Fun with flour
Well, I'll be...! I finally got some photos to share and some material to put up on my blog! Even though I've not posted anything in the blog the last...oh well... nearly 12 months, I've visited TFL on a daily basis to try to keep up with what's going on in this wonderful community. One can find endless inspiration, stimulating discussions and plenty of food for thought in this place, and it just keeps getting better every day. After some starts and stops, I'm now easing back into my regular baking habits, and I usually bake a loaf or two per week. Just enough to keep me stocked with decent bread.
If you don't mind, I'll go ahead and pretend that it's been, ehm, some two weeks since my last blog post and not nearly 12 months... So... where was I?
It's Easter, which means a few days off work, and time to indulge in my favourite hobby once more. Judging from the recent score of blog entries, Easter seems to be the season for miches... Outstanding loaves people have baked, no doubt!! This week, I decided to bake a multigrain sourdough bread so that I avoided having to compete with the rest...
This is a rather straightforward formula, some 15% each of whole rye and whole wheat, and 70% bread flour. The rye comes from a ripe rye sourdough starter. As for the soaker, it's basically the same soaker as in Hamelman's five grain levain, but with chops instead of cracked rye. It's also a cold soaker, since I didn't use any cracked rye. Hydration comes in at about 102%.
Combine everything with a spatula into a shaggy dough and let rest 30 mins, just to let everyone get acquainted and allow the flour to fully hydrate. Finish mixing a few minutes on second speed.
Bulk ferment for me was just shy of 2hr 30mins, with one fold midway through. Preshape, shape and then proof at least 8 hours in the refrigerator. Bake directly from the fridge, using the steaming setup of your choice, until the crust is wonderfully golden and the kitchen is filled with a most agreeable smell.
It turned out quite good, and I'm very happy with the flavour of the bread. The rye sourdough and the grains in the soaker give it an intense smell and flavour; very robust and wonderful with butter and cheese. I think the formula needs a bit of tinkering and optimisation, but for now I'm happy to enjoy a pretty decent multigrain sourdough until the next batch.
As you might have noticed from previous adventures into the world of flour, I like to follow-up a bread with some pastry. Yesterday I put some puff pastry together, for the first time following Bo Friberg's instructions. The overall recipe is similar to any other recipe for the stuff, but Friberg instructs to put some of the flour into the butter block itself, making it more pliable and similar to the dough in the way it feels. A made the small-batch version from his book, and to prepare the butter block, I let the butter soften at room temperature for about an hour, put it into a large mixing bowl, and incorporated the flour (and a bit of lemon juice) with a spatula. The butter was then smeared into a 15 cm x 15 cm rectangle on cling film, wrapped well, and chilled overnight. The next morning, I let it sit out on the kitchen table for about an hour to soften a bit, while I prepared the dough.
I've made puff pastry some times in the past, but I'm always a bit nervous going into the ordeal. I have the impression that even the smallest of mistakes in the early phases (especially during mixing of the dough and then encasing the butter block afterwards) will magnify over the course of repeated rolling and folding. I'm glad to say that it went like a breeze this time, and it's probably the best puff I've made so far. I'm not sure if that's due to flour in the butter block, if I was simply lucky or if gained experience weighed in this time around, but I know that I'll be returning to Friberg's recipe next time the world calls for some of my puff. Below is a photo snapped by a happy baker, after completing the fifth and final fold. Wrapped in plastic (just like in Twin Peaks), and ready for the fridge.
So... what to do with these carefully layered sheets of dough and butter? I visited my parents for a cup of coffee this afternoon, so I decided to bake some pastries to accompany that. Below is a photo of made-up puff pastry diamonds; a layer of pastry cream at the bottom (left), then some spoonfulls of chunky apple filling on top of that (right). Egg wash and off they go.
They came out wonderful, and as I said, I was really thrilled with this batch of puff.
After two looong days in the kitchen, time for some comfort food for the busy baker. The crust is all sourdough, made with some excess ripe rye sourdough, and mixed with durum and bread flour. Sauteed onions, salted anchovies, olives and thyme on top. A glass of red wine to go along with it. Very happy.
Have a lovely Easter all!