Monday, February 1, 2016

Bread with Biga (BBD #79)

The 2016 edition of Bread Baking Day is underway!    Founder, Zorra, challenged us to bake a bread using biga.  I chose a recipe from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, a whole wheat pizza dough.  

Biga (on the left) and Soaker (on the right):

Resting balls of dough:


No difficulties to report, thankfully, although I did have a momentary doubt when making the actual pizza.  The dough is very slack, so I rolled it onto parchment paper, then slid the whole thing into the oven.  The pizza baked up beautifully and tasted delicious, with the crust having that yummy, firm pizza pull.  

Now, I have four more pizzas to make and consume in the next few days. For the first one, I opted for a pizza bianca, using mozzarella, prosciutto, oregano, and spinach.  We'll see what toppings I can devise for the remaining ones.

Be sure and stop by Zorra's website in a few days to see all the biga-based breads.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
(makes enough dough for 5 personal pizzas)

Whole Wheat Soaker
227 g whole wheat flour
4 g  salt  (
½ teaspoon)
198 g. water

Mix everything together in a medium bowl for about 1 minute until flour has absorbed all the water and the dough starts to form a ball. Cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. If you need to hold it longer, it can be refrigerated up to 3 days. 

227 g whole wheat flour
1 g  instant or rapid-rise yeast (
¼ teaspoon)
198 g filtered or spring water, at room temperature

Mix everything in a large bowl until it forms a ball. Using wet hands (it's very sticky), knead in the bowl for 2 minutes until the flour has fully absorbed the water and there are no lumps. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Knead for another minute with wet hands. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Final Dough
1 whole wheat Soaker recipe
1 whole wheat Biga recipe
7 tablespoons whole wheat flour + plus more for rolling/shaping
⅝ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 ¼ teaspoons honey or 1 tablespoon brown or coconut sugar
2  tablespoons olive oil

Make sure to remove the biga (and soaker if it was refrigerated) from the fridge 2 hours before mixing the final dough. Using a metal bench scraper or knife dipped in flour, cut the soaker and biga into 12 chunks each. Toss in flour to keep from sticking back into one blob. Toss chunks into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the 7 tablespoons flour, salt, yeast, honey, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Using the paddle attachment, mix on slow speed to combine all the ingredients. When the dough is combined, knead for 2 minutes with the dough hook on medium-low speed. Add more flour if the dough seems very wet, or a bit more flour if the dough seems too dry - it should be slightly sticky so resist the temptation to add too much.

Continue kneading with the dough hook for another 3-4 minutes. The dough should be soft and "tacky," on the verge of sticky. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon mat, and drizzle the remaining ½ tablespoon oil on the parchment or mat.

Knead the dough for another minute, adding flour (or water) to prevent sticking or if it seems too dry. You know you have developed the gluten sufficiently when it  passes the windowpane test, but it should still be soft and slightly sticky. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces (between 6 ¼ oz. and 6 ¾ oz. each) and form into tight balls. Place on the prepared sheet plan and roll in the olive oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit while you get your pizza stone hot, about 1 hour. If you can't use all the dough at that time, you can refrigerate it, well wrapped to prevent drying out, for up to 24 hours before it must be used*.

Turn on the oven as hot as it will go on bake (usually 500 to 550°F). If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven and let it heat up for an hour. If you don't have a pizza stone, put a flat sheet pan (or an upside down rimmed pan) in the oven for about 10 minutes to get it really hot. Roll out a ball of dough until it is about 12" in diameter. (I rolled it on parchment paper, since it was very soft, then transferred the dough and parchment paper onto the heated stone.  I removed the paper for the last few minutes so the bottom crust could firm up.)  Place on a floured peel or another flat sheet pan. Give it a shake to make sure it isn't sticking. Top with your preferred toppings. Slide the pizza onto the hot sheet pan or stone in the oven. Bake for about 7 minutes. The bottom and edges should be nicely browned. A small bit of char is OK. Remove it with the peel or by sliding it off onto a plate.

Allow pizza to sit for a few minutes before cutting to allow the cheese to set up. Repeat process with the rest of the dough balls. 

*If you have refrigerated the final dough, allow it to warm up for 2 hours before rolling out. When you take it out of the fridge, gently press it down to remove the bubbles that formed in the dough, and cover it with plastic again so it doesn't dry out.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Babes and Boats

2016 has begun with a tasty treat from Babe Aparna -- a Georgian boat-shaped bread called Acharuli/Adjaruli Khachapuri.  It's like a kind of pizza, filled with a mixture of mozzarella and feta cheeses, and topped with sliced fresh tomatoes and a soft-yolked egg.  Yummy!   

There was a brief moment when I thought this bread wouldn't happen, because the dough seemed reluctant to rise.  Maybe the house was too chilly inside.  I had to leave for the afternoon, so, I put the dough in a warmish oven.  Luckily, by the time I returned, the dough had increased in size.  I didn't have time to bake it then, so I placed it in the refrigerator overnight, took it out first thing in the morning, and had a lovely lunch.

The pesky egg tried to jump off the dough, so I made a barricade with the tomatoes, which helped corral it. 

This was a nice opportunity to bake and enjoy a bread from another culture.  Definitely a winner!

Head over to Aparna's website, My Diverse Kitchen, to learn about bread and get the recipe.  If you check in with the other Babes, you will find variations in how each one interpreted the recipe and filling.  To be a Buddy, bake the bread and share your experience with Aparna by the 29th.  The roundup will show up a few days after that. 

The recipe was adapted from this one: 

The Babes are:

Bake My Day - Karen
blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth
Bread Experience - Cathy
Feeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle
All Roads Lead to the Kitchen - Heather
Judy's Gross Eats - Judy
Karen's Kitchen Stories - Karen
My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Notitie Van Lien - Lien
Thyme for Cooking - Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)
Life's a Feast - Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies - Natashya
Ilva Beretta Photography - Ilva

Friday, December 18, 2015

Seedy Anadama Bread

At the moment, I'm in a rented house.  While I'm grateful to have a place that welcomes my dog, it's not my house.   More specifically, it's not my kitchen.  The house is over 50 years old, and it still has the original electric wall oven from the '60s.  The oven works, but it's always a challenge to figure out the temperature.  After nearly ruining a number of baked goods, I purchased an oven thermometer, and found the temperature could be as much as 50 degrees off.  I still have to figure out how long to preheat it so the temp can be stabilized.  

So, the Anadama bread is supposed to bake at 375°, but I believe it spent most of the time at 425°, with a finish at 325°.  I'm surprised it turned out as well as it did!   But, one of things I learned in culinary school was that times and temperatures are mere guidelines, and that you, the baker, are the master, and that means paying attention to what's in the oven and adjusting the parameters as necessary.  

That said, this is one delicious bread, especially with the variety of seeds.  Years ago I had made an Anadama bread from my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook.  It was good, too, but this bread has Character.   

During the kneading process, I did have to add some additional flour since the dough was very un-doughy, but that didn't seem to matter.  I also mixed all the non-wet ingredients together first, then added the warm water while the mixer was working.  It's my go-to method, irregardless of the actual instructions.  

Thanks to Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms for giving the Babes an opportunity to make an updated classic.  To be a Buddy, copy the recipe from her website and send your results to her by the 29th.  The roundup will follow soon thereafter.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Pesto Parmesan Chrysanthemum for the Babes

So, there was this rat . . . .      

No.  Wait.  This post is about bread, so the rat will have to wait.

Lovely Babe, Lien, was this month's hostess, challenging the rest of the Babes to bake a filled, Russian Chrysanthemum bread.  The filling was up to us.  Because I didn't want to refrigerate the final bread, I opted for a non-meat filling.  I used pesto and grated Parmesan cheese, and it turned out to be delicious.  The dough, itself, is very nice and satiny.

My only miscalculation was with the baking dish, which is why my bread doesn't look like the original photo.  I started out with a 10-inch pie plate (the size specified in the recipe), but the poor, little petals looked lost in that vast baking dish.  So, I went down a size, using a 9-inch pie plate.  Too late, I realized that I had forgotten about the 'rise'.  The bread was nearly exploding out of the container.  Next time around, I will use the larger dish, and hope that, between the final rise and the bake, the flower will fill the pan.  Still tastes good, even so.

So, for the recipe, and the round-up, head over to Lien's website, Notitie Van Lien, and see all the perfect chrysanthemums from the other Babes.  And, of course, feel free to bake along as a Buddy.  Just send your link to Lien by the 29th.

Perhaps I can use the excuse of being distracted by the rat, which showed up in early November, and stayed about 10 days, until it met its demise.  I'm still a bit wary of going around corners, and leaving any kind of food out was discouraged for awhile, so I didn't get the bread baked until yesterday.  Hopefully, the house will continue to be rat-free.

Thanksgiving wishes to all!

The Babes are:

Bake My Day - Karen
blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth
Bread Experience - Cathy
Feeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle
All Roads Lead to the Kitchen - Heather
Judy's Gross Eats - Judy
Karen's Kitchen Stories - Karen
My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Notitie Van Lien - Lien
Thyme for Cooking - Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)
Life's a Feast - Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies - Natashya
Ilva Beretta Photography - Ilva

Friday, October 16, 2015

World Bread Day: Cheddar Cheese Jalapeno Bread (sort of)

World Bread Day 2015

Trying a new recipe for the first time can occasionally be an exciting proposition.  You hope that it will succeed, and most of the time it does.  But, once in awhile, there is an epic fail.  That's what happened with this bread, a Cheddar Cheese Jalapeno loaf. 

Let's see.  How can I count the ways it failed.

Too much dough for the pan?

(Next time, I would divide the dough in two and put them in 8" x 4" pans.)

Too long of a rising time?

(Next time, I would only let the dough rise for 35-45 minutes.)

Oven temp?

(It's a vintage oven.  I set it at 400 degrees, but, was it really?  Time for an oven thermometer.)

(Top too brown, bottom too pale.)

On the positive side, it really turned out to be a delicious bread -- cheesy with pops of spicy pepper.  Next time?  Yes, I think so.  I'd like to see it actually look like a decent loaf of bread to accompany the tastiness.

Besides, it's educational to see that not all bread recipes work, meaning, don't give up, figure out how to improve it, and try again.

For the final insult, my camera decided not to work, even with freshly charged batteries.  Maybe it's time has come.  So, I used my smartphone.

Happy World Bread Day 2016!

Stop by Zorra's website to see all the different celebratory breads.

Unmodified recipe:  Cheddar Jalapeno Bread

 (The recipe is online, and, actually, mine doesn't look too differently from the official photo.  Maybe I'm too picky.)


Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread

Please excuse me if I don't quite remember all the details for this wonderfully delicious bread.  Knowing that I was about to pack up my kitchen for yet another move, I made this bread (twice) in early September.  I have to say, it was difficult to keep quiet about it all this time -- it is one of my most favorite breads and I so wanted to shout about the experience to the world.  It was all I could do not to eat the whole loaf at once.  And, no, I didn't share.

But, now that I'm back in the 'land of appreciative recipients,' I am planning to bake it again and again and share.

Karen, of Karen's Kitchen Stories, was our hostess this month.  While I had heard of this bread before, I had never made it, so many thanks to Karen for her choice.  It's always good to discover something new, especially when it is scrumptious.

I would highly recommend baking along with the Babes this month -- you would be disappointed to miss this wonderful bread.  Send your posts to Karen by the 29th, the stay tuned for the roundup.

Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread

Tangzhong mixture (makes enough for two loaves)

50 g/1/3 C bread flour
1 C water
  1. Mix the flour and water in a saucepan together until there aren't any lumps.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and registers 149 degrees F or 65 degrees C. If you don't have a thermometer (get one!), look for lines in the mixture made by your spoon as your stir. Remove from the heat immediately.
  3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface of the tangzhong. Let it cool. You can refrigerate it if you want to, or use it immediately once it has cooled. 
  4. Bring it back to room temperature when you are ready to use it. 
This will last a couple of days. If it starts to turn gray, toss it. 

Whole Wheat Tangzhong Bread

Makes one loaf, and is easily doubled

110 grams milk
45 grams whisked eggs (about one large egg)
100 grams Tangzhong
40 g sugar
5 g salt
200 g bread flour
150 g whole wheat flour
6 g instant yeast
40 g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces

  1. Add all of the ingredients except the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. You can also mix by hand or bread machine. 
  2. Mix the ingredients until they form a dough. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Knead until the dough becomes very elastic. More is better. 
  3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. I think you could also do a cold ferment overnight, but I haven't tried it.
  4. Now for the shaping: Divide the dough into 3 or four equal pieces and form each piece into a ball. 
  5. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 10 inch long oval. Fold the oval into thirds, widthwise, like an envelope. Turn the envelope so that the short side is facing you, and roll it into a 10 to 12 inch length. Roll that piece like a cinnamon roll, with the folded sides on the inside, and place the piece in an oiled bread pan, seam side down. Repeat with the other pieces, placing them next to each other. To see a diagram of how to shape the pieces, check out this post
  6. Cover and let rise for about 40 minutes, until about 4/5  the height of the bread pan. 
  7. Bake in a 175 degree C/ 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the loaf from the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. 
The Babes are:

Bake My Day - Karen
blog from OUR kitchen - Elizabeth
Bread Experience - Cathy
Feeding my Enthusiasms - Pat/Elle
girlichef - Heather
Judy's Gross Eats - Judy
Karen's Kitchen Stories - Karen
My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna
My Kitchen In Half Cups - Tanna
Notitie Van Lien - Lien
Thyme for Cooking - Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)
Life's a Feast - Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies - Natashya
Ilva Beretta Food Photography - Ilva

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Babes Bake South of the Border

Several weeks ago, I happened to run across a documentary on the local public broadcasting station that showcased various bakeries around the country.  One of them was a Mexican bakery, and all of their baked goods looked delicious.  Among the items featured were Conchas, sweet rolls with a sugary topping.  Wouldn't you know -- that was what Heather, of Girlichef, chose for our September challenge in honor of Mexican Independence Day! 

The focus for our challenge was on the topping.  How creative could we be?

I slightly adapted a recipe I found, using part whole wheat flour, and coconut sugar for the sweetener.  I also used coconut sugar in the topping, which, along with the cinnamon, turned the yellow color a sort of mustard shade.  Not overly appetizing, but the taste was sure there.  And, the rolls, themselves, were fabulous.  I'd make the rolls again and forget the topping, which may be against the law, but there you go.  

The only down side was, that after the first day, the topping had a tendency to crumble easily and fall off, leaving a bare roll.  I suffered through and ate them anyway.  


Yield: 12 servings


1 package active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
½ cup warm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


½ cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a large bowl stir together yeast and the warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the milk, the 1/3 cup sugar, the melted butter, egg, and salt. Stir in 2 cups of the flour. Gradually stir in another 2 cups flour and the ½ teaspoon cinnamon to make a dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Transfer dough to a large greased bowl; turn to coat surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (1 to 1 ¼ hours).

Meanwhile, for topping, in a medium bowl beat the softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the 2/3 cup sugar, beating until well mixed. Stir in the 1 cup flour, the teaspoons cinnamon, and the vanilla.

Deflate dough. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Divide dough into 12 portions. Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Place balls about 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press down on balls slightly. Divide topping into 12 balls; pat each ball flat. Place one round of topping on each dough ball.
Using a sharp paring knife, cut grooves on a scallop shell. Cover rolls and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 45 minutes). 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake rolls for 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from baking sheets. Cool on wire racks. Serve warm or cool.

Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to bake along and earn your Bread Baking Buddies badge. Make a batch of Conchas in your kitchen, and then email Heather a link to your post by the 29th of the month (

.                       (Unbaked conchas, ready for the oven.)

Note:  my kitchen will be out of order for several weeks while I make another cross-country move.  Back to the land of earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, and wildfires.  Never a dull moment!