The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pears and Barley

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wassisname's picture
wassisname

Pears and Barley

I guess I should begin with a disclaimer:  I’m not usually one to put chunks of fresh fruit in my breads.  Nuts, seeds, grains, even a bit of dried fruit, sure.  But something about having all those mushy bits in the bread has made me wary of the whole concept.  Plus, the sandwich possibilities can be limited.

Of course, where there is a rule there is an exception, and this is it.  The credit goes to Hanne Risgaard’s Home Baked, which includes a very tempting pear sourdough bread.  That by itself would be little temptation if not for the pear tree in my yard.  Even with the birds claiming their share I still come away with more than enough to do some experimenting. 

And so an annual bake has been born.  Last year I stuck pretty close to the recipe in the book and baked some very tasty loaves.  This year I changed almost everything and got some more very tasty loaves!  Maybe there is something to this bread-with-fruit-in-it after all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so an annual bake has been born.  Last year I stuck pretty close to the recipe and baked some very tasty loaves.  This year I changed almost everything and got some more very tasty loaves!  Maybe there is something to this bread-with-fruit-in-it after all…

The original recipe features spelt, toasted semolina, and yogurt.  I kept the semolina, ditched the yogurt and spelt, and added whole barley flour and type 85 flour.  The barley flour was a craving borne of some barley flour cookies I’d had recently, and the type 85 is just what I had on hand.  Whole wheat flour would work in place of the type 85, though I might reduce the percentage to avoid adding too much of a bitter note.

For more on baking with barley check out blog posts by mebake, hanseata and sam.  Barley has its limits in bread baking and without some background info from fellow TFLers I could have found myself in trouble!  (I’m sure there are other posts but these were the first few that popped up.)

As for the result, no complaints!  The crumb is close but very soft.  The mild, slightly sweet flavor of the barley comes through and compliments the pears very nicely.  I added to the toasted semolina flavor by using it on the bottom of the loaf when loading into the oven (otherwise, I just use regular flour) and that comes through as well.  This bread doesn’t keep particularly well – moisture from the pears is my guess – so it is best enjoyed fresh.  I’m sure there a more, and probably better, ways to put this loaf together, so any suggestions are welcome! 

 

Meanwhile, up at the office we were enjoying the first day of... fall? 

I always love it when Old Man Winter throws out a quick teaser of snow in September!

Marcus

 

 

Comments

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Marcus,

Interesting to note that I just baked this loaf yesterday too.   Apples, oatmeal, maple syrup, pears and pumpkin all beckon to me to be added to my breads this time of year.  Rather than fight the urge I give in and have no regrets *^ }

I am surprised that your loaf dried out quickly.  I would think the pears would add moisture hence keeping quality increased.  I will have to ask the people I gave the loaves to if they noticed the same phenomenon.  My method differed from yours in that I used really ripe pears and I used my DLX when mixing so all chunks got smashed to mush and pretty much disappeared into the dough adding softness and sweetness to the final loaf.  

Your crust is a lot lighter than mine was so I am guessing that was a result of the flours you used in place of those called for in the book.  They are really pretty.  I love the golden tones with the light spots of flour.  Very inviting.

Since you love skiing I understand your liking early snow….me, I am only too happy to wait  as long as possible before our first snow arrives.  Around here it kills the leaves and we loose our nice fall colors.  Traditionally our weather takes a nasty turn Halloween weekend.  Kids have to trick-or-treat wearing heavy jackets over their costumes. :- (  I don't ski anymore so snow means shoveling which just doesn't compare with skiing somehow.  

Anyway, thanks for the post and the idea to try it out with barley next time.  

Take Care,

janet

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks Janet, I hadn’t thought to use the pears soft and smash them in completely.  That keeps the window of pear-opportunity open a little longer.  Catching them at just the right moment isn’t always so easy!

As for the keeping quality, maybe it isn’t the pears that are the problem.  It isn’t so much that it is drying out, it is more like the structure gives out and makes the bread feel stale.  Maybe that’s an effect of the barley and I just haven’t used barley enough to recognize it?  That makes a little more sense.

I baked at a lower temperature than usual to keep the crust color relatively light and the flavor mild – “mild” was sort of a guiding theme with this bake.  Now I am curious to see what a bolder crust might do for the bread.

I do still get a little giddy after the first snow, even when I know it will mostly be gone by the end of the day (no shoveling yet!).  Maybe it comes from growing up in sunny southern California where the change of seasons is… subtle, to say the least.  Even after a couple of decades in and around the mountains, I still love the transition.  Plus I know that in a few weeks I won’t have to do any yard work for 4 or 5 months.  There is something to be said for that!

Marcus

golgi70's picture
golgi70

I just made an apple loaf thinking the same as you.  I'm also surprised that the keeping quality is low as I'd think it would also last longer.  I like the idea of toasting the semolina.  

I always find Rye inviting to these fruit breads from small amounts to large amounts.  20% Barley in a 50% wholegrain dough.  I don't have tons of experience with barley flour but I also love its flavor and the color it adds to the crust.  I've not gone over 10% though.  Between the Barley and the toasted semolina you have 25% grain that is not going to add gluten.

 I think the close crumb might be nice in your bread but if you desire it to open I'd decrease some of those grains and add more glutenous grains however you may (white, wheat, spelt).  You might also try 1 or even 2 stretch and folds during your bulk ferment to help open the crumb.  Finally there is bulk retarding which always works its magic on the crumb while adding great flavor.  Also retarding in shape with these loaves makes for a really good crust.  

Looks lovely. Now I'll have to try some pears

Josh

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thanks, Josh.  Your apple bread looks amazing!  Hard to go wrong with apples and walnuts and cinnamon.  I just keep staring at that crumb shot.  That is definitely going on my list.  If my little apple trees ever get their act together and produce apples then I will really be set!

And thank you for the suggestions.  I think I could use less barley and still get enough flavor in a stronger dough.  And now I’m thinking a few walnuts would work nicely.  This bread isn’t really suited for savory purposes anyway, so I might as well turn it into more of a stand-alone fruit and nut experience.

Marcus

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

I've yet to experiment with barley flour and semolina but you'd bet I would if I had access to them! All in all, your loaf looks delicious. 

Did you expect a closed crumb? I ask because I'm wondering if this is largely caused by the flour you used or the enzymes in the pear... or likely a combination of factors.

Zita

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you, Zita, the flavor was really nice, and just different enough from my usual wheat and/or rye breads to be worth doing.  From what I had read about barley I didn't expect a particularly open crumb.  It doesn't feel exactly like rye, but I think that is a good reference point for working barley into an unfamiliar formula. 

I don't know how much effect the pears have on the dough, but it is an interesting question.  I have only worked with them on a few occasions and the resulting crumbs have been pretty similar.  This bread would be good without the pears as well, so I may need to try that and see how the crumb compares.

Marcus

golgi70's picture
golgi70

with pears I'd use toasted almonds Myself. Pecans would be tasty too but pricier. I'd be happy to see how your loaf changes from just decreasing the barley. 

And I think your loaf is lovely but my simplest suggestion for these breads is bake it bold. It's tons of flavor already there. Fear not as it doesn't taste burnt. 

Best

josh

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Hmmm... I have a fondness for walnuts that is hard to get past.  I think I will take another crack at this bread while I have a few pears left, but the final form is going to depend on how soft the pears get between now and baking day.  By then I may have to follow Janet's method and mush them completely into the dough.  If that is the case then nuts will definitely enter the picture, otherwise I will take your advice and just adjust the flour percentages. 

Marcus

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

of the used fruits from YW feeding that I throw into bread now and again.  This sounds like a very interesting bake that turned out so well for you Marcus.  Love the thin, blistered crust with the semolina look to it.  I rarely do any SD bread that doesn't have a long  low temperature retard in the method somewhere - just to bring out the sour= be we love sour and others do not.  Now iI have to make something with pears in it right now  - A crisp for dinner dessert sounds just like the ticket.  It si still 105 F here the past week - Fall can't come soon enough so we can get in the mid 90's :-)

Happy baking Marcus. 

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Phew!  I sure am glad the 100+ F days are behind us around here!  This the "just right" time of year at home, which is half the elevation of work.  Work is where the snow flies at all sorts of absurd times of the year (and frequently in absurd amounts)!

I've made a few long fermented breads in the past and loved them (I do like a good tangy bread) but the schedule is tough for me to pull off.  Ironic, as that is one method that is often used to work baking into a busy schedule, but I've found that if I can't get a bread done in a day it won't get done at all, or at least not very well.  Most weeks it's all I can do to get the preferment going the night before. Maybe someday... 

Marcus

isand66's picture
isand66

Very nice looking bake Marcus.  I'm very curious about the toasted Semolina.  Was it the gritty semolina flour you used and did the toasted flavor really come through?  I just baked a semolina bread using durum flour which is the semolina flour milled more so it is like a regular flour powder consistency.

Regards

Ian

wassisname's picture
wassisname

Thank you, Ian.  It is the gritty kind used for pasta making. I just went and checked the original recipe in Home Baked and it calls for Durum Flour, presumably the finer variety, only a quarter of which is toasted.  I forgot that I made that adjustment already the first time around because semolina was all I had.  I did notice the flavor in the finished bread.  The toasted pasta sort of aroma is pretty distinct when the semolina is being toasted so it is easy to know what to look for (taste for?) in the finished bread.  I wonder what effect toasting a small percentage of the flour in a durum bread would have.

Marcus

isand66's picture
isand66

Thanks for the info.  I just baked a Durum Semolina bread and I only had the pasta version available so I put it in my coffee grinder and it turns it into the finer variety perfectly.

I will have to try the toasted flour version as that sou ds great.

wassisname's picture
wassisname

That's pretty resourceful.  The coffee grinder sounds like a great way to experiment without a major investment.