The Fresh Loaf

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JMonkey's picture
JMonkey




I've been wanting to make this bread for years, ever since I first had a bite of chocolate cherry bread from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Mich. I've tried making this several times over the past few months, all of them flops. Pancakes, covered in charcoaled chocolate (Yum-o!) were the usual products of my labors. Not this time. I finally got think I nailed it. Here's how I made it (note: These cups are Laurel's Kitchen-style cups. Don't fluff up the flour and spoon it in -- dig deep and let it settle.

Ingredients:

  • 120 grams or 1/2 cup active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 340 grams or 2.25 cups bread flour
  • 8 grams or 1 1/8 tsp salt
  • 210 grams or 3/4 cup + 3 Tbs Water
  • 150 grams or 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 125 grams or 1 scant cup big chunks of chocolate

    I've found I get more flavor out of my sourdough if I let the starter ripen at above 80 degrees. It's not necessary, though. Just make sure your starter is ripe. The night before, dissolve the starter into the water as best you can. Mix the salt with the flour (You can try using all-purpose -- I think all-purpose has better flavor and texture for sourdough, personally -- but I find that bread flour gives this bread the heft it needs to rise well despite the weight of the goodies). Then dump the flour into the starter slurry and mix it all up together until it's all hydrated. The dough should be very tacky and maybe a little sticky, but not super sticky. We're shooting for the texture of wet French dough, not ciabatta.

    Cover the bowl with plastic or a plate, and let it sit at room temperature (about 70 degrees F, more or less) for about 12 hours (anywhere from 10-14 should be fine). Once it's ready, it should look something like the photo to the left.

    Meanwhile, pour some boiling water over the cherries. If you can't find dried tart cherries (Trader Joe's sells them around Boston), dried cranberries will usually do almost as well. Let the fruit soak for about 15 minutes, drain and then place them on towels or paper towels to dry. You want the interior wet enough so that the fruit won't draw moisture from the dough, but dry enough on the exterior so they won't turn your dough into soup (it can happen -- believe me, I know). When the fruit is ready, mix it up with the chocolate in a bowl, and have it handy.

    Flour a workspace lightly, and then gently turn the dough out onto the board. With wet hands, lightly pat the dough into a rectangle. Stretch the dough to about twice its length, and then spread 1/4 of the chocolate cherry mixure in the center. Fold one-third of the dough on top, and again, spread 1/4 of the mixture on top. Fold the final third of the dough like a letter, and then turn the dough one-quarter. Follow the same procedure, and then cover the dough. Let it rest for about 15 minutes. Here's a photo sequence to show you what I'm talking about.



    Stretch and spread.


    Fold and spread.


    Fold again. Then turn the dough one quarter and repeat! Easy-sleazy. (That's the final product above. I skipped a few steps in the photos. It's well-established that stretch and fold only remains exciting and engaging for ... oh ... no more than three photos, I believe..)

    Folding the chocolate and cherries into the bread ensures that the vast majority of the goodies stay protected from the fierce heat to which you're going to subject the dough in order to get that lovely, crunchy crust we all adore. The yummy stuff is not as evenly distributed as it would be were it mixed in from the beginning, but uneven distribution is highly preferable to charcoal. Trust me.

    Now, after letting the dough rest for 15 minutes, gently shape the dough into a boule, and place it in a well-floured banneton. I splurged a while back and bought one of my own, but you can easily construct a makeshift banneton out of a bowl and a well-floured linen napkin.

    I like to let my sourdough proof in the makeshift proof-box you see to your right. I pour a cup or two of boiling water in there and close it up. It'll stay within 3-4 degrees of 85 degrees F for about 90 minutes. I then pour in another cup or two of hot water.

    After 3 hours, my bread looked like this.




    About an hour beforehand, I'd put my cloche in the oven and preheated it to 500 degrees F, but if you don't have a cloche, a dutch oven or oven-safe casserole will do. If you don't have that, just use your baking stone and steam the oven. If you don't have that, just put the bread on a baking sheet. Once the bread was scored, I baked it covered for 30 minutes, and uncovered for about 17-18 minutes, and then let it cool an hour (can you believe it?) until we dug in. I had a minor mishap with a bit of my bread sticking to the peel, thus the odd shape to the left. It didn't disuade us from gobbling it all up with 48 hours though.

  • anawim_farm's picture
    anawim_farm

     

    Using Daniel Leader's formula for Pain Au Levain for the last few bakings, making both torpedo and boulet shapes

    Levain                                                  18 ounces

    Sweet Well Water ;)                               18 fluid ounces

    KA unbleached Bread Flour 

    with 20% KA Stone Ground

    Whole Wheat Flour                                24-29 ounces

    Sea Salt                                               3/4 ounce

    On my first attempt at this I used all KA unbleached flour which resulted in a very wet dough that didn't rise very well.  My 2nd and 3rd attempts were better. The 2nd was the torpedo shape followed by the round.

    grepstar's picture
    grepstar

    Last weekend I took another stab at the Sourdough English muffins, going with some of the modifications that I suggested in my previous post. Here is my recipe for this batch with the changed ingredients from Nancy Silverton's original recipe in boldface:

     

    SPONGE:
    18 oz White Starter
    2 cups plain soy milk
    7 oz unbleached white bread flour (high extraction - 14% protein) (I used 1 oz less)
    3.5 oz dark rye flour

    DOUGH:
    Sponge
    10 oz warm water (85 degrees)
    0.3 oz of SAF instant yeast
    1/4 cup oat bran

    1/4 cup wheat germ
    1/4 cup flax seeds
    1/4 cup rye flakes
    2 tbs raw sunflower seeds
    2 tbs raw pepitas
    7 oz unbleached white bread flour
    (high extraction - 14% protein)
    1/4 cup (minus a smidge) honey
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 3/4 tbs kosher salt
    Cake flour for dusting
    Semolina flour for dusting

    This time, I was able to make the muffins over the course of one day as the original recipe calls for. The sponge fermented for about 2 hours before I made the final dough which in turn rose for another hour and a half.

     

    I decided this time that I needed more strength for the parchment paper rings and so I cut the pieces of parchment twice as tall and then folded in half. While seeming like a good idea, it ended up being more difficult to fill the rings since the dough got caught between the folded layers on a few of the muffins and the strength of the rings was no greater. Besides, I cost me double the amount of parchment paper.

    The use of the cake flour for dusting the board became a real pain since the dough was more hydrated in this version than the last. Most of it clumped up and took some effort to brush off. In the end, using no flour at all and keeping my hands slightly damp to help handle the dough would have worked much better.

    The muffins rose in the rings for about an hour and then I dusted them with semolina and tossed them in the oven.

    I waited until the next day before tearing one open and they were much tastier than the last batch. The sweetness of the honey was much mellower than the agave nectar and the wheat germ and rye flakes added even more heartiness in flavor and texture.

    Split muffin

     

    My wife and I have been enjoying them as the base for fried egg sandwiches: toased muffin, 1 fried egg, 2 slices of facon (veggie bacon), a think spread of garlic herbed queso fresco from Shepard's Way and a smear of dijon mustard.

    Floydm's picture
    Floydm

    My parents just came back from Paris. Here are a few bread pictures they took for me:

     

     

     

     

    Wayne's picture
    Wayne

    This was my first shot at making Essential's Columbia bread..................batards slightly deflated when they were scored...probably overproofed a little.  Anyway,  this is a very good bread.  Thanks Mountaindog for your wet starter recipe. 

    Wayne's picture
    Wayne

    Finally got around to building my "high dollar" proofing box.  First picture is the inside of the box w/transformer to the side.  Happened to have the transformer on hand from my day's as a research chemist.  Second picture is the outside of the box showing the temperature probe and the transformer.

    Srishti's picture
    Srishti

     Yawn.....

    Oops... I forgot to slash it.....

    Everybody seems to think I'm LAZY..

    I don't mind, I think they're crazy......

    Please don't spoil my day, I'm miles away....

    And after all I'm only sleeping..................................

     

    :D

    lol

    It's a 100% whole "wheat + rye" sourdough sleepping chamber

     

    Srishti's picture
    Srishti

    I Made the whole wheat buttermilk loaf from JMonkey's Biga method.

    It turned out wonderful... Really nice texture... smooth...and freshfeel in the mouth... I am never buying sandwitch bread again.... :) This was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks JMonkey :)

    :)

    Srishti's picture
    Srishti

    This week I made 100%Whole Wheat Strombolini. They were relly great and the kids loved them...

    :)

    pmccool's picture
    pmccool

    Super Bowl parties are a great excuse for trying new recipes.  They also require lots of snack foods.  So, when I was asked to bring some chips, I happily agreed.  I was a good guest and took exactly what the hostess requested and then, well, then I improvised a little.

     

    My wife is out of town for a week (hence no pictures with the post, since she has the camera with her), which left me with some additional time to putter around.  It occurred to me that I hadn't made pretzels for years and that they would be just the ticket for the party.  After rummaging around through cookbooks and recipe files, I came up with one recipe for whole-wheat crisp pretzels (in a Sunset publication, I think) and another for soft pretzels from the King Arthur 200th Anniversary cook book.  The soft pretzel recipe included directions for boiling the pretzels in a baking soda and water solution prior to baking.  Remembering the threads here about boiling versus not boiling and lye vs. baking soda, it seemed like a good opportunity to try the technique.

     

    The whole-wheat version was almost entirely whole-wheat flour and water, with minimal amounts of yeast, honey, shortening and salt.  The recipe measurements were volumetric, but the scales still got a workout when I portioned out the dough for the pretzels.  They were very simple to make; just mix everything together, let ferment, scale, shape, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and bake.  At the same time, they were very tedious--the recipe yields 8 dozen small (about 2-2.5 inch) pretzels.  If nothing else, all that practice certainly improved my shaping technique.  The first couple of dozen that I made had a certain Impressionistic quality.  You could tell that they were pretzels, but they were anything but uniform.  I perservered, though, and slowly got better and, just as slowly, got finished.  They baked to a pleasing shade of brown.  The directions called for piling them onto a couple of clean baking sheets and putting them back into the (turned off) oven to dry for at least 2-3 hours, using the oven's residual heat to drive off the moisture.  That didn't work quite so well as promised.  The next morning they were not nearly crisp but way past soft and not at all enjoyable.  So, I used the oven's drying cycle for the first time ever.  After a couple of hours of 180F temperature with the convection fan running and the door propped open slightly, they were bone dry and crisp as could be.

     

    The soft pretzels from the KA recipe were pretty much the same as other soft pretzels that I have made, except for the boiling-in-soda-and-water step.  Boiling affects both the texture and the flavor.  The finished pretzel is moister than those that have not been boiled and, I think, somewhat chewier.  I'm a bit stumped about how to describe the flavor change.  There is something else besides the "typical" pretzel flavor.  Not bitterness, exactly.  Astringent, perhaps?  It's a subtle difference, but noticeable.  I should probably have baked one or two dry, for comparison purposes.  One of the people at the party asked if they had been boiled, but we were interrupted and I didn't get to ask her what it was about them that triggered her question.

     

    Both varieties were a hit with the adults and the kids.  And if the kids are eating something that is almost entirely whole-wheat and liking it, it must be good.

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