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Brot & Bread - April 21, 2015 - 5:45pm
Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Three years ago, my lovely stepdaughter, Cat, convinced me to join twitter. As if I didn't spend enough time already on my computer!

But it's fun to follow Dalai Lama (whose tweets are not about food, but food for thought), or the The Onion ("Lucrative New Oil Extraction Method Involves Drilling Directly Into Gas Stations!")

Usually I look at tweets from baking buddies, food-magazines, and renowned chefs and bakers like Dan Lepard.

Brown Ale tastes good in and with a pasty!For many years the author of Art of the Handmade Loaf und Short & Sweet published his recipes in the Lifestyle section of the  Guardian (alas, no more!)

When I saw his Ale-Crust Potato Pasties, I jumped on my bicycle (yes, at the end of November! In Maine!!!) to get local brown ale, sharp cheddar and white onions.

Pasties are meat and vegetable filled hand pies, originally the (easy to carry) lunch staple of Cornish coal miners.

Meanwhile they spread to other places, even Mexico, possibly due to a popular British Comedy-Show about the pasty munching, Newcastle Brown Ale slurping Geordies.

Like with many of Lepard's breads, the dough is minimally mixed, without much kneading. Hands, a spoon or rubber spatula suffice - the butter cubes should remain visible and not melt.

The beer dough is rolled and folded several times, and chilled in between, like croissant dough, to make it nice and flaky.

I spruced up the potato onion filling with a little bacon. The filling would have been enough for nine pasties, so I reduced the recipe amounts accordingly. 

The pasties tasted very good, we were especially pleased with the wonderful ale crust.

These don't last long!
ALE-CRUST POTATO PASTIES (adapted from Dan Lepard's recipe)

 (6 Pasties)

325 g bread flour, plus extra for rolling
175 g spelt flour, or whole wheat (I used spelt)
10 g salt, (2 tsp.)
300 g cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 cm (0.4") cubes
250 ml Newcastle Brown Ale, or similar

2 slices bacon, cubed
265 g white onions, chopped
¼ tsp. salt
15 ml olive oil
65 g water
salt and pepper, to taste
50 ml heavy cream
350 g potatoes, cooked and diced
70 g sharp cheddar, grated
egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Mix the dough only until it's clumpingCRUST:
Stir together flours and salt. Toss butter cubes through flour mix. Pour in beer and mix to rough lump (the butter pieces will still be visible).

This is what the dough should look like
Transfer dough to floured worktop and roll out into a approximate rectangle, about 1 cm (0.4") thick.

Even after rolling the butter pieces remain visible
Fold it like a business letter, roll it out, and fold it again into thirds. Wrap dough package in plastic foil and freeze it for 30 minutes. Repeat this double rolling and folding 2 x more at 30-minute intervals. Chill the dough for 1 hour in the fridge.

The dough package needs chilling after each turn
In a saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Using slotted spoon, take out bacon bits, place on paper towel, and set aside.

Add onions, oil, water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Cook until all water has evaporated, and onions are very soft.

Stir in cream, let thicken a bit (mixture should not have too much liquid). Remove from heat, add potatoes and reserved bacon, season well with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.

Roll one half of the dough into a rectangle, then cut in thirds
Divide dough in halves. Return 1 piece to refrigerator. Roll other half into rectangle of ca. 23 x 33 cm (9 x 13"), then cut into thirds (a pizza cutter works well), each about 23 x 11 cm (9 x 4 1/3").

Place filling on one half (this is a filling with Christmas dinner leftovers)
Brush dough stripes with water, spoon filling towards one end, covering about half of piece (leave edges clean, otherwise you can't seal them!), and sprinkle with cheese. Fold other half over filling, and seal edges with a fork.

Repeat with other pastry sheet. Chill pasties until firm, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC.

Brush pasties with egg before baking
Brush pasties with egg, and trim cut sides, if necessary (and if you are a neat freak). Place on parchment lined baking sheets and slash tops.

Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate sheet 180 degrees for even browning, and continue baking for another 15 - 25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Freshly baked pasties
Pasties work really well for leftover recycling of holiday dinners. After Christmas I filled pasties with our roasted goose-, red cabbage and potato leftovers including gravy. They tasted great!

Unbaked pasties can be easily frozen (before applying the egg glaze). You don't have to defrost them, just brush them with egg before they go in the oven, and bake them a little longer.

Ale-Crust Pasty with leftovers from our Christmas goose dinner!
This post, first published December 2011, has been completely rewritten and updated.

Categories: The Bread Feed

London: E5 Bakehouse

Farine - April 20, 2015 - 12:24am
I wish I could tell you more about E5 Bakehouse and its bakers but both the shop and the lab were so busy when we arrived that I didn't dare interrupt by asking questions. We were welcome warmly though and when he heard I was a bread blogger, Jean Kearn, the French barista (a talented musician as I later learned) took me to the back for a quick hello.
The bakers were shaping the multigrain, working a mile a minute. We exchanged smiles and greetings. But there was no time for more. Next time I am in London, I'll make sure to call ahead. Meanwhile this video I found on E5's website will give you a glimpse of the bakery. I suppose the gleaming new Austrian mill I saw in the next room (the mill house) was acquired after the clip was shot since it isn't mentioned.
I would love to talk to the miller (see here for info on the flours and grains). There were samples in a basket on the counter and I had a taste of the new country loaf, made with wheat milled in-house. It had a terrifically wild and rustic flavor and I fell in love all over again!
I had left a card with my email address and a few hours later I heard from Alexandre Bettler (in the blue shirt on the picture). Alexandre is French and his dream is to open a bakery in London. Towards that goal, he already operates in Clapton Today Bread, a micro-bakery where he does one bake a week with a focus on organic rye breads. The bread is delivered by bike locally both to shops and to subscribers. Yet another bakery to put on the list for the next visit...
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

London: Fabrique Bakery

Farine - April 18, 2015 - 1:01am
Without a map or a working phone, it took us a while to find Fabrique Bakery, nestled as it is under Arch 385 of the Overground on Geffrye Street in Shoreditch (East London). But it was well worth the search as we found out to our ravenous delight when we sat down for a bite.

Cheese and fig jam sandwich on walnut bread The bakers were finishing up in the lab. When they were done, Jens came and talked to us before settling down at his laptop to relax a while.
Jens trained as a pastry chef in his native Germany. He explains that Fabrique is a Swedish bakery, hence the gorgeous cardamom and cinnamon rolls and the aromatic cranberry-pumpkin seed rye.
Fabrique has eleven locations in Stockholm. The Shoreditch one is their first in London. Several more are planned to open within the next five years. Jens' eyes shine with excitement. This is his first job as a bread baker and he clearly loves it. The breads are leavened with liquid levain. A hint of commercial yeast is added for a better lift. The best seller is the levain.
Most of the breads are humongous. You can buy the whole loaf, half the loaf or a third of it. Charmed to see work listed as an ingredient, I buy one third of the 100% rye. It will keep well and make for a fine breakfast for our remaining few days in London.
Then, thanking Jens for his welcome, we cast one last look around...
   ...and fully revigorated, set out for our next bread encounter.
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

London: The Bikery

Farine - April 17, 2015 - 1:15am
And no, there is no typo in the title of this post! Better Health  Artisan Bakery at 13 Stean Street in London, England, is officially changing its name. The new sign is already up.
A bit confusing for visitors from abroad trying to find their way without a map (our phones are useless in Britain), to this remote spot in East London. Spotting the sign from the end of the street, we thought for a minute that we had the wrong address but a helpful breeze brought the unmistakable whiff of baking bread and, bereft of Google Maps, we simply followed our noses.
  The Centre for Better Health -which has active here in Hackney for more than fifty-five years- is a "community-based charity that promotes well-being and supports recovery from mental distress,'  through counseling, classes and on-the-job training. It operates three social enterprises: the afore-mentioned Better Health Bakery soon to be known as The Bikery, Better Health Bikes and Better Health Products Ltd. We only saw the bakery.
Yann Lamour, the head baker (who is French and trained at Ferrandi in Paris), was in the shop when we entered. He kindly took a few minutes of his time to tell us more.
The twelve-month training program has been in existence for two and a half years. Geared towards men and women with mental issues, typically referred by their "carer," their doctor, a counseling centre, but sometimes self-referred as well, it isn't meant to train future bakers as much as to provide a stepping stone towards a new life. The participants are all dealing with some mental issue or other (from depression or anxiety to schizophrenia or other forms of psychosis) but they are all in remission. They have to have been stable for at least two years before they can join.
"Bread making is a form of meditation, " says Yann, "Touching the dough, seeing it grow and transform is a healing experience. " The participants also have their own goals: some seek a chance to meet people in a controlled environment, others want to learn how to develop a routine by sticking to a schedule (arriving on-time, etc.), others still wish to learn teamwork. When their twelve months are over, they don't all become bakers. One has discovered in himself a passion for plants and the open air and is now a gardener. Another plans to be a driver. Another yet is interning in a social restaurant, etc. The common denominator is that for each of them the time spent at the bakery has helped unlock the future.
The breads are all-leavened with natural starters, either a wheat levain at 55% hydration or a rye levain at 100% hydration.
The bakery -who employs four to six bakers- sells at the market on Saturdays and has wholesale accounts with restaurants and natural food stores. It is open for retail Tuesday to Saturday. If you ever are in London, hop on the Overground and follow your nose. You won't regret it.
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed


Brot & Bread - April 14, 2015 - 2:37pm

Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Post

When I - driven from a real "Breaking Bad Bread" experience - challenged my baking buddies from The Fresh Loaf, Facebook and several congenial blogs to create a "Bread for the Knight with the Iron Hand", I promised myself to try all 30 loaves over time.

Well, let's say, almost all of them: the original 1914 German Army Kriegsbrot I'll better keep in reserve when times get tough.

Preparing Khalid's Götzenburg-Brot, I was struck by the idea to not only present his bread on my blog, but, also, finally satisfy my curiosity, asking my Fresh Loaf friend (username: Mebake) how on earth he came to bake whole grain breads in Dubai.

Khalid bakes whole grain breads - in Dubai!
This is his answer:

It all started with an idea to make a decent whole wheat bread. I wanted to bake a healthy wholesome loaf that my wife and I would enjoy on a daily basis. In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, most bread is mass produced in commercial plants. 

I wanted something different, and so began searching online for recipes, and stumbled upon website. Encouraged by the knowledgeable, kind, and courteous community members of the site, I learned much about bread making including pre-ferments, and the merits of slow fermentation. 

Without hesitation, I joined the community and began baking bread and sharing my results though my online blog. Prior to this point , I had never been exposed to Artisan breads of any kind.

I bought several books, read blog posts, and watched many online videos on bread making. Soon, I felt that bread making resonates well with me like no other hobby I have ever tried before. Furthermore, I was charmed by the idea of baking bread from scratch using basic ingredients. 

With no reference points, and with the help of my keen wife, I started baking feverishly. At times, she would sarcastically call the dough: the “other lady”! as I spent hours and days pouring over the bread books and trying different recipes. 

The early breads were quite sour and bitter, but as I continued to bake on a weekly basis, results where slowly improving until I finally baked a whole grain loaf I could call decent. 

After the successful bake, I began exploring rye, and soon learned to appreciate the subtle earthy-sweet flavor notes of whole grain rye breads. To improve flavor, I bought a German electric mill (Hawos –Easy) and began milling wheat and rye kernels, and using the fresh flours in my bread. The flavor was so exceptional; it was quite a revelation to me.  

Now, I have sacks of 25 kg of flour lying in my house , a  mini old fridge where freshly ground grains reside, and a recently bought 4 tray convection oven to increase my capacity. I’ve also sourced some organic Rye , and wheat flours from a German culinary wholesale distributor in Dubai. 

I have a full time desk job, but bake for a monthly local event that is held in a shopping mall in Dubai: The Arts and Crafts Market.

I hope to start an Artisan Bakery in Dubai in the not too distant future.

Khalid's breads at the Arts & Crafts Market in a Dubai shopping mall
A name (and facebook page) for his bakery exists already: The Golden Wheat Bakery!

Khalid's hearty sourdough has a slight hint of sweetness from soaked, pureed raisins. We liked it a lot, and I'll definitely bake it again.

I made two small changes to his original recipe, adding the raisin puree right away to the final dough (it appeared a bit dry), and baking the bread with steam, since I like the crust to be a bit thinner.


Raisin Puree
50 g/1.8 oz raisins
50 g/1.8 oz water, boiling

25 g/0.9 oz mother starter
106 g/3.7 oz water
60 g/2.1 oz bread flour
44 g/1.6 oz whole wheat flour
30 g/1.1 oz whole spelt flour
15 g/0.5 oz whole rye flour

Final Dough
100 g/3.5 oz raisin puree (all)
280 g/9.9 oz levain (all)
167 g/5.9 oz bread flour
131 g/4.6 oz whole wheat flour
87 g/3.1 oz whole spelt flour
44 g/1.6 oz whole rye flour
242 g/8.5 oz water
12 g/0.4 oz salt

Mix all ingredients for levain, until well combined. Cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.

In small bowl, pour boiling water over raisins. Cover, and let soak overnight.

This lively starter's origin you can find here
Using a blender or immersion blender, puree raisins and any remaining soaking water.

Place raisin puree, flours and water for the final dough in mixer bowl. Mix, until all flour is hydrated. Leave for 30 - 60 minutes (autolyse).

Add levain and salt, and knead at low speed for 5 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for 2-3 minutes at medium-low speed.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl
Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let ferment for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, with 1 x stretch & fold after 60 minutes. It should grow about 1 1/2 times its original size.

Nicely risen after 2 1/2 hours
Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and pre-shape into a round. Cover, and let rest on the bench for 15 minutes, then shape into a boule or bâtard.

Place, seam side up, in a floured rising basket
Place, seam side up, in a well floured rising basket, sprinkle with flour, and let rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it has grown about 1 1/2 times its original size (a dimple, made with your finger, should come back a little, but remain visible).

The bread has grown by about 1 1/2 times its original size
Meanwhile preheat oven to 482ºF/250ºC, including baking stone and steaming device (or don't steam, if you like a rather thick crust).

Transfer bread to parchment lined baking sheet (or bake directly on baking stone). Score.

Ready for the oven
Bake for 15 minutes, with steam, then remove steam pan, rotate bread 180 degrees, and reduce temperature to 410ºF/210ºC. Bake for another 25 - 30 minutes, until crust is a dark reddish brown and the internal temperature registers at least 200ºF/93ºC.

Let bread cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

A hearty bread with a slight hint of sweetness
BreadStorm user (also of the free version) can download the formula:
Khalid's Götzenburg Bread
Categories: The Bread Feed

Meet the Baker: Matthias Arbion

Farine - April 12, 2015 - 2:32pm
Funny how things work in life. Back in May 2012, when I went to Victoria, British Columbia, to visit baker/farmer Diane Andiel for the purpose of a Meet the Baker post, I met her French "wwoofer" Matthias Arbion, a passionate environmentalist and indefatigable traveler. Matthias holds a masters degree in environmental studies from the University of Angers and another in land use planning from the University of Rennes. When we first met, he was roaming the world, looking for his calling. He liked working the land and tending farm animals but he was also deeply interested in making a difference on a larger scale by promoting careful stewardship of our planet's limited resources. Due to the sheer immensity of the country he had thought there would be more opportunities in Canada than in much smaller France but either it didn't turn out to be the case or seeing Diane bake and eating her bread every day sowed in him the seed of another vocation.
In any case, he had finished his "wwoofship" (don't look up the word, I just made it up!) and already crossed Canada from British Columbia to Quebec mulling his options along the way when he recalled an article he had read months earlier about a guy who had switched tracks mid-career to become a baker. He had trained at École internationale de boulangerie in Provence, France. Something clicked. Matthias emailed the school director, Thomas Teffri-Chambelland. Thomas replied immediately. The month was November and the next training cycle started in January. Matthias lost no time in making up his mind. Figuratively speaking, he hopped on the next plane to France.
He trained for three weeks at the school in the organic artisan baker program (which focuses on baking with natural leaven and all organic flours and grains), interned for a month at La Conquête du pain in Montreuil, near Paris, then another six weeks in Montreux, Switzerland. There the flours were much stronger than the ones he had become accustomed to in France. He learned to work with and adjust for very different doughs. It was good training for the CAP de boulanger (certificate of professional ability) exam which he took and passed in short order as a candidat libre (independent candidate). Immediately afterwards, in September 2013, he received a call from Thomas asking if he would be interested in a job at La Fabrique à pains, the bakery he was opening at 4 Rue Pierre de Coubertin in Aix-en-Provence.
We had kept in touch on Facebook all along and last fall, during a visit to family in Marseille, as we were planning a day trip to nearby Aix, I asked Matthias if I could go and visit him at work. And that's how it happened that by an overcast November morning in Provence (yes, they do have them!), I pushed open the door.
The first thing you notice when you enter is how bright and open the space is: the only thing separating the shop from the lab is the bread counter. Then you see the bread. Which is beautiful and smells heavenly. I am sorry, Dior, Gucci, Chanel and the rest, I love fragrances as much as the next woman but  if I could take one scent and only one scent with me to the proverbial desert island, it would the aroma of freshly baked bread (although it would probably drive me bonkers if the scent wasn't followed in short order by the actual fresh bread!).

Seeded baguettes

Tourte fermière (khorasan starter, 5% rye)

Baguettines aux olives (olive twist)

Pure Khorasan


Tourte de seigle (100% rye) Then you notice the people. The place is a beehive. Everyone is constantly moving, constantly working. Everyone seems to have an immediate purpose.

Pompe à huile (olive oil brioche) When the bakers aren't loading the oven with sheet pans of pompes à huile (a local brioche made with olive oil), they are sweeping the floor. When they aren't dividing and scaling, they are mixing dough or helping customers. I ask Matthias how it all works and he says that in the morning, one person is in charge of the doughs and another of the oven while a third attends to customers. From 1 to 4 PM when customer traffic as slower, no one is specifically assigned to sales and everybody pitches in. Generally speaking, everyone gets a turn at everything, including cleaning although Matthias is mostly in charge of production. He also does the outdoor markets (the bakery does five markets a week, principally in Marseille but also in Aix and Aubagne.) He says he greatly enjoys the dual aspect of his working life: he loves production (especially mixing doughs and manning the oven for the campagne) but he also loves being out in the fresh air, freed from the constant constraint of ringing timers.
Petit-épeautre (einkorn) Matthias went from apprentice to co-manager in a very short time (the bakery had barely been open a year at the time we visited) and it is clear that the passionate environmentalist and would-be steward of the land we had met in Canada two years earlier has found not only his calling but also an outlet for his powerful organizational skills. He has his formulas down pat, he documents everything. The others come to him with questions and get answers. He projects both competence and a quiet authority. He is in his element.

Brioche and brioche aux pépites (chocolate brioche) An apprentice approaches the bench. Matthias walks back to the mixer with him. I turn my attention to the shop. Business is brisk. I hear customers ask for du pain bien cuit (well-baked bread). Music to my ears because too often on this trip I have heard the opposite: pas trop cuit, le pain, s'il vous plaît ("on the lighter side please!"), a request that drives me nuts. I want to scream: "Don't you know that a well-baked crust makes for a much more flavorful bread?." But do they care? Probably not. Is blandness becoming the new taste? (Pounding my head against the keyboard right now!)

These big pans hold anywhere between 1800 and 2000 g of dough An elderly gentleman walks in and inspects the offerings: Il est appétissant, votre pain! ("Your bread looks good.") He walks out with two baguettes (bien cuites) and a brioche. Yay! There is hope yet.
Being a baker is hard. The job is physically demanding, sometimes exhausting but Matthias says he forgets it all when someone says: "You gave me back the taste of my childhood," or "Thanks to you guys, I am eating bread again" or, as recently happened, "Your bread is extraordinary." Customer satisfaction is a strong motivation. Another is the knowledge that a baker can work almost everywhere because everybody eats bread (especially in France), which means that the job is pretty much crisis-proof. It also offers plenty of room for creativity and épanouissement (self-fulfillment). Matthias thrives on being part of a team: "This is all teamwork. Everybody has a role to play. It is essential to stress this fundamental truth. I don't know yet what the future has in store for me but because I love collaborating with others, I can't see opening my own bakery anytime soon. I love teaching, working on different projects, and I can think of many exciting possibilities within the framework of my job here."

Campagne nature (high-extraction wheat on rye starter)
Khorasan (on left) and rye (on right) starters

Local flours from Moulin Pichard
Khorasan (kamut) on the left, petit-épeautre (einkorn) on the right

Petit-épeautre (einkorn) Khorasan is one of Matthias' favorites. It has a powerful fragrance. But my own delight is the einkorn. I have yet to taste back in the States an einkorn that "sings" the way einkorn from Provence does. Sadly I lack the words to describe its taste. I wish I had had Michael Kalanty's tool at my disposal back when I visited. Maybe I would be more articulate. As it is, I can only say, relying on my memory, that Provence einkorn speaks of sun and wind and rocky hills and of a terroir like no other. The job of the baker is to let the soul of the grain shine through and, like Dame Farine in Marseille, La Fabrique does it exceedingly well. I could live on both bakeries' petit-épeautre. The stuff of life.
I ask Matthias if he misses his environmental work. He doesn't. His job is deeply satisfying on that level as well: "It may seem far-fetched but in fact there are similarities. We are closely associated with organic farming. Ninety-five percent of our ingredients are locally sourced. We know how they are produced. We work with a miller in Haute-Provence (Moulin Pichard), we get our olives from Nyons, our walnuts from Grenoble. We emphasize both terroir and quality which means we remain true to our values and our beliefs and we make the most of our skills."
Who knew that sometimes you need to bounce around the world to find your inner baker?
Tourte fermière
  • La Fabrique uses all organic flours without any additive. All are locally sourced
  • Most bread are naturally leavened.  La Fabrique keeps three starters: khorasan (kamut), rye and rice (for gluten-free breads)
  • The starters are fed twice a day
  • Tourte fermière is made with young levain to cultivate a lactic aroma
  • The doughs are very hydrated (hydration is 110% for instance on the khorasan), which is why many of the breads are baked in pans
  • Autolyse: anywhere from 30 to 90 min (three hours for the baguettes)
  • Commercial yeast is used only for baguettes (2 or 3 g of fresh yeast per kilo of flour)
  • Baguette dough ferments for 24 hours (including an 18-hour old bulk fermentation)
  • Percentage of salt: 1.8% (in line with European recommendations)
  • Shaping is kept to a minimum.
  • Owner Thomas Teffri-Chambelland built his own mill where he mills riz de Camargue (rice from the Camargue area of Provence) for La Fabrique's rice-buckwheat bread. For more on Thomas, take a look at this video (in French).
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed


Brot & Bread - April 6, 2015 - 6:47pm
Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

This year the Avid Bakers aspire higher baking education by delving into Christina Marsigliese's blog. Though her recipes might be "scientifically sweet", they are not overly sugary - a great plus in my opinion!

I find Christina's scientific approach interesting - she explains, why she adds certain ingredients, and what their properties are. For example, using powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar makes the cake batter moister because it dissolves faster into a syrup. 

But the concept of gluten and dairy free brownies, baked without butter or oil, almost kept me from joining our April project.

My first thought was: "Yuck!" Even my favorite vegan cupcakes (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World), are made with canola oil.

Luckily, the promise of "fudgy", and my curiosity won me over - the Fudgy No-Butter Brownies are among the best (and fudgiest!) brownies I've ever tasted.

Christina emphasizes on the importance of using the ingredients her recipe specifies - they are there for a reason: natural cocoa for a more intense chocolate-y experience, salt to enhance the flavor, and an extra egg white for structure.

And, though the brownies are not made with butter, they are not really lacking fat: almond meal, the gluten-free substitute for wheat flour, contains enough oil for a smooth bite.

The brownies are really easy to prepare - Christina could have also added no-fuss to her description!

Fudgy, fudgier, fudgiest - among the best brownies I've ever made
The only changes I made to the original recipe: the addition of a bit espresso powder - to boost the flavor even more - and a crunchy almond topping instead of more chocolate pieces. The batter is really loaded with chocolate, and doesn't need more.

My brownies needed quite a bit longer baking time: 40 minutes (instead of 25 - 30).

FUDGY NO-BUTTER BROWNIES  (adapted from Christina Marsigliese's blog "Scientfically Sweet")
(16 pieces)

300 g/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
56 g/ 2/3 cup natural cocoa powder
200 g/2 cups almond meal
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant espresso powder
142 g/2/3 cup good quality bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (I used Guittard)
almond slices, for topping

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Line an 8 × 8-inch/20 x 20-cm pan crosswise with 2 stripes of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides.

In large bowl, sift confectioner's sugar and cocoa, then stir in almond meal and salt, until combined.

Add wet ingredients eggs, egg white and vanilla
 Add eggs, egg white, water and vanilla, and mix until batter is thick and smooth. Fold in chocolate.

Fold in chocolate
Transfer batter to prepared pan, using rubber spatula to smooth the top. Sprinkle with almond slices.

Ready for baking
Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes, or until a shiny crust forms, and a needle comes out clean except for a few moist chocolate bits (my brownies needed 40 minutes).

Easter - and still no sign of spring :(
Categories: The Bread Feed

Aroma and Flavor Notes for Bread by Michael Kalanty

Farine - March 22, 2015 - 6:33pm

Image courtesy Michael Kalanty

I have always had my doubts about the word "delicious," finding it both enticing and frustrating. Enticing because it conjures up an array of pleasant olfactory and gustatory sensations and frustrating because these sensations remain wholly undefined, cloaked in a veil of vagueness: hearing or reading that an heirloom variety apple is "delicious" doesn't tell me anything about the taste of the apple, does it? It only tells me that the speaker or writer enjoyed eating it. Good for that person to know, for sure, but no help to me at all if I am trying to decide whether or not I might like it as well.
Having been aware of the emptiness of the d... word for a while, I have made a conscious effort to avoid using it on this blog when describing bread. But of course that meant I needed other words and to my dismay the ones that came to me were not necessarily more descriptive.
Now the task has become easier thanks to Aroma and Flavor Notes for Bread, a tool developed by Michael Kalanty, baker, chef, teacher, sensory scientist (more on that in a later post) and, last but not least, author of How to Bake Bread: The Five Families of Bread. What Mike set out to do, based on his experience working with chefs and bakers all over the world, is to give bakers the words they need to convey the actual aroma and flavor of bread, much as winemakers describe the aroma of wine or coffee roasters that of coffee.
As explained in the accompanying article, the method is pretty straightforward, you start with the crumb and you chew (preferably with your mouth open to better aerate the flavor, so don't try it on a date!).
First you identify the sourness (or lack of) of the crumb, then the character of that sourness. Smooth and dairy-like or sharp like citrus? As it happened we had been to San Francisco a few days earlier and we had brought back from Tartine Bakery a Rye Porridge loaf. I had cut it in half and put it in the freezer reserving it for a special occasion. This test definitely qualified.
I took one half out, waited for it to thaw, "resurrected" it in the oven at 350°F for about ten minutes, then let it cool down. The kitchen filled in with luscious bread baking aromas. Notice I didn't say "delicious," but is "luscious" better? I don't think so,  it conveys judgment, not information. I needed to let go of that mindset and put myself in a evaluation mode.
When the bread was cool, I separated the crumb from the crust and started chewing.
I could taste sourness but what kind? I looked at the orange and yellow infographic : the choices were green apple, grapefruit, lemon or vinegar. Vinegar and grapefruit could be eliminated right away: the one was too tangy, the other too bitter. I briefly thought of lemon but it was too acidic for what I was smelling and tasting. I settled for "green apple."
On to dairy sweetness: did I perceive an aroma of milk or butter? Not really. The closest approximation to a dairy product I could think of was a young raw milk cheese. I wrote that down. Already I was off the chart and liking it: it felt like poetry with training wheels.
As I continued chewing and aerating my palate, I also clearly identified the flavor of cooked grain. Since I have never had rye porridge, I can't say that I tasted it but I did taste boiled grain. And it didn't bring to mind rye as I know it. In fact that bread couldn't be more different from any other rye bread I have ever had. Interesting...
Moving on to the crumb, the first note I perceived was malt. I clearly discerned "roasted" as well but try as I might I couldn't identify either chocolate or balsamic. As I chewed I became keenly aware of the fact that I was very much an apprentice in the art of analyzing aromas and flavors. I was tasting things I had no words for because I had never stopped long enough to establish a correlation between language and what I was experiencing. There is definitely a learning curve to the process. In the end it boils down to educating one's palate. If I try the bread again in a few months after some practice, I will probably be more specific.
I looked at the infograph again. The crust definitely reminded me of a French dark beer, a Pelforth to be precise, which I haven't had in decades. Funny how the tastebuds remember. I assume American dark beers are not that different. But I understand that, to be really useful, the reference would need to be checked.
At the end here are the words I jotted down to describe Tartine's Porridge Rye bread. Probably not enough but hey, it was my first time.
  • Crumb: malty, mildly acidic (like a green apple), reminiscent of oatmeal and a very young raw milk cheese
  • Crust: again malty,  roasted, slightly bitter crust reminding me of a French dark beer.
Now doesn't that tell you much more than if I had just said "delicious?"
Which of course it also was. As well as luscious. Good words for sure as long as they are not the only ones we use.  To conclude I would like to thank Michael for generously sharing this tool with us. Seeing how it immediately filled a gap for me, I am convinced it will come in handy for many other bakers, professional or home-based as a way to facilitate dialogue. Thanks to bakers' math, we already have a good idea of what a bread will be like just from looking at its formula. If the baker adds aroma and flavor notes, we will also know how it will taste. I have a feeling many bakers, especially in the younger generation, will be keenly interested.

Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed


Brot & Bread - March 19, 2015 - 8:19am
Levain made from applesauce gone bad!Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

The day arrives for every serious hobby bread baker when he or she - no longer satisfied with being limited to store-bought yeast - craves for the star among starters - the homemade sourdough!

The usual pathway to your own starter is stirring some flour into water, hoping that, over time, this mixture will attract wild yeasts and lactid acid bacteria to devour and digest the free all-you-can-eat menu. These microorganisms are either clinging to the grains or parachute down from the air.

Rose Hip Jam with Red Wine & ApplesThree years ago I accidentally hit on a shortcut to get faster to a viable sourdough.

A glass of my homemade rose hip jam, waiting to be labeled, had sat too long in my warm kitchen, and gone bad.

I was about ready to throw the jam in the trash when the tiny bubbles on the surface triggered my curiosity to do a a little experiment.

What would happen when I mixed a spoonful of the tipsy jam together with a bit of flour and water?

To my delight, eleven hours later I had a lively, bubbly starter that provided the mother for the Pain au Levain à la Jan Hedh I made the next day. 

Rose Hip Levain  - with a starter made from turned jam!
Last month, rummaging in our fridge, I found a glass of applesauce that we had opened a while ago, and then completely forgotten. When I removed the lid, a strong (but not unpleasant) alcoholic smell reminded me of my earlier jam experiment.

Applesauce with bubbles and alcoholic smellI was just planning to bake one of the loaves in my Bread Basket for Götz von Berlichingen, and chose Khalid's loaf, made with pureed raisins. It seemed to be a perfect match for a fruit-based starter.

After two feedings (at 12 hours intervals), my new, active apple sauce starter was born!

I took 25 grams, and, just as if it were my regular sourdough from the fridge, mixed it with the water and flours the recipe required. Then I left it alone overnight.

My trust in the power of drunken apples was not misplaced - anybody who doubts it, clearly never snacked on the seemingly innocent fruits from a punch bowl!

The next morning I found a nicely puffed, lively starter - ready for action!

Khalid's loaf, made with wheat, rye and spelt, rose just as it should. With a nice oven spring, it bore witness to the magic of the applesauce levain. It also had an excellent taste, and I will definitely bake it again (post will follow soon).

Khalid's bread - the magic of tipsy fruits
Of course, not everybody has a glass of fermented jam at hand. Tidy housewives (and their husbands) use their stock of applesauce, before it can start breaking bad. But there are other possibilities - for neat freaks and people who, unlike us, don't stuff their fridge with so many baking ingredients and condiments that they get out of control.

You can find hungry microorganisms in other places - for example at your local grocery store or supermarket (no, this is not a call for the health inspector!)

Joanna's (Zeb Bakes) Kefir-Rimacinata-Bread inspired me to a new experiment. Her starter contains homemade milk kefir. Would the active cultures of plain supermarket kefir be willing to do the heavy lifting in my kitchen, too?

Kefir starter: bubbles signal activityMy first trial, using kefir straight from the fridge, like Joanna, started out promising. The bread rose nicely, but, before even reaching it full potential, it ended with a total collapse, when I turned it out of on the baking sheet.

The structure of the dough was obviously too fragile, and not even the boost from oven heat was able to revive the pitiful flounder.

But now my ambition was tickled, and the second time around I proceeded like I did with the fruit-based levains. I mixed a teaspoon of kefir with the double amount of flour (half whole wheat, half bread flour) and left it in a warm spot in the kitchen.

A few hours later little bubbles on the surface indicated its appreciation for this treatment, and I continued feeding it over the next two days, every 24 hours.

On the third day I subjected my kefir starter to a new test - with a "pinched, not kneaded" loaf à la Ken Forkish. The result already looked much better, even though the crumb was still rather dense in some areas. The Overnight Cornmeal Bread didn't taste bad, either.

Made with 3-day-old kefir-levain: some dense areas, but already edible

Over the next days, from feeding to feeding - every 24 hours - my kefir-levain rose and fell exactly as Chad Robertson (Tartine) asks for his starter. A loaf à la Tartine, considered by many the Hol(e)y Grail of bread baking, was destined be the ultimate stress test for my young sourdough.

Voilà - here comes the Brown Rice Porridge Bread, made with a 8-day-old kefir starter:

Brown Rice Porridge Bread from Tartine No. 3
The juvenile starter performed like a real pro, providing a leavening strength and great taste that my normal sourdough couldn't have done any better!

Not only that - I got the blessing of the master himself: Chad Robertson "favorited" my bread on Twitter :)

 Chad Robertson "favorited" my bread
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