Saturday, July 24, 2010

#15: Italian Bread

The Italian Bread recipe is very similar to the French Bread recipe except it uses a biga instead of a pre-ferment and calls for olive oil and barley malt powder.  The dough is also a little wetter and the final loaf is a little softer in both crust and crumb.  I'm rather proud of the slash-job that I did on the loaf and you can tell how much is spread during baking.

We paired this bread with homemade pasta and the loaves were gone in short order.

Monday, July 19, 2010

#27: Portuguese Sweet Bread

This is my second time making Portuguese Sweet Bread from Peter's book.  The dough has a fun citrus smell caused by the teaspoons of both lemon and orange flavors.  The dough was a pretty sticky affair but I got it whipped into shape by adjusting the flour.  The high sugar content gives the outer crust a dark brown glow but the inner crumb is a tender white heaven, providing a wonderful contrast when sliced.  The bread is good for snacking on or turning into French toast like we did the first time I made it.


Over the weekend I also made three more batches of Poolish Baguettes (nine loaves in total) and they all look beautiful.  Several of them are going to work with me today for a team potluck.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

#16: Kaiser Rolls

'Tis the season to slap some hamburgers on the grill and enjoy the weather.  I'm not sure if Kaiser Rolls are best paired with hamburger patties but they sure tasted great.  As with most of these recipes, the rolls used an overnight pre-dough that is incorporated into the final dough on baking day.

The dough was fun to shape.  Basically the shape is obtained by rolling a piece of dough into a long string and then tying the string into a knot.  The knot is then proofed and it gains the beautiful shape.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

#26: Poolish Baguettes

No, poolish is not a misspelling of Polish.  Instead it's "poolish", as in "made using a poolish."  A "poolish" is a very wet, pancake-batter-consistency pre-dough that ferments for three to four hours before being popped into the refrigerator overnight.  The final dough aslo takes some time, what with a couple two-hour fermentation periods in addition to proofing after shaping.  However, since the dough was raising rapidly in our 85-degree weather, I reduced the fermentation periods a bit.  Bake time is pretty brief, generally taking only 15 minutes which I found I needed to extend to 20, probably since the baking stone wasn't as hot as it should have been.

I decided to go risky by doubling the batch and ended up with six beautiful baguettes, three of which we promptly devoured at dinner along with the delicious BBQ'd pork that Rachel made.  I doubt the other three loaves will live to see another sunset.  The dough called for sifted whole wheat flour and a happy bi-product is a little bit of wheat bran that will go into my attempt on #20, Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire.  Stay tuned.

As with the Pugliese, I used a serrated knife to score the loaves and I'm so pleased with the effect that I think I'm going to permanently shelve the lame until I learn how to use it properly.

Last week I mentioned that I was going to start a sourdough starter, but alas, time got the better of me and I didn't get around to it until Tuesday, at which point I was a day too late to get the starter ready for the following weekend.  I think I'm going to put my sourdough dreams on hold an additional week and take it up at the end of this month.  As with #20, stay tuned.

#29: Pugliese

Just hearing the name of this bread made me excited to bake it.  Pugliese (pronounced "poul yay zay") is an bread with Italian heritage, made using a bigga (a hunk of wetter-than-usual dough started the night before) and incorporates 50% durum flour in the final dough.  The recipe calls for extra fancy durum and although I'm pretty sure my pasta-making durum isn't the same, I'm confident it will taste just as good.  Similar to pain a l’ancienne, the dough is pretty wet and sticky and treated gently during shaping and proofing.  Even though working with wet dough can be a challenge, I really enjoyed making these loaves because they look truly artisanal and--in my ever so humble opinion--rival anything you can find at a farmer's market.

If you want more information about how Pugliese is made, try this link from Joe Pastry.  Just seeing his brick oven triggers oven-envy.  I sooooo want one of those.

Monday, July 5, 2010

#21: Pain à l'Ancienne

Pain à l'Ancienne is probably one of my favorite breads from Peter's book.  The reason it's so enjoyable is because it's relatively little work but tastes really good, especially with a little butter spread on it or dipped in olive oil and basalmic vinegar.  Yumm!

The dough is made the night before baking and immediately put in the refrigerator after kneading it so as to minimize yeast activation prior to retardation.  In addition, the temperature of the water used to hydrate the dough is reduced using ice cubes for a couple minutes prior to mixing.  On baking day, the dough is taken from the fridge and set on the counter for a couple hours before shaping and immediately baking.

The recipe in Peter's book makes 6 loaves and the texture, color, and taste is simply amazing.  The top picture is my first attempt a few months ago and the bottom picture is from my attempt yesterday afternoon.  I let the bread bake a little longer my second go around for a deeper golden crust and YUM! it was good.

This next week I'm looking at starting the sourdough recipes.  Frankly it seems a little intimidating since it comes with a four day feeding schedule followed by two more days to make a loaf of bread.  My biggest concern is that the barm will go moldy before it's ready to go.

Wish me luck!