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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Mebake

It has been a while since I last posted here on TFL. I have been quite busy, and there was much in my life to take care of, that I hadn’t had spare time to follow the wonderful bread adventures of TFL members.

As some of you may remember, I had missed my chocolate class back in January this year, and planned for a makeup class in order to complete my amateur pastry course. Yes, I’ve finally done it. Enjoyable, could have been. Messy?, you bet, but it is over now. One more theoretical exam in baked goods, and I’ll be officially done.

Lately, I paid a visit to the local mill which I regularly source my bread and rye flours from. I met the sales person and he offered me new flours, many of which were bakery mixes. I explained to him that I need flours that are free from additives and preservatives, so he offered me his (French traditional), or T65. I was ecstatic about the idea, and bought a bag of 25 kg of the T65 in addition to my regular bread flour. Yesterday, I had a chance to open the bag and see for myself how it compares to my bread flour As shown in the picture, the T-65 ( on the left) is slightly creamier in texture than the bread flour due to the increase in ash content. The bread flour was close to T-60 than you’d expect from white flour, so there wasn’t much of a difference. However, I was disappointed when I read the label.  The “traditional flour” had additives, probably to correct the enzymatic content of the flour. I suspect that bread flour from the mill also contains such additives.  I’ll bake with it soon and report the results here.         

As for Dubai’s Arts and crafts market (ARTE) last Friday, I baked 3 types of bread: The usual 80% Rye, Whole wheat multigrain, and the new entry, Roasted Garlic bread from Hamleman’s (Bread).

The day started out slow, and footfall wasn’t as anticipated. The draw landed me next to the organizer’s table, and she was the first to buy a loaf of each. She is a very enthusiastic and encouraging lady, I must say. My cousin, who I began training to be my baking assistant, has joined me on the market day and brought along his sister’s lovely homemade cheese straws.  I walked around the market, chatting with vendors who unanimously agreed that the business was indeed sluggish. I had passing visitors from Finland, UK, Canada, India, and Germany; the latter being most interested in Artisan bread. The bread that sold most was the roasted garlic bread. Baked fresh the day before, it was packed with sweet garlic aroma!

To kick things up a bit, I sliced more bread, slathered with butter, placed them on a plate and stood by my table offering visitors a taste. I had prepared some printed A4 sheets that contain information on the advantages and uses of naturally leavened artisan breads and distributed those too.

By the end of the day, I had sold close to 40% of my breads. I packed and left home. Driving my car through the parking lot away from the mall , I was thankful that I was able to persevere through the physically taxing days of baking , and make it to the market day. I may downside my production for the next market from 18 Kg worth of dough to 15 Kg , due to my limited oven and mixer capacity.

 Khalid

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Mebake

For this past Market day, I've baked the same breads I often bake For all preceding Arts and crafts markets: A Rye , A Whole Wheat multigrain, and a country White loaf.  For This market ,however, I've baked all three of them. a 7 Kg. worth of Rye dough, 5.5 Kg. Worth of Whole wheat multigrain, and 5kg. worth of Tartine’s Sesame bread dough; yielding a total dough of 17.5 Kg!  All bread was baked in three consecutive days, and none were frozen. Phew!

The day began at the registration desk , followed by a random table draw. I was seated in a far corner on the ground floor this time. I prepared the table for display, and readied myself for the big day. Immediately, I began preparing samplers for customers who’d like to have a taste of my breads. I had a chocolate vendor to my left, and a jewelry designer to my right; all were friendly and courteous.

Customers began to show up on my table, and many were interested in Artisan bread. Occasionally, some would ask if I had gluten free breads, in fact, many here appear to have gluten intolerance. I think I might have to learn how to make GF breads soon. A German gentleman accompanied by his family has also shown a good deal of interest in Artisan breads; notably Rye. I quote him saying: “mmm, this is really authentic!”, as he chewed down a piece of the 80% rye bread. That was heartwarming.  A Georgian lady picked up some Rye bread and a Russian, too. I told the latter that I bake Borodinsky bread, and she gasped with a smile cheerfully : OHH, really?!! Apparently, I struck a nerve there. Most eastern European expats living in the region yearn for their bread back home.

Old clients tracked me down, of course, and nailed their share of bread. By the end of the Market day, I had half a boule of sesame bread left that was eventually sold to a neighboring vendor. Had I more loaves left, I would have been sold out too, but this is the maximum capacity my oven can handle.

So, that was it! The Market day drew to an end, so i packed my gear and left. Despite the back ache that persisted throughout the day, I felt a soothing sense of satisfaction and achievement that kept my spirit up. 

Khalid

 

 

 

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Mebake

I've been baking for the Arts and crafts market,scheduled next Friday the 14th of March,  and here are 2 bakes out of 3. I plan to bake Tartine's sesame bread last. When i have spare spare time, and effort, i plan to bake Mark Sinclair's Potato rolls that Mr. Mark has so generously shared with us. 

80% Rye with Rye flour soaker from Hamelman's book: BREAD

Whole Wheat Multigrain from Hamelman's book: BREAD

I'll save the money i earn from the market to replace my oven with a larger one. 

Khalid

 

 

 

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Mebake

This is sesame bread from Tartine Bread book. I followed Chad's formula and instructions to the letter, and it yielded a delightful bread. 

Sliced.. Mmm, the aroma!

Nutty and sweet.

The Bread is marvelous however you eat it. One thing i'd do next time, is to use a ripe 50% /50% ww to Ap flour, instead of my all white starter. The whole wheat flour used in the recipe was my freshly milled Turkish wheat flour.I'll continue to explore more recipes from Tartine book no.1. This recipe is now tagged as a favorite, and may make its way to the upcoming arts and crafts market.

Khalid

 

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Mebake

Last weekend, I've thankfully managed to squeeze in a bake in the midst of a hectic family, and professional commitments, Phew!

I've been wanting to bake the High extraction Miche in "Whole grain breads" ever since i saw it, but the idea of sifting whole wheat flour (Oh the horror!) deterred me. Until, that is, i realized that the flour is abundant in Dubai, and UNDER MY NOSE!. In fact, there are several mills in Dubai that produce the flour "Chakki atta" and many  available in supermarkets, but i've settled for what i think is best in terms of refinement and quality.

Strictly speaking, it isn't an ideal High extraction flour, rather, a whole wheat flour with some bran sifted away. It is around 95% extraction (I add some bread flour to reduce the extraction percentage). The flour is milled from either an Indian or a Pakistani Wheat (the closest, and largest wheat producing nations to us), so lacks the qualities of European and north american red winter wheat. However, it performs quite well in recipes that call for HE flour, due to its smooth and light texture. That's what matters.

As with all WGB recipes, a soaker and a biga ( A starter in this case) was prepared. The soaker was kept at room temp. and the starter was allowed to ripen, then refrigerated. Next day, i mixed the two, added some flour and yeast, proofed and baked at 450F for 15 minutes with steam, and 25 min. at 400F without steam.

The bread's flavor is that of typical Whole wheat hearth breads ; earthy , nutty, faintly sour, and very satisfying. Good recipe, and easy to prepare a head.

Some days ago, as i Looked at our grocery bags, i saw the dreadful white sliced bread that my wife has bought. It was time that i made my children their favorite sliced bread for school. I mixed some Biga dough, and let it ripe for 8-10 hours. The recipe is that of Hamelman's book. When ripe, i mixed the flours, honey, yeast , water , salt, and mixed them until combined. Then, i added butter and worked the dough to a developed gluten stage. Fermentation lasted for 2 hours, with one fold, a preshape, shape, and finally baked in a pullman pan with the lid off for total of 40 minutes at 450F.

The bread was very light and soft , owing to the butter and honey. A delicious bread for toast, and sandwiches.

Khalid

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Mebake

After labor intensive days of dough and bread, preparations, and final touches, it was time.

On Friday, the 14 of February, the day started at 7:00 am when i woke up,  had my breakfast, and made the last minute arrangements . Everything was in order: the bread, display materials, and business cards. I arrived at the Mall at 11:15 am, registered, and headed to my randomly selected Table. This time, i was placed somewhere adjacent to where i've been last month; slightly less optimal but generally OK (given the fact that i'm still the only bread head in the Market). Anyway, i prepared my table for display, breads and all, and in spare time set the prices of my loaves. To make things worthwhile and avoid being completely sold out by the third hour of the Market, I increased the price of my loaves. Large loves (Panned Rye, and multigrains) were also portioned in half in order to  make them affordable.

As the day unfolded, I realized that the Traffic was less than anticipated. I’ve seen familiar faces, most of whom were other Market Vendors, but many new also. The surprise visit was that of the Market Manager/ founder. She headed straight to my Table, and asked for loaves of Rye, and Whole wheat multigrain. Later on, various visitors passed along with mixed reactions. Some would stare at  vendor tables with little or no interest, and some would walk and then stop at a vendor with interest. Some would move across, look back, then return to me saying” Oh ,Bread!”.  I distributed my business cards to those interested, and offered to bake for them on order. Up until now, however, no one contacted me for any bread. But, my journey into commercial bread baking is still young, and needs plenty of time, and patience.

I noticed that the bread as displayed did not gather as much attention as I thought. Turns out I had to slice some bread for sampling as I did the first time. However, I’ve had a some regular clients (A vendor)and new one too who wanted bread; so it wasn't a dud after all. As the Market day drew to an end, I picked up some loaves and sliced them for sampling. This brought attention! Clients started to flock in, interested to get a taste, and many could not resist a slice with butter. Eventually, I sold a few additional loaves and by the end of the market, I sold 70% of my breads and broke even for the first time. In hindsight, I should have sliced the darn breads earlier!

Finally, as the day ended, I packed my stuff and went home with a sense of achievement. I was weary, and doubtful that I could replicate the effort I made to bake 11 Kg. worth of dough in 3 days. I will have to find a bigger mixer , and a helping hand soon.

Khalid

 

 

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Mebake

I've had a busy couple of weeks, and hadn't had the time to blog about my latest activities. 

Here it goes: I've completed my Pastry class in Shortcrust and pies some weeks back, and attended my Asessment in baked goods. I had to bake a fruit tart, and soft dinner rolls. Everything went alright, and the Chef approved my products. I have Chocolate classes left (next month), and i'll be done. 

On another note, i've been pretty occupied with upcoming crafts market which is due on Friday, February 14th. I've increased my capacity and expanded my list to include 3, instead of two bread types: 80% Rye with rye flour soaker, Whole Wheat multigrain, and Pain au levain. A total of 14 loaves of different sizes will be offered for sale on the Market.  This is a glimpse on how my products look like. Wish me luck :)

P.s: I've found a great way to use my new toaster oven for uncovered Pan loaves. I've encased the whole pan with two oven proof plastic  (the type used for roasting chicken) to create steam for the first 15 minutes- one from each side, as one isn't enough . Temperature should not exceed 200C , however. It worked!

Covered:

Uncovered

Khalid

 

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Mebake

This is my second take on Andy’s (ananda) Borodinsky Rye. My Last attempt yielded a fine bread, but lacked volume to fill the pan, and was somewhat over-hydrated. This time, I've lined my Pullman pan with parchment paper, reduced the hydration of the rye dough, slid the pan cover on, and baked with steam throughout the 4.5 hours baking time at 100C (The oven was preheated to 250C).

I was surprised at the cake like softness that the crust had after adding a steady steam source during the long baking hours. The bread cooked through quite well, and the picture shown is 12 hours into cooling time. The crust color, however, suffered as my previous take of this bread was steam less and resulted in a dark caramelized crust that I love. Also, as can be seen from the loaf’s top surface, 1.7 Kg. dough wasn't quite enough to fill my 13” X 4” pan, so there should be at least 1.75 – 1.8 Kg. of dough in there. The remainder of the recipe dough was baked into mini silicon cup cake moulds.

I've sliced the bread this morning, as I couldn't wait for additional 12 hours.  The bread was quite SOFT! moist, and very aromatic. I've chosen to exclude the coriander garnish to see how the flavor would be, and it was still very pleasant. 

Now, i think i need to either eliminate steam during the whole 4 hours, or do so after only 2 . What do you think?

Khalid

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Mebake

Those are two bakes from Andew Whitley's book (Bread Matters): Whole grain rye, and Spelt bread. I've used Wheat instead of Rye for the whole grain rye.

The wholegrain rye was essentially a pumpernickel bread, but wheat instead of Rye. It is chewy, faintly sour, and very filling. I've eaten this bread with mayo and boiled eggs. Tuna with mayo works fine too. It is a good bread, that i may bake once or twice a year.

This is spelt bread, also from the same book. The raisin mush has added lovely sweet undertones. It is a 100% whole spelt sourdough , and i've milled my organic spelt grains for this. Talk about DELICIOUS! add some toasted walnuts, and this will be your best spelt ever.

Khalid

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Mebake

 Some years ago, I remember seeing tables lined up in a shopping Mall here in Dubai, where locally homemade Artisan crafts are displayed for sale. For months now, I have been planning on taking my home baking a step further, and the idea of selling bread to public was brewing slowly in my mind. So, I looked up for information on the Crafts Market, and found that “ARTE” or Arts and Crafts Market run a once in a month exhibition, were only locally handmade art work and craft items are featured by local Artisans.  A few months ago, I had e-mailed the Management of ARTE to ask whether food or specifically Homemade Artisan breads can be displayed during the event. The reply was swift; they welcomed the idea!

Last week, I decided to take the step. I felt that it was the right time for me to move forward and take this hobby to a new level. I decided to register myself at ARTE, and reserve a table for the next event. To my surprise, the reply came a few days later, inviting me to the upcoming market after 3 DAYS! Although I had registered for February market, I just couldn’t turn the opportunity down. I removed the starters from my fridge, and gave them a quick refresh.

For bread, I could not bake more than two varieties due to time constrains; a basic white sourdough, and whole wheat sourdough will be a good contrast in my baskets, I thought. The white sourdough was exactly David’s SJSD, and the whole wheat oats was a new recipe I had been working on earlier. The whole wheat- oats bread’s recipe is as follows:

Needless to say, It was a hectic 2 days, with two different recipes and a total of 6 Kg worth of dough.  After the breads were baked, I shopped for baskets and other necessities to make a proper presentation, and started planning on pricing and labeling. I didn’t have an idea about the general price range of food displayed in the market, so I decided to price bread based on my experience with store bought artisan breads. For instance a 520gm “White country bread” was priced @ 9 Dhs ($ 2.5).

On the Market day, I drove to the mall, parked my car, and unloaded the breads and equipments. The mall was already bustling with participants. I haven’t noticed much food being displayed; it was mostly handmade ornaments, jewelries, paintings, and healthy soaps/body fragrances.  I picked up my table no. through random draw, and headed for it straight away. As I walked around, I noticed that food tables were quite few, and none had bread. I located my table, and began preparing it for presentation. I cut slices of two misshapen loaves, and brought out butter and some disposable knives.

As time drew near to 12:00 p.m, there was a considerable increase in the number of mall visitors. They were from different nationalities, and many were from Europe (east and west) and some from the US. Gradually, i began to notice an increased interest in the bread, with a first client in about ½ an hour. She bought one loaf of each, after tasting the bread with butter. Before I knew it, I was sold out in 2 hours, and left with no breads after I had 8 of them; it was really exciting! The remainder of the time was spent on networking with visitors, and inviting them to taste the remaining slices. There was a considerable interest in Artisan bread among the market visitors, as sourdough aroma was wafting about my table. Despite the regret of not having baked enough bread, I was happy to witness the appeal that handmade sourdough breads had among people here. Some visitors noticed I had no bread left, and even demanded that I bake for them!

The Market day ended, and I packed my belongings and left home. It was surely a day to remember.

 

-Khalid

 

 

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