Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bread Number 81: A Tasty Variation

The variation on Bread #81 is a stretch on the term variation because I changed quite a bit from the original recipe. This is a delicious whole wheat and requires no sponge phase. I did do an autolyse, partly because it's an easy way to build strength in a wet dough. This bread also fits with the whole wheat theme of my last couple of breads. Because this bread turned out so well, it is worth its own blog post.

The only reason I did not bother with a sponge was pure laziness. We enjoyed the winter storm festivities of gathering with neighbors for long dinners, watching two feet of snow accumulate, doing some artwork, and my solitary snowstorm accomplishment of binge watching a season of Girls. (Yes, the characters are spoiled and self-absorbed, but I love watching shows about New York, particularly Brooklyn, and it's well written. I thought the disrespect toward Iowa was a bit much.)

So there I was on a Sunday morning without any dough. 

553g whole wheat flour - freshly milled
528g water

Mix, cover, and let sit for 25 minutes. Incredible how quickly just the two ingredients combined and rested magically become so dough-like.

Add to autolyse:
100g starter 
12g salt

Hydration percentage: 96 percent

I did two stretch and folds, each 40 minutes apart. Be careful, the dough is slippery and extra stretchy due to its high hydration percentage. I let the dough rise in a 70-degree closet (my little warm spot in the house) and then put it in the fridge for seven hours. No bread on Sunday, but it was ready on Monday. Love DC because with two feet of snow over the weekend, no one was going anywhere on Monday and we had fresh bread.

Baking preparation
Preheat oven to 470 degrees for one hour with dutch oven inside. Sprinkle rice flour onto the bottom of the very hot dutch oven. Shape dough, though it will not hold a shape due to its wetness. Slash the top a few times. Not sure how well a pretty slash design would work, though it might if you get that dough very quickly into a hot oven.

Baking time: 52 minutes
Taste: Absolutely wonderful 

Next try: Shape the dough on a wet surface and with wet hands because - you got it - it's a wet dough.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bread Numbers 86 and 87: Lovely Whole Wheat

Splendid whole wheat breads, each 50 to 60 percent whole wheat. These are impressive in their superiority to any bakery bread. Indeed there's no reasons other than variety or getting out of the house to eat anything other than a fine whole wheat bread with butter for breakfast. Super yummy, and that is a technical term.

Breads #86 and 87 had my usual sponge, with no whole grain flour. The doughs, however, featured whole wheat flour and seeds. My suspicion is confirmed that the household members will eat anything with caraway seeds and declare it delicious. Sesame seeds do not produce the same exuberant response, though I really like them.

Same sponge for breads #86 and 87
100g starter
200g water
200g bread flour

Mix, cover, and leave out overnight or all day for eight to 10 hours. Never misses and produces a bubbly beauty of a sponge.

The dough, indeed, the whole process for these two breads is so close as to be a mistake not to consider them refinements of one bread. But the whole matter of what constitutes a different bread is rather arbitrary.

Bread #86 will be listed first, then a comma, and then amount of the ingredient for bread #87. For some significant ingredients, the amounts were the same for both breads.

303g whole wheat flour - freshly milled and smelling so lovely in an early-morning kitchen
128g, 113g water
12g, 10g salt
4g sesame seeds
0g, 6g caraway seeds

Mix, cover, and do four stretch and folds, each 15 to 30 minutes apart. Let rise on counter. 

I then put each dough in the fridge for about 24 hours, and baked right from the fridge.

Baking preparation
Preheat oven to 470 degrees for one hour with a dutch oven inside. Shaped the dough, sprinkled with water, and sprinkled with caraway (only bread #87) and sesame seeds. Before plopping the dough in the dutch oven, I also sprinkle the whole bottom with rice flour to prevent the dough from sticking.

Baking time: 56 minutes
Gorgeous oven spring
Taste: Great for bread #87 and okay for bread #86

Bread Numbers 84 and 85: Barley, a Nice Nutty Minor Player

Two sour breads with quite long rises and about 20 to 30 percent barley flour, freshly milled. Not sure if the taste is different with freshly milled flour or whether the aroma in the kitchen after I grind up the flour makes me think the taste is better. Also, and this could be completely unrelated (not to mention that grammar police would not be pleased with a sentence that begins "Also, and"), but the breads I've made since milling my own whole grain flours have taken considerably longer time to reach a full rise.

I'll give both recipes below, one primarily whole wheat and the other about half bread flour. One caveat: I really liked the sour taste, but others in the household (well, one other, in particular) were not as pleased. For me, a long, slow rise is something to be thankful for and appreciate. But it is not a typical bread flavor. 

Bread #84
This bread had barley, rye, and caraway seeds. It was approximately 30 percent freshly milled whole grain flour. I did a sponge phase overnight and then let the final dough rise the next night. 

101g starter
200g water
200g bread flour

This sponge is a regular for me. It is easy to mix together and it becomes a bubbly sponge either overnight or during a work day. I use it for all kinds of breads. I mix well, cover, and leave out on the counter, this time for almost 10 hours.

Add to sponge:
64g rye flour
115g barley flour 
Both of the above were freshly milled
121g bread flour
8g caraway seeds
12g salt
126g water

Mix well, cover, and do four stretch and folds within the first two hours. I did mine about 25 to 30 minutes apart, but I've also done 15 minutes apart when I've been in a rush. It all works fine.

Left the dough covered and on the counter for 10.5 hours. 

I then put the dough in the fridge for nine hours, but I would feel comfortable leaving it for up to 24 hours.

Baking preparation
Preheated oven to 450 degrees for one hour with the top of the la cloche on the baking stone. Big oops in that I might have cracked the oven door. Not sure. Maybe that was another baking episode or not even my fault. It's not a spring chicken anyway.

Oven time: 51 minutes, the last three uncovered.
Taste: Wonderful

Bread #85
A one-stage dough with mostly freshly milled whole grain flour. I should be wearing Birkenstocks and a cotton granny dress. I used a decently large amount of starter to account for the cooler, winter temperature in the kitchen.

400g water
100g starter
82g barley flour
410g whole wheat flour
11g salt

Love the smell of the barley flour right after it is ground. It has a combination of a hint of chocolate and baking pie dough aromas. I mixed and covered the dough. I did two stretch and folds, the first at 30 minutes and the second 40 minutes after the first. I had to be quite gentle because the dough was starting to break. 

I let the dough rise for 27 hours - yes, for more than a whole day and night - though it was in a 63-degree room for part of that time. I then put the dough in the refrigerator for five hours.

Baking preparation
Preheat the oven for one hour at 470 degrees with the dutch oven inside. Baking time only 47 minutes, maybe because it was not the most impressive oven spring.

I was nervous about this one because the dough was breaking easily. Maybe I let it rise for too long. But the taste was really good and super sour. Worth trying again.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bread Number 83: Am I Making Almost the Same Breads Over and Over? Yes

I have never sought out a career that demands travel. A few widely-spaced trips a year, fine. But for several months it felt like I was constantly out of town. I was not quite, but too much in terms of getting into a rhythm for bread baking. A whole week at home for Christmas week will revive me. Then, perhaps another trip in January.

Bread #83 was a rye with a little whole wheat flour mixed in because I had very few wheat berries left. Now it's time to reorder, but I haven't caught up with all manner of things at home after the last trips, those to beautiful Colorado, friendly Texas, and dynamic Alabama.

The nice part about baking for so long is that even off my game I have standard go-to formulas. This means I can whip up a dough and I feel confident without paying too much attention. Not how I generally like to proceed - fan of mindfulness and all that -  but there is other stuff in my life besides bread. 

200g starter (made with white flour)
290g water
38g whole wheat flour
141g rye flour
271g bread flour
8g caraway seeds
11g salt

I used a lot of starter because my jar was pretty full. Plus, I initially planned for an overnight rise at a kitchen temperature of 70 degrees. Turned out to be 65 and I left the dough out half a day more. It helped to have a person at home who could put the dough in the fridge, not a luxury one has with a regular commuter lifestyle.

Mix all ingredients well and cover. I did two stretch and folds, each 30 minutes apart. Then I let the dough rise on the counter for 14 hours. Next, in the fridge for six hours.

Despite not much fridge time - I  usually wait for 24 hours of fridge time - I decided to bake. 

Preheat oven for one hour with dutch oven inside at 470 degrees. 

Just  before baking, take dough out of fridge. Shape, do the slash on top, and sprinkle with water. Don't forget to sprinkle some rice flour into the dutch oven before plopping dough in there.

I forgot, but I got lucky. No sticking of dough to dutch oven bottom.

Baking time: 53 minutes, the last five uncovered. Beautiful oven spring. Nice solid go-to bread taste. Nice to have a great bread be normal.

Second try

I left out the whole wheat flour because I have not gotten to the wheat berry purchase yet. I am buying food storage containers to store them and the order for wheat and rye berries should be made today. I accounted for the lack of whole wheat flour by increasing the bread flour amount to 339 grams.

This time the dough took 18 hours for the first rise, followed by 11 hours in the fridge. Lovely, lovely oven spring and a great taste. A nice rye is always a winner in this household.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Bakery in Colorado Worth a Trip

Mountains, yes. Pretty landscapes, check. Hiking and climbing galore. Reasons why people trek thousands of miles to Colorado, a state where the residents have a sense of superiority because they think everyone secretly wants to live there. Not me, nice beauty out there, but I like a tree-lined neighborhood.

Now another reason to visit Colorado and get off the beaten track in the neighborhood of Boulder is the Moxie Bread Company, a bakery in small Louisville, Colorado, close to Boulder, but on the way to Denver. It was a small town; now it's a small town in the midst of Denver-to-Boulder sprawl - with a view of those mountains, of course.

[Note: I tried to insert the absolutely gorgeous bread photos here, but my laptop has decided to have a fit each time I try. Not sure why it's being so grumpy when it's usually happy to insert photos. I might try again soon.] 

And wonderful bread at Moxie. All naturally leavened. A gorgeous oven with multiple levels. Good coffee. An oasis. The bread is heavenly tasting and lovely to look at. You know the second that you see the display case that this is a special bread destination.

Native New Yorker, must criticize
Someone at Moxie either passed through or is from New York because there's Bed-Stuy Rye and bialys. Now, I'm from Brooklyn and there is no unique rye in Beford-Stuyvesant, a neighborhood that was until recently low income and dangerous, but now is enjoying a renaissance for people with more money - and white people. I had one of the wonderful whole grain bialys at Moxie. It was a luscious roll, but in no universe was this a bialy. A bialy has a particular shape; it's not merely a roll with diced onions on top. Still, delicious.

Still Moxie is an oasis of great bread made in a way that screams out - but no one in Colorado screams - baker's craft. And it is a cute spot for bread, coffee, a sandwich, or to use the free wifi and work. I went back and worked for a whole morning there.

My bakery fantasy - not dead yet
There is a vacant eatery nearby with nice outdoor space and I wonder if it is a good location for muffins, coffee, bread classes, and baking books. Maybe other baking classes as well, and my friend could teach jam classes. I see myself in that fantasy spending a half hour baking, then painting for hours.

One bread challenge remains that could bring me back into the bread world for a while  - the quest to make a sourdough challah as good as the one produced by the bread machine's dough making, which includes commercial yeast and sugar. Not sure I would give up the sugar, though I've made good challahs with honey instead.

Too busy at work and with business trips right now to even fantasize fully about the bakery idea. Yearning for less work travel, but, frankly, once I am there (wherever that happens to be) I always enjoy the time there.

Probably not a good business idea when the fantasy does not include bustling, perky, or, for that matter, any customers.

Bread Number 82: Patience Saves a Gorgeous Rye

A rye awry?
I made the first version of this somewhat-under 20 percent rye bread a few weeks ago and it turned out perfectly. I did not taste it, but gave it away to my younger daughter when I visited her college town while on a business trip. Into the luggage went a freezer bag with two frozen breads and ice packs. I warned security as I've had issues before flying with large blocks of frozen food. Sounds like a comedy, especially if you are flying with raw ground fish to use for gefilte fish.

Back to the rye: This time, the white flour sponge went well. I mixed the dough; did the stretch and folds, and put the dough in the fridge. The next morning, I expected a buoyant dough, ready, enthusiastic even, to be baked. 

Indeed without looking at the dough, I preheated the oven with the dutch oven inside. But when I retrieved the dough, I stared. Not a good sight. A flat dough. To bake, to return to the fridge for perhaps another day, or to leave out, possibly until the afternoon (this being early morning)? Certainly, awry went the plan to have the bread baked and rested by lunch. Not happening. Hardly risen, definitely not buoyant or enthusiastic.

Rice flour mentioned below. Why you should have it and use it.

Not with a muffin

A muffin, a cake, a cookie, none of them do this to me. You mix, you bake, the same result each time, given equivalent ingredients, of course. Maybe I need to do some muffins for a while. To test whether I want to be a muffin proprietress. Corn, blueberry anyone?

So, I write down the time and muster the patience to wait to see if this dough is a dud or 
whether it wakes up and prepares itself to become a lovely bread.  Not everyone wants to be Cinderella. Happy to say the patience rewarded me with a lovely bread, one the spouse singled out for praise. Of course, with 80-plus percent white bread flour, I feel a bit like I cheated.

Still, excellent taste, pretty crust and crumb, and wonderful breakfasts of slices of bread, butter, and something hot to drink. I actually drink hot water - think tea without the tea bag.

Ingredients - totals
100g starter
400g bread flour
100g rye flour
310g water
10g salt

100g starter
200g bread flour
200g water

Mix, cover. I left this out overnight for 9.5 hours and found a bubbly sponge in the morning.

200g bread flour
100g rye flour
110g water
10g salt - half remainder of the Himalyan mineral salt and half regular kosher salt

I admit that at first I only put in 100 grams of water. This was a watch and wait because the first time I ended up putting in 125 grams of water at this stage. With 100 grams, the dough seemed a bit dry, so I added a bit, 10 grams, and then it was fine. All depends on the hydration percentage of the starter, other ingredients, and humidity. Better to add slowly than to regret.

Patience is a virtue for a reason.

Mix, cover. Do two stretch and folds. Mine were each a half hour wait.

Are you going to rise already?
Patience, like yoga I, is a set of lessons I need constant refreshing in. I put this dough into the freezer overnight. Without looking at it, without even considering to look at it, I put on the oven and popped the dutch oven right in to preheat. Well, 10 hours in the fridge is not nearly sufficient. Dough was expanded about one third of the way, but flat.

Turned off the oven. Rested the dough on the counter. Waited. Peeked at the dough every half hour or so. I left the dough out for 4.5 hours.

Rising nicely, but not there yet, real life demanded my attention. Sunday walk, Sunday artwork, well Sunday. Put the dough back in the fridge at mid-day. Four and a half hours later, after a walk with a friend: Now that's a dough.

Thank goodness for refrigerators
Dough was ready, but lots of oven traffic congestion and I was way back in the line. Spousal cooking. On the plus side, the oven would be nice and almost sufficiently hot without an extra hour to heat up the oven. Nice spouse allowed me to steal the lower rack to let the dutch oven just sit in the oven as it heated from zero (well, unheated) to fully hot.

After dinner, with 20 minutes to  allow the oven to fully heat up, oven ready. By this time, dough had been in the fridge for another 7.3 hours. Total times below.

Sponge - rest time 9.5 hours

Dough - two stretch and folds, each separated by .5 hour

Dough fermentation - total fridge time of 17.3 hours, counter time of 4.5 hours

Baking preparation - don;t forget those oven mitts
Oven preheated, with dutch oven inside, to 470 degrees for an hour or the equivalent thereof. (I have a law degree and therefore am entitled to use such words as thereof, wherefore, etc.) 

Now for the dance and the extra mental care to remember to don oven mitts at the appropriate time. Also tidbits on an essential tool - rice flour.

1. Have ready: Dough slasher - lame, some water in a cup or bowl, a pastry brush or equivalent, rice flour, caraway seeds (because this is a rye bread, which means I'm wanting those seeds on top even though I completely forgot to mix any into the dough).

2. Sprinkle some rice flour on a board or on the counter. Rice flour is grittier than all-purpose flour, so it is better at preventing sticking of dough.

3. Take dough out of fridge. Quickly, sprinkle a little all purpose flour on and underneath dough so that you can gently lift it out of the bowl. Then, on the rice-flour-covered board, in less than 30 seconds, shape the dough.

4. Quickly - that's the theme - sprinkle water on top of the dough, generously sprinkle on those caraway seeds, and do a cross slash (or fancy design, up to you).

5. Quickly - oven mitts on your hands, open oven, uncover dutch oven, and - yes, quickly - spoon out a nice amount of rice flour to cover bottom of the dutch oven. This will prevent sticking.

6. Plop the dough into bottom of dutch oven.

7. Turn around, put oven mitts back on.

8. Cover dutch oven and close oven.

9. Remember to put on timer for when you want to check the dough. 

10. Congratulate yourself that once again you donned the oven mitts at the appropriate times and saved yourself from a burn. I actually bought super-duper - up to 600 degrees - oven mitts because the heat went through my normal cute oven mitts.

11. Wait

And the reveal
Lovely oven spring. That white flour knows how to promote a rise. Seductive,gorgeous, but not as good for you as a sensible majority whole grain. Total baking time of 49 minutes, though only 44 minutes the first time. 

Excellent taste, winning spousal praise. Makes a wonderful breakfast.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bread Number 81: Many Tries to a Solid Whole Wheat

For the last two months, in between travels, in between artwork, in between studies and work, I kept returning to the quest for a perfect whole wheat bread - or at least one I really, really like so much that I want to keep eating it - and making it.

I've been playing around with high hydration percentages, in the 90 to 100 percent range. I finally added stretch and folds, an autolyse phase, and a fridge-to-oven strategy. I also ground the flour in my nice flour mill (thank you German engineering), which lends a nice aromatic - in a good way - to the dough-making process.

A small money wrench in this game of trial and error was that I started playing around with this bread in the high heat of summer, so I was using very little starter, thereby allowing for a long first rise period of fermentation. Making the bread again in the autumn meant that the length of time for fermentation went from long to extremely long.

Dancing allowed in the kitchen
I practically danced this time when I opened the dutch oven and saw a beautiful oven spring and a pretty bread. Success - tasty slices of bread that I ate for breakfast, smeared with butter, this morning.

Now, perhaps, after months away, I will return to the bread forums I used to peruse and participate in. I have gotten so involved in my artwork and studies that bread has taken a back seat. I also feel like I have accomplished much, though not all, of what I set out to learn and do when I picked that high number of 108 and began to make 108 different kinds of bread, arbitrarily determined, of course.

Now for that lovely whole wheat. I will only give the information for the last try of this bread as it was the only satisfactory result achieved.

574g water
41g starter (60 percent hydration)
597g whole wheat flour
12g salt

Make sure to wake up your starter. I forgot the morning before, which meant my starter was not quite ready when I mixed the dough the next morning, probably adding to what ended up being an even longer first rise (more on that to follow).

Ground the whole wheat flour - about 200 grams of whole wheat flour per 1 cup of wheat berries. Good to have a benchmark because I hate milling too much more than I use.

Autolyse - Mixed the flour and water. Slow process because I was listening to an interesting radio program. Covered and left for 30 minutes. Cleaned up kitchen. This also allowed the starter to warm up for a while more.

Mixed dough - Added starter and salt to the autolyse. Mixed well and covered.

Stretch and folds - Did two stretch and folds, one at 40 minutes and the second at another 25 minutes, just before going out to breakfast on Sunday morning (carefully timed before the farmers market and the yoga class - what a stereotype, except I do not wear Birkenstocks or much fleece).

Tick, tock
That fermentation period of the first rise ended up being 21.33 hours, during which time I left the dough in nice warm rooms, followed by leaving it out overnight in a cool kitchen of approximately 68 degrees. That's cool for me. (I'm freezing when it's 65 degrees in the house.) Not a winter kitchen, which stops fermentation, but definitely slowing down the process.

Indeed, before leaving the dough out overnight I had pretty much given up on it. I had no idea it would blossom after several more hours. The dough was exuberant, bubbles practically popping in front of me, on Monday morning. Big smile first thing in the morning when I peeked. Work beckoned, so I put the dough in the fridge. 

15 hours later
After work and after an evening event, a full 15 hours after I put the dough in the fridge, the dough went in the oven. I had actually planned. That morning, I put the dutch oven in the oven and I left a note for someone to preheat the oven at 8 p.m. to 470 degrees. After the one-hour preheat, I threw some rice flour in the hot dutch oven (to prevent the dough from sticking), I shaped the dough, did a cross-slash, and plopped that dough right into the dutch oven. Quickly covered it.

Doing nothing can be the best strategy No stretch and fold. No final rise on the counter. Straight into the oven after shaping. Indeed, this time around the bread turned out so much better than on previous tries when I let the dough sit on the counter (covered, of course) for a rest period and then a final rise of an hour.

Baking took 53 minutes. Lovely oven spring. Wonderful taste the next morning. 

So happy. Time to order more wheat berries and this is definitely a bread to add to the basic repertoire.