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txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

After a long summer of record high temperatures, I am so very ready for fall. Fresh figs in store, that's surely a sign of good things to come right? Like double digit "cool" weather? No matter how hot it is, I know fig season is fleeting, better hurry up and make the best of them.

First some fig jam.

 

Then a fragipane fig tart with pine nut crust.

 

Finally with the last 8 figs I have on hand, and that delicious fig jam, I made some bread rolls.

Note: makes 8 bread rolls

Note: total flour is 250g

- levain

starter (100%), 13g

water, 22g

bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- Final Dough
bread flour, 203g
sugar, 10g
salt, 5g
butter, 15g, softened
powdered milk, 13g
milk, 50g
water, 107g
levain, all
fresh fig, 8
fig jam, some

1. Mix everything but fig and fig jam until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec), see this post for details.
2. Rise at room temp for 2 hours, punch down, put in fridge overnight.
3. Takeout, round, rest for 1 hour.
4. Roll out into 10X12inch rectangle, cut into 8 stripes along the short side, each is 10X1.5inch. For each stripe of dough, spread fig jam, then roll up with a fresh fig in the middle. The fig in the middle can be left whole, or peeled, or cut and put into patterns.



4. rise at room temp for about 5 hours. The dough would have double or even tripled by then, if it can't, your kneading is not enough or over.

 

5. Bake at 400F for about 25min.

 

Soft and fluffy bread dough matches well with the clean sweet taste of fresh fig.

 

I don't like it too sweet, so the amount of fig jam in the rolls was pretty modest. I figure that I can always add more jam when I eat it.

 

pmccool's picture
pmccool

As part of my preparation to move from South Africa back to the United States, I dried my sourdough starter using two different techniques.  The first was to simply smear a thin layer of batter-consistency starter across some parchment paper and allow it to dry at room temperature.  The second was to mix flour into some starter until it was reduced to crumbs.  I found that a mezzalune was very helpful in the latter stages of incorporating the flour by allowing me to chop the progressively stiffening starter into smaller and smaller pieces while blending in more flour.

The finished product, two bags of crumbed starter and three bags of flaked starter:

That gives me one packet per suitcase.  Each will be appropriately labeled.  Hopefully, at least one and maybe all will arrive home with me. 

I'm interested to start rehydrating a bit of each to see which one comes back to fighting trim more quickly.  I'll post follow-ups when I can.

Paul

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Because of some scheduled maintenance on my car, I had to work from home one day a week or two ago.  That afforded me an opportunity to accomplish a couple of additional objectives: first, clear out some of the pantry contents in preparation for my pending move and second, make some bread.  As it turned out, that also became my last bake in South Africa.

In terms of the pantry, there was just enough rye flour to make a small rye sour, a couple of kilos of crushed rye, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, whole wheat flour and bread flour.  While I couldn’t use up everything in a single bake, I was able to put together a formula that utilized all of those ingredients to some extent.  I thought that I would aim for something around 70% hydration, on the assumption that the resulting dough would be somewhat slack but still have enough body to carry the load of the crushed rye and seeds.  After some measuring and calculating, the draft formula looked like this:

Rye Sour

42g white starter (mine was roughly 60% hydration and there’s nothing magical about using exactly 42g)

140g whole rye flour

140g water

Soaker

200g crushed rye (cracked rye or rye chops would work just as well)

50g sunflower seeds

50g flax seeds

50g sesame seeds

350g boiling water

Final Dough

All of the rye sour

All of the soaker

450g water

150g whole wheat flour

850g bread flour

13g yeast

20g salt

The rye sour ingredients were thoroughly mixed the evening before baking day and covered while fermenting at room temperature (in the upper 60’s F).    The next morning, the sour was noticeably puffy, though nowhere near doubled.  When I poured in the water for the final dough, the sour detached from the bottom of the bowl and floated to the top.

The soaker ingredients were mixed the morning of baking day, covered, and allowed to cool until they were just warm to the touch.

The final dough was assembled and baked as follows:

  1. The rye sour, the soaker, and the water were combined and thoroughly mixed.
  2. The remaining flours, yeast and salt were added to the sour/soaker/water mixture and mixed until thoroughly combined.  The dough was sludgy and stiff, more like a rye dough than a wheaten dough.
  3. The resulting dough was quite a bit stiffer than I wanted, so I began adding water and mixing and kneading to incorporate the water.  Some 25 minutes and probably another 50g of water later, I called it good enough.  My initial thought had been to arrive at a dough that was slack enough to handle with stretch and folds.  That may not be a realistic goal, given the quantity of crushed rye and seeds.  This dough required a lot of muscle to perform the usual push/turn/fold method of kneading.
  4. The dough was placed in a greased bowl, covered, and allowed to ferment until doubled in volume. 
  5. After gently degassing the dough, I shaped it into two batards.  Boules would probably have worked just as well but my gear, including bannetons, was somewhere between Johannesburg and Kansas City.  Since I had to improvise, I placed the shaped loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet and covered them, allowing them to ferment until they were nearly doubled in size.  It was about that time that the dealership let me know that the car was ready.  Plan B, then, accompanied by much muttering.  I placed the loaves in the refrigerator and hoped that they wouldn’t over-proof before I got back.
  6. A little more than an hour had elapsed by the time I got back to the house.  The loaves looked a bit wobbly.  More muttering.  I preheated the oven (and steam pan) to 230C/450F which proceeded as it usually did, which is to say sl-o-o-o-o-wly.  Taking the loaves out of the refrigerator, I tried to slash them with the sharpest of the dull knives that were available to me, which caused a visible settling of the loaves and not much of a cut.  Quickly dumping some boiling water into the steam plan, I then manuevered the sheet pan with the loaves into the oven as gently as possible and left them to themselves for about 45 minutes.  During that time they regained about half of the volume they lost when slashed.
  7. When the loaves were done to the eye and the ear (the instant read thermometer was in the same crate as the bannetons and knives, remember), they were removed from the oven and allowed to cool on a wire rack, covered with a towel.

Dough at beginning of bulk ferment:

Dough at end of bulk ferment:

Finished loaves:

On the plus side, this is a very good bread, particularly with regard to flavour.  Lots of earthy notes from the rye while the sunflower seeds provide a more mellow richness.  The flax and sesame seeds each contribute to the crunch factor.  Surprisingly, this is not a tough bread.  Neither is it dry.  It is, however, very substantial, requiring real chewing.  Given the lengthy kneading, the crumb is very even, composed of small cells.  In spite of the high percentage of bread flour, it reminds me more of a vollkornbrot.  It definitely feels like a vollkornbrot in the stomach; thin slices are just fine, thank you.  I can report that it plays very nicely with ham and cheese but tends to overwhelm smoked chicken breast.

There are a number of things to address if I am able to try this again once I’m back in the States.  The first is to bump up the hydration.  Pushing it to 85% may not be too much.  That might loosen the dough enough to permit use of the stretch and fold technique and gain a more open crumb.  Then again, it may be too soft to carry the soaker successfully.  Maybe, just maybe, a bit of sweetener would bring some of the grainy flavours forward; perhaps a drizzle of honey or molasses, or a combination of the two.  Not tolerating any interruptions between final fermentation and baking will be important, too.  If the ambient temperatures are in the 70’s F or higher, going entirely sourdough with no commercial yeast is also an option.  Depending on moisture content, some alterations to the baking profile may also be required.  For instance, a wetter dough with some sweetener in it might want the high initial temperature for the first 15 minutes or so to drive oven spring, which would then have to be dialled back to prevent the crust from burning before the interior is thoroughly baked.  Hmm, I’m going to have to reacquaint myself with U.S. flours.  That may push things in unexpected directions, too.

Considering that the whole thing was jerry-rigged from start to finish, I’m reasonably happy with the outcome.  Probably the biggest frustration is that it over-proofed during the final fermentation.  Even with that happening, the bread is not crumbly at the top and dense at the bottom.  If I can source the ingredients (I’ve not had much luck locating rye chops or crushed/cracked rye in stores back home), I’ll definitely take another run or three at this to see whether I can come up with something that I can produce reliably.  If any of you want to try some variations on the theme, let me know how things go, please.

ananda's picture
ananda

Rye Sourdough Black Breads with a Hot Grain Soaker

I recently purchased 2 types of malted grain prepared for the purpose, primarily, of brewing; in other words gently crushed for easy mashing to extract sugar.

One of these grains is barley, the other is from rye; details as follows:

  • Rauchmalz – Bavarian Smoked Malted Barley, EBC 10.   Apparently this is highly prized, it has been very lightly prepared, so its colour grade is very low down the spectrum.
  • Roasted Rye Malt, EBC 800….very dark indeed.

Both of these come from Germany.

Additionally I had some Organic Rye Flakes left in the store cupboard which needed using up.

I wanted some large panned loaves to go in the freezer for a “Wine and Cheese” Night organised at Ingram Hall, nearby on 5th December.   This arrangement came out of the sales I made at the Powburn Show in August.   See:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24576/%E2%80%9Cnine-show%E2%80%9D

I refreshed my rye sour from 80g in stock, through 3 feeds to end up with just short of 2kg to use to make these breads.   I prepared a hot soaker the night before and then added this to the sour culture to make the “sponge” demanded in the 3 stage Russian process.

I made 2 large tinned loaves, one small one, and had just a little paste left to make another really small loaf.

Recipe and formula details are shown below:

Material/Stage

Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1a. “Rye Sourdough”

 

 

Bacheldre Organic Dark Rye Flour

30

675

Water

50

1125

TOTAL

80

1800

 

 

 

1b. “Hot Soaker”

 

 

Rauchmalz

5

112.5

Roasted Rye Malt

5

112.5

Organic Rye Flakes

5

112.5

Bacheldre Organic Dark Rye Flour

5

112.5

Salt

0.2

4.5

Boiling Water

35

787.5

TOTAL

55.2

1242

 

 

 

2. “Sponge”

 

 

Rye Sourdough [from 1a. above]

80

1800

Hot Soaker [from 1b. above]

55.2

1242

TOTAL

135.2

3042

3. “Final Paste”

 

 

“Sponge” [from 2 above]

135.2

3042

Bacheldre Organic Dark Rye Flour

26.67

600

Carrs “Special CC” Strong White Flour

23.33

525

Salt

1.33

30

TOTAL

186.53

4197

 

 

 

Overall % pre-fermented flour

30 [sour] + 20 [sponge] = 50

-

Overall % hydration

85

-

FACTOR

22.5

-

 

 Method:

  • Refresh the Rye Sourdough over 3 refreshments beginning with stock base of 80g.
  • Make the Hot Soaker 4 hours before the full sour has been built.   To do this, pour the boiling water onto all the other ingredients and stir well to mix.   Leave covered to cool to room temperature.
  • Make the Sponge by combining the soaker with the full sour required.   Return the spare rye sour to stock.   Cover the Sponge and leave to ferment for 4 hours in a warm place [28°C is ideal].
  • Add the remaining flours plus the salt to the Sponge and mix to form the Final Paste.
  • Bulk ferment, covered for one hour.
  • Prepare the tins by lining the walls neatly with silicone paper.   I made one Pullman Pan scaled at 2000g, one large panned loaf at 1200g, and one small at 600g.   I made the remainder up into a small loaf [c.397g] and baked it later.   I docked the 2 panned loaves without lids, using a wetted probe thermometer needle.
  • Bake in an Electric oven at 160°C using fan assistance for convection, with steady steam supply.   The small loaf baked one hour, large loaf 1 hour 40 minutes, and the Pullman Pan took 2 hours.
  • Cool the loaves thoroughly on wires.

Hot Soaker                                  Soaker to mix with sour for sponge    Active Sponge ready to mix final paste

 

Mixed Final Paste                                Full proof in different pans, ready to bake

 

The flavour of this bread is impressive.   There is obvious sourness from the Rye Sourdough, making up 30% of the flour mix.   The malty flavour is wonderful, and complex too, thanks to both the smoked malt, and the very dark roasted rye.   It lingers on the palate for ages reminding just how tasty the bread really is.   The use of the “Sponge” makes for a great combination of the sweet and sour, and the ferment was alive.   One hour in bulk, followed by 1½ hours final proof is all that was required before the breads were ready to bake off.

It is the weekly trip to Leeds first thing tomorrow, with hot/boiled water pastry and savoury short paste featuring early on, followed by a day with a Level 2 group working on production in the morning, then an afternoon’s theory class to follow.

Photographs below:

 

All good wishes

Andy

loydb's picture
loydb

Last night was my second attempt at homemade pasta using home-milled flour. While my first attempt (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25340/experiments-pasta-milling-my-own-flour) was delicious, I tried a few new things based on comments there and reading elsewhere.

 I started out milling a 50/50 mix of durum wheat (14%) and hard white wheat (13%). After milling, I used a #30 mining pan (yes, as in 'gold mining.' It fits perfectly on 5 gallon buckets and large containers like the one shown) to sift out some of the bran, ending up with 85% extraction by weight. I ended up with a little more than 2 cups of flour.

Next, I medium-chopped three cloves of garlic and sauted them in a tablespoon of butter for 5 minutes or so, then added 6 oz of fresh spinach, sprinkled lightly with kosher salt, and cooked 3-4 minutes, until nicely wilted. Moved to a seive and let drain and cool a bit for 20 minutes.

After draining, I put the spinach/garlic mix into a blender, added two room-temperature eggs, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil (remember there's butter and salt from the spinach). Blended up, and poured into a well with the flour.

I worked this in with a fork until it became too much to stir. After ending up with an excessively wet dough last time, I was determined to sneak up on the proper hydration this time. I dumped the still-dry mixture onto my board, and began working in water by hand until it just came together.

After about 12 minutes of kneading, it came together into a nice dough that felt like Play-do. It wasn't at all sticky, nor was it noticably dry. I sprayed it with olive oil, put the lid on the container, and then went about my day. I got back to it four hours later. I put it on a lightly floured board, rolled it out to about the thickness of a pencil, and fired up the Atlas.

This time, I only had to add a tiny, tiny bit of flour to the sheets between setting 3 and 4, and they cut perfectly. They got to dry for right at an hour while I worked on everything else.

Here's the final dish. Toasted almond slivers, mushrooms, onions, garlic and green peas with shrimp. The pasta was cooked for around 4 minutes, then mixed in with everything for a couple of minutes in the pan. It had a great flavor, and was sooooo soft, almost like udon.

 

varda's picture
varda

 

I have of late, been baking a lot with durum flour.   I started with a whole durum which gives absolutely delicious flavor as an addition to wheat flour, but becomes just ridiculously hard to work with at very high percentages.   After seeing Franko's fabulous success with his Attamura using a more refined durum  I decided to put my efforts on hold until I could find a less than whole durum version of Atta.   Then I saw Lynnebiz's recent post and realized that the answer for my Atta needs was only a few miles away at an Indian grocer in Waltham, Ma.  Sure enough when I got there, I found a wall full of flours including the 20 pound bag of Golden Temple Atta that I ended up buying.   The ingredients are listed as durum and wheat bran with a fiber content of 2g per 35g serving.   This contrasts with Golden Temple 100% whole durum whose fiber content is 4g per 30g serving. 

So I set off with great optimism to make 100% Atta bread with my new flour, and quickly realized it wasn't so simple.  While it was instantly clear that dough made with the new Atta was much more well behaved than dough with whole durum, my first few tries were the sort that the less said the better.   Then I started to get marvelously breadlike results from the outside, but when I cut into the loaves: huge tunnels from one end of the bread to the other.   This was discouraging.  

I concluded that I was having dough strength problems and decided to work systematically on that problem.   After seeing the SFBI article that I posted about earlier I realized that my thinking had been too simple.   Yes, it's true that a weak flour like durum needs more mixing to develop the dough, but I also had to be more careful about other things.   For instance, I had been mixing flour, water, and starter in the first mix and then adding salt in the second.   While I might be able to get away with that for regular wheat doughs, it wasn't a good idea for baking with 100% durum since the point of autolyse is not only to hydrate the flour, but also to strengthen gluten bonds.   I had been using autolyse as a jump start to fermentation so wasn't getting its benefit for dough strengthening.   This time I mixed flour and water first, and added starter and salt later.   I had been doing a 30 minute slow mix in my Kitchen Aid to develop the dough.   This time, I mixed by hand.    A spiral mixer might be just the thing for durum based dough but  given the importance of mixing for durum dough I thought I could do a more thorough job by hand than with a home mixer.   The third change was  serendipity.   Since I had been making so many attempts at a durum loaf, my durum starter had matured and by now was quite active.   While I had known that this was important from a fermentation perspective, I had not realized until reading Didier Rosada's article that it was also important for dough strength since the acids in a mature starter contribute to dough strength.   Finally, I decided not to take any chances on having a huge tunnel develop due to explosive ovenspring.   This meant that I had to make sure that my dough was not underproofed when it went into the oven, and second I couldn't risk the high temperatures of my WFO.   I baked in my gas oven at 420 (instead of the usual 450degF) to slow down oven expansion.    With all that, I took another shot at it.   For the first time, I got a uniform crumb with absolutely no tunnels.   And so concludes lesson 44 in breadmaking - Introduction to Dough Strength.  

 

On a different note, I have been thinking about self-scored breads since seeing several beautiful examples on this site.   I proofed this one with seam up, and noticed it opening in interesting ways.   So I managed to get it seam side up onto the peel (not that easy) and didn't score.   It came out a bit funky to say the least, but I'm sure I'll be posting more on this later.  

 

Formula and method:

10/9/2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starter

 

9:30 AM

2:30 PM

 

 

Durum Seed

113

Feeding

Total

%

 

Whole Durum

1

 

1

 

 

Fine Durum

70

150

220

100%

 

Water

43

90

133

60%

 

 

 

 

353

 

 

 

Final

Starter

Total

%

 

Fine Durum

500

156

656

 

 

Water

300

94

394

60%

 

Salt

12

 

12

1.8%

 

Starter

250

 

 

24%

 

 

Mix flour and water by hand.   Autolyse for 30  minutes.   Add salt and starter.   Mix by hand for 20 minutes. For first 5 minutes or so, press dough between fingers to get starter and salt thoroughly incorporated.   After that, place on counter and roll into log first in one direction, then 90deg off to develop the dough thoroughly.   Dough is not sticky, and no flour on the counter is necessary.   Mix until dough is soft and silky.  Bulk ferment for 2 hours with 1 stretch and fold on counter.   Cannot pull out dough like wheat dough since it is too fragile.   Instead press out gently, fold up, and roll into a ball.  Shape by pressing out gently and then folding in the sides in a circle.   Roll into a boule.  Place upside down in basket. Proof for 2 hours.   Place seam side up on peel covered with semolina.   Slide into 420 degF oven for 20 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without.  This bread is self-scored.  

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

 

Yesterday, I made Chicken Cacciatore for tonight, when my sisters would be at our house for dinner. It seemed to me I should be serving some sort of Italian bread with this dinner. I didn't really feel like tackling a brand new recipe, although there are a number of Italian breads on my “to bake” list. I thought about the sourdough version of Reinhart's Italian bread from BBA which I have made many times and enjoyed. However, once the idea of formulating an “Italian version” of my San Joaquin Sourdough occurred to me, I knew that's what I was going to make.

I was delighted with the result, although I don't know that anyone more knowledgable than I regarding Italian breads would recognize it as in any way “Italian.” 

Ingredients

Wt. (g)

Baker's %

AP flour

400

80

Fine durum flour

100

20

Water

350

70

Salt

10

2

Sugar

14

3

Diastatic malt powder

5

1

Active Liquid levain

100

20

Olive oil

14

3

Total

993

199

 

Method

  1. In a large bowl, disperse the levain in the water.

  2. Add the flours, sugar and malt to the liquid and mix to a shaggy mass.

  3. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Add the salt and olive oil and mix thoroughly. (Note: I squish the dough with my hands until it comes back together, then do stretch and folds in the bowl until it forms a smooth ball and the oil appears completely incorporated.)

  5. Transfer the dough to a 2 quart lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl tightly.

  6. After 30 minutes, do 20 stretch and folds in the bowl. Repeat 3 more times at 30 minute intervals.

  7. Refrigerate for 12-36 hours.

  8. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow to warm up for 1-2 hour.

  9. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape as rounds. Cover with a clean towel or plasti-crap and let rest for one hour.

  10. Shape as boules or bâtards and proof en couche or in bannetons for about 45 minutes. (Note: Optionally, if proofing en couche, roll the loaves on damp paper towels then in a tray of sesame seeds. Alternatively, you can brush the loaves with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. If proofing in bannetons, you would use the second method but after transferring the loaves to a peel, just before baking.)

  11. One hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  12. Transfer the loves to the baking stone. Steam the oven, and turn the temperature down to 460ºF.

  13. After 12 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus. (Note: What I actually do at this point is switch to convection bake and turn the oven down to 435ºF for the remainder of the bake.) Continue baking for another 12-15 minutes or until the loaves are nicely browned and the internal temperature is at least 205ºF.

  14. Turn off the oven, but leave the loaves on the baking stone and the oven door ajar for another 5-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  15. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

  

The crust was chewy except for the ear and bottom crust which were nicely crunchy. The crumb was nice and chewy-tender. The crust flavor was sweet and nutty with the sesame flavor we always enjoy. The crumb was sweet and nutty. Absent the rye flour and with the addition of the oil, sugar, malt and durum flour, the flavor was delightful but very different from that of the San Joaquin Sourdough.

The four of us consumed 2/3 of a loaf with dinner. When I was going to slice some more, sister Ruth told me she would prefer to save it for breakfast toast. Her proposal prevailed.

I'm sure this will make delicious toast, even competing with the Hamelman 5-grain Levain I also baked this afternoon.

 

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

jamesjr54's picture
jamesjr54

Our friends from Israel (wife) and Idaho (husband) joined us for a bike ride today as temperatures in New England hit 80F! 

So challah was on the menu. I used the Honey Whole Wheat from the front page. Came out wonderful. Perfect compliment to grilled salmon with garlic chive butter; steak tips with Santa Maria Seasoning; tomato, cucumber feta salad; and grilled eggplant from the garden. We ate the sesame seed version and sent the poppy seeded one home with our friends.  She said it looked like the challah you get in Jerusalem from the home-style bakeries. She's being nice, I know, but I took it as a compliment!

 

alexlegeros's picture
alexlegeros

Do you love cooking shows?  Ever noticed a difference in the way cooking shows present what it is to cook?  Are they the Julia Child types that lightheartledly take hammers to meat and throw a little wine into the pot because "heck, it was already in my hand!"  Or do they precisely measure things and triple-check for accuracy like on "America's Test Kitchen?"

Read about my thoughts on this dramatic stylistic choice and how it impacts bread baking in my lastest blog, hosted here: 

http://sourdoughrye.blogspot.com/2011/10/liberties-and-flair.html

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

This stollen is an amazing thing: rich, heavy, and fruity. The dough is different from anything else I know and a little tricky to work with. Before I give you the recipe and the technique, I will start by telling you a little about the history of Dresden Stollen. Seeing that there are very different stollen recipes around, I think you need this little introduction to understand how the Dresden stollen is different and why it is worth making, despite all the effort.

In Saxony (the region in the East of Germany, where Dresden is), stollen has been a tradition Christmas bread for centuries (the first written documents about stollen are from the 1329). At that time, however, stollen was a light, yeasted bread, containing nothing but flour, water, yeast and sometimes oil. It was sold and eaten during he pre-Christmas period of Advent fast. Saxony was then catholic, so the use of any richer ingredients such as butter or milk was strictly forbidden. The Saxon rulers, however, were apparently dissatisfied with their Advent bread, so they applied to the pope for a permission to use butter in their stollen. The pope allowed this in 1491, on the condition that they atone for their sin by donating liberally to the church. Although meant only for the rulers and gentry, the pope's permission was quickly applied with much more liberation. Maybe to compensate for centuries of butter-free fasting, the Saxons transformed the stollen into a rich, buttery bread stuffed with fruits. No longer a fast meal, the stollen became a Christmas celebration bread. After a while Saxony turned protestant, but the stollen remained. Of course, with its centuries of tradition, the title "Dresden Stollen" was soon used for trading purposes, unfortunately not always with high-quality products. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the traditional Dresden stollen bakeries fought against the on-slough of so-called Dresden stollen. Today, "Dresdner Stollen" is a registered trademark and only selected backers from Dresden area can use it, provided that their stollen meet criteria with regard to the minimum amount of butter and dried fruits.

Enough of history, let's look at the bread. A real Dresden stollen contains at least 500g Butter and 650g sultanas per 1000g flour. This makes it extremely heavy and rich. Furthermore, the stollen is traditionally heavily coated in icing sugar. The bread needs to ripe for at least 3 weeks in order to develop its flavours and texture and keeps in proper conditions easily for several months. 

The recipe that I have here is based on a century old recipe for Dresden Christmas stollen, that Dresden bakeries use as a foundation. Of course, I have adapted it to suit our tastes. You are free to do the same. Just what ever you do, do not cut down the fat! Without the fat, the stollen will never keep as long and it will not develop the proper texture and taste. The same goes for the amount of fruits. You can play with the sugar though, for example leave out the sugar coat (I prefer our stollen uncoated).

Right, enough said, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

1000 g flour (fine, weak flour; all purpose flour should do nicely)
250 g cream
42 g fresh yeast (or 14 g dried yeast)
500 g butter (or 450g butter and 50g lard or tallow)
1 g ground mace
0,5 g ground cinnamon
0,5 g ground cardamom
zest of 1 lemon
150 g sugar (I use Muscovado whole-cane sugar)
50 g candied lemon peel (instead I make my own by soaking peel from two lemons in honey
for several days)
150 g candied orange peel (instead, I soak peel from 4-5 oranges in honey)
500 g sultanas
250 g currants
100 g rum (optional, I use Amaretto instead)
200 g ground almonds
+ extra butter (approx. 250 g)
+ extra fine castor sugar (approx. 100 g)
+ extra icing sugar (at least 250 g)

0. Save the date
It's important not to start baking stollen too late. My personal experience with this recipe is that they need at least 4 weeks, ideally 6 weeks before you cut into them. Really! We always cut our first stollen on the first Advent Sunday, so I bake my first batch 10 weeks before Christmas. I bake my second and sometimes third batch about 5-6 weeks before Christmas, partly for us and partly as presents for friends.

0. Preferment
The stollen dough is very heavy and it will need a strong yeast activity to raise it. For this purpose, I like to preferment a portion of the flour. I take 300g of the flour, break in 21g yeast, and knead it with 250g cream. I leave it to ferment for 1 hour by room temperaure and than for 12-24 hours in the fridge. You can also use sourdough in the preferment. I have successfully baked sourdough-only stollen, you just need to let them rise longer.

0. Soaking
Place the sultanas and currents in a large bowl. If you are using alcohol, pour it over the fruit. Add enough boiling water to cover the fruit. Leave to soak for at least 30 minutes, but best over night. It is important to soak the fruit even if you are not using alcohol, or else it will burn in the oven. Don't forget to drain the fruit well before you start making the dough to make it as dry as possible.

1. Dough
I sieve the flour onto a working surface (this definitely does not work in a bowl). Break in the remaining 21g of yeast (you can leave this out, just adjust the rising time). Rub the lemon zests into the sugar and mix the sugar into the flour, together with the mace, cinnamon, and cardamom. If you are wondering about the small amounts, the stollen is not supposed to taste very spicy. However, this is your stollen, so you can add any spices you like. Cut the preferment into small pieces and distribute it on the edges of your flour mound and do the same with the butter/lard. Now comes the kneading. Be warned, that you will need about 30 minutes to knead the dough. You can try it in your mixere, but make sure your mixer can take it. Better invest the time or coax a physically strong friend or relative into helping. Start by taking a few pieces of the preferment and the butter and kneading them together. As you do this, the dough-lump in your hands will turn sticky. Place it in the middle of your flour mound and knead it there, until so much flour has been incorporated that it's dry again. Now take some more preferment and butter and knead them in your lump. This will make it sticky again, so add flour. And so on and so on. At some point, the dough-lump may become difficult to handle. Feel free to cut and put aside about two thirds of it and continue kneading with the rest. You can put the pieces together in the end. Do not be tempted into adding more flour or any liquids. Trust me, just keep kneading, it will all be well in the end. As you work, the kitchen will be slowly filled with the smell of lemon zest and the spices - Christmas is on the way!

2. Fruits
You are tired, your fingers ache and you are a proud owner of a homogeneous dough lump that reminds you of short-bread dough. Congratulations, let's add the fruit. Take your drained sultanas and currants and mix them with the ground almonds. This will help soak up the remaining liquid. Mix them with the candied orange and lemon peel and pour the whole lot on your working surface. You might have the urge to check the recipe now, because you think you have too much fruit. But it really can be incorporated into you dough-lump. First, cut the dough-lump into 5 pieces. Start by working the first piece into the fruit. As the fruit is wet, this will make it all turn into a strange paste. Keep adding piece by piece, until the whole lot is incorporated. Don't worry if you feel more like making mudpies. Place the whole mass into a bowl and clean your working surface with a dough scraper. Now evaluate the dough. Is it like a soft short-bread or cookie dough? Than you are done with it. If it's too wet and soft (probably it will be), dust the working surface with flour, turn the dough onto it and carefully work in a little more flour. Not too much, though, the dough should be just about manageable. You won't need to make anything fancy with it, so as long as it does not stick to the work surface or your hands like crazy, it's fine.

3. Divide, form, and rise
Divide the dough into 2-5 pieces. For us, I prefer to make two large stollen. This size apparently has a positive influence on the texture of the stollen later on. But you can make several smaller stollen, too, for example as gifts. Just don't forget to adjust the baking time. Form each stollen into a rough, high log. Just pat it into shape - no rolling, no stretching. Just a note here: the traditional Dresden stollen has no almond paste inside. With all the dried fruit and its sugar coat, I also think that it does not need it. But it's your stollen, so if you like, add it now. Put the formed stollen on a baking sheet with baking paper (make sure the stollen are far enough apart) and let it rise for about 2 hours (more, if you are using only sourdough or less yeast). The stollen will become a little puffy, nothing more. It will definitely not double.

 

 

4. Score and bake
There is a traditional way of forming a Dresden stollen. I use a different, simple way used for stollen from Thuringia (another region in Germany). It's easier and the stollen are less flat, so they are also moister. Basically, you just make a log and then you score it with a single cut all the away down the stollen's back. That's it. I score the stollen directly before putting it into the oven. I don't preheat the oven, just pop it in and bake it at 180°C for approx. 1-1,5 hours. Keep a watchful eye on the stollen. Cover it with aluminium foil if it has turned brown before its time and adjust the time according to the size of the stollen.


5. Coat
This is an optional step. Traditional stollen is heavily coated in sugar. If you want to coat the stollen, brush it with liquid butter (as much as the stollen can soak up) immediately after taking it out of the oven. Than sprinkle it heavily with fine castor sugar. The castor sugar will soak up any access butter. Wait for the stollen to cool and sprinkle it with a very thick layer of icing sugar. As I wrote, I skip this step. Firstly, I find the coated stollen too sweet and secondly it makes a mess when storing. Alternatively, it is also possible to store uncoated stollen and brush it with butter and coat it in sugar right before cutting into it.

6. Store
The stollen has to be stored for at least 4 weeks (I recommend 6) before cutting into it. If you cut it earlier, you will be disappointed. Cutting it later is even better. Stollen store best in an old fashioned cool celler, with high humidity. If you don't have such a cellar, you can store stollen outside in wooden boxes provided that your climate is cool enough (that's what I do). Otherwise store the stollen in the coolest room of your house, but not in the fridge. Some people like to freeze the stollen, I don't think its necessary and it has a negative impact on the texture. If you are storing stollen in a cellar or outside, simply wrap it in cotton cloth and put it in a wooden box, so that it can breathe. Otherwise wrap it well in a plastic or aluminium foil. The idea is that if you cannot provide an environment with high humidity, such as cellar or outside, you should prevent the stollen from drying out. That's it, now wait.

7. Eating
If you cut into a stollen 2-3 weeks after baking, you will be disappointed. It will taste fine, but the crumb will be far too dry. Don't give up and put the stollen away again and wait a little longer. The texture will change over time and after six weeks it will have a short-bread-like crumb and the taste will be a mixture of spices and fruits, all rolled into a buttery, sweet bliss.

So to sum up, a Dresden stollen is not hard to bake. All it takes are good quality ingredients, some muscle and a lot of patience. The reward is a truly unusual bread. Although I am not German and grew up baking other Christmas goodies, stollen has become to me a personification of Christmas. You take the best, you do your best, you wait for the occasion, and then you enjoy it in full.

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