The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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PiPs

I have wanted to bake the Semolina sourdough from Tartine Bread for some time now. The heady mix of toasted fennel and sesame seeds held within the golden crumb sounded like a delicious combination beneath a crunchy encrusted exterior.

Finding the durum flour proved to be quite a challenge though. It took me more than a few visits to organic grocery stores until I discovered a small bag tucked away on a low shelf from a New South Wales company specialising in pasta and durum based products.

It has been some time since I last baked with durum flour and I was a little nervous with the amount of water that the Tartine formula called for … 80% Hydration! … however the dough developed strongly over a three hour bulk ferment and shaped easily into batards. The seed coating looked beautiful as they quickly rose in cloth-lined baskets … it is hot and humid again in Brisbane.

The hot oven in the hot kitchen punched the wet dough upwards and I couldn’t help but let out a small sigh of relief as watched the oven spring unfold. This is aromatic bread. The crumb is full of vibrant fennel seeds with the sesame seeds playing a much smaller role in the flavour profile.  The crumb is sturdy but not tough … the fennel flavour is sturdy also - bright and savoury. I would be inclined to reduce the amount of fennel seeds just to allow the sesame flavour to show through a little more.

By the end of a week in the fridge, my desem starter is keen to step out and stretch it’s legs after pushing its bed of flour upwards to a cratered top. Keeping the ideal cool temperatures is an impossible dream at the moment so my next best option is to feed sooner and watch its development closely.

The idea for the Walnut and Sage bread surfaced during a week of afternoon bus trips home. I knew I wanted to bake a whole-wheat desem bread studded with walnuts and I loved the idea of incorporating a sweet honey walnut paste similar to a concept used by Dan Lepard. The idea of sage came after … to balance the added sweetness brought by the honey.

 


Walnut and Sage 100% Wholewheat

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

2140g

 

Total flour

1081g

100%

Total water

919g

85%

Total salt

20g

2%

Prefermented flour

162g

15%

 

 

 

Desem build – 4 hrs 26°C

 

 

Starter (50g not included in final dough)

75g

50%

Freshly milled wheat

150g

100%

Water

75g

50%

 

 

 

Walnut Paste

 

 

Walnuts

50g

 

Walnut oil

20g

 

Honey

20g

 

Water

50g

 

 

 

 

Final dough

 

 

Desem starter

243 g

26%

Freshly milled organic wheat flour

919g

100%

Water

788g

85%

Walnuts lightly toasted

300g

32%

Walnut paste

140g

15%

Chopped fresh sage leaves

1/2 cup

 

Salt

2og

2%

 

Method

  1. Mix desem starter and leave to ferment four hours
  2. Mill flours and allow them to cool before mixing with cold water (Hold back 50g of water) from fridge and autolyse four hours.
  3. Combine walnut paste ingredients and mix till smooth with motar and pestle.
  4. Lightly roast remaining Walnuts and allow to cool.
  5. Add desem starter to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins. Add Walnut paste, roasted walnuts and chopped sage leaves and squeeze through dough until combined.
  6. Bulk ferment two hours with two stretch-and-folds 30 mins apart.
  7. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
  8. Proof for 1 hour at 28°C
  9. Bake in preheated dutch oven at 250°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake a further 10 mins. Remove from dutch oven and bake on stone for a further 20 mins.

 

After allowing them to cool I couldn’t wait any longer to try a slice. The knife sliced through the delicate soft crumb with ease. The walnut oil and walnut paste softened the crumb and coloured it the lightest purple. There were some lovely walnuts protruding from the crust but Nat’s quick fingers saw to them … I am sure they would have been distracting for the photos anyway :)

The sage flavour sits at the back of the palette complimenting the walnuts – you breathe it in - a perfect balance. So much so that the bread moves effortlessly between sweet and savoury settings. Perhaps a late breakfast with honey and ricotta or a slice toasted with blue cheese and glass of red to accompany one of our favourite pizzas on a Saturday afternoon watching the sun slowly set.

… our version of Jim Laheys Zucchini Pizza – with added red onion and pine nuts.

Cheers,
Phil

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PiPs

It has rained and rained and after a week of soggy grey we finally have a glimmer of sunshine. And with all the rain and cooler temperatures I have really noticed how intertwined my bread making is with the weather. Every feeding and levain build is a unique decision – the balance between the temperature and feed ratios.

Wandering through the kitchen I throw a glance at the thermometer resting beside my rising levain and through the day I feel subtle change of temperature between rooms in the house. I notice this most among the quiet and peaceful times for me, scattered and far between though they are.

After arriving back home from my parents we had a house emptied of bread and I left it that way until the weekend. We have all been settling into the routines of a new year. Nat and I both back at work, plus we have had two new school milestones for the kids with one starting grade one and another starting her first year in high school.

With cool morning air and some time free on a drizzly Saturday I prepared my desem starter plus milled and soaked the fresh wheat flour. To me this is the simplest, purest form of bread - whole flour, water and salt. Later that day the dough was developed using stretch-and-folds over a three hour bulk-ferment before a quick final proof and bake. There is a fascination for me by using a longer bulk-ferment and developing the dough slowly and carefully - subtle changes over time – slowly becoming alive. It slots nicely into the rythem of a rainy day at home. Relaxing ...

After a long hiatus I finally baked some whole-wheat Fig and Anise loaves. Again these were raised with the desem starter with the chopped figs and aniseeds incorporated early in the bulk ferment.

These are a special treat for us and are consumed with utter joy - toasted, with a drizzle of honey, topped with ricotta cheese. We sit at breakfast with a slice or two and appreciate our morning amongst the din of school preparations and children slurping down breakfasts.

The sun is shining again ... all the best
Phil

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PiPs

The past week has been spent under big skies. I had travelled to my families home overlooking the small township of Warwick which is two hours drive south-west of Brisbane. As I left the city outskirts and watched the land open up before me, my hands relaxed on the steering wheel and I breathed in the space … up above the skies felt bigger.

This was a belated Christmas trip and the amount the garden had grown and developed showed how long it had been since my last visit. Apples hung heavily and tomatoes had self-sowed everywhere you looked. My parent’s garden is such an inspiration for Nat and I, and what a joy to see my youngest daughter pulling carrots, picking tomatoes, grasping flowers while asking endless questions.

Recently I discovered that my aunt and her husband grow wheat on their farm situated near the small town of Bell, 260 km north-west of Brisbane. I have many fond memories of Christmas holidays spent there playing with my cousins, watching cricket on hot summer days and exploring the farm at the foothills of the Bunya Mountains. It had never occurred to me that they grew grain and on a recent trip to my parents, my aunt left a bag of wheat for my father and I to use in our grain mills.

A data sheet left with the bag indicated that the variety of wheat we had been given was Kennedy - a prime hard wheat with high dough strength, a long mixing time and excellent baking qualities. Interestingly the data sheet also indicated the wheat had a protein level of 9.5% which did not seem particularly high so I planned a cautious bake.

This was fresh wheat from a farm … there were bits of stray material, wheat heads, damaged grains and over breakfast my daughter, father and I chatted and laughed while we sorted through a kilogram of the grains picking out the unwanted material. The grains are smaller and lighter in colour than wheat which I have milled previously. It milled beautifully in my father's Hawos stone mill.

 

Not long after purchasing my Komo mill, my parents had visited and become fascinated with the idea of milling fresh flour. This led my father to purchase a Hawos Billy 100 stone mill for use with his bread machine with excellent results. Although the Billy 100 is a physically larger mill using a wider millstone it contains a smaller motor than the Komo XL leading to slower and quieter milling. I was really impressed with the quality of the flour and was a little envious of the lovely pieces of bran the mill seemed to produce.

Before mixing a bread I wanted to get a feel for the flour so I asked my mum to bake us a fantastically chewy slice that is packed full of fruit and flavour. My mum does not measure when she cooks so it was a challenge to slow her down so I could take a few rough measurements.


My Mum’s Super Chewy Fruit Slice (featuring freshly milled family flour)

Ingredients

200g Butter

70g Honey

250g Freshly milled wholewheat flour

2 ½ tsp Baking powder

2 eggs

180g Mixed fruit

180g Chopped dates

60g Craisins

70g Dried blueberries

½ cup Brown sugar

1 cup Desiccated coconut

2 cups Special K breakfast cereal

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160C
  2. Line a slice tin with baking paper
  3. Combine butter and honey in a saucepan and melt over a low heat
  4. Mix baking powder with the flour and sift twice to incorporate
  5. Lightly beat eggs
  6. Transfer melted butter mixture to a large bowl with all remaining ingredients and stir until combined
  7. Press into prepared tin and place into oven for approx 30 mins or until golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool before slicing

 

 

During the day I built up the levain and pondered how to treat this unknown wheat. With a seemingly low protein level I was reluctant to soak the flour for an extended period so I opted for a one hour autolyse with cooler water. I also chose to preferment 25% of the total flour to help strengthen the flour. I usually aim for a hydration level of 85% for my fresh milled wholewheat breads but with the expectation of weaker flour I dropped this to 75%. 

After the autolyse I was surprised to find a firm and resilient dough and as soon as I began mixing I knew I would need a higher hydration. By the end of mixing I had increased the hydration to my usual 85% and had dough that felt strong and extensible. A stretch-and-fold at the 30 min mark confirmed the dough’s strength and I left it untouched for the remainder of the two hour bulk ferment.

After straight forward shaping and proving, getting results from my parent’s oven would remain the biggest challenge as I tried to add steam without my usual cast iron steam pans. A few ice cubes and a raging hot baking stone worked well but not to the usual standard of my oven at home.

The resulting bread had expanded boldly in the oven with a sweet caramel flavour to the crumb and light golden crust. It was slightly denser to my previous wholewheat breads and I am keen to mill this wheat at home in my Komo to see what results I get.

… and what better way to enjoy bread than with home grown tomatoes still warm from the sun, fresh picked basil, olive oil and sprinkle of cracked pepper.

 

Cheers,
Phil

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PiPs

My stocks have been running low. Grains, flour, salt and even the bread in the freezer have all taken a beating over a busy Christmas period.

With suppliers back on board after holidays I was more than a little relieved when a new shipment of biodynamic wheat and spelt grains finally arraived.

Along with the grain, I was also in need of white flour. The idea of leaving a gentler footprint to me means that if I have to use processed white flour then it should be from a local and organic producer. So for this reason I have switched to organic plain white flour from the Kialla Pure Foods mill only 150 km away. (90 miles) Kialla’s plain flour with a protein level of 12.5% is stronger than the bakers flour I been currently using but has a slightly creamier colour and chewier mouth feel. For this weekends bake though, I wanted wholegrains and organic. I hadn’t planned on baking any rye until a friend suggested she would like to try a lighter rye sourdough. Nat and I have a strong appreciation for caraway seeds with rye so this was suggested as well.


Organic 40% Rye Sourdough with caraway

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

1800g

 

Total flour

1071g

100%

Total water

769g

72%

Total salt

19g

1.8%

Prefermented flour

428g

40%

Desired dough temperature 26-27°C

 

 

 

 

 

Rye sour build – 12-14 hrs 22-24°C

 

 

Starter (not included in final dough)

21g

5%

Freshly milled rye flour

428g

100%

Water

428g

100%

 

 

 

Final dough

 

 

Rye sour

856g

133%

Organic plain flour

643g

100%

Water

341g

53%

Salt

19g

1.8% of total flour

Caraway seeds

19g

3%

Method

  1. Mix rye sour and leave overnight to ferment
  2. Next day disperse rye sour in remaining water and add flour.
  3. Knead for 5 mins (this is sticky and uncomfortable)
  4. Add salt and knead for a further 10 mins until dough starts to show signs of smoothness.
  5. Gently mix in caraway seeds until combined.
  6. Bulk ferment one hour
  7. Gently preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Gently shape into batards.
  8. Final proof was one hour at room temperature (27°C).
  9. Load into oven with steam at 230°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake a further 30 mins. 

The rye sour had developed nicely and apart from the seemingly unending stickiness of kneading, the dough eventually bulk fermented into a smooth dough that shaped quite easily.

The final proof kept me only my toes as I was mowing the backyard and ducking inside every 15 minutes to check on it’s progress, as it has been quite hot and humid recently.

I am particularly fond of the crumb colour with the caraway seeds hidden amongst the rye bran. The flavour is a really nice balance of a subtle rye tang with a puff of caraway scent on some bites.

 

 

I also baked a pair of simple organic wholegrain sourdoughs - the first breads for our household this year. The levain contains a proportion of Kialla plain flour so approximately 90% of the flour is freshly milled wholegrains.

I tried a few new procedures with this bake. I milled the wheat grains in two passes. The first pass cracked the grains before passing them through the mill again at a finer setting. This didn’t produce much heat in the flour and I ended up with softer feeling flour than in the past.

The other change was the fold in the bulk ferment. I recently read a comment by proth5 on the timing of a stretch-and-fold in a two hour bulk ferment. (sorry Pat I can’t remember where you posted it) If the dough is already well developed before the bulk ferment, perhaps a stretch-and-fold could occur earlier in the bulk ferment allowing some larger gas pockets to develop in the 2nd half of the bulk ferment.


Organic Wholegrain Sourdough

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

2000g

 

Total flour

1081g

100%

Total water

919g

85%

Total salt

21g

2%

Prefermented flour

270g

25%

 

 

 

Levain build – 4-5 hrs 26-27°C

 

 

Starter (60g not included in final dough)

100g

40%

Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% Organic plain flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye)

240g

100%

Water

120g

50%

 

 

 

Final dough

 

 

Levain

405g

50%

Freshly milled organic wheat flour

703g

86%

Freshly milled organic rye flour

108g

14%

Water

784g

96%

Salt

21g

2%

 

Method

  1. Mix levain and leave to ferment for 4-5 hours
  2. Mill flours and allow them to cool before mixing with cold water from fridge (hold back 50 grams of water) and autolyse four hours.
  3. Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Bulk ferment two hours with one stretch-and-fold after 30 mins.
  5. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
  6. Load into oven with steam at 230°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake a further 30 mins.

 

This has become familiar dough for me to mix. At 85% hydration doubts can creep into my thinking as the initial mix feels sticky and loose. Press on, add the salt and feel relief as the dough tightens up and releases cleanly from the bench.

The dough felt strong even after shifting the stretch-and-fold forward 30 mins so I left it untouched for the remaining time and was rewarded with light bubbly dough ready for preshaping. I am quite pleased with the proofing on both of the loaves and find I am becoming braver at judging their readiness for the oven. They sprang beautifully on a hot stone.

Some rye bran is visible scattered throughout the moist crumb which contains no hint of sour. The change in bulk ferment procedure has possibly led to a slightly more irregular crumb, but this will need to be experimented with and expanded.

 

Another busy day in the kitchen which was balanced by an equally busy day doing yard work.  The sun is finally shining here after a day of humid grey skys. We plan to make the most of it.

Cheers,
Phil 

 

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PiPs

At the start of a new year I find I am torn somewhat. I know in my head that the 1st of January is just another day flowing in from the previous but my heart speaks to me of time spent in reflection and questioning before looking forward into the next 365 days of my life.

How do I want my world to look? How do I want to colour and decorate it?

I watched a video of the late Alan Scott online recently and it has resonated with me deeply. He talks of leaving gentle footprints and when I think of the year ahead, I think of these words. I want to bake bread for my family, friends and people who are again appreciating real bread while leaving a gentle mark.

So it turns out the first bakes for this year have not been for us at all and I wonder if this will be a trend that may continue. Through some word of mouth and enthusiastic tasters I have started baking breads for a few people and families on a regular basis.

What can be more rewarding than this?

I have struggled with what to write next and Nat reminded me of some feedback that I received today which was along the lines of “Its just bread, but its amazing bread”

For me bread is so simple but so rewarding and this is what I bake for people, simple but rewarding bread.

I have settled upon a basic Pain au Levain formula and baking routine that fits easily into my schedule while bringing great flavour.

Also my hybrid ciabatta has been taken to MkII with a bake I did for a friend of ours on the weekend. I increased the hydration and dropped the amount of handling in the bulk ferment. Very pleased with the result and I may look at posting on MkIII in the future.

 

Even though I have streamlined my baking process as much as possible I still end up with inevitable amounts of washing up. While day dreaming­ yesterday ... elbow deep in washing up water from yet another bake, I spied a feathered visitor in our backyard. He was kind enough to allow me to take his picture.

All the best for the year ahead.

Cheers,
Phil 

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PiPs

 

Christmas baking
Stollen, Golden Raisin Wholemeal, Pain siegle de Thezac, Pain au Levain, Country breads and Miche

Cheers,
Phil 

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PiPs

As the holiday season rapidly approaches I decided to squeeze in what’s likely to be my last ‘real’ rye bake of the year before concentrating on the light and sweet Christmas goodies.

Andy’s fascinating and instructive posts on Borodinsky, Auerman Formulas and other high rye breads have kept me fascinated and entertained while perched in a bus to and fro from work. At first I found the list of ingredients overwhelming and that was before even fully digesting the multi-stage processes … I was going to have to be present and pay attention, plus top it off with a little planning. This was even more apparent with the amount of time needed to translate this formula to the blog …

I settled upon Andy’s Borodinsky – The Auerman Formula [or thereabouts anyway] but tweaked it slightly … um … quite a bit - sorry Andy :)


Altus and coriander (I love to chew on the altus crusts)

The dark ryes I have baked up until now have been a one stage process with a rye sour built and fermented before being added to the final ingredients. This formula is a tad more involved and uses a three stage process. A rye sour is built and fermented. With the sour fermenting, a scald of boiling water, flour, and other ingredients is produced. The sour and scald are then combined into a sponge which is fermented further until it is mixed with the remaining ingredients for the final shaping, proving and baking.

I deviated/strayed from Andy’s formula in a few ways. Firstly I have altus which I planned on adding to both the sour build and scald. Instead of the red malt asked for in the formula I used roasted rye malt that I had produced earlier in the week. It is richly coloured flour with a bright sweet roasted flavour and was bound to add some flavour to the finished loaf.

I kept the overall hydration level the same, but altered the hydration of the sour and scald builds to allow for a small amount of water to autolyse the wheat flour used in the final paste. This is a tip I received from minioven that allows the gluten in the wheat flour to develop before being mixed into the final paste. Finally, I sifted the final addition of rye and wheat flour.


Roasted Rye Malt


Scald and sponge

 

Further abroad Borodinsky

Overview

Weight

% of flour

Total flour

1405g

100%

Total water

1195g

85%

Prefermented flour

702g (30% +20%)

50%

Desired dough temperature 25°C

 

 

 

 

 

1. Sour build – 18 hrs 24°C

 

 

Starter (Not used in final dough)

21g

1.4%

Fresh milled rye flour

421g

30%

Altus (100% rye sourdough)

50g

3.5%

Water

492g

35%

Total

963g

 

 

 

 

2. Scald

 

 

Coarsely milled rye

281g

20%

Roasted rye malt

70g

5%

Blackstrap molasses

84g

6%

Altus (100% rye sourdough)

50g

3.5%

Freshly ground coriander seed

14g

1%

Water

492g

35%

Salt

21g

1.5%

 Total

1012g

 

 

 

 

3. Sponge – four hours @ 25°C

 

 

Sour from (1.)

963g

68%

Scald from (2.)

1012g

72%

Total

1975g

 

 

 

 

4. Final paste – one hour @ 25°C

 

 

Sponge

1975g

140%

Fresh milled rye flour sifted

423g

30%

Fresh milled wheat flour sifted

210g

15%

Water

210g

15%

Total

2818g

 

 

Method

  1. 4:00pm day before, prepare the rye sour.
  2. 10:00pm day before, prepare the scald. Grind coriander seeds and combine with remaining dry ingredients. Measure the molasses into a saucepan cover with boiling water and bring to a rolling boil. Quickly stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon and remove from heat and cool. Weigh scald and add further boiling water if necessary to account for evaporation.
  3. 9:00am following day, combine and mix the sour and scald and ferment a further four hours.
  4. 12:00pm combine sifted wheat and final water together and mix thoroughly with wooden spoon or whisk and allow to autolyse for one hour.
  5. 1:00pm add autolyse dough, remaining portion of sifted rye flour to the sponge and form the final paste.
  6. Shape and place into greased tins (mine were 8 x 4 x 4 Pullman) seam side down.
  7. I proved these for one hour before docking and placing into oven with lids on for 15 minutes at 270°C  then a further hour at 210°C

The final paste felt drier than the dark ryes I have baked recently – perhaps the molasses or malt flour? It was still a paste but felt it lot easier to handle. I as a little worried that the rye flour was absorbing too much water which may be a sign of excessive starch damage …

As seems to be the case with the rye breads I bake using freshly milled flours the final proof was exceptionally quick. I am hesitant to take my eyes from these breads during their final rise … the first sign of readiness and its straight into the oven … I don’t even debate myself anymore.

When pulled from the oven the bread felt soft and springy to the touch … the crust a dark brown with red hues. After cooling they were wrapped in a tea towel before storage in a plastic bag for a day … with me looking on longingly – all the time fingers crossed. I still lack confidence in my rye baking …

Finally I could slice – it was a cinch with a crust that was soft and smooth. The crumb was still moist but that will decrease over the coming days. A slice could be folded in half without breaking … did I mention it was soft?

The flavour is bright and I can pick the brightness of the coriander and tartness of the molasses. On the first day the molasses seemed stronger but by the next it had equalled out to rich round flavour. Most of all I am struck by the gentle mouth feel. It does not feel like a heavy rye bread and I look forward to the flavour developing throughout the week.

I also started playing with a rye crsipbread based on the formula in Dan Lepard’s Handmade Loaf. I omitted the commercial yeast and added some flavours inspired by his sweet rye formula – honey, ground cardomann seed, aniseed, and lemon zest. They are crunchy on the edges with a chew towards the centre. I love this combination of flavours …

All the best and best holiday wishes,
Phil

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PiPs

It is 4:45am on a quiet and cool Sunday morning.  I am taking my time … a cup of tea while listening to the birds. I can smell mangos on the table next to me.

Nat and I packed a lot of effort into yesterday. The yard work is done, and in between all the mowing and trimming necessary after summer rain I managed to put a few loaves of bread through the oven.

Have you ever stopped to think about a grain of wheat? I am slowly learning the scientific terms and descriptions … but my brain is not really wired that way. What I am slowly starting to appreciate is that these little grains are really packets of life. I don’t stop and take the time to think about this enough. They hold all that is required to germinate … just needed is the right balance of moisture and warmth.

For the baking this weekend I wanted to take a step beyond sprouting into the world of malting. During the week I sprouted wheat, rye and barley grains. After drying (kilning), I gently roasted the grains in search of flavour and colouring, not diastatic power or enzyme content. The house smelt amazing during this process …

… I now wanted to try them freshly milled in bread … and it turned out Nat’s parents were staying with us – to offer them bread is the perfect excuse to bake.

I decided upon the sourdough formula from Richard Bertinets book Crust. This formula was probably the first I knew off the top of my head. I have made it so many times in all sorts of weather with every flour combination imaginable. It is a 75% hydration dough with 25% of the total flour being pre-fermented in a stiff levain. With this amount of pre-fermented flour you need to pay attention to the ripeness of the levain builds as they have a big impact on the final dough.

Included in this I combined roasted wheat and barley malt flour at 5% of the total flour. I have been racking my thoughts on a way to best describe the aroma and taste of the roasted malt flours. I can’t. There is malt flavour in the roasted barley but also stronger rich dark toasted overtones, especially when combined with the malted wheat.

The difference was apparent as soon as I combined the ingredients. You could smell the malted flours and see them streaked throughout the autolysing dough.

On Saturday morning I took the risen bread from the fridge and allowed it to come to room temperature before filling the waking house with the aromas of fresh bread.

In the end I think the roasted malt flours did more for the colouring than flavour. The blistered crust is packed with colour and caramelized flavour while the crumb is a little darker but I find it hard to pick a noticeable difference in the overall flavour. I thought this strange after the difference I had sensed in the mixing stages but with a crumb so soft that we struggled to cut it without serious squashing and squeezing – it was deemed a delicious success.

 

Sunflower and Sesame wholesome wholemeal

I have noticed how much I missed using the mill after last weeks bake of ciabattas and brioche. I somehow felt disconnected from the bread I was making. It all tasted great but it wasn’t ‘wriggling with life’. I missed the planning and preparation, the smell of freshly milled grains … oh and the eventual endless cleaning I seemingly produced. The vacuum and I are getting very well acquainted.

I pictured bread with freshly milled grains and roasted malt flour packed with seeds. Instead of an endless variety of seeds I paired two - sesame and sunflower. The aromas of these lightly toasted seeds complimented the roasted malt wheat flour bringing a richness and depth to this wholesome bread.

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight (minus mix-ins)

2000g

 

Total flour

1081g

100%

Total water

919g

85%

Total salt

20g

2%

Prefermented flour

270g

25%

Desired dough temperature 24°C

 

 

 

 

 

Levain build – 8 hrs 18-20°C

 

 

Starter (not included in final dough)

135g

50%

Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% AP flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye)

270g

100%

Water

135g

50%

 

 

 

Final dough

 

 

Levain

405g

50%

Freshly milled wheat flour (Four Leaf biodynamic grains)

761g

94%

Roasted malted wheat flour

50g

6%

Water

784g

96%

Salt

20g

2%

Mix-ins

 

 

Sesame seeds lightly toasted

50g

6%

Sunflower seeds lightly toasted

210g

25%

+ Sunflower seeds for coating

 

 

 

Method

  1. Autolyse flour and for one hour. (hold back 50 grams of water)
  2. Meanwhile lightly toast sunflower and sesame seeds until golden and allow to cool.
  3. Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Gently mix in seeds until combined.
  5. Bulk ferment two hours with one stretch-and-fold after the first hour.
  6. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape. Spray the outside lightly with water and roll in untoasted sunflower seeds.
  7. Final proof was one hour at room temperature (25°).
  8. Bake in dutch oven for 10 mins at 250°C then 10 mins at 200°C. Remove loaf from dutch oven and bake a further 20 mins at 200°C.

 

 

After a day of mowing and raking, it was magic to stop and savor a slice of this while still warm. To top it off ­– a scraping butter. Sigh …

The Four Leaf milling grains lend their typical golden hue to a soft crumb packed with seeds. The sesame is subtle and appears in the background on occasions to remind you of their presence while sunflower seeds are the champions – from the tender bite in the crumb to the roasted crunch on the crust to the final enjoyment of picking at fallen seeds on the plate.

All the best,
Phil 

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PiPs

I have baked the ciabatta formula from Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking many times. For me it’s a reference point of what an ideal ciabatta should taste, look and feel like … oh and the aroma of the fermented biga is pretty special too. 

In contrast, I have eaten naturally leavened ciabattas and find I am a little disappointed with the texture. I enjoy the taste … but the chewiness and tougher crust feel out of place. For me a ciabatta should be almost weightless, brittle and singling loudly when removed from the oven. Its crumb translucent and fine … and yes holes … lots of holes  :)

I decided it was time to try and get the best of both worlds in a ciabatta – the delicate crust and crumb from the commercial yeast and the flavour and strength from a stiff levain - a hybrid ciabatta.

I expanded my levain with the standard mix of AP flour and freshly milled grains with the plan of using it fairly young thus keeping the acidity reasonably low.

Next the hydration … now this is something that I think I can push further very easily.

I set the hydration for 85%, but with a twist in the mix. Instead of building strength with plenty of stretch and folds as per Craig Ponsford’s ciabatta formula I planned to use a double hydration method.

The double hydration method I used was this … add enough water in the autolyse and initial mixing to bring the hydration to 75% while holding back the remaining water and salt. After a thorough kneading (15 min) add the remaining water and salt then mix until dough combines again. The mixed dough felt strong even before the bulk ferment and even stronger after two stretch and folds. In hindsight I think only one stretch-and-fold would have been necessary (if at all)

It bulk fermented for 2.5 hrs before I divided and shaped the puffy dough. By this time the dough had gained so much strength that I probably could have shaped into batards if I was feeling game.

After proofing I baked them in a very hot oven and managed to get a nice little steam burn on my thumb from cracking a bubble as I turned the loaves half way through the bake.

 

Pip’s Hybrid Ciabatta mkI

Formula (makes 4 x 500g ciabattas)

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

2000g

 

Total flour

1081g

100%

Total water

919g

85%

Total salt

26g

2.4%

Prefermented flour

162g

15%

Desired dough temperature 24°C

 

 

 

 

 

Levain build – 4-5 hrs 24°C

 

 

Starter (not included in final dough)

81g

50%

Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% AP flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye)

162g

100%

Water

81g

50%

 

 

 

Final dough 24°C

 

 

Levain

243g

26%

AP Flour

919g

70%

Instant Yeast

3g

.3%

Water

838g

91%

Salt

26g

2.8%

 

Method

  1. Autolyse flour and water 45 mins (hold back 100 grams of water)
  2. Add levain, instant yeast and knead until well developed, roughly 15-20  mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and 100 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly)
  3. Bulk ferment 2.5 hours with two stretch-and-folds in the first hour. This could be taken back to one stretch-and-fold as the dough had gained considerable strength by 2nd set of folds.
  4. Divide and shape. I did a letterfold and placed seam side down.  With less stretch-and-folds this may work better. Dough was a little to tense. Maybe even just cut and prove with no shaping.
  5. Flip the dough off the couche and transfer to peel. Dimple by pressing fingers into dough. Peel into a very hot oven with steam and bake for 35 mins at 250°C until very well browned.

 

They had amazing ovenspring and sang proudly when removed from the oven to cool. The crust is a dark red with expansion cracks running along the top from the letter fold seam. I then summoned all my self control and allowed it to cool before slicing into it. Whew … exhausting!

The crust cracked and shattered as the knife descended through it before revealing a open and opaque crumb. The kind of crumb I love in a ciabatta. Delicate! The flavour of the levain brought a much cleaner and lighter taste to the bread than the biga … a taste I think I prefer.

Were there holes? … well yes, but not quite as large and random as the glezer formula, but I think that has more to do with the extra handling I gave the dough during the bulk ferment.

But will I bake these again? Yep, very happy, but I will change a few things. I like the double hydration method and will use it again but I think I can increase the hydration to 90% easily while doing away with one of the stretch-and-folds. Perhaps even a tad more whole grains next time … I do like to see flecks in the crumb.

I would love to say we built gourmet sandwiches with fresh basil, plump sun ripened tomatoes and the finest olive oil … but in reality we made toasted cheese soldiers for the kids.

…and what do Aussie kids have on there toasted cheese soldiers?

vegemite!

… and do you know what?… they tasted awesome!

All the best,
Phil

PiPs's picture
PiPs

... and now for something different.

We helped celebrate a good friends birthday last night––the same person who I have recently started baking a weekly sourdough loaf for :)

She asked if I could supply enough bread for the party to cater 30 guests. My first thoughts … ‘that this would be a bake worlds away from whole grains, fresh milled flour and natural levains’. I was given free range of what I could bake, and as much as I would of loved to have left a giant miche in the middle of the table, I knew I had to bake for a wider audience. The party was a barbeque with lots of fresh salads and spit-roasted meat––bread rolls were an essential compliment to the meal. I thought it might be fun to also include some bread which could be torn and used to mop up any remaining sauce left on the plate.

I initially thought ‘white bread rolls’, but after reading through Tartine Bread I became hooked on the idea of using brioche dough as a wonderfully decadent barbeque bun. My go-to brioche formula is from Richard Bertinet’s book, Crust. It is very rich, slightly sweet and uses an overnight rest in the fridge, making scheduling a breeze.

In addition to the brioche, I wanted the ‘other’ bread to be able to mop up the leftovers or be used to build extravagant sandwiches. Ciabatta! My favourite ciabatta formula comes from Maggie Glezer’s Artisan Baking courtesy of Craig Ponsford. It has a wonderful flavour from a biga fermented for 24 hrs prior to mixing. But mixing is hardly the right word. Really the ingredients are brought together with a minimal short mix then strengthened via stretch and folds through the bulk ferment.

Preparing biga

Arteries beware
  

… after breakfast, (24 hrs before bake day) I mixed the biga including freshly milled grains and a tiny amount of yeast.

That night I prepared the brioche dough. I find it’s best not to think too deeply about the amount of eggs and butter you are about to use … artery hardening :) yikes!!

The eggs, sugar and flour were autolysed for 45 mins before adding the yeast and kneading (slap and fold) for 5 mins. I incorporated the salt and kneaded a further 10 mins until the dough window-paned. Then came a further 30 mins of kneading as I incorporated the butter … this is a slow and ponderous task. It literally feels like one step forward and two steps backward with each addition of butter. In the end you are rewarded with the silkiest, smoothest dough imaginable. It was then bulk fermented for two hours with one stretch and fold before being placed in the refrigerator for an overnight rest. Ahhhh …

The next morning the biga was still not at a stage I was happy with (temperature had dropped during the rainy night) so I delayed the start of the ciabatta mix (and started a hybrid sourdough version as an experiment … I will post on this soon). I also removed the brioche dough from the fridge and allowed it an hour at room temperature before dividing and shaping. The brioche dough proved for two and a half hours. It was egg-washed, sprinkled with sesame seeds and set to bake for thirty minutes until the centre buns began to brown sufficiently. 

 

 

 

A sniff of the biga let me know it was ready and I set to work on the ciabatta. At first it seems hard to believe that the wet slops will strengthen with stretch and folds to a cohesive mass that can roughly hold its shape.

After a 2.5 hr bulk ferment the ciabattas were shaped with a quick letter fold before being placed seam side down on a floured teatowel to prove for 45 mins … then flip, slide, dimple and peeled into a very hot oven until well browned.

 

 

The breads were well received by all, with the hit of the night being the brioche burger buns. Their rich interiors and fine golden crumb provided more than enough sustenance for the hard working chefs. Heard on the rumor mill during the night - “Nat only wants me for my buns” :)

The ciabatta crumb was creamy and delicate encased in a thin caramel crust with the aroma of the biga in every bite. It was a pleasure to watch it being enjoyed by so many.

All the best,
Phil 

 

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