Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Building an oven

My dreams of building my own bread oven have been rekindled, with the focus on it being a portable oven on a trailer, and possibly even electric depending on what my research brings up (I know, strange but trying to keep a wood fired oven at a constant temp sounds like a PITA). So here's a link to an oven building forum to research later.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A random bread search on Google lead me to this web page article.

I'll be back to baking tomorrow, this week has been busy and the loaves I've tried to bake ended up forgotten during bench proofing, making for one slack, sucky loaf and another dried out that I just tossed without baking. I owe someone a loaf of whole wheat, if for no other reason than my son just busted one of her tree ornaments today.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bread without salt.

Someone asked me about Tuscan bread, which is apparently a Florence, Italy specialty. My quick research seems to indicate it's a saltless bread, used with foods that provide most of the flavor. A NYT article about it can be found here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Baker's Mark from a silicone baking mat

bakersmark1.jpg

I did a quick prototype baker's mark from a silicone baking mat that I didn't care for (much prefer the baking parchment). The results were promising. A friend that does scrapbooking is going to experiment and see if she has something that can cut the lettering neater.

Monday, December 3, 2007

parchment paper delight...

parchmentpaper You may notice an odd angle in this picture, that's because it was taken my my 6 year old. Recently I ordered more parchment paper online, which I had done before but this time I sought out an entire package of 500 full sheet pan sized sheets, which fit a standard home sheet pan when torn in half. Prices for the exact same package ranged from $44 delivered to over $109, depending on where you looked. I ended up getting mine from here because they had the best price including shipping. So now I have a massive package of huge sheets of baking parchment, which should last me over a year even with my vast amounts of baking. They work real well when I bake on a stone in the oven, no sticking at all and easy dismount from the peel. It also keeps cheese from dripping onto the stone if you work carefully.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Baker's Marks

I ran across a link about baker's marks, used to identify the baker that created the loaf in medieval times. Like a moth to a flame, I'm feeling the need to create my own. The writer of the article had theirs made out of silver, I'm thinking that I'll try ceramics for my first try. Clay and a glaze just might do the job.

Here is the link.
http://whirlwind-design.com/madbaker/marks.html

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fridge Bread, Loaf 2

Sorry, no pictures of the second loaf. I proofed it for about 2 hours, so it spread out a bit. The loaf didn't taste bad, but I wasn't thrilled with the results. I think part of what works about the method is that the cold dough holds it's shape better. I'll try it again sometime, with some wheat and high gluten flour for the loaf, to see if I can make something with a bit more fluff.

Commerical Focaccia Dough Article

http://www.food-management.com/article/13353/?SW=focaccia%C2%A0

An article about how to make a huge amount of focaccia bread. I've never made more than 15 lbs of dough at one time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fridge Bread Loaf One

fridgebread1

fridgebread2

The first loaf turned out pretty good, although a bit denser than I usually do my bread. I think that the fridge bread has some more experimentation in it. I have one more loaf to make later, which I will proof longer to see how that works. After that, it's playing with different types of flour and proof times. I admit, I like the convenience.

Friday, November 23, 2007

another no knead bread

This is an archive of an article in a Buffalo paper, for a style of no knead bread I may play with at some point.

http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:oHCyd5T79TMJ:www.buffalonews.com/340/story/191149.html+Buffalo+News,+no+knead+bread&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

Essentially (after I halved and converted it to weight measurements) 1 lb flour, 2 teaspoons yeast, 1.5 teaspoons salt, and 12 oz (1.5 cups) water, mix with a spoon (will be about the consistency of biscuit dough), proof 2-3 hours, then fridge. When ready to bake, pull off a hunk (about half what I made, since I halved it and it's supposed to make about 4 loaves at full recipe volume), lightly flour and form into a ball, proof 40 minutes at room temp, bake on a pizza stone at 450 for 30 minutes.

I've made the dough, tonight I'll actually bake it. It says that it's good for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Monday, November 12, 2007

5 lb loaf.

From June 2007, multiple posts from my personal journal leading up to the making of the 5 lb loaf.

I'm also going to attempt a single 5 lb loaf probably tomorrow, which requires the two batches of preferment increased from Alton Brown's recipe by 50% (or just a third batch, now that I do the math. Whatever.) But the preferment will go into two separate 2.5 lb batches of dough (the max my mixer can handle without emotional trauma) which I will combine into a single lump for proofing and shaping. I'll probably use my pizza stone for it since it may be wider than my sheet pans, so a parchment covered pizza peel will by the oven delivery system. It may actually fit on a cookie sheet, but I can't mentally calculate the second proof diameter. Bake time should be interesting, good thing I have a probe thermometer to check interior temp, and I suspect I'll have to use foil to stop crust browning towards the end. Those huge slices should make kickass panini sandwiches.

Someone on www.thefreshloaf.com pointed to the site http://www.breadtopia.com/, so I checked it out and decided to dive into no knead bread just one more time. There is something very zen about the idea of just stirring the dough and letting time do the work for you, but my luck with no knead has been mediocre at best.

A big premise of the no knead, besides more hydration and a long room temp first rise (18 hours), is baking it in a heavy covered dish for a hard crust. For the fun of it I just made up two batches, which were going to be rye but I ran out of wheat flour without realizing it, so rye it is. One will be made in a covered container (enamel stock pot, they call for cast iron dutch oven but I don't have one) the other I'll bake on a cookie sheet just to see what the difference is. If nothing else, the dough has a nice feel to it after mixing it up.

Tomorrow I'll also be doing my 5 lb bread loaf experiment, which should be interesting. It'll be twice the size of my biggest loaves to date.

The no knead dough is looking wonderful. I think the problem with my earlier attempts may have been too much hydration, and a lack of a tougher grain (whole wheat or rye) for structure. It's supposed to have an 18 hour rise so I'll be messing with it around and after dinner tonight. At least I won't be doing stuff with it at 2am again.

I'll work on the 5 lb loaf after Pari goes to camp today, so that I don't throw off my timing and need to do something during pickup time. if nothing else, this loaf will make a groovy picture and awsome paninis, assuming I give it enough structure and it holds upright enough.

Part of me wonders if I could build a really long oven to make super long loaves, but I think that would be a quest just to see what it would take rather than actually doing it. Googling "how to make an electric oven" should give me an idea. If I knew of 6 foot long insulated tube that could be turned into an oven with heating elements at minimal cost, then I'd have to start building plans, but so far I am coming up with zip. Besides, I'd have to have custom loaf pans made, unless they make 6 foot loaf pans (great, now I'll have to look that up on ebay.)

5 lbs of dough are made and in the cold oven with a hot pan of water for it's first proof, which should take about 2-3 hours (hard to tell with that much dough sometimes). So I'll check it after lunch to see if it's ready for shaping into a bigass boule loaf.

And the no knead rye loaves continue to...sit there and wait until I do something with them this evening. It takes so long, I almost feel like I should give the two batches of dough a deck of cards to keep themselves entertained while they proof.

I must say, 5 lbs of dough isn't that difficult to lift, but it's almost more than a handful to shape. The loaf is formed and on it's second proof, in about 40 minutes I'll preheat the oven and 15 minutes after that I'll bake.

fivepoundloaf.jpg

So here it is, five pounds of dough turned into a single huge loaf of bread. I think it's the single largest loaf I've ever made, and couldn't do any bigger without a different pan (maybe a huge lasagna pan). When I checked it after 45 minutes with a probe it was about 15-20 degrees below target temp so I covered it in foil to stop more browning of the crust and gave it another 10 minutes, which worked fine. I was able to wrestle it through my slicing machine enough to get huge slices to make 3 panini sandwiches for dinner.

The loaf was Alton Browns Very Basic Bread recipe x3, with whole wheat for the preferment, the remaining flour half bread and half high gluten, and 3-4 tablespoons flax meal.

I decided that this was too much of a hard act to follow, so screw the no knead bread. That glop just landed in the trash.
From June 2007.

You know, when it's past midnight and I still have 35 minutes left on the bread's second proof before baking, I say to myself, "Marz told you yesterday she needed something for a potluck. Maybe you should'a started that challah dough around 6pm, not 9pm."

But I got to experiment. One I added both some cocoa powder and about 3 oz of melted semisweet chips to, the other I put in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and raisins. And for shorter baking time I did 5 half pound loaves of each rather than a single 2.5 lb loaf each, which reduces baking time from 40-50 minutes to about 20 minutes. And I'll be baking at a slightly higher temp for the smaller loaves, so the outsides brown better. Last time I baked at the big loaf temp, but with the shorter baking time the outside was a bit lacking and slightly sticky, so the small loaves clung together.

At some point I should see how hard it would be to bake a single 5 lb boule loaf. Maybe I'll plan that for later this week when the challah is all gone.

Purple challah twist braid

From June 2007

purplechallahtwist.jpg

Just for the fun of it, I made a loaf of challah with some purple yam powder. It adds nothing to the flavor, but does make the dough purple. I did two half batches of dough, one purple, after proofing I divided each half of the dough into 3 strands, paired them up with opposing colors and twisted them together to form 3 bicolored ropes, then braided those together to make the loaf. The result tastes just like any other challah loaf, but looks real cool inside.

Chocolate challah

Again, from June 2007

chocolatechallah.jpg

For some fun I added a bit of powdered cocoa and some semisweet chips to my standard challah recipe. Besides being a bit more messy to knead after the first proof, it turned out pretty good. Maybe it could be a little sweeter. I'll play with it again someday. The kids sure did like it.

flatbread stuff

Again, from June 2007

Interesting,while making flatbread for tonight's dinner I decided that instead of stretching out the last two like I do pizza dough and most of my flatbreads, I'd just smush them flat with my fingertips and see what happens. They inflated like balloons, and I have just discovered how to make hollow pita. I'll play around with it later and post pics when I have controllable results.

flatbread pizza

Again I'm updating this blog with ones from my personal journal. From June 2007, flatbread pizza.

Ok, I'm playing around with the flatbread recipe to make small pizzas for our lunch in a few hours. Step 1, take the recipe and play around with it. I eliminated the baking powder and reduced the rediculous amount of yeast from a tablespoon to a teaspoon. I suspect that whomever made the recipe had dead yeast and couldnt get it to rise well. Since I'm going for pizza I left out the powdered milk but added in a teaspoon of dried basil. I also did a preferment for some flavor, and high gluten yeast which makes good pizza crust. So far, this is what I have.

Flatbread Pizza Dough

Preferment (proof 24 hours in the fridge)
5 oz bread flour
12 oz water
2 teaspoons sugar/honey
1/4 teaspoon yeast

In a bowl, mix
13 oz high gluten flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil

Add in preferment, turn on dough hook for about 5 minutes. Put dough into an oiled bowl in a cold oven with a pan of hot water, set timer for 2 hours.

That is where I stand now. The preferment soaking up the water overnight and it being cold allows for a more cohesive dough than the same day flatbread recipe, an interesting variation already.

flatbreadpizza.jpg This turned out even better than I thought. Using the dough in my previous post, I divided it into two equal portions, half going back into the fridge for use tomorrow. The other half I quartered, each piece being about 3.5 oz. I rolled them into a round lump, flattened them, and covered while preheating the oven to 550. When the oven was heated, I stretched the dough out into a disc, 2 per baking sheet (the peel was just for the photograph). Top with a bit of sauce, cheese and pepperoni, bake 5 minutes until the edges are browned. There was adequate oven spring, and good taste.

My Basic Pizza Sauce
8 oz can tomato sauce
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1.5 teaspoon dried onion flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix and use to top pizza. it's a good default recipe with handy ingredients I usually have onhand.

Next time I'll either bake them on a pizza stone for the 5 minutes or give it an extra minute so the bottom is browned a touch more. When baking at 550, the difference between done and burnt is 1 minute or less.

flatbread baking

I'm catching up on posts that I made to my personal blog about baking but started neglecting this blog. So here's a flatbread post and picture from June 2007.

amarathflatbread.jpg

This weekend I played around with flatbread. Basic recipe as follows

18 oz bread flour
4 Tablespoons powdered milk
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1\2 cups water

Dump into a mixer, turn on the dough hook for about 5-8 minutes until thoroughly blended into a wet dough. Spoon out into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour (I put it in the oven with a bowl of hot water). After first rise, dump onto a floured surface and knead a bit, divide into 8 equal portions. Now is a good time to turn the oven to 550 (remove the water bowl if you used one), with the oven racks either centered or spaced for 2 sheet pans. Roll the dough into 8 balls and let rest for about 10-15 minutes (the amount of time it takes for my oven to preheat.) Press/roll the dough into flat discs about 6-8 inches across, and fit 2 per sheet pan. Bake for about 4-5 minutes, if doing two sheet pans at once you'll need to rotate them after 2 minutes. They go from almost done to brown quickly, so watch them closely. After baking the first batch, remove them from the sheets and put the second batch on, being careful not to burn yourself (I have enough sheet pans to do all of them on different sheets, but who wants to wash 4 cookie sheets.) Using baking parchment makes it easy to unpan them.

These are great with gyro meat, dipped in hummus or even with pizza toppings. I must admit, these are my first real successful flatbreads, and I've made batches using amaranth flour as 25% of the total flour, but regular bread flour works great.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

video link

http://www.chow.com/stories/10791

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Challah breakfast rolls

As part of my ongoing quest to bake for the Lawrence Farmer's Market at some point, I decided to come up with a sweet breakfast roll. This has to meet a few criteria, including taste, texture the next morning, ease of packaging and eating, and no more difficult to make than any other bread I do. So I did up a simple challah dough (I think I called it Challah #2, it has 3 eggs in the recipe and 17 oz flour), divided it into 8 quarter pound rolls after the first proof, and after the second proof I squished about half flat to see how they do after baking. I did the egg glaze, then sprinkled them with brown sugar and cinnamon. The results were good, I'll see how they are tomorrow and try again soon with a slight modification to the recipe, and I'll mix the brown sugar with the egg glaze next time to see how well it covers the rolls. I'll also try both baking right after the first rise much like I do the flatbreads, and see how the challah does when formed like a flatbread but allowed to rise.

I'm liking this project, it's yummy.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Bulk Baking part 2

My experiment with bulk baking went pretty well, I was able to fit 5 one pound loaves on a single baking sheet, although I'll only do 4 in the future so they have better shapes and less contact with the ones beside them. Two went to neighbors, two to my mother in law today, and the last was breakfast, toasted with a bit of spread and peach preserves along with the last of the goose eggs made into an omelet.

The next bulk baking experiment will be to see if 8 half pound loaves fit comfortably on a single baking sheet, and to test baking times.

If anyone was curious, the bread was a bit of wheat flour mixed with regular bread flour and high gluten flour for fluff, and flax meal tossed in for flavor, texture and aesthetics.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Bulk Baking....

For an experiment to see how many loaves fit on a cookie sheet, I did up a triple batch of Alton Brown's Very Basic Bread. It made 5 lbs of dough, which I formed into 5 one pound loaves and fit onto a single cookie sheet. The results were a good bread, they all fit but I'd rather do 4 per sheet so there is less touching between loaves. I've estimated that a 5x batch of AB's bread will make 8 lbs of dough, which I'll try next so I'll do 4 one pound loaves on one sheet, and try 8 half pound loaves on another sheet.

Flatbread, test #1

Yesterday I tried the following flatbread recipe, I think I got it off www.thefreshloaf.com but haven't re-found it yet.

Makes 12 flat Bread

500 g flour,unbleached,whole wheat,or a mixture of the two
4 Tablespoons powdered milk
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1\2 cups water

1)place all ingredients in the bowl of mixer ,beat 10 minutes to make a soft dough.

2)cover,let rise in warm place until doubled in size ,about 1 hour.

3)Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll each to a 20 cm round.

4) preheat the oven to 550 degrees. i do not have a baking stone,so i use the grill pan

5) Bake for 1 minute per side.

6)Open the oven and place the flat Bread on the hot baking surface. They should be puffy after 1 minute.

It was a very soft, sticky dough, but it rose nicely and made some tasty flatbread (which we ate with gyro meat). No pics, my bad. I baked then on a pizza stone, which was more trouble than it's worth and doesn't create very neat loaves when you have to pretty much fling it onto a hot stone. So next time I'll try shaping and baking them on cookie sheets.

Right now I'm working on a quantity experiment, 5 lbs of dough have been mixed in my Electrolux Mixer and I'm going to see how many loaves that can form on a standard cookie sheet for baking together.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Rye is released...

I made 2 kinds of rye bread, same recipe but one I used the rye flour for the preferment, the other I used regular bread flour for the preferment. I made 4 mini boules from each, differentiated them by one slash for regular and two for rye preferment, and they went to a couple different households. Preliminary feedback (my wife) said that the rye preferment doesn't taste as strongly of rye, which would make sense if it got broken down during the prefermentation. Which would be sad, because rye preferment lends more structure than if the rye flour is added later.

While I wait for two households outside my own to give me feedback, I'm working on a quantity over quality study, seeing how many loaves I can bake at once on the average cookie sheet. In prep for this I made a simple preferment which is 3 times that of Alton Brown's basic bread recipe, which alone calls for 1 lb of flour. So all told I will have about 5-6 lbs of dough to make into probably mini-boules, which range about 7 oz on average when I quarter a single batch of dough that takes 1 lb of flour. I'm looking forward to this one, because it will be plenty of bread to give away for no apparent reason other than I wanted to see how many fit on a pan.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Great Rye Experiment

My basic bread recipes are derived from Alton Brown's Very Basic Bread. My default ratio of flour is 1/3 each regular bread flour, high gluten flour, and whatever type of specialty flour defines the loaf (whole wheat, rye, etc). About an hour ago I started the Great Rye Experiment, where I did up preferments with 5 oz each of bread flour, high gluten flour, and rye flour. When they are aged a day or two I'll make loaves out of each, using the exact same recipe, except each will have a different flour within their loaf that was the preferment. The objective is to see if there is a taste and texture difference, and if so which one tastes best. My mini boules seem to bake fastest so I'll probably do them, which will also make it easier to pass them out to a couple different households for the great taste testing.

One major ingredient I've forgotten in my recent rye loaves is caraway seeds, which defines the rye flavor for most people. I was so infatuated by my overnight room temp preferment that I left out a major ingredient. Silly me.

So the experiment is started, preferments are fridged (I've pretty much established that fridged preferments are better than room temp preferments, which usually have a sour taste), and I'll do the baking Monday or Tuesday, depending on how my days end up playing out.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Quest for Farmer's Market

I've been a stay at home dad for over 5 years. Over 3 years ago I started retailing cloth diapers from home, and made some hobby money that paid for my new digital cameras and other stuff. But the market has changed, there are now a ton more retailers and my main supplier has changed a couple of their rules that pretty much blew away the reason most of my customers came to me. Markets change, I can deal with that, but it was also the final straw that made me decide to get out of the cloth diaper retailing market. So what should I do once the stock is gone?

Why, perhaps I could sell some of my bread at the Farmer's Market. I'm not sure if it would be a good idea or a bad idea, but the feasibility study for it involves baking lots of bread for taste testing. That has lead to the conclusion that fridged preferment makes much better bread than room temp preferment. I also realized that I'd been forgetting the caraway seed in my rye for awhile (silly me).

So today's experiment (or tomorrow) is making a double batch of wheat, and seeing if halfing the salt makes a better loaf or not. Preferment was made last night, we'll see when I get it done today or tomorrow.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Bread Triad....


For a small experiment I decided to use 3 different types of flour as the preferment for Alton Brown's Basic Bread recipe. From left to right in the pics we have white, wheat and rye flour used. In the top pic are 3 preferments made from 5 ounces of whole wheat, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast and 10 oz water. I let them proof at room temp overnight, and you can see how the yeast fed more on the wheat and especially the rye.

After an overnight proof I used high gluten flour (the recipe calls for 11 oz, but I used 10 because it gets a bit gummy with that much flour after an overnight proof) and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Proof about 2 hours, shape and proof another hour before baking at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

The overnight room temp proofing of the preferment makes for a stronger flavor than an overnight or multi day fridge proofing, which I'll do in a side by side experiment later. The dough makes an excellent small loaf that weighs about a pound and a half, and fits into a 1 pound loaf pan (far as I can figure it's called that because it fits a loaf made with one pound of flour and doesn't count the liquid content.)

Today I made some grilled cheese out of the bread, with excellent results.

Friday, April 6, 2007

pizza madness

I ran across this website recently, the man disabled the safety on his oven so he could cook using the 800 degree oven cleaning cycle in the quest for the perfect pizza.
http://jvpizza.sliceny.com/

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Calzone

LinkCalzone, using Alton Brown's pizza dough recipe. I took the dough out of the fridge about 3 hours before using, divided the dough in half and rounded it into a disc. Roll it flat, add pizza sauce, toppings and cheese to half, put a little water on the edge and seal by pressing down with your fingers. Slice through the top just barely through to the toppings (and you can tell toppings apart by how many slashes you do, I did 3 for veggie pizza and 5 for pepperoni), put on parchment paper, brush with olive oil and bake on pizza stone at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Overall these worked out really well. I added about a teaspoon or so of basil to the dough while making it, it makes for a little more flavor but is mostly really neat looking. When you add dried herbs to the dough it may mean needing a little more water to compensate for the increase in dry goods.

Naan Bread video

I ran across this video about how to make naan bread.
http://www.freewebs.com/jemeela/naanbread.htm

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Country White Bread, Panera Cookbook


I acquired The Panera Bread Cookbook a few months ago, and have just begun exploring their recipes. First thing I will say is that they use fresh yeast in their recipes, which I think is not practical for most home bakers. The stuff goes bad quickly, and if there is a difference in flavor I don't know because I can't find fresh yeast locally.

Reviews of the book say that it has almost no recipes of the bread used at Panera Bread, but I'm still checking out a couple to see how I like them. I modified the recipe slightly due to my laziness with materials.

Country White Bread

Starter
1 cup warm water
2/3 teaspoon instant yeast
4.8 oz all purpose flour

whisk together, let ferment (recipe says 30 minutes, I gave it 3 hours)

Add to starter
3/4 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons honey (I used unrefined sugar, didn't feel like cleaning up honey today)
1 1/3 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (recipe called for shortening, again was feeling lazy)
22 oz all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon salt

I kneaded it all in the Kitchen Aid mixer, proofed in greasted bowl for about 2 hours until double, divided, shaped and proofed for about an hour in 2 smaller loaf pans (8.5x4.5x3.75 inches). Each loaf was about 1 lb 3 oz, and there was room to spare after the second proof so I think that it could have been put into one larger pan, or more dough used. The smaller pans are called 1 lb loaves, no clue what that means. Maybe 1 lb of flour.

Baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, internal temp read at 200 degrees (target temp 190-200). I think I could have shaved 5 minutes off and saved the top from a little extra browning.

Overall a tasty loaf, and the texture would have been great for a freestanding loaf. I may modify and play with the recipe in the future.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

baguette recipe/article

http://www.sallys-place.com/food/single-articles/baguette.htm

Julia Childs, slamming the dough

Someone on The Fresh Loaf linked to this video of someone showing Julia Childs how to make French bread by hand, with an interesting mixing method (slamming the dough against the counter). I may try this at some point, but I'm really fond of my mixer because it's just so much easier.

http://www.pbs.org/juliachild/free/baguette.html#

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Challah Bread, lessons learned


I made 2 loaves for a dinner this past Monday, and rushed through the recipe. The good news is that you can rush challah bread and still come out with good loaves. The bad news is that the loaves were so big, they were still doughy in the middle. Luckily the ends were done enough that we had plenty to eat, but now I own a probe thermometer so I can test future loaves (I believe that 190-200 degrees is the target temp for most bread, but I'll have to double check).

Recipe used was the basic challah recipe, but I made a triple batch to use in my two largest loaf pans (5"x10"x3"), and I could have just used a double batch. I baked it for 40 minutes, I'm guessing another 5-10 was needed. I can't remember just how much dough went into the pans, but that is something else I'll be blogging about. The pans are listed as "1 1/2 lb loaf pans", but I know that 1.5 lbs of dough would fit the smaller pans best.

Sorry about the large gap in the blog, a combination of life getting in the way and bread burnout made me reevaluate how I do the blog. I know that I easily do 100 loaves in a year, but trying to pace it out for the blog is a bit much. So instead I'm going to record what I do and just not worry about repeats or doing 2 a week. So welcome to the easier, more enjoyable blog.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

ongoing projects...

Last night I made a double batch of the challah bread recipe, did a first proof and shaped the loaves. These I covered and kept in the fridge overnight, and in the morning set them out for about 90 minutes before baking for 45 minutes. They turned out nicely, so I know that I can retard the proofing overnight after shaping successfully.

One bread we are eating, the other went to a friend because she won a game of "Guess When the Repair Guy Shows Up" (my washer was broken, and they always give you a 4 hour window of when the repair guy may show. I usually post a contest to guess when this is on my LiveJournal.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Loaf #5 of 100 for 2007, oatmeal rolls

I got the starter recipe from The Bread Book, which is a decent book although it has all the measurements in grams and uses cake yeast measurements. I usually end up translating the recipes to my usual methodology anyway, so here is how I did it.

Oatmeal Rolls

Mix together
8oz rolled oats (not instant!)
1 3/4 cup milk
Cover and let sit for 2 hours.

Combine
4 oz whole wheat flour
4oz bread flour
3 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t instant yeast

blend with the rolled oats mush, knead 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes by machine. Proof for 1 hour, punch down and shape the dough. The recipe called for the dough to be divided into 16 rolls (I did 2 oz rolls and got 15 out of the batch). On a second try I did eight 4 oz rolls and liked the size better, pictured on the right. I also used high gluten flour for the larger rolls, but don't think it fluffed them up that much.

Let the rolls proof for 30-45 minutes, then brush with egg and sprinkle on some rolled oats. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, cool throughly.

Overall I liked this recipe, the results tasted pretty good. I did try a batch with apple cinnamon granola, but the results were so bad that I cropped them out of the pictures and will pretend they didn't happen. A sweet cinnamon raisin version of this is probably possible, but will require some experimentation.

My kids loved the rolls to dip into their soup. Then they tore them apart and scattered them all over the floor. So it's not just food, it's entertainment.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Loaf #4 of 100 for 2007, Purple Challah Ring

A friend gave me some purple yam powder he got from an Asian market. The ingredients were just powdered purple yam, it's only purpose was to make the challah loaf purple. After baking it was slightly purple if you saw it in good light, but I was just adding it for the novelty. It was also my first time making a ring of rolls.


Purple Challah

Mix together
12 oz high gluten flour
12 oz bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons purple yam powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon yeast
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
9 oz cold water

Knead until smooth, put in an oiled bowl. Cover and proof at room temp, or put in a cold oven with a pan of hot water, for about 2 hours until double in size. Punch down, fold over on itself a few times and shape the dough. In this case I made 8 equal boule balls (I think they were about 4 oz each) and formed them into a ring. Let proof for another hour or more (I was distracted and this rose for 3 hours without ill consequences.)

After second proof, turn oven to 350, glaze the bread with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the loaf (this one baked about 40 minutes.) Cool. Bread tears away easily at the joints between the boule balls.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

ongoing projects...

Besides trying out new methodology to create a good tasting loaf, I'm also playing around with just how much bread dough I can make at once. I got a used Electrolux mixer a few weeks ago, and it is able to get more bread kneaded than my Kitchen Aid mixer can due to the bowl rotating rather than the dough hook. There are some thing about it that are less intuitive than the Kitchen Aid, but I like the fact that it can do larger amounts and there are fewer moving parts to get my hand mangled in if I have to scrape dough for any reason while it's moving.

Today I made about 5 lbs of dough in one batch (haven't weighed it yet, I'm guessing based on ingredients). I'm playing with sourdough at the same time, so we'll see how these loaves turn out.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Loaf #3 of 100 for 2007, Caterpillar bread

After some earlier success with pull-apart rolls, I wanted to try them on a French loaf pan. For this recipe I used teff flour and seeds along with the regular bread flour, high gluten preferment and whole wheat flour.

After making the dough I divided it in half, and each half into eight pieces and formed them into small rolls, which were placed side by side on the parchment covered French loaf pan. After proofing I applied a wash, scored the top and sprinkled on teff seed (which should have gone on after the wash and before the scoring, but I almost forgot).

The result was a tasty bread, and a nice tear apart function to the loaf. A friend dubbed it caterpillar bread, and that's what I'm going to call it (better than gator tale bread, my first thought). Basic bread recipe was used with teff and whole wheat flour.

Preferment
8 oz high gluten flour
15 oz water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix together in a container that allows for expansion (I mix them together with a whisk), cap with a loose fitting lid or with plastic wrap and a few tiny holes poked through the plastic.

The Dough.
8 oz bread flour
2 oz teff flour
6 oz whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
preferment
egg for glaze
teff seed for sprinkling

When it's time to make the dough, put all of the flour into the bowl of your mixer. Add 1 teaspoon instant yeast, 2 teaspoons salt and the preferment. Put in your dough hook and mix until the dough just comes together, about 5 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rest 15 minutes to let the water saturate the dough, then turn on medium speed for 5-8 minutes to knead the dough.

While the dough is kneading, bring a teakettle full of water to a boil. Pour about 3-4 cups of hot water into a bowl in the oven and close the door. This creates a warm, moist enviornment that the yeast loves. When the dough is through kneading, transfer it to a greased bowl (I sprits a bowl with nonstick spray, then do a quick spray over the dough). Put the dough and bowl into the oven with the hot water and let proof (rise) for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, it's time to shape the dough. I will cover shaping techniques later, so I'll assume you can form a basic boule or put it in a loaf pan for now. Once the dough is shaped, refresh the hot water in the oven, and put the loaf back in for 1 hour. When the hour is up, remove the loaf and start preheating the oven (mine takes about 10 minutes to preheat). While the oven heats, scramble and egg and brush it over the surface, then use a serrated knife to make slashes on the top of the loaf. sprinkle with teff seed. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes for a whole loaf, 25 minutes for a French loaf.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Loaf #2 of 100 for 2007, millet whole wheat with flax meal


Again I used the basic bread recipe for the loaf, with high gluten flour for the preferment and the remaining dough half bread flour, a quarter millet flour and a quarter whole wheat, plus 2 Tablespoons flax meal for added texture, flavor and nutritional value.

I made a boule, but it spread out a bit more than I intended, and the large slashing let it spread out a bit more than intended. It was still tasty, slightly nutty and grainy.

Preferment
8 oz high gluten flour
15 oz water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
The Dough.
8 oz bread flour
4 oz millet flour
4 oz whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
preferment

When it's time to make the dough, put 1 pound (16 oz) of bread flour into the bowl of your mixer. Add 1 teaspoon instant yeast, 2 teaspoons salt and the preferment. Put in your dough hook and mix until the dough just comes together, about 5 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rest 15 minutes to let the water saturate the dough, then turn on medium speed for 5-8 minutes to knead the dough.

While the dough is kneading, bring a teakettle full of water to a boil. Pour about 3-4 cups of hot water into a bowl in the oven and close the door. This creates a warm, moist enviornment that the yeast loves. When the dough is through kneading, transfer it to a greased bowl (I sprits a bowl with nonstick spray, then do a quick spray over the dough). Put the dough and bowl into the oven with the hot water and let proof (rise) for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, it's time to shape the dough. I will cover shaping techniques later, so I'll assume you can form a basic boule or put it in a loaf pan for now. Once the dough is shaped, refresh the hot water in the oven, and put the loaf back in for 1 hour. When the hour is up, remove the loaf and start preheating the oven (mine takes about 10 minutes to preheat). While the oven heats, scramble and egg and brush it over the surface, then use a serrated knife to make slashes on the top of the loaf. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

eggs, trouble in a shell...

I just had an interesting experience today while making some challah. Last night I'd gotten more eggs, but instead of my usual jumbo sized eggs I got large eggs because they were cheaper at that grocery store. When I made the challah dough, it was too dry. I realized I was using smaller eggs, and cracked one into a measuring cup. Sure enough, a full ounce smaller. Jumbo eggs are about 4 oz (1/4 cup), these were 3 oz. With 2 eggs in the dough, it was 2 oz short.

So from now on, I'll be listing the egg content in ounces rather than by the number of eggs, because that's just more accurate. And no one wants dry challah dough.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Loaf #1 of 100 for 2007, spelt whole wheat bread

In my experience, you can make a loaf with whole wheat but you want at least half of it to be bread or high gluten flour for a lighter loaf. For this one I used high gluten flour for the preferment, and the rest of the dough was half bread flour, a quarter spelt, and a quarter wheat. An egg wash and simple boule and slash made for a hearty and tasty loaf. I used the basic bread method to make the loaf.





Preferment
8 oz high gluten flour
15 oz water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
Let proof in fridge overnight, store up to a week.

The Dough.
8 oz bread flour
4 oz spelt flour
4 oz whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
preferment
egg for glaze

When it's time to make the dough, put 1 pound (16 oz) of bread flour into the bowl of your mixer. Add 1 teaspoon instant yeast, 2 teaspoons salt and the preferment. Put in your dough hook and mix until the dough just comes together, about 5 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rest 15 minutes to let the water saturate the dough, then turn on medium speed for 5-8 minutes to knead the dough.

While the dough is kneading, bring a teakettle full of water to a boil. Pour about 3-4 cups of hot water into a bowl in the oven and close the door. This creates a warm, moist enviornment that the yeast loves. When the dough is through kneading, transfer it to a greased bowl (I sprits a bowl with nonstick spray, then do a quick spray over the dough). Put the dough and bowl into the oven with the hot water and let proof (rise) for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, it's time to shape the dough. I will cover shaping techniques later, so I'll assume you can form a basic boule or put it in a loaf pan for now. Once the dough is shaped, refresh the hot water in the oven, and put the loaf back in for 1 hour. When the hour is up, remove the loaf and start preheating the oven (mine takes about 10 minutes to preheat). While the oven heats, scramble and egg and brush it over the surface, then use a serrated knife to make slashes on the top of the loaf. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.