The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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proth5

…triticale croissants.

Who didn’t see this coming? Hands? Ah, well.

Triticale is my baking nemesis, my bête noir, and unfortunately my favorite grain. A cross between wheat and rye, it is very high in protein, but its gluten is of low quality. If you have ever heard a discussion about milling, you will hear that the protein content of wheat is higher as you get to the outside of the endosperm, but higher in ash and lower in quality. What does this really mean?

Well, if you’ve worked with triticale as much as I have, you know. In a 100% triticale mix, you will get some gluten formation (not like what you’d get in wheat) but it will not endure prolonged mixing (it will break down shortly after you think “It’s still pretty weak, I should mix a bit more.”) and certainly will not support lengthy fermentations and proofing. That is lower quality gluten.

But what I have found that if you use triticale at no more than 30 or 40% of the total flour in combination with a higher protein wheat flour, you can essentially treat the dough like a wheat dough. Anything more than that and you are working with something even more fragile than soft wheat.

The thing is triticale is delicious. And it was mentioned in Star Trek (the original series and DS9). So I keep baking with it.

Since I’m having fun with whole grain vienoisseries, I went for triticale croissants. I used the formula for hand mixed, hand laminated croissants from Advanced Bread and Pastry, and used freshly ground triticale for 30% of the total flour and a liquid levain of the wheat flour rather than the poolish.

The first time I tried this (well there’s a sure and certain indicator that perhaps success was not the result) I used my standard practice of putting the shaped croissants in the refrigerator for six hours or so, and then proofing and baking them. This proved too much for the delicate gluten, which puffed up nicely in the oven but gave out before the thing was fully baked. Delicious, but somewhat flat.

This time, I proofed and baked immediately after shaping. Got some nice shoulders and the lamination isn’t all bad, either. Here you go:

Triticale Croissants

They really are extra delicious and, of course have all the crispy qualities of their wheaty cousins. I know they are extra delicious because I can’t resist the smell and must eat them – with most white flour croissants, I can send them off to my fans without even a taste. Triticale is used primarily for animal feed. Yeah, those cows get all the good stuff…

Until the next cold front - Happy Laminating!

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proth5

I find that spring cold fronts are very inspirational for my baking projects. One just blew in to the Front Range causing a rare full rainy day and another day of almost cold weather. So, since I was stuck at home waiting for various repair people, I thought of my long ago vow to try to make whole wheat croissants.

I decided to use the formula from “Advanced Bread and Pastry” (AB&P) for hand mixed croissants with poolish with the following modifications:

  1. All of the final dough flour would be freshly ground white wheat flour,

  2. I would make a liquid levain instead of a poolish,

  3. I would add one egg yolk – and in a fit of laziness, I just put the yolk into the water container after zeroing the scale and added water to the original formula weight

  4. I did the mix in the spiral, 0:03 on first and 0:09 on second, and

  5. I would use 12 ounces of roll in butter.

Easy. So, not technically 100% whole wheat, but my thought process was that I didn’t want to risk any over ripening and subsequent gluten degradation in the pre ferment.

The inspiration for the egg yolk came from the AB&P formula for whole wheat croissants which contains a very much lower percentage of whole wheat than my version.

Inserted into this adventure was an altercation with my camera – its battery fully charged – when my computer failed to “load the driver.” Cosmic payback for me not taking it on vacation? Ever. Probably. But I muscled my way past the problem. And here are the pictures.

Here’s the cream of the crop:

Here are some nice shoulders and the little faux Danish thing I make with the scraps. For those of you who don’t make croissants, there can be a lot of scrap. I take this and patch it into strips, egg wash, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and twist and curl the things up into something like snail Danish. If I could sell stuff, I couldn’t sell these, but they make nice samples.

The whole wheat version did not generate as much oven spring as the white flour versions, but that’s pretty fair lamination if I do say so myself. They were fully proofed (5 hours at room temperature.)

The whole wheat does affect the taste but they are very delicate and did have the “when I bite into it little shards of crust fly everywhere” quality of their white flour cousins.

The dough handled well, and if anything was a little easier on the final roll out than the white flour version, but it did have a good amount of resistance. If I do this again, I would mix the dough just a tad longer and see if that made a difference.

On the formula formatting side of my life – this stuff is harder than it looks. Not so much on the mathematics side, but what do you do when you get a formula when the baker has omitted, well, just about all the information you need?  You do your best and then you ask, that’s what. But as a training exercise one needs to document every little assumption. This takes me back to my “fixed bid project statement of work” days. Bad, BAD flashback!

Well, this little marmot has popped up for too long…

Happy Baking!

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proth5

This is a somewhat off topic blog post, but I promised Janetcook that I'd send some pictures of the vast, bustling proth5 estate which has undergone the usual spring transition since she last saw it.

My retirement is going well. I have traveled more than I really wanted to but have managed to spend considerable time at the location that is the most exotic to me in all the world - my own crumbled abode.

We all know that photography is not my thing, so I hauled out my trusty camera only to have it complain that the battery needed charging. Who knew that the thing had a battery or that one needed to charge it? I had heard that phones had cameras in them, so I looked at mine and to my amazement, my phone is also a camera!

So, here are some shots of the yards. It seems like I have spent May being a full time groundskeeper and I think it is paying off.

Front yard 1

(I am particularly proud of that arbor - which I assembled all by myself. Teak. Very heavy.)

This view proves I live in the city...

And the back yard from my lounge chair (fish not visible)

Yep - that tall green stuff in the upper right is bamboo. It is winter hardy, but will die back to the roots. It has just begun to regenerate. About a week ago. That is about a week's growth. It gets really lush by July.

On the baking front (and yes, I am baking/milling, but not blogging...), I have volunteered to be on the BBGA formula formatting team. I hope I can get through the training materials, although four years in engineering school and a decade or so of testing complex software might just give me the required skills. This will be a good outlet for my sometimes(hah! "sometimes"!) perfectionistic nature.

Have a good summer and

Happy Baking!

Pat

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proth5

Now there’s a string of words that usually don’t go together.

For old timers who thought I might have gone the way of Bill Wraith – no, I didn’t just disappear. At the end of December 2013, I officially hung up (sort of) the consultant/road warrior gloves and went into my long planned retirement.

I have been deliberately avoiding spending time on the internet to make sure that I am not mistaking posting on the internet for accomplishing anything in the real world and in spite of all of my friends skepticism, I really did take three months to rest. I am told my definition of “resting” is different than most people, but I do feel rested.

A visit from a fellow baker who works in all whole grains got me to thinking about whole wheat brioche. So I milled up some whole wheat flour and made up some brioche. I wanted to pinch their little cheeks they were so cute, so I thought I would share.

Leisure time has not caused me to become more interested in either food styling or photography. Maybe in time.

The mill used was a Fidibus as I did some paid work the last two weeks of March and the cosmos still owes me some “rest” time. I did a single milling pass on the finest setting.

The formula (and if you are contemplating these, you are an experienced enough baker to use Baker’s Percent so that’s what you are getting) (Oh, and if you are a new baker, I will stop to emphasize that nothing will enhance your understanding of the process more than properly learning Baker’s Math, so I encourage  you to learn the method.):

White Wheat Flour (freshly ground)        50%

Red Wheat Flour (freshly ground)            50%

Salt                                                                          2%

Sugar                                                                     18%

Yeast                                                                     1.5%

Water                                                                   10%

Eggs                                                                       60%

Butter (cold, pliable)                                       50%

 

Method               (now here’s the tricky part)

All ingredients should be scaled and chilled for at least eight hours. The butter will be removed from the refrigerator immediately before it is mixed and made pliable by “tapping” (whacking?) it with a rolling pin (or a steel pipe or other non breakable piece of equipment).

Mix all the ingredients except the butter on 1st speed in a 2 speed spiral mixer for 6 minutes, and on second speed for 25 minutes (yes) to a strong window pane.

Break the cold, pliable butter into pieces and mix it in using second speed (about 5 minutes) until the dough is soft and the butter is well incorporated.

Refrigerate overnight.

Divide, pre shape round, rest (in the refrigerator), and shape.  I made two sizes – the larger being 3.5 oz which I think is about 100 gms. Always use the weight appropriate for your tins.

Proof for 2 hours at 78F.

How do they taste? Well, they will never taste like the white flour version, but they are buttery, nutty, and pretty tasty.

I will say that I think that the Fidibus leaves the flour a bit too gritty for me and I need to get the Diamant back in production and re mill the bran a bit finer.

For those of you who do not experience nearly daily the joy of mixing with a two speed spiral, this formula will be tricky. The very, very long mix at second speed will generate a lot of heat in most mixers and you may want to chill dough a bit before adding the butter. I may try this formula in an Assistent (or whatever they are currently calling the thing – geez, it’s like a witness protection program for mixers)  and will amend this blog if I do.

Have fun!       

Pat                    

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proth5

when I was happy with my croissants.  It really hasn't happened ("Give it to Mikey, he hates everything") but this week they were nice enough that I wanted to pinch their chubby little cheeks.

I'm still sheeterless, so these are hand lamination.  Not bad.  Not happy making, but not bad.

The pictures:

 

Well, if you all don't see the flaws - I do.  Must. Do. Better. (But they are pretty cute - and I'm learning how to hold a camera)

Formula from "Advanced Bread and Pastry", Suas - the hand mixed and laminated croissants.  I use 12 oz of roll in butter and a liquid levain instead of the poolish.

Oh, and LindyD - the brioche molds I use have 10 flutes and measure 4in across the widest part.  Hope this helps.

Gotta catch a plane (I'm getting out my really big net for that...)

Pat

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proth5

Well just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been baking.

There’s just been a lot of “stuff” happening in my life and I haven’t had the energy (or time) to pretend I care about photography at all – and I know that’s what everyone wants – the pictures.  But with winter fast approaching, I’ve got a little relief from the yard work – and a little more time.

I’ve been working hard on my croissants and if I’m ever happy with them, I’ll let you all know.

I’ve also been working on pretzels and there are times when I can actually hear “My Teacher’s” voice telling me that I am fired.

So today I gave myself a break from croissants and decided to make some brioche treats.  And also pretzels. I’m going to make those danged things until I get them right.

At one point I looked over at my cooling racks and thought to myself, “Gee, they are kind of pretty all bunched up together like that.”  And I decided they were worth a couple of pictures.

Once I located my camera and had a few tough moments remembering how to use it, the pictures were taken.

Although I could give a blow by blow account of the many, many flaws in these products - I'll chill on that for today.  But I know and I know where I need to improve.

Below is the assortment: a brioche sticky bun, a brioche a tete, a couple of pretzels, and two laminated brioche – uh – things.

 

And below the crumb shot for the laminated brioche.

 

I will not describe the taste of the laminated brioche, becasue that's just being mean.

The details:

Use your favorite brioche dough.

Sticky Buns

49 oz of dough for about a half sheet pans worth of sticky buns

Bottom of pan coated with cinnamon bun glaze from “Advanced Bread and Pastry” (Suas) (accept no substitutes – this is the best sticky bun mixture I have ever tasted…)

Cinnamon mixture fro above source.

385F oven with convection

Brioche a tete

3.5 ounces per piece – shape, etc…

Laminated Brioche

24 oz brioche dough

4 oz butter

Lock in then 3 single folds

Roll out to about ¼ in thick

Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture

Roll up and cut into 12 pieces – put in large size muffin/cupcake tin

Proof – egg wash – sliced almonds on top

385F with convection

 

Pretzels

Base recipe is from “Advanced Bread and Pastry”

Leaf lard instead of butter

10% rye and 90% KA AP instead of bread flour

3.5 oz pieces.

Roll into long shapes with small “bellies” – making sure that the ends remain as bulbs. Do not taper the ends.  The ends must be bulbs.  Civilization itself depends on this.

Twist (yeah, I can twist them by twirling them in the air)

Place on parchment that has been sprayed with pan release.

Refrigerate covered overnight.

In the morning dip in 4% lye solution for 10 seconds or so.

Sprinkle salt on the lower part.

Slash

Bake at 450F

The lye dip is essential to the taste and appearance of the pretzel.  Takes me back to the land of my birth – which is in the Philadelphia area.  Frankly, it’s a bit nerve wracking at first, but the key is good mise en place and seriously, always wear chemical proof gloves and eye protection.  It gets easier the more you do it.

 

Well, that’s about all for me.  Gotta run!

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proth5

Well, just to prove that my mind can get a bit fuzzy after long hours and stressful situations, for the life of me, i thought the title of this was simply "Farmer's Bread" - but it wasn't.

Some people expressed interest in some formulas, I am posting here.  These do come from a German baker's manual (I had to fire up the German translation skills...and get some help...) and I did bake at least one of them (no pictures - I'm back to my old habit of no pictures.)

First the method:

Final Mix desired dough temperature - 82-84F (yep. no typo)

Bulk Ferment - 5-10 mins (Again, no typo)

Loaf size - 1150g (oh, the horror! I'm now using at least some metric!) Shape round proof in floured brotforms. Dock prior to baking which is not poking holes in it with a fork - it is using a dough docker or other blunt instrument to make dents in the surface of the dough.)

 

Mix time:

Spiral Mixer 1-2mins

Planetary mixer - 6 mins

Diving arm mixer - 10 mins (if you have such a thing, I'm looking at you, Phil!)

(First speeds all)

Final proof

Temp 86-95F

Humidity - 70-75%

Time - 50 - 60 minutes

 

Bake with normal steam (Pre steam, load, steam, vent after 2 mins)

Temperature - start at 536 F (might have to just be 500F for most home ovens) let fall slowly to 410F

Time 60 mins.

 

I will give the formula for a 3 build and a 2 build formula

3 Build (Called Detmolder 3 phase)

Freshening Build

0.040 kg rye starter

0.080 kg Whole rye flour

0.120 l water

Ripening temperature: 77-79F

Ripening Time 5-6 hours

After ripening, remove 0.040kg to perpetuate the rye starter

 

2nd build

All of the freshening sour

1.000 kg whole rye flour

0.600 l water

Ripening Temperature - 75-80F

Ripening Time 15-25 hours

3rd build

All of the second build

2.700 kg Whole Rye

2.700 l water

Ripening temperature - 86F

Ripening time 3 hours

Final Dough

All of the sour

5.2200 kg Whole Rye flour

1.000 kg white flour (The German manual calls out T1050 - but use any white flout that is suitable for bread)

0.080 kg fresh yeast (optional)

0.180 kg Salt

3.589 l water

 

 

Two stage rye (called Detmolder two stage)

First Sour

0.100 kg rye starter

1.600 kg Whole Rye

0.800 l water

Ripening Temperature - 75-80F

Ripening time - 15-24 hours (remove 0.100 of the sour to perpertuate the starter)

 

Second sour

All of the first sour

2.400 kg Whole rye

2.400 l water

Ripening temperature 84-87F

Ripening time 3 hours

 

Final Dough

All of the sour

5.000 kg whole rye flour

1.000 kg white flour (again T1050 is called out, but use any white (wheat flour) good for bread making)

0.130 kg fresh yeast (and you probably should add the yeast on this bread)

0.180 kg salt

3.800 l water

 

So, the quantities are pretty large - use your calculator or your spreadsheets to reduse sizes to something more suitable.

And there you are. I'm posting this with a sincere belief that I have violated no copyrights, but if I have done, I'll be told soon enough.  I'm not a big rye bread baker or eater, although this formula is begining to change my mind. Turns out, the carroway so many people are fond of in rye causes me shooting headaches - so this may be why I avoided rye.  This particular bread is lovely and quite tasty - although not exactly a fluffy sandwich loaf! It still is a bit like putty to handle, but wasn't as bad as I remembered the stuff to be (maybe the shooting headaches from the carroway...)

As for the video that the OP references that inspired this posting, I've got to say that I will never understand the urge that people have to make videos of themselves as a "how to" - without any assurance that they should be doing it. I always have a certain hesitance to put myself in front of folks as a teacher, becasue I think that I should at least be an expert - but the individual in the video - he didn't have those qualms.

Peace.

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proth5

To quote my university hymn “Time like an ever rolling stream” (well, and it originally went on to say “bears all her sons away” which made the whole thing problematic once those of us with the double X were finally allowed to roam the Dear Old Place’s hallowed halls – but that is another story…) and it has been quite a while since I posted part one of this saga. (The rocks and bumps over which the stream has rolled is yet another story – suffice it to say, a long one.)

Whole wheat bread in a bread machine seems to be a popular topic and I have been working on a formula, so it seems like a good time do to a full write-up.

Consulting the leaflet that came with the bread machine, it seemed that every whole wheat variation came with the ingredient of “vital wheat gluten.” Of course, upon reading that I could hear The Voice in My Head scornfully saying, “Well, Pat, if you want to use vital wheat gluten…”

To which I could only hang my head and reply, “No, I don’t, Sensei. I’ll aspire to better.”

(Oh, no – now I’ve gone and done it.  I’ve said negative things about the ingredient vital wheat gluten. Well, let me assure my small reading public that “The Voice in My Head” comes from actual conversations with a very real, and, as I like to put it “well qualified” baker. I will not intone “You do what you want” as I have no power to compel or prevent anyone from doing anything.  But as for me, I will deal with qualities of the grain as I find it and use technique to overcome any hardships.)

Of course, the tools were at hand.  A good intensive mix would make a fluffy whole wheat loaf, but no setting on the machine would mix long enough to deliver this – and I have been coming to the point where I love the “set it and forget it” aspect of the bread machine (at least for the sandwich bread to feed “the house” – I’m still hand crafting a lot of other stuff to satisfy my public…)

The other obvious tool in my arsenal was – you guessed it – a pre ferment. But not just any pre ferment, a firm levain.

“Why?” you ask.  Well, a firm pre ferment will tend to add strength (due to the acids that develop in a pre ferment and the lesser amount of protease action because the pre ferment is relatively dry) and a sourdough based pre ferment will add more acids because of the nature of the leavening.

As we wind on in this saga of me inexplicably becoming intrigued with this appliance, I make an observation: discussions on these pages pushed me to try the same formula with a firm commercially yeasted pre ferment.  Although the bread was certainly edible, it did not have the same texture nor did it rise as high as the sourdough version. If I were baking by hand, I would have to wonder if I had unconsciously done something differently – but with the machine, the cycle marches on.  So even though I “kinda” knew that sourdough would result in a stronger dough, I’m a lot more convinced of it now.

Other than that, the only thing I needed to do was up the hydration a bit and jigger the sweeteners and butter.  No long, drawn out story.

I did, however, avail myself of the “Sourdough starter” cycle on my machine (a Zojirushi Virtuoso) to mix the pre ferment.  This could just as easily have been done by hand in a bowl, but for those who don’t want that inconvenience; it turns out to be a good option.  I didn’t want the fast rise that would be engendered by the “rise” cycle – nor did I want to stay up way past my bedtime to wait for the thing.  So, I cancelled the cycle after the mix and then (had it fit into my proofer – or if my night time kitchen temperatures were warm enough) I could just cover the pan and let it proof overnight.

So, without further ado, here we go with a formula and some pictures.

Since this is a bread machine post, I will present the formula two ways, in the Bread Baker’s Guild of America format and in “recipe list” format.  For those of you just beginning to practice your baker’s math this is a good opportunity to see how the “list” format easily translates into what can be a perplexing little grid.

Bread Machine 100% Whole wheat

Firm Levain Pre Ferment (40% of the total flour pre fermented)

Whole Wheat Flour                                         228 g

Water                                                                   173 g

Seed (taken from storage starter)             5g

Mix the above ingredient (by hand or using a bread machine mix only cycle). Cover and allow to rise overnight until mature (doubled) – 8-12 hours at 76F.

The next day (or when the Pre Ferment is mature) Load the pan of the bread machine in this order:

Water (40F)                                        277 g

Agave Nectar                                     40 g

Molasses                                             24 g

Firm Levain                                         all of it, broken up into roughly 2 T chunks distributed over the bottom of the pan

Dry Milk                                               9 g

Salt                                                         11 g

Butter (room temperature)        46 g

Whole Wheat flour                         342 g

Instant Yeast

 (in small well on top of flour)     3 g

Use “Whole Wheat” cycle on the bread machine and bake per instructions.

Is it a work of food art? Well, no.  But as I looked at it I thought “This is a nice, solid, bread.  Nothing wrong with it.” Not too shabby. No vital wheat gluten. Tastes good, too…

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proth5

It’s just a piece of home kitchen equipment, but it has inspired opinions from “absolutely necessary” to “nearly utterly worthless.”

When one contemplates the seasonal nature of food production – or to be specific, the foods I have tasked myself with producing – one sees that summer and early autumn are not the seasons for bread baking. While the bread can be a stern task master, it is a jovial uncle compared to the tyranny of fresh produce and its preserved forms. The unbreached wheat berry we may lay aside for a month (or a decade), but the blushing peach will move from fullness to rot almost before our eyes.  While rises and folds have flexible “windows” where our efforts are rewarded, cooking sugars become substandard in the blink of an eye and the coordination of hot sterile jars, lids, finished jams, and boiling water baths is a taxing discipline, indeed.

As consumers we love our bread and jam, but as a producer of both, I find their production incompatible.  Or perhaps doing both is just incompatible with my “real life” – but that’s another story. I do, though, make a few products that are quite popular with friends and family and they would be sorely missed when the winter months are upon us again.

So the summer months always find me spending way too much time wilting over the jam pans and giving myself water bath canner facials. Baking and the heat that an oven would add to this potent mix must generally wait for a better time. However, since I was already curious about these controversial appliances, it seemed like a good time to try automating the bread making process.

I decided on a Zojirushi  BBPAC-20 (“Virtuoso”).  Not only do Zojirushi appliances remind me of my months spent in Okinawa (where the sole appliance that I had for producing meals was a Zojirushi hot pot), but this particular model promised cakes, jams, gluten free, sourdough, and custom programmable cycles – seemed like the way to go, for me. Frankly, I enjoy the contemplation of how thoughtful design and intelligent engineering can make what could be a mundane tool a joy to use and tend to “vote with my dollars” for companies that embody this ideal.

I set out with a couple of goals:

  1.        Make acceptable/good pain de mie style bread using the bread machine only – no mixing and then baking in the oven.
  2.        Use metric – which puts me very much in mind of negotiating the roads in Finland.  One knows that these things are letters and the letters seem familiar, but they are supposed to string together in a way so as to have meaning, yet they don’t.

So I skimmed the directions (how hard could this be – right?) and loaded the machine with the ingredients for a formula that I had successfully produced by conventional means many times.

Epic fail.

The bread was over risen prior to baking and collapsed.  It was inedible.

Having experience in the “if at first you don’t succeed…” department, I made a small tweak and tried again.

Not an epic fail, perhaps, but not yet anything I would describe as a success.

Humbled, I really read the directions, took time to understand the timings on the cycles, and determined that I should take one recipe from the owner’s manual and follow it exactly.

My machine cycles for “regular” are as follows:

Rest – 31-41 min

Knead – 22 min

Rise 1 – 27-37 min (91F)

“Punch down” and rise 2 – 20 min (91F)

“Punch down” and rise 3 – 20-30 min (95F)

Bake – 60-70 min (248 – 302F)

 

The rises are too hot and the bakes are too cool – but the formulas are written for this.  And well, yes, the thing did turn out as a respectable looking loaf.  But it tasted bland at best and staled faster than an intensive mix baguette. (No wonder there are advocates of “must be eaten right away – or warm.”)  Clearly I should be able to do better.

So I stopped to consider many things.

First, I considered what made the bread machine such a nice little toy.

I guess that I have to admit that I have certain disagreements with those who say that bread baking involves a lot of laborious kneading or that it makes a big mess. The advantages of some of the hand mixing methods like “stretch and fold” or “fold in the bowl” have been explored thoroughly on these pages.  As for baking making a mess, the “voice in my head” keeps repeating – “you must work clean” at various intervals and since I always obey the voice – I think I’ve gotten that skill covered.  After all, if I were in competition (which, I won’t be – because I am too old and I don’t bake well enough) – points would be deducted if I didn’t work clean.

What is great, though, is the fact that I plugged the thing in (and it magically knew the time!) and hit the cycle buttons, to be presented with the completion time.  Then I could just walk away.

Once again, many of us know that the actual work involved over the life of our developing loaf is minimal.  However, summer yard work chores at the crumbled abode often leave one in a state where one feels that a good scrub and a change of clothes are called for before food is handled. Performing such ablutions each time one must fold or shape or load does burden a busy baker. Or sometimes the errands simply must be run and sometimes they take longer than the time between folds. With the machine taking over these duties, the bread is made and the errands are accomplished.

And there is, of course for me, the preserving to be done. A great tide that blots out most other concerns, until it finally ends – in just a few weeks.

The advantage of automation, though, is also the downfall of the bread.  The cycle times are short enough that the subtle tastes of fermentation do not really occur. And for all the effort that I have put into learning to control fermentation so that I can bake to a schedule, I use my senses to make adjustments – a little longer here – a little more forcefulness there – to make the final product come out the way I want. Once set, that cycle marches on. The formula is everything.

It would be possible to add a lot of ingredients to the formula to up the taste factor, but that is not my métier. Of course, the one or two people who read my posts know the answer to bringing fermentation flavor and keeping quality to bread produced in a relatively short amount of time.  Yes. A pre ferment. Or maybe two.

My machine has a “sourdough” cycle, but as I studied the process that they advocated and the mix of ingredients that they called “sourdough” – I’ll have to admit that my brain blew a bearing. What I concluded was that my evening routine usually includes mixing up a pre ferment or two, so why not just mix as usual and let them ripen in covered containers to be put in the machine as part of the liquid ingredients? Yes, there are those two containers that will need to be cleaned (two containers – Oh! The humanity!) but this is a small price to pay for inner peace. For those of you who wonder about “all the hard work” involved in mixing the pre ferments, they are simply mixed – literally - by hand to the point where all the flour is wet and the mixture is slightly lumpy. Any remaining on the fingers is simply washed off.  If it takes me five minutes to mix up two of them – well, I’m dogging it.

Now, I am not normally the kind of person who takes pictures of the baking process, but while writing this I came to the realization that given that I was writing about bread machines, some reader may have wandered by who doesn’t routinely mix up a poolish or liquid levain. So, as final proof that I should not handle cameras, but in a sincere effort to help, I am including pictures of my poolish and liquid levain both right after mixing and when mature.

Just after mixing:

Fully mature (the liquid levain is in the small bowl)

Of course, if you are mostly a bread machine baker and haven’t glazed over when confronted with the terms “pre ferment”, “poolish” and “liquid levain” – I say good for you. You can find definitions for these things on these pages in the “Handbook” tab. None of it is really difficult – it’s just that bakers use very specific terms for simple little mixtures.

But it gets bumpy from here, because now I’m going to head down the road paved with baker’s math.

What you will see is unusual, for me, is the high percentage of the flour that is pre fermented.  This was inspired by the owner’s manual, but makes a lot of sense to me, since this is the only flour that really receives proper fermentation.

I calculated the baker’s percentages from the manufacturer’s formulas and along with my own knowledge set the percentages myself. Again, for those of you who still do not use the BBGA standard – here’s the big payoff – it was simplicity itself to convert to a pre ferment based formula from a straight dough. I used some of the lessons learned from my exploration of sandwich bread a while back – although I had issues doing an exact duplicate.

What I did find, however was that the addition of good, ripe pre ferments, the yeast percentage had to be reduced drastically. The small amounts caused me to recall “my teacher’s” remark about needing to weigh in fractions of grams and its relationship to drug dealing – but working with these very small amounts (remember – one loaf at a time!) did put me in the mind of a scale that measured fractions of grams.

Metric continues to not be my favorite thing. “My teacher” and I agree on that.  It is difficult to transition the heuristics of a half a century. But I have been sticking with it.

In true Blaisian fashion, I’m never actually happy with the thing I just made.  So I’ll say it’s an OK bread.  The crust is a bit thick and lacking in refinement and that will never change – it is being baked in an un preheated oven at low temperatures. A day in a plastic bag softens the crust without degrading the bread – and of course crusts can always be cut off and used for crumbs.  And there are holes in the bottom –which bug me (I have since seen a Breville bread maker that makes claims to the paddles folding out of the way so there are no holes – which is tempting, but even I have my limits) – but for some slices and a sandwich – or toast - or eggs in a frame – it is tasty and sturdy. It is miles ahead of any of the manufacturer’s recipes. It lasts a couple/three days before staling. (Of store bought bread, I know so little, but I think this must be better.)

When I look at the loaf I see major shaping flaws.  But the cosmos reminds me that the machine did the shaping – it’s not my fault – just let it go…

The loaf.

The crumb.

The formula and method.

Once again my mind wanders and I think about Julia Child – wrestling various “recipes” into a book that most folks could actually use.  I use the Bread Baker’s Guild of America’s standards to present formulas – and this is very clear to me. But as I look at it with the eyes of a typical beginning (or even intermediate) home baker, I think, “Well that’s not just a recipe – it’s a recipe for disaster.”  So for those who have the standard down – I present it below.  I will also add a list of ingredients in more traditional format.

 

(Oh – and I do mean to specify the water temperature in the Final Dough ingredients.  Because my machine has a “wait and heat” cycle – that water needs to be cold. Call the Format Police – but The Guild doesn’t publish too many bread machine formulas…)

Ingredients

Levain

White flour                                         47gms

Water                                                   47 gms

Seed (sourdough starter)             5 gms

(mix this by hand in a small bowl – allow to ripen overnight: 8-14 hours)

Poolish

White flour                                         141 gms

Water                                                   141 gms

Instant Yeast                                      Large Pinch

(mix this by hand in a medium bowl – allow to ripen overnight: 8-14 hours)

 

The next morning you will mix the final dough – the ingredients are:

Levain                                   All that you mixed the night before

Poolish                                 All that you mixed the night before

Cold Water                         150 gms

Triticale Flakes                   56 gms

Molasses                             20 gms

Agave Nectar                     20 gms

Dry Milk                               7 gms

Salt                                         9 gms

Butter                                   30 gms

White flour                         118 gms

Whole Wheat Flour         118 gms

Triticale Flour                     47 gms

 

Instant Yeast                      2 gms (that’s about a half a teaspoon)

Put (Final Dough)ingredients in the pan of the bread machine (don’t forget the paddles!) in this order:

The water and the pre ferments,

The triticale flakes,

 

The butter, salt, milk powder, molasses, and the agave nectar

The flours

Make a well in the center of the flour and put the yeast in it.

Bake on “regular” cycle of your bread machine (they vary, but they all have some kind of “regular” cycle).  Mine has “crust control” – I like to set it for “dark”.

Take it from the pan to cool…

Some ingredient notes: I have been on a quest to bake good breads with 100% triticale flour.  This is a maddening type of quest, but it is my quest and I’m sticking with it. What I have found, though, is that small amounts of triticale can be incorporated in wheat breads and greatly improve the taste. For people who are not losing their grip on reality, whole wheat flour can be substituted for triticale flour (although you can buy it from Bob's Red Mill) and rolled oats for triticale flakes. It won’t be exactly the same, but will still be nice bread.  Also, my “all purpose flour” is about – 11.5% protein - folks using lower protein flours might want to switch to “Better for Bread” flours.

Of course if I only baked one type of loaf in the thing all those other cycles would be a waste. Jam has been made and pronounced tasty; although it is not of the quality that I put up (I’m going to hope not because if so, I’m doing a lot of work for nothing.)  I’ve also done some lovely cakes (altitude adjusted, of course – and of the “pound cake” variety) a type of cinnamon roll, and a couple other breads. (I’ve also baked stuffing in it – which I think is pretty neat – no need for a “stove top” – or an oven – yea!) (Oh, and while I was writing this I baked some eggplant parmesan…)

But this length of a blog with almost no pictures is enough. I’ll leave those for future installments.

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With a lot of baguette dough and a home oven.

Lately I have been working with ever larger batches of dough.  This is good training as it helps develop one’s eye in terms of dividing, does a little hand skill training on wrangling a larger volume, and because I have a tiny kitchen, ups the bar on mise en place and other organizational skills.

And while I am not in training for the Coupe du Monde (because I am too old, and frankly I don’t bake that well) – I continue to be very inspired by my two opportunities to attend and have decided to consider the judging criteria as I strive to improve my baking.  Baking to a schedule is part of that – and while the phrase “watch the dough not the clock” is good advice for most home bakers – inspired by the fact that the 2008 Team USA didn’t place because they finished late (geeez) I am practicing how to control dough temperatures and conditions so that I can hold to a schedule.

But then there’s that home oven.  I always knew that oven capacity is the big factor in getting bread out the door – but a commercial oven would simply not fit my space and to be honest, would not be a good investment in a state where there is only a remote possibility that someday I could operate a bakery from my home.

I’ve tried retarding the dough after pe-shaping and was not best pleased with how the dough felt during shaping. Additionally, my ever growing group of bread testers is beginning to want a little variety. So my challenge is to get decent loaves when I need to bake in shifts.

So after whomping up a large batch of my “bearguette” dough, I set myself to dividing up the dough.

Recently I had a little incident with wildlife in my home that required that I empty out and disinfect everything in my basement.  It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good, and indeed this exercise revealed that I have a large number of round cake pans inherited from my grandmother.  I knew in my heart that I had them – it just never came to front of mind.

I can load three pans at a time into my oven, so I gave my pans (6 total) a very generous coating of olive oil and sprinkled on a combination of dried herbs (oh, about 8-9 ounces of dough per 8 inch pan).  Dough was shaped into rounds placed in the pan “good “ side down and after a few minutes flipped to good side up.  This action coats the dough with olive oil and while there is no fat in the dough, the general taste and mouth feel is that of an enriched dough. (and then there are those herbs…)  This shaping is the least sensitive to over proofing and so is put somewhere cozy for as long as it takes to get the rest of the bread proofed and done.

I’ve still got a lot of call for standard baguettes so a good bit of the dough is divided with that intent.

Again, lately, though I’ve been considering how I would create a” baguette fantasie.”

In the actual competition, these are baguettes that must be shaped by machine (to demonstrate that the baker has the skill to create dough that would withstand machine shaping) and then cut and shaped to form various fantastical patterns.  I’ve pulled some oddly cut lumps from my oven.  Oh sure, they look good when loaded, but oven spring takes its toll on some of that cutting.  I begin to understand why some classic shapes are, indeed, classic – they work.  I’ve also had some horrible loading accidents, since I continue to hold to the belief that parchment paper is cheating (for me, at least) and a beautifully cut shape can get – oh, shall we say “distorted” if the peel is not rendered completely non-stick. (Oh, for a loader!)

Also, I’ve been working on traditional regional French shapes.  I had quite a good run on Auvernats (and, of course, me being me took no pictures) and have gone on to some other shapes – providing I can do them quickly enough.

So, baguettes loaded and baked, then the baguettes fantasie (which can handle slight over proofing a little better), then special shapes, and then my bread in the pans. 

The bread in the cake pans is “dimpled” to give it the look of foccacia.  I also take one pan and flatten out the middle and top with sauce and cheese to create a type of deep dish pizza.  (Yes, yes, not completely traditional, but delicious with the good bread as a base, and the oil and herbs.  Also a meal for the busy baker.)

I complete on schedule.  The kitchen is clean and the couches are hung with care to dry. Having been assaulted by the smell of a moldy linen couche (not in my home, but elsewhere), I am even more meticulous about this than before.  It’s a satisfying feeling. All that is left is to bundle up the bread for my various “customers.” When I was in Okinawa I learned how to tie a square piece of cloth (called a furoshki) into various carrying containers and have used my vast collection of flour sack towels to be the transport for these loaves.  The fabric allows enough ventilation to keep the loaves crisp and the recipients can store the loaves in the bags for a day or so.  I have a friend who has become the self appointed “bread fairy” for a number of folks who will come at her phone call to get their weekly bread allotment. (And you all get the destination to which this will lead…)

All this baking leaves little time for photography – even if I liked doing photography or was any good at it – but this week the special shapes came out well – so they were worth a snap.  They are left to right – a baguette fantasie, an epi de ble, and a torsade.

The torsade was proofed “good side” down on linen that had been coated with “remoullage.” Remoullage is bran pulled from the milling process and re-milled until it is as fine as flour.  It makes a lovely coating on the surface of the bread rather than just dusting with flour and has almost better non stick properties than white flour.

So that’s what I do with all that dough.  It’s one mix, but a variety of products.  My testers are completely sure that I have made at least three different breads.  I just smile and say thank you.

People get grabby over the herb bread and it really is a low maintenance addition to a batch of baguettes – I highly recommend it.

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