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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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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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Mebake

Following the month of Ramadan, where bread consumption was slow paced,  it was finally Eid celebration this past weekend here in Dubai. With not much time to be around the kitchen, i managed to squeeze a swift afternoon bake from the book: Bread by jeffery Hamelman.

I've followed the recipe as is, except for the extra water addition. The recipe is basically 35% medium rye flour (i used whole), and 65% Bread flour. The majority of the rye flour is in the rye sour, which makes this dough an active one. Bulk fermentation only lasted 1 hour (as in the book), and the final fermentation 50 minutes (also as in the book).

     

I have not had the walnut/raisin combination before, but now i will use them more often.

Light, and delicious! This bread is also excellent for toast.

For Eid, i bought myself a new book, quite old around here: Tartine bread. Finally, i got around to buying Chad's book. Having read dozens of pages already, i'm beginning to enjoy Chad's philosophy in baking. A really good read so far.

-Khalid

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Mebake

I have baked two breads this past weekend, Whole Wheat Pita, and David’s San Joaquin SD. The whole Wheat pitas, however, were the new favorites after I have finally had success with them.

The whole wheat Pita bread from Peter Reinhart’s (Whole grain breads), and pitas in general have had me intimidated for quite some time. Simply put, they never puffed well even on hot stone, rendering my efforts futile. Not anymore, I learned few tricks from youtube on how to bake pitas and have them puff on stove.

I have made my biga with a sourdough starter, and retarded the bulk dough in the refrigerator for 6 hours after adding 1 tsp of instant yeast - 4 grams (Thanks Karin, and Janet). The cold overproofed dough was divided into 8 pieces, rounded and allowed to rest for ½ an hour. The rounds were then flattened into discs and rolled into pita shapes. 15 minutes later, a flat pan was heated on medium range stovetop while a round wire mesh was placed on a larger range. This is a youtube video demonstrating the process.  (Mind the steps, they won’t puff properly if you overly cook either side). Although the video's title is roti/chapati (Indian breads), it works just as well for pita.

90% of the pitas puffed perfectly, something I have not achieved in the past. I was delighted!

Being from the middle east where Pita bread is staple ,my household were happy to have some authentic pitas at last ,after numerous failures. They were nutty, and soft with a hint of sourness from the biga. I will be making these again.

I also baked David's San Joaquin Sourdough. This is one fabulous bread, even without the full 18 hour retardation.

-Khalid

 

 

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At the end of last week, I have been too tired and lazy to prepare any sourdough preferment, although I had an active starter ready. Next morning, I had no bread in the freezer, and the only bread I could make was that from straight dough. I browsed through my bread books, and found none other than Laurel’s book that offers plenty recipes for wholegrain breads, mostly straight doughs; hence the appeal :)

The recipe is “Peasant Rye” from the book’s Rye section. The formula contains some acids in the form of vinegar and cider, to counter the absence of a rye sour. The recipe is also almost 55% Rye flour to 45% Whole wheat.

I mixed the dough by hand, and aimed for almost loose dough. The dough fermented for 1.5 hours, reshaped and fermented again for 45 minutes. Final fermentation was barely 35 minutes, after which they were baked at 460 F for 10 minutes and at 325 F for 50 minutes. As recommended by Laurel, I applied a corn starch glaze to the baked loaves, and returned them for 2 minutes to the oven. In hindsight, I should have applied another layer of corn starch after they came out.

   

Left to cool for 12 hours, I then cut into one of them and had a slice after my evening breakfast. The bread was dark in color, had a slightly chewy crust, and a fairly smooth eating quality to the crumb. The rye flavor was very well pronounced; earthy, sweet, and satisfying. The whole wheat complimented the overall flavor very well.  For straight, yeasted dough, this rye bread is much better than I’d imagined it to be.

-Khalid

 

 

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Mebake

I have been baking regularly on weekends, but haven’t had the chance to post a blog. Lately, my parents, whom I bake mostly for have complained that the crusts of my breads were too chewy, and demanded a softer version of my hearth multigrain bread. Butter, and/or enrichments came to mind instantly as these soften the crust and crumb, in addition to the usage of a bread pan instead of baking on hearth which also contributes to bread softness. However, recalling Floyd’s wonderful soft bread using Tang Zhong, I immediately knew that a Tang Zhong (aka: water roux) will bring much softness and tenderness to my multigrain breads without increasing the fat content.

Guided by Floyd’ recipe, I limited my Tang Zhong to 5% of total flour weight. It was made with 45 grams of White bread flour, and 225 grams of water. After all ingredients were mixed, the dough was unmanageably wet and would not form coherent dough. I was worried about the effects that Tang Zhong’s might have on my recipe, but I persisted and added slightly more flour. The dough began to come together and was finally manageable, although still wet.

After 2 hours worth of initial bulk fermentation, and two stretches and folds, the dough was retarded for an hour, to allow my poolish baguettes to be baked first:

 

Shaped and molded, final proofing took 3-3.5 hours, and was then was baked at 420F for 15 minutes (no steam), and 400F for 20 minutes.

The bread was allowed to cool for 2 hours, after which it was sliced and wrapped. The bread is incredibly soft, tender, moist, and full of grain/seed goodness! Next bake, I’ll reduce the hydration to a reasonable level.

- Khalid

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Mebake

My last week end’s bake was from a book I haven’t baked much from, “Crust” by Richrd Bertinet. So far, I have only baked the baguettes with a preferment and it was quite delicious. My second take on the book was: Dark Rye bread with raisins.

I had my suspicions for a high a percentage Rye leavened with commercial yeast, as all my early rye bakes flopped when baked only with commercial yeast. However, I was relatively reassured  that the overnight white biga should bring the necessary acidity to help Rye perform well.

The bread fermented for 1 hour, reshaped, and fermented once more for another hour. Final fermentation was only 50 minutes in my kitchen. Even though i watched the dough not the clock, the dough fermented fast, and i caught it abit too late for oven. The  dough did collapse during the first 10 minutes of a 500F oven, however, it did manage to hold some height, and was not a failure.

This is a testimony to the the effectiveness of an overnight stiff preferment on a high percentage Rye bread.  The dark black raisins are sweeter than the golden ones, and they really imparted a significant sweetness to the rye. The crust came out rigid, but cripsy, and the crumb was moist and light. I had this bread with some butter, and it tasted just like butter and jam! Excellent bread!

-Khalid

 

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Mebake

Finally, i baked some bread. It has been a busy period, full of duties, and errands. I wanted a good wholewheat bread, so i baked a Golden Date bread from Laurel's bread book.

AHH.. Golden date bread... sweet, healthy, soft, almost muffin like bread.

I also baked Sourdough semoline bread, from Hamelman's bread. I never really tested semolina in bread making, but it seems to do just fine. My semolina was the gritty almost sand like type. The final dough was soft, so i had to add more semolina to the final dough to stiffen the dough as called for in Hamleman's book.

The flavor was not as sweet as i would have expected from Semolina, but it was ok considering that it is an all white bread. The bread is faintly sour, and the crumb is somewhat rough. The crust shattered everywhere when i cut through it, a good sign.

I trust that this bread's flavor will evolve, and have yet to try it toasted.

-Khalid

 

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Mebake

I wanted to bake a Rye bread from Peter Reinhart's book : Whole grain books, as a change from Hamelman's Rye recipes.

With 45 % Rye flour, and 55% whole wheat flour, the bread is very wholesome, and enriched. It contains butter, honey, caraway, and nigella seeds. The bread is leavened with the 45% Rye flour amount as Rye sour, but the final dough contains 2.25 tsp of instant yeast. The bulk fermentation and final fermentation takes from 50-60 minutes at most.

The dough was understandably sticky during mixing, and never came together well. I resisted adding flour to the final dough and adhered to the recipe. This dough sticks to everything, so i should have really kneaded the whole wheat dough (soaker) to proper gluten development as stated in the recipe before final incorporation.

As with most recipes of the book, the final dough ferments FAST! i had to watch it closely.

The bread is very, very aromatic and wholesome. 3-4 slices is all you can eat in one sitting, it really fills you up fast. This is the first time i use spice in bread, and oh my! was i missing so much with leaving out caraway in rye breads!

The Rye sour stands out here, with a pronounced sweetish tang. This is a very satisfying flavorsome bread.

-Khalid

 

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