The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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kjknits's picture
kjknits

My family has recently embarked on a "less-is more" natural style of living. We're trying to do more things ourselves instead of relying on commercial offerings. We're also trying to get rid of the plastic in our house, which is easier said than done! But baking things I usually buy ready-made at the store, I can do.

One of the things I have switched over to making at home is flour tortillas. We love tacos and quesadillas, and flour tortillas seemed easy enough to make. I remembered seeing women make them in San Antonio when I was there several years ago. All they did was roll out a ball of dough and plop it onto a cast iron skillet for a few seconds on each side. Simple!

I found my keeper recipe at epicurious, which is one of my fave food sites. I haven't tried the wheat version yet, but the white flour tortillas are amazing.

flour tortillas

I follow the recipe pretty much exactly, but I use my stand mixer to mix and knead the dough. And I divide the dough into 16 portions, then roll them out paper thin. This makes tortillas like the ones I'm used to buying at the store, about 8" in diameter and nice and flexible and thin. I would divide them into even smaller portions for tacos, though, because 8" is more like a burrito size. Then I just cook them one by one on a preheated cast iron skillet, no oil or anything necessary (my skillet is super-seasoned, thanks to our summer favorite, fried okra). I place the cooked tortillas in a big lidded Pyrex dish while they wait for the rest to get finished.

Next item on the commercial product hit-list: corn tortillas! Good thing we have a big Hispanic influence where we live...masa harina is on every grocery store shelf.

kjknits's picture
kjknits

So, I haven't posted here in Quite A While, but I made some hamburger buns the other day and thought I would share my results. I have always wanted to make my own burger buns, but the last time I tried over a year ago, they were heavy and too bready for burgers. We couldn't even finish our burgers, the night I served them on those buns! So I sort of let that idea pass away. But then a few weeks ago, I found a recipe posted on King Arthur's baking blog. I was intrigued by the method of forming the buns cinnamon-roll style, and I loved the idea of the onion swirl! So I gave them a try.

KAF burger buns

Well, first of all, they turned out beautiful. How pretty are those? The egg wash and poppy seeds really dressed them up. And the onion flavor from the dried onion swirl was really nice. Subtle, but still tasty. I added a little too much flour to this batch, though, and so they were a little more dense and heavy than I wanted. I really want homemade taste, but supermarket fluff, in my hamburger buns. So I tried them again the next weekend, added less flour (PJ says the dough should be tacky like tape, not sticky like glue, and that description helped me a lot). They were much lighter with less flour. So, I think the key to these is to avoid adding too much flour. I might try adding some milk instead of water sometime, too. It makes super light and fluffy dinner rolls, so it might also work well in hamburger buns.

(No, we didn't have french fries with our burgers that night. Instead, we had fried okra, straight from the farmer's market! Yum.)

shimpiphany's picture
shimpiphany

i finished the earth oven to the insulation layer a week ago, and had the first "dry firing" this weekend.

i've fired it twice to try and dry the insulation layer and track the fuel and heat usage, although i won't get accurate estimates on this until i'm sure the entire oven is dry, at least a few weeks from now.

on saturday, i fired it and made pizza. because of some bad scheduling on my part, i was unable to have any bread ready to bake in it, although we did use the tail end of the heat for potatoes and roasted garlic.

i'll fire it and bake bread this week, hopefully tuesday.

here are some photos:

here i am getting the fire started and losing some eyebrows:

here is the fire once it got going. after the fire got some momentum, it became a lot easier to keep it alive - wood placed in the oven would instantly burst into flames instead of needing to be coaxed. at this point, my infrared thermometer (which reads up to about 1000 degrees F) was off the charts:

the tongue of smoke. smoke means an inefficient fire. efficient firing and use of fuel is a very challenging part of this oven:

another view of the fire:

the infrared thermometer. its max is around 1000 degrees:

the themometer. a very fun tool:

here i am rolling out the pizza. i like the flat crust, so i use a rolling pin (blasphemy, i know):


the pizzas. porcini, homemade sausage and onion; and goat cheese and braised leeks. the sauce and crust are adapted from reinhart's american pie:

i'm experimenting with sizes to see how i can best maximize the floor space: 

cooking:

my father-in-law wielding the oven door, several 4x4's joined by countersinked (countersunk?) screws, joined to a 1x12 sleeve and mounted with two concrete float replacement handles:

with the door in place:

the finished product:

more to follow once i finally get some bread in there...

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Tom Cat's Semolina Filone

Tom Cat's Semolina Filone

Tom Cat's Semolina Filone Crumb

Tom Cat's Semolina Filone Crumb

Tom Cat's Semolina Filone

Poolish
Instant yeast     Disolve 1/4 tsp in 1 cup of 110F water. Use 1/4 cup of the resulting suspension.
Water               135 gms (in addition to the above 1/4 cup)
Flour                 150 gms of King Arthur AP (or 75 gms lower-gluten AP and 75 gms Bread Flour)

Dough
Durum Flour           250 gms
AP Flour                 50 gms
Water                    205 gms
Instant Yeast         1/4 tsp
Poolish                  All of the above
Salt                      9 gms
Sesame seeds       About 2 cups

Procedure
The night before baking, mix the poolish and ferment 8 hours, covered tightly.

The day of baking, combine the flours and water, mix and autolyse, covered, for 15-60 minutes. Mix the yeast with the poolish and add to the autolysed dough for 5 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of a stand mixer, according to Glezer. (But it didn't, even with 3-4 T of added AP flour.) Sprinkle the salt on the dough and mix for another 2 minutes. The dough should be sticky but not "gloppy." (The dough was what I'd call "gloppy," even with mixing another 10 minutes at Speed 3 on my KitchenAid. I decided to proceed anyway.)

Scrape the dough into a bowl 3 times its volume, cover and ferment for 2-3 hours, folding every 20 minutes for the first hour. (The dough started coming together better after a short time and was still sticky but smooth and puffy after 2 hours in a 75F kitchen.) Preheat the oven to 400F and prepare your steaming apparatus of choice. Scrape the dough onto your bench and preform it into a boule. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes to relax the dough, then form it into a batard.

Roll the loaf in seseme seeds and place it, seam side up, in a linen or parchment couche. If using a parchment couch you will bake on, place the batard seam side down.) Cover it well and allow it to expand until quite puffy. (Glezer says this should take 30-60 minutes. My dough was very puffy, and I shaped it very gently to retain the bubbles. I let it proof for 20 minutes only before proceeding.)

Roll the batard onto parchment (If using a linen couche). Spray with water and score with one cut from end to end. (I cut holding the knife at and angle to get a nice "ear" and "grigne.")

Transfer the batard to the oven and bake with steam for 15 minutes, then continue to bake another 30 minutes or so until the bread is well-cooked. (Golden-brown color, hollow thump on the bottom and internal temperature of 205F.

Cool completely before slicing.

Comments
I have made 3 other semolina breads, but this was the first time I used fine-ground Durum Flour. The recipe is Tom Cat's Semolina Filone from Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Breads."

I used all King Arthur AP flour, as Glezer says this has the desired gluten level for this formula. I found the dough to be much wetter than I expected. I did add extra flour, as she says one might have to, but it remained a very wet dough. I was concerned it might be quite impossible to form a real batard, but, after the stretch and folds and 2 hours total fermentation, the dough behaved much better than I anticipated. It did have to be handled very gently, but I'm learning to do that.

I was also surprised how well this soft, puffy, wet dough took my cut,and the oven spring and bloom were phenomenal.

I think the result was a quite attractive loaf, and the crumb was even more open than I expected - a real "rustic"-type crumb. The texture and taste of this bread are both outstanding. The crust is crunchy with a prominant hit of toasted sesame seeds. The crumb is very soft and tender with a cool, creamy mouth feel. it has a definite semolina flavor that is most often described as "nutty." I don't know what kind of nut it's supposed to taste like, but it tastes really good.

I have been a little disappointed in the taste and texture of the other semolina breads I've made. I've not made any of them more than once. Maybe the durum flour makes the difference. Maybe it's Tom Cat's recipe. Maybe my skills in handling dough have advanced. Whatever. I'll be making this one again, for sure!

David

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

This weekend's bake, per my wife's request, was a walnut stout bread.  The recipe that I used (note that all measurements are volumes, not weights) can be found here: http://www.kitchenlink.com/mf/2/4133.  We first saw it printed in the Kansas City Star some years ago; the link attributes it to the Houston Chronicle.  It's probably one of those recipes that was reprinted widely, since it is so good.  Oh, and don't miss the Cheddar-Ale spread recipe at the bottom of the page.  It is wonderful with this bread!

There are a couple of insights that I can offer, having made this bread on several occasions.  It is essentially a rye bread, which means that the crumb is very smooth and somewhat dense.  The dough will be sticky as you handle it.  The recipe suggests adding flour during kneading to control the stickiness but I elected to knead with one hand and clean the countertop (and my hand) with a plastic dough scraper.  It helps to keep the finished bread from being too dry.  The recipe merely says "rye flour".  I don't know if it means white rye, medium rye, or whole rye.  In my case, whole rye flour was on hand, so that is what I used and it turned out fine.  The recipe also requires 1 Tablespoon of coriander, and that is not a misprint.  Between the coriander and the anise seed, it is a very fragrant bread.  As for the stout, I've used Guinness on previous occasions with good results.  This time, I used Boulevard Brewery's Dry Stout (local to Kansas City) with equally delicious results.  I think you could get away with using any dark beer or ale, whether stout, porter, bock or dunkel.  The flavor may shift a bit, but it wouldn't upset the overall results.  Obviously, the richer the flavor of the beer or ale, the richer the flavor of the bread.  The walnuts are, to my tastes, essential for the bread.  They contribute both flavor and a crunch that play off the other flavors and textures very nicely. 

The recommended baking time is 35-45 minutes at 375F.  I checked a loaf's temperature at the 40-minute mark and it was only about 180F, so I left it in for another 10 minutes.  If it had been taken out at the recommended time, it would have been gummy.  Since I only make this every two or three years, I haven't really experimented with different temperature/time combinations.

Here is a picture of the finished loaves:

Walnut Stout Bread

Paul

holds99's picture
holds99

Using Mike Avery's refreshment method (every 8 hours), after a 2 day refreshment I placed my starter in my jar (slightly less than half filled) clamped on the lid (with rubber gasket) to seal it and placed it in the refrigerator.  Next day I had a very active starter.  So, instead of tossing 2/3 and refreshing it again before storing it back in the fridge, I decided to hold out the 2/3 "discard" and make some whole wheat sourdough bread.  Incidentally, this is a 10 year old Nancy Silverton starter.  I'm not suggesting that Ms. Silverton's starter is better than other starters but it's what I made when I first started my sourdough journey and, as is evident, it still works quite well.  I'm Just thankful that I checked it when I did.  This is the same "bad boy" starter that lifted the lid off my dutch oven a while back during the baking of  a 3 pound boule.  

 Refreshed Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter and Container: Refreshed Sourdough Starter

Anyway, I made a couple of whole wheat boules, mixed by hand.  I did two "stretch and folds" during a 2 hour bulk frementation, then placed the container of dough in the fridge for a 14 hour retardation.  The following day I took the dough out of the fridge (it had risen during retardation, which is unusual), divided it, shaped it, placed the 2 shaped boules into 2 heavily floured (half rice flour mixed with half KA AP) linen lined bannetons and let it do it's final fermentation for about three and a half hours at room temp, as it was still cold from being in the fridge.  Then turned the boules onto parchment lined pans, scored them, placed them in the oven and baked them at 450 deg for about 40 minutes, using a heavy dose of stream at the onset of the baking cycle---and turning them half way through the baking cycle.   

 Whole Wheat Sourdough Boules

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

They may have slightly overproofed because they dropped a bit after scoring, but overall I was pleased with the results. They tasted very good, had a good crust and very nice, rather complex, flavor and good texture.

 Whole Wheat Sourdough No. 2

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

proth5's picture
proth5

No wait, strike that – reverse it.

 

Summer is here and it’s too hot to fire up the oven which makes it a perfect time to take the electric griddle outside and make English muffins.

 

The problem, of course, is getting those great nooks and crannies.  My old formula and technique got me plenty of little holes in the muffins, but not those great nooks and crannies (well, the little holes caught the melting butter, but still, the drive for “just a little better” is strong.)

 

So I thought about both my formula and my technique.

 

I was using an adaptation of the King Arthur “English Tea Cakes” recipe which calls for beating the dough for 5 minutes in a mixer.  I thought about “Batter Whipped” bread and how beating the dough caused its fine texture.  Then I thought about baguettes.

 

Well, English – French, different, but in the end – all European.  So I thought I would adapt my baguette technique for my English Muffins.

 

I use King Arthur All Purpose flour.

Makes about 6 

The formula:

 

Levain Build

Starter    .65 oz (100% hydration)

Flour      .95 oz

Water     .95 oz

 

Let ripen overnight.

 

Final Mix

All of the levain build

Flour                9.25 oz

Salt                   .16 oz

Dry Milk         1.25 oz

Sugar                .55 oz

Vegetable oil    .55 oz

Water              9.25 oz

 

Mix to a loose batter.  Four times at 30 minute intervals, stir 30 strokes with a spoon or spatula.

 

Let rise until domed and bubbly.  Do not let it collapse.  This particular batch took about 3 hours at this phase.

 

Baked in greased muffing rings on a lightly greased griddle at 325F.  8-9 mins per side.

 

The results. 

(I'm no photographer - that's for sure...) 

Finally the nooks…

BRIANSU's picture
BRIANSU

How do I soften a bread recipe? I accidentally bought strong bread flour... I was thinking of baking cakes....I am new to baking....Please help...Can I make a soft loaf with bananas? I want to make use of the flour...

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

I had some cooked red potato chunks and some fresh sourdough starter discard and decided to combine them in a bread. I grated the potato "innards" and mixed them with the starter, about a cup of each, and added salt, water, bread flour and 1/2tspn instant yeast. Left the mixture to autolyse for 30 minutes and found it was pretty sloppy when I checked. I added a little more flour and did a french fold, then three stretch and folds over the next 2 hours. When the dough had doubled I cut it into three and made small boules. When they were ready I baked them on a hot cookie sheet under my roaster for 15 minutes, then another 15 minutes uncovered at 450*. They were up to 205* and I gave them another 5 minutes with the oven turned off, but when they were cool I cut one and found that the crumb was almost gummy. The good news is it made a great chicken and lettuce sandwich - the crust was crunchy and the soft crumb really went well with the filling. There were flecks of potato on the crust but no potato flavor in the crumb. I imagine it will keep well and make good toast, A.

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Tuesday morning, we decided to go visit the Duc de la Chapelle, Anis Bouabsa's bakery in Paris. As you probably know, he won this year's Best Baguette. The bakery is situated in a modest neighborhood, far from the typical tourist traps and chic areas. We entered the bakery and asked he woman behind the counter several questions before buying a selection of breads. She was very nice and helpful. As we left the bakery, we took some pictures of the young baker/apprenti who was scoring baguettes and sliding them in to the oven. Disappointed by the quality of the photos through the window, Florence returned and asked if we could go inside and take just a few pictures. The woman showed her the way, no questions asked!

Once inside, who came through, but Anis himself! I felt like a teenager who was getting a real-live view of her movie star hero. He looked at me through the window and asked Flo who I was. I think he thought I was a bit idiotic because I had such a huge grin on my face! He opened the door and told me to come on in.

So, here you have two passionate home bakers in front of a master, and may I say the sweetest, nicest and most generous master. We started asking him questions and he told us EVERYTHING! He explained from A to Z how he makes his famous baguette. He adapted the recipe for home use for us and explained how we could do the steps at home. He showed us how to form the baguettes, slide them in the oven, what temperature.... EVERYTHING!

We even asked him if we could come and have a real lesson and he didn't say no, he said in September it could be possible.

Now, what he told us was actually quite surprising! The baguette dough has a 75% hydration, very little yeast, hardly kneaded, folded three times in one hour then placed in the fridge 21hrs. They are not fully risen when placed in the oven, it is the wet dough and the very very hot oven (250°C) that make give the volume. 

When I get some time, I will be trying his recipe. I feel success is near!!!!

Anis gave me permission to publish his pictures. They were all taken by Florence, "photographe extraordinaire".

Jane  

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