Friday, March 14, 2014

Wheat Bread with Multigrain Soaker

It would be a sore injustice to call this bread just wheat bread. It has a whole wheat pate-fermentee, a multi grain soaker and a half whole wheat flour in the final dough. I dont know what to call it, but it is one of the finest breads that I have ever made. I keep saying that about every other bread that I bake, but I think pre-ferments make the breads really really tasty. The crust was crispy and the crumb was open with medium sized holes (not as huge as the ones in my Focaccia) and tasted very very delicious.

It is a recipe that I tried from plö It is an intimidating blog with professional looking breads, I keep wondering whether Lutz owns a bakery and bakes bread for a living though he says otherwise in his blog. Every other recipe that is posted there uses sourdough which keeps pointing to my inability to start making one. Anyways I wanted to bake bread as I am close to done with my apple loaf which I need to make again. I am going to make another post about that bread. If only to document the power of quark. :)

I wanted to make a bread with pre-ferment and this one sounded like a good choice. I balked at the 2-4 days ripening of the pate-fermentee. I decided I would make it after one day, but fortunately I didnt have time to do anything yesterday and just made the soaker last night and left it in the fridge.

Pate-Fermentee is a piece of old dough, atleast according to the definition. So this dough needed to ripen in the fridge for a long time. I think the result would be sourer if the pre-ferment is left for more days inside. I am going to trying it with 4 days ripening. This is going to be my go-to bread for soups.

I didn't have flax seeds that he uses or millet the original recipe calls for, so I used sunflower seeds. I had no wheat meal, so I used Cream of Wheat (also known as Wheat Rava/Semolina/Weizengrieß). Everything else remained the same.

Pâte fermentée

100g  Whole wheat flour
65g Water
0.3g Fresh Yeast (I just added a tiny bit from a corner of the yeast cake)
2g Salt (a single finger pinch)

- Mix all of them together. It will look like a piece of dough and not really watery. Wrap it in a piece of plastic or inside a closed container and place it in the fridge. The base recipe from Hammelman asks for just 12-16 hours but Lutz says it is better to ripen it for 2-4 days. I did it for 2 and it definitely has a sourdoughy aroma that I get from my bakery breads.


15g Cream of Wheat (Semolina)
15g Sunflower Seeds
15g Polenta (Cornmeal)
15g Oats
75g Water

- Boil water. Turn off heat and mix all the other ingredients into the water. Let it cool down a bit and then set it inside the fridge for overnight.

Final Dough

45g Whole Wheat Flour
145g Bread Flour (Wheat Flour 550)
90g Water
3.5g Fresh Yeast
5g Salt
15g Honey

- Take out the soaker and Pâte fermentée from the fridge.
- Mix all the above ingredients with the soaker and mix it well with hand for 2 minutes till everything is incorporated.
- Add the Pâte fermentée in pieces to this dough.
- Knead well till the dough no longer sticks to the bottom of the bowl around 8-10 minutes. I have added a couple of tablespoons of bread flour so that it wont stick so much to my hand. But the dough it not really a wet one, and is easily manageable with hand kneading.
- Let the dough rest for an hour. It had spread across the bowl and folding it made it into a cohesive round ball of dough.
- Let the dough rest for another hour. After an hour knead it well into a round ball and then shape it into a batard.
- Let it prove for another 1.5 hours. The dough would benefit with a proof inside a basket, I did an open proof, and it spread quite a lot and I ended up with a flat loaf with not much height. Next time I will plan for a basket.
- Preheat the oven for 250°C.
- Score the bread twice diagonally or once in the center and then slide it into the oven with steam. Reduce the oven temp to 200°C.
- Check after 20 min. Let the steam out by opening the door a crack.
- The recipe says 30-40 min, mine was done by 30 min.

Monday, March 3, 2014

March - The Birthday Month

I have plans to bake cakes for the Husband and the Daughter for their birthdays which fall in this month. It has been a while since I baked cakes, I am a bit nervous, so I think I will start off with Brownies and Yeasted dough for the Husband and keep the proper frosted cake for the daughter who has been requesting candles. And I think six is a good age for candles, balloons and frosted cakes. :)

The Husband requested brownies to take to his office. So I have decided on Congo Brownies from Flo Braker's Baking for All Occasions, I have baked these several times before with raving reviews. I am going to bake them here and see how that goes. I have also decided that I will try to bake a Bienenstich for him for the evening as a surprise. I was torn between a marble cake and Bienenstich. But I think I will stick to Bienenstich.

Bienenstich is a dessert with yeasted dough baked in a cake form or a baking sheet and then sliced horizontally to be filled with pastry cream or custard. The name comes from the topping of caramelized almonds which look like bee stings. It is a classic German dessert which I have eaten a lot of times but this is my first time trying to make it. Let's hope all goes well and I will manage surprise him, I mean in a good way. :D

There are three components to this: a yeasted dough, a pudding or pastry cream and the topping (known as Belag in German). For the yeasted dough, I plan to use fresh yeast with milk and a little quark or sour cream. All in all it only uses around 80g of butter but I can further reduce it by adding quark or sour cream since they make the dough taste richer and softer. (500g flour, 30g fresh yeast, 250 ml warm milk, 45g sugar, a pinch salt and 40g butter and 120g quark)

Pudding is the filling between the cake layers and it has to be stiff enough not to get crushed by the top layer of cake. I plan to make a custard using corn starch and milk along with butter and sugar and mix in some cream with stiffeners added. I am not yet sure whether I should involve Nutella or chocolate in this. I am certainly leaning towards those.

Topping would be with almonds, sugar, honey, cream and sliced almonds. Cook them till they turn a little amber and then spread it on to the dough before baking. Details are better mentioned at Smitten Kitchen for the topping. I am going to follow them. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Batter Breads

I was intrigued when I first read about Sally Lunn bread. I was repetitively encountering it in my RSS feed. I had even bookmarked the recipes from Smitten Kitchen and Kitchn. And that was 2 years ago. I did find many other breads to bake and eat in these 2 years but I didnt have a chance to make the Sally Lunn one yet.

So I set about yesterday thinking that I would bake this one, so that the Husband and the Daughter can enjoy a little snack while am away for the class. So I mixed up the batter, beat it hard for 6 min with different additions and I decided to use fresh yeast and left out the egg yolk. Then I read the entire recipe to see how long it should rest, and it needed an hour now and 30 min later for second proofing. I didnt have so much time, so I asked the Husband to do it, but he had dinner to prepare, so he didnt bother about my little batter proofing in the oven. By the time I returned from the class, the batter was proofing in the oven for over 4 hours now. It had risen and then collapsed, stank of yeast and the dough tasted very bitter. I guess the warm oven, presence of sugar in the batter, the over-zealousness of fresh yeast and the long first proof caused it. I had for a moment even considered tossing it. I looked up all over the internet on how to save overproofed dough, but hardly a mention. In some board, someone said the dough corrects itself in the second proof. I had decided that this was going to be a disaster but went ahead wanting to see it through.

Second proof was pouring the batter into a pan and letting it rest right there. So it went into the pan, and waited there for less than 15 min, there was barely rounding out of edges and I slid it into the oven at 190°C. The batter was half full in the 25cm loaf pan and I thought it would be three quarters full. But beating all my expectations (I wouldn't have been writing this blog otherwise) it crested the pan and baked wonderfully. The bread is softer than the normal loaves that am used to baking. Pillow soft. I let it rest and then I sliced into it expecting a bitter taste, but it was so very slightly bitter and by morning even that disappeared. Wonderfully holey, a very soft texture and tastes almost like a cake without all the guilt of a cake. Would stand up better in place of a brioche in french toasts, I think. I would experiment the rest of the loaf for toasts saturday morning.

I am impressed with batter breads and am going to try more. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year - New Beginnings

I am against making resolutions in the new year. I know myself very well that if I make a rule that I won't or will do something, I will do what I said I won't and viceversa. So to me doing as it pleases at that moment makes far more sense than sticking to some rule that I made in the heat of the moment some days/months ago.

But over years I have realized that you do not have to make really strict rules or goals. It could be very general, very accommodating to my already existing principles and only be specific in one generic rule. Now that has become very abstract to even understand. Let me clarify, I already bake bread at home occasionally. So my rule could be bake a loaf of bread at home once a month, instead of making the rule to be every loaf of bread a home baked one. There is no way I am going to achieve that.

Anyways that is not my resolution for this year. It is to begin at the basics of all recipes. I always dream big, and my experiment projects are usually large at scale, that is to make Biryani before I have even mastered how to cook rice in an open pot. So I am going to learn perfectly how to make the basics before I run to the complicated versions.

As part of this goal for January, I baked some stuffed rolls. I always guilt trip myself into making whole wheat versions because of the obvious reasons. But I think knowing how a regular unbleached flour product tastes like is also more important before running away and tweaking the recipe to use whole wheat flour and switching out multiple ingredients. Then I realized I should start from the basic white bread before I even venture into anything complicated. My laziness also helped because we were out of bread and I didnt want to drag myself out of the house to just get a loaf of bread. I was going to bake one and make it the most simple white bread and see what happens.

So I used a Beth Hensperger's recipe for White Mountain Bread, the first recipe in the book "The Bread Bible". I bought this book thinking that I was buying the other famous bread bible, but I have never regretted buying it. It is full of great recipes and I learnt how to make pancakes from this book.

I was measuring out the ingredients and I realized I had a whole day and I only needed the bread the next day morning. So I reduced the yeast by 2/3rd so that it will have a long rise. The first rise finished some 4-5 hrs after the kneading and I shaped it at 4 in the evening and by 8, it was ready to be baked. I halved the recipe, so I got only one loaf out of it.

It was so tasty, even the supermarket loaves of white bread never taste that good. It was the better than the stuffed bread that I made a few days ago. My daughter who usually scoffs my home made breads and prefers the supermarket ones because of the crust and chewiness gobbled up three slices in the morning saying that it was like cheese. The crumb was tight but light and airy as you can see in the pictures. I wouldn't buy white bread again when it is so easy to make at home.

White Mountain Bread
90ml Water
180ml Milk
1 1/2 tbsp Honey
1 1/2 tbsp Butter
1/2 tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp Instant Yeast
360g Bread Flour / Weizenmehl 550

In a cup, mix water, milk, honey and butter and warm them slightly until the butter melts and the mixture is warm to the touch.
Add the salt, yeast and flour into a big bowl and whisk them so that salt and yeast are evenly distributed over the flour.
Mix the warm liquid with the flour using a spatula or a wooden spoon until there is no liquid visible. If it is too much of a slurry add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. The dough should form into a ball and will be slightly stiff and sticky.
Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes until it is shiny and smooth. It will still be slightly sticky but with a little oil would no longer stick to hands.
Place it in an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap tightly and let it rise. As the yeast is less, it will take a long time to rise.
When it has doubled in size and a poke with a finger results in deflated dough, take it out of the bowl, shape it into a loaf.
Butter a 25cm loaf pan and then place the roll inside the pan, cover the pan with the plastic wrap and let it rise for another 4-5 hours.
When the dough crests the lip of the pan, then it is almost ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Remove the plastic wrap and place the pan inside the oven. Bake for 20-30 min until the top is brown and a tap on the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow.
Take the loaf out of the pan, place it on a rack so that it cools down on all sides.
Brush it with butter to make the top crust soft and shiny.
When it has completely cooled, then cut it into slices and enjoy.

Edit: Decided to submit it to yeastspotting

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nancy Silverton's Focaccia

I have been baking Focaccia since I have read about it for the past 5 years. I have made all kinds, pretty bad ones, bad ones, okay ones but never really one that I wanted to keep eating. Then on Kitchn I came across Nancy Silverton's tips to make better Focaccias, which led me to the Masterclass and of course the recipe.

I wanted to try this one and see how it works out and to see for myself if it was really going to be that good as she was saying. The first time I made it, I forgot the preferment inside the fridge for a day. But when I left it outside, it bubbled. I mixed the dough up and let it rise twice and baked the focaccia, which was OUT of this world. I have never managed to make a bread which was so chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. I never managed to make a bread with so many holes and so airy. Its my first and am a convert to preferments. :)

One of my favorite bread bloggers "Hefe und Mehr" is having a blog event because her blog is 5 years old and I want to send my bread to this event.

Rolls and rolls and rolls

Comparison of 3 different dinner roll recipes.

In the past 3 days I made bread from 3 different recipes and I want to record my observations.

First come the Parker House Rolls from Joy the Baker. I have had huge success with these rolls. I have made them at least 4 times in the past in various avatars. I made them plain, mixed in seeds, herbs, glazed with milk, topped with seeds and every time they shone. The only time they failed me was when my yeast was really really old. All they needed the next day was a minute in the microwave to become their softer selves. Given the amount of butter in these rolls, I think their softness is to be expected. So I needed to compare them with something else.

So this time I tried Buttermilk Honey Bread from Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible. I was expecting them to be normal buns but I didn't expect them to be so soft, so delicious and so fluffy. The oven rise I got out of them was tremendous. For a recipe which asks for 2 tablespoons butter for roughly 750g Flour, these were exceptionally fluffy. I added half the needed yeast as I had the entire day for them to rise. The author suggests that this is a versatile dough and can be used to make sweet or savory bread. I made some Snail shaped rolls with apple sauce and quince jam for my daughter and made Naan with the remaining dough. Both of them were very very tasty. The only negative that I can see is they are slightly on the sour side because of being almost entirely made with buttermilk. The tang comes through and I dont think it is a bad thing depending on what you are going to use it for. I have decided that I have finally found my burger bun.

After all these I wanted to make a sandwich bread, from my trusted recipe, Peter Reinhart's Light Wheat bread. But I haven't tried anything new from his book for a really long time. So I decided to make the Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread. So why am I comparing this with a dinner roll recipe, because I think this is the perfect dinner roll, if you omit the raisins, cinnamon and walnut, this tastes wonderful as a regular roll. The additions take it somewhere else but the basic recipe is still strong for other things as well.

Three winner recipes, each slightly different from each other. I need to make the rolls again so this time I can take photos. For this time I only managed the cinnamon bread.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Acquisition

A Muffin Pan has been in my want list for since ever. I have almost bought it several times and I dont know what stopped me, but until my daughter insisted that I buy one and make small cupcakes for her, I did not end up buying one. It is worth buying. I have already made blueberry muffins and Cinnamon Bubble buns within one week.

I needed some breakfast items that were easy to carry to an amusement park that could be eaten with one hand and on the go. So I chose these muffins and Cinnamon Bubble buns from Flo Braker's Baking for all Occasions. Now on second thought I should have made one savory and one sweet instead of both sweet but no one was complaining.

These blueberry muffins stayed fresh for 3 days even after they were baked and tasted just as good as when they came out of the oven. The dough came together easily. They were not so sweet. I initially skipped the doughnut topping but later just warmed the muffins for a bit and then rolled the tops in butter and then in cinnamon sugar. And then they became even more awesome. The crumb is light and airy.

Cinnamon Bubble buns didnt have a chance to get photographed, so that just gives me another chance to make them. They were the best buns that I have tasted. The sour cream yeast dough a dream to mix by hand. I definitely want to try cinnamon buns or other sweet breads with that dough. Sour cream gives it a slight tang and makes the filling the right amount of sweet. I substituted half of the sour cream with quark, a tangy German curd cheese, since I used up my sour cream for something else. I also did not use the egg, that would make them even softer. These tasted like a muffin form of cinnamon buns with way less butter and sugar than that of cinnamon buns. The sugar caramelized on the top and made them addictive. I think I might have missed dunking some of the dough balls in butter out of laziness so that caused some of them to stick. Next time I am going to be thorough. After waxing on so much about them I need to make them again and take a picture.

I find Flo Braker's recipes very involved so usually I go and find something else similar to make. But this time both of the recipes came out really well. So I am going to turn to her more.

I have more ideas for this muffin pan. Especially with so many ideas on pinterest and Internet about a muffin pan being not just for muffins. I have my eyes set upon Garlic Rolls baked you know in what. :)