The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jan Hedh

hanseata's picture
hanseata

When I made my wonderful rose hip jam a month ago, temperatures were in the eighties, t-shirt weather for weeks, and we even used the air condition in our bedroom - in Maine!

The glasses were sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting to be properly tagged before going into the basement. But my husband, immobilized by a broken foot, needed special attention, and, between baking twice a week for our local natural food store, answering student questions online, and taking care of our undeserving critters, I didn't get to it for quite a while.

After a week or so, I noticed that one of the glasses showed ominous signs of frothy activity. Obviously I didn't fill it quite high enough to establish a vacuum, and, with the prevailing heat as incubator, my rose hip jam had started to ferment.

I was pretty annoyed with myself. Why didn't I pay more attention, and place the compromised glass into the fridge, before it could turn itself into booze?

No help for it, this was a goner, and had to be thrown out..... Or not? Suddenly I remembered my experiences with apple yeast water two years ago. Made from fermenting apples, the yeast water had proved to be a powerful leaven, my bread even grew a horn!

But in the end the apple yeast water died a slow death from starvation in a dark corner of my fridge, all but forgotten, since we preferred the tangier taste of sourdough.

Wouldn't it be worth a try to experiment a bit, and see what would happen if I fed the tipsy jam with  flour?

I measured a teaspoon of jam in a little bowl and added equal amounts of water....

....and whole wheat flour to the bowl: 

5 g fermented rose hip jam + 25 g water + 25 g whole wheat flour.

Eleven hours later the reddish mixture had become bubbly and spongy, and emitted a wonderful fruity-sour smell.

I fed it two times more, aways with 25 g flour and 25 g water. It ripened faster each time, first after 3, then even only after 2 1/2 hours.

   Fully developed rose hip mother

I was very pleased and contemplated my next move.

I wanted to make a fairly simple levain, with a bit of whole grain, but not too much. I expected a rather mild taste, but I didn't want the blandness of an all-white bread, nor a too hearty loaf that overwhelmed more subtle nuances.

So I adapted a recipe for Pain au Levain, made with apple yeast leaven, from Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads and Pastries". I had made this bread before, with apple yeast water, it had been nice, but rather mild.

Hedh's book is gorgeous, with wonderful recipes, though not without some pesky errata - my first attempt of an attractive looking Levain with Bran and Vinegar had ended in a dense, compact brick - thanks to one erroneous Zero too many in the bran department.

Even though it was already evening, I didn't want to wait, and started with 16 g of my newborn rose hip mother - mother, chef and levain are the classic French terms for the 3 steps to make a leaven - to make the second stage: the chef.

 Chef after kneading

I woke up at midnight, went downstairs, eager to see how my starter was doing, and found a nicely grown chef, wide awake, and hungry for more.

  Fully developed chef

After feeding the little guy with more flour and water, I tottered back to bed. The next morning my levain was fully ripened and ready to go!

 Fully developed rose hip levain

PAIN AU LEVAIN  (adapted from Jan Hedh: "Swedish Breads and Pastries")

CHEF
21 g mother starter (it doesn't have to be rose hip, an ordinary mature wheat or rye starter will do)
   8 g water
21 g bread flour

LEVAIN
  50 g chef (all)
  50 g water
100 g bread flour

FINAL DOUGH
200 g levain (all)
 16 g spelt flour
 16 g rye meal
282 g bread flour
219 g water
    6 g salt

DAY 1:
1. Mix together all ingredients for chef. Knead for 2 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes. Resume kneading for 1 more minute. (Dough should be stiff, but not hard, moisten your hands to incorporate more water, if needed.) Cover, and let sit for 4 hours, or until doubled in size.

2. Mix together all ingredients for levain. Knead for 2 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes. Resume kneading for 1 minute more. (Dough should be stiff, but not hard, moisten your hands to incorporate more water, if needed.) Cover, and let ripen for 5 - 6 hours, or until doubled in size. Knead briefly to degas, and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 2:
3. Remove levain from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up. Cut into smaller pieces and place with flour and water in mixer bowl. Knead for 3 minutes at low speed, then let dough rest for 5 minutes.

4. Add salt and continue kneading for 7 more minutes at medium-low speed. Stretch and fold 1 x, gather dough into a ball, place it in lightly oiled bowl, turn it around to coat with oil, cover, and let rest for 90 minutes.

5. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, place hands in the middle and push out the air, stretch and fold 1 x, gather dough into a ball, return it to the bowl, and leave it for another 80 minutes.

6. Push out air again, and let dough relax for 10 more minutes. Shape into a round, place in banneton (seam side up), or on parchment lined baking sheet (seam side down).

7. Sprinkle bread with flour, mist with baking spray, cover, and proof for 60 - 90 minutes (in a warm place), until it has grown 1 3/4 times its original size.

8. Preheat oven to 250º C/482º F, including steam pan. Score bread.

9. Bake bread for 5 minutes, reduce heat to 200º C/400º F, and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Rotate bread 180 degrees, remove steam pan, and bake for 20 minutes more, venting the oven once to let out steam in between.

10. Leave bread in switched-off oven with door slightly ajar for another 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

  Rose Hip Levain crumb

I changed Jan Hedh's recipe a bit. Instead of long kneading, I added a period of rest (autolyse) while mixing the dough, thereby shaving off some hands-on time.

A total baking time of 60 minutes, as stated in the recipe, was not necessary, my bread was already done after 40 minutes. And leaving it a while longer in the switched-off oven with the door a bit ajar guaranteed a nice crisp crust that didn't soften soon after baking.

Did it taste like rose hips? No. But is was delicious! And not only that: The best of all husbands found it "the crustiest bread you ever made". 

One question remains: what was it exactly that gave the bread its marvelous lift? The rose hips? The apples? Or the red wine the jam was made with?

Bar Harbor Shore Path - where Rugosa roses grow in abundance
Salilah's picture

Jan Hedh book released - but no weight measurements!

October 21, 2011 - 8:32am -- Salilah

I've just received my long-awaited copy of Jan Hedh's Artisan Breads book (just re-released) and, as pointed out by Virtus in the Book Review forum, although Hedh repeatedly tells us to use scales for accurate measurement, the (American?) editors have decided to give all ingredients lists in cups and tablespoons!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

After realizing that we preferred tangy sourdough breads to milder fruit yeast loaves, I banned my apple yeast water into the no-see area of my refrigerator - the place where stuff goes that is hardly ever used. Bad conscience made me feed it together with my other two starters before I went on my trip to Germany, but after I came back I forgot all about it.

Leafing through Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads And Pastries" again, I felt enticed by his "Pain au Levain with Bran and Vinegar" and rummaged in the fridge for the sorely neglected apple yeast water. Halfways expecting it had perished due to starvation, I opened the lid of the recycled sour cream container. It smelled still sweetish sour, but had some suspicious little white specks floating on the surface.

I poured most of the fruit water into the sink, retaining only the "sludge" on the bottom. From this I took a spoonful to build up my levain, wondering whether it was still alive. Amazingly, it was. It fermented through all 3 steps as it should, it took only longer, so I left it overnight on the counter (NOTE to all other abusive fruit yeast parents: your offspring is way more resilient than you think!).

Adding the other dough ingredients to my lively fruit yeast levain, I realized what an enormous amount of bran was to go into the breads, about 48% (= 250 g bran per 518 g flour for 2 loaves). But it was the first time I was going to make this bread, so I obediently followed the recipe.

From my former experiences with Jan Hedh's recipes I knew better than to stare at the kitchen timer, but let the dough and the shaped loaves proof at their own good time. With former fruit yeast breads I had been too impatient to wait that long - and they had grown "horns" and done other weird things in the oven (see my blog).

I also knew that the baking times in the recipes were often much longer than the breads actually needed in my oven. So when my loaves went into the oven I kept an eye on them. They had some oven spring, and didn't act out like their older siblings, but it was obvious that they would not turn out quite like the loaf shown on the picture in the book:

Jan Hedh's Pain au levain with bran and vinegar - as it is supposed to look like (in the book): light and airy, with some little brown specks.

My bread was anything else: brown and dense - it suffered from a severe case of bran-o-mania!

This could not just be one stupid German baker's screw-up - I wonder whether there was a zero too many in the recipe: 25 g bran instead of 250 g?

What it did have, to my surprise, was a really good taste: slightly sweetish (no sweetener added). Much different from an almost whole wheat loaf - what it basically was.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

What did I do during the holidays? Baking, of course! (We were invited for Christmas dinner, so no family cooking). I love my newest addition to my evergrowing collection of baking books, Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads & Pastry". Though I do not follow his technique in every step (I prefer steaming with a steam pan and a cup of boiling water), and, also found the baking times for some recipes way longer than the bread needed in my oven, I think it's a great book.

After my first trials with apple yeast leavened Pain au Levain, I tried my hand with Miche Bread with Sourdough. Jan Hedh suggests rising the shaped loaves on a couche. I own one, but I rarely use it, preferring a perforated baguette pan for my Pains a l"Ancienne, bannetons or simply a parchment lined baking sheet for boules and bâtards. Though I dusted the loaves with flour, and covered them with a towel, after 2 hours (without extra plastic wrap protection) the breads had developed a skin (except for the bottoms). When I tested them with my finger, it felt like poking a rubber ball - the skin didn't allow a small indentation, but folded in somewhat, and then bounced back.

No scoring was required, and I placed my rubber balls in the oven, hoping that their soft belly would let them spring, even if the skin didn't. Fortunately I was forewarned, by my earlier experience with Hedh's bread, not to trust the baking time in the recipe. Indeed, the bread reached the desired 208 F/98 C internal temperature already after 28 minutes, instead of 45! And though they didn't have much oven spring, the crumb was good, my rubber balls had been filled with all the air they needed during the rise. The bottom, as to be expected - not having a "skin" - was less brown, and the crust thinner.

Miche with rye sourdough

Miche crumb shot shows the difference between top (drier skin) and bottom (no skin).

My next bread was, again, an example of The Power of The Apple Yeast. Fed with juice drops from cutting oranges for our cereal, the apple yeast water was peacefully fomenting in the fridge, waiting to become leaven for the next dough. I started building a 3-steps-levain, with my lamp-on-only oven as perfect environment. WhileRising the breads - two large loaves - I had another surprise. With the same temperature in the kitchen, these breads rose much faster than the time given in the recipe, whereas proofing the sourdough miche had taken nearly twice the time. Well, I've heard somewhere that "the dough is always right, not the clock".... This time I let the boules rest on a parchment lined baking sheet, they rose mightily, no skin development - and no bouncing rubber balls.

Because of my earlier experiences with shorter baking times, I checked the breads for done-ness after 30 minutes, but, surprise, this time they needed the full 50 minutes, as stated in the recipe.

Pain de Campagne with apple yeast - spiral scoring inspired by txfarmer.

Pain de Campagne crumb

Both breads had an excellent taste, and kept for 3 days in a brown bag. The large Pain de Campagne loaf (ca. 1200 g) I cut in halves and froze the other half.

After all that serious bread baking - the stollen and lebkuchen being eaten - I needed some peanut butter relief, while a Nor'easter howled around the house and a blizzard promised a great workout with the shovel. Several opened glasses with peanut butter (our daughters tend to dump their kitchen leftovers at our house) provide a never ending supply, creamy or crunchy, organic or less healthful.

Peanut Butter Muffins from "The Muffin Bible".

These muffins are wonderful, moist and, with an additional dose of toasted peanuts , even more peanutty.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

During our last trip to Portland I lured my (for good reasons) wary husband to go with me to "Rabelais", with the sanctimonious promise "just wanting to look what's new". Rabelais is cooks' equivalent to an opium den, a famous cookbooks-only store; they carry probably every English language (and several foreign language) cookbook on the market, plus many antique ones. Leafing through all these enticing books, looking at all those mouthwatering photos, leaves the mind boggled and the eyes glazed over...We left the store, I with my broken promise - and Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads & Pastries" -, and my cautious Richard with a (twice as expensive!) magnificent Vietnamese cookbook.

What had caught my attention in Hedh's book was the leaven used in several Pains au Levain - yeast made of raisins or apples. With all that discreetly fomenting leftover apple yeast water in my fridge - thanks to RonRay - I needed another baking challenge after producing one nice  loaf with this strange homemade yeast. Reading the recipes I was quite astonished to learn that fruit yeast is regularly used by French and Italian (and obviously also some Swedish) bakers as milder sourdough alternative. From Ron's (RonRay) and Akiko's (teteke) discussion on fruit yeast breads I had assumed that this was a (somewhat exotic) Japanese invention!

Following Hedh's recipe I cultivated a "mother" (1. step), "chef" (2. step) and then the levain from about a teaspoonful of apple yeast water. When I placed the Pain au Levain in the oven, it looked to me somewhat flat, and I was a bit concerned about it's oven spring capacities. While we were drinking tea, I kept one eye on the oven. At first the rim rose a bit, the middle seemed to cave in - and then I watched incredulously how my bread started growing a veritable horn!

After some suspenseful minutes the whole loaf began to swell ominously, but fortunately stopped short of exploding.

Pain au Levain from Jan Hedh's "Swedish Bread & Pastry

Holey loaf! Apple Yeast Gone Wild - or only baker's impatience?

 

The bread tasted great, and even with the large holes, we managed to butter the slices and eat them with Südtiroler Speck and Fontina.

This weekend I gave it another try. With the first loaf I had made the dough with brief kneading and autolyse - whereas Jan Hedh suggests long kneading, at low speed, without autolyse. I wanted to see whether it would make any difference if I used his technique, and, also, whether a longer rise in the banneton would affect the bread's "holeyness".

The first loaf I had made with a whole wheat and rye addition, for the second I wanted to use some leftover kamut. The longer kneaded dough got warm faster than stated in the recipe - the water should have been colder - but I didn't notice the slightest difference in dough consistency or performance to the one I made before. And I like the idea with brief kneading and autolyse much better.

This time I tried to catch the exactly right moment of the optimal rise before placing the bread in the oven. And then I watched and - saw another horn growing, though less pronounced than the first one. And the bread had, again, a very strong oven spring.

Pain au Levain with kamut

So I guess it's really The Power of The Apple Yeast

The kamut version tastes as good as the first bread. And now I'm going to have a slice!

 

 

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