The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Here are some of my recent loaves: This weekend I had a go at a Pain Meunier ("Miller's bread"), which is a great tasting wheat loaf. Apparently, this kind of bread was invented by boulangers as a way to thank their millers for reliable flour and grains. The whole wheat kernel is used in these recipes; in addition to wheat flours, cracked wheat, wheat germ and wheat bran are often added. The result is a wonderful, nutritious wheat loaf, with an appealing golden colour.


Pain Meunier


I used the overall recipe from Suas' ABAP as my jumping off point, added some more whole wheat flour, increased the hydration slightly, and tweaked it so that I could use my firm, white starter for the loaf. A very nice everyday wheat loaf!


Pain Meunier crumb


I've also had great success with turning this dough into rustic wheat baguettes, but then I've opted for a poolish instead of a firm starter as the preferment. This dough yields baguettes with a crisp crust and a full wheaty flavour. Recommended.


 


The next loaf is the whole grain loaf from the same book. My first go at this formula, so you can see from the photo below that I was slightly "optimistic" in scoring the loaf... The oven spring wasn't exactly tremendous, so the cuts just barely opened up, but the loaf held its profile very well during the bake. I guess a thorough mix followed by gentle shaping is the way to go with loaves like this.


100% whole grain bread


The formula calls for a whole wheat levain, so the only white flour comes from the stiff starter used to seed the levain. The rest is a mix of whole wheat flour, rye meal, medium rye flour and a soaker of flax, sesame, sunflower seeds and rolled oats. I just had a slice with some chèvre and one with herring, and I found both to be "most agreeable" (i.e. "great"). The dominating taste in this loaf for me, is the soaker combined with a certain spicyness that I'll ascribe to the rye meal.


100% whole grain bread crumb


 


Yesterday I baked two Gibassiers - a flat bread from the Luberon region of France. The dough is rich, made up of milk, eggs, olive oil, butter, orange blossom water (I couldn't find any, so I used Cointreau instead - perhaps making this the "grown up version" of the Gibassier?), candied orange peel and anise seeds. Mixing this kind of dough is pretty labour intensive, as it should have a good windowpane before mixing is over, and sugar and butter need to be added late in the mixing process to not inhibit gluten formation.


Gibassier


To be perfectly honest, I was slightly disappointed by the resulting loaves. Don't get me wrong: The taste was remarkabe, the crumb was velvety soft and delicate and the kitchen filled up with the most pleasing orange scent. It was just that, at every second bite, I was a bit reminded by my favourite scone recipe... And that's something one pulls from the oven about 30 minutes after mixing has begun - the Gibassier is made with an overnight sponge and needs to see some pretty intense mixing. Of course, a scone can never compete in terms of crumb texture, keeping qualities or the full taste complexity of the Gibassier, but I'm still undecided whether the end result is fully worth it. Well, it certainly is if you want to bake something special for a celebration or a holiday, but perhaps not as a mid-week treat... Let's leave it at that for now. I'll probably change my mind the next time I make them ;)

BvN's picture
BvN

I am a retired engineer, a baker of bread, and brewer of beer. This blurb is narrowly focused on what I have learned about the setting of sponge for the baking of bread (updated 6.May.09).


I have a very large supply of Saccharomyces cerevisia, the species of yeast used for baking. It is a by product of my brewing of ales. I cannot match the expertise and baking skills I have observed on this forum; but, I can contribute in this fairly narrow aspect.


The strain of S cerevisia is of little importance in baking. If it did, nobody would use instant or active dry yeast. Many students can attest, beer from these sources is not good. The bread turns out fine.


Stainless has no practical effect on yeast fermentation. Stainless steel is the rule for the construction of fermentation vats by both brewers and vintners. Yeast acidify their environment only slightly.


Oils and iodine (as in most table salt) are poisonous to yeast.. Small amounts MgSO4 (Epsom) & CaSO4 (Gypsum) cause no problems. Adding salts, is generally, a very bad idea.


Flour is a second rate food for yeast, they have to be starved into eating it (aclimate). Malt extract (malt liquor) is the finest yeast food. For baking, I recommend a dry malt extract - less than $5 / lb; almost a lifetime supply and it stores in anything airtight.


My understanding is that sponges differ from starters in that yeast propagation is not done with flour. Starters, quickly, get contaminated with wild yeast, molds, and bacteria - most commonly lactobaccilus which creates the sour dough effect. Maintaining a pure yeast culture is beyond the scope of this writing (at the moment). Good sanitary practices can maintain cultures for well over a year.


--- How I do it.


The objective of the following method is to impart a rich, full, and complex flavor to the dough without making it sweet. This is done by the maltose and dexidrines from the malt extract. It is more subtle than what occurs with sucrose, glucose, and fructose. The timing and measures are incredibly sloppy. Yeast can be very forgiving, if treated right. Minimize mechanical shock, thermal shock, light, and invadeing microorganisms.


I make as much sponge as possible. I put all off the dough's water requirement into my sponge.


Step 1 - Sanitize everything. Bleach water once, rinse twice. 1 capfull of bleach to a gallon of water.


Step 2 - Make lots of healthy, happy, well fed, yeast. Combine the water and at least 1 Tbs of malt extract powder for each 6 oz of water into a gallon jug. Temperature should be 75 ~ 85 F. Shake violently for a minute or so, to release the chlorine and to add oxygen (aerate). Decant into a bowl that holds twice the amount of water. I sort of add about 1 Tbs of yeast culture for each cup of water. It doesn't really matter as this is a propogation step, not a fermentation step. Cover and rest for 15 minutes to a couple of hours. The yeast will begin to reproduce very quickly. This is not fermentation, which is an anerobic process. Don't peek - at least not much. The longer this is left, the less maltose will remain and there will be more yeast to feed. You can add more malt extract at any time. The yeast are not as fussy about malt extract feeding schedules as they are about flour feeding schedules.


If using another source of yeast - split the water and follow the package directions. Add the malt powder, etc to the remainder. The source of the S cerevesia (yeast) is completly unimportant.


Step 3 - Make the sponge In a vessel, at least 4 times the amount of water (note: I use a small 2 gallon stainless steel pot with lid). Combine 1 cup of flour for each 12 oz of water - a very thin batter.


Step 4 - Set the sponge. Cover and keep warm 70 - 75 F for at least 6 hours. It can be kept for a couple of days without problems. If all goes well, the sponge will tripple in volume, and it will not separate. A fully set sponge will look uniformly bubbly and be very sticky.

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Last night I went to an event labelled "Artisan Bread" at the local grange, choosing this over an evening with Elizabeth George and a popular gardening writer. Imagine my disappointment when the "Artisan Bread" turned out to be the good old No Knead Bread! Especially when the speaker put her dough into a cold Pyrex casserole and assured us that it would not stick. In fact she had to cut it out of the bowl in chunks. The good news in all of this is that the room was packed and people got really excited at the thought of making bread themselves. I know that reading about and trying the No Knead method is what got me into this obsession and I can only hope that many of the people there will also become addicted, A.

Blaauwberg's picture
Blaauwberg

Hi


I am fairly new to bread baking and have tried a few methods of creating steam in my oven at bake time with varying success (mostly not) I have seen a steam oven but am not sure wether it will do the job. It is an AEG B9820. Does anyone out there have one of these ovens? Is it suitable steam baking etc? Any advice etc would be appreciated.


Regards


Mark


 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Little Yippees have had all these sandwich breads that I've been testing for weeks.  They are begging for a change.   Here it is, something different on the table for breakfast:


 http://www.flickr.com/photos/33569048@N05/sets/72157617619002761/show/


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

This is a very tasty bread with a light crumb and nice crunch from the soaked seeds. I would make it again. In spite of the German rye sourdough incorporated in it, which was very sour tasting, I don't really taste any sour. It is a lovely, soft sandwich-type bread with only a hint of rye flavor. I can't imagine anyone, including children, disliking it. There are a number of errors in the recipe. I have pointed those out below, and indicated my experience when making this recipe in case someone else wants to try it.


Leader's Flax, Sesame, and Sunflower Rye



This sunflower-crusted rye gets great chew from the flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds inside. Flax isn't familiar to most people, but it is one of my favorite bread-baking ingredients. The glossy, tiny golden brown seeds have a wonderful sweet nuttiness. Until I saw this bread at Tobias Maurer's bakery in Stuttgart, I wouldn't have believed it was possible to put so many seeds into one loaf. I had seen how an abundance of seeds can draw moisture from dough, drying out the bread as it bakes. Tobias showed me how an overnight soak softens the seeds, turning them into a gelatinous mass that does the opposite, moistening the dough as it bakes (Local Breads, p. 282).



From Leader's Local Breads:


50 g German rye sourdough


28 g flax seeds


28 g raw, white sesame seeds


28 g raw sunflower seeds


525 g water* (I will probably either reduce the water by 50 g the next time I make the bread)


5 g instant yeast


300 g unbleached bread flour (I used KA Bread flour)


200 g whole grain rye flour (I ground my own)


10 g salt


Topping: 28 g raw sunflower seeds


Soak seeds, except topping, in 175 g water and make German rye sourdough 12 to 24 hours before mixing dough. (I did not find that these formed a gelatinous mass after soaking overnight, but whatever they formed seemed to work perfectly.)


On baking day: Pour remaining 350 g water in mixer bowl and stir in yeast, soaked seeds, bread flour, rye flour, salt, and German rye sourdough. Using the dough hook, knead the dough on speed 2 for 8 minutes, let rest in bowl for 10 minutes, resume kneading for another 8 minutes. I had to incorporate a substantial amount of extra bread flour during the final kneading time owing perhaps to errors in the amount of water* specified in Leader's recipe, which is different in the ingredients column than in the text.


Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container with a lid and let rise until double, about 2 hours.


Divide the dough in half, shape, and place in two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pans. (I got two, 1-1/2 pound loaves out of the recipe, but Leader indicates there would be two 17 ounce loaves.) Mist the loaves with water or brush with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining sunflower seeds. Cover loosely and let proof for about an hour until nearly double (mine were doming the pans).


Preheat the oven to 400º twenty minutes before baking and place the oven rack at the lower middle position.


Bake the loaves for about 35 minutes. (I got a lot of oven spring.)


German rye-sourdough: mix 50 g liquid levain, 100 g water, and 75 g rye flour. Let stand at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. It is ready when it has doubled and tastes very tangy. It is alright to use if it has deflated (this was the case with me). This makes more sourdough than you need. According to the recipe, you can store the unused portion in the fridge until you are ready to use it again.


 

Seeking Chewy Loaves's picture
Seeking Chewy Loaves

I have some bread recipes that I am trying to "fix".  Whole wheat, multigrain and white sandwich loaf recipes specifically.  They currently yield very airy, light loaves.  This may please some but I am interested in chewy, relatively dense loaves with buttery crusts.  The current recipies produce crusts that are light and tear easily.. I am looking for more "chew" than "tear".  Any suggestions?  Do I need to type the recipe or does something jump to mind that I need to adjust, ie more sugar, more oil, more proofing time?


Many thanks!


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I completed a batch of Leader's Sourdough Croissants from Local Breads today. I used the metric weights and had no problem with the recipe; everything seemed to be correct as written. I baked one tray at the recommended 350º for 18 minutes but thought they weren't browning enough, so upped the temperature to 375º for the remainder.


They baked up fine--light, flakey and layered--, but have almost no flavor, being neither sour, nor sweet, nor buttery, nor anything else. I knew something was wrong when I couldn't smell anything when they were baking. What a disappointment! It's almost like the levain canceled out the flavor of the dough. I've tried at least 6 different croissant recipes over my lifetime and all have come out well except this one. I think they are destined for the trash.


If anyone has had experience with this recipe or has an idea as to their lack of flavor, please let me know.


Leader's Sourdough Croissants


 


Leader's Sourdough Croissants


--Pamela

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Did anyone find the latest issue of National Geographic interesting?  How about Dan Fisher a paleontologist who plays with his food by preserving it with Lactobacteria? 


http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/05/mammoths/latreille-photography


Mini

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Baked Potato Bread Photo


There'll be a better write-up on my blog,
mentalexperimental.org, but I wanted to thank Floyd for a good starter recipe. I'm still working on modifying this one. I think that I have the general consistency of the bread down that I want, but I want a bit more tang. I think that there may have to be a sourdough component to really get it where I want it to be. But that's a completely new bread.


This is Floyd's recipe with a few modifications. The first is adding a bit more sour cream. The second was adding cheddar cheese instead of chives. The third is the addition of half & half in the dough and the mashed potatoes.


I think that getting a stand mixer will help me with this type of bread the most. I mixed for 8 or so minutes on speed 2 and then folded twice during the bulk fermentation, giving it an hour at the end to come to full bulk. The crumb is light, fluffy, and very tender.


I'm writing the recipe on the blog now. I wanted to share the photo because I'm so proud of how this one turned out. :)

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