The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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wassisname

 I want my weekends back.  Some of them , anyway.  I would like to have the option of not being tethered to my kitchen, with the ticking clock in the back of my mind, for most of a day off.


The trouble is, I am hopelessly addicted to whole wheat, sourdough, hearth bread.  Not a good place to start.  Staying up half the night during the week is not the answer either, not for me.  I need my sleep.


I realize I am being a little silly here.  There are lots of breads I could, and do, make during the week, but this is the one that I can't get out of my head.


Tinkering with conventional scheduling strategies got me pretty close to my goal.  Build a starter one night, mix a final dough the next, cold ferment, then warm/shape/bake the third night.  The third night has been the problem.  My reliable window of opportunity is generally 4 hours.  The lump of cold dough just wasn't coming around quickly enough.


After a while I was just thinking in circles and getting nowhere.  A new tack was called for.  Why not start from the other end of the spectrum and work back toward the middle?  Goodbye tried and true, hello bizarre and unusual. 


Night 1


Build a large amount of starter.  288g WW bread flour / 216g water / 95g seed starter.  Refrigerate immediately! 


Build a small soaker.  100g WW bread flour / 75g water / 2g salt.  Leave at room temp.


Next Morning


Take starter out of refrigerator.


Night 2


Combine starter and soaker.  Add 50g Whole Rye flour / 7g salt / 40g water (added while kneading).


Knead 7-8 min.  Rest 10 min. Shape.  Rise 2 hrs.  Bake w/ steam 10 min @ 475F, then 425F for 40 min.




 


If you're still reading this I'm sorry.  This is more for me than for you - like therapy.


If you're following the logic I'm impressed, because even I'm having a hard time keeping track of what I was trying to do.  At this point, I'm having a hard time just keeping track of what tense I'm in.


Here's the thinking:  Skip the bulk ferment - put nearly all the flour in the starter and soaker to develop flavor and gluten ahead of time.  Huge starter percentage- Nearly 70% of the weight of the finished dough to strengthen the dough, speed the final rise and further compensate for lack of bulk ferment.  Refrigerate starter first- then bring it out to ferment so there is nothing cold going into the final dough.  Add Rye to final dough- to jumpstart fermentation.


I was expecting disaster, but I have certainly made worse loaves.  The gluten seemed pretty worn out during kneading and it shows in the final result.  The crumb is fairly tight, but soft and moist.  It didn't go gummy, which surprised me.  I see a few obvious improvements I could make to the method so I'll probably give it one more go, but I'm not sure the result is worth all the strangeness.


Final note - it occurred to me just before I started this post that I could simply split my conventionally prepared dough into two smaller loaves and save at least 20 min on baking time right there... huh... waddayaknow... but where's the fun in that!


Marcus


 

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wassisname

 


Actually, it's 2 seeds and a nut, but the name is unwieldy enough as it is. 


Digging through my freezer again... I found my mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and crushed walnuts.  I couldn't resist throwing some in the bread, maybe it's the first hint of autumn in the air.


Otherwise, it's a simple overnight soaker/starter sourdough using a 50/50 mix of  WW bread flour and WW Turkey Red.  I let the starter portion of the pre-dough get really ripe, so the first taste had a pronounced tang, but by the next day the seeds/nuts asserted themselves and the sour tang mellowed.  The final balance of flavors was really nice.



 


 


And... the quest for fluffiness...



I tried out a multigrain sandwich bread recipe and decided to see just how fluffy a crumb I could get.  Turns out, pretty fluffy. 


It's a straight dough, mostly WW with some rolled oats.  A little honey, but no milk.  I used a tip I read in Laurel's Bread Book and added butter by smearing it on the board as I kneaded.  I think that really made a difference.  I wound up with a little too much dough for one loaf, so I split it in two.  That probably helped lighten the loaf, too.


The result: so fluffy it was hard to slice.  It puts squishy supermarket bread to shame!  OK, so it's not the most versatile bread (I don't think it would even hold a sandwich together) but it was fun to make.  And a breakfast treat, to boot:  a couple slices in a bowl, add raisins, cinnamon, vanilla extract, agave nectar, then pour milk over the whole thing.  Mmmmmm... forget the sandwiches!


Marcus

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wassisname

 


It was time to clear out some of the flotsam and jetsam of flour remnants.  It was  also time to unwind after several weeks of "disciplined" baking. 


So, into the dough went WW bread flour, WW turkey red flour, whole white wheat flour, pumpernickel  rye, medium rye (I think), molasses and caraway seeds.  And to top it off I dug out the ancient bottle of Jaegermeister that has been lurking in the dark depths of my freezer for more years than I can remember and threw in a shot of that as well.  I seem to have reached a point in my life where actually drinking the stuff has really lost its appeal.  But, the first time I combined German breadspice and molasses in my rye bread I noticed that the sweet, herbal flavor was very similar to the black stuff in the green bottle... and also Ricola cough drops now that I think about it.  So it was only a matter of time before it ended up in the bread.  The Jaegermeister, not the cough drops.


So I doubled the recipe, threw it all together and made a big, ol' loaf of this:



 


 And it actually turned out really tasty.


To follow-up on a previous post:  Sometimes it really is enough just to show up.


These two loaves went to the fair.  Embarassingly underproofed and really dense.  But they won their classes.  I'm pretty sure they were the only breads in their classes!!  Because I couldn't find a second place entry in either one.  There is no shame in cherry-picking!!



And more bagels!  This time with almost all KA whole white wheat flour to lighten things up a bit.  I was also able to locate the one jar of barley malt syrup in the area and make it mine.  Then underestimated the oven-spring and all the holes closed up!  But oh, what a difference in flavor



Marcus

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wassisname

 


Bagels, the perfect antidote to an overdose of sticky, tempermental sourdough ryes.  They may not be the prettiest bagels to ever come out of the kettle, but YUM!  I don't know why I didn't try these sooner.  These are going to replace english muffins as my "easy, little, single-serving bread" of choice... at least for a while.  The simple fact that there is nothing sticky going on makes them a breath of fresh air.


They are 100% whole wheat, straight out of Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.  I didn't have any barley malt syrup, so I used dark, local honey, but I will definitely be picking some up for the next batch.


I'm eager to try different additions to the boiling-water.  For this batch I used baking soda and a little molasses just for the heck of it, but that didn't seem to get me a very bagel-like crust.  Not that I'm going for any kind of serious authenticity here!  Not really in my nature to stress about that, and besides, I wouldn't know an authentic bagel if it jumped out of the oven and sang "New York, New York."


-Marcus


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wassisname

 


I decided to enter a couple loaves of bread in the local fair, and thinking about having to achieve a particular result on a particular day made me realize what a sloppy baker I am.  Well, maybe "sloppy" is a little negative.  Let's say "happy-go-lucky," or "devil-may-care," or "possessed-of-a-certain-breezy-elan" when it comes to bread baking.  Or maybe "sloppy" is the right word after all.


Whatever you call it, the result is that I rarely end up exactly where I originally set out to go.  And I'm fine with that.  Up until now I've only baked for myself, my family, and a few friends.  And they're all fine with it, too... or at least polite about it.


But now it's down to business.  I've picked the recipe (a torturous process), and I'm determined to stop improvising half-way through the bake and really dial it in. 


As a happy side-benefit, this has turned out to be a great excuse to bake even more bread than usual!



 


The bread:  The lean 45% whole rye and whole wheat from Whole Grain Breads.  Minus the yeast.  One has a touch of molasses and caraway seeds.  The other has some packaged bread spice, no sweetner.


I've made versions of this before, but paid more attention to what I was doing this time.  I'm pretty happy with it.  I think I need to up the hydration just a bit.  And I clearly went a little overboard flouring the bannetons - a touch of paranoia.


But about the rise... I went 45 min for the first rise, then shaped, then another 45min for the second rise.  That seems awfully fast.  That's about the recommended time for the yeasted version.  I went by feel and look on the first rise (my finger press did not spring back).  Since I've never seen a recipe with a second rise longer than the first, I put it in the oven 45 min after that.  I worry about over-proofing with rye, but would a third rise maybe be an option?


Marcus




 


Then I turned over the camera to my daughter for a couple shots.  Future bread blogger?  Hehehe... could be.



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wassisname

 


If ever there was a time to make a hearty rye...


When mom returns from a trip to Germany with an assortment of Brotgewuerz and mustard recipes (gotta love a mom who knows), I think that's a sign that I need to get back to some rye bread.  She whipped up a few test batches of mustard, all mouthwatering, some sinus clearing, so I baked up some crusty rye.


It's about 60/40 whole wheat / whole rye using Peter Reinhart's method from WGB.  I fed my WW starter with rye and let it ferment for 12 hrs at room temp.  Worried that the starter may have spent too much of itself overnight I added a little instant yeast to the final dough, though originally I had intended to leave it out and go full sour. 


Things got a little wetter than they should have.  Not only was I a little out of practice on this recipe, but I switched WW flours as well.  "Sticky mess" would be one way to describe it.  But I persevered and went with it.  Every step was a near disaster but eventually I got the two loaves in the oven more or less intact.  The one that didn't try to ooze off the edge of the stone made it into the picture.


They went flat and wide, of course, but otherwise came out about as well as I could have hoped.  Crusty, airy, chewy, yummy.



 


Unfortunately, I ran out of mom's homemade pickles last week, drat!  So these will have to do.



-Marcus

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