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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Loaf for Learning

Or Yogurt Bread

Sometime last year when I was going through a phase of bad loaves, I baked the Loaf for Learning from Laurel Robertson's 'The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book'. This is the first 'recipe' in the book and covers several pages with detailed instructions and notes on how the dough should feel and why things are done a certain way. It was a great refresher then, and this time too.

The recipe
I stuck to the recipe closely, except using potato water instead of regular water because I had it available. I resisted the urge to add vital wheat gluten, which I sometimes do when the recipe uses whole wheat 'bread' flour. But I learned this time that it is not necessary.

Less talking and more pictures this time:

The ingredients

Flour + salt; yeast + water; yogurt + honey + oil + potato water

4:33 pm: After kneading well for 8-10 minutes, ready for the first rise

5:51 pm: Wonderfully risen

5:56 pm: Ready for the second rise

6:43 pm: First poke test was a tad early, hence the two pokes

6:54 pm: Rounded before resting

6:54 pm: Rested

Laurel's shaping process... flatten into a disk

Fold in a 'smile'... gently push air out left to right

Right side over left, gently push air out top to bottom

Left over right.. and flatten to pan length

The hardest part for me, rolling top to bottom into a log shape

Sealing the bottom seam. This side goes down in the pan

6:59 pm: Ready for proofing

7:31 pm: Quick decent proof

8:28 pm: Out of the oven

8:28 pm: Oven spring!

Finger digs trying to get the loaf out of the pan

Crust falling apart a bit

Light, airy, fairly even crumb, but broken slices

Date: July 16, 2011
Recipe: A Loaf for Learning from Laurel Robertson's 'The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book'

Flours/Grains: Whole wheat
Bread specific ingredients:Yogurt
Sweetener used: Honey
Liquid: Potato water, yogurt

Comments: The bread rose beautifully each time and even had decent oven spring. The whole bread baking process was going so well, until it was time to take the bread out of the pan. It was stuck to the sides and I was afraid it would come out in chunks. Several factors could have caused this:
1. The dough was overproofed
2. The oven temperature was not exactly 350º F at the start. I was broiling red bell peppers before baking the bread and forgot to measure the temperature when I changed from broil to bake.
3. The loaf pan is losing its non-stick quality (although there is no visible loss of coating, only some discoloration)

The crumb was incredibly light and airy. I want to say it is the lightest and airiest 100% whole grain loaf I have ever baked. (And this makes me think that vital wheat gluten has been messing it up for me in past attempts). The taste was good. Because the slices were somewhat ripped, it didn't make very good sandwiches, but it was great with soups and nut butters.

Thank you Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders and Bronwen Godfrey for your Loaf for Learning.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

William Melville Child's Health Bread

Or The disappointing bread-baking continues.

I had bookmarked this recipe in James Beard's 'Beard on Bread' book when I first skimmed through it nearly a year ago. Mostly because it was one of the few recipes that I would probably make. Very very few recipes in this book are over 80% whole grain. This recipe is one of them. It is named for the veteran breadmaker who developed it. The original recipe is not 100% whole grain. Beard provides a variation recipe that is 100% whole grain and it looked reasonable for the most part.

Basically this is a oat and whole wheat bread. I decided to only make half the recipe, for one 9 x 5 pan size loaf. I measured out rolled oats to begin with and at the very last minute switched to quick oats.The recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of molasses per loaf. This seemed unreasonably high, so I used only one tablespoon and added ¼ cup water to make up for the liquid. I also used 1½ tsp instant yeast instead of the 1 package of active dry yeast specified.

The book gives measurements by volume which can become difficult to adjust to when one is used to weights. Sigh! This is how mine ended up:

1½ tsp instant yeast mixed with 142 g warm milk and ½ tsp sugar
200g of boiling water poured over 180 g of quick oats (then cooled to 98º F)
1 tbsp, 11 g butter and 1 tsp salt warmed together
310 g of whole wheat flour measured out, but I didn't use it all.


Partial mixes

1:57 pm: I didn't need all the whole wheat flour

3:28 pm: Decent first rise

Kneading and rising
The unique thing about this bread was that there isn't much kneading called for before the first rise. After that the dough is kneaded for 10-12 minutes until it is 'smooth and satiny'. Mine was fairly sticky and there wasn't much gluten development. Wet hands made kneading easier, but I wasn't feeling very confident. So I thought I would give it a mini second rise.

3:41 pm: Rounded for a mini second rise

3:56 pm: Well risen after 15 minutes

I decided to bake this in the cast iron combo cooker, even though I have been really wanting a good sandwich bread.

3:59 pm: Ready for proofing

4:44 pm: Flattened during proofing

I wonder if proofing in a loaf pan as specified in the recipe would have helped with the rise.

4:45 pm: In the preheated combo cooker

I was baking a strawberry cake at the same time that called for 325° F for an hour. This bread called for 350° F for an hour. I thought I could bake at the lower temperature because the combo cooker would do a better job of retaining heat than an open pan.

Practically no oven spring

Sliced well. Soft crust and crumb

Super tight crumb

Date: July 10, 2011
Recipe: William Melville Child's Health Bread from James Beard's 'Beard on Bread'

Flours/Grains: Whole wheat, quick oats
Bread specific ingredients:
Sweetener used: Molasses, sugar
Liquid: Water, milk

Comments: I had many small variations from the original recipe and although none of them seemed risky, the combination didn't work. I don't know if I will try this bread again, it didn't have anything special to demand another attempt. If I do it, it will be only to prove that the recipe is good, but I can't imagine adding 6 tablespoons of molasses! The bread does taste good. I've had it with jam, almond butter and soup (separately, of course) and it went well with all three. Some of it might end up as toasted bread crumbs for other recipes.

A picture of the strawberry cake that I made at the same time. The recipe was adapted from two recipes found at smittenkitchen and localkitchen.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sprouted Barley Bread

OR I still can't make my own formulae

I spent a couple days trying to pick a recipe for the first weekend of July. I wanted to also bake a July bread for my father-in-law (I haven't stuck to the list of breads I wrote down for each month). I thought of baking two different loaves at the same time, but with the 118º F in Phoenix that Saturday, I wanted to keep my time in the kitchen and by the oven down to a minimum.

I liked the Sprouted Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe in the 'King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking' book, but I didn't have any wheat kernels. I did have pearl barley and thought I would substitute (hence the changed name of the post). The recipe made one loaf for a 9 x 5 pan. I wanted two, possibly 8.5 x 4.5, loaves. So I thought I would multiply the quantities by 1.5 and make one loaf and one free form boule.

The modifications
Sprouting grains has been unpredictable for me in the recent past, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. This was the first time I was trying to sprout barley and have since read that pearl barley doesn't sprout well. Must be true, because after 48 hours of following the rinse and rest process, I only saw tiny might-be-shoot things. I decided to go ahead and use them anyway. I had some cooked brown rice that I thought I would add to the recipe to 'bulk it up' a little in case 1.5 wasn't enough to make two loaves. This is how the formula developed:

Original recipe1.5 times Original Recipe My adjustments
3¼ oz sprouted wheat berries
8 oz lukewarm water
1½ oz orange juice
2 oz unsalted butter
1½ oz honey
10 oz whole wheat flour
2.75 oz bread flour
1.75 oz rolled oats
1¼ tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
4.825 oz sprouted wheat berries
12 oz lukewarm water
2¼ oz (4.5 tbsp) orange juice
3 oz unsalted butter
2¼ oz honey
15 oz whole wheat flour
4 oz bread flour
2.625 oz rolled oats
1.925 tsp salt
3 tsp instant yeast
5.5 oz sprouted pearl barley
~12 oz water
~4.5 tbsp orange juice
2 oz unsalted butter
~1.75 oz honey
15 oz whole wheat flour
4 oz bread flour
2.65 oz rolled oats
scant 2 tsp salt
8 g instant yeast
3 oz cooked brown rice
.3 oz / 8g vital wheat gluten

I thought the vital wheat gluten would help with the low gluten brown rice and possibly, the barley.

3:15 pm Ingredients

And things started to fall apart
The recipe calls for grinding the sprouted 'grain', orange juice and water until the mixture is milky white. I forgot the most important lesson from past experiences grinding soaked grains: add water a little at a time. I added half the water, all the orange juice and the sprouts into my mini-processor. As soon as I turned it on, water and orange juice leaked from the back of the utensil and by the time I stopped the machine, I had lost a considerable amount of liquid and some nutrition. I never really got a smooth grind.

I ground the cooked brown rice a bit too, hoping that this way it would blend better in the dough.

3:39 pm: Ground barley sprouts are top right, ground brown rice is bottom right

I approximated the liquid to get the dough together, let it rest for a few minutes and then kneaded it a good 10 minutes to help develop the gluten. It didn't pass the window-pane test though.

4:06 pm: Kneaded and ready for first rise

The dough rose super quickly. The book said two hours, this was done in less than one. I think the enzymes in the barley might be responsible.

4:55 pm: Very quick first rise

So I decided to deflate and let it rise again, to give the flavors a chance to develop

4:57 pm: Ready for second rise

5:30 pm: Another quick rise

5:36 pm: I had about 43 oz of dough.

6:07 pm: Short proofing

I think during all that quick rising, the yeast had used up all the sugars. When I placed the boule in the preheated cast iron deep pan, it just collapsed. It recovered only a little bit during the baking.

Somewhat collapsed during baking

The bread was to be baked at 350º F for 40 minutes. At that time, the boule appeared and tested done. The loaf needed some nudging to come out of the loaf pan and the bottom didn't sound convincingly hollow. So I put the loaf minus the pan back in the turned-off oven for 5 minutes.

Falling apart while slicing

Tight crumb at the bottom, loose at the top, sign of super fast rising?

The bread
The bread tasted okay and we, mostly me, did eat it all. But that is all I can say in praise of this loaf. The slices fell apart, so sandwiches were out of question. The small bits of ground barley sprouts had turned hard, I wonder if this was due to the last 5 minutes in the oven, but they made chewing a little tedious.

Date: July 3, 2011
Recipe: Adapted from Sprouted Wheat Sandwich Bread from 'King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains'

FloursGrains: Whole wheat, bread flour,
Bread specific ingredients: Orange juice, sprouted barley, rolled oats, cooked brown rice
Sweetener used: Honey
Liquid: Water, Orange juice

1. Does it make sense to try to experiment with formulae when chances of failure are high?
2. Learn about barley.
3. Learn about sprouting.
4. Try again with wheat berries


Friday, July 1, 2011

Transitional Focaccia

I was looking for a bread to go with a late Father's Day dinner for my father-in-law. It was to be paired with ravioli and home made pasta sauce. I've made the (all white flour) Focaccia from Peter Reinhart's 'Bread Baker's Apprentice' book in the past and it was wonderful, but unfortunately 0% whole grain. The Whole Wheat Focaccia from his 'Whole Grain Breads' book, had turned out well too, but it would only be appreciated by whole grain lovers. I thought the transitional recipe would be a good in-between bread for company that is accepting of whole grain baking.

The delayed fermentation dough
The recipe can be found here.
Day (actually night before in my case) 1 :

50-50 whole grain and bread flour used

Just after mixing the ingredients together

After resting for 5 minutes and kneading for another minute

Pressed into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and oiled well

Baking Day: Day 2
I first prepared the much praised herb oil so it had an hour or so to infuse and develop flavors.

2:58 pm

After first dimpling

3:23 pm

After the second dimpling

3:50 pm
I need to practice dimpling properly

Third dimpling with herb oil

5:47 pm

After rising for a couple hours, ready for the oven

The bread is baked at 450º F for 15 minutes, the pan is to be rotated and then baked for 12 - 15 minutes longer. I didn't watch the bread closely towards the end and ended up over-baking it slightly.


Crumb shot

Date: June 26, 2011
Recipe: Transitional Rustic Bread and Focaccia from Peter Reinhart's book, 'Whole Grain Breads'

Flours: Whole wheat, bread flour
Bread specific ingredients: None
Sweetener used: None
Liquid: Water

Comments: Followed the recipe religiously (maybe a little less olive oil in the later stages). Should remember to watch the baking closely towards the end of breads like this that are baked at high temperatures for short times. Overall, the bread was decent. It was chewier than I would have liked. It made very good roasted red pepper sandwiches (my favorite kind these days).