Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fasnachtskuchle/Fastnachts/Doughnuts/Fried Doughnuts for Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras

Fried up on Monday, February 20, and Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Whatever you call it, it's a rich bread dough, it's fried, it's sweet.  IT'S A PARTY! 

There are many versions and names of these fried doughnuts and they are all correct.  Depending on your ancestry or geography or morphing of neighborhood cultures all over the USA or in many other countries (Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, etc.) you can find some form of these served up on Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras or Carnival or whatever else it's called: the day before Ash Wednesday. This date changes every year but it's always six weeks before Easter, sometime between February 4th and March 10th.  Growing up, my family per se had no regular tradition for this day, although we had plenty for other Catholic feast days or observances.  I recall on one occasion, though, that my Grandma Pilewski fried up leftover Sweet Bread dough for us.  This was a rare and unbelievable treat: nice warm yeast doughnuts dipped in sugar. 

Years later I had fried up some Sweet Bread dough - must have been for Easter- and my friend Becky happened to taste them.  She said they were just like the fasnacht kuechle that her Mom made for Shrove Tuesday.  That was all the inspiration that I needed to adopt this as a worthy tradition for my family. As I recall, her mom's recipe was similar to our Polish Sweet Bread. 
 Of course, I can't leave well enough alone.  I got to poking around on the internet and was happy to find plenty of references to "Fasnachts" but many of the recipes were from the Pennsylvania Dutch and had potatoes in them.  This site by Susie J had a clear recipe and some history behind it.  The ingredients were the same as Polish Sweet Bread, just in different proportions. I decided to follow her recipe exactly. I made one batch on the Monday before Shrove Tuesday. They turned out tasty, they looked pretty.  I delivered a bag of them to Debbie-My-Egg-Lady for her bread of the week and packed up some for a a few other friends.  However: while Susie J's version tasted good, they were different from what I had been used to. As I continued to taste them, I realized that a certain "yeastiness" was lacking.  I was having some girlfriends over for Fasnachtkuechle and coffee for Shrove Tuesday so I had time to go back to making the Sweet Bread version for them.  I decided it was worth a trip to the bakery to purchase a pound of cake yeast.  I really wanted to determine if the yeast was the big deal.  As it turned out, yes it was!  I played around a bit with the proportions of the ingredients, so I wouldn't follow this recipe for Sweet Bread.  (That will be posted for Easter.)
Ingredients

 1.5 oz cake yeast dissolved in 1/4 c lukewarm water
2 c milk
1/2 c (1/4 #) butter
2/3 c sugar
3 eggs
9 cups or so AP flour
1 T salt
powdered sugar and granulated sugar for dipping

Mixing/Method

Scald the milk; remove from heat (microwave is fine).  Melt the butter in the hot milk and let cool to lukewarm; stir in the sugar and and eggs and the yeast slurry.  Place half the flour and all the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Pour the wet mixture into the flour and salt and beat well.  Continue adding the flour one cup at a time until you have a sticky dough.  Using the dough hook, knead for a few minutes. It will not be as stiff as a regular bread dough.  Cover and let rise until double.  (This is the equivalent of three packets of yeast, so it should rise in an hour.) Cut the dough into two or three pieces and pat them into rounds.  Roll them out on a floured board to about 1/3-1/2 inch thickness.  Using a pizza cutter (a knife drags the dough), cut into squares or rectangles about 2" x 3" or as you prefer.  Cut them all out before frying; place a towel over them until they are ready to go into the frying pan. You don't have to let them rise a second time before cooking, but it's fine if they do rise. (They will puff up pretty nicely once they hit the hot oil). 

Heat about 2" of oil (I used peanut and vegetable oil because that's what I had on hand) in an electric frying pan or dutch oven or even a wok.  It helps to use a thermometer to make sure the oil stays as even a temperature as possible- you want to keep it between 350F and 375F.  If it's too hot the surface will brown too quickly and the inside will still be doughy.  Don't crowd too many in the hot oil at one time.  Turn them over after a minute or two and fry for another minute or so.  Check one to make sure the inside is cooked.  There might be a white "waist" on the doughnuts as they fry- this is normal.  Sometimes they are so puffy they won't stay turned over once the first side is cooked.  I find it helpful to use a wire skimmer or "spider" to handle them.  Cover cookie racks with brown paper or paper towels and place the cooked fasnachts on them to drain. While still warm, dip some into shallow plates of powdered sugar and some into powdered sugar (or to your preference.)  Cinnamon sugar is good too! You can also put a few at a time into brown paper bags with the sugar inside- close the bag and shake carefully until coated.
And an easy way to transport a whole bunch of faschnachts:  cut open three sides of an unopened box of cereal.  Empty into a container of your choice.  You now have a wax-paper lined box for nestling a LOT of faschnachts.  Gently tape the cover down.  You will be SO welcome at the party!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Swope" with PS #9

Baked on February 19

Once in a while it's 4:30 in the afternoon and I decide I want fresh bread for dinner.  On those occasions, there is only one solution: an Irish soda bread.  A few years ago I discovered a delicious version printed on a bag of Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour.  It had the funny title of "Swope Bread" and fit the time frame:  ready-to-eat in under 90 minutes AND I have all the ingredients on hand about 90% of the time.  (The only change I made to the recipe is to use brown sugar instead of white.) The ratio of whole wheat to white flour and a little extra sugar than is usually used in Irish soda breads makes this a little more special. Baking it in a loaf pan also makes it easier to slice. 

It was Sunday; the starter was refreshed and ready.  What to bake?  For fun, I decided to see how the main ingredients for "Swope Bread" would translate to a starter-leavened loaf.

Ingredients

2 c ww flour
1c bread flour
3/4 c low fat buttermilk
1 tsp salt
brown sugar (I think I wanted to use 1/4 c but used 1/2 c by mistake)

*since this was going to be leavened with starter, I omitted the baking soda from the master recipe*

Mixing and Method/Results

Using a stand mixer, combine wet with dry ingredients and add a little extra flour (I used a little extra ww) to make a kneadable dough.  Use the bread hook and knead for about three minutes.  Let rise as usual, shape into one large loaf and bake as you like.  I baked this in one of my fish poachers which I had preheated with the lid at 425F .  It was done in about 30 minutes, but because the dough had so much sugar in it, it was darker on the bottom than I usually like. I should have baked it at about 400F or lower, and maybe left it in about 5 minutes longer.
This yielded about a 2# loaf (I forgot to record the exact weight). I just trimmed off the dark bottom crust.  It was a little too sweet for what I was trying to achieve.  Next time I will only use 1/4 c brown sugar per two cups of ww flour, and I think I'll see what happens if I add 2 tsp soda to this, and maybe some extra buttermilk powder since there is so much water in the starter.  

Still, no one complained, and this loaf went so quickly I only had part of the loaf left to photograph.




Cake Yeast Update & Semolina Sesame Loaves (For Frannie)

Baked on February 17

As I wrote about earlier this month here, I have been tracking the longevity of one pound of cake (or "fresh") yeast that I purchased before Christmas.  My plan had been to bake comparison loaves of Italian semolina (one with cake yeast and one with dried) as a way to discover if there was any discernible difference in taste, texture, or anything else.  Since this is a very basic loaf, I figured this would be a good way as any to perform this test.

My stash of cake yeast was dwindling and it was closing in on two months since purchase. For the last three or four weeks I had been adding a pinch of sugar to the slurry of yeast and warm water just to make sure that it was still viable.  I had never stored cake yeast in the refrigerator this long, and to my surprise, it still smelled pretty fresh. (Cake yeast gone bad smells REALLY BAD.) Well, I had waited one week too long!  The yeast didn't bubble up. Cake yeast funeral took place in my compost heap, where it is supposed to give a good microbiotic boost to the friendly organisms doing their thing out back.

So, there was no no bake-off.  I still made two loaves with dried yeast, but as this is a very basic bread that I make often, I'll be brief.  This is my friend Frannie's favorite, so she got the extra loaf.

Ingredients

2 c. semolina flour (coarser grind, recommended for pasta) 
2 c. bread flour
1 3/4 c warm water
1 T barley malt (syrup, NOT non-diastatic barley malt)
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix a soft dough using your favorite bread-baking method.  For this bread, I make sure I knead using the dough hook for a good five minutes. It is a rather wet dough.

Mixing and Method
Mix, knead, rise, deflate, shape.  Set two lidded baking pots of choice in a cold oven and preheat to 450F for 30 minutes. Carefully tip risen loaves into the hot pans, slash, spritz with water, and sprinkle with white sesame seeds.  Cover with the hot lids and bake for 25-30 minutes.  (I always check the temperature of a loaf after 25 minutes. If it is not yet over 200F, I set the uncovered pan back in the oven for another five minutes and check again.

Results

I did not record the weight of these loaves, but they were probably 1# 8 oz, maybe more, since they had filled out the pans pretty well.  Great, crispy crust with the sesame seeds adding a flavorful crunch.  These loaves went FAST!  Frannie was happy. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Triple-Olive Bread (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady # 6, 2012)

I found some leftover olive brine that I had frozen.  Time for an olive loaf!

Ingredients

4 c. bread flour
1 1/2 c. rye flour (Hodgson Mills is what I had on hand)
1 1/4 c. warmed olive brine - the juice leftover from a jar of some kind of green olives
about 2 oz cake yeast dissolved in 1/4 c. warm water
4 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz. of kalamata olives, chopped

 Mixing and Method

Mix all but the olives using your favorite bread baking method to make a firm dough. Add the chopped olives during the kneading so they are well-distributed, adding a little flour if necessary. It might be necessary also to taste for salt, as the amount might need to be adjusted depending on the strength of the brine. Let rise in an oiled, lidded tub until doubled. My dough was a purplish-grey due to to the color of the olives.  Divide and shape into 2 oval loaves. (These were set to proof in my oval baskets lined with floured linen towels and covered with same.)
Preheat two small roasting pans with their lids in a 450F oven as loaves rise for 30 minutes.  Slash and carefully place in hot roasters; cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Results
Yield: 3# of dough which I divided into one loaf weighing 1# 12 oz and the other at 1# 4 oz.  (I always like to bake Debbie a loaf that is at least 1 3/4#, so she always gets the bigger loaf.  Also, if I am experimenting, which I was with this, I like to taste the results, even if it means baking up a 3oz roll to do so.)
The loaf looked very nice; texture, crust, etc., were fine.  However, perhaps it was this particular choice of olives, but I wasn't crazy about the overall flavor.  I can't put my finger on it, but this is not a bread that would work for a good piece of toast for breakfast, and it's as though it has too much flavor and so competes with sandwich fillings.  I think it is best put to use with a schmear of cream cheese on it, but otherwise, I am not likely to repeat this one as listed here.  I think I will keep the olive brine for adding interest to rye or pumpernickel loaves and skip the olives. I still might try a loaf using oil cured olives at some point, since they are more like olive raisins and would add a different note than the Kalamata.  Maybe that will be my next variation. 




Sunday, February 26, 2012

Overnight Baguette Twins PS #8

Started on February 12 and baked on the 13th.

I wanted to work on achieving a nice, skinny, baguette-style loaf.  I had refreshed Pete's Starter and had about 1# of it recipe-ready by Sunday evening.  I decided to go basic: add enough flour, water, and salt; knead and let rise overnight in an oiled, covered tub.

Details

1# refreshed starter (this was more on the "wet" side than on the firm side)
about 2 1/2 c. bread flour
about 1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp salt

Done.  By the morning, the dough had risen mightily.  I divided it in half and shaped it into long, thin  baguettes. Somewhere along the line I had acquired a double French bread pan- about 18" long and holding two loaves in the "troughs".  It's not bad, but I still prefer using my lidded fish poachers for baking long loaves.  So I decided I'd use the French bread pan for the final proofing of the shaped loaves, as I didn't have baskets long enough to do the job properly.  I draped the bread pan with a floured towel, nestled a loaf on each side, and covered them with the towel overhang.  In the meantime, I preheated the fish poacher with lid as usual, in a 450F oven for 30 minutes.  Just before going into the oven, I let them rest on the breadboard while I did my last minute prep.

Since the loaves were long and skinny, I decided to place them side by side in the poacher. A bit of crowding should insure that the breads rise UP instead of spreading OUT.    I used a razor to dock the loaves: one with a long slash down the middle and three diagonal slashes on the other. I spritzed them with a little water, covered the pan with its lid, and baked for 25 minutes.  Cover off, baked about another 8 minutes until they tested nicely done at 210F. 

I was very happy with these.  Very!  I had some leftover tossed salad in the fridge along with thinly sliced ham, turkey, and baby Swiss cheese.  I cut about a 5" length and proceeded to fill it with these goodies. Since I rarely eat subs, it was a treat. 
30 oz of of the simplest dough yielded two skinny long loaves: just the right size baguettes for subs or whatever else you have in mind.  The crust was crispy and the crumb, soft and tasty.  Mission accomplished!



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Potato Bread Love (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady #5 2012)

Baked on February 5, 2012

Late afternoon sun on light and airy potato loaves

On one of my used book store forays was a find almost as important to me as Carol Field's The Italian Baker. The first time I saw "Italian Baker" in the title, I couldn't believe that there was a whole book on the subject!  Finding Secrets of A Jewish Baker by George Greenstein gave me the same kind of thrill, as I imagined a book dedicated to recipes for Jewish ryes, pumpernickels, bagels, challah etc.  It does not disappoint, despite the fact that I have not baked many of the recipes.  Some of the rye breads have multiple steps and require rye starters and won't work when I want bread baked in one day.  But it has helped me understand why it's hard to find bread today that matches my memories of the Jewish bakery of my childhood.  (Another story for another time.) 

I had just bought a bag of potatoes and cooked up some gnocchi.  I was thinking about potatoes in bread- how nice it is, and maybe it was time to make some again.  I decided to check some of my bread books and discovered a very straight-forward recipe by Greenstein.  I liked that he uses both the potato and the cooking water.  With some cake yeast still in the fridge, potato bread it would be.

Ingredients

6 c bread flour- more or less, as needed to make a soft dough on the sticky side
1 1/4 oz cake yeast dissolved in 1/4 c warm water
8 oz riced potatoes*
2 c potato water*
1/3 c dry milk powder (instant, non-fat powdered milk)
2 T sugar
2 T soft butter
2 t salt

*Cover 2 medium, whole potatoes, skin on, with at least 3 c. boiling water and cook until tender.  Reserve two cups of the cooking water and cool to lukewarm.  I put each potato, whole, in my ricer; the skin stays inside the ricer and you skip the fussiness of peeling it.  Measure 8 ounces of the riced potatoes.

 Mixing and Method
 I used plain white cooking potatoes.  My guess is a starchy potato, as opposed to a waxy type, works better for this recipe.  Usual stand mixer method for mixing and kneading dough; first rise in lidded plastic tub tripled in volume in 90 minutes.  Divided and shaped into one oval loaf, about 1# 12 oz, and one boule, about 1# 4 oz.  I preheated my medium graniteware lidded roasting pan and the small dutch oven, also lidded, at 425 F while the breads rose in their baskets, wrapped in floured towels.  Again, I forgot to jot some details for this recipe as I was making it.  I think I baked them at 425 F for about 30 minutes, but it might have even been 450 F for 25 minutes with the lids off for an extra five minutes. 

Results

This is a most pleasing "white bread" recipe!  It is very fragrant, has loads of flavor, is moist but not gummy, and excellent for toasting as the week progresses. It has a very nice lightly crisped crust that adds to its appeal.  You could easily used leftover mashed potatoes or rice a leftover baked potato, plus plain water, and get similar results.  I'd say this recipe is a keeper, as I already want to bake it again.

Nearly gone- 24 hours later










PS #7: A Riff On Previous Breads: Using Up Buttermilk, Coffee, and Oats

Baked On February 4 and 5, 2012

I enjoy a whole wheat bread with robust flavor that is also moist and tender.  Adding dairy, especially in one of its cultured forms, usually accomplishes that.  And oats, using ground old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking oats add a bit of sweetness and tenderness, too.  Whatever leftover liquids are sitting in my fridge or freezer also can wind up in my breads.  So, last weekend's breads were inspired by
  1.  two breads I'd made in January (see here and here) and
  2.  some very dark coffee leftover from breakfast
Part of the dilemma is using enough coffee to give it some nice dark undertones without adding noticeable coffee flavor.  My solution was to use all the elements that worked: oatmeal, buttermilk, sour cream, coffee, and a little brown sugar.  I didn't have a lot of time on Saturday to bake, so for the first batch I used some dried yeast and on Sunday I used Pete's starter for the variation.  I will just list one set of ingredients with the quantities for the first ( ) and second  { } variations bracketed.

"Oatmilk" Coffee Bread (Yeast)  and {PS#7 Versions}

Ingredients

ww flour (2 c) {2 c}
ground, rolled oats (1 c) {1 c}
bread flour  (2 1/2 c) {3 1/2 c}
low-fat buttermilk (1 c)  {1 c}
low-fat sour cream (1/4 c) {1/3 c}
very strong, dark, leftover coffee (not powdered or dried) (1 c) {1 c}
brown sugar (1/3 c)  {1/3 c}
salt (2 t) {2 t}
leavening (3 t dried yeast) OR  {16 oz. refreshed starter -see here}

Mixing, Method

For the first batch ( ), I mixed as usual- dry ingredients except sugar combined in my stand mixer, add slightly warmed wet ingredients and brown sugar, mix with flat beater,  knead using dough hook.  My notes are hazy as to the weight of the dough- the yield was one oval loaf and one small boule.  As per my other posts, the dough rose in a lidded plastic tub, then shaped and put to rise a second time in a towel-lined, floured basket. Second rise took about half an hour, while lidded pots preheated in a 425 F oven.  Loaves were tipped into the matching pots- in this case, a small oval roaster and a small dutch oven.  These took 30-33 minutes to bake to "done" temperature, about 200 F, since the oven temp was a little lower than usual.  

Second batch { } was mixed as the first, although starter went in at room temperature.  This batch yielded more, since I was using a pound of starter and one extra cup of flour.  This yielded one 2# 4-oz. long oval loaf (baked in fish poacher) and a 1# 2 oz oval loaf, baked in the little roaster.  I think it rose pretty quickly this time, too- less than five hours for a starter-leavened bread.


Results and Comparison

First batch was delicious- highly flavorful, moist, without a distinct coffee flavor.  One mistake in attempting to duplicate this using the starter was that the proportions were off - the second batch had more water and more white flour without proportionately larger amounts of the other ingredients.  I probably should have used either a smaller amount of starter, or larger amounts of everything but the white flour.  No harm, really, because the second batch was a milder version of the first.  Since it was not as assertive with the flavors, it was better for sandwiches and spreads.  Our neighbor Bob received the oval loaf from the first batch.  We immediately ate the remaining little round.   

As soon as the second batch cooled off completely, I bagged up the smaller oval loaf and froze it.  Last night I pulled the frozen loaf out and let it defrost overnight.  The slice(s) I had for breakfast tasted fresh baked and very flavorful.  So I think this particular combination of ingredients is one to bake again and again.  My dilemma is to figure out what to name it!  














Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Using Up a Pound of Cake Yeast

Cake Yeast?  In 2012?  Who uses this stuff?  The majority of bread cookbooks and recipes call for dried yeast of some kind or another, and much of what I've read seems to suggest that one cannot taste the difference between breads baked with with dried yeast and those baked with cake, or fresh, yeast.  I think there is a difference, but I could just be wishing it were so.

I have puzzled about all the fuss against using cake yeast.  Yes, it is more perishable than dried yeast, but is there any reason aside from convenience that should compel anyone to always choose dried over fresh?   Is so, why do some bakeries (keep reading) sill use fresh yeast by the pound instead of the dried?  

For one thing, when handling a lump of cake yeast,  the feel of this stuff is quite unlike any other cooking ingredient that I can call to mind.  Sort of a plasticity, with a velvety texture that crumbles when pressed.  When absolutely fresh, it has its own version of yeasty sweetness. For another, it holds on stubbornly to its very life.  I have successfully defrosted leftover two-ounce lumps of yeast from frozen and watched it do its magic.  I think the aroma is lessened, but the rising qualities are not lost. So the whole reason for this post is to see just how long cake yeast can be used from time of purchase.

Over the years, I have mostly baked with dried yeast, with occasional forays into using a starter instead of commercial yeast.  Since I bake regularly, it made more sense to buy it large quantities rather than the little packets.  I purchase it by the pound - actually, two one-pound bags -at Sam's Club or Costco, or in bulk quantities from a natural foods store.  Once the vacuum seal on the foil bag is broken, I store the powdery granules in an old coffee can in the freezer.  One pound lasts a long, long time, as I seldom need more than two teaspoons per six cups of flour.  Bread rises fast and well in my kitchen due to frequent baking, so I have used dried yeast that is still viable after two years in the freezer. 
Pilewskie kitchen circa Holy Saturday, 1981
However, I am a slave to the use of cake yeast when baking Polish Sweet Bread, our traditional family recipe passed from Grandpa to Grandma to Dad to the rest of us.*  Come Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) or Christmas Eve, Dad would buy a pound of the stuff for baking dozens of rolls and many loaves of bread.  The house smelled incredible on those special bread-baking days.  Dad never substituted dried yeast for fresh, but at some point or another, I tried.  The dough rose fine, but that fragrance was just missing from the house and the essence of what makes this particular dough special was not there.

Since Dad didn't use a kitchen scale, I am not really sure how he measured it other than by cutting it into eighths to approximate 2 -ounce blocks, which is what I did before getting my own scale. In earlier years, Dad just bought the little foil-wrapped Fleischmann's yeast.  The little squares weighed .6 oz. and the bigger blocks of yeast were 2 oz.  Grandma's notes in her recipe for the Sweet Bread (using 18 cups of flour!) were a bit vague, as she said, "you can always use more yeast" when baking this.  Kind of going by a rule of thumb of "one small cake of yeast for each three cups of flour", her original instructions likely called for two large (2 oz.) cakes of yeast.  Meaning, she probably used more than that.

For years, Dad doubled the recipe, baking with 10# of flour at a time.  At some point, he figured out a way to buy cake yeast in larger quantities, thus, coming home with the one pound block that looked like a pound of butter.  

After I had been baking Sweet Bread on my own for a while, I began to have trouble finding the cake yeast.  Not all supermarkets carried the little fresh yeast cakes, and when I could find them, they often looked questionably past their freshness date.  At some point, Dad shared his secret: go to a doughnut shop or old-fashioned bakery and ask to buy a pound of yeast.  He never told me which bakery he went to in Erie.

Since buying the small cakes from the grocery store could cost up to $4.00 per large batch of bread and rolls, I was compelled to look for the one-pound size.  The small companies are more likely to sell it to you than the franchises.  Our little neighborhood bakery keeps such a tight inventory that I couldn't always count on being able to buy some from them, although they were willing if they had enough on hand.  I finally found a commercial Italian bakery in Columbus, Auddino's, that will sell me a pound of yeast for about $2.00, so I am now buying it there.  

Which finally gets me to the point of this post!  I bought one pound of fresh yeast on December 19 for my Christmas baking.  I have been giving pans of rolls- see the banner photo to this blog- as gifts for many years now, so I bake a few batches before Christmas Eve as well as one on the day.  Since I seldom need even half a pound of yeast for all my holiday baking, I am left with enough cake yeast to fuel many more loaves of bread.  Some years, I would cut it up into small chunks and freeze it. However, the sweet yeasty fragrance seems to be missing when handled this way, even though it is still usually potent.  Left in a lidded container, forgotten in the back of the fridge, the unused cake yeast usually molds over and is- ahem- very stinky and difficult to dispose of properly. (I have read that it's a friend to compost piles, so I have put it out on our pile in the backyard.)
Since late December, in between baking with Pete's Starter,  I have leavened some breads using my leftover pound of yeast in order to see how long it will be viable.  So far, as of February 5, the yeast still lives!  Coming up in the next few days will be the results of Sunday's baking, and my posts for January 8th, January 22nd, January 23rd, January 29th, and January 31st all document success using the cake yeast. 
It has been helpful to bake weekly with the fresh yeast.  I now know that, once mashed into some tepid water and left to sit for a few minutes, the yeast slurry can just be whisked into the rest of of the wet ingredients without any other fuss. However, as the yeast is now over seven weeks old, I am less sure of its viability, so for the last few bakings I add a 1/4 tsp. or so of sugar to the yeast and water mix just to check for viability.  So far, so good.  The diminishing chunks and crumbles of the cake of yeast are in a little plastic tub, tightly lidded.  As the yeast ages, it is losing its sweetish smell, but it is not yet offensive.  The texture is still nice, and there is no mold. 
So, I am planning one more test while I still can with this batch of yeast.  I want to mix up a one-loaf recipe of basic Italian bread (flour, water, yeast, salt) with the cake yeast, and one loaf with dried yeast and bake them side-by-side.  I want to compare rising times and loaf sizes along with taste. At last, maybe my curiosity will be satisfied:  what's "better", fresh or dried yeast? 
Still confused?  For an excellent description of the different types of yeast, read here.

* I'll write more about this later when I bake for Easter. 



Monday, February 6, 2012

PS #6 Wheatena Bread (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady #4 2012)

Baked on January 29, 2012


 Last summer I finally had some beautiful tomatoes ripening in my garden and I began my quest to find the perfect recipe for cracked wheat sandwich bread.  I wanted to make just the right loaf with a soft interior with bits of crunch to act as the background for the simple filling:  a thick slab of perfectly red, vine- ripened tomato, adorned only with a bit of salt and a little butter on the toasted bread.  
I tried using bulgar (a type of cracked wheat) in different variations. But if cooked before mixing into the loaf, the bulgar softened in the baking, and the crunch was gone.  I tried versions with Malt-O-Meal (a whole wheat  cooked cereal) and Ralston hot cereal, but none of them worked out as well as Wheatena.  I found an online recipe here (click on "Old Fashioned Wheatena Bread) and I made it several times with great results. For this riff on the original recipe, I used Pete's Starter instead of yeast and I baked it in lidded pots instead of in 9" x 5" loaf pans.  

Ingredients

2 c. ww flour                                                                 3 3/4 c. bread flour
1 c. wheatena (uncooked)                                             1/3 c half and half
1 2/3 c whole milk                                                        a few T water
1 heaping T honey                                                        2 T brown sugar
2 T butter                                                                      1 T salt
refreshed starter (about 13 oz.)                                     
  
Mixing, Method, etc.

Combined all the dry ingredients but the brown sugar and all but about 1 3/4 c. of the bread flour in the bowl of my big stand mixer.  I warmed the milk briefly, added to it the honey, brown sugar, butter, and mixed well. Then I added the starter to the wet mix and then added all to the dry mix.  Using the flat beater, mixed until well blended then added enough of the extra bread flour to make a slightly sticky dough.  Changed to the dough hook and kneaded for about 4 minutes added a bit of extra flour as needed.  Depending on the moisture of the starter, you might need more flour.

One cup of Wheatena adds a lot of crunch! 



Put the dough into a lightly oiled plastic tub, covered it with the lid and left it to rise.  This was a fairly slow rise- it took over five hours to double.   Shaped the dough into boules and let them rise in towel-lined, floured baskets, covered with the edges of the towels.  Preheated the 4 1/2 qt le crueset dutch oven and the two small (1 1/2 qt.) le creusets at 425 F for 30 minutes.  The risen rounds were gently placed into the hot pots and docked.  The hot lids went back on them and they baked for about 30 minutes, lids off for the last five.

Yield:  one  boule, 2 #, and two boules 1# 2 oz. each.   



Results


The starter works great for leavening a multi-grain style bread.  Even though it took a long time to rise, the flavor was well-developed and the those little bits of crunch added that something extra.  This was a far cry from a heavy whole wheat bread.  I think the original recipe (see link above) has more contrast when using just while flour with the Wheatena, but this version is a great way to enjoy even more whole grain. 








Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Bread (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady #3)

Baked on January 22, 2012

Years ago, a colleague of husband Peter's made a copy of this NYT article for me when she found out that I liked to bake pizza.  She thought I'd be interested in the recipe for the pepper-crust clam pizza that was mentioned there, but it never appealed to me.  I was much more intrigued by the recipe for the chocolate bread, and I happily baked it several times over the years. I wanted to bake another loaf pan bread this week, so I thought this would be a nice surprise for Debbie.  Well, to be honest, I was hankering for a slice of this dark, not-too-sweet bread slathered in sweet butter myself. It is a very interesting recipe.  Unlike a chocolate quick bread, which is heavy with fat and sugar and tastes much more like a dense cake than bread, this bread does not scream "dessert!"  Instead, this yeast-leavened chocolate bread has more in common with challah.

Here is the exact recipe, with my changes noted below.  Debbie reported to me that she was forced to share this loaf with her daughters.

Chocolate Bread with Vanilla Butter (from Jane and Michael Sterns' Square Meals)


Ingredients

 1 c milk                                                                        2 T butter
1/2 c sugar                                                                    1 t vanilla extract
1 pkg dry yeast in 1/4 c warm water w/ 1 T sugar       2 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 c. flour                                                                 2/3 c  sifted Dutch cocoa
coarse suger

Vanilla butter:  cream together 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 T), 3/4 c powdered (confectioners') sugar
Beat in 2 T vanilla.  (Yes, that's TABLESPOONS!) 

               Method, Mixing, etc.
Scald milk, remove from heat, stir in butter, sugar and vanilla.  When lukewarm, stir in yeast and beaten eggs.  Place flour and cocoa in large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir vigorously.  Turn dough out onto a floured board and allow to rest 5 minutes.  Clean and butter bowl.  Knead dough gently 3 to 5 minutes, adding flour if necessary.  Put in buttered bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.  While bread rises, make vanilla butter.  When bread has risen, punch down and knead again, 8 to 10 times.  Shape loaf.  Place in well-greased 9 x 5 loaf pan, cover and let rise 45 minutes. Just before baking, pat the top of the loaf with the coarse sugar, pressing it on gently but firmly.  Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for an hour.  Place a piece of foil over the top of the bread for the last 30 minutes to prevent the crust from burning. Let cool 10 minutes in pan before removing to a rack to cool.

My changes: 
doubled all ingredients for  two loaves
cake yeast instead of dry, using 3/4 oz total
added 1 t of salt to the dry ingredients.   
used turbinado ("raw") sugar to pat on top of the bread

Placed  dry ingredients in the bowl of my stand mixer; dissolved the yeast with a little sugar (2 T) in the water and let it sit for a few minutes.  Combined all the rest of the bread ingredients with the yeast mix and added this to the dry.  Mixed on low for a few minutes, then changed to the dough hook and kneaded it in the machine for 3-4 minutes.  (Held back the last two cups of flour, adding enough until the dough was no longer extremely sticky.)  Kneaded it by hand for about a minute more.  Followed the rest of the recipe as written, although I took the bread out at 55 minutes.  

Other notes:  
You can use rum instead of vanilla in the sweet butter.  Or experiment as you like.  I recall having used Droste Dutch process cocoa in the past as that's what I seemed to have on hand.  However, over the years, the cost of Dutch process cocoa has soared.  Nor can I recall what the differences are between Dutch process cocoa powder and the "regular" type (meaning Hershey's).  I think I remember something about alkalinity.  Frankly, I don't know how much it matters in the end with this recipe.  For this particular batch, I actually had enough of each to go half-and-half. It would be interesting to bake a batch using each type of cocoa side-by-side to see what the difference, if any, is.

No photos, sad to say.  It is the color of dark pumpernickel and has a beautifully high, domed top. And, speaking of pumpernickel, my brother Mark was very disappointed one time when visiting us.  I had offered him a piece of this bread, not thinking anything other than that he would assume it was chocolate and who would turn down a slice of chocolate bread?  He took one bite and was shocked that it wasn't pumpernickel.  Turns out, he'd seen the dark loaf sitting there and was hoping to make a hearty sandwich with ham and cheese and mustard.... That was the only time this bread had not absolutely thrilled someone.  But in retrospect, if you had grown up in Erie, PA as we had, eating the best imaginable rye, pumpernickel, bagels, semi-hard rolls, and challah from long-gone Baker's Bakery, you too would still be looking to find something as good.  But that's another post for another Sunday's baking.








Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bread for The Feast of St. Anthony or Crackling Bread!

Baked on January 19, 2012  (although the Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot is January 17)

One could almost mistake the crackling bits for golden raisins! 


In her wonderful book Celebrating Italy, Carol Field describes a bread made with pork cracklings and a bit of lard in honor of St. Anthony Abbot, a hermit who lived to 105 and died in the fourth century. Earlier in the chapter, she goes into great detail about the ritual hog-butchering done for this feast and all the tasty dishes that are cooked for the occasion in many regions of Italy. 

I loved the idea of this bread, and I tried it twice in the past, with OK results.  My problem has been how to make pork cracklings that don't break your teeth.  I remember Dad cutting off the skin from a picnic ham and rendering it until it was crispy.  However, my attempts to repeat this have been disappointing.  For New Year's pork and sauerkraut dinner this year I had a fresh pork shoulder with a good bit of skin on it.  I cut off the skin with as much of the fat as possible, divided it into strips,  and put them into a cast iron frying pan with water to cover.  I then put it in a low oven for several hours.  (I had read several versions of the "best" way to make cracklings and this one sounded interesting.  Good news is, it worked!)  I chopped up the strips of skin into bits and poured off the rendered fat into a separate container.

I must give total credit to Carol Field for her recipe, which you can find in the link above.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, using Pete's starter, as her recipe calls for both biga, or starter, and yeast.  I even had fresh yeast available this time.  Since cracklings keep for a very long time in the fridge, as does the rendered lard, I had that part already done on New Year's.  

What I did this time was bake the boules in lidded pots as I usually do instead of on a stone.  I used the 1 1 /2 quart le creuset Dutch ovens, preheating them in a 425 F oven, baking the breads (with the lids on) for 20 minutes, then baking them at 400 F for another 15 minutes, then lids off for about another 5.   Since this is an enriched bread, the lower oven temp keeps the bread moist and the crust easy to cut.

This is one tasty bread!  The cracklings were chewable instead of tooth-breaking, and the bread has a rich smoothness to it that is quite different from a buttery bread. You truly do not need any butter on this stuff.  Toasted up, the bread regains its best qualties even after several days. 

I am glad I made it with the cracklings and not with bacon.  I think that the smokiness that is found in bacon can make the bread taste like something else all together.  This bread is more nuanced than I think a "bacon bread" would be. 

Also called "pane con i ciccioli"







PS #5 Italian Durum Semolina

Baked on January 19,  2012


Ingredients

1 1/2 c. very fine durum semolina flour         1 c AP flour
1 c. bread flour                                               10 oz. newly refreshed PS* starter
1 1/2 c. purified water                                    1 T liquid barley malt
1 1/2 t salt

Mixing, Method, etc.

St. Anthony bread, left, and PS 5 loaf, right
I mixed as usual in my stand mixer, kneading  with the dough hook for 4 minutes.  Durum semolina can be a little tricky- it tends to "liquify" after several minutes of kneading and you don't want to add too much extra AP or bread flour.  I was going for a very basic Italian style loaf that was leavened completely by starter.  This bread still took longer than using yeast to rise, but it was ready to punch down after about three hours.  My notes are incomplete- not sure exactly how much the dough weighed, but I shaped it into one boule and one oval loaf.  They proofed in towel lined baskets for about an hour or so. I preheated  the 1 1/2 quart le creuset dutch oven and the small graniteware roaster pan with their lids on for the last 30 minutes in 450 F oven.

I popped the loaves into the hot pans, docked them and spritzed them with water, then  sprinkled them with sesame seeds and put the lids back on. They were done in 25 minutes.  Great oven spring, nice golden crust, crispy with a fine crumb.  

Results

I can say that with this batch of bread, I am finally more confidant about using the starter without a rigid recipe to follow.  I now know that 10 oz. of a newly refreshed batch of starter will make a well-balanced Italian loaf.  (I mention this because the first time I baked an Italian loaf with this starter, I think there was too high a ratio of starter to the rest of the ingredients, and the crumb had a kind of rubberiness to it, for lack of a better description.)  Of all the breads that I bake, I find that I crave a crispy crusted Italian style loaf more than any other.  However,  I think that the coarser semolina flour adds more crunch than this silkier, finer durum semolina. I will have to check that out with the next loaf of Italian.  

I took the oval loaf over to Francesca along with a section of the St. Anthony loaf (crackling bread, pictured above.)  See the next post for more about that bread. 

*PS: Pete's Starter


Monday, January 23, 2012

Coffee Yogurt Bread (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady #2, 2012)

Baked on January 15, 2012

Oh dear- my notes are sketchy on this one, but here goes:

Ingredients

2 c WW flour (Bob's Red Mill)      about 2 c  bread flour
1/2 uncooked fine bulgur               2/3 c leftover very dark, strong coffee
2 T brown sugar                             5/8 oz. cake yeast dissolved in 3 T warm water
1/2 c. plain, lowfat yogurt              1/2 c  Greek style vanilla yogurt
1 T olive oil                                    1 1/2 t salt


Mixing and Method

Standard procedures that I use in my stand mixer.   (Fine bulgur can take being added to dough without soaking or cooking first.  It adds a little crunch. When bulgur is cooked first, it loses this nice crunchy aspect that makes it an interesting addition.)

Dough was a tiny bit sticky but firm.  It took about 90 minutes to double.  Weight: 2# 7 oz.  I shaped it into one oval loaf, 1# 8 oz, and one 15 oz. boule; these were set to rise a second time in my floured-and-towel-lined baskets.  I preheated one "small" roaster (my 13" lidded graniteware ) and a 1 1/2 qt. lidded le creuset pot in a 450 F oven.

Set into the heated pots and docked and misted breads before covering.
Baked at 450 F for 18 minutes and 7 minutes at 425 F.  Bread temperature was 200 F (instant read thermometer).

This was a delicious, highly flavorful, moist loaf.  Nice crumb, even rise.  I'll make this one again. 

No photos of these, but they could be mistaken for a dark rye or pumpernickel.







PS #4 (Pete's Starter) French-Vietnamese Style Baguette (My Banh-Mi #3)


Baked on January 15, 2012

A little history:   I have been enjoying a very particular kind of sandwich: the Vietnamese "Banh Mi", a sub that is greater than the sum of its parts: a baguette - inspired, crispy-crusted toasted hoagie shaped bun filled with a few variations of pork, some pickled vegetables, a savory mayo, some thinly sliced jalepenos, and some cilantro.  Every bite is DELICIOUS, and I am always wondering, "How do they get it to taste SO good?"  The bread is particularly intriguing, and not like anything I have ever seen in a bakery around here.
A web search (surprise!) showed I was not the only one wanting to replicate these rolls.  The best websites that have inspired my two previous experiments to date can be found below:

Banh-Mi Baguettes from Drfugawe

Viet World Kitchen recipe

A Bread a Day Blog

The last link also has great recipes for the sandwich filling components.  I am not sure if I will ever go to the trouble of making them myself, but who knows?  I just bought a couple of them the other day for Peter and me at our favorite little Vietnamese joint,  Mi Li Cafe, Columbus Square shopping Center. (161 & Cleveland Ave., Columbus.)   There seemed to be less filling than what I remembered from previous visits, so I might have to start making the entire sandwich afterall.




 The fun challenge here was to use Pete's Starter and to continue to fiddle with the amount of rice to be incorporated.  The crust was very crispy, although a bit thick on the bottom.  The loaf had a LOT of flavor. I'd like to bake this side- by- side with an Italian loaf that only differs by not having any sugar or rice flour in it, everything else being equal.  That would be the only way to really know if those two ingredients make the difference.  The other thing I need to try is to use all AP flour, since it has a lower protein content than durum semolina.  That was one variable that seemed to be common in the recipes I found online: use a "soft" flour, not a "hard" flour. 

Ingredients

14 oz. Pete's Starter (PS), refreshed overnight      
2 1/2 c. fine durum semolina flour (from Carfagna's)
1/2 c cooked medium grain white rice slurry *     
3 T finest white rice flour  
1 T sugar                                                                
1 1/2 t salt

 Method, Mixing, etc.

I mixed all in my big stand mixer on slowest speed with the bread hook and kneaded it by machine for about 5 minutes.  I let it rise in a plastic proofing container with a lid.  The dough weighed in at 2#  3oz.   It rose nicely in four hours, a soft dough that was easy to handle even though a bit sticky.  I shaped an Italian-style loaf and let it rise in a floured towel-lined basket for about 45 minutes.  30 minutes before baking, I pre-heated the Caphalon fish poacher with lid in a 450F oven.  After using the towel as a sling to slide the bread into the hot pan, I gave it a long slash down the middle and spritzed it with water.  I covered the pan with the heated lid and baked it for 25 minutes, then lid off for five minutes more. 


Lots of oven "spring"- it kind of exploded.  I didn't bother to take the temperature of the finished loaf- it's possible I could have taken it out 5 minutes earlier. My notes said this: "Nice, crispy crust, gorgeous color, soft inside, nice, even crumb, GREAT flavor!"   I also think this is a perfect ratio of starter to flour/slurry. as the texture is not rubbery in the least.  (Which is what I think happens when there is too high a ratio of starter to other ingredients.)

*rice slurry:  I cooked a few tablespoons of leftover cooked medium grain rice in about a cup of water until it made a thickened "slurry" liquid.  I used the stick blender to turn it into a kind of a loose paste. Hard to be exact here; I guess I should be measuring a little more exactly - but the point is, some rice gets incorporated into this recipe in an invisible fashion.  You won't be able to taste it or see any cooked grains. 


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Raisin Cinnamon Poppy Seed Swirl

(Baked on January 12 while husband Peter was recuperating from his cochlear implant.)

This is a sweet -ish loaf, inspired by the last little bit of eggnog left from Christmas.  Eggnog and buttermilk seem to have a much longer life than indicated by the date on the jug- sometimes it's "sell by",  sometimes "use by".  

Bread Dough

5  c. AP flour  - more or less                          1 extra large egg                    
1 c. eggnog (commercial, low fat)                 2 t salt
7/8 oz. cake yeast dissolved  in 1/2 c lukewarm water

 *******
1 c. raisins plumped in 3 T warmed cointreau
*******
Filling

soft butter (several tablespoons)
1/2 c. poppy seeds ground w/ 1/2 c sugar, 2 t cinnamon (used spice -coffee grinder)        

Mixing, etc. 

(For this bread, I used my old Joy of Cooking (1980 or so edition) as a reference  for their cinnamon/raisin bread/coffee cakes master recipes. This was helpful for proportions, suggested baking times and methods, etc. )

I mixed all but the raisins and poppy seed mixture as usual in my stand mixer.  This is a nice, soft dough, not as fancy or rich as other similar doughs used for breakfast-style sweet breads.  I prepared the raisins and poppy seeds during the first rise.  I then punched down the dough and mixed in the raisins for the second rise.  After the second rise I stretched out the dough on the floured counter to about 9" x 14".  I spread a thin schmear of soft butter evenly on the dough, and then sprinkled and spread the poppy seed filling over that, as evenly as possible, almost to the very edges of the dough.  I rolled it up short-wise, forming about a 9" long cylinder.  I tucked and pinched the edges and gently fit it into a well-buttered 9" x 5"  aluminum loaf pan. 

Per Joy of Cooking, I preheated the oven to 450 F and set the loaf to rise with a towel on top.  Since this is a very large loaf, around 2# 5oz or so, the dough was already close to the top of the pan.  It rose well above the top when I put it in to bake, about 45 minutes later.  I did NOT dock or score the top of the loaf.   I baked it at 450 F for 7 minutes, then lowered the oven to 350 F for about 30 minutes. It rose even higher during baking, and when done, I immediately removed it from the pan and let it cool on a rack.

After the bread cooled, I made a glaze of 1/2 c powdered sugar, 2 t hot milk and 1/4 t vanilla extract and drizzled and spread it over the top. 

Results:  the dough rose so high that there was a gap between the filling swirls and the bread.  I suspect this could have been prevented by baking the loaf in a pullman loaf pan with a lid.  The bread was tasty, but a little dry.  Either I let it bake too long, or I should have baked it at 350 F or 325 F for about 35 - 40 minutes.  I did not take the finished temp, so I'll have to check that next time.  Also, the glaze made it difficult to get a handle on the bread properly for slicing.  Not sure how that could have been prevented, unless I just put the regular milk and sugar glaze per Polish Sweet Bread while the bread was still hot from the oven.

The poppy seed filling is very nice- not too sweet, but just enough to be special.  Same with the raisins.  Just a nice touch without being overly anything. It toasted beautifully.

The loaf was too large, IMO, to make it easy to cut.  I should have stopped at about a 1# 8oz loaf.

Now I am curious about the pullman loaf pan. It would be fun to see if a lid would prevent the bread from over-rising and separating.  


It is fun to bake some of these pan loaves for a change.  I have been baking free-formed loaves in lidded pots at high temps for the last 3 or 4 years, almost exclusively, so I was feeling a bit out of practice with lower baking temperatures, open pans, and softer-crusted breads and rolls.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Butterless Buttermilk Dinner Rolls (For Debbie-My-Egg-Lady #1, 2012*)


Ingredients

 7/8 oz fresh cake yeast
2 1/2 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/3 c warm water for yeast
1/2 c sugar
2 t salt
about 6 c. bread flour

Method, Mixing, Etc.

Used my big stand mixer, put in dry ingredients first, adding all the rest, mixed with beater until well blended, then switched to dough hook for kneading about 3-4 more minutes.  I usually knead  by hand for about a minute before putting the dough in a lightly oiled, lidded plastic tub to rise on top of my stove- usually ready to shaping in about an hour if I am using yeast.

Yield: 3# 12 oz dough, or two pans of  seven 4 oz rolls each and one extra roll in a custard cup.  Baked at 325 for 30 minutes.  Just the right amount of time and the lower temp made for light, high, soft rolls.  Buttermilk added loads of flavor without butter or sugar.

No photos of this one; they look like unglazed Polish Sweet Bread rolls.  (See banner photo, above).  The other tip that I used from baking biscuits is that if you pack them in close to one another, the only place they can rise is UP, which they do!

One more tip:  Use 8" aluminum pie pans from the grocery store. (Or in my case, at Marc's they are 6/$1.00!) The pans are sectioned for six rolls around one center roll to make a "daisy" of rolls.  I remove the rolls from the pan immediately in order for them to cool off.  Once they are at room temp, I cover them with a "shower cap" cover or some plastic wrap and then I can easily give them as gifts or freeze in the pans.

*Becky introduced me to her friend Debbie who runs the Art Studio at Columbus Goodwill.  She has chickens- 20 or so- and we arranged a bread-for-eggs exchange through Becky.  So every week, I receive a gorgeous dozen of extra large-to-jumbo size brown, blush, or pale green eggs.  They have bright orange yolks and are quite delicious.  Debbie gets a loaf of home baked bread or rolls from me in return.  She said that she loves to be surprised, so I am happy to accommodate her.  I usually aim for a 1#  10 oz loaf or larger.  A lot of the time it is something that I pull together with odds and ends in the fridge such as leftover potatoes,  bean cooking liquid, yogurt, cottage cheese, juice from olives or pickles, or leftover cooked rice, etc. etc.) I try to keep track of what I bake so that if she ever requests a repeat of something I know which bread she is talking about. 

PS 3 Stout Buttermilk Rye

about 17 oz. starter
2 3/4 c rye flour
12 oz stout (Stockyard Oatmeal Stout, to be exact)
12 oz low fat buttermilk
3 1/2 T potato flour (Bob's Red Mill)
about 4 1/2 c. bread flour
1 T olive oil
1 T mild Brer Rabbit Molasses
3 t salt
3 1/2 T caraway seeds

yield:  4 # 13 oz. dough:  shaped into one 2# 3  oz. long loaf baked in the fish poacher and two boules,  each 1#, 5 oz. and baked in the 1 1/2 quart le creuset pots.

The night before baking I brought the refrigerated starter (PS, Pete's Starter) from my fridge and let it stand on the counter overnight,  It was light and bubbly in the morning.  I mixed per the last time, with 2 c. bread flour and 1 c + 1 T (room temperature, filtered) water.  I measure out 6 oz of this, returned it to the small container, and refrigerated it.  The remaining sludgy mass was left to rise on the counter, shower cap on top of the bowl, until risen and bubbly, about 5 hours or so. Yes, I should pay attention to how long this stuff takes to rise nicely!

Once it was risen and spongy, I put it in my stand mixer bowl with the rye flour.  I warmed the stout in the microwave and added the cold buttermilk to it.  I added the liquid to the mixer bowl and mixed on low until combined.  I then added all the other ingredients plus the two cups of the 4 1/2 C bread flour.  I mixed on low for a few minutes until all was well combined, scraped the insides of the bowl down, and then added most of the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, until I had a soft dough.  I changed to the bread hook and kneaded it for about 3 minutes.  I then dumped it on the counter and the rest of the flour, kneading by hand.  It went into my proofing bowl, covered with the plastic lid, to let rise.


It took about four hours to double.






 I shaped the loaves and let them rest in their baskets for about 1 hour; the last half hour I put the pans and lids in the oven and preheated the oven to 450 F.  Bread was docked and spritzed; covered and put into the oven.

Baked for 25 minutes- temp of baked bread was well over 200 F.  (I use an instant read thermometer in the top middle of the biggest loaf checks to check for doneness at 25 minutes.)

Very nice flavor.  Bread had a dramatic oven rise, so even though loaves were docked, the long loaf was a little ugly- kind of busted up looking.  Good crumb and moist on first and second day.  Better toasted after that.  





Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oatwheat Bread from Pete's Starter (PS #2) January 3, 2012

Ingredients:

17.75 oz of bubbling starter from batch made this morning, stirred down
2 c. whole wheat flour
1.5 c of finely ground old fashioned oats
about 2.5 c bread flour
1.5 c. buttermilk
about .5 c water (filtered)
about 4 T molasses
2 t salt

Method:

Mixed everything in the big stand mixer, adding enough bread flour to make a slightly wet dough.  Weighed a hefty 3.5 #!

Shaped one 2# loaf into "cigar" shape; the other into a 1.5 # boule; put them into their towel-lined, floured baskets, folding the towels on top of the loaves.  Preheated the dark blue roaster (medium size) and the 1 1/2 quart le creuset, both with their lids on, at 450 F for 50 minutes.  Tipped the breads into the pans, docked them with a straight edged razor, covered them, and baked for 30 minutes.  (I took the round loaf's temp at 25 min; not done.  At 30 minutes it was 202 F. ) 

Notes:
 * The starter was nicely doubled in a couple of hours, but I let it go for about 6 hours total.  No tangy smell.
 * Bread dough rose nicely- I let it go for about three hours.  Texture was beautiful.

I had to try it before going to bed (after fiddling with this blog template).  Beautiful crumb- texture was even, well-risen, crust nice and crunchy, tasted of molasses but not overly sweet; just an excellent loaf.  Delicious!!



Application for next loaf:

Pay attention to the ratio of starter to flour for main dough.  Looks like about one pound of starter for roughly 6 c. of flour.  However, maybe I should weigh the flour and try and keep the measurements more consistent.  I am not overly concerned; however, I'd say this ratio was perfect for this particular loaf.