The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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michaelreeves's picture

Use of Chemicals to influence Maillard reaction and flavor

April 9, 2013 - 4:17pm -- michaelreeves

Hi All,

I have questions concerning the use of chemicals for dipping baked goods into. Specifically pertaining to pretzels. Specifically these chemicals- Lye, Potassium Hydroxide, Calcium Hydroxide (Lime), Sodium Carbonate, Baking Soda, Salt, and Alkaline Water. My reasoning for choosing all of these ingredients is because they are alkaline and influence the Maillard Reaction. Which is essentially where the color and taste of a pretzel comes from.

MNBäcker's picture

Rehydrate dried Rosemary?

March 8, 2012 - 6:45am -- MNBäcker
Forums: 

Hi, all.

So, I have been baking a couple of batches of Rosemary-Olive sourdough. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results, but I have one slight problem:

the Rosemary flavor is barely noticeable in the bread. I think I used a pretty good amount of fresh Rosemary already, but I could of course increase the amount. The problem I will have is, that when I get to "production stage" and make a dozen loaves or so at a time, I'd need a bush of Rosemary every week - that doesn't sound very sustainable.

londontami's picture

why does my bread have no flavor?

February 3, 2012 - 11:40pm -- londontami
Forums: 

i have been making french bread, i follow the recipes and use a generous amount of salt - however, no matter what i do, my bread never tastes like the french bread i get in the store or at a restaurant. in fact, it basically has no flavor whatsoever.  my first attempt at sourdough yesterday was a big failure (i was expecting this) but even that bread had no flavor whatsoever.  

i dont quite understand what the problem is, if i am using salt, why is there no flavor? i use grey sea salt.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a bake that was destined for dinner with friends.  I had asked what they would like us to bring and the response was "Something that would go well with snoek pate."  Since I didn't have a clue about what Marthinus put into his snoek pate, other than that snoek is a fish, that left me with (in positive terms) a lot of freedom of choice.  I wound up choosing two breads: a sourdough in the pain de compagne vein and Reinhart's pain a l'ancienne.

Before I go further, I should provide some context.  Marthinus had an 18-year run as chef/owner of one of Pretoria's top restaurants.  Although he has changed businesses, he remains passionate about food and cooking.  He is still very selective about the ingredients he uses and very creative with how he puts them together for the finished dish.  When presented with something, he wants to know what went into it and what process or processes were used.  And he is not bashful about sharing his opinions.  For Marthinus, flavor matters.  A lot.

With that in mind, I was both relieved and pleased to see Marthinus enjoy both breads.  He was especially taken with the flavor of the pain a l'ancienne.  So much so, in fact, that this chef and self-avowed non-baker has begun experimenting with pain a l'ancienne at home.  He's already made it twice, with neither effort quite reaching the goal that he wanted to achieve.  One was, from his description, over-fermented.  The other was probably under-hydrated. 

In spite of not hitting a home run with the first two attempts, Marthinus is soldiering on because the flavor of those breads was still captivating.  As he put it, "There isn't a bakery around here where you can get bread that tastes like this!"  Knowing Marthinus, he will have bread whose crust and crumb is as satisfying as its flavor in the not-too-distant future.  It might even be the final motivation to press ahead with a WFO that he had already been contemplating.

Seeing his interest in the bread's flavor has caused me to give some more thought to the importance of flavor.

We all bake for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it is as fundamental as putting food on the table for our families.  Sometimes we bake because it satisfies an inner longing to master a craft and produce something that appeals to the senses.  Sometimes we bake because it is better to knead a batch of dough than it is to punch someone or something.  Sometimes we bake because it lets us take an active role in making foods that are wholesome and unadulterated.  Sometimes we bake to be reminded of a special place, or time, or person.  Sometimes we bake because we can produce something better than we can get at the store for less cost.

Whether our reasons for baking are utilitarian or esthetic, we all bake for flavor.  If bread tasted or smelled like cow flop, we wouldn't eat it. 

As you read through the posts here on TFL, you will see frequent mention of the flavor and fragrance of the breads that are being produced.  People get downright lyrical as they try to describe the flavor of the breads they make.  It isn't surprising.  Every bread sooner or later goes into our mouth.  And as we chew it, the initial visual impression that we had of it is supplanted by the flavors and aromas that permeate our mouth and our nose.  At that point, our attention has shifted away from whether it had a open crumb or a tight crumb, a dark crust or a light crust.  What we want is flavor; the kind of flavor that tells us "Yes!  This is the way that bread should taste!" 

Flavor is so important to us that we aren't content to simply savor the notes that come from the grain, the yeasts, the bacteria, or the enzymes that have all contributed to a specific bread's flavor.  Bread's flavor calls for other flavors, sweet and savory.  Depending on the bread, we may want the simple luxury of butter or a drizzle of olive oil or a scattering of salt.  Or maybe a PB&J is in order.  Or we might marry some good ham, Havarti cheese, and a grainy mustard with an earthy rye.  The possibilities are as infinitely variable as the people making the decisions and the ingredients they have to work with  Every one of those choices is driven by the desire for flavor.

Although I have used Marthinus, with his training and experience as a chef, as an example of someone who cares about flavor, each of us in our own fashion is also concerned about flavor.  Whether or not we consciously acknowledge it, every loaf of bread we bake is another step in the pursuit of flavor.  Some of us are adventuresome, others are cautious.  Some of us crave the new, others want familiar comforts.  Some want in-your-face flavors, others prefer to thoughtfully consider the more subtle flavors.  We each, though, want our bread to taste good

The next time you chew a piece of bread, think about what you are tasting.  And enjoy!

Paul

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

Sourdough Rye with Seeds – cast iron bake


First, thanks to Eric Hanner for this post providing inspiration to explore covered cast iron cooking recently:  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21006/my-combo-cooker-experiment.  This is my second bake with cast iron and I like the results!  Flavor and texture were awesome!


I already owned a 5 qt Wagner Dutch oven with a glass lid that has been in the family as long as I can remember.  The diameter is the same as the 3 qt. Lodge combi cooker - the higher capacity of the Wagner being due to taller height.  So I had vessels that would allow two similar sized loaves to be baked at once- albeit with one having glass and one having cast iron cover.  Both loaves came out identical


 


 


Sourdough Rye Recipe for two loaves (2,066gr or 2.3 lbs prior to baking)


Overall Formula:


60% bread flour (697gr)


25% fresh ground whole wheat (293gr)


10% fresh ground whole rye (114gr)


5% Oat bran (I tend to add to all of my breads for health reasons - 58gr)


23 grams sea salt


20 gr molasses (approx 2 tbs)


10 gr malted wheat powder (approx 2 tbs) – sprouted, dried and ground into flour (malted barley would substitute)


40 gr mixed seeds: Flax, charnushka/black caraway, sesame, poppy seeds (approx 4 tbs)


72% hydration ratio: 834gr water including starter build up.


 


Build Stages:


1.      Stage 1 - build rye starter (100% hydration) to 228 grams (11% of recipe).  This uses all of the rye flour.


2.      Stage 2 – add 293gr of whole wheat, 58gr oat bran, 38 gr white bread flour, all of the seeds, 389gr water.  This approximates 39% of the total formula.  When combined with Stage 1 equates to 50% of the total recipe.  Let proof 8 hours at 78° (oven off light on gets works well).


3.      6pm: incorporate remaining ingredients other than salt.  40 minute autolyse.


4.      Add salt, mix 6 minutes on low speed.


5.      Stretch and fold 3 times at 45 minute intervals.  Keep at 78° between folds.


6.      10:00 pm: Preshape loaves, rest 25 minutes, shape into final loaf and place in floured banneton (actually: $1.50 colander from the dollar store lined with a microfiber dinner napkin and lightly dusted with flour- micro fiber wicks away moisture and releases fine with modest dusting)


7.      Place in plastic bag, leave overnight in refrigerator.


8.      Preheat oven 1 hour at 500° - include Dutch ovens and lids


9.      Plop dough into hot vessels, spray with water, score, and cover.  In they go.


10.  Reduce heat to 450° after 5 minutes


11.  Remove cover after 30 minutes


12.  Baked another 5 or so minutes until internal temp is 195°.  Shut oven until internal bread temp was 202°. 


Note: While the loaves came out nice, the crust is not rock hard as Eric was striving for and as was pointed out in his post/link above.   While my crusts were not rock hard after a 30 minute cover, I am still happy with the outcome.  


Perhaps next time I will leave the temp higher and in the oven longer to see what impact that has on the crust. And not spray dough after putting into Dutch ovens?  Or perhaps shut the oven sooner and leave until 210° or so internal?  Any suggestions on that elusive crust would be appreciated!


livingdog's picture

No-Taste Bread

October 21, 2010 - 4:06am -- livingdog
Forums: 

hi all,


 


I have baked bread that looks pretty beautiful, but tastes completely bland. Following the NYT "No-Knead" bread recipe (3 cups, 1/4 tsp active yeast, 1 1/4 tsp salt, 1 1/2 cup water, sit for 18 hours, fold, sit for 2 hours, bake at 500) it comes out bland. It tastes nothing like the Italian bread I remember, nor does it even taste like white bread.


I found a CI recipe that calls for a mild Pilsner and some vinegar but haven't tried it yet since I haven't given up on the above recipe.

goren's picture

Fermentation has little effect? (beginner seeks advice)

January 21, 2010 - 8:39am -- goren
Forums: 

I've recently started trying to bake bread. I've tried a few plain breads from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" and I feel like I'm getting bland bread. I find the bread even lacking in that nice yeasty flavour. I've done overnight fermentations in the fridge as well as out. 


 


Can anyone advise on what I might be doing wrong?


 


Thanks so much!

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