Saturday, August 28, 2010

#33: Poilane-Style Miche

Since this bread was used in the pose on Peter's book, Rachel suggested I pose as Fumie, Peter's real apprentice in bread baking who graces the cover.  However we don't own any of the garb of a true baker so we improvised. A lot.  But hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? :)

Having failed to get satisfying loft two weeks ago when trying the basic sourdough recipe, I decided to spike the dough with some extra active dry yeast to ensure I got the plump I wanted.  I probably could have eased up on the yeast a bit but I wasn't taking any chances.  However, because the bread uses whole wheat flour exclusively the loaf is very dense and when we broke into it, my kids described the crumb as "chewy."  I baked it per Peter's instructions and Rachel was worried I was burning it because the crust looked so dark but the internal temperature was right at 200F.  However the taste has a definite rye-like, almost acrid taste so I'm thinking the cooking time could be changed.  This was not one of my favorite recipes from Peter's book.

Only ten more breads in the challenge to go, six of which are sourdough based.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yeah!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sourdough waffles with fresh peaches and cream

I've been feeding my sourdough regularly every three days but since I usually only make bread on the weekends, I had to find some way to use the extra starter.  So we've been making sourdough waffles during the week and they are delicious!  Yum!  The recipe we use comes from the following website.  There are also a lot of great sourdough ideas:

Here's a picture of the waffles we had Sunday morning, complete with whipped cream and fresh peaches.  I'm tempted to say "wish you were here" but then there would be less for me :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spiked sour dough

This last weekend I decided to give the basic sourdough another go.  However I was not going to rely on the wild yeast giving me the loft I crave so I decided to "spike" the dough with some active dry yeast.  And indeed, rise it did!  I got a little creative on my slashing and was pleased with the look.  If you look close, you can also see some fun cracks on the bottom of the crust.  This loaf was quickly devoured during dinner and the kids love it.

The only thing I'm a little surprised with is how subtle the sour flavor is.  I've been expecting it to be more sour and I'm tempted to start experimenting to see if I can get more of the acidic flavor to come through.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

#13: Focaccia

This is my second go at this recipe and both times were very successful.  In my first attempt I used a bit of fresh rosemary from the garden and the bread was delicious.  This time I went with a basil-infused olive oil and the results were just as stunning.

The bread has an airy and soft texture which is probably because the copious amounts of olive oil.  I was a little surprised to see the olive oil that I drizzled on the top disappear into the dough.  As a family we went visiting on Saturday evening so I took this bread along for the ride and it was very well received.  Everyone loved this bread.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

#35: Sunflower Seed Rye

I started the Sunflower Seed Rye at the same time as the Basic Sourdough Bread attempt but the outcome was much different.  Although this bread is also a sourdough bread, it called for a little yeast in the final dough, without it would have probably been as dense as the Basic Sourdough Bread.  The bread has a fun texture provided by the sunflower seeds and the rye taste is subtle enough without being overpowering.  I had fun shaping this bread and since I didn't have a French rolling pin to make the creases I improvised using the handle of a wooden spoon and it seemed to work out just fine.

The family gave it high remarks and everyone liked it.

As far as my sourdough starter, I'm starting to wonder if it would have succeeded better if I'd used distilled water instead of water straight from the tap.  While I don't have anything against municipal water, it's possible that the chlorine in the tap water could have stunted the sourdough development a bit.  Guess I'll have to experiment a bit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

#30: Basic Sourdough Bread

After blogging about the first couple days of my sourdough starter, I kinda lost track of time and didn't get around to posting the other days.  Luckily I didn't lose track of my sourdough starter (mostly!) and things progressed right along.

Day 1, Saturday: Nothing exciting; just a quiet mix of rye flour and water.

Day 2, Sunday: Again, not much exciting.  Feed with high-gluten flour and more water.  Starting to see some bubbles and a tiny bit of expansion.

Day 3, Monday: Woke up Monday morning and the culture had overflowed the 1-quart bowl and oozed out on to the counter.  Oops! I quickly moved the seed culture to a new bowl and then fed in the evening according to schedule.  Instead of throwing away half, I start a second batch, in case anything goes wrong with the first.

Day 5, Wednesday: Oops!  Forgot to inspect Tuesday night.  Rachel inspects while I'm at work and we decided to hold tight since it hasn't doubled according to the directions.  I hope Sunday night wasn't the doubling we are expecting and that it will rise some more by the time I get home from work.  However the culture rises some but not as much as I'm expecting.  There is also a slight skin to the surface and minuscule mold colonies are visible.  I scoop the top layer off (I needed to toss half any ways), feed, and return the culture to the counter.

Day 6, Thursday: This is the point where I would normally build the barm but it still hasn't got the expansion I want.  I decide to let it sit until Friday.

Day 7, Friday: More bubbles and another slight skin.  No mold in the morning but I again scoop off the top layer and build the barm in the morning.  Rachel slips it into the refrigerator during the day after it ferments for a few hours.

Day 8, Saturday: I take 2 cups from the barm and start two firm starters and return the rest to the fridge.  5 hours of fermentation and the firm starters are slid into the fridge.

Day 9, Sunday: Start the Basic Sourdough Bread dough before church and ferment during church.  I then shape the loaves and set them to proof.  They aren't expanding as much as I want and mostly expanding in the horizontal direction so I reshape the loaves into a makeshift couche made of parchment paper.  We need the bread for dinner so after giving them ample time to rise, I prepare the oven and bake them, hoping that I'll see a little oven-loft.  Alas, the loaves don't rise much in the oven and come out pretty dense.  However none of the three loaves survive dinner so they must not have been that bad.

I wasn't surprised by the ripe smells given off during the first few days but when I smelled the signature sourdough smell in the final days, I was excited for the end.  I think next time I'm going to "spike" the dough with a little instance yeast to ensure the expansion I want and still have the sourdough flavor.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

#40: White Breads

Several years ago, when I first started baking bread for my family, I started with a recipe from the Simple Dollar and I've made this recipe so often that I have the measures memorized. I've made some adjustments such as dry milk instead of wet and reducing the sugar from 1.5 ounces to only 1.  However I've been on the lookout for ways to improve my white bread and I decided that when making Peter's white bread that I would try not one, but all three of Peter's variations and do so all at the same time so I could compare them side-by-side.

So, in addition to making Peter's Multigrain Bread Extraordinare, I also launched three batches of white bread. Wanting to ensure lofty loaves, I multiplied Peter's measures by 1.5 (except the egg) and I was well pleased in the resulting loaves. Having only 4 bread pans on hand, I braided a loaf from both variation 2 and 3.  I sliced up a bunch of pieces so no one could distinguish the breads and then taste tested them on the family.

Variation 1 (2 votes): This variation is probably closest to my existing recipe with the exception that it calls for one egg (my current recipe has none) and melted shortening instead of vegetable oil.

Variation 2 (2 votes): This was the slowest of the lot, probably because the buttermilk I used was not at room temperature.  There was actually quite a big time gap between when I formed the loaves and when I baked it, mostly to give the loaves more time to get the loft I wanted.  You can see from above that the loaf from this variant was slightly shorter than the other two.

Variation 3 (0 votes): This variation involved a soaker with warm milk. The warmth of the soaker caused this bread to both ferment and proof faster. I actually baked one of the loaves with #1 because it proofed so quickly.

Over all, I was pleased with all of the variations, and I could not distinguish between the three so I abstained from voting.  And although I didn't compare any of them side-by-side with my current recipe, I feel they all had a better crust and crumb.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sour dough starter, day 2

Only 15 recipes to go in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, 9 of which call for sourdough barms.  Last night I started my sourdough starter and tonight when I fed it, everything liked great.  It did have a bit of a sour smell, which is to be expected.  I started with rye flour and I've got plenty of high-gluten flour on hand so helpfully that will keep me avoid the pitfalls of sourdough.  If all goes well, I'll be able to start kicking out the sourdough recipes come this next weekend.

Wish me luck!

#20: Multigrain Bread Extraordinare

Fortunately when I made the Poolish Baguette attempt I saved enough of the sifted wheat bran to use in the Multigrain Bread Extraordinare. However I had not saved the requisite cooked brown rice so I had to make a batch of rice just for this bread (actually Rachel made it; I'm sure the remainder of the rice will be consumed in short order).

The dough was a bit stickier than usual so I probably mixed in another 1/2 cup of flour. All of the bread pans were in use so I decided to make a round hearth loaf and it turned out beautifully. The crumb was soft and my scoring job resulted in an artisan look. As luck would have it, my timing allowed me to get this bread in before my three batches of white, sandwich bread.