The Fresh Loaf

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Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

June 20, 2006

I can't imagine what my loaves would be without the wonderful special bread spices. Oh poppycock, yes I do, they would be bland and almost boring. You see I bake low salt. Now if I want to cut back on the salt something has to add some flavour. I started out putting in bread spices (the flavour) not because of the lack of salt but just because I like it. Reducing the salt was easy.

When my local baker found out I would be going off to a foreign land, and would probably be baking, (Why bother in Austria where the bread, cheese and wine are so good!) he would give me a good 1/4 kilo portion of his special brotgewürz. On one condition, that I don't bring any of it back with me and go into competition with him. Fair enough.

Rye is my favorite grain, followed by oats and corn. Now when I first started out with rye, something always seemed to be missing. I threw in all kinds of combinations and included molasses. Molasses was a key. Eliminate the sugar and add molasses. Caraway rye, well who never heard of caraway and rye? Now the rye needed some glue and white bread flour fit the bill, a handful or two, and sometimes powdered milk, sometimes a spoon or two of oil. The secret was the spices and plenty of it. Well, my baker died, God bless his soul, and with him his secret. Before I came here to China, I also knew I'd be baking so off I went to my Austrian Supermarket in search of spice.... and low and behold! They now sell Brotgewürz and in the handy 320gm plastic vacuum sealed jar! Perfect for traveling.

You may laugh about this or you may cry but I'm just happy. It isn't quite the same, but it's very good. Now what are those ingredients? Well a combination of Fennel, Coriander and Caraway seeds, crushed. Packaged by Kotanyi GmbH In what proportions it doesn't say but it wouldn't take too long to figure it out. I personally add more caraway and it is a very hard seed to crush. I even like it in white bread or sprinkled on top of rolls.

The recipe on the label is for Farmer's bread from Frank Zimmer, a classic:

Farmer's Rye Bread

  • 570 gm Rye Bread Flour
  • 60 gm Wheat Bread Flour
  • 500 ml Water
  • 16 gm Sourdough
  • 13 gm Salt
  • 15 gm Yeast
  • 4 Tablespoons Brotgewürz or mix of Crushed Fennel, Coriander and Caraway

Mix all ingredients into a dough and knead till smooth and elastic. Let rest 30 minutes. Put into the desired shape and form and eventually bake in preheated oven 200°c for 65 minutes.

I haven't tried this recipe but it seems in order. I would reduce the salt to less than 10 gm. (one teaspoon=5 gm) If you choose to use only sourdough and no commercial yeast, I suggest letting it rise in floured form for 20 min before putting into the oven. As you can see, there is no sugar, A flat tablespoon of honey or molasses might help the sourdough rise. If your sourdough is as soupy as mine, use two cups of it and reduce the water above to about 200ml or 300ml. The dough looks like a wet one. The kind I like to beat in the bowl with a sturdy spoon.

Try putting some spices into your favorite recipe. Have you tried any yet? It's great just wiffing the jar! Have Fun.... :) Mini Oven

Floydm's picture

For father's day, I chose to stick around the house, play with the kids, and bake. I made Dan Lepard's Flax Seed Wheat Bread again.

flax seed bread

Really good stuff.

flax seed bread

The big dessert was a cheesecake (store bought) with a raspberry sauce made with fresh, local berries. The strawberries are beginning to fade, but now we move into my favorite time of the year, when fresh Oregon raspberries and peaches are abundant.

Floydm's picture

I don't know if anyone else noticed, but today smiddlet posted the 1000th node on this site. Thank you, everyone who has contributed and made this site a useful place to visit.

I continue to be slammed at work, which accounts for my inability to provide fresh content here. There has also been the spring cleaning, getting the garden going, family visits, hyperactive children, and a nasty outbreak of moths (clothes moths, not grain moths) in our house to keep me occupied. I am determined to bake and post new content again soon.

pincupot's picture

Hello. I am new to this and new to bread baking. Have been trying all types of recipes from several books but cannot seem to find out how to calculate adding oat groats and other types of grain to bread. Is there a ratio to follow? Do the grains need to be soaked first? Any assistance would be GREAT! Thank you in advance!

JMonkey's picture

In addition to baking bread, I have another obsession: The ancient Asian game of Go. As the game is well over 3000 years old, a whole host of proverbs has grown up around it. One of my favorites is the following:

"Just one game," they said. That was yesterday.

Friday night, I may as well have said to myself,

"Just one loaf ...."

(Photos in the full post)

I really didn't intend to bake all night. Really, I didn't. But I'd gotten home a bit early, and I knew it would be a busy weekend. Besides, the day before I'd worked from home surreptitiously so that I could cook a special meal for my wife's birthday and our fourth anniversary (we didn't intend to get married on her birthday, but she's got a family full of academics, and it was the only Saturday in June when none of them had a conference). Of course, the meal included bread. Ciabatta to be exact.

Nevertheless, aside from a quarter loaf of ciabatta, we needed more bread to last the week. But it was going to be a busy weekend. "Hey!" I said to myself. "Here's a brilliant idea! Let the dough rise after you get home from work, shape it, pop it in the fridge and bake it in the morning! Work is done!"

I'd soaked some wheat berries, flax seeds and rolled oats that morning, so as soon as I got home from work, I set the whole-wheat flour to autolyse and started dinner. I was ambitious: two loaves of my weekly whole-wheat sourdough sandwich bread and then another two loaves of seed and oat whole wheat sourdough hearth bread.

My wife had come home early, so she had taken a ball of frozen pizza dough out from the fridge to thaw (from the BBA, though I'm finding I prefer the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion "Now or Later Pizza" recipe better. It uses 1/2 semolina flour.)and cranked up the oven to the max. No pics of the pizza, alas, but it was tasty.

After dinner, I kneaded it up and set it to rise. I figured it starts rising at 8, two and a half hours for the first rise, a little over an hour for the second -- I'll be in bed by 11:30. Woo hoo!

I was clearly snorting something.

After all, it was 68 degrees in the house and I didn't let the water warm up after it filtered down into the Brita pitcher from the faucet. We're talking cold, cold dough.

Around 11pm, the dough was 3/4 of the way to doubled. I had some explaining to do.

"Er, honey, I believe I'll be up until about midnight and ... um ... I'll have to set the alarm to get up around 2am to shape the dough after the second rise and ...."

Her reply: "Couch."

Of course, I was dead tired after a long week at work, so did I hear my alarm? Nope. I woke up at 4:15 AM to two buckets of dough that had more than tripled. Ah well. I degassed and shaped them anyway, and threw them in the fridge. I then crept into bed with my wife and slept like a stone.

They turned out OK. In fact, I got some of the best oven spring I've ever gotten from 100% whole wheat loaves.

Sandwich loaves in front. Hearth seed boules in back.

A close-up of the boules.

As it turned out, though, it wasn't a busy weekend at all. My 2-year-old came down with a nasty cold, so I made bagels (her favorite) for Sunday morning using Peter Reinhart's formula. Six poppy seed and six garlic:

Cream cheese is off-screen.

Bread in the morning works great for bagels. But I won't try this trick with sourdough again on a Friday night unless I get home at 5pm or earlier.

pmccool's picture

The sourdough starter recipe provided by SourdoLady worked wonderfully. Having had some less than satisfying results with previous sourdough attempts, I was unsure of what to expect with this starter. Since first mixing it up a couple of weeks ago, it has been bubbling happily and smelling deliciously tangy. Since orange juice was on hand, I used that instead of pineapple juice. It sounded peculiar when I first read it, but I'm happy to report that it proved itself (pun intended) this weekend.

I took it out of the refrigerator Thursday morning and gave it three feedings at 12-hour intervals to make sure that it was sufficiently active. I wound up with enough on hand for two batches of bread, so went ahead with a sponge for a simple white loaf from King Arthur's 200th Anniversary cookbook and another for a whole-wheat loaf from Bernard Clayton's book before going to bed Friday.

After breakfast Saturday, I finished the dough for each bread and set them to rise on the countertop while I did other chores around the house. They took about 2 hours to double in size. I was careful to deflate them gently and then fold the dough before shaping. I decided to shape the white into 2 batards. After shaping, they went on a piece of parchment paper to rise while sitting on the peel. Happily, and probably because they didn't have an extremely high hydration, they didn't sprawl too much while rising. The whole wheat bread went into a bread pan, per instructions.

Since the whole wheat bread wound up rising slightly faster than the white, so it went into the oven first, having had the top slashed and brushed with water. I parked the pan on top of a baking stone to get as much oven spring as possible. However, with it being virtually 100% whole wheat and a relatively dry dough, it didn't grow much more. It started at 425F for the first 20 minutes, then finished at 350F for the last 35 minutes. Then out of the oven and onto the rack for cooling.

After bringing the oven back up to temp, it was time to put the white loaves in. They were also slashed and brushed with water immediately before going into the oven, with a pan of water on the bottom rack for steam. These loaves had great oven spring, probably because they were in direct contact with the stone and because their moisture content was higher. They even have ears at the edges of the slashes! That is a first in my baking experience. I wish I had a digital camera so I could show them off instead of just carrying on about them.

Both breads taste wonderful. The white bread was very fragrant, with a well-rounded tang. The crumb has a fairly open structure, though nothing as big as a ciabatta. The whole wheat bread, not surprisingly, has a rather dense crumb with uniformly distributed small cells. In addition to the sourdough tang, it also has some of the bitterness that is inherent to the red winter wheat. It could be off-putting to some, but it made a great base for a ham and cheese sandwich! I suspect that it will be good toasted, too.

So thanks again, SourdoLady. I'll be baking more sourdough now that I have a starter that tastes so good.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Here's a tip to save that starter and take it with you or store it for another day when you need a break or don't want to throw it away.

This comes from a dedicated group of Austrian Ladies who travel a lot and bake bread.

Mix enough flour with the starter to form a stiff dough. Tear up into tiny pieces and squish between your thumb and finger to form thin small chips, let air dry, seal in glass jar or ziplocks. Send on holiday in a dark cool place. When needed add water to soak overnight and then feed to continue a new starter.

Once started, it never has to stop....happy baking! €:) Mini Oven

rmk129's picture

I had a few bars of chocolate in my fridge yesterday, so I decided to give dhedrick's Chocolate Chip Coffee Bread
recipe a try. I really liked it!!! For me, it is the perfect bread to have with an afternoon cup of tea. Delicate texture and somewhat decadent without being overly sweet :)

I already posted these photos and comments as a reply to the original recipe, but I also wanted it in my blog so I could quickly find it again later when I am having a chocolate/coffee craving :)

June 6 051

June 6 057 - I put the freshly brewed coffee together with cold milk and water. This instantly resulted in liquid that was the right temperature for yeast, so I added the yeast and let it dissolve. Then I added all the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate chips (I used broken bits of chocolate bars instead) and the 5 cups of flour. I followed the rest of the instructions exactly. - I will be making this loaf again!!! I bet it will make unbelievable bread pudding in a few days if it lasts that long :)

tomsbread's picture

It was another weekend baking binge as I experimented with local herbs for my pesto ciabatta. I subscribe to Dan Lepard's philosophy to use local ingredients and there was really no way I can continue to use herbs imported from Europe.

I experiment with a local herb called Laksa Leaf. It is so named as it is used mainly in this local dish. The flavor of the Ciabatta with the Laksa herb pesto was out of this world. When I made a tuna sandwich with the loaf, the herb complemented the tuna very well.

See the pics here

rmk129's picture

After a week full of "disaster breads", I am happy to report that I was *finally* able to produce a few loaves that didn't make me laugh when they came out of the oven :) So now I will post some photos as evidence so that when I create my next major flop or paperweight, I can come back and be inspired to try, try again...

***The final results of my baking day:
May 31 042
***One of the secrets to my newfound ability to rise dough again:
May 31 029
Our apartment is very cold right now (no central heating here), but for some reason I thought my bread baking could continue as normal as long as I just let the dough rise for longer periods of time...apparently not. If you enjoy reading about and laughing at baking misadventures, you can see my previous blog entries for descriptive and *gloopy* & *rock-hard*pictoral evidence of my recent streak of jaw-challenging and vertically-challenged loaves :)
My mother-in-law came for a visit yesterday, and when I showed her this photo of my dough rising, she laughed and said she used to rise bread in a similar way...but she actually created a little warm "rising tent" by putting a large piece of fabric over the kitchen table, then putting the heater and the dough under that. Maybe I will try that next time...maybe I will sit under the tent too!!!
I was SO happy to see (and taste) these results again...finally! Bring on the cold!!! :)
***Whole wheat/flax seed/oatmeal dough
May 31 027
*After (it rose!!!)...
May 31 030
***Baguette dough
*It rose too!!! (I didn't put this dough by the heater because I didn't want it to rise too quickly...I just put it on my kitchen counter while I was baking the other loaf so the room was a bit warmer than usual).
May 31 034

That's all for now...this is one *much happier* baker signing off for now :)


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