The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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TimmyB's picture
TimmyB

 

Flour Salt and Water are all that we need to make great bread.  So I am on the search for the best flour/salt/water for a new baking adventure/venture.

PART 1 - Salt

JohnD on sourdough.com wrote an interesting article regarding the varying qualities of salt.  The conclusion is the minerality of sea salt was superior to river or rock salt.  In my travels I have been looking for an affordable high quality salt and I am pleased to say I have found it.

 

My preference was to find a locally produced salt but the reality is salts in Victoria, Australia just don’t have the quality I was looking for.  So I broadened my outlook to include fair trade salt.  Salt that I could purchase directly from the farmer. (I figure that I can off set any resulting carbon footprint with tree planting which is already planned to compensate for the use of a wood fired oven).

 

Whilst on holidays on the east coast of Bali I ordered a bowl of chips and they where the best chips I have ever eaten. Not because of they were well cook, in fact the preparation was less than pleasing, oily and under cooked, but because they where covered in the most extraordinary salt.  When I enquired further I was thrilled to discover that the salt was produced only a short walk from where I was staying.

 

Amed Sea Salt is produced on small salt farms that have been producing salt the same way for generations.  At one time, several generations ago, the farms could be found scattered up and down the coast but now there are only a few left.  The salt is sold almost exclusively to locals although some restaurants are now using it.

 

The traditional process remains unchanged with perhaps the only amendment being plastic/hesion bags are used to line the clay filters

 

Step 1)Harrow the clay/soil pans and fill with sea water

Step 2)Smooth the salt and soil mixture to enable even drying

Step 3)Rake the dried salt and soil to break it up

Step 4)Put broken soil into the filter cones, lining the sides.  The cones are a lot like giant coffee filters

Step 5)Collect more sea water and fill the cone

Step 6)The sea water then filters through the salty soil

Step 7)Collect the filtered salty water and place into wooden containers to evaporate and reveal the salt.  (the wooded containers are palm trunks that have been cut in half and carved out)

In this photo the salty water is only one day old

After 3 days the salt is visible and crystalising

Step 8)After 4 days of drying the salt is ready for collection in large 5kg baskets

 

The salt is a wonderful color, slightly grey and so so tasty.  The local restaurants don’t use any stocks and very little additional flavoring as the salt seems to do it all.

 

I am looking forward to seeing how this amazing salt complements my bread.

freerk's picture
freerk

For New Year's Eve I decided to share this wonderful traditional Dutch cookie-recipe.


 


Up to this day people in the northern and eastern regions of The Netherlands eat this waferthin cookie for NewYear's Eve.


 


They come in two varieties: flat and rolled up.


 


The flat ones you eat the 31st of December, the rolled up ones you can eat starting the 1st of January.


 


The flat wafers represent the old year that has fully unfolded. The rolled up wafers stand for the new year, that still has all of its secrets rolled up in it self


 


 


This recipe yields at least twice the amount shown in the picture.


 


To make the cookies waferthin you will need a WAFER IRON.


TRADITIONAL DUTCH NEW YEAR'S EVE COOKIES


500 grams AP flour


450 grams white caster sugar


30 grams of vanillasugar


5 eggs


200 grams unsalted melted butter


lukewarm water if needed




Combine the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla sugar in a large coleander.


Mix at high speed over a pan of hot water ("au bain marie") until the eggs turns slightly whiter and the mixture is nice and frothy.


Take the coleander away from the hot water pan. Sift the flour into the mixture. Add the melted butter little by little to form a smooth batter, about the consistency of yoghurt. The batter should "ooze" from the spoon.


Add some lukewarm water if needed to get the right consistency.


Spoon a dollop of batter on to the heated wafer iron and press hard for about 8-10 seconds. The wafer should come out nice and golden brown.


When making flat wafers: leave on a rack to cool.


When making rolled up wafers: roll the wafer onto a fingerthick wooden ladle or thin rolling pin. Let them set for about 20 seconds and transfer to a cooling rack.


 


Wishing all of my TFL-friends a healthy, inspiring and positive 2011! Thank you for all the feedback on my posts. I hope you will all continue to make me a better home-baker in the coming year!


 


Warm greetings from Amsterdam,


 


Freerk


 


 

freerk's picture
freerk

Hey guys, I need your help!


So my brother saw my breads and now he wants in on it :-)


He wants me to make him and his wonderful family my variation on a traditional regional Dutch currant-bread associated with the holidays. At Xmas, New Years, but also at Easter, in the East and North of the Netherlands a lot of people eat this traditional "krentenwegge" (a heavy currantbread with an almondpaste filling). This is what the original loaf looks like...



 


You'll have to imagine the almond paste filling in the middle, I could not find a very satisfying pic.


 


There are numerous traditional recipes going around on the net, BUT.....


I never really liked these breads as a kid. I'm not too big on currants, but a big lover of almond paste, so as a kid I always found myself in a dilemma; I want the almond paste, but do I really need to eat ALL those currants to get it...? After getting too old to eat the almond paste and feed the rest to the dog, I just left the bread for what it was...


 


Until now! I want to make a lighter version of this bread. I want it to look like a buttermilk cluster (fresh out of the oven here today :-)



 


and preferably with the sweet taste of polenta dough, where I replace the currants with a decent amount of dried candied cranberries (also fresh out of the oven here today):



 


The idea is to fill each individual roll in the cluster with a little almond paste whilst forming the rolls. I'm not at all certain about the polenta dough, but somehow I feel it could give me the crumb that I'm looking for (light, airy, yellowy...). Also the sweetness of the polenta could taste great with the almonds and cranberries. That is; if I manage to get it as light and airy as I have it my mind's eye :-)


 


Before embarking on this triple-fusion baking experiment I would like to hear your input on what dough to choose for this sweet bread. I've also been thinking about the dough for the cream cheese braid. Could that be a viable option?


 


Thanks to the members here who originally posted these two recipes here. I can't really find out anymore who posted the originals, but you guys know who you are; Thanks a bunch!


 


I'd love to hear from you guys


 


Freerk


 

Andrew S's picture

A British Baker

March 16, 2010 - 12:25pm -- Andrew S

Hello Everyone!


My name is Andrew.


Livng in the UK,  Yorkshire to be precise.  East yorkshire to be evan more precise


I am a trained, time served Baker.   I had the good fortune to cut my bakery teeth in the scratch,  craft sector.  Not many of us left and I am so pleased I went down this route early on.  Not many people are any good at hand molding these days  ! 

canuck's picture
canuck

Traditional Russian Mennonite Buns

These buns aren't just buns, they are a history lesson and a sociology study wrapped into a tasty tasty snack.  This bun recipe has been in my family for a long long time, possibly since the late 19th century.  In any case, my grandmother made them back in Molotschna, my mom makes them and so do I.  These buns are really general purpose buns, but particularly appropriate for Sunday afternoon early supper (Vaspa), or served after funerals, in a church basement, with cheese and coffee.  What makes them a bit different than what we usually see on the Fresh Loaf is that they contain a lot of fat, in this case lard, and they are shaped with a sort of "extrusion" technique.  

The lard content is an honest byproduct of the heritage of the buns. Mennonites (and of course lots of other folks) were in the past  a primarily agrarian people, and raising pigs was a big part of farm life.  Butchering and rendering produced lard, which was an important and primary source of fat.  Lard was used in day-to-day baking, long before the advent of "shortening" and other manufactured fats.  Lard has gotten a bad name in the recent past, but is now making a bit of a comeback because its healthier than previously proclaimed (by the margarine/shortening cabal).    In any case, these buns contain a fair bit of lard, in an honest, farmyardish sort of way.

The buns also contain a fair bit of sugar, which speeds the rising.  I appreciate that sugar and fast rising is anathema to some, but really its a practical way of making a buns much quicker, which is an important consideration when cooking on a busy farm or household. Besides, the buns taste great. 

The mystery ingredient is vinegar.  I really have no idea why there is vinegar in the recipe, but there is and I use it. Anyone care to hazard a guess?

The buns are shaped by extruding them between your thumb and forefinger and then being pinched off.  I haven't seen the extrusion shaping technique described (I haven't looked hard either), my Mom taught me how to do this and it works pretty well.  The pictures below and the description will hopefully inspire you to try it out. 

Here's the recipe

Mix: 

 1 cup Lard Try to get a non-hydrogentated lard, not all lards are equal. 

4 cups hot water.

Lard and Water

The hot water softens the lard.

Add:

2 teaspoons Salt

1/2 cup Sugar

1 tablespoon Vinegar

4 Cups Flour

Stir vigourously until you get a nice sponge going. Because of the hot water used in stage one, the sponge will be warm.  If its hot, then let it cool down a bit before the next step.

Buns Sponge

 Add:

1 Tablespoon instant yeast (this may be the "non-traditional" part of the recipe, but it works well)

Gradually add in:

About 4 more cups of flour

At this stage you should have a fairly moist rough dough. you may have to add more flour if its too sticky. Go by what feels right, that's my Oma's way of baking.

Buns Rough Dough

 

Turn out on a well floured surface and start kneading, adding flour as required, about 15 minutes.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes. (There is a lot of yeast and sugar in this dough, so it doesn't take long)

The Shaping Technique

Here's the interesting part, this shaping technique takes a bit of practice, but once you get the idea you can shape buns fairly quickly.

To shape the buns, tear or cut out a section of the dough and grab with your left hand.

Make an open circle with your left thumb and forefinger, then push the dough through circle with your right hand, from underneath.

dough extruding 1

 The dough should be stretched through. 

dough extruding 2

Now pinch off the bulging dough ball with your left hand thumb and forefinger, and place the resulting ball of dough on a baking sheet.

 

Cover and let the buns rise until doubled, about 30 to 45 minutes, perhaps a bit longer. 

They should look very light and not spring back when depressed.

buns tray

Bake in a 400F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until nice and brown on top. 

 buns finished

Mmmm, these are good buns.  Slather on the butter and clover honey from the canadian praries, and it's just about the best thing you've ever had.

Bake on!

 

 

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Nice to be back baking :)

 Here's some challah from The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  My first try at challah, they're as tasty as they are nice to look at.  The inside is soft, sweet and light.  Exactly what I think of when I think challah.

 

 

 

-Joe 

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