The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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loydb

It's week 6 in the Inside the Jewish Bakery Challenge - Semester 1. This week is Polish Potato Bread.

By procrastinating my bake until the end of the week, I can learn from the experience of those who have their act together and baked earlier! A common theme seemed to be "dough too wet," so I was meticulous about my measuring. The biggest opportunity for adding moisture seems to be during the process of boiling the potatoes. I weighed them prior to boiling, and again after draining, and they had gained a half-ounce. I reduced the potato water in the recipe accordingly.

For the flour, I milled hard red wheat and sifted it to ~80% extraction through a #30 sieve.

As you can see, the dough was still wet, but it wasn’t the batter that some folks have gotten. I was able to more-or-less wrangle it into a shape with well-floured hands.

I would change the following things next time I made it:

First, I would allow the proof to continue until the loaf was higher than the top of the pan. Like many others, I got no oven spring at all. I had gotten such a vigorous rise in the fermentation, I think I could have easily gotten another inch during the proof.

Second, I got burned (almost literally) by putting the pans into the top third of the oven rack. The tops were starting to get really dark at the 40 minute mark, so I pulled the pans. I left the bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then moved to a cooling rack. The bottoms were very undercooked. If you look at the bottom of the slices in the last picture, you see no crust at all. Next time, I’ll put them lower in the oven, and tent with foil if necessary to get a longer bake.

And there will certainly be a next time. The bread is unbelievably soft – the softest milled wheat bread I’ve made. I made potato soup to go with it, and they paired perfectly. I would imagine I’ll make this every time I make potato soup in the future – I’m already boiling them, it’s really easy to add a couple extra for the bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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loydb

I'm almost caught up! It's week 5 in the Inside the Jewish Bakery Challenge - Semester 1. This week was Honey Cake.  

This called for white rye flour. To make it, I milled whole rye and then sifted to 80% extraction. I think the walnuts were a little heavy, the centers never really rose even after 3 hours of cooking. Almonds may have been a better choice.

In spite of it being a really runny, gummy, goopy batter, it baked up incredibly light, and not nearly as sweet as I would have anticipated from the pound of honey in it. There is no gumminess at all.

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loydb

I'm not dead, it just feels that way. I spent the holidays either travelling or cooking for New Year's, so didn't get around to the challenge until 2012. I made a fatal error, as well, relying on memory instead of looking at the schedule. Thus, we have Almond Horns instead of Almond Buns.

Let me start by saying that I think there's an error in the Almond Horn recipe in that it calls for zero flour. Without flour, as written, it makes a soupy, almondy-eggy batter. I ended up adding 1.25 cups of AP, and it was still flat and runny. If it's not an error, then the egg weights are too high or something.

These ended up tasting fabulous -- but they are more like flat almond sugar cookies than anything else.

I'll work the actual challenge -- almond buns -- into the schedule this month hopefully. :)

 

 

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loydb

Today was the final stretch before heading to the in-laws for Christmas. I spent pretty much the whole day in the kitchen, minus a trip to the grocery store. The takeaway:

First, this was week 3 of the Inside the Jewish Bakery challenge. I haven't actually gotten to taste the results, so my comments are limited. I did a four-high braid, and had a little trouble getting the ends to stick together. I ended up wetting my fingers and kind of blending it, which seemed to work. There are some shots of the initial braiding and the final rise at the bottom. On top of the two challah loaves, I also did a pullman pan full of PR's pannetone recipe. I used dried strawberriers, dried orange-infused cranberries, and dried sour cherries that I soaked for a day in apple brandy (plus the vanilla and orange extract). For the nuts, I used 5 oz of macadamias and 2 oz of almonds. Finally, another pan of Mohn bars from week one of the ITJB.

 

 



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loydb

These were tasty, I enjoyed the chewy butterscotch and chocolate. I have to agree that I liked them just as much without any chocolate at all. I think if I were to do it again, I'd get some orange-infused bittersweet chocolate for them - my 66% bittersweet/33% milk choc. was too sweet IMO -- I liked the Mohn bars better.

Baking Notes:

  • Panning these up required every flat cooking surface I owned. Fortunately, it was really cold and windy outside, so I could put an (empty) fresh-out-of-the-oven sheet pan on the back porch, and it was cold within 3-4 minutes.
  • I ended up adding an extra half cup of flour to get the batter out of the 'runny' stage
  • Don't put them in a sealed container for the wife to take to school, or they end up adhering to one another...

 

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loydb

I used to have a problem with my crackers, but then I took an arrow to the knee...

For the last month or so, I've been turning all my extra sourdough starter into crackers. With a couple of exceptions, they've been disappointing: not crisp enough, too crisp and burnt, no flavor, too much salt, etc. etc. That all changed a couple of days ago, mostly by accident. I've since successfuly reproduced the recipe three times, and may have it down now.

When I play Skyrim, I play it *loud*. What's the point of hurling your enemies off of a mountaintop with the power of your Shout if it doesn't make the pictures on the wall shake? As a result, I didn't hear the kitchen timer, and only remembered I had crackers in the oven when the smell of "Hey, that smells like something baking" penetrated my dragon-killing frenzy. Instead of the 15 minutes I'd intended to cook them, I ended up cooking them 40 minutes. Fortunately, I'd been experimenting with the pasta machine, and had both made them thicker than normal, and set the oven cooler than normal (350 degrees F instead of the 375 I'd been using). They were perfect.

So I set out to make them again, this time intentionally.

Start with a cup of leftover starter at 100% hydration. Add 1/4 cup oil (I use walnut oil), a tablespoon of softened butter, a teaspoon of salt, and roughly 5 oz of whole wheat flour. You're shooting for fairly stiff. Spray it with olive oil and let it set under plastic for anywhere from 3-6 hours.

Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick, then sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt, and a pinch of whatever dried herb takes your fancy (I used dill in one batch, thyme in another). Then fold the dough over on itself and roll out again.

Add the seeds of your choice on half of the dough. I used black seasame seeds and brown mustard seed. Fold over again and roll out.

 Chop into smaller pieces, and run it through a pasta machine on the widest setting (#0 on my Atlas). Fold again.

Run these through on #0 again, then on #1, then finish on #2.

Put them on parchment paper, spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and more seeds. Gently roll them again with a pin to seat the seeds, then dock many, many times with a fork.

Cook for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Then turn the oven off, crack the door, and let them sit for another 10-15 minutes, watching to make sure they don't overbrown. The picture shows them at the end of 30 minutes. The final color can be seen on the plate, above.

Move to a cooling rack and let sit (the ones on the rack below are the ones from the original Skyrim batch. The ones on the plate at top are from a subsequent test batch.) Break into smaller pieces as desired.

 

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loydb

This went badly, badly wrong. Yes, that's how it came out of the oven.

They can't all be home runs...

 

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loydb

I'm revisiting my Pulled Pork Sourdough Pizza. I toned down the heat a bit -- I still used habenero bbq sauce when I pre-heated the pork, but use a sweeter sauce on the actual dough. And instead of serranos, I used jalapenos for the pico. It still had a kick to it, but didn't leave my wife in tears...

 

 

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loydb

It's kickoff week for the Inside the Jewish Bakery Challenge - Semester 1. We're starting off with Mohn bars.

The bars are made up of three sub-recipes: 1-2-3 dough, a poppyseed filling, and streusel on the top. I used KA bread flour instead of home milled this time.

Baking notes:

  • The food processor did nothing for my poppy seeds -- I ended up using my blender, which did a great job.
  • I ended up adding almost a half cup extra of water while boiling the poppyseed mix.
  • Also, through bad reading, I boiled the honey rather than adding it at the end.
  • I cooked the shortbread an extra 10 minutes to get some color into it (and it's still pretty pale)
  • I cooked the final bars an extra 15 minutes, with the broiler on for the last 2 mins, to get the streusel browned

These bars are illustrative of why I'm in the challenge -- they have a (wonderful) flavor that I've never encountered, and would have never thought to try. I'm hoping there's still half a pan left for my wife to take to the office tomorrow, I really don't need to eat all of these :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

loydb's picture
loydb

My last chocolate experiment was a bit (allright, a large bit) too sweet. This time, I eliminated the extra butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup, and went with 2 oz of bittersweet choc chips and 2 oz of milk choc chips. I added 5 oz of dried cherries and 4 oz of pecans. I also used 100% home-milled flour (mix of hard red and white wheat) and the sourdo.com Russian starter. After an initial 4 hour proof, I shaped and put in a pullman pan. Because my kitchen feels like a meat locker these days, I put the pullman pan in the microwave oven and put two cups boiling water in a sealed plastic container, then stuck it inside as well. It rose for 2 more hours, then I put the pullman pan into a cold oven, set it on 375 degrees F, and baked for 2 hours 15 minutes.

The sweetness is just about perfect for a breakfast/dessert bread. I think I'll add more cherries next time, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it.

 

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