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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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Mebake

So, here i am again. I've been too lazy and tired to comment or blog; the weekend class is draining me off and i don't have much energy to bake anything.

First is Pasry. The last two classes (4 sessions) were on cakes which we managed to finish on time. As shown, we've baked using the foaming, creaming, and altogether techniques. A shining example of the altogether was the chocolate cake; the queen of all cakes which brought an end to our cakes lesson.

Next week is: yeasted products!  Two days, to accomodate the useage of preferment i guess. I'm so excited :)

   

  

The cake was almost entirely decorated by the Pastry Chef, not us.

For bread, i chose to bake an SFBI miche that David Snyder blogged about often.  I wanted to stay true to David's recipe but i didn't, BIG MISTAKE!  The recipe's dough was somewhat stiff and considering the freshly milled whole wheat flour, i decided to increase the hydration to roughly 80%. The second deviation was to retard the shaped loaf for 21 hours instead of David's overnight (for scheduling purposes). On the day of baking, i removed the dough from the refrigerator and allowed it to sit for an hour while the oven was heating. The dough was well risen, and in very good shape. I preshaped , shaped, and molded it into a lined bowl. When ready, the dough was loaded into the oven with steam apparatus in place. I peeked through the oven glass, and watched the dough spread to a typical Miche disc.

The bread's flavor was very nutty. sweetish and wholegrainy, and packed a good deal of nutrition. I'll definitely have another shot at the formula soon, with-out changes. Thanks David!

-Khalid

 

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Mebake

And my Pastry class continues. Last weekend ,we’ve started the cookies/cakes class with a theory lesson for half the day on cakes, batters, and creaming/foaming techniques and trouble shooting cakes. This particular lesson will be split into 4 classes. Here is a picture of the cookies made by all of the class (Mine and my team mate's are the ones on the cooling rack; they were uneven and somewhat ragged).

 

During my last visit to the supermarket, I’ve picked up a flour that has stirred my curiosity for a while. It is the latest addition to Waitrose’s line of organic flours. I wanted to try it in some recipe, and what better than my Trusty Whole wheat multigrain. 

        

I’v used cornmeal, flaxseeds, and Dark Rye bran for the hot soaker. my main deviation from Hamelman’s recipe was to use ½ a teaspoon of instant yeast in the final dough, instead of 1, and retarding the dough for 24 hours. The dough was mixed at 5:00 pm the day before yesterday, and at 5:00 pm yesterday it was removed from the fridge to be shaped and baked.

The bread is good, with solid multigrain flavors, though not sweet as the non retarded one. The reason I’ve added the yeast into the final dough, was that I had suspicions about the health of my levain. My White liquid sourdough starter has collapsed completely when I wanted to creat a levain fom it, which could have been bad to the yeast health in the levain. I now believe that my worries were exaggerated.

-Khalid 

 

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Mebake

Winds of Change

Things haven’t been changing much for me in the last couple of years, and it seemed at some point that I was stuck in an unfulfilling clerical/office Job for the rest of my life. Lately, I’ve been witnessing changes in my life; the winds of change have finally blown. Pondering for over a year now on how to change my career, I decided to join an amateur course on Pastry in a culinary institute in Dubai.

The 6 months program, which includes Puff pastry, short crust, Choux, Meringue, cakes, cookies, Chocolate, also happens to include a lesson about yeasted goods (no sourdough, though). The lessons I’ve chosen to join are the Friday’s weekend ones that span over the whole day; approx. 7 hours, including an hour lunch break. I’ve completed two training sessions so far, and I’m quite content with them. However, when I return home from the long day, I’m often too tired and lazy to do any home baking. I still manage to squeeze a sourdough bake every week during the weekdays, but I haven't the energy to photograph or blog about it.

The Puff / Filo pastry class:

Choux / Meringue Class:

The last bake was a trusty and tested one, just like most Hamelman’s recipes; Flaxseed bread. The recipe calls for a sour rye ferment and 60% Rye flour with overnight- soaked flaxseeds. I’ve followed the recipe to the letter, including the addition of 1.5 tsp instant yeast.

-Khalid

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Mebake

I’ve been skeptical about the performance of Atta flour in hearth breads. Atta flour is a high extraction Indian stone ground flour used for chapati flat breads. Last week, I picked up a 2 kg bag of the flour from a store, and decided to give it a try in a Miche. I’ve baked the recipe Pointe-à-Callière from Hamleman’s book numerous times before using my home made high extraction flour, so I thought it would be fitting to try Atta flour in Hamelman’s Miche and compare the results.

  

The flour is soft, and contains tiny specks of bran and germ, which I believe sums up to anywhere between 85% to 90% extraction. This is a photo of the flour’s texture (left) as compared to bread flour (right).

The dough behaved almost identically to the high extraction wheat flour I used to make at home by sifting freshly milled whole wheat flour ; only the home made version is softer and has a golden color.

I was really surprised by the aroma, flavor and results! Excellent, to say the least. I could not discern the difference in outcome between this bake and the previous ones. What a joy! I have had high extraction wheat flour at my disposal all these years without taking advantage of it.

The flavor is sweet nutty, and slightly sour. The crumb was slightly moist and soft, with a caramel nutty crust; all I wish for in a Miche. I encourage anyone who has access to this flour or a similar one to try it as high extraction flour in hearth breads, you will not be disappointed.  

-Khalid

 

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Mebake

This is a favorite here, but i decided to tweak the formula abit as i was short on whole wheat flour. To compensate for the shortage of ww flour, i increased the soaker by 20%. The dough was also fermented in the fridge during the initial fermentation for 7 hours, so i decided to add 1.5 tsp of diastatic wheat malt flour.

Having almost twice the levain on hand, i decided to increase the total dough yield and bake 2.3 kg dough into 4 batards.

The bread's texture, and flavor were excellent! The sour was very mild.

-Khalid

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Mebake

So, Tartine Country bread it is. I chose to try the much revered country recipe before venturing into more complex breads in Tartine book. Generally, I followed Chad’s instructions to the letter, including the shaping method depicted in his book.  The recipe yielded good sourdough bread, with moist interior, crackled crust, and smooth eating qualities with no acidic notes whatsoever. It is a really good bread, especially for those who have just ventured into making their own sourdough breads at home. I loved it, and loved the subtle creaminess of its crumb, and the lovely carmalized tones of the crust.

  

To balance things out, and to further try the performance of my newly sourced French whole non organic Rye flour, I baked a recipe from Hamelman’s book Bread: 80% Rye sourdough with a rye flour soaker. This time, I skipped the yeast altogether and added 1 hour to the bulk ferment which added up to 2 hour total bulk fermentation.  This was the first time I used a recipe that calls for a scald, I was surprised by the moistness it lends to the crumb even after 48 hours of cooling. The flavor after 36 hours was mildly acidic, and the crumb was still moist. The bread was good, period. I’ll wait for a total of 72 hours to judge the bread flavor as it evolves, but I’m not anticipating a surprise.

What I’ll be doing from now on, I think, is to mill my organic rye flour or purchase dove farm’s whole rye flour and use it in the sour. The rest of the dough’s rye would be from the non-organic rye flour.

  

-Khalid

 

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