Friday, July 25, 2014

Rosemary Breads -- Mine and the Bread Baking Babes

For some reason, July was the month of Rosemary Breads.  

Because I have viable sourdough starter around, I was able to make one of my most favorite breads -- Sourdough Rosemary Raisin Bread.  I haven't made this in several years, so I was really looking forward to the end result.  I was not disappointed!  It's as delicious as I remember it.  Clearly, there will be more loaves in my future, if only to preserve my happy starter.

Cathy, one of the Bread Baking Babes, must have been on the same wavelength, for when this month's challenge bread was unveiled, it turned out to be Panmarino, an Italian rosemary bread.  Well, I just couldn't let that opportunity pass me by, especially comparing two breads.

Panmarino is another tasty bread.  I would probably change the mixing instructions just a bit, for my dough was swimming in olive oil at the end of the process.  The salt level, cause for some concern, was just fine, and not particularly noticeable in the finished product.  Another change would be substituting whole wheat flour for some of the bread flour.  My sourdough version does contain whole wheat flour, and it adds a nice nutty quality to the flavor.

All in all, a successful month for bread baking.

For the Panmarino recipe and links to the Babes and their Buddies, go to Cathy's website and check it all out.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bread Baking Day #69: Local/regional breads

It's been quite awhile since I've posted on my blog.  Truth is, I have been baking bread every month, but for one reason or another, it just wasn't good enough to post or I missed the deadline.

This time, even though I'm currently out of town, in Las Vegas, Nevada, I managed to bake the bread, have it turn out, upload the photos, and have a few spare minutes to write the post.  (I brought the bread with me, too, so I could share it with my family.)

The first decision I had to make was what kind of bread to make.  I live in California.  What bread is associated with this state?  Sourdough.  Specifically San Francisco Sourdough.  Now, I don't live in San Francisco, so my sourdough can't be called official.  I call it Central Coast Sourdough.

The first part of the process was to actually create the starter.  I made two versions, each slightly different, and hoped that one, at least, would be viable.  That process took five days, and the successful starter wasn't the one I expected, but it worked, so that was all that mattered.

For my first bread experiment, I created a white sourdough using both yeast and starter.   It had a mild flavor and a good crumb.

For my second bread experiment, I made a white sourdough using only the starter.  Its flavor was more sour.

For my third bread experiment, I made a whole wheat sourdough using only the starter.  There was a small amount of bread flour added, so it wasn't 100% whole wheat, but it definitely had a sour flavor.

(I will have to add recipes later, since I didn't bring them with me.)

When I return home, I will continue experimenting with my starter and see what tasty things I can make.

This sourdough baking experiment was conducted in honor of Bread Baking Day #69, featuring local or regional breads.  Our host this month is Thomas of Der Gourmet.  He will post the roundup on his website in early July.

Thanks also to Zorra for creating such a delicious event.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bread Baking Day #65: Nibble, nibble, crunch!

Once again it's time to celebrate Bread Baking DayNumber 65 is hosted by Eva of Kochpoetin, who chose a theme of flat, crispy breads (hence the nibble, nibble, crunch).  

I decided to make a type of rye crisp flatbread, based on a recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. The dough is a blend of all-purpose flour and rye flour.  The bread, itself, is rolled out as thin as possible, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt, then baked on a well-heated baking stone.  

According to the recipe, the breads only take 2-5 minutes to bake at 375 degrees F.; however, mine took about 15 minutes at that temperature.  So, I played with the temperature, increasing it to 425 degrees F.  Even at that temperature, the breads took a good 5 minutes to bake.

As the bread cooled down, it became crispier, and was truly a delicious snack, especially spread with whipped cream cheese. 

All the results should be posted on Eva's blog around March 5.  Thanks to Eva for hosting this month, and, of course, to Zorra for creating such a delicious event.

Rye-style dough

1/1/2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 tablespoon granulated yeast
3/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup rye flour
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix dry ingredients in a container with a lid; add the water and stir until blended.  Cover, loosely, and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

About 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven with baking stone to 375 degrees F. Using about a 1/2-pound piece of dough, cut it into several small pieces and roll them until they are paper-thin.  Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with Kosher salt, prick the surface with a fork, and slide the pieces directly onto the heated baking stone.  Bake until brown and crisp.  Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Bread Baking Day #64: More proteins in your bread!

2014 begins with the addition of more protein to our baked bread, which is always a good thing and a healthy way to begin the year.   Our hostess this month is Ninive of Ninivepisces -- she wanted to get the year off to a nutritious start with Bread Baking Day #64

Once again I headed to one of my favorite cookbooks, Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.  I chose Olive Spelt Bread as my challenge bread, because it uses spelt flour and yogurt.   

It only took me four tries to find the spelt flour.  Whole Foods came through this time, although I was surprised they only carried one brand.  But, that's all I needed.

The process is easy -- combine all the ingredients in a container, let the dough rise, refrigerate for a day, then pull off a hunk of dough, let it rest for 90 minutes, then bake in a high-temperature, steam-filled oven for 35 minutes.   The spelt gives the bread a nutty flavor and the yogurt adds moisture along with extra minerals and proteins.

Thanks to Ninive for suggesting this challenge and to Zorra for creating this event.  Be sure to check out all the submissions in a few days.

Olive Spelt Bread

2 cups spelt flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon granulated yeast
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/8 cup vital wheat gluten
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.  Combine the wet ingredients and stir them into the dry ingredients.  Cover dough and allow to rest at room temperature for about two hours, until it rises and collapses.  Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.  

On baking day, divide the dough in half, dust the surface with flour, and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, giving it a quarter turn each time.

Place the loaf on a piece of parchment and allow it to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for about 90 minutes.  

Thirty minutes before baking time, place a baking stone in the middle of the oven and an empty metal pan under the rack and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  

Just before baking, dust the top of the loaf with flour and slash the top.  Slide onto the hot stone and pour 1 cup of hot water into the metal pan.  Bake for 35 minutes or until brown and firm.  To brown the bottom, remove the parchment paper two-thirds of the way through the baking time.  Remove loaf from oven, place on wire rack, and let cool.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five-minute Chocolate Prune Bread (with nuts)

This month, the Bread Baking Babes, specifically Jamie of Life’s a Feast, challenged us to make a different kind of bread.  It called my name for three reasons.

It's bread.

It's chocolate.

It's from one of my favorite bread baking books, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (revised & updated edition), by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.  I must confess that I'm somewhat biased regarding this book -- I created the index.  (I also worked on their previous two publications.)   Try to imagine having a preview peek at dozens of delicious bread recipes!  For a long-time bread baker, that is just heaven.  

So, of course, I had to rise up to the challenge.  (ha ha, rise up. . . .)

Except that the dough didn't.   Rise, that is.   The first proofing took a long time, nearly three times as long as normal, but it did rise.  The next day, when I prepared to form the loaf, the dough just had a weird texture.  I basically pounded the pieces together.  The outlook was poor.

Next, I put the loaf into a proofing oven.  Two hours later, it hadn't budged a bit.  But, ever the trooper until the end, I decided to bake it anyway.  I was totally shocked that the bread actually turned out fine -- three cheers for oven spring!!  The finished bread smelled heavenly and tasted the same.

I'd highly recommend giving this bread a try, whether you stick with prunes (ha ha, stick . . .) or live dangerously by adding nuts or dried cherries.

For the recipe, buy the book (you won't regret it) or stop by one of the Babes blogs for details and commentary.  

(I really shouldn't write posts late at night.)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BDD #63 - Topfbrot/Bread in a Pot -- An Experiment

It's a puzzle whether this event is the last one of 2013 or the first one of 2014.  Perhaps it's a bit of both.

Sandra of From Snuggs Kitchen invited us to bake a bread in a pot for the 63rd Bread Baking Day challenge.   This was a challenge featuring technique.

So, this was how I spent my Christmas day.  

I decided to experiment with my dough, baking half of it in the slow cooker, and the remaining half in a very hot pot in the oven.  My dough was a basic whole wheat dough, prepared several days before Christmas and refrigerated.  The shaping, clearly, was simple.

The slow cooker bread took about 2 hours to bake, and it was a bit flatter.  I placed it under the broiler briefly to darken the crust.

The oven-baked bread looked more like a traditional boule, with a nice crust.  Total bake time after oven heating was only 35 minutes.  It definitely had more 'spring' to it.

Inner textures for both were ok, not too dense, but not open either.   Flavors were equal. If I were to choose this method again, I would opt for the very hot pot in the oven.  I can envision another bake-off between the "hot pot" method and the traditional baking method to see if the textures vary at all.

 Thanks to Sandra for this challenge, and to Zorra for such a fun event.  Keep an eye out for the Roundup in the next few days.

New Year wishes to everyone.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

World Bread Day 2013

There's been a dry spell around here of late, both in the baking department and the weather department.  But, finally, the kitchen has come to life, just in time for World Bread Day (today!).  

Once again, Zorra is our hostess for this year's event.  You'll be able to look at the roundup on her website in a few days.

Recently, I had run across a recipe that was calling my name -- soft pretzels.  So, that is what I decided to bake for this special day.   October and pretzels go well together, right?

Pretzels aren't difficult, but there are multiple steps, so organization is very important.  While the dough was rising, I prepared the baking sheets, the water bath, and the timer.  As a result, the whole process went smoothly, and I ended up with 12 delicious pretzels -- brown on the outside, soft on the inside.

Soft pretzels are a delicious way to celebrate World Bread Day in October.  (Especially with some mustard and a cold beer!)

(I've included the link to the recipe.  Just a cautionary note, though:  there are two negative reviews for this recipe.  Since I followed the recipe to the letter and had no issues, I can only conclude that the reviewers were not experienced bread bakers and/or suffered from user and equipment malfunctions.  Try this recipe for yourself, or, if you have a tried-and-true one already, use that one.)