The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ww's picture
ww

bakeware in NY

Hi all,

I'm going to NY soon. Any must-go shops for baking equipment or bakeries? I've been mostly improvising with whatever I have at home but feel ready to splurge on some material, esp. bannetons.

Your recommendations are welcome!

proth5's picture
proth5

IBIE - Tuesday

 After a martoonie or two and an early night, Tuesday  8:30AM found a very large crowd of bakers and imposters ready to listen to Craig Ponsford and Jeffrey Yankellow talk about the science and application of sourdough based pre ferments.  Both seemed somewhat subdued and I was reminded of a quote about folks in another party town who made an early morning appointment.  When they rolled into the restaurant for breakfast they remarked to the waitress that their counterparts were late and they could have used that extra few minutes to gently recover from the previous evening's festivities.  The waitress said (to paraphrase) "You're in Las Vegas, boys, those people you are meetin' are expectin' a mess."

No, no, it was nowhere near that bad. In fact speaking about sourdough is always a little less precise than speaking about commercial yeast and I think most of us who work with sourdough know this.

What surprised me was the number of professional bakers at the lecture who had never worked with sourdough.  Here on TFL it seems that "everyone" is a sourdough baker, but maybe not so much in the commercial baking world.

Again, there was a lot to the lecture, but there were some high points worth discussing.

Mr. Yankellow made a distinction between a "culture" - which he defined as a newly formed mixture of flour, water, and organisms and a "starter" ("chef" or "mother") that is a mature culture strong enough to use for baking.  The transition, to his thinking usually takes 3 or 4 weeks (not many years) and, he emphasized, it is important to take the time to let the culture mature.  He did discuss that a type of bread (similar to salt rising bread) could be made from a young culture, but he expressed that it would have a very strong taste (from all the random bacteria) and be a very heavy bread.

Then both Mr. Yankellow and Mr. Ponsford held forth on the myth of special sourdough starters being grown from grapes or raisins or any number of odd things.  This is where I tread carefully because there is much emotional energy attached to the origins of starters.  I'm just saying that both of these distinguished bakers were convinced that the yeasts in the flour used to feed the culture and later the starter will always be the yeasts (and bacteria) in the starter.  Yeasts from grapes (for example) - and grapes are a fruit with a lot of yeasts - will not thrive in the flour and water environment and eventually be out competed by the yeasts in the flour.  Mr. Ponsford told the tale of a starter that was grown in a wine cave that gave the bread a particular flavor - until it was removed from the cave.  He also told the tale of a unique apple cider starter - but which was refreshed each day with apple cider.  I'm not taking sides.  I'm just saying.

Both similarly felt that after passing from the culture phase to the starter  phase there is no advantage (in terms of actual bread making) to the "150 year old starter carried across the Rockies."  They are both convinced that the starter will take on the characteristics of your locale and promised that if you went to their bakeries and asked for a bit of starter (now, don't everyone rush to do this!), they would gladly give you a piece because it will eventually come to reflect your locale and your level of care and itself was not the secret to their great breads.  Again, I'm just saying what I heard.

They presented some fun facts, among which were:

  • One gram of commercial yeast contains 8-10 billion yeast cells
  • One gram of regular flour contains 13,000 wild yeast cells and 320 lactic bacteria cells, and
  • One gram of whole-wheat flour contains 320,000 yeast cells and 62,000 lactic bacteria cells.

Now, that's something to think about...

Moving on the starter care, I couldn't help but think of the hard hearted way many home bakers treat their starters - leaving them to languish in refrigerator for weeks at a time and reviving them only when they are needed.  Starter care as discussed was for professional bakers, as feeding suggestions were given for feeding once, twice, or three times a day.

Well, that stirred up some hard feelings.  However I'll give you two quotes. 

Craig Ponsford "There is no shortcut to caring for your starter" and Jeffrey Yankellow "Treat your starter right."

I don't have the qualifications to argue.

They both also emphasized consistency - claiming that every time you see a problem with sourdough, the issue is consistency (feeding routine, temperature, etc.)

I am not making this up.  (Even though it is what I have been preaching on these pages for some time.)

In terms of the impact of sourdough on the final dough itself, they reminded us that the acid in the sourdough will strengthen the dough considerably and that more gentle mixing with the objective of somewhat under developing the dough would be something to consider with sourdoughs - allowing the dough to develop during the first fermentation.  Mr. Yankellow expressed that he preferred to retard sourdough doughs after shaping as the acidity and long fermentation would strengthen the dough to the point where it would be difficult to shape.

Well, that's enough controversy for today.

I then toddled off to the Bread Bakers Guild of America booth to hear a presentation from a representative of the California Wheat Board.  Apparently I've been studying about wheat a little too much, but one interesting fact is that California produces a particularly fine durum wheat called "Desert Durum" which is used in great quantities by the Barilla pasta company.

Swinging by the LeSafre cup, I was able to see yesterday's creations.  I was quite impressed by Costa Rica's colorful artistic piece.  Argentina's and Brazil's pieces were also very nice, but I did have to ponder if they would regret their bland color schemes.  We will know tomorrow.  Once again the breads were lovely.  Although I am completely unbiased, I still think Team USA rocked - but this is one tough competition.  I can't wait to find out the results.

Attracted by the sight of free dough scrapers, I spent some time at the Retail Bakers of America booth.  This organization, whose website is  www.retailbakersofamerica.org ,is an organization for professional bakers to aid them in connecting with other bakers and suppliers. Not an organization for most of us, but the very nice lady who chatted with me was happy to swap a mention for some plastic scrapers.  We talked a bit about my "retirement business" and she gave me some very good advice about not spending my retirement on a bakery business (which I knew, but it was nice of her anyway.)

I'm beginning to enjoy this "resting up and not pushing myself to the limit" thing and so left the show early, blowing off the Ciril Hitz book signing.  Although I like him very much because unlike "my teacher" he doesn't yell at me and doesn't give me homework assignments that take years to complete (he was also the first person to introduce me to a sheeter - and he even remarked to me about the love light in my eyes), but I just wasn't up to beating off the vast throngs that would no doubt be there.  I also don't want to lose that air of "I'm so cool I can hang with famous bakers and never even consider getting a book signed or a picture taken."  Once you give in to that, well, you lose your street cred.  Anyway, I have a lecture with him tomorrow.

And I hear those martoonies calling (Hey! It's vacation!)

Happy Baking

cgmeyer2's picture
cgmeyer2

how do i convert a 50% starter to a higher %

i currently have a sourdough starter than is doing well that i purchased from king arthur. i'd like to try breads with different hydrations. i do i convert my 50% starter to another hydration?

thanks, claudia

hanseata's picture
hanseata

September Birthday Plum Cake

There's no doubt about it - Pflaumenkuchen (German Plum Cake) is my birthday cake. In the beginning of September the first prune plums show up on the market just in time for my birthday.

My birthday party was always arranged by my grandmother, my Omi, who invested all her love and imagination in coming up with games and other entertainment for me and my friends. She definitely was my role model on how to make a child's birthday party a huge success!

"Hide-and-Seek" (in the dark), "Choose-the-Right-Candy" ( with nail biting suspense) , "Say-Whom-You-Love" (good for many giggles) and "Unwrap-the-Chocolate" (with hat and mittens, fork and knife!) were some of the games that raised excitement and noise levels to heights that called for quiet intervals of soap bubble blowing, or story telling, to calm down all the boisterous little guests.

Of course my grandmother also baked my birthday cake, a large sheet brimming full of prune plums resting on a bed of sweet yeast dough, generously sprinkled with almonds and cinnamon sugar. I loved that cake, and could eat a lot of it (though not quite as much as on those memorable occasions when my cousin Thomas and I would compete at wolfing down Omi's famous yeast dumplings!).

Nowadays, if I don't have to entertain a horde of hungry cake monsters, I bake a smaller plum cake version, either with a short or a streusel crust, in a springform pan. They taste as good as the large yeasted cake - especially with Gifford's award winning vanilla ice cream...

 

There are hundreds of German plum cake recipes, this cake here is easy to make and tastes best slightly warm, with vanilla ice cream.

You'll find the recipe here: http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/09/german-plum-cake-pflaumenkuchen.html

 

breitbaker's picture
breitbaker

Simple Cracked Wheat Sandwich BRead

New Blog Post

The favorite pan bread of my kitchen

http://www.brightbakes.wordpress.com

Cathy B.

ackkkright's picture
ackkkright

1st contribution - Norwood sourdough

I have been baking regularly for a year and a half. The fresh loaf has been my primary education. Thank you all.

This represents this week's levain bake. The formula evolved from Hammelman's Vermont sourdough, and continues to drift weekly. The weather changed recently and the kitchen is cooler; the formula will be different next week.

I like to mix an 1800g batch at 78% hydration, as the numbers are friendly. 1000g flour (here: 75% Gold Medal unbleached AP, 20% White whole wheat, 5% rye), 780g water, and 20g salt; 20% flour prefermented.

The mix began with 400g 100% hydration levain. Levain flour is 50% white whole wheat, 25% rye and 25%AP. The levain was not at peak.

Mixed levain, flour and water and allowed a 30 minute autolyse; added salt and kneaded in bowl for 3 minutes; Bulk fermented at 70* for 3.5 hours with stretch and folds (in bowl) at roughly 30, 60, 90 minutes.

Divided, shaped and allowed to ferment en couche. These shaped loaves were immediately refrigerated for 3 hours, then removed to room temperature for 2 hours before baking with steam (10 minutes) at 450* for 40 minutes. The formula yields 2 large loaves, or two 11oz pizza crusts and two 20oz loaves.

 

1st mix (no salt) - autolyse:

1st mix-autolyse

 

after 1st stretch/fold:

 

after 2nd folding:

 

after 3rd folding:

 

shaped (2 batards, 2 11oz pieces reserved for pizza):

 

2 baked loaves:

 

crumb:

 

Before baking, I thought these loaves had been overproofed. But they boinged up ok during the bake. Fine-tuning the length of fermentation remains my challenge, particularly when retarding.

I appreciate this site and the discussion here very much. Thanks to all contributers, your contributions are very helpful.

 

AC

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Cream buns, Murchies style

I am still trying to develop a recipe for cream buns something like the scones from Murchies in Victoria, BC (see my previous posts on the topic here and here).  What I baked yesterday turned out awfully good and, if memory serves me right, is along the same lines of what they serve at Murchies.

Cream Buns

Cream Buns

Cream Buns

It is worth mentioning that I've been using my Lesson 1 recipe as the basis for this, with substitutions (milk and cream for the water, add some sugar, etc).  Though by itself that recipe is nothing special and one I've abandoned baking as it is written there, it still is frequently my starting point for experimentation.

My recipes was roughly:

3 cups bread flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup warm milk

3/4 cups warm heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 heaping teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 cup dried currents

I started with less liquid than that  (1/2 cup of each) but the dough got pretty tight, so I poured in more cream and worked the dough with wet hands until it got to a state I was comfortable with. 

I mixed it in my standmixer for quite a decent time, 8-10 minutes I'd guess.  I gave 90 minutes for the bulk fermentation, cut and shaped the dough, and then another 60 minute final rise.  I baked them around 25 minutes at 375.

Looking back at my photo of the Murchies scone, they were a bit yellower.  perhaps I'll add an egg or some butter the next time I try to make these so they come out more brioche-y.  These were very good though, both hot out of the oven and for breakfast the next day.

*      *      *

While making these I remembered that one of my favorite baked items in France this summer, the little Briochette they sold in the grocery stores there, are fairly similar to these.  There is the assumption here that the way to appeal to Americans is to make things sickly sweet.  I could be wrong, but it seems like there is a missed opportunity here: were I a purveyor of baked items I'd try putting out something soft, less sweet, and with a good shelf life, something that a parent wouldn't feel guilty feeding their child.  The closest thing I can find in grocery stores around here are the King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, which our kids devour every time we buy them.   Sprinkle in little bits of chocolate, currents, raisins, or dried cranberries, maybe come out with a whole grain version -- Moore's Flour Mill in Ukiah, CA used to make these whole wheat raisin buns that were to die for -- and I think you'd have a real winner.

BNLeuck's picture
BNLeuck

In search of a wooden bread slicing guide...

Someone, somewhere, please by the love of all that is holy, tell me you know where to procure a wooden bread slicing guide! LOL My boyfriend is about as proficient at slicing straight as a lead balloon is at flying. :\ I love him to pieces, but a loaf of bread is mangled in his hands. I've looked at the slicing guides available on Amazon and a few other places, but all the ones I've seen are plastic of some sort. They seem, well, flimsy. This thing will get ungodly amounts of use, so I don't want anything even remotely flimsy. I want good, solid wood. Or metal, but I've never in my life seen a metal one. I've looked at the bread knives that have the wooden piece next to the blade to prevent the bread from going any farther, so that slices are uniform, but I'm not really a fan. I like the bread knife I have now, so I just want a guide. Preferably one with multiple slice slots so I can cut a bunch of pieces at once without having to move the bread, but I'll take just about anything at this point. :P Thanks in advance, TFLers!

~Brianna

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Interesting Experiment with Sourdough Starters

I just tried my first recipe from Hamelmann's "Bread" - the Mellow Bakers September challenge: Sourdough Rye with Walnuts. Since I had enough mature rye starter I decided to experiment a bit. I made two sourdough starters, one following Hamelmann's instructions to the letter, ripening the starter for 16 hours at 70 F. The other got the 3-steps treatment (3 feedings at falling temperatures, from: M. P. Stoldt "Der Sauerteig-das unbekannte Wesen").

After 16 hours the 3-stage starter looked more developed and hat a very pleasant sweet, almost fruity, smell. The "Hamelmann-starter" looked a little less smooth and its aroma was much less pronounced. Both starters went into the fridge overnight. The next morning they looked about the same, the Hamelmann one smelled stronger, but still less than the 3-stage one.

Mixing the doughs I realized that Hamelmann's instruction pertains only for industrial mixers, no way a regular stand mixer could incorporate a cup of walnuts at the end of the mix, when the dough is almost fully developed, at low speed. Because I wanted to see the difference, I nevertheless followed the instruction with the "Hamelmann-dough", and, as expected, had to mix some more by hand in order to avoid the dough getting too warm. To the other dough I added the nuts slowly and continuously through the feed, and had no problem incorporating them without additional time or hand work.

Both doughs were then treated exactly the same, proofed in bannetons and baked together according to the recipe. When they came out of the oven, they looked pretty much the same. But when I cut them there was a remarkable difference: the "Hamelmann-Loaf" was denser and had an oddly marbled look - the nuts being basically in one layer - , whereas the "3-Stage-Loaf" was less dense and had a more uniform look - the nuts being evenly distributed.

But the most amazing difference showed when we tasted the breads. 3 people found unanimously that the 3-stage Sourdough Rye with Walnuts tasted better than Hamelmann's one stage version!

Both breads looked like this one: Sourdough Rye with Walnuts

 

Crumb: Sourdough Rye with Walnuts (following Hamelmann's instructions)

 

Crumb:Sourdough Walnut Rye (3-stage version)

 

Comparison - the upper slice is the "Hamelmann-Loaf", the lower one the "3-Stage-Version"

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Pepper jelly

I got to playing with pepper jelly. 

Ingredients:  gelatin, sugar, one orange habanero, assorted sweet garden peppers, one garlic clove, water, and one glass 250ml.   Method: slice everything colorful and thin and mix with sugar, gelatin and a little water to let all the vegetables shrink and curl up for about 6-10 hours.  Amazing how they do that!  Bring to a light boil until passing the gel test on a cold plate.  (about 10-15 minutes)  Pour into hot sterilized jar and cap, let cool. 

The color of the jelly is not as dark as this picture, it barely has color at all, a light clear hint of orange with red, green, yellow and orange squiggles.

Photo:

 

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