The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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paddyboomsticks's picture
paddyboomsticks

Ahhhh. Experiments. Sometimes they go right. Right = Happy Paddy. Prancing about the lounge, lovingly gazing at my creations, and hopelessly covetous; I regret eating the beautiful food I have created! Even though it tastes sooooooo good! Bad experiment. Sigh. Bad = Sad, Angry Paddy. A divot in my brow like a hole in a golf course. Not even Survivor is enough to make me smile. Today was a success. Four baked goods, three experiments, and potentially three successes - two guaranteed.

1. Cinnamon Scrolls
From my lovely friend Sarah. I have been meaning to make these for a while. Sarah said they were easy, and hot damn she was right! I'll be making this babies over and over. Delicious, and surprisingly low on the butter and sugar. Yeasty though. Lord are they yeasty!

 

 

2. Danishes From the inimitable Wild Yeast. I confess - I had grave doubts and concerns about this one. The recipe is really (ultimately a little needlessly, in my opinion) complex - there are dozens of steps, with hours rest in between. Puff Pastry traditional works through a kind of lamination process - where you roll it out flat, and butter it - over and over and over. Keeping the dough cold is crucial. It's not a fun process, and in my opinion the gains over store bought puff are marginal at best. This is a different process, it involves rolling out a barely incorporated dough with _huge_ chunks of butter in it. I admit I was skeptical, but wouldn't you be? Look at this! Look at the butter! Ye gods! THE BUTTTTTTTEERRRR!

So you have to roll it out:

*Hands belong to Awesome BakeFriend Pat. Unbelievably, it started to incorporate. The dough - partly because it's so cold - is very stiff. Stiff and yellow. It reminded me of nothing so much as pasta dough in its qualities. After appropriate chill-out times, you have to shape it. Because I need to change my middle name to: "Let's Make A Double Batch!", Pat and I had quite a few danishes ready to go: way too many for my meagre kitchen.... 38 or so...

After, smear on the cream cheese mix, peach halves, morello cherries and boysenberries, then you're good to go!

 

I couldn't believe it: they tasted as good as the looked!!!

 

Key learnings from this: Breaking up this recipe as Wild Yeast implies can be done is probably a good idea. Individually, the steps are not too time consuming. All together they are pretty damn time consuming. The biggest step is combining the butter and the flour. That's a lotta rolling!

This said, I think that this recipe could do with some work: all those refrigeration times are definitely not required. They are only there to keep the dough cold. If the weather is cold, or you're able to contain yourself and keep your groping hands off the dough, they won't be necessary.

Also: I would be reluctant to refrigerate the dough to the outside of those time limits. 4 days, etc. is a really long time in the fridge. Too long, in my opinion. Sure it would work, just maybe not well. Finally: don't use too much cream cheese; it will inhibit the rise a bit if you do.

 

3. Jeffrey Hamelman's 66% Rye Sourdough from Bread. Still getting the hang of Hamelman, I think. His book is a tremendous wealth of knowledge, but the two recipes I have tried so far, whilst not bad, haven't been up there with my favourite recipes.

I am finding his doughs in general have a higher hydration than I would expect, and the dough then has a kind of satiny, silky feel. Also, I'm not getting the proofing rises that I general ly expect from these doughs.

Both recipes I have made so far have stayed very flat in the proofing process, far less than my trusted recipes. I've waited over his leavening times, and still, not much action. I get an oven rise, to be sure. but it's - hmmmm - it's just not quite right.

Despite slashing, I get rise lifting up the bottom of the loaf (hexagon loaves! No fun!). Also I find on cutting the bread that I get a slightly dense, almost rubbery texture - not the soft or chewy texture I generally prefer. This all said, I haven't cut the loaf yet, so the jury's out. Has anyone else tried out this loaf or the Vermont sourdough? The loaves are the front two in the first pic.

 

4. My Trusty, Delicious Wholemeal Loaf. From Boas, formerly of Folding Pain, now of Grain Power. I have to say; this is the my favourite bread that I have ever cooked, and that's saying something. The flavour is brilliant. The texture: both soft and chewy. It keeps well, and makes great toast. And most importantly, it's practically indestructible - you can screw around with it endlessly and it still holds up. This recipe is fantastic.

What a blissful day of baking! I wish every day was like this!

funkdenomotron's picture
funkdenomotron

Greetings! Wanted to create a blog, and give a bit of history and aspirations. I have looked over this site a few times and finally decided to join. I am 31, I have been baking for almost 2 years. I was an army brat, and grew up in Frankfurt and Stutgartt. I first started with pretzels, and have come up with a realy good simple recipe that can be made with packaged yeast or starter. I live in south florida now though, and I'm not so sure the wild yeast here is quite up to snuff. Perhaps the heat and humidity play a role, the first batch and second batch yield a good bread, but the starter then tends to sour too much and turn into a grey lump of bla. I am also quite the avid ametuer chef, and take pride in measuring nothing. This is not a skill that is transferrring well to baking breads. I have been trying to bake a good baguette. Traditionally I have started with my yeast and warm water, then add slowly the flour, of course type depends on what I want, until I get a good dough. But there are books that say to measure and add all at once. There are books that say to knead vigorously for 8 min. There are books that say to knead lightly for 15 min. Some say to add the salt last, some immediatley. Some want a cold rise, some want a warm rise. Some want 3 rises, some want 1. To spray or not to spray? So I will be interested in some recipes and techniques, and I will try and figure out what i am doing when i make pretzels and post. Aufwiedersehen!      

afjagsp123's picture

Rye/Water starter - smell and taste??

July 30, 2008 - 7:21am -- afjagsp123

I have never had good luck with sourdough starters. When I lived in "Nearly Canada, North Dakota" my starters never developed any sour taste. I think it was just too cold in our home, even when I placed on our hot water heater. Then again, I only tried them in the winter.

Now I live in "Nearly Mexico, Arizona". Our home is a constant 74 degrees. This time I'm trying a rye and water starter with the 3 step method of 2 oz rye/2 oz spring water for 48 hours, 2 oz rye 4 oz spring water 18 hours, 4 ounces wheat flour, 4 ounces spring water.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

This weekend's bake, per my wife's request, was a walnut stout bread.  The recipe that I used (note that all measurements are volumes, not weights) can be found here: http://www.kitchenlink.com/mf/2/4133.  We first saw it printed in the Kansas City Star some years ago; the link attributes it to the Houston Chronicle.  It's probably one of those recipes that was reprinted widely, since it is so good.  Oh, and don't miss the Cheddar-Ale spread recipe at the bottom of the page.  It is wonderful with this bread!

There are a couple of insights that I can offer, having made this bread on several occasions.  It is essentially a rye bread, which means that the crumb is very smooth and somewhat dense.  The dough will be sticky as you handle it.  The recipe suggests adding flour during kneading to control the stickiness but I elected to knead with one hand and clean the countertop (and my hand) with a plastic dough scraper.  It helps to keep the finished bread from being too dry.  The recipe merely says "rye flour".  I don't know if it means white rye, medium rye, or whole rye.  In my case, whole rye flour was on hand, so that is what I used and it turned out fine.  The recipe also requires 1 Tablespoon of coriander, and that is not a misprint.  Between the coriander and the anise seed, it is a very fragrant bread.  As for the stout, I've used Guinness on previous occasions with good results.  This time, I used Boulevard Brewery's Dry Stout (local to Kansas City) with equally delicious results.  I think you could get away with using any dark beer or ale, whether stout, porter, bock or dunkel.  The flavor may shift a bit, but it wouldn't upset the overall results.  Obviously, the richer the flavor of the beer or ale, the richer the flavor of the bread.  The walnuts are, to my tastes, essential for the bread.  They contribute both flavor and a crunch that play off the other flavors and textures very nicely. 

The recommended baking time is 35-45 minutes at 375F.  I checked a loaf's temperature at the 40-minute mark and it was only about 180F, so I left it in for another 10 minutes.  If it had been taken out at the recommended time, it would have been gummy.  Since I only make this every two or three years, I haven't really experimented with different temperature/time combinations.

Here is a picture of the finished loaves:

Walnut Stout Bread

Paul

wadam's picture

Sourdough rye bread

July 8, 2008 - 1:58pm -- wadam

I've been making this bread for about two weeks now, and I am more pleased than I can say.  It's an original recipe, and it didn't come out quite as expected, but nonetheless, I think it is the best bread that I have ever made.  It is thick-crusted, but the crust is kind of soft and chewy like a ciabatta; and the crumb, while very open, is also moist.  And did I mention that it's sour?  It is almost certainly the sourest bread that I've had since I left the bay area five years ago.

 

Here's a pic:

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I had occasion to try several new things last weekend: Rose Levy Berenbaum's recipe for "Levy's" Real Jewish Rye Bread, one of my recently acquired bannetons from SFBI, and the Pampered Chef equivalent of a La Cloche (which has been sitting around unused for years).  This also marked the second time that I have made bread on the new soapstone countertops that were recently installed.

The recipe comes from RLB's "The Bread Bible".  The bread contains 3.3 oz of rye flour, vs. 8.5 oz of bread flour, so it is scarcely any more sticky than a wheat dough would be.  And with 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds, rye isn't the dominant flavor.  The bread begins with a yeasted sponge, which is allowed to ferment 1-4 hours.  It eventually bubbles through a flour layer that is placed on top of the sponge:

Fermented sponge 

Once the sponge has fermented, the flour mixture, oil and salt are stirred in.  The dough is then kneaded and left to ferment under an overturned bowl for a 20-minute rest:

Resting dough

After the dough has rested, it is kneaded again and then allowed to rise until it is doubled.  At that point, it is given a letter fold, then returned to the bowl until it doubles again.  After the second rise, the dough is flattened slightly and then shaped into a ball and allowed to rise until it has doubled.  Ms. Levy recommends that the final rise after shaping occur in a covered bowl.  I opted to use a fabric-lined banneton, dusted with rice flour, covering the exposed surface with plastic wrap to keep it from drying.

Ms. Levy suggests baking either on a baking sheet with steam, or in a cloche.  In both cases, she recommends having a baking stone in the oven as it preheats, then setting either the baking sheet or the (also preheated) cloche on the baking stone.  It seemed like overkill, but I followed the instructions as given, using the cloche.  The risen loaf was tipped out onto parchment paper, slashed, then placed in the cloche and covered.  I'll need to practice the technique a bit.  I was a bit gun-shy about burning myself on either the cloche base or its lid, so I wasn't as gentle with placing the loaf as I should have been.  It deflated slightly but recovered most of the loss with oven spring.

Based on the directions, I pulled the cover from the cloche about 10 minutes before the estimated completion of the baking time, expecting that it would finish browning during those last few minutes.  Instead, I saw that the loaf was already well-browned.  So, I stuck a thermometer in it, which quickly registered 210F.  At that point I declared it done and placed it on the rack to cool.  Here's how it looked:

Cooling rye bread

And a shot of the crumb, taken the next morning:

Crumb of Levy's rye

More of the color comes from the malt syrup in the recipe than from the whole rye flour that I used.  The crumb is firm and moist, the crust thin and chewy.  It makes a mean ham and Swiss sandwich. While I like caraway in a rye bread, the amount in this bread is more than I would use for my tastes.  Next time I make it, I will either cut back on the caraway, or substitute fennel or dill, which will be more to my liking. 

Thank you, RLB.  This is good stuff!

Paul

kansas_winter_wheat's picture

Any interest in whole wheat/rye/triticale berries?

May 11, 2008 - 12:36pm -- kansas_winter_wheat

Hello everyone.  I'm posting this as a feeler for anyone interested in whole, unground wheat berries.  We're a small farm in kansas, and are currently looking to cater to home-millers by producing and shipping custom amounts of wheat/rye/triticale depending on the demand for each.  We currently will have hard red winter wheat available as of about july or september, and depending on the interest, can make hard white winter wheat, rye, and triticale(a cross between rye and wheat) available as needed (by next year)  Please e-mail your interests, i.e, what kind of product you wish to see, typ

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