Monday, June 28, 2010

#39: Vienna Bread

The Vienna bread recipe is an enriched bread, calling for one egg.  The recipe was simple and I decided to take the easy route and sprinkle cornmeal on top instead of the Dutch Crunch topping that Peter suggests. The bread (like many of the recipes in Peter's book) uses indirect fermentation in the form of an overnight pre-fermented dough.  As with the Tuscan bread loaves, I used a serrated knife for scoring the bread and I think the knife did a pretty good job.

The kids enjoyed this bread especially when compared with the relatively bland Tuscan bread.  However they still wanted a little butter and jam to go along with it.

#38: Tuscan Bread

Making the Tuscan bread recipe proved a little tricky, mostly because of the moisture content.  The recipe calls for an overnight mash made by pouring boiled water into the flour.  The mash went well but building the final dough was a little tricky because I found the dough was constantly too sticky and required more flour.  I added at least an additional cup of flour--possibly more--before I was satisfied with the dough consistency.

The bread baked beautifully and I'm really proud of the scoring job.  I've had frustrations using the lame that I got a while back because it creates tucks that then bake into hard, pointed edges that tear the bags that I use.  However this time I just grabbed a serrated bread knife and dragged it quickly across the surface of the loaves and I'm very pleased with the outcome.

As Peter warns, this bread tastes a little bland due to no added salt.  However we spiced it up with a little butter and jam and it was passable.  Excellent bread for a low sodium diet.

Monday, June 7, 2010

#7: Ciabatta, Poolish Version

This is my second time with this recipe.  My first attempt wasn't as successful mostly because I was still learning the stretch-and-fold technique.  Now that I've practiced the technique a couple times, I had much more success the second go-a-round.

Ciabatta is a lean bread, consisting only of bread flour, salt, yeast and water.  Peter's technique is to mix a part of the bread the day before, let it ferment on the counter for a few hours, and then retard it in the refrigerator overnight.  I think the overnight retarding gives the bread a delicious flavor that you just don't get from a quick rise dough.

I still don't have a linen baker's couche so I improvised one using some parchment paper and a dish towel which worked well enough.  We quickly wolfed down two of the loaves with some homemade pasta.  I took the remaining loaf with me to work today to share with my team.

#12: English Muffins

Frankly I was about as excited to make English muffins as I was to make cornbread.  In my mind these little breakfast muffins barely deserve the butter and jam spread on them let alone the "pastry" label.

However, I now see that my opinion was all about store-bought English muffins.  Peter's recipe is surprisingly simple and the muffins have a pleasant texture vastly superior to commercial muffins.  My only complaint was that Peter's recipe makes only six muffins, hardly worth the effort.  From the onset I decided to double Peter's recipe and I was greatly pleased with the outcome.

Here's the recipe:

20ounces bread flour
.50ounce granulated sugar
.40ounce salt
.30ounce active dry yeast
1ounce shortening
16ounces milk, room temperature

Combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast.  Add shortening and milk and mix until it forms a ball.  Knead dough in mixer for 8 minutes (10 if by hand), adjusting with additional flour as necessary.  Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover.  Let sit for 1 to 1.5 hours.  Divide into 12 pieces and shape into balls.  Place on a greased pan with several inches inbetween and let rise for 1 to 1.5 hours until doubled in size.

Heat a griddle to 350F and the oven to 350F.  I found it easier to do the muffins in two shifts.  Gently place balls on griddle for 5-8 minutes. The balls will naturally flatten.  Gently flip and fry on other side for another 5-8 minutes.  Immediately place on a pan in the hot oven for another 8 minutes to bake.  While the first batch is baking, start the next batch on the griddle.  Let muffins cool for 1/2 hour and enjoy with butter and honey or whatever spreads you like.  Yum!

Now go and try the recipe and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

#22: Pain de Campagne

If you want fun shapes, Pain de Campagne is the dough to work with.  I've made this bread three times now and each time I've enjoyed working with it.  The first time I made a variety of shapes: a couronne bordelaise, a casquette, and an epi.  The second go around I made several epi loaves for a party we attended because they make delicious rolls and look beautiful.  This past weekend I made individual torpedo rolls onto which we scooped heaps of slow-BBQ'd beef.

#23: Pane Siciliano

This bread was a three-day process, even though I didn't notice that fact until day 2.  Luckily I had Memorial Day to finish the baking.  Day 1 was the pre-ferment which retarded in the refrigerator overnight.  Day 2 involved making the final dough, fermenting for two hours, shaping into S-shaped loaves and then retarding them in the refrigerator overnight to slowly proof them.  Day 3 was baking day.

The dough was delightfully soft and easy to work with and the semolina flour gave the bread a delightful taste that was similar to an enriched bread.  However that could just be the honey and olive oil coming through.  I topped with flax seed instead of sesame seeds because that's what I had on hand and would have had better success sprinkling them on during day 2 instead of just prior to baking.  The seeds didn't attach to the loaves very well.  I made three loaves per the recipe but next time I think I'll try more loaves, like around 6.  My three loaves expanded till they touched during baking and slightly spoiled the beautiful S-curve of the loaves.

This bread is definitely a keeper.