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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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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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