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Living in a part of the world with a fair number of Portuguese folks living here, I've heard of and read about broa bread, but I haven't been able to find a "gold standard" in any local bakery to compare to.  I found a broa bread in a Portuguese restaurant, but it was more like a heavy biscuit than a corny, slightly sweetish loaf I've been led to believe it is.  So I thought I'd share my latest experiment with the keeners here at TFL to see what you have to say.

Given the good track record of King Arthur Flour, I thought I'd try its rendition of broa bread - here's what the formula ends up looking like for an 850 gram test loaf:

 WeightBakers %850
AP flour10.7572.3334.3
Hot water640.3186.6
Milk (warmed)426.9124.4
Olive oil0.483.214.9
Instant yeast0.2821.98.8

I followed the recipe exactly, and got a very soft dough - I had to start processing it using Bertinet's flipping technique until it came together a bit - with a bit of graininess from the cornmeal.
Here's what the loaf looked like ....

and here's what the crumb looked like:

Good taste (nowhere near as sweet as I thought it might be, given the honey in it), with a fine-ish crumb (to be expected given the oil and milk in it) and just a bit of crunch from the cornmeal (but not too much because of the initial soaking).  I'd make some more down the road as a corny alternative to my usual home baking.

So, anybody here seen/eaten REAL broa bread (ideally, in the old country) to give me an assessment, good, bad or ugly?  I wouldn't mind giving some away to some Portuguese people I know, but I want to know how close this may or may not be to the "real" thing.

Thanks in advance.

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I'm guessing I'm not alone here in trying different types of flour whenever I see some, leaving me over time with partial bags of a wide range of product. Given that, I thought: what would a REALLY multi-grain baguette using odds-and-end flour? Here's the formula (ingredients in italics are locally grown and milled, so it really is a bit of a "locovore" loaf) for 2100 grams/74 ounces of dough to create 6 x 350 gram/12 oz baguettes: * - 70% hydration pâte fermentée w/1% instant yeast & 2% salt Mix the dough, autolyse for ~30 minutes, knead until smooth, and set to ferment until doubled (~1.5 hours at ~22 C/72 F). Divide & rest the dough before shaping, slash, and load into pre-heated 510 F/265 C oven. I spray some water from a plastic ketchup bottle on one of the walls as I load up to create a bit of steam. After 10 minutes, I drop the oven to 350 F/175 C convect for 25-30 minutes (until the crust is to your liking, and internal temperature is at least 200 F/93 C). The results? Not as open a crumb as some prefer in a baguette, but I can live with it given how much denser, relatively un-gluten-y flour is included. Nice nutty taste from all the different flours, and I have a LOT fewer 1/3-full bags of odds and ends flour left in my storage area. Feedback, good, bad or ugly, welcome as always.

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I love the idea of a rustic "ploughman's lunch", so I thought I'd try to replicate the experience (or, at least, channel it) via a savoury bread.

I started with a beer-bread base inspired by Dan Lepard's stout loaf recipe, only using an ale rather than the stronger stout:

Adding some locally-produced garlic coil, some diced dill pickles and cubed strong locally-produced Gouda cheese, I came up with this formula for an 825 gram/29 ounce loaf:

White flour75304.8
Rye flour25101.6
Sharp cheese1561.0
Instant yeast14.1

I mixed the dough and savoury elements, let it autolyze for about 20 minutes, kneaded by hand until resonably smooth, then let it ferment at room temperature until doubled (about 2 hours).

I then shaped the dough into a boule, and let it proof in a banneton for 45 minutes while the oven was preheating to 510 degrees F/265 C.  The dough was flipped onto parchment, slashed, and put into the oven on the baking stone I keep there.  I sprayed water into the oven from time to time for the first 8 minutes, then lowered the oven temp to 400 F/205 C for 45 minutes.

I was pleased with the resulting crumb, considering it wasn't a levain dough.

The taste?  A nice beer bread, with spikes of meat, cheese and pickles (which baked up tasting and feeling a bit like olives).

A success?  Not as much as I'd hoped in this format.  To better re-create the ploughman's lunch experience, my next experiment will be to make rolls, based on a beer bread formula filled with meat, cheese and pickles (maybe even a bit of chutney - I worried about the flavour spreading all over the bread if I mixed it into the dough itself).

Ideas/feedback (good, bad or ugly) always welcome.

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Figured it was about time to share what few resolutions I've made this year as a way to make my committment (such as it is) public.

1)  Try not to worry so much.

2)  Assume everyone you deal with will have at least one crappy day.

3)  Give away more bread.

On the last one, I calculated I baked ~600 lbs of bread last year, with much of that given away.  People seem to enjoy it, so I'll aim at giving away more this year.

Have a great baking 2012, everyone!

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Here's my story about changing my house bread because of wanting to share olive oil.

We brought back 10 litres of freshly-pressed olive oil from a press in my parents' home town in Italy, and we wanted to share it with friends.  Not having enough small flip-top bottles in the house, I bought some beer for the resealable bottles.  I don't drink beer, so I thought I'd use it up making some bread.  I was cautious, going 50-50 beer-water on my house bread formula.

Here's the beer I used:

After a bit of tweaking, here's the formula I used:

 Bakers %2400 gramsPoolishRemainder
Old dough *33340 340
Beer35361 361
Oil10103 103
Salt221 21
Seeds **15155 155
Fresh yst331823

* - 70% hydration pâte fermentée

** - pumpkin seeds, since they're what happened to be in the pantry

First, the poolish - before....

... and four hours later:

Mix up the rest of the ingredients, autolyse for ~20 minutes, knead until smooth, then bulk ferment in the fridge for about 16 hours, with the odd fold when I'd remember (2-3 times).

Next was shape and proof (~60 minutes at room temp on top of fridge), and into the oven....

.... for 500F (~8 minutes) with steam, followed by 400F for about 45 minutes until the crust was to my liking.

Here's the loaves....

.... and here's the crumb.

How much different was it from the regular house bread?  Only the slightest hint of the pilsner was tastable in the latest version.  I've been using it for sandwiches through the week with strong cheese, as well as with salmon salad, to good effect.

Maybe the next try will be with 100% beer hydration.

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I know I've been concentrating on going low (on yeast) and slow (on the ferment) with my breads to improve the quality/flavour.  Sometimes, though, life intervenes.  I managed to use some of what I've learned here and elsewhere to get a reasonable quality bread ready very quickly.

I found out a friend of the family was in the hospital, waiting to fly out of town for surgery, and I wanted to do something.  My sweetie dropped by, and she got to talking with my friend's partner about my bread.  My friend's partner said he'd heard of my olive-cheese bread, and my sweetie committed.  Problem:  plane's leaving day after next!  Had to have a batch ready from a standing start after work by the end of the same evening for next-morning drop-off.

While I know it will be considered sacrilege to the "low and slow" doctrine, I had to speed up fermentation, so I cranked up the instant yeast from my usual 0.5% for a slow overnight ferment in the fridge to a wild-and-crazy 2.5%.  To counteract at least some of the flavour effects of the quick ferment, I threw in some old dough I keep in the fridge (70% hydration).  Here's the final formula I used (PDF) in both grams and ounces.

I mixed, autolysed, kneaded and fermented for about 75-90 minutes at about 70 F/21 C.  I then divided the dough into 2 x 750g/24 ounce loaves, rested, shaped and proofed for about 60 minutes at about about 70 F/21 C.

Into a steamed oven at 510F for 8 minutes, followed by 400F for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature is about 205F.

Here's the result:

Crust was outstanding and crumb (batteries ran out before I could get the crumb shot) was great.  I couldn't detect any yeasty taste in spite of the extra yeast I added.  I think that's because of the old dough and the strongish flavour of the add-ins (I used green spicy olives and smoked Gouda).

I'm told my friend's partner enjoyed the bread - mission accomplished, especially if it distracts him a bit from his sweetie's suffering and waiting.

Sometimes you have to break the rules to meet the needs of real life,  If you know the rules reasonably well, though, you can find ways to make the best of a less-than-perfect situation.

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I was inspired by how simple this 1-2-3 Sourdough recipe was,  but my first try was less than successful (OK taste, but dense brick crumb).  So, taking the advice everyone was kind enough to offer, I tried again.

I used the same levain (100% hydration, nothing but water and Brule Creek Farms dark rye flour).  I keep it in the fridge, so I took it out and fed-and-dumped it once a day for three days until I had a doming rise and levain that (according to the Tartine test) floated in water.

Based on previous advice, I started with more all-purpose flour and less rye than my first try to give the loaves more of a chance - here's the formula I used (PDF).  This led to a dough with an overall hydration of about 71%, something I'm used to.  I mixed the ingredients, and left them to ferment for about 15 hours (before I went to bed, 6 hours after mixing the dough, it had risen maybe 20%, so I left it overnight at about 64F - this led to dough that had more than doubled overnight.

Next day, formed the dough into boules, and set myself to proof the dough for 4-5 hours.  Two hours later, though, the dough looked risen enough, and passed the "poke and 1/2 way back" test...

... so I scored them...

... and loaded them into the oven.  They baked at 500F for about 5 minutes (steam with water squirted on the inside wall of the oven), then 30 minutes at 400F.  Here's what they looked like right out of the oven....

... a FAR cry from my first attempt:

After letting it cool, the crumb & taste test:

Although not as airy as some sourdoughs I see, I'm very happy with the crumb.  The sourness is about mid-range:  not the sourest I've tasted, but not subtle.  I think I'll be using this to accompany strongish lunch meats or cheese.

It was about 14 hours between the last feed before the dough and my using it - I wonder if using it sooner might make the sourness a bit more subtle?  Don't get me wrong - I like the reasonably assertive, but not overwhelming tang, but I'm thinking of ways to make it a bit less tangy.

Thanks to everyone who helped me get to this point - I'll let you know how future loaves turn out.

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I was inspired by those trying to improve the grigne on their bread by using metal bowls or aluminum baking tins to cover their loaves.  Since I was doing a batch of "local rye", I thought I'd give it a try myself.

Here's the formula I used (PDF) to make 3 x 750g/24oz boules using locally grown and milled Brule Creek Farms Dark Rye (40% of total flour) and Partially Sifted (60%) flours.  I used locally-produced cracked wheat instead of cracked rye because that's all I had in the house.

- Mixed poolish and let it ferment ~20 hours:  1/2 at room temp, 1/2 at fridge temp.

- Mixed fermented poolish with remaining ingredients, "autolysed" for 15 minutes, kneaded then fridge fermented the dough for ~24 hours (rose about 1.75x instead of double).

- Divided and shaped dough, followed by 90 minute proof at room temp.

- Sprayed water on the boules and slashed before I loaded them into the oven.

- Into the oven onto a baking stone (with a mixing bowl over one of the loaves) at 500F with steam for 5 minutes, followed by another 55 minutes at 400F - internal temperature ended up being 205F.

Here are the results - the uncovered loaves ....

.... versus the covered loaf

Crust on covered loaf was OK, but NOWHERE near as crusty as the uncovered loaves.  Also, note the broader grigne on the uncovered loaves compared to the more delicate pattern (as well as cracks in the crust) on the covered loaf.  These are all gift loaves, so no crumb shots from this batch.

I'm satisified with the look of the regular uncovered loaves (unlike my herniated ones in the past), and I'm not worried about the flavour based on previous batches, so they're all good enough to give away as gifts.  Any feedback to improve the look of the covered boule in this instance, though, would be greatly appreciated.

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Retaurants have house wines - the reasonably decent go-to when you can't make up your mind - so why can't I have a "house bread" as a fall-back standard when I can't figure out what else to make?

I'm trying (so far unsuccessfully) to get onto the sourdough/levain train, but my strength so far seems to be straight dough formulas.  Nonetheless, I wanted a bit of pre-ferment action, so I've adopted a dual-use strategy with one of my previous fads.

I love the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes" concept, and I've baked  some very decent (for the technique) bread from it.  I've outgrown the concept (even though I heartily endorse it for people who are afraid to bake their own bread because it seems so finicky), I got into the habit of keeping a batch in the fridge.  Well, since it's a 70% hydration dough, with salt, proofed and gluten developed, I now use it as a pâte fermentée (PF) pre-ferment to help boost the flavour of other loaves I do.

I have a range of flours around the house, so I thought I'd throw together some of what I like together:  1/2 all purpose (I use Robin Hood unbleached, but better flour=better results), 1/4 locally grown and stone ground whole wheat, and 1/4 locally grown/stoneground dark rye

I mixed some seed and other crunchies (flax, sunflower, millet, cracked rye and cracked wheat) to give the bread a bit of character.  LESSON LEARNED:  I throw them dry into the mix because when I tried soaking the seeds (cold water, overnight in fridge), it made the dough WAY wetter than I was happy with.

My straight doughs tend to be around 70% hydration.  Because the pre-ferment is a 70% PF, I thought I'd keep the math dead simple with my straight doughs, so that's what I settled for.

The resulting formula for 2 x 750g/24oz loaves is here (PDF).  I "melt" the pâte fermentée in the water and use a kitchen stick blender to blend it even more before adding it to the dry ingredients to make it an easier, more uniform mix.  Autolyse for about 10 minutes, knead until smooth, and ferment for about 60 minutes at room temperature (sometimes, when I ferment it overnight in the fridge, I cut the instant yeast by 1/2).  Next, shape and bench proof for another 60 minutes.  After the slash, into a 500F oven (sprayed with the ketchup bottle full of water for steam) for 5 minutes, followed by 40 minutes at 400F.  The loaves should be around 200F internal temperature when done.

The results:


I like the crumb, and it's a nice, wheaty taste.  I may fine tune it a bit, but I love this as an easy-to-do everyday bread.

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I've tried Bertinet's beer poolish bread in the past (also seen here), so I thought I'd try a bit of a variation on the theme - adding just a bit more non-white flour.

Here's the formula I ended up developing:

  • AP flour                85
  • WW flour                  5
  • Dark rye flour          5
  • Whole spelt flour     5
  • Water                    54
  • Beer                      14
  • Salt                        1
  • Instant yeast        0.5

Based on that formula, I calculated these figures (PDF) for 3 x 750g/24oz loaves of bread.  Here's the beer I used for the poolish, a darkish Alexander Keith's Red Amber Ale:

I prepared the poolish and let it develop at room temperature for 11 hours overnight, then mixed it with the rest of the ingredients and let it all ferment for about 90 minutes (it was about doubled in volume).  Shaped the loaves, let them proof another 90 minutes, slash, then into the oven - 500F with steam (ketchup bottle water squirt X 2 to the oven walls) for 5 minutes, then down to 400F for another 40 minutes.  Loaves came out with an internal temperature of between 200F and 205F.

Here's the results:

Nice grain flavour, with only the very slightest hint of beer taste.  Nicer crumb than I've had in similar breads I've done.  I'm planning on trying this toasted on a grill with raw garlic rubbed on it, followed by some olive oil and salt, with home-made pasta tonight.


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