The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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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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Mebake

Last week, I went to a health food store in Dubai to pick up some Rye berries, and black strap molasses. To my dismay, I could not find any malt syrup in the store, and left to a shopping mall for lunch. Located next to the food court was yet another health store that quickly caught my sight. I went in, and asked for barley malt syrup, and the salesperson said that they do not sell it anymore. I was just on my way out  when I  heard him calling upon me and saying: Wait, I have some barley extract! It was slightly expensive for what it was, a syrup, but I gladly bought it anyway.

Having had two ingredients that would likely make my planned borodinsky as close to authentic as possible,  I decided to refresh my dormant rye starter. Andy’s recipe : here, was followed to the letter, with no deviations at all, except the fact that I replaced Rye malt with Barley extract syrup as I had no rye malt. I milled the rye berries, and mixed the fresh flour with the non organic rye flour I had in store. Everything came together as expected, and I was quite content with the process. The Sponge was mixed and immediately refrigerated for 6 hours and when I returned home, I removed it from the fridge to warm up.

   

I mixed the final dough, and left it to ferment for 1 hour. It was then divided into 1.3 Kg for the Pullman pan (with lid on), and 5.5 Kg for a smaller Pan. Final fermentation was a scant less than an hour, and the pans went into a 260 C oven for 10 minutes, and at 100C for 4 hours. The aroma of coriander and the slowly caramelizing rye and molasses were very  sweet and satisfying. The tiny loaf in the pan did not grow much in the oven, but I was in anticipation of a good height to the Pullman loaf. After 2 hours I had a peek to register the temperature of the crumb, and slid off the Pullman lid to see a sunken top… Ugh! Ok, what have I done wrong?

It didn’t take me much time to find the culprit behind my sunken loaf. Hydration! Andrew whitely talked about it in his book: Bread matters but I underestimated the importance of it in rye breads, especially those with high % of prefermented flour. I had added more boiling water to the soaker while making up for the loss in evaporation. I have also failed to notice that Andy’s recipe uses thirsty rye flour, while mine is not as absorbent.

Unfortunately, The Pullman pan’s blue steel coating was corroded due to the molasses, and the long moist baking. You may notice the iron oxide patches on the bottom and the sides of the loaf. If I ever bake such breads in this pan again, I’ll have to line it with parchment.

When cooled,  I wrapped the loaves in linen, and waited 24 hours to cut the small loaf, and a 36 hours to cut the Pullman one. The crumb was soft and very moist, but not gummy. The crust was neither hard nor soft. The bread was super delicious, with hints of molasses/ malt. Coriander’s flavor, of course was prevalent.  Perhaps I added too much crushed coriander as garnish.

-Khalid

 

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Mebake

Since the day I baked my first San Francisco Baking institute’s Miche (Posted by dmsnyder here) , I wanted to have another go at it soon. Alas, I have been distracted by several other formulas and books and eventually ended up putting it off. Two days ago, I was reminded by the formula when I saw my wheat germ bag sitting in my freezer and decided to give the formula another whirl.

Although the formula calls for a high extraction wheat flour, all I had was whole wheat and bread flour. I  assumed that the Indian flour (Chakki atta, or Stone milled whole wheat flour ) that I’ve purchased recently was refined to an 85% extraction as is the case with other brands, but it was labeled: 100% whole wheat flour. I’ve decided to add bread flour to the final mix to approximate the ash content of the high extraction flour.  The % of prefermented flour is down to 10% as I was planning on baking it after 18 hours, but ended up baking after 8.

RECIPE:

INSTRUCTIONS:

 Mix all ingredients at once, by hand or using a mixer for 5-10 minutes. Rest the dough for 5 minutes and resume mixing for another 5 minutes. The dough will not be sticky. Shape as a round and let ferment in an oiled bowl for 3 hours at preferably 78 F or 24-25C, folding it every 50 minutes . By the end of bulk fermentation, the dough will have risen by 50%. scrape your dough onto a floured surface, pat the dough even (Don't knead), Pre-shape it into a round, and leave it to rest for 15- 20 min, covered. Dust your basket or kitchen towel with a mixture of all purpose flour and rice flour, and shape your dough and invert it smooth side down into the basket. Retard your dough in the refrigerator for 8 – 18 hours at 10C.

Next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let rest at room temperature. The final fermentation will be 3-4 hours, but watch the dough NOT the clock. 50 minutes before you plan to bake your dough, Preheat your oven with a stone in place to a 500F or 260.  5 minutes before loading the bread, place your steaming dish filled with wet towels on the bottom of your oven.  When ready, invert the dough on baking paper lined peel/ board and close the oven immediately. Bake for 15 minutes with steam, and then remove the steaming dish and reduce the temperature to 400F for another 20-25 minutes. 

When the time is over, remove your bread from the oven. Wear oven mitts, and tap on the bottom of one loaf, It should sound hollow. Furthermore, you may insert a thermal probe into the center of the loaf from the bottom, and the temperature should register 195-200F or 90-95C. If it doesn't, put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Cool the bread completely on a wire rack, prior to cutting. 

 The bread was sliced after 4 hours, and the interior was moist. Breads of this type will use more rest period for the flavors to set, so it wasn't at its prime. Today, I made an olive and cheddar cheese , and it was delightful! This is a keeper despite leaving out the toasted wheat germ. I will purchase the high extraction Chapati atta I found lately for this recipe and add wheat germ to it next time.

 As to my pastry classes, I've had my first theoretical and practical assessment last weekend in Cold and hot desserts.The theory part was easy and I’ve done well. For the practical,  I was asked to do Crepes Suzette and Coffee Bavarois. I started with crepes suzette, but struggled to get it right. I made two scrambled crepes in two different pans, and felt frustrated. I began making the bavarois to boost my confidence up abit, and after pouring it into moulds, I mixed crepe batter again but managed to season the third pan properly. The crepe peeled off nicely. As to the sauce, it was somewhat tart, as I’ve forgotten to caramelize the sugar first and reduce the sauce, however, I managed to salvage it in the end. All that wasted my time, and I should have started with coffee bavarois first as It needs refrigeration. Ultimately, both desserts were plated and presented to the Chef and received approval. Sadly, I have forgotten to take a picture of the final products.

I have two classes and one last assessment in baked goods, and I'll be done.Time sure flies!

 

-Khalid

 

 

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Mebake

Last week, i was contemplating the idea of creating a bread that is soft, delicious, and healthy for the young ones. Pullman, and toast bread were two favorites of my kids, but those were all white breads. Looking back in Hamlemans book: Bread, I saw a few notes I have scribbled once on how to convert the Pullman recipe into a whole wheat one without losing much of the original flavor and texture. It was time to put my thoughts to the test. I’ve created a preferment , added some wholewheat flour, and increased water to make a soft dough. The recipe is as follows:

 Stiff preferment:

182 g                                      Bread Flour

128 g                                      Water

¼ tsp                                     Instant yeast

(mix and let ferment for 8 hours at room temp. or for up to 3 days in the refrigerator)

Final Dough:

426 g                                      Bread Flour

300 g                                      Whole Wheat Flour

5 Table spoons                       Milk Powder

1.5 Table spoons                     Sugar

3 Table spoons                       Soft butter

517 g                                       Water  

1 Table spoons                        Salt

2 tea spoons                            Instant yeast

------------------------------------------------------------

Total dough yield:            1576 g

% Prefermented flour:   20%

% Whole grain:                  33%

Total hydration:                                71%

The dough was mixed in my mixer, finished by hand, and was rounded and left to ferment for 2 hours with a fold half way through. The dough was then divided into 1 kg. for Pullman pan, and 576 g for a smaller pan. Final fermentation was 1 hour and 15 minutes, after which they went into a preheated oven at 400 F for 15 minutes, and 25 minutes at 380F.

Next day, I sliced the Pullman loaf into beautiful squares that had an even fine structure, and a very soft crumb. I made a Zaatar sandwich this morning and it tasted great! It tastes gorgeous toasted.

The recipe test went well. I plan on sneaking in more whole wheat next time and see how the kids would like it. They loved this one!

As to Pastry, it was time to move on to baked desserts, as ovens are now certified for operation . Among other desserts, we made Cream custard, Cream brulee, and baked cheese cake.  I was especially excited to learn how to make cream custard, as it was one of my childhood favorites.

 

 -Khalid

 

 

 

 

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Mebake

I have finally bought a Pullman pan! two, actually. For bread, my first natural choice was a Rye; my first  Borodinsky  from Andrew’s book: (Bread matters).

I’ve all but given up on finding a Pullman pan in Dubai, until I overheard a discussion among my Pastry class peers  and the Chef about  commercial sources of  the ingredients and tools used in the institute. Alarmed by the possibility of finding the pan, I took the address from the Chef and headed down to the warehouse. The two story warehouse sells different hospitality and catering equipments at somewhat reasonable prices. I’ve found two sizes for Pullman pans, all from the Italian brand Paderno, I was so excited. The one I bought for us$ 27 each, was an  11.75 *4 inch pan. There is a much longer version, but it was too much for domestic use. The pan had a sticker that says: blue steel ..etc. The pan was properly washed with detergent and warm water, but it had a slight oily layer, and a distinctive rusty aroma. I searched though google, and learned that blue steel is a steel that has undergone a deliberate oxidation prior to the final non stick coating. I shrugged my shoulders and wiped them clean.

For borodinsky, I mixed my ripe rye sour with rye flour molasses and salt with a fork, scooped the lot into my greased pan  sprinkeled with cracked coriander seeds. I had no barley malt syrup, so I skipped this ingredient. I wanted to try Andrew’s advocated method of no bulk fermentation for rye bread, and the bread rose in 2 hours. Total dough weight was 1346g which was more than twice the recipe’s yield. After two hours, the dough has risen to almost the top rim of the pan, and started to crack. I slid the pan’s cover on, and baked the bread for 10 min. at 420F and 30 minutes at 400F.

My regretful mistake was to bake it according to Andew’s recipe, which is to a total of 40 minutes, failing to remember that an extended bake is needed for larger dough. After 40 minutes, the dough was unmolded and steam escaped from the loaf. The loaf’s crust was very tender and the color was lighter than a rye should be. I didn’t take a hint, Ugh! I guess I was too captivated by the square-ish cross section that the Pullman pan was capable of producing.

When cooled , the loaf was wrapped with a cloth, and left for 12 hours. Next day, I couldn’t resist having a peek and I sliced a few squares. The loaf was moist and gummy. Ops, I’ve underbaked it!

I wrapped it once more, and left it to rest for another day. Today, I’ve sliced it, and it was still moist and slightly gummy (cutting shreds still evident). The flavor is typically rye with a faint sweetness, and a good dose of spice that complements the overall flavor. The crust was soft, and the crumb was softer. There is a subtle mouthfeel of rust at the end, but generally tolerable. I don’t know how to deal with blue steel rust mouthfeel, but I’ll wait to see whether the pan becomes seasoned as I bake on. Overall, the bread was really good, and improved when slightly toasted.

As for Pastry, I’ve skipped my two day marathon class of Chocolate. By the end of last week, I was completely worn out. My Pastry class 8 of the week before went well, though. We made frozen desserts, such as ice gateaux, cheese cake, tiramisu, fried ice cream.

 

-Khalid

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Mebake

The practical classes have finally commenced after a 3 week halt due re-location. We have had the cold desserts last weekend, featuring popular desserts such as Pana Cotta, fruit flavored cold soufflés, and Mousses, in addition to crepes, fruit fritters, and rice pudding.  Most desserts featured below contain gelatine to set them. It goes without saying that everything was exceptionally delicious! We have still few classes left for cold desserts then we’ll be off to hot desserts and later chocolate.

Clockwise from left to right: Orange souffle, Chocolate Cousse, Mango and bluberry mousse, Pana cotta, and lemon souffle.

For bread, i wanted to bake loaves that are reasonably sour, but not chewy. I chose Rye sourdough with 5 grains from Hamleman's (BREAD). I've also decided to try baking them on aluminum baking sheets instead of a stone in hope of reducing crust thickness.

I have blogged about this bread before here. This time, however,  I’ve deviated from Hamelman’s recipe in more than a way. I’ve skipped yeast and honey, increased flaxseeds, and replaced rolled oats with fine corn meal. Also, I’ve folded the dough twice in bulk, and retarded the dough in bulk for 18 hours.

The dough has expanded considerably in the fridge. During preshaping, and shaping the dough was overly sticky, but succumbed to final shaping with no tears. I suspected that the long cold fermentation with 25% prefermented flour would lead to some gluten breakdown, and I was right. The loaves's cuts did not open cleanly and the final crumb was somewhat tighter.

The bread had a faint sourness, with prominent multigrain presence. My only regret was that I should have either reduced the pre-fermented flour to accommodate an extended refrigeration, or I should have retarded overnight. The bread loses too much of its character when subtle changes are made. As to sheet baking,the crust was slightly softer which made me happy. I'll play around with potential variables and observe the results.

-Khalid

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Mebake

Last week, I’ve baked my first recipe from Andrew Whitely’s  “BREAD MATTERS”: seeded rye bread. The bread was wonderfully delicious and truly addictive. However, I failed to notice that the dough weighs 650g, and cannot fill up my large terrine pan. The bread, however, was an immediate success and half of it was literally devoured while being sliced!

  

A few days ago, I wanted to triple the quantity (* 3.4) and make two 1.2 kg  loaves. The bulk fermentation lasted for 2 hours only, and the final proofing was 45 minutes; while the previous loaf fermented for 4 and 2 hours respectively.  I’ve considered them ready for baking when their top started to tear and sounded hollow when tapped from below.  In the oven, they puffed high and quick! i was exhilarated for a few seconds, but then all started going down hill. The loaves deflated and shrunk back, and continued to do so for the next 30 minutes.

Baked, the loaves had a wrinkly teared crown. "Umm, they may be overproofed", i said to myself. Little did i know.

Finally, I cut through the loaf. Up to this point, I was contented with the results despite not being optimal. The bread sliced well and was not crumbly. I laid down a few slices in a bread basket, brought in the butter and cream cheese, and sat for dinner. I spread butter on a slice,  and chewed my first bite. I was instantly struck by the relative blandness! OMG! I forgot the salt, that’s it.

I was disappointed. I tried butter, salted butter… nothing seemed to work at this point, not even toasting. So, out of despair, I sliced the remainder of the loaf and freezed it. I wrapped the other loaf in linen after it had cooled and left it to mature for 3 days. Last night I’ve thawed a couple of slices and decided to give it a try with salted feta cheese. It was DELICIOUS!! Freezing / thawing seemed to have salvaged the flavor of this loaf, but I’m unable to explain why. I’ll try other toppings, but what matters here is that it was not a total loss after all! Today, I plan to slice the linen wrapped loaf and observe any improvement in flavor.

On another note, we shall resume pastry classes soon. Following a pause from vocational training (due to the recent re-location of the institute), we are scheduled for a class on cold desserts tomorrow.

-Khalid

 

 

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Mebake

I've had bagels on my mind for quite some time now, and since i never tasted one before, i decided to create  some at home. I've searched TFL for other members' posts on the subject, and many were extremely useful and pointed me in the right direction. I've decided to try Hamelman's version, but without the malt extract, which i substituted with a Tbl. of brown sugar and a Tbl of Baking soda. I know that this wasn't authentic, but i had lye, nor malt extract. The stiff dough was kneaded in my mixer, and was retarded in bulk for 9 hours, as opposed to Hamelman's retarded shaped bagels. I also realized the importance of Mise en place for making bagels, and decided to prepare baking trays, toppings, and boiling water. Oh, and chilled water to cool things down as suggested by Hamelman.

Poached, chilled ,and garnished bagels waiting to be baked

My first impression when i sliced a still warm bagel, and had the first bite: wow those are crunchy! the unique aroma of the baked bagels were slowly permeating the house.They had an unmistakable fragrance hard to describe, but i think that the toasted sesame seeds played some part in the overall aroma.

As they cooled the aroma was more pronounced, and was very sweet. As expected, the bagels quickly became chewy two hours from the oven. I had my first slices with butter and another with feta cheese infused with olive oil, and i enjoyed them both while crunchy. I've toasted a slice, and it retained its crunchiness almost immediately.  I have frozen the remaining bagels, and have yet to thaw some for later assessment. My intial assessment is: really aromatic white bread with a lovely chew.

Aside from cream cheese and smoked fish, what do you guys think is the best way to enjoy bagels?

Thanks in advance!

-Khalid

 

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Mebake

Two weeks ago, we made some cup cakes and muffins. Techniques like creaming (beating butter and sugar first), and all together were essentially what we used for cupcakes and muffins. Foaming technique was not used here, only for sponge cakes that require no soda or baking powder. This lesson wrapped up the baked goods section, and we were scheduled to start cold and hot desserts next.

For bread, I wanted to give Whole wheat bread recipe from Richard Bertinet’s book: “CRUST” a whirl. The bread is 50% whole wheat sourdough that calls for a stiff sourdough white levain. The dough took hours and hours to proof and I eventually had to retard it for 18 hours, after which additional warm up hours were needed to get it to proof well. I have mixed the bread as advised by Bertinet, i.e. slap and fold, but in hindsight I should have mixed the dough a la Tartine book. The reason being that I would mix the dough into a somewhat stiffer texture, autolyse it, and then add the additional recipe water, levain, and salt which can reduce the strain slap and fold has on my back.

I’ve sampled this bread with some cream cheese and it is sour! yet very nutty and sweet at the same time. The crumb was moist, and the crust was crispy and slightly chewy. I still don’t know what the perfect accompaniments for this bread are, but anything mild should be ok. It is a good bread, but if I were to do it again, I’dd add some wholegrains flour to the levain to boost its leavening ability.

-Khalid

 

 

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Mebake

Last week end was lesson 5 for me: Yeasted goods. The lesson spanned over 2 exhausting days with so much to bake in so little time. Moreover, we had to mix all doughs by hand; not an easy quest for 90% of the new faces  that have signed up for only those two days. First we had to prepare our laminated dough and refrigerated it for next day. We’ve used high quality margarine for fat, but for sake of comparison, I chose plain butter. During intermittent refrigeration, we had to make foccacia, baguette, grissini (Italian flavored bread sticks), spelt loaf, and a wholemeal seeded loaf. All bread that was made was enriched with some butter or olive oil. At the end of day one, we mixed up a poolish for next day’s Ciabatta dough.

 

On day two, we began preparing sweet breads/buns. Again, We mixed many similar doughs instead of a single one all by hand. Cinammon rolls, Orange rolls (both not featured in the photos), and soft dinner rolls were all baked during the day. Also, we rolled our laminated doughs, created croissants and Danish pastries and to be fair, there was very little difference in flavor between the margarine croissants and the  butter ones. Texture and volume was substantially better with margarine, though.  Finally there was fatayer (savoury pastry with spinach and cheese filling), Brioche, Savarin, doughnuts, and at last Ciabatta. By the time Ciabatta dough was mixed, the poolish was alcoholic from the 24 hour fermentation at room temperature! I didn’t get a chance to sample the Ciabatta, but everyone liked it.

 

Yesterday, I mixed up a batch of 66% sourdough rye from Hamleman’s book: BREAD. I’ve cut through the batard today, and left the boule to age for another day to develop flavor. It is a very good rye, and I’m glad I baked it.

 

 

-Khalid

 

 

 

 

 

 

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