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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yogurt Bread

If I wasn't already a fan of Laurel Robertson's book, I now sure am. The Cracked Wheat I bread from last week and Yogurt Bread from this week turned out wonderfully well. They rose beautifully, the crumb was even, they sliced thin and they tasted good.The taste may not be as 'complex' as that of a Reinhart recipe, and they do require a lot more kneading, but I am willing to accept both shortcomings for the look and minimal fussiness of LR's recipes. Look out for more recipes from her book in the upcoming weeks and months.

This was the first time I mixed a two-loaf-dough. I've made two loaves on the same day but they have been different recipes, mixed as separate doughs, one following the other in timing. This was the first time I handled twice the dough and, with the amount of kneading LR's recipes need, that change is very noticeable. The recipe did use a sponge, so that reduced the kneading requirement a little, but it was still sizeable arm workout. I have read a lot about how the whole upper body should be involved in the kneading motion to reduce soreness in the arms and shoulder. That would mean a shorter counter or that I stand on something to help with my short stature.

The sponge
I didn't take a picture of the sponge before I put it together because I was running late. The sponge method reduces the time required for the rest of the process. The sponge consisted of half the flour, half the yeast (active dry, dissolved in some warm water), all the honey, all the yogurt thinned in some water and some salt. It forms a stiff dough that is kneaded for 5 minutes and then left to sit for 6 to 10 hours. The book also gives variations if one wants to delay this step (using refrigeration)

The sponge is ready for sit for 6 to 10 hours

The final dough
My sponge only got to sit for 5 hours before I needed to move on in order to have bread ready for dinner (I was going to have family over for dinner). The final dough adds more flour, active dry yeast, vegetable oil and water to the sponge.

The sponge in the container had almost doubled in volume in the five hours.

I cut the sponge in pieces ala PR's epoxy method to ensure better mixing

After 15 minutes of kneading in the bowl,
the dough was very soft and ready for it's first rise

First rise took exactly an hour.

The second rise
After the first rise, the dough is deflated gently, rounded and left to rise again. The second rise usually takes half the time of the first rise, 30 minutes in this case. If you have seen pictures from previous posts with the dough on the Silpat mat, you will get a feel for how much more this dough was.

Great mass of dough

Divided into two with the handy digital weighing scale.
The two pieces are rounded and left to rest for about 15 minutes.

Two stages in the shaping process. The left piece shows the first step
of flattening the ball into a circle. Notice the gas bubbles under the surface.
The piece on the right show three turns of the dough. After this
the dough is rolled from left to right like a jelly roll.

Shaped and ready for proofing

Proofed. The book recommended slashing through the center.
Boldly I did so, but forgot to take a picture before putting the loaves in the oven.

When the slashes open up like they did here,
it is always a good sign of oven spring

Two slash patterns to differentiate the loaves

Sliced thin and even without falling apart

Thin crust and uniform crumb

Date: Feb 20, 2011
Recipe: Yogurt Bread from Laurel Robertson's book, 'The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book'

Flours: Whole wheat
Bread specific ingredients: Yogurt
Sweetener used: Honey
Liquid: Yogurt, water

Sponge fermentation: 5 hours
First rise time: 60 minutes
Second rise time: 30 minutes followed by 15 minutes of rounding and rest.
Proofing time: 60 minutes
Comments: Added 2 tsp of vital wheat gluten (recipe called for whole wheat bread flour) to the sponge and then 1 tsp in the final dough (1½ tsp per loaf). Should try making this recipe without the vital wheat gluten to see how much it affects the rise and the taste. (PR doesn't like the taste that v.w.g gives to bread). 1 tsp of yeast per loaf is not much at all compared to 2½ tsp in PR's bread. I like that the recipe uses less yeast. 1½ tbsp honey and 2 tbsp of oil per loaf are not unreasonable either. The bread sliced well and was great with choley (Indian dish with garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in spicy tomato sauce), for a tofurky sandwich for lunch and with almond butter for breakfast.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Cracked Wheat Bread I

Or, Bulgur Wheat Bread

I am late in posting this bread. This was made last weekend and it's almost gone now. After a long time, I made a bread from Laurel Robertson's book, 'The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book'. The recipe is called Cracked Wheat Bread I, and gives a choice between cracked wheat or bulgur (sometimes also spelled bulghur) with slightly different instructions on how to prepare the grains for the dough. Cracked wheat is what it says, cracked raw wheat grains, while bulgur is steamed wheat that is later cracked / chopped. It takes lesser time to cook than cracked wheat; usually boiling water is poured over it, covered and left for about 20 minutes to soften the grains.

This bread is prepared within a few hours from start to finish, unlike Reinhart's overnight breads. What is does require is a lot of kneading to develop gluten and flavor. Besides the usual ingredients, this bread uses bulgur, molasses and buttermilk. The recipe calls for whole wheat bread flour. I have never seen such flour in the stores, so I added some vital wheat gluten to my regular whole wheat flour and that worked well.

The first stage
Bulgur and molasses are cooked a bit in a small pan. Honey and warm buttermilk are mixed in a bowl and active dry yeast is  proofed in warm water in a bowl. Salt and vital wheat gluten are added to the whole wheat flour.
The ingredients

Ready for the first mixing

The buttermilk+honey and yeast+water are mixed
and the dough is kneaded for about 8 minutes

The first rise, until a wet finger poked in creates
a hole that doesn't fill in or the dough sighs

The second stage
Butter is spread on the kneading surface, the dough is flattened and the bulgur+molasses mixture is added. This kneading stage also takes about 8 to 10 minutes.

Ready for the second stage

Blending this was actually fun.
Because of the butter, the dough didn't stick to my fingers

Ready for a second rise

The second rise is done

Resting, shaping and proofing
After the second rise, the dough is rounded and rested for 15 minutes. I followed the shaping instructions described in the book (see picture below)

Rounding and resting

Shaped and ready for proofing

Proofed nicely

The book highly recommended slashing the dough,
so I gave it a shot and this tiny knife worked pretty well.

The bread
The slashes in the dough, expanded just a little bit but looked pretty. After the bread was out I dabbed the surface with a bit of butter as recommended in the book.

Out of the oven, after a butter glaze

Sliced really well.

Loved the uniform crumb

This bread made wonderful sandwiches. The thin slices meant that the sandwich didn't feel carb heavy. We enjoyed sandwiches with tomatoes, spinach and cheese melted on roasted peppers. A great bread for sandwiches after a long time.

Yummy lunch.

Date: Feb 12, 2011
Recipe: Cracked Wheat Bread I from Laurel Robertson's book, 'The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book'

Flours: Whole wheat
Bread specific ingredients: Bulgur, molasses, buttermilk
Sweetener used: Molasses and honey
Liquid: Buttermilk and water

First rise time: 95 minutes
Second rise time: <Don't remember> followed by 15 minutes of rounding and rest.
Proofing time: <Don't remember>
Comments: Added 1½ tsp vital wheat gluten to make 'whole wheat bread flour'. When first mixing bulgur in, it felt like it will all get enclosed in the dough, but as I kneaded, it came to the surface and after 8-10 minutes of kneading, the bulgur and butter had blended in well. Dough didn't rip during proofing (book said it might, if it wasn't kneaded well). Bread slashed very well with the small knife. Feel a little more confident about slashing future breads. Crumb was very nicely uniform. Best part was how thinly the bread could be sliced and still hold well for sandwiches.

In the spirit of posting pictures, I thought I'd also post pictures of granola that I made the same day, using this recipe from Joy of Baking. The only change I usually make to this recipe is use a little more wheat germ and add a tablespoon of water. Granola is very quick to put together and makes a nutritious snack. (Of course, it is very easy to over-snack on it as well). This granola was baked for about 30 minutes, stirring twice along the way at 10 minute intervals.

Ingredients mixed and ready for the oven.

Out of the oven

Basic granola for RH and dried fruits added for me.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nutty for Oats Cookies

I baked these cookies to take along to Disneyland to share with friends who love peanut butter. I had made these once before and mentioned them in my first bread blog.

The original recipe is from the book, 'King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains'. I used butterscotch for the chocolate chips because RH likes butterscotch, but I didn't have enough so I used some milk chocolate anyway. Perhaps because butterscotch has a much stronger taste than chocolate, I didn't feel I needed to use the prescribed amount. I used some agave nectar in an effort to reduce the glycemic index. I could possibly reduce the sugar and oil some more next time. Here is how my modified version looked:

Original recipeMy variation
2/3 C (6.25 oz) smooth peanut butter5 oz creamy peanut butter
4 T (54 g) unsalted butter40 g butter
15 g vegetable oil (could be less)
¾ C (5.625 oz) brown sugar
1.5 oz brown sugar
1.5 oz agave nectar
1 t vanilla extract1 t vanilla extract
½ t salt½ t salt
¼ t baking soda¼ t baking soda
2 large eggs2 large eggs
1 C (3.5 oz) old fashioned rolled oats, ground3.5 oz quick oats, ground
1½ C (5.25 oz) old fashioned rolled oats5.25 oz quick oats
2 C (12 oz) chocolate chips2.5 oz butterscotch chips
2.5 oz hazelnut chocolate (IKEA)
C = cup
T = tablespoon
 t = teaspoon


Mix wet ingredients in the order butter, oil, sugar, essence, baking soda, eggs
Mix in oat flour and oats until just mixed.
Stir in chocolate chips / melted chocolate
Drop by tablespoonfuls on parchment paper / silicone mat / greased baking sheet.
Bake in 350° F oven for 11-13 minutes until sides are beginning to set.

In pictures

The ingredients (Baking powder was not needed)

Butter, oil, sugar and essence blended in. Eggs next.

I usually chop the butterscotch / chocolate chips. This time I melted
them using a double boiler method on low heat

Second batch ready to go in

I love the silicone spatula. It helps clean the mixing bowl really well,
reducing any wastage. Note how clean the bowl with the chocolate is.

Out of the oven. 32 cookies in all.

Close up

The cookies came with us to Disneyland and were nice to have around. They were very soft and moist with a distinct peanut butter taste with a hint of butterscotch. I have frozen a third of them for later. These are not low calorie or low fat, but one cookie is sufficient for a sweet craving. And peanut butter and oats are healthy, right?


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Transitional Rye Sandwich Bread

This bread was the second month bread for my father-in-law's Christmas present. Like the other transitional bread I made that day, this one contained some bread flour, hence the use of 'transitional'.

Soaker and biga
The soaker for this bread contains rye flour and a little whole wheat flour (3:1 ratio). Buttermilk or yogurt are the suggested liquids. I used yogurt thinned down to buttermilk consistency. Unfortunately I forgot to measure the weights of yogurt and water. I added ½ tsp of vital wheat gluten to help with the rise. The biga contains bread flour, tiny amount of instant yeast and some water.

Final dough
Along with the soaker and biga, the final dough contains some more rye flour, salt, instant yeast, molasses, honey, vegetable oil and caraway seeds. I like the taste of caraway seeds in rye breads. Molasses is also often added in rye breads in PR's recipes because they go well together.

Soaker on the left, biga on the right along with other ingredients

Ingredients mixed and ready for kneading

The differently colored soaker and biga are not easy to blend

Shaped and ready for proofing

Decently proofed. This bread did not get slashed

Rye bread in the back. The oven spring is noticeable
along the sides in the absence of slashing on the top

I topped the loaf with just a quick swipe of a butter stick.
It sliced nicely

The crumb. The two different colors have a very nice visual effect.

Date: Feb 3, 2011
Recipe: Transitional Rye Sandwich Bread from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads

Flours: Whole wheat flour, rye flour, bread flour
Bread specific ingredients: caraway seeds
Sweetener used: Molasses and honey
Liquid: Thinned yogurt

First rise time: 105 minutes
Proofing time: 75 minutes
Comments: Added ½ tsp vital wheat gluten. Added just a bit of water during the kneading. Kneaded more than usual trying to get the soaker and biga pieces to blend. Not slashing helped in that the dough didn't collapse before putting it in the oven.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Transitional German-Style Many Seed Bread

In Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book, 'transitional' in the name of the bread implies that the bread is not 100% whole grain, it contains some all purpose or bread flour. I made not one, but two transitional breads last week. The Transitional German-Style Many Seed Bread was to be taken along on a short trip to Disneyland to share with friends. The other transitional bread was the second month bread for my father-in-law's Christmas present.

I've made this German Seed bread once before and remember liking it a lot then. It contains lots of seeds that add protein and healthy fat nutrition, so the use of some bread flour can be forgiven. Some day I will try to make a 100% whole grain version.

Soaker and biga
The soaker contains a combination of whole wheat and rye flours, flaxseeds, some salt and water. I added ½ tsp of vital wheat gluten to ensure a good rise. The biga contains bread flour, a tiny bit of instant yeast and water. As usual the soaker rested overnight at room temperature while the biga was refrigerated overnight.

Final dough
The final dough contains some more wheat flour, instant yeast, salt. Lightly toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds are used along with sesame seeds. I didn't have enough sesame seeds on hand, so I used chopped walnuts for the rest of the measure (21 g sesame, 35 g walnuts). (The recipe doesn't call for any oil, it is seen in the picture because I had it there by habit)

Soaker on the left, biga on the right (notice the whiteness of bread flour
dough), with other ingredients ready for mixing.

Final dough ingredients mixed-in, ready for kneading.
Had to add some water to get it all together

After initial kneading. It was a challenge to blend the two pre-ferments well.
Took more kneading than usual.

Shaping and proofing
I was using my good 8½ x 4½ loaf pan for another bread, so I decided to use the bigger 9¼ x 5¼ silicone pan. Since I wasn't going to use this bread for sandwiches, a flatter shape would have been fine. I used the jelly-roll method of shaping, rolling from one end to the other. I found out later that I hadn't been very careful about sealing the seam.

Shaped and ready for proofing.

Proofed well.

German seed bread in the fore.

The effects of not pinching the seam well during shaping.

Sliced well. The rest of the bread was cut in thicker slices
and cut in half length wise to make for easier eating on the move

Cleanly sliced bread and crumb with seeds clearly visible.

I thought the bread tasted very good by itself and delicious with cream cheese, marmalade and nut butters. Not much of a sandwich bread because it is so filling in itself.

Date: Feb 3, 2011
Recipe: Transitional German-Style Many Seed Bread from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads

Flours: Whole wheat flour, rye flour, bread flour
Bread specific ingredients: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, (vital wheat gluten, walnuts)
Sweetener used: Honey
Liquid: Water

First rise time: 90 minutes
Proofing time: 70 minutes
Comments: 1/2 tsp v.w.gluten, 21 g sesame, 35 g walnuts. Added water and a little oil to get ingredients together. Baked at 350 with other bread, instead of specified 375.  Used the silicone pan, bigger than the specified size.