The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mebake's blog

  • Pin It
Mebake's picture
Mebake

Dear TFL'ers

I'm on an obligatory pause from baking, as i've underwent a spinal fusion Surgery in my lower back. Can't bake nothing now, nor bend forward... It is a dead pause for 3 months at least!  I'm bound to this dreadful back brace, so the only bread related activity i'll do is watch TFL, and learn more, take it easy, and enjoy some time in some personal reflection (remembering how vulnerable we are as humans, and that without God's mercy and grace, we are helpless).

In the meantime, my dried starters are now dormant in my freezer, and i'm looking forward to the day when i'm ready to fire them up again :)

My thoughts and wishes to you all, especially those of you experiencing tough times.

Khalid

 

 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Recently, I have been limiting myself to a weekly baking routine, as I nurse my back after the spinal Steroid injection. I have been on and off TFL, viewing other members’ posts, and drawing inspiration from their contributions.

Having baked a Volkornbrot from Hamelman last week, I wanted something lighter, and the oblack olives sitting in a corner of my fridge was I all the nudge I needed to choose Olive levain. I have baked this recipe last year, and did not care much for its flavor, but this time, I decided to give it another go.

The recipe is from Hamleman’s “Bread”, which calls for a liquid white levain, and 10% whole wheat. I used Waitrose strong white bread flour for 1/2 the flour quantity, and the rest was an ordinary all purpose flour. The whole wheat flour was freshly milled. I wanted to mix the dough very minimally, and significantly increased the hydration in hopes of achieving the random open cell structure depicted in the book. I mixed the dough with a wooden spoon, slowly, adding water gradually, until a shaggy dough was formed. The dough contained only the levain, flour and water, and was rested while pitting the olives. 15 minutes later, the salt was sprinkled on top , olives were mixed in, and the dough was folded gently in the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients, which was a clear deviation from Hamelman’s instructions which state that everything should be mixed, including salt, but the olives, and after slightly developing the dough, the olives would be added. Remaining steps were exactly as Hamleman’s. I don’t know how significant my deviations were to the outcome. Any ideas? 

 

The dough was shaped, rested for 1/2 hour, and then refrigerated for 8 hours. It sat warming up for an hour while the oven was heated.

The Bread came out crackling from the oven. The crust was very crispy, and the crumb was cool and and soft: the perfect sourdough.

Now i realized that i underestimated the subtle flavors that this bread carry. This bread's flavor shines exceptionally well when dipped in olive oil. Lovely bread! and an excellent way to make use of surplus olives.

Khalid

Mebake's picture
Mebake

This is an illustration i made of shaping a Sandwich loaf, that i wanted to share with you all.

Khalid

 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

This is my third take on Peter Reinhart’s Multigrain Struan from his excellent book” “Whole grain breads”. My first two bakes were on stone, but this one is in a Pan. I have made few changes:

1 – Doubled the recipe to fit two Pans: 1kg, and 700 gr. (The loaf shown is the 1 Kg)

2 – Used only white sourdough starter for the Biga.

2 – Added 113g White Bread flour to the final dough, not whole Wheat flour.

 The dough was mixed and left to ferment for 12 hours at room temperature.

Soaker mixed and covered immediately, and left at room temperature for 12 hours. I used Rolled Oats, millet, corn meal, Buckwheat, cracked wholegrain rice, cracked wheat, toasted sunflower seeds, toasted Pumpkin seeds.

The dough was weak, given all the seeds, but was never crumbly. The fermentation was fast, and should be watched closely.

The Crust was soft, and the crumb was smooth. A sour flavor was very much present, but not dominant. It tastes, and feels closer to a volkornbrot (though much lighter), than a regular whole wheat. It is not dense at all.

This bread is rather a sourdough than what Peter Rh. intended it to be, it is nicely sour-ish, and i think i have used a bit too much SD starter, it is bound to become assertively sour in a few days.

With 50% preferment, a wild yeast starter is not the choice, if someone hates sour notes in a bread.

Absolutely Lovely bread, though.

Khalid

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Nothing new here, my old favorite: Hamelman’s Whole-wheat multigrain.  This time, though, and as I have come to appreciate sourdough preferments, as opposed to yeasted ones; I chose to skip the Instant yeast altogether. I have also chosen a new collection of grains for my hot soaker: Rolled oats, millet, Semolina,  and sunflower seeds.

The initial fermentation took 3 hours, while the final fermentation was  5 hours. I increased the hydration as the dough was stiff, and ended up with an over hydrated dough. To adjust, I added 50-50% whole wheat flour  to bread flour to arrive at a medium to loose hydration. It was wet, still.

The preferment % was reduced as a result of adding more flours to around 9% from 12%.

My Rye Sourdough is dead. I have rushed it once by adding more than comfortable warm water, and since then it seemed to go down the path of demise. Luckily, I can create one easily from my white levain.

For a change, i wanted to bake this bread in a pan.

Although i have not tasted the bread yet, i could describe it as follows:

Soft crust, with rich sourdough aroma. Crumb is open, cool and moist, with an appreciable sour aroma.

I have yet to decide whether or not the 100% sourdough version is better tasting than the sweeter yeasted version.

Update: The flavor of the bread was great. the extended final fermentation did mask the subtle sweetness and wheatiness of the bread, and the sour tang was clearly present. Lovely bread, nevertheless.

Khalid

Mebake's picture
Mebake

I’ve always wanted to try Laurel’s Whole wheat buns, and last weekend I had the chance to try one. I’ve chosen the feather Puff recipe, which is an enriched 100% whole wheat bread from the book: (Laurel's Kitchen bread book: a guide to whole grain breadmaking). The recipe calls for  eggs, honey, butter, cottage cheese, and good deal of kneading (15 minutes kneading at least), and makes for wonderfully light buns (for whole wheat, that is!).I had no cottage cheese, and decided to do without it altogether.

The author does promise outrageous lightness of the bread when kneaded properly, and boy was she right!

Shaped Buns:

Fairly light buns!

Even, smooth texture:

A close look:

The crust is soft, and full of flavor, and the crumb is light, soft, yet dry. The eggs have contributed to the dryness of the crumb. The sesame seeds add a nutty flavor to the buns, and the bread has some pronounced sweet under tones, due to the Honey.

Although the recipe is a straight dough, with no preferment, it is an excellent healthy, and all purpose bread that is good with any food.

Khalid

Mebake's picture
Mebake

This is my second attempt at the multigrain Struan from Peter Reinhart’s wonderful book: Whole grain Breads. This is no easy dough to deal with, and I remember now why i have chosen to put it off for a second trial. The high proportion of soaked grains (I used some seeds too), held loosely by 100% whole wheat flour, some butter, and honey; makes for a very sticky dough.

I have used a sourdough preferment instead of a yeasted preferment, to give my dough a boost of strength, and flavor. The final dough was leavened with commercial yeast @ 2.5tsp. I also chose not to add any more flour, so the dough was stickier but soft. Ultimately, the dough should come together coherently and form a ball.

Notes to self:

1 – Use a mixer. Your hands will get messy with this one.

2 - Add some more whole wheat flour to the final dough.

2 – Bake it in pans, NOT free form.

3 – Apply egg wash prior to Poppy seed garnish. Water will not do the job properly.

4 – Bake *4 the recipe quantity, as this bread disappears almost immediately.

Sourdough Preferment (Wholewheat) - Freshly prepared:

 

Soaker: (Millet, Cracked Oats, Buckwheat, flaxseeds, Sunflower seeds, toasted sesame) in Hot water.

Formed Batards:

The flavors, texture, aroma are all out of this world. The crust is sof, yet crunchy from all the popp seeds. The crumb is soft, crunchy, isn't chewy at all, and very aromatic. Overall, the bread isn't dense  it is just closed textured.

The bread was praised by all members of my household. The extra crunchiness brought by the addition of millet was just the right addition to compement the rest of the textures. This is one absolutely magnificent recipe from a magnificent bread book.

Khalid

Mebake's picture
Mebake

I don’t know why I sometimes push myself to the extremes, but I can’t resist having excess ripe sourdough, without putting it to good use. I have adopted a lazy method of feeding my starters prior to my weekend baking, and building it to a leaven similar to the ones used in Hamelman’s Bread. No planning involved as to which bread I’ll bake, and I often end up with an excess leaven when I decide to change my recipe at the last moment.

As a result, I had a 2.48 times more Rye Sourdough than my recipe called for, and the final dough mass was 4.22 KG! Why did I fail to notice that I’m actually doubling the recipe? Again, the thought of an excess ripe Sourdough distracted me.

The recipe is a 17% Whole Rye flour, and 8% Whole wheat, taken from TFL member Hansjoakim. The recipe has become quite popular with my wife, and makes a very versatile bread.

Mixing is a nightmare here, as i had to manually mix the ingredients to a 75% hydration wet dough. My back didn't thank me for that :) However, once the dough rested for 1/2 hour autolyze, and subsequent stretch and fold regime, i was content to the fruits of my labor. I have never mixed or baked such amount of dough before, and the size did pose challenges, although i did eventually manage it.

I preheated the oven for 1.5 hours with two stones on two different racks, and loaded two loaves on each rack. During the oven spring, the loaves were cramped in space, and were seen edging beyond the stone surface towards the oven window. All was well, in the end.

I will not bake such dough quantity at once, nor would i recommend it to anyone.

The Ripe Sourdough:

1 Kg loaf, each:

 

Next day, three loaves were sliced and frozen, and the third was given away.

The flavor, crust, chewiness, all were consistent with what i'm used to. A very good daily bread that is good with almost everything.

Khalid

 

 

 

 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Oh, boy i feel at home, again!

Not only baking is addictive, it has become a part of me now. Almost 3 months of bed rest, and ayurvedic therapy, 1 of which was spent in Kerala, the beautiful southern city of India; has never detached me from thefreshloaf site, nor did my enthusiasm for bread baking waver.

Despite the restricted indoor stay, I was fortunate to witness the onset of monsoon on June 5th from the view of small balcony. Kerala, is a southern district of India blessed with lush green pastures, abundant rain, and intense vegetation. The climate was humid, rather hot when I arrived there, but the weather soon changed, and the westerly ocean winds brought breeze and rain.

Monsoon clouds from afar:

Drawing nearer:

Overcast:

Rain Pours, not falls!

Although I was not fully satisfied with my therapy program, I was strangely ecstatic about the fact that I was returning home, and will soon resume baking! after all, baking is therapy all by itself.   

Upon arrival, I wanted to bake some bread, as no stock was in my freezer. Due to my almost  de-conditioned body, I chose to bake some yeasted whole wheat bread from Laurel’s book, and I elected the basic recipe.

Days ago, I diluted and fed my dried starters (Wheat, and Rye), and baked yesterday a 40% Rye – no caraway. (note to self: Next time I’ll add caraway, regardless of what my wife likes :) )

Left is Rye, Wheat is right:

The flavor of this bread never disappoints. Pity, i excluded the caraway seeds.

Khalid

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Last week, I have been milling my Turkish wheat berries (don’t quite know the type-probably ordinary winter wheat, but definitely not red) using my trusty Hawos easy mill, and noticed that during the first phase of my intermediary milling (coarse), I found tiny bran particles along with the middlings . I decided to try a labor intensive method of separating the bran from the other particles. Bran weighs less than the coarse endosperm particles, so I used a hair drier to blow air through the coarse mixture while stirring it. ½ hour later, this method left me with copious amounts of bran scattered on my laps and on the floor and the endosperm particles with some bran intact remained in the bowl. I know.. I must be crazy, but I was testing a reliable way to remove bran from equally sized endosperm particles, and that surely isn’t practical. I milled the remainder mixture into fine flour, sifted it with a fine mesh sieve, and obtained really fluffy yellowish flour, with tiny specs of powdered bran. I declared it: Mebake’s high extraction flour. It was very soft and fine textured, and had a beautiful wheaty aroma. I didn’t know the extraction %, but assumed that it belongs to the league of artisanal flours. My wife made some chocolate cookies with this flour and the result was the best cookies I’ve ever made at home: Crunchy, delicate, and full of flavor. I wish I had a 50 kg sack of this stuff. I decided to put the flour to test, and bake genuine artisanal bread with it: Miche a callier, from Hamelman’s BREAD. I stuck to the recipe and the procedures, although the stiff levain did ripe in less than 8 hours. The dough received 3 stretches and folds at 40 minute intervals. I noticed some tears during S&F, and I would attribute it to the flour being green (freshly milled), and the milling heat. Here it is:

The flavor at 12 hours is wheaty / nutty and very aromatic. The crust was crunchy / chewy, and the crumb soft and creamy, but not as moist as i guessed it would be. 

The flour

The flour, although difficult to obtain using my method, was worth it.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Mebake's blog