Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poilane-style miche

Well, here is the long awaited miche from Peter Reinhart's BBA. I think it turned out really good. I was actually very surprised because rarely do my breads look like the breads in cookbooks, but this one actually does.

BTW, has anyone ever tried to put a fully risen loaf this large onto a peel? I was scared that the thing would turn into a pancake, but I just said a little prayer and flopped it on there. It did lose a little bit of its gas, but the oven spring brought it back nicely.

I don't have much time to blog (as most of you do, I also have a real life, job and family), but I just had to get these pics up before I head off to work. I can't wait to try the bread tomorrow...
It smells like nothing I have ever baked before. You can smell the sourdough, wheat and the sweet smell of the crust all mixed into one. My house smells like a French bakery...I think...I don't really know that smell yet...maybe someday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Soudough bread...finally!!

After two weeks, I have finally baked some sourdough loaves! They turned out pretty nice for a first try. I have been struggling with the starter for a while. My first batch even molded and I threw it out. I started back from scratch and it worked perfectly. The recipe that I used is from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.
The taste is different from any other bread that I have baked before. Tangy, yeasty, wheaty and just very good. The crumb is moist and the crust is chewy. I was afraid I over baked them because they registered almost 210F on the thermometer, but they are just perfect.
I have a large pain Poilane rising in the fridge right now also from BBA. More on that later...for now I am just enjoying my new bread. Sourdough may be more time consuming than other breads, but it is definitely worth it.
When I started this sourdough thing, I wondered why people go to such trouble instead of just using commercial yeast...but now I think I am starting to understand. There is something personal about growing your own wild yeast and watching as they slowly form into a crusty loaf. It makes it all worth while.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Multigrain bread extraordinaire

I just love multigrain breads. There's just something about all of those grains melding together into one loaf, but still keeping a little bit of their individuality (is that a word??). I have made many different multigrain loaves, and one of my favorites is Rose Beranbaum's loaf from the Bread Bible. I am always up for a new recipe so I thought I would try Peter Reinhart's multigrain bread extraordinaire from BBA. I did change the grains to Bob's Red Mill 10 grain cereal, because that is my favorite. Same amounts though.

This is the grain soaking overnight in a jar with water (soaker). A soaker is used to help break down the grains before being put into the dough. I guess that makes sense.

The next day the dough was mixed. I didn't have any brown rice cooked so I added left over white rice instead. The dough was very sticky, and I probably added little too much flour (you know that is the hardest thing to resist).

The dough turned out very nice and supple after 10 min in the mixer on medium speed. It even past the dreaded windowpane test for just a second or two. The grains that I used were still very visible in the dough, but that is the way I like it.

The dough registered 79 degrees F, which was within Peter's range. I put it in a greased bowl to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.

Next, I placed the dough in a large loaf pan (BTW, Peter explains how to form most loaves in BBA), brushed the loaf with water and sprinkled with poppy seeds.

I covered the pan with plastic wrap and let it rise until about an inch over the top. Meanwhile I preheated the oven to 350F. The dough doubled in half the time, about 45 minutes, and I baked it on the middle shelf for about 40 minutes until it registered 190F on the thermometer.

This loaf turned out to be very good. Everyone really enjoyed it. Actually I am thinking about making this one of our sandwich loaves for the family. Wouldn't it be nice not to have to buy anymore factory produced, run-of-the-mill, bland bread from the store? I have to go back to the real world now...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cinnamon Buns for Breakfast

I have been looking for a cinnamon roll recipe that suits my fancy for years. One time I made some that were just perfect. Not doughy and soggy like some, but more like a thin bread dough rolled with butter, sugar and cinnamon. They were baked in a small 8x8 square pan, so they didn't spread out, just up. They were very tall and tight, browned to perfection and drizzled with powdered sugar icing and delicious. Just as I have many times before (and since) I lost the was in a bread machine cookbook. You know one of those cheesy made up cookbooks that comes with the 30 dollar bread machines. It is probably buried somewhere in a closet or the dreaded attic, but where ever it is I haven't been able to match that recipe. Maybe if I found the recipe I would realize that it wasn't as good as I remember, but hopefully someday I will either find it or figure out the secret to match it. Until then I keep searching...

I have tried plain bread dough rolled with butter, cinnamon and sugar...too dry and not enough flavor. I want them to rise up through the middle, so that the center is higher than the rest like a mountain or volcano. I have also tried numerous other "recommended" recipes and recipes in various cookbooks, but most of them are the thick gummy sweet dough that reminds me of a honeybun. They always leave me with that yeasty aftertaste, that just doesn't go well with my coffee...

Well the bread machine has long since been given to Goodwill, and I keep searching... Last night I got about 4 hours sleep trying a new recipe, which I have to say is very good, but still not the ultimate cheapo bread machine recipe. It was the recipe from Peter Reinhart's book A Bread Baker's Apprentice on page 143 for cinnamon buns. The word buns lets me know that it is probably not what I am looking for, but I knew the kids would love them...and they did.

First, the shortening (or in my case butter since I was out of shortening) is creamed with sugar and salt. Then the egg is added and mixed in with the butter mixture. Peter adds lemon extract, which I omitted. Next, is the flour, yeast and liquid is added. I used a small amount of whole wheat flour, a cup of AP flour and the rest bread flour (If I had it to do over I would use all bread and whole wheat, because I am looking for a tougher dough). It is then mixed for a few minutes in the stand mixer with the paddle and 10 minutes with the dough hook. (Peter suggests that the dough should pass the windowpane test, but mine never did, probably because of the AP flour making it too tender) The dough is placed in a greased bowl to rise for 2 hours, then rolled out thin into a rectangle. (Mine was bigger than suggested in the book, but I just seemed too small at 14x12 inches) Next, the cinnamon sugar is sprinkled over the dough and it is rolled tight, jellyroll fashion. Then it is cut into large pieces about 1 1/2 to 2" thick, and placed in a 1/2 sheet pan lined with greased parchment. I went to the fridge with them (because of time, 1am now).

I set the alarm for 3AM and went to bed. Once the alarm went off, I stumbled downstairs and pulled the rolls out of the fridge (just in time I might add, because my sour dough starter was about to explode on the counter...but that's another post for another time). Now, I set the alarm for 5:30AM and went back to bed.

Now, the cinnamon buns had risen significantly, and were ready to go into the oven. I preheated the oven to 350 F and popped them in for about 25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

They turned out very nice and smelled delicious...Everybody loved them...except maybe for one guy who's still searching for the perfect cinnamon roll.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Dough is Alive!

We just about always have some sort of dough rising in our house at all times. I am by no means an expert baker, but I do enjoy the smell, feel, sight and thought of fresh bread in the kitchen. I have just started getting very interested in baking bread and have engulfed myself in books, blogs and other websites about bread baking. Right now I have sourdough seed starter, ciabatta rising, and pizza dough in the fridge (All from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice (BBA)). I feel satisfied that I am doing what I do. What I do is get very interested in certain subjects, for short periods of time. (BTW, you can ask my wife,Sandy, about that, because she can probably name at least a hundred different 'interests' I've had over the last 15 years we've been married.) Luckily for her, she has not been one of these short-lived interests (ha, ha). Back to bread baking, I don't think that this will be a short lived interest, but I could be wrong...for now though, I'm just going to enjoy the ride and maybe eat some good bread along the way. Definitely, I will learn some, possibly useless, information in the process.

I have been trying to take some pictures of the different processes that I have been trying for the last few days and taking notes, (which, BTW, I hate to do, because I lose my train of thought, but after years and years of forgetting the perfect recipe for some off the wall dish that I just happened to do very well...I caved and started taking notes.) Oh well, I am going to try to do better on this blog than on the last one that lasted for one entry. Yeah, I started another food blog...we had just gotten back from China (adopting our little girl) and I was very excited about the hot pot and other dishes that we had tried, but I never could get motivated to put any more entries on there. I have many pictures and food stories to share...maybe someday.

Anyway, I am married to my previously mentioned wife Sandy and we have 4 kids and number 5 on the way in October. All of the kids love bread and pizza, so they support my newest hobby.

A couple more thoughts before I go check the ciabatta dough...I really want to try sourdough baking (which from the different blogs and websites I have read is not too easy) and build my own wood fired oven in the back yard. If I can accomplish those two things in the next year, I will be somewhat satisfied about this bread thing...I think.