The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

The first week of December featured a lot of baking, in marked contrast to the prior week.  Having my hands in that much dough was a genuine pleasure.  Even better was the knowledge that most of it was for the benefit of others, rather than for myself.

On Saturday, December 1, I finished my shopping and dropped off the ingredients in preparation for a class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City.  I also prepared biga that evening for a batch of Stollen.  On Sunday afternoon, I prepared and baked the Stollen, three loaves worth, and two loaves of a Bohemian Christmas Braid.  Students who get to see what the finished product looks like, and enjoy eating it, in class go home happier than those who do not.  (And they did like the taste of these breads!)  On Monday evening, I prepped enough biga for 20 batches of Stollen. 

The Bohemian Christmas Braid, before and after glazing (it's easy to see why my wife handled braiding duties for our daughters' hair):

And the stollen, prior to basting with melted butter and blanketing in sugar:

The class on Tuesday evening ran from 6:30 to 9:00.  I arrived at the Center just after 4:30 and spent the next couple of hours prepping ingredients, portioning the biga, and prepping one batch each of Stollen and Braid dough so that they would be available for demonstrating shaping techniques.  Meanwhile, my assistant was setting out the required implements at the student workstations and taking care of other room preparations.  The students started rolling in as we were wrapping up our set-up steps, so we were able to start right on time. 

The students ranged from bread baking newbies to experienced bakers wanting to pick up some additional information about the specific breads being taught that evening.  For instance, one lady was curious about what adjustments she would need to make since she mills her own flour at home.  Regardless of their experience levels, they were a wonderful group to work with and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

It’s interesting how little things crop up.  We ran short of fruit peel for the Stollen because I made a mistake in my estimating.  However, we had more raisins and currants than required, which I had anticipated, and that allowed us to make up for the shortfall in the fruit peels.  It also gave a good opportunity to illustrate how to be flexible while baking, adapting to unforeseen circumstances.  I’m still scratching my head about the flour though.  Since I didn’t have the final count when I shopped, I assumed that all 20 places would be filled.  From what I calculated, we needed about 42 pounds of flour; therefore, I picked up a 50-pound sack at Costco.  We used up every bit of that flour and pulled some from the Center’s pantry!  Since I haven’t found an error in my calculations, it’s still a mystery to me how that much flour was used. 

On Friday, December 7, I baked 6 loaves of a Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread, adapted from the Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread in the KAF Whole Grain Baking book.  Six, because that’s as many 9x5 bread pans as I have and because that’s as many as can easily fit in my oven.  Then on Saturday I made 4 more loaves.  We hosted the Christmas party for my wife’s colleagues on Sunday and the bread was for gifts for them and for some other friends.  And one for us, too!  In addition to making fabulous toast, this bread goes really well with ham and cheese.  Other baking that Saturday for the party included about 3 dozen Eggshell Rolls from Clayton’s Complete Book of Breads and Rye Rolls, source not recalled at the moment.  The Rye Rolls got a bit of a tweak when I substituted 1 teaspoon of caraway and ½ teaspoon each of coriander and fennel seeds, crushed, for the called-for 2 teaspoons of caraway. 

Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread dough:

Baked and bagged:

Eggshell Rolls:

Rye Rolls:

The  Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread also marked the first time I have used the Great River brand of whole wheat flour.  I had picked up a 10-pound bag at our local Costco, having seen it there for the first time.  I believe PostalGrunt mentioned it in a recent post of his, too.  Based on my experience, I like this flour.  The grind is quite fine.  I should buy some Wheat Montana flour again to see whether one has a finer grind than the other, or if their textures are approximately equal.  The bran flecks are the same size as the rest of the particles.  My first guess would have been that the flour is produced with roller mills but the Great River Milling site says it is stone-ground.  Although I couldn’t locate a precise analysis, GRM says that their bread flours are milled from hard red spring wheat and “we strive to purchase wheat that contains 14 percent protein and strong gluten content.”  From a purely empirical point of view, I’d say that they hit their target for the bag I purchased.  Not surprisingly, I had to increase the liquid content to achieve the desired dough consistency.  The resulting dough handled well and rose well, too.

The Great River flour bag:

This past weekend I made a batch of Cromarty Cob from Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters. Having blogged about this bread previously, here, I won’t go through a blow-by-blow account this time.  I made two deviations from Mr. Whitley’s formula and process.  First, I increased amounts by 50% to produce two medium-size loaves, rather than one large loaf.  Second, I let fermentation proceed at ambient temperatures in my kitchen, which ranged from 65-68F, instead of the recommended 82F temperature.  As a result, fermentation times for the levain and for the final dough were in the 12-hour range, each.  With the whole-wheat content being approximately 50%, this yielded a bread with a noticeable sourdough tang.  The wheaty flavors that were masked by the cinnamon and raisins in the Honey-Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread get to shine in this loaf, too.  I expect that using a higher fermentation temperature would lead to a bread with a more subtle sourness and, therefore, a more wheat-forward flavor and fragrance.  As it is, I’m every bit as happy with this bread as I was the first time I made it.  And I’m happy to have found another high-quality whole wheat flour to work with that doesn’t inflict exorbitant shipping costs.

Since odds are pretty good that I won’t post any new blog entries between now and Christmas, please let me wish each of you a blessed and merry Christmas.

RobynNZ's picture

Video - KAF wheat farmers

May 30, 2011 - 2:29pm -- RobynNZ
Forums: 

Here in NZ the longest running television programme is called Country Calender, it started in March 1966. When I saw these videos I wondered if such a programme has currency in the USA .... Anyway I am sure those who speak so well of KAF products here on TFL will enjoy this KAF video project, as I have, even though I don't have access to the flour.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/ourfarmers/

Robyn

Urchina's picture

Free shipping!

August 25, 2010 - 8:16am -- Urchina
Forums: 

OK, so apparently I triggered the spam filter when I tried to post the link, but KAF is having a free shipping offer now, and it appears to include their AP unbleached, white whole wheat, and whole wheat flours. Just FYI, as I know that many folks here use their flour (including me) and the shipping is a killer. 


 


If you go to the King Arthur Flour website, I think the free shipping offer is on the main page. 


 


 

ques2008's picture
ques2008

It's been awhile since my last blog (late spring this year) so I promised Floyd - during his fund raising campaign - that I'd be back with another blog soon.


I haven't been "bloggingly" active as I wanted to owing to work mandates, although I stay tuned regularly and admire the works of the active and not-so-active bloggers.  There has been so much to admire here on TFL - the bakers, the baked goods, the insights, the "rhapsodies in blue", not to mention the tips and suggestions from members who are generous with their time and effort so that others may learn.  I have also hesitated a few times about posting a blog because compared to the talent pool of fresh loafers, my baking skills are nothing to write home about.  I must say though that the slow and sometimes painful journey into bread making has had its rewards. Since I started my love affair with dough I've only gone as far as making rolls, breakfast buns and sweet breads.  My sacred promise:  I'll start my second journey into sourdough next year.


Speaking of buns, this is an abbreviated version of my blog at www.sotsil.wordpress.com.  When it comes to recipes, I know of only two kinds:  keepers and poopers.  This King Arthur Flour recipe is a keeper.  It's the second time I've made it, and each time I've varied the shape.  KAF says to form burger buns, but I was in a playful mood and twisted them instead.  That was the first time.  The second time, I got more ambitious.


Here's what I ended up with:


boule 1


 

Of course like a dunderhead, I stared and stared, toying with the idea of pouring cement over it to hang as an "objet d'art" in my kitchen.  The wonderful thing about this KAF recipe is that the dough is pliable.  At first I thought I might have to use scotch tape to hold the braids in place, but no - the dough cooperated and followed my nervous fingers without any resistance.  Charming.  As I prepped it for the oven, I felt a strange bond forming, like that of a school-girl crush.

Thank you, KAF, for a winning recipe.

You need not go to my blog to get the recipe because I'll post it right here.  But I did mention Shiao-Ping's valuable insight about coloring.  In one of her posts, she said something about beet coloring that doesn't take kindly to oxidation.  I mentioned it because two fun activities that I indulge in when I'm not banging away on my keyboard are shaping and coloring bread!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

My Valentine present, which had been back-ordered, showed up while I was out of town last week: the KAF Whole Grain Baking book.  My, oh my, oh my!  There is some serious baking to do!  Since our grandson is staying with us for part of his spring break and since he loves cinnamon toast for breakfast, I decided to start last evening with the honey oatmeal bread recipe, which has a cinnamon swirl option.  It contains honey and oatmeal, natch, as well as whole wheat flour, unbleached AP flour, butter and other good things.  I didn't have any nonfat dry milk on hand, but the bread doesn't seem to have suffered any as a result.  The cinnamon swirl mixture contains egg white, brown sugar, cinnamon (2 tablespoons!) and flour. 

The texture is surprisingly light for a mostly whole grain bread, as well as being moist and tender.  It toasts up wonderfully, with both the honey and the cinnamon flavors being very noticeable.  Here's a picture:

Honey oatmeal cinnamon swirl

I think that the egg white and flour in the cinnamon mixture kept the layers of the roll from separating or creating pockets, as has often been the case with other recipes that I have made.

This was everything that I anticipated, and more, so I have high hopes for other recipes in the book.  The only downside may be a dent in my pocket to buy spelt and other not-so-common flours, if and when I can find them locally. 

Paul

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