nice, light nutty flavor.  Last night I made a grilled sandwich using the rye, Boars Head lean corned beef, and Swiss cheese.  Very tasty in spite of forgetting the sauerkraut.



If you haven't tried a high percentage rye bread, this Flaxseed recipe is an good introduction to working with rye - which is very different from wheat.  It was a good education for me.  Maybe someday I'll have the courage to try the Detmolder method.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

My daughter’s birthday is this week and as she loves hearty, artisan breads, I decided to bake Jeffrey Hamelman’s sourdough seed bread instead of a cake.  

I used King Arthur bread flour and Arrowhead Organic rye.  The seeds were purchased from an organic food coop.  The recipe was tweaked a bit.

Day one (of three): Assemble the liquid levain, soak the flax seeds, and toast the sunflower and sesame seeds:
  

Liquid levain: 
4.8 oz. bread flour
6 oz. water
1 oz. mature culture

The recipe calls for a liquid culture.  I opted to try one ounce of my stiff sourdough culture straight from the refrigerator [it had been refreshed the day before] as an experiment.



Mix the levain and allow it to stand (covered, at 70F) for 12 to 16 hours.  The photo shows my levain about two hours after it had been mixed.


Flax seed soaker:   
2.2 oz. flax seeds
6.7 oz. cold water

After you’ve mixed the levain, place 2.2 oz. flax seeds in a container and gently add  6.7 oz. cold water.  Cover and let stand for 12 to 16 hours.   As the flax seeds absorb the water, the mixture will appear gelatinous.



Toast the sunflower and sesame seeds:
3.8 oz. sunflower seeds (shelled)
1.9 oz sesame seeds

The sunflower seeds were toasted on a cookie sheet in a 325F oven for about 20 minutes (stirred occasionally) until browned.  The sesame seeds were browned in a cast iron pan over direct flame.  Stir constantly or they’ll pop out of the pan all over your stove top.



The toasted  seeds were mixed together (smelling oh, so heavenly), moved to a glass bowl, then covered and allowed to rest overnight so the nutty flavors could meld.  


Day two:  Mixing, fermentation, shape, and retard:
1 lb. 8.6 oz. bread flour
2.6 oz whole rye flour
11.3 oz. water.  
.7 oz salt (1 T plus ½ tsp)
All (8.9 oz) of the flax seed soaker
All (5.7 oz) of the toasted sunflower and sesame seeds
10.8 oz. liquid levain (all of the liquid levain except for 2T [1 oz]) (I added all 10.9 oz.)

The desired dough temperature is 76F (see note at the end of this text).



All of the ingredients were added to my KA spiral mixer.  Hamelman instructs to mix at first speed for three minutes, then at second speed for another three minutes.  I think Bread was written primarily for professional bakers and that those mixing instructions are for a heavy duty commercial mixer, so I don’t follow them.



I used the first speed only long enough to make sure the levain, water, salt, flour, and seeds were well mixed, then let the dough autolyse for 20 minutes.  After the autolyse, the dough was moved to my counter top where I stretched and folded until it felt supple.


Bulk fermentation is 2.5 hours.  The dough next was placed in a bowl for the bulk fermentation.  I folded it twice at 50-minute intervals.



I retarded the bread on a full sheet of parchment placed on a three-sided cookie sheet.  These three loaves were placed in a large food-grade plastic bag and moved to the refrigerator. The recipe calls for two large loaves, but I prefer three smaller loaves.



Final fermentation: The final fermentation can be up to 18 hours at 42F.


Day three: Bake and cool.



These loaves rose nicely during the final fermentation and even while unbaked, the perfume of the toasted seeds was quite wonderful.

The retarded breads had about an hour’s warm-up time while the oven was preheated to 460F.  They were scored and moved to the hot oven stone, then half a cup of hot water was dumped in the broiler pan under the stone.  Total bake time was 45 minutes.


The fragrance of the cooling bread was awesome.



I’ll give myself a “D” for scoring, but at least it’s a small improvement.



I waited 24 hours before slicing the bread, to allow the flavors to combine and mature.  The mix of the sunflower, flax, and sesame seeds, combined with the caramelized crust, provides a burst of flavor that borders on smokiness.  I loved the taste, fragrance, and texture of this bread.

A different take on crumb:  The kids and grandkids claim that too many holes means there’s too little bread, so they call it diet bread.  This should make them all happy.



If you enjoy an aromatic hearty bread, I’d encourage you to try Hamelman’s SD seed bread.  It's delicious toasted for breakfast, or with a bit of unsalted butter with a salad.  Or even plain!

Now, about desired dough temperature.  If you have Hamelman’s Bread, you’ll have read pages 382-385.  If you’re not familiar with the term, it is a formula used to determine the correct temperature of the water to be added to your flour and other ingredients.  It makes a difference in the quality of your bread.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I direct you to WildYeast's blog where she so masterfully covers the subject and even provides a free downloadable calculator.  (Thank you, Susan!).

Subscribe to RSS - LindyD's blog