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redivyfarm

A little help from my friends, please? Bear with me, here comes one of my notorious rambling lead-ins to some serious baking questions. I love The Splendid Table with Lynn Rosetto-Kasper on Natl Public Radio; doesn't everyone? Years ago she recommended a book, "FoodWise" by Shirley O. Corriher on both the science and the mechanics of cooking. I gave it to my son-in law as a gift and then borrowed it back just the other day. The first ninety some pages are on the wonders of risen bread and there is a wealth of very basic info that I must have encountered elsewhere but have yet to assimilate. Some of it would have helped my most recent baking.

This morning I baked a second attempt at Peter Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne rustic baguettes. I mostly use a high gluten flour, about 12.5% protein, but I've heard somewhere that crusty French breads are the product of rather weak flour. For this baking I mixed low protein with high protein white flours 2:1 to get about a 9% protein blend. I followed the BBA formula except that the absorbtion of the water seemed higher than usual so I kept adding a bit more ice-water until the dough remained sticky at the bottom of the mixer as described. I popped it into the refrigerator to retard overnight. This morning it was partially risen when I removed it and let it sit at cool room temperature. After three hours it was actively proofing even though it was still quite cool. I think I allowed this bread to over-proof the first time I made it so I preheated the oven to 500 degrees and turned out the dough onto a heavily floured surface and stretched it to an oblong. I cut the oblong into five strips with the bench scraper dipped in water and baked two at a time at 475 degrees in my curved baguette pan (shaped like this UU) on a top rack with a baking stone. I didn't slash at all because I didn't want to deflate these long thin loaves.

Well, the bread is delicious, the formula is wonderful but my execution is flawed! The crumb is open mostly at the top per the photos- Sorry can't post pictures now- I'll insert them when the problem clears up!

FoodWise says that the problem may be a too hot oven; might the top of my big oven not be the best place to bake these baguettes? I'm also reading that a pale crust such as I'm getting can be from too little protein. What is your experience with these variables? JMonkey, I'd be very pleased with your results!

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redivyfarm

Work has kept my bread making to a minimum the past few months. Visiting all of you at TFL this evening has me pulling the starters out of the fridge and shopping for food grade lye once again. With my family on the road I like to make pretzels just for me. I've been using a boiling water bath with baking soda but I used a link I found here for www.aaa-chemicals.com in Houston Texas and found that they will be offering free shipping November 19th - 23rd. The lye is 8.99 for 2# (the smallest quantity they offer) and regular shipping is 11.99 minimum. If I can wait, I'll avail myself of that window of opportunity, irresistable to internet shoppers, free shipping!

My favorite recipe I've adapted from one posted by the American HomeBrew Association. They require drinking a homebrew (can we substitute a microbrew?) both before and after the pretzel making steps.

4 1/2 tsp of saf-instant yeast

1 1/2 C warm water

2 T sugar

1 tsp salt

4 C high gluten flour

2 T powdered buttermilk

1 well beaten egg

Margarita salt

Preheat oven to 450. Cover a baking sheet with parchment and lightly spray with oil. Disolve yeast in warm water, add sugar. Mix salt, flour and buttermilk powder in the mixer or by hand. Add the liquid and mix for 5-10 minutes with the dough hook or knead by hand. Let dough rest and hydrate for about 10 minutes. I divide the dough roughly into six pieces and roll between my palms into a rope about 18" long. Form the pretzels and give the ends a little pasting down by dipping your fingertips in water and pinching the overlapping dough a bit. Disolve 4 tsp baking soda in 4 C water and bring to a boil. I use tongs to dip the pretzels, one at a time, into the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes turning once. Dry them a bit with paper towels as they come out of the water bath and arrange them on the oiled parchment. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Bake at 450 for 12 to 15 minutes or until a deep brown. I've learned that darker is better to my taste.

I have experimented with using other bread doughs to make pretzels with mixed results. I think you need a fairly high protein formula and really active yeast to stand up to all the handling and the water bath. One of my pretzel recipes says that as good as pretzels are hot from the oven they are very bad cold and don't reheat well. I don't agree. I store cooled pretzels in a zip-lock and toast them one or two a day in my wide slot toaster. De-lish! The perfect bread-for-one.

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redivyfarm

It has been a busy time on the farm so the baking has been streamlined accordingly. RC asked for sandwich bread which inspired me to adapt a recipe that I had baked a dozen times or so last year and abandoned for heartier, tastier breads found here on The Fresh Loaf. This recipe is quick to prepare so the sourdough flavor doesn't develop much. Even with an overnight retard in the refrigerator I didn't get a noticable tang. When it was "my sd bread" I added ascorbic acid for taste. I used excess starter in this baking which always seems virtuous in the waste-not-want-not way. I finally got around to purchasing some single edge razor blades and wow, do they do a nice job of slashing! I noted that this recipe said to slash before the final proof and gave that a try as well for a little different look-

Sourdough Hybrid Loaf

Sourdough Hybrid Loaf

The most interesting thing was that with the practice I'm getting handling a variety of doughs since finding the good folk of The Fresh Loaf, I am able to tweak a recipe enough to get the taste and texture I have in mind. Folding the dough to a good surface tension just "felt right". Many thanks to all!

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redivyfarm

We're having fun on the farm! With the Mother's Day picnic coming up I decided to bake my own version of a filled braid. I admired the fruit filled braids and loved Floyd's suggestion that a savory filling with a different dough would be good. A search of the BBA formulas led me to use Pain de Campagne because it is said to be suited to shaped loaves; never disappoints. I followed Reinhart's steps with the exception that I used an overnight retarding of the dough after the first partial rise to better fit my schedule. I knew that this dough was going to have to stand up to some serious handling and honestly, I had my doubts.

Today I proceeded with Floyd's excellent instructions, dividing my dough in half to make two braids. Rolling it out to about a 3/8 inch thickness required letting the dough rest a bit with the rolling pin anchoring the corners to achieve the pan sized rectangle. My silicon baking sheet was helpful; I was able to handle the dough a little less when transferring it to the pans. I lined two baking pans with oil sprayed parchment and sprinkled a little rice flour where the braid would rest. Scissors worked well to make the inch wide angled strips. The short sides on my pans did not allow enough room to cut with the scraper. The dough with filling looked like this-

Braid Building

Braid Building

For this braid I used part cream cheese, part grated parmesan with one tablespoon of the egg wash mixture per Floyd's example. On top of that, sauteed Italian sausage, mushrooms and sweet peppers with garlic and herbs, salt and pepper. The other braid is filled with caramelized onion and sauteed mushroom on cream cheese with s and p. They get two applications of egg wash, the last one just before baking. The criss-cross fold works for me just like it works for Floyd. Wonder of wonders, in spite of lots of handling, the dough rose up puffy in about an hour and a half! Floyd and I agreed that the oven temperature should most likely be 450 degrees as required for the Pain de Campagne. I baked one braid at a time for 20 minutes.

Mushroom Onion Braid

Mushroom Onion Braid

Braid Slice

Braid Slice

This is really a fun baking, yields an impressive product and will adapt to limitless tasty fillings. I strongly recommend the ultra-reliable BBA Pain de Campagne formula for shaped breads.  

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redivyfarm

I'm just getting a break in the action and able to post after several days away from The Fresh Loaf. I'll never get caught up with the new content; my loss! This past weekend I made a couple of breads with long fermentations to fit into a schedule of Kentucky Derby and NBA Playoffs. I used Bwraith's version of Sourdough Raisen Focaccia with tasty results!

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia

 

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia Proof

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia Proof

This was a fun 24 hour preparation and it was great to see the trusty sourdough starter work to perfection. I suspect that the moist raisens might make this focaccia more perishable than I'm used to so I'm refrigerating and popping a couple of servings into the toaster to enjoy it hot.

I also went to work on my first attempt at Pain a l'Ancienne. Reinhart describes it as the best so I aim to work at the technique and produce a respectable version at least. My product bears little resemblance to some of the lovelies I've seen posted in this community but I will continue to read your posts and tweak my process. I'm realizing that the notes and variations posted by my fellow home bakers are useful well beyond the info in the bread books. I followed the BBA formula pretty closely but at the end of the final proof it seemed to spring up and surprise me. As a result, this baking is probably over proofed. See how the slashes didn't really bloom? I think sourdough is more forgiving in that respect. It seems that I lost a great deal of gas in the forming of the baguettes and as a result didn't get much oven spring or a nice open crumb. I wonder, has anyone formed the baguettes on parchment prior to retarding in the refrigerator?

Ancienne First Attempt

Ancienne First Attempt 

Ancienne Crumb

Ancienne Crumb

 In spite of all the things I would like to improve, this bread is really delicious. I recommend eating it with chipotle mayo, sliced tomatoe, salt and pepper for every meal until it is gone!

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redivyfarm

It is a sad truth that supporting oneself can seriously compete for the time we want to spend on the really good stuff. Last week I squoze in some shopping between business errands. That trip to the bulk bins let me get some rice flour to help cotton release dough during proofing and barley to attempt home made malt. Although I am a child of the sixties, I never could get grains to sprout uniformly and this test was more of the same. Some grains go ahead and sprout and others just go to funk.

As unsuccessful as the malt test was, the rice flour test was super-successful. That flour is like a zillion little ball bearings that will send things zipping around the counter and floor with just a tap. A tub of fermenting dough hit the floor and when the bread baker's canine apprentice came running, her hind overtook her frenzied fore in a clatter of claws. She's not the kind of dog to feel embarrassment at indignity, just some disappointment that I was quicker to recover than she was!

Got Bread?

Got Bread?

But back to the rice flour; no dough sticking to the cotton towel at all. Rice flour does stick to the top of your loaf giving it a grainy texture. I'm wondering if the linen or synthetic proofing cloth are nonstick all on their own or do they need less flouring?

The goal for my weekend bread baking was to use notes from Susan's Sourdough Under Glass and my newly purchased pizza stone for some small boules and also create a multigrain 4# Sourdough ala Mountaindog. I don't have a big pyrex bowl but I have very large stainless bowls that my girls used for sledding when they were small. I believe they are 13 quart and they perfectly cover a large pizza stone. Too bad, I didn't get to view the oven-spring!

Small Sourdough Boules

Small Sourdough Boules

WW Sourdough 4#er

WW Sourdough 4#er

WW Sourdough Crumb

WW Sourdough Crumb

3 7/8# Sourdough Loaf

3 7/8# Sourdough Loaf

I spent about 20 hours on a slow fermentation, leaving the dough refrigerated overnight and at a cool room temperature for an additional 8 hours the next day. The basic formula is Thom Leonard's Country French increasing the proportions of rye and whole wheat flours to taste. I use Pendleton Mills flour and used a 12% protein pizza blend white for this loaf.

This was a fun process and I'm getting no complaints from the test consumer group!

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redivyfarm

In spite of all the good advice, I have messed up again.  This loaf overproofed and no one suggested that I brush egg and milk on the top before baking. I thunk that up all by myself! It looks kind of nice-

Sourdough NK #3

Sourdough NK #3

Sort of like the Mexican pan dulces we ate as kids, but don't you believe it!  Each of those little chunks in the mosaic are suitable for paving the driveway. And the crumb-

Sourdough #3 crumb

Sourdough #3 crumb

Just a few little worm holes, twisting and turning like, well never mind what its like. I know I can do better. In the mean time I'm going to do some reading and get a bit of theory in my noggin instead of mucking around like, well never mind what I'm like.

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redivyfarm

This weekend I baked a loaf that used to be a family favorite and always is successful. It is a soft white bread recipe that is punched down once and then pinched into walnut sized pieces, dipped in garlic butter and layered in a tube pan. I added sauteed chanterelle mushroom and green olive muffuletta between the layers with the italian herbs and cheeses.

Herb Bubble Loaf

Herb Bubble Loaf

Herb Bubble Slices

Herb Bubble Slices

This is a recipe that was featured in a magazine (I think Regan was in office!). After several weeks of baking breads with long fermentation, the bread seems bland. I would recommend substituting your favorite bread recipe and adapting it to the technique.

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redivyfarm

My goal; to improve upon the Sourdough No Knead ala JMonkey and Susan adding only the overnight proof in the refrigerator and hopefully improving the "nice slashing on top". The result; I managed to bake a couple of weird looking loaves with unremarkable crumb. I thought I would make two batches of no knead testing the old starter against the new starter. In my mind any differences would be incremental. Wrong.

The new rye and grapefruit culture doubled so quickly that I had to fold and form it last evening and put it into the refrigerator. The other batch was just sort of sitting there so it stayed out to ferment at room temperature overnight. This morning it still didn't look puffy so I put it into the 85 degree place. When I next checked it, it was overproofed, of course. Now I know what folks are talking about when they say their dough became soup. I poured it out onto the board and began CPR when it probably should have been DNR. About half a cup of flour and a sprinkle of instant yeast later it was formed and went into the refrigerator.

I slashed loaf one in a crosshatch as carefully as I could. Here's a pic in which it doesn't look too bad-

Sourdough NK view 1

Sourdough NK view 1

And here is a more accurate representation-

Sourdough NK view 2

Sourdough NK view 2

I feel lucky it didn't blow the door off the oven! For all that oven spring, the crumb is plumb unremarkable-

Sourdough NK crumb

Sourdough NK crumb

Slicing really improved the appearance of this wacky loaf. It is soft and chewy with a crackley crust that only requires hand tools to slice! The flavor is nice and sour but not as complex as the older starter. They all say it gets better with age.

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redivyfarm

We're having fun now! The bread baking mentors of this community have been so generous with their advice and encouragement. It's starting to come together in my kitchen. I baked a sourdough no knead using notes by JMonkey and Susan this week and here is the result-

Dutch Oven Sourdough

Dutch Oven Sourdough

I was elated when I saw this crackley crust. Where you accomplished baker's would scowl and say "that D@^^%loaf (say, I accidently created a new domain name) tore all to #&!!" I say "that lower quadrant is looking good!" If Susan's beautiful boule is "the football", I think this is at least a foosball. And the crumb. Anticipation and dread. Do you ever feel that way?-

Sourdough Crumb

Sourdough Crumb

I like it. It pleases my sense of aesthetic beauty. Yes, it is toothsome. I know you think the holes could be placed more uniformly but I am giddy with my small success and may be beyond help from this day forward.

This loaf baked on a higher rack and at a slightly higher temperature in my really big oven. Bwraith and Mini Oven advised me on that. As a result I could follow the baking times exactly.

The sourdough starter was about 3 days at room temperature since the last feeding. We discussed this on the Sourdough starter thread and I've now learned that the starter really needs to be used at the peak of its yeasty goodness. In this case, the proof was in the proof; only about a 60% increase after 20 hours of fermentation. I used yet another tip and incorporated 1/8 tsp of instant yeast during the stretch and fold.

Susan wrote "Oh, I used all high gluten flour". I think this really made a difference. The dough was smooth, elastic and held tension in the forming. The texture is exactly what I'm looking for in carefully crafted bread. Although I had planned to refrigerate the formed dough overnight, we had guests so went to plan B, 3 hours proof at 85 degrees.

I really wanted to be faithful to the formula, but my lab technique is imprecise (read- a joke). There are plenty of other things to improve upon. Slashing could certainly head a list; a long, long list!

Thanks to all the sourdos (the ugh is silent), guy, lady and the rest. You rock! I also must thank the dogs, brown and mountain, for their cyber-enthusiasm. Bake-on, dogs!

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