The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Potato Rosemary Rolls

potato rosemary rolls

Thanksgiving in the States is coming up soon. These rolls would make a wonderful accompaniment to the banquet table, though they are simple enough that they can go along with any night's dinner. They make amazing hamburger buns too.

Potato Rosemary Rolls Makes 18 small rolls or 12 hamburger sized buns 1 potato, cooked and mashed 1 lb (3 1/2 cups) bread or all-purpose unbleached flour 3/4 - 1 cup water 2 teaspoons instant yeast 2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon dried rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon ground sage leaves

Cook the potato until soft, either by boiling or baking in the oven or microwave. For this batch I chopped up and boiled the potato. I then reserved a cup of the potato water to add to the loaf, figuring it had additional nutrients and starches that would help my loaf.

Mash the potato. Removing the skin prior to mashing is optional: if you are using tough skinned potatoes like russets I would suggest removing them, but with soft skinned potatoes such as yukon gold or red potatoes I typically leave them on. The chopped up skin add nice color and texture to your rolls.

Combine the flour, mashed potato, yeast, salt, pepper and herbs in a large bowl. Add 3/4 cups water and knead or mix for 5 to 10 minutes, adding more water or flour until a consistency you are comfortable working with is reached. I added close to a full cup of water and ended up with an extremely sticky dough that was difficult to work with. I was only able to shape the rolls by repeatedly dipping my fingers in flour. The end result was wonderful though.

(I encourage amateur bakers to push the limit of what they think they can handle, moisture-wise. More often than not you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results, though you can go too far and end up baking a pancake, which I've done more than once.)

potato rosemary rolls

Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a moist towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, typically 60 to 90 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, gently degas it, and shape it. For rolls or buns you can weigh them if you like or just eyeball them. I cut racquetball sized chunks of dough (larger than golf balls, smaller than tennis balls) then rolled them into balls in my well-floured hands. I placed them on a baking sheet covered with parchment, placed the entire sheet in a plastic trash bag, and set it aside to rise for approximately an hour again.

While the dough rose, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees.

If you have a spritzer, spray the top of the rolls with water right before placing them in the oven. Place them in the center rack and bake them for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake them for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size. My large hamburger bun sized rolls took close to half an hour to bake. You'll know they are done when the bottom of the rolls is solid and slightly crispy. If you have a probe thermometer, check the temperature inside one of the rolls. When the internal temperature is approaching 200 degrees F, they are ready to pull out of the oven.

potato rosemary rolls

potato rosemary rolls

Allow the rolls to cool before serving. They keep very well too, so you could bake them a day or two ahead of time and still serve them for Thanksgiving.

Related Recipe: Kaiser Rolls.

DonD's picture
DonD

Baguettes a l'Ancienne with Cold Retardation

My first post in April of last year was about a side by side comparison of two of my favorite baguette formulations by Philippe Gosselin and Anis Bouabsa that David Snyder had previously published here on TFL. It was a tough choice to decide which one was better. The Gosselin baguette had an unequaled sweetness due to the overnight cold autolyse and the Bouabsa baguette had an incredibly complex taste due to the cold retardation. I was thinking why not have the best of both world so I started to experiment with combining the two formulations. After a couple of tries, I have succeeded in making a baguette that has the best attributes of both.


Yesterday, at the request of my wife, I made a batch of Baguettes a l'Ancienne with Cold Retardation for her monthly Book Club Party. The formulation follows David's transcription of Gosselin's Pain a l'Ancienne with a few slight variations. I have to clarify that this is not the formulation that Peter Reinhart and Daniel Leader had adapted from the original Gosselin technique but the true ice cold overnight autolyse method that David had published. After the overnight autolyse and the incorporation of the reserved water, yeast and salt the next morning, instead of bulk fermenting, shaping and baking the same day, I partially bulk ferment the dough at room temperature for 3 hours then retard it in the refrigerator for 18 hours before shaping and baking. I use a mix of 94% King Arthur Organic Select Artisan Flour (11.3% protein) and 6% Bob's Red Mill Organic Dark Rye Flour with 70% hydration. I also reduce the yeast amount by 2/3 because of the extended fermentation. Here are the results:




The crust has nice caramelization from the extra sugar produced by the long cold autolyse.




The crumb is open and soft with a slight chewiness. The taste is sweet and nutty with a complex aftertaste.




The crumb is medium thin with nice crunchiness and the crumb shows good translucent gelatinilization.


P.S. Following a number of requests, here is the entire formulation.


Formulation:


 Flour Mixture:



  • - 470 gms Unbleached AP Flour

  • - 30 gms Dark Rye Flour

  • - 300 gms Ice Cold Water


 Dough



  • - 10 gms Sea Salt

  • - 1/2 tsp Instant Yeast

  • - 50 gms Cold Water


 1- Mix flour blend and ice water w/ flat beater for 1 min. and refrigerate overnight.


 2- Add yeast and water and mix w/ flat beater for 3 mins or until all water has been incorporated. Add salt and beat for 3 mins or until dough slaps side of bowl.


 3- Let rest 15 mins and do S&F 4 times at 30 mins intervals (1 1/2 hrs total) and 2 more times at 45 mins  intervals (1 1/2 hrs total).


 4- Refrigerate for 24 hours.


 5- Divide dough in 3 and gently pre-shape in torpedo shape. Let rest 1 hr.


 6-Gently shape baguettes and proof on linen couche for 45 mins.


 7- One hour before baking, preheat oven to 490 degrees f w/ baking stone and cast iron skillet filled w/ lava rocks.


 8- Mist sides of oven then slash baguettes 4 times and transfer baguettes to baking stone in oven. Immediately pour 2/3 cup boiling water on lava rocks.


 9- Reduce oven temperature to 460 degrees f and bake 10 mins.Remove cast iron skillet, reduce temperature to 430 degrees F and bake for another 10 mins on convection mode.


 10- Remove baguettes from oven and let cool on wire rack.


Happy Baking!


Don

San Joaquin Sourdough

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Description

While I enjoy a variety of breads, the San Joaquin Sourdough remains my “go to” bread. It's easy to fit into a busy schedule. It uses few ingredients. It always tastes delicious. It's wonderful freshly baked but also makes great toast, French toast, garlic bread and croutons for salads or onion soup. It is almost as good after being frozen as fresh. What's not to like?

I first developed this formula about 3 years ago. Since then, I've tweaked the formula and methods in many ways. I know many TFL members have made this bread and enjoyed it. So, I thought an update on my current recipe might be of interest.

To summarize the changes I've made in the past 6 months:

  1. I substituted 25 g of whole wheat flour for an equal amount of the rye flour in the original formula. The difference in flavor is subtle, but I like it better.

  2. I adopted the oven steaming method for home ovens we were taught in the SFBI Artisan I and II workshops. 

Summary

Yield
556 g Bâtards
SourceMy own recipe.
Prep time6 hours
Cooking time30 minutes
Total time6 hours, 30 minutes

Ingredients

450 g
all-purpose unbleached flour
25 g
Medium rye flour
360 g
water
10 g
salt
100 g
Liquid levain (100% hydration)

Instructions

Procedures

Mixing

In a large bowl, mix the active starter with the water to dissolve it. Add the flours and stir to form a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let rest (autolyse) for 20-60 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Using a plastic scraper or silicon spatula, stretch and fold the dough 30 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Cover tightly. Repeat this stretch and fold procedure 3 times more at 30 minute intervals.

Fermentation

After the last series of stretches and folds, scape the dough into a lightly oiled 2 quart/2 liter container and cover tightly. (I use a 2 quart glass measuring pitcher with a tightly fitting plastic lid manufactured by Anchor Glass.) Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes with a stretch and fold after 45 and 90 minutes, then return the dough to the container and place it in the refrigerator and leave it there for 21 hours. 

Dividing and Shaping

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape it gently onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.

To pre-shape for a bâtard, I now form a ball rather than a log. Place each piece of dough smooth side down. Pat into a rough circle, degassing the dough gently in the process. Bring the far edge to the middle and seal the seam. Then go around the dough, bringing about 1/5 of the dough to the middle and sealing it. Repeat until you have brought the entire circumference of the piece to the middle. Turn the piece over, and shape as a boule. Turn each ball seam side up onto a lightly floured part of your board.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel and let it rest for about 60 minutes. (The time will depend on ambient temperature and how active your starter is. The dough should have risen slightly, but not much.)

To shape a bâtard, I now favor the method portrayed in the King Arthur Flour instructional video. I encourage you to watch the video, but here is a verbal description of the method:

  1. For each piece of dough, place it in front of you on an un-floured board.

  2. Hold down the near side and stretch the far side of the piece into a rough rectangle about 8 inches front to back.

  3. Now, fold the far end two thirds of the way to the near end and seal the seam with the heel of your hand.

  4. Take each of the far corners of the piece and fold them to the middle of the near side of your first fold. Seal the seams.

  5. Now, the far end of the dough piece should be roughly triangular with the apex pointing away from you. Grasp the apex of the triangle and bring it all the way to the near edge of the dough piece. Seal the resulting seam along the entire width of the loaf.

  6. Turn the loaf seam side up and pinch the seam closed, if there are any gaps.

  7. Turn the loaf seam side down. Then, with the palms of both hands resting softly on the loaf, roll it back and forth to shape a bâtard. Start with both hands in the middle of the loaf and move them outward as you roll the loaf, slightly increasing the pressure as you move outward, so the bâtard ends up with the middle highest and the ends pointed .

Preheating the oven

One hour before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack and put your steaming apparatus of choice in place. (I currently use a 7 inch cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks.) Heat the oven to 500F.

Proofing

After shaping the loaves, transfer them to a linen couche, seam side up. Cover the loaves with a fold of the linen. Proof until the loaves have expanded to about 1-1/2 times their original size. (30-45 minutes) Test readiness for baking using “the poke test.” Do not over-proof, if you want good oven-spring and bloom!

Baking

Pre-steam the oven, if desired.

Transfer the loaves to a peel. (Remember you proofed them seam side up. If using a transfer peel, turn the loaves over on the couch before rolling them onto the transfer peel. That way, the loaves will be seam side down on the peel.) Score the loaves. (For a bâtard, hold the blade at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf. Make one swift end-to-end cut, about 1/2 inch deep.)

Transfer the loaves to the baking stone. Steam the oven. (I place a perforated pie tin with about 12 ice cubes in it on top of the pre-heated lava rocks.) Turn the oven down to 460F.

After 12-15 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus from the oven. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees, if it is browning unevenly. Close the oven door. (If you have a convection oven, switch to convection bake, and turn the temperature down to 435ºF.)

Bake for another 12-15 minutes, then remove the loaf and place on a cooling rack. Check for doneness. (Nice crust color. Internal temperature of at least 205F. Hollow sound when you thump the bottom of the loaf.) If necessary, return to loaf to the oven to bake longer.

When the loaves are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves on the baking stone with the oven door ajar for another 7 minutes to dry the crust.

Cooling

Cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.

Notes

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Lazy Man's Brioche

In The Bread Baker's Apprentice Peter Reinhart offers up three variations of brioche: Poor Man's Brioche, Middle-Class Brioche, and Rich Man's Brioche, each version getting more full of eggs and butter than the previous.

This weekend I came up with a brioche recipe that I'm extremely happy with. I dubbed it the "Lazy Man's Brioche."

This recipe is based on the brioche recipe from Ciril Hitz's Baking Artisan Bread. I started with Hitz's recipe but then rounded every number and cut every corner I could. The result is perhaps not as authentic as Hitz's recipe but still delicious.

There are two pieces of gear required to keep this recipe lazy: a mixer and a scale. I'm sure you could make the same thing using measuring cups and kneading by hand but that would take work. Using brioche pans or adding little tetes on top of each bun would also be more authentic and attractive, but the goal here was not to be beautiful or complex, just come up with something simple, repeatable, and delicious.

Lazy Man's Brioche


My baking notes

Makes 12 buns
 
Dough
500g bread flour
250g milk
2 eggs
50g sugar
15g instant yeast
5g salt
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, diced
 
Filling
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
 
Egg Wash
1 egg
a pinch of salt
a teaspoon water
 

Add all of the ingredients to your mixer and mix it until the dough becomes silky. This takes a long time, somewhere in the 10-20 minute range (I think I did around 15). If the dough sticks to the sides or the paddle too much, take breaks and scrape the dough back down into the bowl.

When it is well mixed, shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Degas the dough and allow it to rise a second time, for another hour or so.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces (I used the scale and weighed them out at 3 ounces each). Shape the dough into balls. If you want to fill them, do so here by placing the chocolate chips on them before pinching them closed.

(Those are mini-chocolate chips by the way... the entire bun is only two or three inches across.)

Place the dough balls seam side down in brioche pans or muffin tins. Cover loosely with plastic and allow to rise until doubled in size and well above the pan, approximately 45 minutes.

While they are rising, make the egg wash and preheat the oven to 365.

Brush the brioche gently with egg wash before putting the pans near the middle of the preheated oven. I placed mine on the third shelf down out of four.

Bake the brioche for 10 minutes then rotate the pan. Bake them another 10 minutes or until they appear to be done.

If your pans were greased well, you should be able to shake the brioche out of the pan while they are still hot. Be careful if the eggwash spilled onto the pans though, because the cooked egg will "glue" the brioche into the pans. I had to gently break through the eggwash with a knife before I could get a few of my buns out of the pans.

Enjoy!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Bread Scoring Tutorial (updated 1/2/2009)

 Please Note: This tutorial has been updated extensively with additional material and new and improved videos. Here is a link to the updated Bread Scoring Tutorial: Scoring Bread: An updated tutorial

Scoring Bread

 

What is scoring?

“Scoring” is the word used to describe the cuts made in a loaf of bread before it is baked. Some breads are not scored. For example many loaves baked in pans are not. However, almost all free-formed “hearth breads” are scored.

When is scoring done?

Scoring is generally performed just prior to loading the loaves in the oven.

Why are breads scored?

The purpose of scoring is primarily to control the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.” Intentionally creating a weak spot on the surface of the loaf prevents the loaf from bursting at weak spots created during shaping.

The pattern of cuts made, the angle at which they are made and the depth of the cuts also influence the rate of expansion and the formation of an “ear” - a raised flap of crust at the edge of a cut.

The pattern of cuts also can create a pleasing visual pattern on the surface of the loaf. While there are some very traditional patterns, for example for baguettes, the baker can use the scoring pattern to identify the type of bread or to create an unique pattern that identifies the loaf as coming from his or her oven.

The effects of scoring on loaf shape are discussed in more detail below.

How are breads scored?

Breads are scored with very sharp cutting implements. These may be straight or curved razor blades, which may be held in the hand or mounted on a handle. Scoring may be performed with other sharp, straight blades, even with a straight razor. Some bakers prefer serrated blades. Some examples are pictured below:

Lame

This is a “lame,” the French term for a razor blade used to score bread. This one is permanently mounted on a handle. Others are made with replaceable blades.

This lame holds the blade in a curved position. Others hold the blade straight. The curved lames are generally used for long breads like baguettes which are scored with cuts parallel to the long axis of the loaf. The cuts are made with the blade held at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf, about 20-30 degrees or so. The blade is held with the concave surface facing up (away from the loaf). A flap of dough is created that will lift up to create an “ear” as the loaf expands and, by lifting gradually, slows the expansion of the loaf. This prolongs the time during which new areas of dough are exposed to the direct heat of the oven and results in greater overall expansion – a larger “bloom.”

Serrated knife

Serrated knife

Tomato knife

Tomato knife

These are examples of serrated, straight bladed knives. The first one is made expressly for scoring breads. The second one is manufactured as a “tomato knife,” but it is very sharp, holds its edge well and has been found to work very well for scoring bread.

Straight bladed knives are preferred for cuts made with the blade held perpendicular to the loaf's surface. This sort of cut is generally used for round loaves (“boules”). However, they can be used for the same kinds of cuts described above as well.

The angle the blade of the knife makes with the surface of the loaf is important in determining how the cut will open up. If you want the cuts to spread equally from the cut and to open quickly, the knife should be held vertically – at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf. This type of cut is usually made ¼ to ½ inch deep.

Wrong lame position

 

If you want the cuts to spread more slowly and create an “ear,” the knife blade should be held at a shallow angle with the surface of the loaf, like this:

Correct lame position

This type of cut should be shallower than the cuts made with the blade vertical to the loaf – about ¼ inch deep. A deeper cut will result in the flap closing from its own weight rather than separating from the surface of the loaf to form an “ear.”

The scoring stroke should be firm, rapid, smooth and decisive. For the beginner, it may help to take “practice swings” or to visualize the movements and totally focus one's attention before making the cuts. Understanding the functions of scoring and the effects of the variables described can help, but there is no substitute for experience. In this respect, scoring bread is no different from an athletic skill or any other art or craft. (Tourist: “Please, sir, can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” New Yorker: “Practice, practice, practice.”)

 

The effect of scoring on loaf shape

Michael Suas, in his book "Advanced Bread & Pastry," provides some information about how scoring patterns influence loaf shape. Scoring is not just to make a visually pretty design on the top of a loaf. It is also how the baker controls the direction in which the loaf expands. This impacts the shape of the loaf cross section (rounder or more oval), the height of the loaf and, for a boule, whether it stays round or ends up more oblong.

According to Suas, long loaves like bâtards and baguettes are traditionally scored parallel to their long axis. This may be a single long cut or multiple cuts that are almost parallel and overlap somewhat (for ¼ to 1/3 of their length, generally).

Classic cuts

Classic Cut – Single and multiple cuts

However, for breads with high-rye content which have lower gluten and less oven spring, the traditional objective is to encourage a higher rise in the oven spring resulting in a rounder cross section. This is achieved by "sausage" or "chevron" cuts.

Sausage cut (on the left) and Chevron cut (on the right)

Sausage cut (on the left) and Chevron cut (on the right)

Boules are scored in a variety of patterns, again with differing effects on how the loaf expands. The common "tic-tac-toe" pattern and a simple cross will direct the expansion upward. More complex patterns like diamonds result in a relatively flatter loaf.

Boule with tic tac toe

Boule scored with “tic-tac-toe” pattern

One of most interesting effects is that scoring a boule with multiple parallel cuts encourages expansion at a right angle to the cuts. This results in an oblong loaf shape.

 

What's the point of an ear? Controlled bloom!

This topic is not about the auricular anatomy of elves (or Vulcans). It's about scoring breads.

Scoring loaves creates a visually pleasing pattern, and it helps control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes.

These San Francisco Sourdough breads illustrate a more "advanced" aspect of scoring that is alluded to by both Hamelman (in "Bread") and Suas (in "Advanced Bread & Pastry.")

San Francisco Sourdough Breads (from Peter Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb")

Bloom

Detail of bâtard crust, with "ear," grigne" & "bloom."

 

What Suas called "the classic cut" is parallel to the long axis of a baguette or a bâtard. The cut is made with the blade at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf. The cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch deep. Paradoxically, this shallow cut results in the flap lifting better than a deeper cut would, thus forming a nice "ear." Hamelman (pg. 80) points out that "a deep cut will simply collapse from its own weight."

The angle is also important. "If the angle is not achieved and the cut is done with the blade vertical to the loaf, the two sides of the dough will spread very quickly during oven spring and expose an enormous surface area to the heat. The crust will begin to form too soon - sometimes before the end of oven spring - penalizing the development of the bread. If the cut is properly horizontal, the sides of the loaf will spread slower. The layer of dough created by the incision will partially and temporarily protect the surface from the heat and encourage a better oven spring and development." (Suas, pg. 116.)

The second photo, above, illustrates a fairly nice "ear," but it also shows that the bloom occurred slowly, as it should. Notice that the color of the crust in the opening has 3 distinct degrees of browning, decreasing from left to right. The darker part on the left obviously opened first and was exposed to the direct heat of the oven for longer. If the bloom occurred too rapidly, it would have a more even coloration.

This boule was slashed with the blade held at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf. Note the even coloration of the bloomed crust.

In summary, in order to achieve an optimal bloom in baguettes and bâtards, one must attend to 3 variables when scoring them:

  1. The cuts should be almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf.

  2. The blade should be held at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf.

  3. The depth of the cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch.

Variable shading of the bloomed crust confirms that the desired slow but prolonged opening of the cut during oven spring occurred.

Happy baking!

David

P.S. I have made a video version of this tutorial. It was my first attempt at editing a video. I am not delighted with the quality, but I hope I can show it and, maybe, get some help improving it. Here is the link:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4381896920195658969&hl=en (for slow connections)

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6866686363544546201&hl=en (for broadband, e.g., DSL or cable)

 

zolablue's picture
zolablue

Sourdough Semolina Bread

I just posted the Semolina Sandwich Loaf ( http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/4213/semolina-sandwich-loaf ) and wanted to share my experience making this sourdough version of Maggie Glezer’s.

This was really a nice little loaf with a great crust and also a very moist and beautiful crumb. It surprised me with the nice oven spring it had for such a seemingly small loaf.

The crumb has a beautiful yellow cast as well but the recipe uses AP flour in addition to the semolina (durum patent flour) so it was not as intensely yellow as the sandwich loaf which was 100% semolina flour.

I only proofed these loaves for 4 hours, rather than the 5 estimated by Glezer but I generally have a fast starter or it could have been the room temp that day. They were not large loaves and I goofed and preheated my oven to about 550 as I normally do but would not repeat that. I ended up baking them about 40 minutes but I did cover them at the end to keep them from getting even darker. Preheating the oven to the correct temp for this type of loaf would be much better.

I have to say again, this bread was wonderful. My neighbor who got the other loaf just loved it. I baked this bread the same day (last weekend) as the semolina sandwich loaf and it is still extremely moist. It was delicious last night used to sop up sauce from eggplant parmesan served with juicy grilled chicken (yum!).

This was, again, what I felt was a straight forward and rather easy recipe. Most of the time you spend is waiting but it was really fun to mix up and so easy to make into little loaves. I loved it and it you try it I hope you like it, too.

More photos here:

http://zolablue.smugmug.com/gallery/3506188#197819612

Sourdough Semolina Bread – Maggie Glezer, A Blessing of Bread

Skill Level: Expert

Time: About 20 hours (about 8 1/2 hours on baking day)

Makes: Two 1-pound (450 gram) breads

Recipe Synopsis: Make a sourdough starter and let it ferment overnight for 8 to 12 hours. The next day, mix the dough and let it ferment for 2 hours. Shape the dough and let it proof for 5 hours. Bake the breads for about 45 minutes.

For sourdough starter:

2 tablespoons (30 grams/1.1 ounces) very active, fully fermented firm sourdough starter, refreshed 8 to 12 hours earlier

1/3 cup (80 grams/2.8 ounces) warm water

About 1 cup (135 grams/4.8 ounces) unbleached AP flour

For final dough:

1 1/3 cups (225 grams/7.9 ounces) fine semolina flour

1 2/3 cups (225 grams/7.9 ounces) unbleached AP flour

1 1/3 cups (300 grams/10.6 ounces) warm water

2 1/4 teaspoons (11 grams/0.4 ounce) table salt

1 tablespoon (18 grams/0.6 ounce) mild honey or 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons (21 grams/0.8 ounce) granulated sugar

Fully fermented starter

EVENING BEFORE BAKING

Mixing the sourdough starter: Rub starter into water until it is partially dissolved, then stir in the flour. Knead this firm dough until it is smooth. Remove 2/3 cup (135 grams/4.8 ounces) of the starter and place it in a sealed container at least four times its volume, to use in the final dough. (Place the remaining starter in a sealed container and refrigerate to use in the next bake.) Let the starter ferment until it has tripled in volume and is just starting to deflate, 8 to 12 hours.

BAKING DAY

Mixing the autolyze: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the semolina and AP flour. With the paddle attachment on low speed, stir in the warm water until well combined. The dough will look very granular and wet. Let the dough rest covered for 20 minutes.

Mixing the dough: Add the salt, honey or sugar, and starter to the dough and mix on medium speed with the dough hook for about 10 minutes, or until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and becomes very extensible. If you did not weigh your flour to measure it, be prepared to adjust the consistency of the dough. The consistency will also be profoundly influenced by the degree to which the semolina was milled and its freshness. Add at least a tablespoon or two of water if the dough is very firm, or at least a tablespoon or two of flour if the dough is impossibly sticky and does not clean the sides of the bowl. The dough should feel very soft and tacky but be easy to handle and have a smooth sheen; it should clean the bowl at the beginning of kneading.

Fermenting: Place the dough in a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment for about 2 hours. It will probably not rise much, if at all.

Shaping and proofing: Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or oil it, or flour two linen-lined bannetons. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half. Shape it into simple rounds or long shapes and position the loaves seam side down on the prepared sheet or in the bannetons. Cover well with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature. It should triple in size; about 5 hours.

Preheating the oven: One hour before baking, position an oven rack in the upper third position and remove any racks above it. Place a baking stone on it, if desired, and preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C/gas mark 7).

Baking: When the loaves have tripled and do not push back when gently pressed with your finger but remain indented, they are ready to bake. If you have proofed them in bannetons, flip each one onto your hand first, then flip it seam side down onto an oiled baking sheet or, if using a baking stone, onto a semolina-sprinkled peel. Score the loaves with a single-edged razor blade in a decorative pattern. Spray or brush them with water and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until very well browned. After the first 30 minutes of baking, switch the loaves from front to back so that they brown evenly. When the loaves are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a rack.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

English Muffins

Today I tried making English Muffins for the first time. They turned out pretty good:

I think I made the dough a little too dry, so I didn't get the big holes inside that you want, but they still tasted good.

I used the recipe from Beth Hensberger's Bread Bible. I may try another next time, but no complaints about this recipe.

Traditional English Muffins

1/4 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast (or a little less than a tablespoon of instant yeast)
Pinch of sugar
4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
Cornmeal (for dusting)

If using active dry yeast, combine the water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. If using instant yeast, as I did, you can just mix the yeast in with the flour and omit this first step and the sugar.

Combine 2 cups of the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in egg, milk, butter, and yeast mixture. Mix until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring in each time, until you have a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Return the dough to a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Sprinkle a work surface with cornmeal. Pour the dough out of the bowl and onto the surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with cornmeal and then roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Use a large round cookie cutter or an upside down drinking glass to cut the muffins out of the dough.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place the muffins onto the skillet and let the bake for 5 to 10 minutes until quite dark before flipping.

An optional step, if you are concerned about baking them all the way through (which I was), is to have your oven heated to 350. After baking the muffins on the griddle for 5 minutes on each side, place them on a cookie sheet and place them into the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. This assures that they are baked through.

Enjoy!

PDLarry's picture
PDLarry

Nostalgia

Grew up eating this stuff. Custard buns. My cousin who now lives in Hong Kong sent me a recipe and I was able to make some... tears.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

My imitation of Chad Robertson's Country Sourdough

Have you ever seen a photo of very stiff starter wrapped up tightly in cloth then tied up in string (as if making absolutely sure that the little beasties have no way of escaping)?  I never understood the purpose of the tight string until the other day when I was writing about Chad Robertson.   A Day in the Life at the Bay Village Bakery in The Bread Builders says Chad "uses a brief two-hour final stage of leaven expansion before he mixes up his dough" (page 221).  In both of these two cases maximum natural yeast population is achieved without them further fermenting (because there will be plenty of fermentation once final dough is mixed).


Chad Robertson's rustic sourdoughs from Tartine Bakery were my most favourite during my recent stay in San Francisco.  I wanted to see if it was possible to reproduce his style of sourdough at home.  I was told that a bread cookbook is coming out soon (in addition to their existing pastry cookbook), but no date is given.  Alain Ducasse's Harvesting Excellence quotes Elizabeth Prueitt as saying that Chad's breads were hand-made from the very beginning to the very end, and that "it is one person's expression" (page 19).


By the time The Bread Builders wrote about him, Chad Robertson had acquired a mixer from Europe which helped him in meeting the growing demands for his breads.  A brief description of timeline for a typical load of breads that he baked at his (then) one-man bakery at Point Reyes, Califorina (before he and Elizabeth moved to San Francisco and opened Tartine) is as follows (according to The Bread Builders): 



  1. At 8 am, he mixes his final intermediate levain and let it sit in room temperature for two hours (note: I assume the levain is fully mature before the two-hour final expansion);

  2. At 10 am, he mixes the final dough by first putting all the ingredients or all except the levain into the mixer and running it for 2 - 3 minutes at 45 - 50 revolutions a minute;

  3. Autolyse 15 - 30 minutes

  4. Adds the levain if necessary, then mixes it for 4 - 5 minutes

  5. Bulk fermentation 4 hours (counting from 10 am to 2 pm), during which time several stretch and folds in the tub are done;

  6. At 2 pm, divide the dough and pre-shape them, then rest for 15 minutes

  7. Shape the dough and place them on the bannetons or couche dusted with a mixture of bread and rice flours;

  8. Proof in room temperature for 2 hours before going into proofing boxes (at 55F) to retard for 8 - 10 hours (Harvesting Excellence says up to 12 hours); and

  9. The next day, start baking between 4:30 - 5 am.


Based on this timeline, my formula for Chad's sourdough follows:


My formula for Chad's Sourdough


Two nights before bake day - first stage of levain build-up



  • 82 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 164 g bread flour (i.e. two times starter amount for me)

  • 124 g water


Mix and ferment for 6 - 8 hours at 18C / 65 F (depending on your room temperature, you may need more than 2 times bread flour, or shorter or longer fermentation time for your starter to mature)


The morning before bake day - second (and final) stage of levain expansion



  • 370 g starter @ 75% hydration (all from above)

  • 370 g bread flour (I figure one time starter amount in flour is enough)

  • 277 g water


Mix and ferment for two hours only


Formula for final dough



  • 1,017 g starter (all from above)

  • 1,017 g bread flour (Australian Laucke's Wallaby bakers flour, protein 11.9%)

  • 651 g water

  • 30 g salt


Total dough weight 2.7 kg (divided into three pieces) and total dough hydration 68%



  1. I followed the timeline above but I did everything by hand.  I fully intended to fold as many times as necessary to build up dough strength but as my dough was not very wet the gluten developed very fast and by the end of first set of stretch & folds, the dough already felt silky and smooth.  I did only two sets of stretch & folds in the bowl.

  2. After the dough was divided into three pieces, I pre-shaped them to tight balls, rested them 20 minutes, then shaped them into batards and placed them on bread & rice flours dusted couche.

  3. The shaped loaves proofed for 2 hours in room temperature then went into my refrigerator to retard overnight (for 12 hours).


Bake day



  1. I baked the loaves cold (straight from the refrigerator).  I pre-heated the oven to 250C / 480F.  Once the loaves were loaded, I poured 2/3 cups of boiling hot water onto lava rocks (enormous steam was generated), and turned the oven temperature down to 230C / 450F.  They were baked for 20 minutes, then another 15 minutes at 210C / 410F, and rested for 5 minutes in turnoff-off oven.  (You can bake them for 10 minutes more if you like darker crust.)

  2. There was an impressive oven spring with this bake.


              


                 


                                                 


I am quite pleased with the result, although without rye and whole meal flours, I probably cannot call this country sourdough.  Also, Chad's country sourdough has a very rustic look (quite dark) as if from a wood fired oven. 


As I was drafting this post and looking at the black and white picture of Chad's bread in Harvesting Excellence, my daughter came by, I said to her he is the reason why I bought this book; she asked, is he "hot"?  I never understand teenagers' lingo - why "hot" and "cool" mean the same thing.


                   


                                         


                                           


The crumb is really tender and moist.  It has a very supple texture and open crumb that I did not believe I would have been able to achieve with low hydration dough.  I really don't know what hydration level is Chad Robertson's sourdoughs; I did 68% here because I wanted to have good volume and, possibly, good grigne.  Well, it worked. 


I like the flavor very much, more so than my Sourdough 50/50.


Shiao-Ping

Lessons

Want to learn how to bake bread? Do it! It is about the cheapest, most enjoyable, most rewarding pastime I can think of.

I can't promise that these lessons will prevent you from making mistakes, because making mistakes is just part of learning (and something I still do all the time). But hopefully they'll give you some good ways of getting started and help you improve your understand of what is happening inside of your loaf.

Also, check out some of the tremendous lessons that community members have contributed:

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