The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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freerk's picture
freerk

Dear Mr. Cohen

The Humble Rusk

I've never been much of a political animal. But ever since you, Mr. Job Cohen, former mayor of Amsterdam, were called upon by national politics and gave up your position, there has been a growing unease within me.

Sometimes things are as futile as they are; you just happen to be the man in charge for the biggest stretch of time in the city that I live in and love so much. And quite frankly: I miss you here. Even though your successor is doing just fine, I'd rather have you back tomorrow if that would be possible, which it probably isn't.

Strolls

You are in my heart for all the times I have seen you rushing past through the streets and for all your strolls with your wife on a sunny afternoon along the canals. Might I have lived a little further away from your residence, I probably would not have crossed your path as many times as I did, but in the end that doesn't matter.For me you were simply there, like all the rest of us. Visible, down to earth and devoted as much to our city as to your wife. As we say in Dutch; "kom er nog maar es om"

You were called onto the national political stage to find an answer to the populist politics that are quickly gaining ground in The Netherlands. The political game is changing fast in troubled times. Scaring people into believing almost anything has never been easier.

Now you are there, and not here.

The plan was to have you lead the country, you ended up in the opposition instead. The government that was formed has all the characteristics you would expect from a political field that is jolted by something new and unexpected; the populist was put on a special bench where he was thought to do the least harm.

That hasn't turned out to be quite the case. As a matter of fact the opposite was happening; the populist knew his game quite well and found out he could simply shout some populist doo dah, draw the curtains whenever he felt it like it and become invisible.

Whilst Trying

It's been said that populist politics can't be beaten without joining them, and there, my friend, (for even if I have not spoken to you in person I hope you will allow me to call you just that) you stand out from the crowd.

Time and time again, also on the occasions where you were reportedly "slashed" in a public debate, I have never ever seen you make one populist move.

My guess is some milder forms of populism are inherent to politics, and maybe you are just doing quite well at hiding it from me, but even if that is the case, it doesn't really matter.

For every time I see you struggle to find an alternative to this apparent new set of rules in politics, I like you a little more, even if you "lose" the argument whilst trying.

I don't think things are as simple as left and right or black and white. Regardless of the polarizing times we live in, the only right thing to do is what you are doing; refusing to play THAT game, even though I suspect you could be quite good at it, I can't really imagine you ever giving into the temptation. Ah, well, maybe when you were younger.

Something Good

If you ask me (but then again don't!) the populist's game is nearing its end. That seems to be inherent to populist politics: its effects peter out quite fast if not fed regularly by tangible results.

This blog you are (probably not) reading is about bread. So, as much as I like you, I have to come up with something BREAD in this letter to you for it to have any sense whatsoever. I have been forgiven before for making rather odd connections between bread and.... well, almost all other stuff in life :-), I hope I have enough credit left to throw around a lot of words before sharing what I'm here for; a straightforward recipe for something good!

I could be really corny and say; well people, here is your recipe; Do as Mr. Job Cohen, the former mayor of Amsterdam; Don't pay too much attention to squeaking wheels that get all the oil; after a while they get so slippery, they will derail themselves! That wouldn't work though... because they can't eat it!

So instead I will dedicate my latest bake to you; the humble rusk, or "beschuiten" as you and I would call them. It's hardly the sexiest bread in the world, and it doesn't promise you more than it can live up to. We all keep a roll of them in our cupboards though. For when we need them; for comfort, for joy and when it is the only thing our sometimes sick bodies will accept. Straightforward, simple, honest, reliable and here to stay!

The Humble Rusk

The Romans called it "biscotum"; it was the sort of bread that was great when you were conquering the world. ""Baked twice" is what it means. With most moisture baked out of the bread it will keep almost indefinitely! Nowadays that same word still reverberates in the French "biscuit" and the Italian "biscotti".

In the "Golden Age" (that period in the Netherlands between 1600-1700 where at a certain time a tulip bulb would sell for the price of a house...) the merchant ships, leaving all from an area just above Amsterdam, took the "beschuit" on board as their preferred bread. In no time there were 150 bakeries in the area, all dedicated to baking "scheepsbeschuit".

Around the 18th century, the rusk started to look like the airy biscuit it is today. Bakers started using yeast to make the rather tough biscuit lighter. Later on they added eggs as an emulsifier, and sugar. Around this time as well, the "Zwieback" started to gain popularity. The baked biscuit was cut in half, baked again to dry it out, and lightly toasted.

Beschuit met muisjes

The tradition to serve "beschuit" at the birth of a child started in the same region. When the "beschuit" was still a luxury item that was eaten on festive days, the rich would buy them to celebrate child birth in the community. The "beschuit" was (and still is nowadays) sprinkled with pink, white or blue sugarcoated aniseeds, an echo of the ancient tradition to sprinkle the baby with rye kernels for blessing.

The sugarcoated aniseeds are called "mice" in Dutch. The coated aniseeds with their little tails resemble a mouse (symbol of fertility) . The anise  was also said to have a wholesome effect on breast milk production.

The beschuit can be found in literally every cupboard in the Netherlands. Even those who are not too crazy for them will keep a roll on their shelf for when they need them. When ill it is the perfect comfort food, dunked in some sweet pudding. When you feel queezy and nothing else goes down; the beschuit is there to help. It is reliable, it is no nonsense, it is here to stay! Enjoy!

 

A note on Rusk Jelly and Baking Shells

In this recipe I use "rusk jelly". An ingredient not really easy to obtain when you are not living in the Netherlands. Here is where you can buy it if you are eager to give it a try. Rusk Jelly emulsifies by making your dough more alkaline (the opposite of acid). All that is in there is sugar, glucose, vegetable fat, water, emulgator and an alkaline agent. The rusk can be made without the jelly as well by replacing the jelly with the equal amount of corn syrup and egg yolk. Your rusk will be a little less brittle, but still way better than anything you have ever eaten from the supermarket!

The baking shells are essential to get a good shape on your rusk. If you don't have baking shells and want to invest in buying some, here is a place that sells them for a very reasonable price. If you are in the States it might be harder to find them. No worries though, because 9,5 cm baking rings will also work. Provided you have a baking sheet, or even a silpat mat to cover them with, you will do just fine!

Ingredients

for about 24 rusks

210 gr. AP flour

17 gr. fresh yeast

84 gr. water

34 gr. corn syrup

5 gr. sugar

5 gr. milk powder

25 gr. egg yolk

30 gr. rusk jelly (optional)

1½ gr. salt

4½ gr. anise powder

I bake this recipe in two batches. When the time comes to divide the dough I put half of the formed balls in the fridge and start processing the first batch. By the time the first batch goes in the oven, you can take out the slightly chilled dough to prepare them for the second batch.

Equipment

6 round baking shells with a diameter of 9½ cm. Baking rings of that size, covered with a baking sheet will also work!

Method

The Soaker

Mix together ⅔ (140 gr.) of the flour with the water, the yeast, milk powder and ½ (17 gr.) of the corn syrup. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

The Final Dough

Mix in the eggs and the remaining corn syrup with a few tablespoons of the remaining flour. When incorporated add half of the rusk jelly. When that is mixed in add the remaining flour and salt. Finally add the remaining jelly, sugar and anise powder. Mix on low speed for about 20 to 30 minutes until the dough is very well developed. The ideal dough temperature is 25°C.

Preheat the oven to 240°C

The First Bake

Cover and let the dough rise for about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces of about 30-35 gr. each. Leave them to relax for 10 minutes and then form tight balls and place them on a baking sheet. Cover and leave them to rise for 10 minutes. Flatten and round the pieces to roughly the diameter of your baking shell 2 times during this short rise. Place the well oiled baking shells over the dough and leave them to rise until you can see the dough peep through the little holes on top. Alternatively, place oiled baking rings over the dough and cover with an equally well oiled baking sheet. Bake when almost fully proofed for about 8 minutes on 240°C, turning the tray halfway through the bake to ensure even browning. Take the golden biscuits out of the molds and let them cool completely on a rack.

The Second Bake

Preheat the oven to 50°C. Slice the biscuits in half and put them cut side up in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes, until they are completely dry and crisp. Place the biscuits under a hot grill until the tops are nice and golden. This will go very fast, only a few seconds!

Leave the rusks to cool completely before eating.

 

If you haven't already, go here to endorse my BreadLaB initiative

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Southwest Hummus Anyone?

You just have to have some hummus with that great Pita bread you just made but don't buy that crud in the store that is just horrible and full a so many bad things, foul smells and  unusual tastes.  Make your own it is easy!!!  Here is how.  Simmer off till tender 1 1/2 cups of  dried Garbanzos (about an hour) that you soaked overnight in some home made chicken stock to cover and a bay leaf.  Let the beans cool in the stock in the fridge and drain off the liquid and reserve it in case the hummus is too thick or, better yet, to make garbanzo bean soup.

Take an onion and slice it width wise in thirds and put tooth pick in from the side to hold the onions together,  Slice some pieces of peppers (red, jalapeno, Serrano, poblano and hatch green also known as Anaheim) so the wide exterior skins lay flat.  Take some garlic cloves (at least 5)  coat them in olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. brush the veggies with olive oil and grill them until they are nearly black.

Put the veggies in plastic bag or covered container or plastic wrap to sweat for 10 minutes so the skins of the peppers slough off easily.  Buzz the garlic, skinned peppers, onions and garbanzos in a food processor until smooth.  Add 2 T of Tahini (Sesame paste), 1 tsp salt, 3 T of lemon juice, 3 T of olive oil and buzz again until the Hummus is smooth as butter.  If it is too thick add some of the reserved hummus chicken stock.

Serve with those great pitas you just baked off !!!! 

 

 

mpiasec's picture
mpiasec

king arthur hamberger rolls

just made king arthurs hambergers buns, they seem to be a little heavy.  Can you tell me why?

ananda's picture
ananda

Toasted Suflower Seed Wholemeal Bread and Some Breakfast Pastries

Croissant Dough with a Sponge

My base recipe for laminated yeasted dough, with a couple of amendments.   A bit of sugar is included, although my own preference remains a croissant without sugar.   And I have adapted the formula to use a sponge where 20% of the total flour becomes pre-fermented.

Material

Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Sponge

 

 

Marriage’s Strong Organic White Flour

20

200

Fresh Yeast

0.1

1

Water

12

120

TOTAL

32.1

321

 

 

 

2. Final Dough

 

 

Sponge [from 1 above]

32.1

321

Marriage’s Strong Organic White Flour

80

800

Salt

1.3

13

Sugar

5

50

Milk Powder

5

50

Fresh Yeast

4

40

Water

51

510

TOTAL

178.4

1784

 

 

 

3. Laminating Process

 

 

Final Dough above

178.4

1784

Butter – lightly salted

36

360

TOTAL

214.4

2144

 

 

 

% pre-fermented flour

20

-

% overall hydration

63

-

FACTOR

1 0

-

 

Method:

  • Make the sponge the night before and leave to ferment slowly.
  • For the dough, blend the milk powder, salt and sugar through the flour.   Weigh very cold [I pre-chill the water overnight] water into the mixing bowl, and dissolve the fresh yeast into this.   Add the sponge and the dry ingredients.   Mix with a hook attachment for 3 minutes on slow and 4 minutes on second speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  • Cover the dough and store in the chiller for half an hour, and meanwhile cut the butter into slices and roll between 2 plastic bags to create a pliable sheet of butter.
  • Roll out the croissant dough so that the slab of butter fits onto two thirds of the dough slab.   Fold the butter in letter-style to create 2 layers of butter.   Rest for one hour in the chiller.
  • Turn through 90° and roll out to the same size as before.   Fold the dough in 3 for the first turn, then chill a further hour.   Repeat this 3 more times to give 4 x ½ turns in total.   Rest a further one hour
  • I then split the dough into 3 sections, and made 12 Pain Amande with one piece, 9 Pain aux Raisins with another, and 14 croissants with the last piece.
  • Glaze each finished unit with egg, dip the Pain Amande in flaked almonds and set to proof for 45 minutes.
  • I used the electric oven to bake these on convection heat setting at 210°C for approx 15 minutes each tray; there were 5 trays in total.
  • Cool on wires

 

Yeasted Sunflower Seed Wholemeal Bread with Mixed Pre-ferments

Both cultures given 2 refreshments prior to use:

Rye Sourdough

Day

Stock

Flour

Water

Total

Friday 09:00

40

120

200

360

Friday 17:00

360

60

100

520

 

Wheat Levain

Day

Stock

Flour

Water

Total

Friday 09:00

40

200

120

360

Friday 17:00

360

100

60

520

nb. The levain was allowed to ferment slowly overnight in the chiller after the last refreshment.

Material/Stage

Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1a] Rye Sourdough

 

 

Bacheldre Organic Dark Rye Flour

9

180

Water

15

300

TOTAL

24

480

 

 

 

1b] Wheat Levain

 

 

Marriage’s Organic Strong White Flour

15

300

Water

9

180

TOTAL

24

480

 

 

 

2. Final Dough

 

 

Rye Sourdough [from 1a]

24

480

Wheat Levain [from 1b]

24

480

Marriage’s Organic Strong Wholemeal

76

1520

Shoyu-Roasted Sunflower Seeds

20

400

Salt

1.5

30

Fresh Yeast

2.5

50

Water

50

1000

TOTAL

198

3960

 

 

 

% pre-fermented flour

24

-

% overall hydration

74.4

-

% wholegrain

85

-

FACTOR

20

-

 

Method:

    • Combine wholemeal, water and rye sourdough and mix until clear with a dough hook on first speed.   Autolyse for one hour.
    • Add the wheat levain and bakers’ yeast and mix for 2 minutes on first speed and 3 minutes on second speed.   Add the salt, mix 3 more minutes on second speed.   Add the toasted seeds and mix on first speed until clear.   DDT 27°C.
    • Bulk ferment dough at 26°C for 2 hours.
    • Knock back the dough gently, and scale and divide.   I made one small panned loaf @ 500g; a large panned loaf, 3-pieced each one @ 350g; a Pullman Pan, 4-pieced each one also @ 350g.   The remaining dough, just over 1kg, was used to make one large Boule.   Mould each piece round, and rest covered for 15 minutes.   Shape each piece and dip in seeds and assemble panned loaves, and use a banneton for the boule.
    • Final proof: Boule fermented  @ 26°C for one hour; 2 panned loaves followed on, so 1¾ hours proof.   The Pullman was held back by fermenting at 15°C for 2½ hours.
    • Bake the loaves with steam…I used my electric oven for today’s bake, pre-heated to 280°C, then settling at 235°C for 10 minutes.   Then I switched to convection and baked out the breads at 210°C.
    • Cool on wires

We are about to go out for dinner at our friends' home nearby.   The bread is for them, as really valued customers; the pastries pictured are a gift.

All good wishes

Andy

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Make your own Greek yogurt

Make your own Greek yogurt and then use the drippings to make great bread by substituting the yogurt whey water for the water in your bread.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

The Dark Side Attacks: 70% rye plus wheat / emmer / spelt

Mischbrot variations

In earlier experiments with breads having a higher percentage of rye flour I found that adding spelt, emmer or semolina complemented the rye very well.

With this bake I wanted to compare the effect of substituting the wheat part with emmer and spelt in breads with 70% rye. The flours are all from Shipton Mill.

The outcome:



I used my tried and tested Mischbrot formula as a base, this time using a rye starter with 100% hydration. The starter is made with dark rye, while the remaining rye in the formula is light rye.

Here the formula:

Straight formula

Percent

Amount(g)

Amount (oz)

Dark Rye

24

108

3.83

Light Rye

46

208

7.33

Bread flour

30

136

4.78

Or light spelt flour

30

136

4.78

Or wholegrain emmer flour

30

136

4.78

salt

2

9

0.32

water

75

339

11.96

yield

177

800

28.22

 

 

 

 

Rye sour

 

 

 

Dark rye flour

24

108

3.83

Water

24

108

3.83

Mature starter

2.4

11

0.38

Yield

50.4

227

8.04

 

 

 

 

Dough

 

 

 

Light Rye

46

208

7.33

Bread flour

30

136

4.78

Or light spelt flour

30

136

4.78

Or wholegrain emmer flour

30

136

4.78

Salt

2

9

0.32

Water

51

231

8.13

Rye sour

48

217

7.65

Yield

177

800

28.22

At the current cooler temperatures (about 23C / 73F in my kitchen) the starter took 16 hours to mature.
With 70% rye the doughs / pastes are very sticky and require only a short mix/knead so that all materials are mixed well.

After 100 minutes of fermentation at 23C / 73F I shaped rounds with very wet hands (in mid-air), and put t hem into baskets (floured with light rye) for the final rest..After 60 minutes the rounds showed cracks, a sign that they are ready for the bake.

The bake (on a stone, with steam) started at maximum temperature (ca.  240C / 464F), after 15 minutes I turned the loaves and lowered the temperature to 210C / 410F, After another 20 minutes the bread was ready.

I am very happy with oven spring and bloom. All three breads performed equally well and were indistinguishable from the outside.

After a day I cut into the loaves. The crumb is quite similar in all three loaves, the bread containing wholegrain emmer  is a bit darker and more dense.(The wheat bread got a bit of a shadow - bad photography!)

Although the crumb looks fairly dense, the breads actually feel light.

The crust could be thicker, but that's my oven – not much I can do about this at the moment.

The taste of the three breads is also very similar – quite complex with rye dominating, and a distinctive tangy after-taste. The emmer bread has the most complex taste.

There are a few things I would like to try with this formula:
1. using all wholegrain flours
2. going back to the original German way: using all medium rye and refined flours (which would be called ”Berliner Landbrot”)
3. Reducing the amount of rye sour and using some of the wheat/emmer/spelt in a stiff starter as a second preferment
4. using a wheat/emmer/spelt poolish as a second preferment
5. adding spices

Lots to do!
Juergen

JoeV's picture
JoeV

Sourdough Whole Wheat No-knead Cinnamon bread

I had a taste for cinnamon bread, and I had just finished a two-day feeding of my starter. So I just improvised a little from the standard no-knead formula and came up with this handsome fellow. The smell was magnificent as it was baking, and this loaf had an 18 hour fermentation.

Baked in my oblong cloche

11 oz. All purpose flour

5 oz. Stone ground whole wheat flour
1/2 C Cinnamon chips (you can add up to another 1/2C, but no less)
1-1/2 t Kosher salt
1/2 C Sourdough starter (vibrant)
14 oz. Purified water at room temperature

Blend starter with water until all you have is milky colored water, then mix everything together as you normally would. Allow to ferment on the counter for 12-18 hours before shaping.

No-knead directions for beginners avsailable on my website at http://flyfishohio.us/NoKneadBread.htm

 

CountryWoodSmoke's picture
CountryWoodSmoke

Einkorn Bread Overnight Sponge

 

I love to try new and unusual flour when I bake and here is one of my loaves using Doves Einkorn Flour, I was really impressed with the quality of the flour, lovely to make bread.

http://countrywoodsmoke.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-best-bread-give-this-a-go/

cheers

Marcus 

 

Matt Edy's picture
Matt Edy

Egg substitute in sweet bun dough

Wondered if anyone knew of a substitute for eggs in a sweet bun dough (for hot cross buns)?

Finding that eggs in dough cause the bread to dry up and go hard very quick....

Many thanks

 

Graid's picture
Graid

What sort of rye is this and how would I achieve it?

I was until recently under the mistaken impression that all rye bread was the sort you get in supermarkets in the UK and Belgium and Sweden. Small, dense, dark, and exceedingly rich in flavour.

This is the picture of the common UK brand. Like in Belgium and Sweden it is sold in the UK in pre-sliced form. The texture is crumbly and the bread has a habit of falling in half when you take the slices out. 

Ingredients: Cereal (Rye Wholemeal, Whole Grain Rye Flour), Water, Natural Sourdough (Wholegrain Rye Meal, Water), Sea Salt.

I followed a 'deli style rye' recipe from the American artisan bread in 5 minutes book, and was rather surprised that it produced a nice tasting loaf but decidedly unlike the sort of 'rye' I have been wanting. Really quite light in colour, and far more subtle in flavour. Ignorant of me perhaps, but it was news to me that when recipes from other countries say 'rye' they don't necessarily mean the very dark bread I'm used to. 

Is it a 'dark rye' that this sort is called, or is it something more like pumpernickel, does anyone know? I notice the tendency of such loaves to be made in Germany- is this a specifically German style of rye bread?

Is regular rye flour different from the wholemeal and whole grain rye flour mentioned in the ingredients? The rye flour I have been using is unbranded stuff from my local health food store, so I am uncertain of the type, but it looks quite fine. 

Any advice would be appreciated on unravelling the mysteries of rye varieties.

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