Baking, si! Blogging, not so much - Part 2
Saturday, August 20, was a busy day in the kitchen. And a bit more daunting than normal. Friends had invited us to dinner that evening and asked if I would bring some bread. When I asked what they would like, the answer was “something that would go well with snoek paté.” Did I mention that Marthinius had previously been executive chef and partner in an up-scale restaurant? And did I also mention that I’ve never had my baking critiqued by a chef whose training is in classic French cuisine? Hence the daunting.
Well. A challenge. Bread to go with snoek paté. Whatever that might turn out to be.
I wound up choosing two breads: Reinhardt’s pain a l’ancienne and a pain de compagne. Both French in origin or influence. Neither one required complex techniques but each offered layers of flavour from levains or long ferments; one somewhat more ethereal and one more hearty. (Hedging, don’t you know.) And each being something that was started the previous evening with the final dough preparation (the pain de compagne) or shaping and baking (the pain a l’ancienne) on Saturday. Because each was at different stages of readiness Saturday morning, it also gave me better opportunity to manage oven timing without a train wreck between two different breads that had to be baked at the exact same time.
And, since we were also invited to a braai (barbecue) on Sunday afternoon, I followed those with Portugese Sweet Bread using Mark Sinclair’s formula.
The breads, happily, proceeded without a hitch. Just as happily, temperatures were starting to moderate; enough that the house temperature was in the low to mid-60s instead of the 50s. I still spiked the final pain de compagne dough with about a half-teaspoon of yeast as insurance and used a make-shift proofer for the bulk ferment.
Handling the pain a l’ancienne dough is, except for temperature, not unlike handling taffy or melted mozzarella cheese. It is so wet that it has very little internal support and wants to stick to everything. Nevertheless, I was able to get it divided and “shaped” as per instructions. One or two were rather raggedy in appearance, so they didn’t make the trip to dinner that evening. Which is not to say that they weren’t eaten. In spite of knowing how difficult it is to slash such wet dough, I made the attempt. The slashes were not a thing of beauty but they did serve a purpose. You can see in the photo that the greatest expansion occurred at the slash locations. Rather than repeatedly opening the oven for steaming by spritzing, I relied on pouring boiling water into a preheated pan in the oven to generate steam. The oven in this house only heats up to 230C, which is a bit less than I needed, so I relied on the convection setting to boost the, um, “effective” temperature. While I would have liked to have a prettier bread, this gave me a baguette-like bread with great flavour but without the technical demands of producing a classic baguette. I’ve tried but my present setup just doesn’t permit me to hit that target even if my technique is bang on, which it frequently is not.
The pain de compagne is more familiar to me and went very smoothly. The only glitch was my being a bit impatient about getting it into the oven. I could have waited another 20-30 minutes at those temperatures and avoided a couple of small blowouts. Other than that, some very tasty bread.
The Portugese Sweet Bread is lovely stuff. The dough is easy to handle and absolutely silky compared to the whole-grain lean breads that I usually make. I have no complaints with the process or the finished bread.
Eventually it was time for dinner, the moment of truth. Marthinius made the snoek paté with snoek that he had smoked at home. I don’t know entirely what was in it (mayonnaise? minced celery? other?) but my wife, who is ordinarily not a lover of things involving fish, thought it was absolutely wonderful. I concurred. After asking me to describe each of the breads and then sampling each, Marthinius decided that he liked both (whew!) but preferred the pain a l’ancienne with the paté. I think the complex play of flavours appealed to him.
There were two main courses. One was a deboned haunch of springbok, larded with garlic cloves, lightly smoked, then wrapped with bacon and finished in a slow oven. The other was chicken breasts stuffed with feta cheese and spinach. Both were excellent. They were accompanied by baby corn, roasted sweet potatoes, and a pilaf. Dessert was a vinegar pudding, as it is called by the Afrikaners. Those from a British background would probably call it a nutmeg pudding. It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal and evening.
The weather on Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. There was plenty of warm sun and a cool breeze. With chicken, steak and boerwors on the braai, delicious side dishes, and lots of conversation, it made for a marvellous afternoon.
We are definitely happy about moving back to the States soon but we will miss times like these with friends like these.
Question about Potato Flak Starter
Having a starter that uses the instant potatoes; does it is still get left out on the counter and fed twice a day?
Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Vanilla Bible"
I was just reminded of this interesting article written by Rose Levy Beranbaum for Food Arts magazine,
on the subject of vanilla.
The article is available on Rose's blog. Here is the link in case this article is of interest:
:^) from breadsong
This weekend's baking: SFBI Miche and Pain au Levain with mixed sourdough starters 8-28-2011
Besides the Whole Wheat Breads, I also baked a SFBI Miche and Hamelman's "Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters" this weekend.
As I have for the last few bakes, I used 50% Central Milling "Organic Type 85" and 50% Central Milling "ABC" flours for the "bread flour" in the final dough. I haven't tasted it yet, but when I sliced it 24 hours after baking it has a lovely wheaty and sour aroma with toasted nut notes from the boldly baked crumb.
When I last made Hamelman's Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters, Andy (ananda) suggested using a more firm wheat levain and a more liquid rye sour for this bread. For this bake, I did that. I just put the amount of water called for in the rye sour into the wheat levain and the amount of water called for in the wheat levain in the rye sour. (Both call for the same weight of flour.) I can't say this accounted for any difference in the final product, although this batch was denser than usual and had a more pronounced rye flavor. This is a delicious bread, in any case. I had it for breakfast, untoasted, with just a little butter and Santa Rosa plum jam (very tart) and for lunch with Toscano salami in a sandwich.
Opening a wholesale bakery featuring my sourdough bread and was wondering if I could just put it in the oven right out of the frige. I always bring it to room temp before baking and I am trying to streamline the operation for better/faster production.
Whole Wheat Bread from BBA made with "fine" whole wheat flour.
The 100% Whole Wheat Bread from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice has been one of my favorite breads for years. I love it for it's delicious honey-wheat flavor. However, it often comes out with a dense, cake-like crumb. In April, I tried making this bread using a more intensive mix, as demonstrated by txfarmer. (See Light and fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread) I did, indeed, achieve a less dense, more open crumb. But I felt there was some loss of flavor due to oxidation of carotenoids.
It is difficult to make a 100% whole wheat bread with a light, airy crumb. The pieces of bran in the flour act like little knives, cutting the gluten strands that give bread crumb its “structure.” I had heard of flour mills that grind the bran to a finer consistency after it has been separated during the normal milling process and then add the fine-ground bran back in, along with the other wheat components that re-constitute “whole wheat” flour. The smaller bran particles do less damage to the developing gluten during mixing.
Central Milling makes such a flour, and brother Glenn recently got some for me at CM's Petaluma warehouse. Today, I used CM's “Organic Hi-Protein Fine” whole wheat flour to make the Whole Wheat Bread from BBA. I followed the formula and procedures in my April 2, 2011 blog entry with one exception: I only mixed the dough for 12 minutes at Speed 2.
The first difference in the bread was the wonderfulness of its aroma. I can't say it was different in quality, but it just filled the house as never before. When the bread was cool and sliced, the crumb structure was even more open than I got with intensive mixing. The bread is chewy like a good white loaf and not at all cakey or crumbly. The flavor is delicious. I can't really say it is better than the flavor I've gotten with either home-milled flour or KAF Organic Whole Wheat flour, but the combination of crumb structure, texture and flavor was remarkable.
I am now eager to try using this flour with other breads, for example the Tartine "Basic Country Bread." Stay tuned.
Submitted to YeastSpotting
Light Rye Sourdough with Goji Berry and Pine Nuts - full of good stuff
Sending this to Yeastspotting.
Often used in Chinese cooking, Goji berries are known to have all kinds of health benefits. I often have dried Goji berries on hand to make soup, congee, or even tea with.They are good for me and pretty looking, but don't really have any strong taste, so I combined them with pine nuts in this loaf to jazz up the flavor.
Light Rye Sourdough with Goji Berry and Pine Nuts
Note: makes a 730g loaf
medium rye, 136g
rye starter (100%), 7g
1. Mix together and leave at room temp for 12 hours.
- final dough
bread flour, 295g
medium rye, 23g
dried Goji berries, 57g, soaked in water for 20min then drained
pine nuts, 57g
2. Mix together flour, water, and levain, autolyse for 20 to 60min, add salt, mix @ medium speed for 3-4 min until gluten starts to develope. Add Goji berries and pine nuts, mix @ slow speed until evenly distributed.
3. Bulk rise at room temp (~75F) for about 2.5hrs. S&F at 30, 60, 90min.
4. Shape into batard .
5. Proof face down in basket until the dough spings back slowly when pressed, about 90min in my case.
6. Bake at 450F with steam for the first 15min, lower the temperature to 430F, keep baking for 30 min.
My rye starter is VERY fast, please adjust fermentation schedule to fit your own starter if you decide to give it a try.
Goji berries add visual interests, while pine nuts made it so fragrant.
Nutty and fragrant, it's perfect with some PB.
Today's 00 flour/semolina loaf -- too pretty not to take pics
Todays' bread: 550g 00 pizzeria flour, 50g semolina, 12g salt, 9g yeast, 420g water. Painted with olive oil and dusted with Tuscan spice mix, sea salt, and semolina before being baked in an oven heated to 450F then turned down to 400F for 40 minutes. Tastes as good as it looks. Ahhhh.
Cracked-Wheat Sandwich Bread, from Bread Bible...
I was hoping to make TxFarmer's version, with sourdough starter, but ran into "unexpected problems" - had to pick another recipe, as I was set on cracked wheat and absolutely wanted to make a sandwich type bread this past weekend
this recipe turned out excellent, I must make TxFarmer's sourdough soon too...
I include a photo, and you can find the whole recipe and my thoughts of it by jumping here, if interested...