The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Buddy baking: ITJB's Vienna Bread

pmccool's picture

Buddy baking: ITJB's Vienna Bread

OldWoodenSpoon has been chronicling his adventures and misadventures of baking the Vienna bread from the Inside the Jewish Bakery book.  Partly out of sympathy and partly out of curiosity, I decided to bake the same bread this weekend to see what would happen.

In a word (or three), not very much.

Things to note:

- I'm using a no-name AP flour

- The yeast was Fleischmann's IDY from a new package.

- Since I had no malt on hand, honey was subbed for the malt in equal amount.

- Ambient temps in the kitchen Saturday started out in the mid-60's and got all the way up to about 71 or 72F, so fermentation times were perhaps 50% longer than those noted in the book.

- The bread was baked in the specified 8.5 x 4.5 pans (in this instance, some cheap steel pans with a bright tinned finish, very lightweight).

- No egg wash was applied.

- As directed, the bread was baked in the center level of a 350F oven after the fermenting dough had just crested above the brim of the pans.  There were no stones, steam pans or other appurtenances in the oven.

The resulting bread was...ordinary.  So ordinary, in fact, that I haven't bothered to take a picture.  The slash bloomed nicely with the modest oven spring, the crust color is a light golden (I'd prefer it to be darker), the crumb structure is very even, maybe 3/4 of the mass is below the rim of the pan and the other 1/4 is above the rim, there are no gummy/compressed/underbaked zones in the loaves, and they stand upright without external support.  In other words, about what one would expect to see in a typical loaf of white bread.

From what I read in OWS' accounts and from what I see in my bake, I would opine that the biggest differences are in the use or non-use of malt and in the oven setup.  Which is the biggest factor, I can't guess, but I am confident that the two are combining to make OWS' experience so thoroughly frustrating.  It would have been nice if I had had some non-diastatic malt on hand just to see if the bread had responded differently.  However, since I used no malt of any kind in this bake, it suggests that the at-least-partially-diastatic malt used by OWS may have had a negative effect on dough structure by converting an excessive amount of starch to sugar and may have led to hyperactive yeast growth for exactly the same reason.  I'm less clear about how the presence of both upper and lower baking stones in OWS' oven might have influenced the outcome, especially since I have previously plunked bread tins down on a baking stone with no noticeable ill effects.  Based on OWS' experience, it appears that the presence or absence of the stones does have an effect, as does the location of the pans in the oven.

For what it is worth, that's my report from the field.  I hope it provides some useful information for OldWoodenSpoon and others who are working with this bread.



GermanFoodie's picture

and the bread turned out great... That said, I concur that it is not a very exciting bread to make. Also, BBA's version is much better AND keeps longer. I baked that a few months ago and it is now on my to-do list ("compare and contrast")...

HeidiH's picture

I haven't had any problems with the ITJB recipe and it is a good Vienna bread as I remember this type of bread.  It is not a chewy "artisan" bread but a softer, sweeter, more gentle bread.  

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

I appreciate the thorough report on your process and results, though I would have liked to see a crumb shot.  I still don't have a good idea of where this loaf should come out structurally there.  You probably noted that I have not used malt either in my last couple of bakes.  As soon as I figured out that my malt was not the proper malt for the recipe I just dropped it and have done without it, and without substitutes. 

Given that, then the biggest/primary difference comes down to oven setup.  That and my yeast response, which you noted.  Because I have been punching down and rising a second time in bulk fermentation, the yeast response has come under better control in the later bakes, and the oven reconfiguration has squared things up to the point where it highlights my shaping weaknesses.  It still has me scratching my head, but your information confirms again that the recipe "works" as is; that it is not too big for the pan, and is otherwise achievable in a home kitchen without major modifications.  That's good to know and I appreciate it.

I seem to be in a minority thinking the bread is pretty good.  I don't bake much white bread at all (aside from the last 10 days that is), so perhaps it is my limited exposure to even better white breads.  I do have to concur with the comment by  GermanFoodie above though about the keeping quality.  I kept a loaf uncut for an extra day or so in the bread bag and was dissappointed that it staled noticably.  I'm going to turn it into bread crumbs and freeze it for future use that way.  I'm hoping that this rapid staling will slow down once I am finally able to bake this straight-up without the collapsing and explosive rising.  Those factors surely have a negative effect on keeping quality.

Thanks again Paul.  Great field report.

Elagins's picture

Most of the bakeries of my childhood sold very little of the stuff compared to the ryes, pumpernickels and challahs.  The great virtue of this dough is that it makes fantastic kaiser rolls and salt sticks/poppy horns, but you have to ferment it for 2-3 hours and then let the rolls go to full proof, and bake at 450-500 with lots of steam to get that open crumb and thin crunchy crust.


EvaB's picture

It reads almost like my mother's standard loaf of bread when she fussed, most of the time she just made bread with water, but on the odd occasion she would add a bit of mik, or even honey and milk (we always had honey) and the bread would be really light and disappear twice as fast, so those times were very few and far between (she had enough trouble baking bread when she used the water, it disappeard even if I didn't eat it! ) I will have to try it out and see.