Still here, still baking
Weekends, the times that I do most of my baking, have been rather full of late. There have been seminars to attend, a class to teach, a grandson's out-of-state (for us, not him) cross country meet to attend and all of the other "normal" stuff that makes up life. Still, I've found ways to weave in some baking with the other things going on. Posting here on TFL has taken a bit of a back seat to the other activities, though.
The class three weeks ago was titled Harvest Breads. In assembling the day's curriculum, I wanted something that would speak to the bounty of the season. After some thinking and experimenting, the breads presented that day included a multigrain pain au levain and a golden wheat bread. These choices also gave the opportunity for the students to work with a sourdough bread and a yeasted bread. Each student also received some starter to take home with them. Because these recipes were developed specifically for the class at the Culinary Center, I won't post them in full but will provide a general outline for those of you who want to put your own twist on the concept.
The multigrain pain au levain is primarily bread flour with small percentages of whole wheat and whole rye flours, very much like a pain de compagne. The bread also includes a hot soaker. For ease of preparation, and to make things as accessible as possible for the students, I used Bob's Red Mill 7 Grain hot cereal mix for the soaker. One could obviously make their own custom blend of grains or seeds to fit their particular tastes. The bread was baked as batards, simply because I find the shape more conducive to fitting in toasters or sandwiches. If you like boules, there's no reason not to shape the loaves that way. Baked at 460F for 30 minutes, with initial steam, the bread looks like this:
The flavor has lots of grainy notes and some of hazelnuts and caramel. The crumb is quite moist but still firm, flecked with bits of the grains from the soaker. I barely got to taste the bread in class and the loaf that I made at home (above) went to a friend (which netted a dozen cookies from her shop) so I have no crumb photo.
The golden part of the Golden Wheat bread is due to the inclusion of half a can of solid-pack pumpkin. The bread itself is approximately 75% whole wheat, with the remainder being bread flour. The bread also includes toasted pepitas for some additional crunch. There are beaucoup sweet pumpkin breads but I wanted to steer this in a savory direction. Remembering that sage makes a good counterpoint to squash, I played around with various combinations until I hit on using rosemary and thyme as supporting players for the sage note. The bread was baked in a pan as a sandwich loaf:
No crumb shot of this loaf, either. The crumb was very even and rather close, instead of open. It makes a great base for a turkey sandwich and my wife already has a request in for some of this for use in her Thanksgiving dressing, since the seasoning is tilted in that direction. The pumpkin provides a subtle background flavor that balances the herbal notes, rather than announcing its presence with a megaphone.
I managed a mid-week bake of some bagels, using the New York Water Bagel recipe from ITJB, for a fundraiser at work. Oddly enough, people preferred the fluffier doughnut-shaped rolls purchased from a local bagel shop, so I wound up bringing about half of them home, much to my wife's delight:
Since I hadn't gotten any of the multigrain pain au levain from the previous weekend for my own use, that was the choice for the next weekend's bake. The only thing I did differently was to extend the baking time to 35 minutes, since the crust wasn't quite as dark as it could have been. Here's how it looked with that extra 5 minutes bake time:
Oh, yeah, there was also the small matter of not turning the temperature down from the 500F preheat to the 460F bake temperature. It looked a lot darker to the eye than it does in this photograph. My wife's first comment was "That looks burnt." I demurred, saying that it was merely boldly baked. She wasn't entirely convinced. After having eaten some, the next iteration might accidentally-on-purpose get that baked that way again. The flavor from the darker crust was much richer than the "blonder" sibling of the week before. And the crumb was still moist and cool, despite the longer, hotter bake. This time there is a crumb shot:
There was a pleasingly random distribution of larger and smaller bubbles; none so big that my clothes were at risk of becoming a condiment landing zone.
A friend recently opened a coffee shop. While she is presently serving muffins and scones, she'd like to be able have some lunch offerings, too. The young fellow who is baking for her on site is dong a very good job with those products but does not have any experience with yeasted breads. They have limited work space and a small convection oven, so there are some challenges to deal with. Consequently, as we were batting ideas around for things like paninis and other sandwiches, I volunteered to work up some breads for their consideration this weekend.
One idea was for focaccia. It will require some additional tweaking to make it sandwich-ready but the current version could accompany a soup:
Another idea was for ciabattini. Dee and her crew will play around with filling ideas and we can work out a preferred size/shape, depending on what they think will work best. These are from a Ciril Hitz formula, scaled at 90g per roll:
A memory from our days in Birmingham, Alabama surfaced while working through possible breads for the shop. The Club (yes, that's its name; emphasis on THE) in Birmingham is famous for its orange luncheon rolls. No one, to my knowledge, serves anything like them in the KC area. If Tee has something on her menu that is unique, that will give her a competitive advantage. So, while making up the focaccia and the ciabattini yesterday, I also prepped a batch of orange rolls through the shaping stage, then retarded them overnight in the refrigerator so that they could be baked off fresh this morning. Even though just slightly overbaked (there isn't supposed to be any browning) they were an immediate hit with the volunteer tasters at the shop today. The orange glaze, no doubt, was a factor:
Now I need to get the recipes sent off to Tee and her crew so that they can do some experimenting of their own.