The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pre-July 4th Baking

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wally's picture
wally

Pre-July 4th Baking

With a new baking job I've been overwhelmed to the point of hardly having time to enjoy posts on TFL let alone contribute.  But as the 4th has approached I found a day off to recharge my batteries, revisit some breads I love to bake, and try an experiment in dinner rolls involving ciabatta dough.


First, revisiting old friends - in this case Hamelman's mixed starter pain au levain, and, fougasse. 


Over time I've found that the subtle flavors that are imparted by a mixed starter of my everyday levain and rye levain, combined with a small introduction of whole wheat flour to the final dough, make this pain au levain my go-to bread of choice.  There is noticeable sourness in the baked loaf, yet not so overwhelming that it obscures the other flavors imparted by the mixture of grains and starters.


   


(A little crackly crust for David S here)


.          


Plus, I have to admit, it's just plain fun to be able to use both starters simultaneously in constructing one dough.  Usually I find myself grabbing one or the other starters out of the fridge (now that it's unbearable summer here in D.C.) and staring somewhat ruefully at the one which goes unused.  So Hamelman's mixed starter sourdough not only satisfies my taste buds, but assuages any sense of guilt over favoring one levain over the other.


The fougasse I haven't baked in some time, but I had promised compatriots at my favorite pub that on Saturday I would appear with snacks in hand.  And what better way to share than with a niçoise olive and sea salt fougasse! 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The beautiful leaf shape was shortly admired and much more rapidly dismantled by my fellow pub mates!  I've tried these with a variety of additions - roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and traditional anchovies.  In any incarnation, I find them quickly devoured.  And let's face it, they are a 'fun' bread because of their distinctive shape.


My third bake on Saturday was with a traditional ciabatta dough of 72% hydration.  But instead of creating the usual 1 lb. loaves I decided to cut the dough into 1.5 oz increments and bake dinner rolls with them - ciabattinis as I like to call them. 



The dough makes for a quick and easy dinner roll that can be bagged and frozen once cooled, ready to be pulled out and thawed as needed.  Most of my dinner rolls contain healthy doses of butter, so I find this very simple roll - just flour, water, salt and yeast - to be a nice change and a wonderful sop for any dish that contains oils or juices.


      


The other eventful recent occurrence was a delightful 2-day workshop at King Arthur Flour in mid-June on wood-fired oven baking, taught by Dan Wing who, with Alan Scott, wrote the 'bible' on wfo's - The Bread Builders.  It was an eye-opener for me in that my conceptions of wfo's as mainly pizza makers were thrown out the window as we not only baked wonderful breads, but cooked equally wonderful meals on them. Those who are interested in reading more about my second 'excellent adventure at KAF' can find my recounting here.


Happy baking and Happy 4th of July to all!


Larry

Comments

JoeVa's picture
JoeVa

Your "pain au levain" with mixed started is great, I love the crumb.


I have a question for you about the WFO course at KAF: do you learn any tips for steaming a wfo?


How did you bake your sourdough bread in the oven?


Giovanni


 

wally's picture
wally

Posted this to the wrong place.  Scusi.


Ciao Giovanni. Thanks! I love that bread - it's so simple and so good.


Dan introduced us to a stupid simple steaming method. Get a pump sprayer (like you would use to spray your garden) and fill with water. Once you've loaded the loaves, spray for maybe 30 seconds, aiming for the oven walls and roof, then put the door in place. After about 3 minutes, remove the door, and spray again.


Worked like a charm!


Larry


 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Larry,


I'd wondered where you'd got to.   Excellent write up on your blog about the wood-fired course.   Yes, brick ovens can be put to work for a variety of means of cooking.   A colleague of mine, who bakes professionally, about 10 miles up the road, built his own wood fired oven.   He designed it so it was big enough to roast whole animals in.   He doesn't eat meat more than once a week, but has 4 kids, so a big family.   I guess that means he can find a way to have meat for the family as a relatively occasional treat, which he is not buying processed from a supermarket or butcher.


I'd go down the fish route for myself and Alison..but we haven't eaten meat for 25 years, so brick ovens are mainly baking devices for me.


Mixed levain looks totally excellent.   I noted some years ago that Hamelman has hydration of 72% for ciabatta etc.   I've always agreed with his comment that very high hydration is not the panacea to all breadmaking problems.   However, I've also always thought that ciabatta is a bit of an exception, and 72% really is too low.   I get up to 85% myself.   Do you have any thoughts on this?   Did you catch up with Mr. Hamelman at King Arthur, and was Dan Wing inspiring on the same sort of level?


Anyway, what's this new job all about?


All good wishes


Andy

wally's picture
wally

Hi Andy. It's good to be back.  I'm baking at another restaurant in DC.  This one supplies not only its own bread, but we bake for a sister restaurant and sell to others.  So it's really a production affair. 


I've baked with low and high hydration ciabatta dough, and as you know, the higher the hydration the more, shall we say, challenging is the handling.  This particular dough was pretty easy to work with at 72% - there's no shaping, only cutting.  I might crank up the hydration in subsequent bakes. I mean, the only thing it could involve is a bit more flour on the working surface, but that's no big deal. 


Jeff was not in the bakery while I was there.  As for Dan, he's a practicing physician, lover of welding, old trucks and trailers, and building wood fired ovens.  And, by his own admission, a child of the '60s.  We had a great time!  I will go back to King Arthur at any opportunity.  The people up there are wonderful, and they put a lot of effort into their classes.


You'll forgive me as I prepare to celebrate our....well....separation from the mother ship tonight!


All the best.

wally's picture
wally

Ciao Giovanni.  Thanks!  I love that bread - it's so simple and so good.


Dan introduced us to a stupid simple steaming method.  Get a pump sprayer (like you would use to spray your garden) and fill with water.  Once you've loaded the loaves, spray for maybe 30 seconds, aiming for the oven walls and roof, then put the door in place.  After about 3 minutes, remove the door, and spray again.


Worked like a charm!


Larry

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I also have used different methods..wet rags in pans, hose, but easiest and works great is using a large spray bottle and just squirt it at the walls..it turns to steam before it even hits the walls.  Oh, you can't beat a steak cooked over hot wood coals..I have a grate made for the wfo oven it is square metal and stands on about 5inch legs..you just shove some coals under it and put your steaks on the searing hot bars...you can still make pizza at the same time and other roasted dishes, the flavor of roasted veggies is hard to beat.  An iron frying pan in front of the door while fireing the oven for pizza makes delicious pre-cook up sausages.  I haven't cooked a 'whole animal'! yikes my vegetarian aunts and uncles refer to eating meat as eating 'dead animals' just reminds me of that..I'd rather hear a whole roasted pig, chicken, whatever..than the word animal ;)


Sylvia

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Beautiful, Wally!


I'm actually spending the Fourth with some of my wife's family in Montpellier, France this year.  We had a barbeque and grocery store fougasse tonight and I was telling them how fougasse is not common in the States but that serious baking hobbyist know it.  Lo and beyond, your post with your beautiful loaves.


I hope you (and all the other TFLers) have a great 4th of July!


 

wally's picture
wally

You're in a beautiful place and I'm writing this to a beautiful place you've created and fostered.


Many thanks!

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Always great to see you on TFL and it's been a while...Your pain au levain looks beautiful with it's dark roast and sounds so delicious.  The fougasse is so much fun to bake and what nice shaping it has...I love the olives.  Your Pub pals must have enjoyed themselves feasting on your fresh baked fougasse.  I was tasting a lot of olives from our Greek friends at the farmers market this week.  They don't sell any seeded ones..she said they are not as flavorful when I asked...the goat 'feta' cheese they get is so delicious.  Ciabatta rolls...I enjoy the rolls so much, you did a great job of sizing them up.


Happy Fourth of July!  


Sylvia 

wally's picture
wally

Ah, good feta.  I was introduced to its wonders on Cyprus years ago, where I also was introduced to the traditional Greek salad after helping harvest olives (not the ones we used in the salad!!).  All good memories.


I now have a serious case of wfo envy by the way!  Do you ship?

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

I especially love the crumb is the mixed levain. That one has been on my to bake list for a while now, must make it soon.


 


That WFO course sounds so interesting! I would love to try my hands on one someday. Andy's comments about roasting a whole animal in it just intrigues me so much!

wally's picture
wally

Thanks txfarmer!  I'm a convert to the possibilities offered by wfo's.


Larry

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Lovely crust and crumb Wally! MMmmm

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Mebake!


Larry

zoltan szabo's picture
zoltan szabo

Dear Wally,


Very nice looking loaf/fougasse and rolls! Keep up the good work!


Happy baking Z

wally's picture
wally

Many thanks for your comment!


Larry

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Larry - your bakes are always so inspirng.  The ciabatta rolls - that's a nice one,  going off to bake some perhaps this weekend.  And your fougasse,  very greatly shaped (cut).  Look at the crust of your levain, so crisp! Nice!

wally's picture
wally

Right now it's so hot here in Washington, DC that I can't bring myself to even think of turning my oven on. 


Hope the weather is a little cooler where you are.


Larry


 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Larry, you've convinced me that I need to try the mixed pain au levain! I never got past the basic one because I like it so much. But that will have to change :-)  Your Fougasse is quite lovely too.


Thanks for linking to your blog---I was looking forward to hearing how the class went. I hope to meet Dr. Wing some day, myself. Unbenknownst to him, his book was intrumental to me in the early days when good scientific information on sourdough was very hard to find.


Take care :-)
-dw

wally's picture
wally

Thanks Debbie! Really, all 3 of his variations on this french classic are wonderful, but I've come to appreciate the subtle flavors introduced by the addition of the rye starter and whole wheat flour.  Give it a whirl!


I'm sure Dan would love to know that his book had such a big impact.  He does baking courses not infrequently at KAF (he lives nearby), so if you ever have the chance I highly recommend it.  He made a point of tailoring his presentation to our needs and interests, so it couldn't have been better from my standpoint. 


Larry