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Andreea C's blog

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Hello to everybody. I want to share with you some pictures of these Romanian little sweet breads we make for the 9th of March. The dough is brioche like, but maybe sweeter, the same dough we use to make the traditional "cozonaci" (similar to panettones maybe), the ritual sweet breads we make for Christmas and Eastern.

Well, these little breads I was telling you about are called "mucenici". They are usually shaped in the form of an "8" or a double spiral, suggesting the human body. There is an Orthodox Christian holiday ocurring at this date - the celebration of the 40 martyrs of Sevastia, who died in the 4th century for their faith. So the shape of the "mucenici" might suggest their sacrifice. Nonetheless more than probable this holday goes back to the Antiquity and is related to the celebration of the New Year (in the old calendar, around this date the spring equinox was taking place), when some rituals had to be made to positively influence the future crops and the well being of the animals. So these breads might have been symbolic sacrificial offerings. 

The main reason I am posting today though is to ask you about your experience with sourdough enriched dough. I have no experience whatsoever with it and I would be curious about some aspects, mainly if it is worth the trouble. I wonder if using it would result in better keeping qualities or if the taste is any different. Does sourdough make brioches or panettones better?

Thank you and have a lovely week!

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

history of bread

I have finally managed to translate in English this article I published in my Romanian blog about the history of bread and bakeries. My source was the book ”The History of Food” by Maguellone Toussaint-Samat. 

I hope you will find it useful.

The article is called "Snippets from Books :: The History of Bread :: A Kind of Abstract from ”The History of Food” by Maguellone Toussaint-Samat" and you may press it to read it. 

All best to you all!

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Hello everybody! I managed today to post this bilingual article in my Romanian blog. It features one of my favorite breads. I first baked this some months ago, when I discovered the spice "mahlab" in a spice shop and since then I have baked it over and over again. All the people who tasted it got very enthusiastic about it, despite the fact that it didn't taste like "normal bread" (because of it's mahlab scent).

Mahlab (mahlep) is a very old spice obtained by grinding the seeds of a kind of cherry tree and it tastes and smells charmingly, somewhat like bitter almonds and cherries. It is used in Greece, in Turkey and in Middle Eastern cuisines to spice breads, pastries and sweets. 

This bread is also interesting because it contains around 20% barley flour and cornmeal and 15% whole wheat flour, which all contribute to its deep taste. It's a sturdy bread, very nourishing, indeed a good old peasant's bread. 

The basis formula for this bread is taken from Aglaia Kremezi's "The Foods of Greece", a great book, which I highly recommend. I adapted the formula somewhat. Lately I am very passionate about regional breads, the kind of special breads, that are sometimes made only in a very small region of a country, but which have a very long tradition among those people. I have found such recipes in some of my cookery books (Aglaia Kremezi, Paula Wolfert) and even if some of the recipes don't include sourdough (but commercial yeast), I am sure they were adapted for the average reader (sometimes this detail is even mentioned). I plan to try more of these breads, with sourdough of course. I will share with you my experiments in the near future.

Meanwhile, you can check the formula for this mahlab country bread in my blog article

Happy baking to you all and happy new year!


Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Hi guys! It has been a long time since I've written here. Meanwhile I have started a Romanian cooking blog, where I have began to post stories about some of the breads I am baking. I wanted to show you some pictures of these two breads I made. I will try to share more often also here my experiences with sourdough. 

So here is the potato bread, a very tasty bread, which filled my whole house with the smell of roasted potatoes. You can check the formula here. The dough was retarded overnight in the fridge.

And next you can see my Rugbrød, a delicious wholesome rye bread that I keep baking from time to time. The formula can be seen on my website here or you can check directly Chad's instructions here.

Besides that I do have a question to you regarding the stretch and fold technique. Since a while I have given up taking the dough out of the bowl and doing the SF the classical mode. Instead I am just making four or five "stretches and folds in the bowl" (same movements as for kneading, covering a whole turn of the bowl). The smooth part of the dough remains on the bottom on the bowl and I take it into consideration while shaping the breads. I haven't been noticing any difference, but then again I have not been baking so much lately. Do you think it really matters how you make the SFs? My impression was that what is essential is to somehow break some of the gluten connections, so that the dough creates besides the old ones, new stronger ones. What do you think?

Happy baking to you all!

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Hello everybody!

I have just baked this delicious bread for the third time and I am finally content with the results. I really love the feel of big breads, so I chose to make a 2 kg loaf. Making such a big bread is a joy for me also because it always means that I'm gonna make some other people happy with little tasty presents.

I had some problems in the past with underproofing this bread, mainly because my old fridge is playing tricks on me. I am never quite sure that the temperature inside it will remain constant. This time, the day I prepared the bread, it was pretty hot outside and the temperature inside the fridge was around 11-12 degrees (often it stays around 5-6 degrees). So I chose to take the loaf out of the fridge after seven hours of proofing and left it at room temperature another 30 minutes before baking it.

I don't know if I could have achieved larger wholes in the crumb, I am still not very good at diagnosing an underproofed bread, unless it's really underproofed as in very very dense. All in all, the bread tastes and feels very good, it has a pretty light texture and the aroma given by the combined seeds is a delight. 

I wish you all happy baking and beautiful summer days!


P.S.: I am submitting this bread to YeastSpotting.

Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Hey you all!

I've just baked the sourdough rye with raisins and walnuts from Mr. Hamelman's "Bread" book (pg. 208) and I am very happy with it. I really enjoy its texture given by the combination the nuts and fruits with the very spongy crumb. It is not sour at all and the crust is very "crusty". Also, the rye taste is evident, despite of this being a 50% rye bread and despite the other flavors. A very good, very tasty bread, in my opinion.

I halved the quantities and eliminated the yeast from the formula. I used 250 g rye flour No. 1370 (a medium to dark rye flour, 8.3 g proteins) and 250 g wheat flour No. 1050 (a dark flour with 11.6 g proteins, the nearest to high-extraction flour that you can find in Germany). For incorporating the raisins and nuts I used Andy's method illustrated here.

I also added more water during mixing, around 35 ml, raising the hydration from 68 to 75%. 

The schedule for this bread looked like this: 8 hours for the sourdough at around 25 degrees, 2 hours 15 minutes bulk fermentation, 10 minutes preshape/shape, 45 minutes final fermentation (in a banneton with cloth and dusted with a lot of flour). (I keep my rye sourdough culture at room temperature and feed it twice a day.)

With scoring things went a bit wrong. This is the fifth rye bread I make and the first one I score, so I kind of panicked. I planned to make five cuts like here, but I ended in two seconds with much more assymetrical cuts. I thought the bread would come out very ugly because of this, but this wasn't really the case in the end. :)

With this bread I also realised I have the worst bread knife ever and that I need a better one very soon. It couldn't deal with the thicker crust of this bread, so the slices were kind of wavy. It also shredded the the crumb here and there, as you can see in the third photo. 

I am submitting this post to YeastSpotting

I wish you all happy baking!


Andreea C's picture
Andreea C

Since my baking got serious lately, meaning that I bake minimum once a week, most of the times two or three times, I thought it might be useful and nice to open a blog here and share with you my successes and especially my problems regarding bread. 

Two months ago I've managed to grow a sourdough culture and since then I just cannot stop baking anymore. I was baking bread (with commercial yeast ) before too, since many years, but I was always improvising with it, I was never counting quantities and the bread was never allowed to rise for more than one hour. They were good these breads, but nothing special compared to the breads I am baking now.

Then one year ago, I discovered Peter Reinhart and I started baking breads that require a long time from mixing the preferment and till the actual baking. I began finding out about shaping and cold fermentation and I also began working with wetter doughs, sticky doughs, which were so unusual for me at the beginning. Since then I tried more times to grow a sourdough culture, but till this May I didn't manage. Maybe the cold, wet weather in Berlin, where I live at the moment, was a hindrance. This last time, I had also discovered Codruta's Romanian blog, so I decided to follow her (very thorough) explanations for building a culture, and thus I was finally succesful.

Anyway, here I am now, madly in love with sourdough breads, wanting to try everything, to learn everything, impatient to become very good at baking bread.

Yesterday I baked two breads. The first one was an olive levain, using Codruta's recipe, who adapted Pip's one. I didn't change or adapt anything, because I wasn't at all used to making breads which have things (other than seeds) inside, so I didn't know what to expect. I just added dried oregano instead of the mix of dried herbs and I increased the quantity of olives from 250 g to 275 g. The bread came out very good, it's smell while in the oven was absolutely intoxicating and I am pretty sure I am gonna want to make this bread over and over again from now on.

The only thing I could object to it was the fact that here and there it was bitter, and that was because the olives were probably not quite right. I am not used to Kalamata olives, I almost never ate them raw, so I don't know exactly know how bitter they should be. I will keep trying brands of Kalamata olives and I hope that I will manage to soon find the ones that are perfect for me. Anyway, all in all, even this occasional bitterness doesn't make this less than a great bread to me.

The other bread that I tried was Hamelman Dried Prune and Hazelnut Bread (P. 185). Since I love dried prunes, I decided to give it a try. I followed the recipe, the only thing that I changed was eliminating the commercial yeast from the formula. Consequently I fermented it longer. (2 hours bulk fermentation at around 25 degrees; 20 minutes shape/preshape; 8 hours in the fridge at around 10-12 degrees; and another 45 minutes at room temperature before baking). 

I cut each prune in 5-6 smaller pieces, nonetheless I encountered the same problem as Codruta, the fruits were not evenly distributed, there were many slices without any prune at all in them. I think that with this quantity of prunes there is no way that they appear in every slice. I am gonna try next time to increase  the quantity of prunes and decrease the hazelnuts one and see if it gets better. 

Also many hazelnuts fell out from the bread while I was slicing it. I don't know if I did something wrong, if the nuts were not the proper ones or if it's normal that this happens. 

I liked this bread too, I ate a couple of slices just like that, trying to get acquainted with this new combination flavors. When you bite from the parts that have also the chunks of prunes inside, you might get tricked and expect it to be a sweet rich bread, but then you go biting again and you realize that this is really a bread, not a sweet. The next thing that came into my mind was the image of some nice cheese accompanying it and a glass of good dry red wine next to it. 

I wish you all a lot of joy with your baking!




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