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I finally got a chance to answer Karin’s latest challenge.  It was a good one and left me with a good loaf of bread, too!

 

Trying to come up with a loaf that would reflect the history of it all was a little too daunting, so I asked myself what sort of bread I would serve to the iron handed knight now.  What kind of loaf would I bake if he was standing in my kitchen?  (Any kind he wants!!)  Something with flavors of home but maybe a little more modern in style.  It didn’t take long to decide on a combination of barley, oats and flaxseeds in a medium-wholegrain sort of wheat dough.  It sounded good to me, anyway!  This loaf was baked as one large round.  I think I’ll split it next time, but for this bake the big round seemed appropriate.  The method was a little harder to decide on.  My first thought was good, old-fashioned hand kneading, but the man inspiring the bread is clearly no stranger to a little mechanical assistance, so I let the mixer do the work.

 

The result was as good as I could have hoped for.  The crumb was surprisingly light and soft and the flavor complex, though distinctly sour.  I prefermented quite a bit of the flour without really thinking it through.  I think it worked well against the other flavors, but for non-sour lovers it would probably be a bit much and the amount of leaven should definitely be reduced.  Barley flakes in place of the barley meal would be another change worth trying.  I think I would have opted for that from the start if I had had any barley flakes. 

All in all a worthy bread, I think, one I will be baking again.  I got a good response from everyone who tried it so I’ll make plenty for sharing.  If anyone doesn’t like it?  Well… thanks to Götz, now I know just what to say! :)

Marcus

 

 

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wassisname

The first bake in my new oven!  After weeks of no baking I have been craving something hearty, so I went to Hamelman’s Bread and opened it to a bread I had had bookmarked for a long time.  This has got to be one of the most cumbersome and prosaic bread names ever: 70 Percent Rye with a Rye Soaker and Whole Wheat Flour.  It feels like it should be a “Something-German Bauernbrot” but I can’t come up with anything better either so I will leave it alone for the moment.

I baked this one by the numbers in the formula (without the instant yeast) but I did use the rye a little differently.  Instead of a using medium rye in the sourdough and rye chops in the soaker I ran rye berries once through my grain mill, called it good, and used that in both the sourdough and soaker.  A single pass through my mill produces a mix of fine and coarse bits that I decided would be close enough to the intent of the formula.  The whole wheat flour was also freshly milled and slightly coarse.

The book calls for this bread to be baked in pans but also mentions that in Germany it can be found baked as enormous rounds.  Well, that’s all I need to hear!  I stopped short of enormous but did bake the 1800g of dough into a single round, seam side up.

 

The aroma of this bread is magnificent!  So good that, as usual, I couldn’t wait for the loaf to cool completely, much less sit for 12 hours, before cutting into it.  The result was dense and intense, just what I was going for.  It sure is nice to be baking again!

Marcus

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wassisname

 

Loafgeek posted these masa slider buns right around the time I was putting a lot of polenta in my breads.  With corn already on the brain the wheels began turning.  A large amount of masa would wreak havoc on the sourdough loaf I was picturing, so what to do?  The first possibility to pop into my head was to make some fresh corn tortillas, chop them up and use them like an old-bread soaker.  It never happened.  That would be an awful lot of work just to test kind of a goofy idea.  Besides, fresh tortillas tend to get devoured and I wasn’t sure I could muster that kind of self-control.  So, the idea went on the back burner.

I must have looked at the can of hominy in the cupboard a hundred times before it dawned on me that this was the answer.  So simple!  The kernels are pretty big, so I gave them a light chopping before adding them to the dough. 

From there it was just a matter of deciding what other flavors to layer into the bread.  A little rye sour sounded like a good match, along with a little whole wheat.  Both were freshly ground and left slightly coarse.  Some kind of herb seemed like a good fit, too.  In the end I couldn’t decide which to use (it was a dead heat between thyme and rosemary) so I decided not to decide and instead wandered around the yard and picked a little of everything I could find.  Thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano were all looking good so they all went in, with the mix weighted toward the thyme and rosemary.

So, what began as kind of a lark turned out so tasty I keep going back to it.  The formula and method are below but, really, you could make this with just about any dough you like.  The herbs and sourdough really make it work for me.  Hominy tends to mellow other flavors, so without stronger flavors to play off it would probably be a fairly bland loaf.  With a bowl of tomato soup?  Magic!

Marcus

 

 

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This week I tried the Cromarty Cob from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley.  The element that makes the bread distinct is the use of a healthy dose of rye starter instead of wheat starter to kick-off the fermentation.  Aside from that, this bread could be put together in whatever way suits your taste.  I decided that my taste would be well served by the formula as written (and I was not disappointed!).  The flour blend is a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white flours.  For the whole wheat component I used freshly milled hard red wheat, and for the white component I followed the recommendation in the book – AP flour in the leaven and bread flour in the final dough.  I didn’t change much, but I did double the formula to end up with one great, big loaf (about 2kg of dough).  I also reduced the water by just a touch, fermented a little cooler and baked a little hotter.

I couldn’t resist the "C" for Cromarty scoring.  Actually, I appreciate the suggestion, because I still have the hardest time deciding how to score my loaves!  I decided to snip it in with scissors - I didn't trust myself to get it right with a blade.  I think the effect was pretty nice.

The result was great.  A hearty loaf with a soft crumb and substantial crust.  Though, I think the crust would have been even better with a hotter bake.  The rye sour adds an extra dimension to what would already be a flavorful loaf.  The only problem I had was underestimating the vigor of a liquid rye sourdough.  The 200% hydration rye sour ferments at an astonishing rate compared to my stiff whole wheat starter.  My first attempt at this loaf was… not good.  Now that I know what to expect, however, I plan on keeping my starter this way at least until the weather gets hot.  The aroma of the rye starter alone is worth it!  I can’t believe I didn’t try this sooner.

Marcus

 

 

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wassisname

 

This is an adaptation of the Corn-Rye Rounds in Daniel Leader's Local Breads.  I’ve had my eye on this one for ages, but never got around to making it.  It sounds more "cakey" than "bready", using rye flour and a large percentage of fine corn flour.  In this version I use coarse rye meal and polenta, aiming for an equally substantial, but more "bready" loaf.  I veered a bit further in that direction than I meant to, but the result was absolutely delicious. 

The rye flavor is particularly noticeable in the crust – there is nothing quite like that flavor.  It combines very nicely with the slightly sweet flavor of the polenta.  The only downside to this bread is that, right out of the oven anyway, the polenta in the crust can be little hard on the teeth.

The hydration is the trickiest part of this formula.  Consider the numbers here a guideline.  I know that’s the caveat in any formula, but I think it is especially true here.  I ground the rye in a coffee grinder to about the same consistency as the polenta. It isn’t really noticeable in the finished bread the way the polenta is.

For next time I would like to try adding a little fine corn flour and more rye flour for an even heartier loaf.

Oh, and it makes a spectacularly delicious French toast!

And, the Family Grain Mill attachment for my mixer just arrived so I have some serious experimenting to do!

Marcus

 

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wassisname

 

This is a tweaked-to-suit-my-routine version of the barley and flax seed loaf in Tartine No. 3.  The biggest change was to the leaven – all whole wheat flour, 75% hydration, and more of it.  I also switched from barley flakes to cracked barley because that is what I had access to. The rest of the numbers I just put together in whatever way I thought would give me the greatest margin for error.

And, this was the inaugural bake in my new cast iron combo cookers.  I never thought I would take the leap, but my curiosity finally got the better of me.  I must say, I am impressed.  The size and shape limitations mean that I will never rely on them entirely, but they do make things simpler (and I don’t have to worry about setting the wet towels on fire!). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The method stayed pretty close to the one presented in the book, so I will avoid going through it in detail.  One change I did make was to do the turns at shorter intervals, 15-20 minutes, to accommodate the faster fermentation brought on by the increase in leaven.  The dough was also drier than I anticipated, so I added a bit of water with each turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for the result…  I like it!  Crust, crumb, flavor: all good.  There is a nice nuttiness from the flax seed and the barley smooths out any rough edges from the whole wheat.  OK, I need to reduce the salt a bit, but that’s easy enough.  This is one of those loaves where I can tell I got the fermentation right and the rest mostly followed from there – I wish I could do that every time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Odds and ends – The formula may look a little wacky because of the porridge.  So it goes.  I don’t know if there is a convention on how to present this.  In the end I treated it as an add-in, otherwise the percentages get so skewed as to make them meaningless.  As for the rest, I tried to present the basic info so you could take whatever mathematical leaps tickle your fancy.  The one measurement I regret not having taken was the weight of the porridge after cooking.  So it goes, again. 

Oh, and check out the book.  It reads a little like the blog section here on TFL.  No wonder I’m enjoying it so much!

Marcus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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wassisname

It took  awhile, but this is my take on Karin’s Cecilienhof Ancient Grain Rye Bread challenge.  The list of ingredients involved initially had me convinced I would stay on the sidelines for this challenge.  But I had more of them than I realized on hand already and a little searching turned up the rest (ah, the power of the internet!).  Still, I haven’t had to think this hard about a bread in a long time.                                                           

 

I wanted to stay as close to the original as I could, particularly with respect to the order of ingredients. Out of personal preference I omitted the fat, the yeast and the vital wheat gluten and out of necessity replaced the rolled barley with coarse barley meal because I couldn’t find any rolled barley.  They used a spelt starter and I used a rye starter to get the fermentation going.  Other than that I think I got everything else in the loaf.  To the right are the weights in grams.

As mentioned by others, if you assume that the ingredients are listed in order of weight then the water becomes a problem.  The only way I could think to get the dough up to a reasonable hydration was to turn this into essentially a sunflower seed rye with a very little bit of a lot of other stuff thrown in.

 

 

 

It still wasn’t going to be enough water, but then I found the answer!  I happened to check the ingredients on a package of rye crackers:  Whole rye flour, yeast, salt... but no water… how can there not have been any water?  There must have been water in the dough, even if it all cooked out during baking… AH HA!  I get it!  They listed the ingredients by their weight in the finished product, not the dough!  And since the crackers are bone dry when they are finished, they don’t need to list water at all!!!!  Obviously this loaf isn’t going to be that dry, but it will dry out enough that I can pretty much add as much water as I want and still stay true to the original.  Thank goodness!

 

I kept the process as simple as I could.  Rye meal only in the preferment.  All the other large or hard bits in a hot soaker.  Then everything together and into a Pullman pan. 

This loaf is mostly made up of meal rather than flour.  Everything labelled “meal” in the formula was ground from whole grains in a burr coffee grinder.  There is some dust-fine flour produced along with the meal.  I sifted some, but not all, of it out so there is a bit more “flour” in this loaf than indicated in the formula.  I’ll be tinkering with this aspect of the process down the road.

Long, slow, covered baking is something I started working on last winter.  I never got a result I was really happy with before summer came along and put the experimentation on hold.  This seemed like a perfect opportunity to start tinkering again so I went with a total of five hours in the oven.  The biggest problem I ran into with the long bake was the outside of the loaf drying out before the inside could bake through.  Even in a covered pan there was too much moisture escaping, but keeping the oven steamed for hours was never an option.  The solution:  Pour water directly on the loaf at intervals during the bake.  Simple!

And then there is the waiting.  As many before me have noted, a loaf like this really takes a couple days to fully set and for its moisture to even out.  I never wait that long for a first taste, but it is worth waiting before devouring the rest of the loaf!  This loaf came together very nicely after 48 hours.  To avoid having the crust dry out I don’t wait until the loaf is completely cool before I bag it and put it in the refrigerator – yes, the refrigerator.  This is the only style of bread I refrigerate.  If I’m planning on eating it right away I will take it out again once it has chilled and leave it on the counter.

The result: happiness!  Even the cat loves this bread (I thought that was a little odd, but a good review is a good review, right?).  The flavor is complex and satisfying and the texture is moist with just enough chew.  Now that I’ve eliminated the rock hard crust I see this style of bread becoming one of my regular bakes – at least during the cool months.  And the possibilities are endless! 

Marcus

 

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wassisname

 

This is the Arkatena bread from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley, except with rosemary instead of fennel, more salt, more heat, steam, an autolyse, some stretching and folding, and a shortcut using my own starter to create a chickpea starter.  The chickpea, aka garbanzo, aka gram flour is the unique feature of this bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel like I stuck to the spirit of this bread even if I didn’t stick to the letter of the formula.  The only really substantive change was the switch from fennel to rosemary.  I meant to use fennel up until the last minute.  I have nothing against fennel, it’s just not something I get really excited about.  When I remembered the bit in the book that says fennel probably isn’t used in the original bread on which this one is based, well, out went the fennel.  I really do like rosemary and it seemed like a good fit for this loaf so, in went the rosemary.

The dough was strong and not particularly wet so I couldn’t resist shaping it with a twist.  I might add more water in future tinkering. 

The rest of the changes were made for the sake of habit and convenience.  Reworking the formula took some wrangling because the book has you make a chickpea starter from scratch and then make loads of extra leaven during the builds.  I’ve included the numbers I came up with. I left out the nitty-gritty details of the process – best to check the book for that and then modify as you will.

If you don’t have this book it is worth taking a look at.  Mr. Whitley is refreshingly blunt, even if you don’t agree with every last thing he has to say.  “Constructive neglect” – brilliant!  Steaming “a fruitless exercise” – you underestimate me, sir!  One nice takeaway from this book is to worry less and go with what works.  It is good to be reminded of that once in a while.  It is, after all, your bread. 

   

This is one tangy bread.  Maybe it was the long, cool leaven builds.  Quick, warm fermentation might yield a different result.  Right out of the oven it reminded me of hummus with lots of lemon juice.  Good stuff.  The chickpea flavor faded over time but still lends its unique tang to the bread.  The rosemary flavor comes through nicely.  I think I'll be baking this one again!

Marcus

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wassisname

 

Well, it’s fall and the hearty breads are calling.  This turned out to be a fun one with some elements new to my multigrain loaves. 

I have a new toy!  I got crackin’ on some rye berries with the cheapest burr coffee grinder I could find (I couldn’t bring myself to try using the good coffee grinder I already have).  I made a coarse rye meal to use in place of the rye flour that would normally have gone into a loaf like this.  I can tell this thing is going to get a workout.  It’s not up to making actual flour or large amounts of anything, but it is perfect for tinkering with any whole grain that strikes my fancy.

The other first for me was the millet and quinoa.  I don’t know what took me so long but they both worked beautifully and have a flavor different from the usual seeds and grains I use.  The only catch is getting them to just the right softness.  On my first attempt at this I gave them a hot soak by pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit overnight.  This didn’t soften them as much as I thought it might.  They were visually striking in the bread but a little hard on the teeth, at least until the bread was bagged overnight.  For the loaves pictured here they were fully cooked.  That made the bread easier on the dental work but the grains weren’t very noticeable.  Something to tinker with.

And then there is the hydration.  I give the dry weights of the millet and quinoa in the formula as a starting point, but the results can vary widely depending on how cooked the grains are and how much water you manage to squeeze out before adding them to the dough.  The dough pictured here was very, very wet. 

 

So this isn’t the most precise formula you will ever come across.  That’s kind of the point, though.  This is the sort of bread I won’t ever make exactly the same way twice.  The whole fun of multigrain is grabbing whatever sounds good and seeing what happens! 

I can’t really give a detailed method for the same reason – it’s different every time. 

This is not one of those subtle, delicate breads.  No matter how it comes together it will have loads of flavor and texture.  Perfect for the season!

Marcus

I got a chance to get out on my bike with the camera and catch the last golden bit of fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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wassisname

 

 

 

 

First off, many thanks to Karin (hanseata) for posting her bake of Dan Lepard’s pumpkin whey bread.  What a great idea, and not just for autumn bakes.  This is a sourdough, whey-less take on that lovely bread. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love what the pumpkin does for this bread!  The colors are striking, the crumb is exceptionally moist, and the flavor is wonderfully complex.  The amount of pumpkin added to the dough will affect the flavor of the finished loaf pretty dramatically.  The flavor using this formula is subtle – there, but not up front – and fades over time.  The flavor is much more pronounced with the addition of even 25g more pumpkin (reduce water by 15g to keep the hydration about the same).

I really do recommend an autolyse for this dough because it starts out very sticky.  I tried mixing the first attempt straight off without an autolyse and it was a mess.  I was convinced the dough was far too wet, but it eventually worked itself out and ended up being a little tight if anything.  The loaves pictured here are the second attempt.  They were handled much more gently and turned out much better for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another idea I tried was to mix a bit of cinnamon and allspice with flour and use that to dust the bottom of the loaves.  I kept it very light and the flavor didn’t come through in the finished bread, but it is something I will play with in future bakes. 

And, there will certainly be future bakes of this one, because… YUM!

Marcus

Oh, and the type 85 flour could just as well be whole wheat, but it's what I have on hand at the moment.

 

 

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