My version of a Baguette Boule

I discovered this great web site: Weekend Bakery that has some wonderful recipes and tips.  So I thought this week I’d try the above bread.

I started with a poolish:

  • 380 g bread flour
  • 304 g room temp water
  • 3 g active dry yeast

I let the poolish sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then transferred it to the refrigerator for ~13 hours.  The poolish had more than doubled in size overnight.

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Poolish after overnight in fridge

I added the poolish to:

  • 380 g bread flour
  • 266 g water (room temp)
  • 12 g salt
  • 1/4 tsp (~1.5 g) sea salt

I used the 1/4 tsp because my scale doesn’t measure half gram increments so I looked up a conversion.  I know it isn’t exact but neither is baking.  One thing I will need to slowly learn is how to make adjustments to the dough due to weather.  The time of year, temperature, humidity all affect a recipe.  I let the dough rest for 10 minutes covered.

I dumped the dough out onto a floured surface and performed a stretch and fold (envelope style – pulled and stretched dough from east side and folded it 1/3 of way over to west side, pulled from west to east, then north to south and south to north).  I continued repeating this process for 2 minutes then put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl for 45 minutes.

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I repeated the stretch and fold (2 times instead of for 2 minutes) and could tell the dough was really coming together already.

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Coming together

The next 3 stretch and folds would be separated by 45 minutes with just one stretch and fold each time.

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Puffed up and formed

Then I bench rested the dough for 10 minutes.

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After bench rest

I divided the dough into 2 and shaped it (following the technique of folding the dough over, sealing the seams and then doing a tension pull).  There were a large amounts of gas bubbles in the dough and I know that this isn’t good for bread so I ended up popping the large bubbles as best I could.  Since I have not yet invested in bannetons, I lined some bowls with lint-free floured cloths.  I decided to try 2 different methods of baking — with dutch oven and on a pizza stone.  Since I couldn’t bake them side by side, I put one of the boules into a fridge.  While I was doing all this bread prepping, I also had to replace a PVC line running to the raised vegetable gardens.  This required me to take a few trips to home depot (since of course you can’t just go once).  The problem was that I started the pre-heat later than i would have liked for the proper proofing.  The oven was preheated at 455 F wtih the dutch oven.  I lucked out and the proofing was just about right for the bread to go in.  I don’t have a super sharp knife so when I went to score it, I messed up the top of the boule a little.

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I baked the 1st boule for 10 minutes in the covered dutch oven, then removed the lid and baked for another 35 minutes (internal temp around 200 F at the end).

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Cooked in dutch oven

About 15 minutes prior to the first boule finishing, I removed the other boule from the fridge.  I placed this one on a semolina lined pizza peel and slid it onto my baking steel .  I previously had used a pizza stone but it broke within the first few uses so I figured I’d try something a bit more hardier.  And it has produced some wonderful pizzas on it.  This second boule I baked at 455 F for 45 minutes.

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Cooked on pizza stone

The second boule had a much better oven spring compared to the first.  The first boule kind of spread out more.  The one other difference between the two is that I proofed the first boule with the seam side up and the second boule with the seam side down.  So I’m not sure if the better oven spring was due to how I handled the boules or if it was the cooking methods – in a dutch oven or on a pizza stone.

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2nd boule much taller than 1st

The wife said the crumb looked like professional bread. 🙂

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Crumb of 1st boule

After cutting into the 2nd boule I realized why it was so tall.  I didn’t de-gas it enough and the air holes were giant.

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2nd boule crumb

Definitely need to make sure I de-gas and form it better.

Now to figure out what to do with all this bread!

-StewsCat

 

Enriched white bread

So after my last less than stellar bread, I decided to go back to the Richard Bertinet formula and not try too many things at once (poolish, autolyse, new kneading/shaping/forming techniques).  I did want to do an enriched bread though since I know it can last longer before going stale.  Since we haven’t been buying bread for a long time now (I’ve been making tortillas for wraps the last 1.5 years), I figured I could try to make a white sandwich type bread for the week.

I went back to a formula that worked except I substituted some whole milk for water.

Recipe:

  • 500 g bread flour
  • 350 warm (110 F) whole milk
  • 10 g sea salt
  • 3 g active dry yeast

I mixed all the ingredients and let it autolyse for 30 minutes.  I pulled the dough out of my metal bowl and realized that the dough was a lot more firm/set than anticipated.  I thought it would be much more sticky and wet.  I read up and realized that when you use milk, the milk proteins require that you use more milk instead of water or add in some water in addition to the milk.  Chemistry fail!  Anyway, I still kneaded the dough (though didn’t have to use the slap and fold method) for about 30 minutes and set it back in the bowl.

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Before bulk ferment

I then let the dough bulk ferment for about 1 hour and 10 minutes at room temperature

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After bulk ferment (doubled in size)

I removed the dough onto a lightly floured surface and then did an envelope fold.  I shaped the dough into a log and placed it into the bread pan to proof.

I lightly dusted the top of the bread as well as a light lint-free towel and draped it over the bread pan.  I admit I was a bit distracted as the wife and I were watching a movie while the bread proofed.  I checked on it regularly, though I accidentally let the bread over-proof and it collapsed on half of it.

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After proofing – overproofed the right side of the loaf

I pre-heated the oven at 375 F (since bread with milk should be baked at lower temps than when just with water) and baked the bread at 375 F for 10 minutes, then dropped the temperature to 350 F for another 30 minutes (internal bread temp was around 200).

Overall the bread came out decently though it was drier than I would have liked.  This makes sense given that I had less moisture in the bread than I wanted.  Overall it worked as a decent sandwich bread for the work week.  This time the wife approved and has been eating the bread.

The crumb was tighter but this is great for sandwich bread.

Next up is a baguette boule (found from Weekend Bakery)

-StewsCat

Overexuberant yeast

This week’s bread baking session did not go as planned and resulted in a not so great product.  I’ll still eat it because that’s just me but the wife already has given it a big thumbs down.

I started things off by creating a poolish or preferment.  Essentially you mix a small amount of water, flour and yeast and let that sit overnight.  This is then added into the final mixture the next day.  A preferment is used to create more complex flavors in the final bread product.

I have been looking at various techniques for folding dough as well as for the final shaping process.  What I’ve been having a tough time with is getting that nice shaped loaf at the end.  Sure the bread tastes good, but I’d like it to also look the part.  So I’ve been doing more online research (reading as well as watching various videos).  I found what I thought might be a good template (here).  I did take away some good information from the video.

I think it all went wrong right from the start.  I had written down my recipe/measurements.  Though on the fly I decided to change it and along the way my math went a bit haywire.  I remembered to subtract the amount of flour in the poolish (100g) from the total (500g), but forgot to subtract the water (100g) from the poolish from the total water (350g).  Therefore I ended up with close to 100% hydration bread (500g flour – 450 g water).

I also added in a 30 minute autolyse to this recipe, which was new compared to the last one.  Autolyse is supposed to allow the flour to absorb the water better and actually start the gluten formation process with no kneading.

After the autolyse, I realized that I had a very very wet dough.  As I started my slap and fold, I realized my mistake and thought I’d be able to correct it by adding in the additional flour needed to create a ~70% hydration dough.  I also had forgotten to add the salt so that was added in as well.  After adding in additional flour (~150 g) and salt (10g), I tried to incorporate it into the wet dough and march on.  Much of the new added flour didn’t actually incorporate into the dough and I ended up removing it from the surface.  The result was a decently stick dough but one I could continue to work.  Another change from last time was that I only did the slap and fold method about 20 minutes.  My previous attempt resulted in me doing the Bertinet slap and fold method for about 60 minutes.  After watching some more videos on various slap and fold techniques, I did my slap/fold kneading technique until I felt I had a fairly cohesive dough that would release from the counter with my dough scraper (looking back I realize that maybe I didn’t do this part long enough).

This is also where I added in the new techniques from the above video.  I put a small amount of flour on the counter, and did the stretch and fold method (pulling and folding in third, then doing the opposite way – like an envelope).  I bench rested it for 10 minutes covered in plastic wrap and repeated the stretch and fold method 3 additional times.  Each time, the dough did seem slightly more formed and cohesive though in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t what it should be.

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Looks okay though you can see the extra gas pockets

At this point there was no turning back so I soldiered on.

After the last stretch and fold, I lightly floured the dough and placed it in a large metal bowl to bulk ferment (rise).  This is supposed to be done until it is 1.5 times its original size (the video says this can be 2 hours).  I think I messed this part up as well because I let it rise past 1.5 times and it probably was as much as 2-2.5 times its original size.  The dough also appeared to have some large gas bubbles and was not as solid as I expected it to be.

Nevertheless, onwards we marched.  I dumped the dough out on a lightly floured surface and did one more stretch/fold.  Then I tried the tension pull, which did help form a nice smooth surface on the top of the dough.  I placed the dough ball into a flour-sack towel lined bowl (having previously dusted the flour-sack towel with flour to prevent sticking) to proof.  The new video said to proof for anywhere from ~2-4 hours or 1.5 times size.  I knew it wouldn’t take that long so I checked it at 1 hour and then 1.5 hours.  It was hard to say if it had grown 1.5 times.  It was definitely overly gassy (large gas pockets all on the surface).  It hadn’t taken that “firm” texture that I expect after a proof.

At this point I had no other choice but to see what would happen.  I pre-heated by enameled dutch oven in a 500F oven.  Carefully, I removed the dutch oven and placed the bread into the dutch oven and tried to score it.  As I tried scoring it with my knife, half of the dough ball deflated.  I gave up, tossed the lid on the put it back into the oven.  After 10 minutes I removed the lid and dropped the temperature to 475 and baked for another 30 minutes.

The end product didn’t come out as I wanted.  The oven spring was not as dramatic as I was hoping, but I knew that would probably be the case given the deflation upon putting the bread in the oven.

I let the bread cool as the wife and I headed out for dinner and drinks with a friend who was in town.  As a late night snack I wanted to cut into the bread to see what I had produced.  I didn’t think the taste was too bad but the wife said that she wasn’t going to eat anymore than she had (a small bite).

The overall crumb structure wasn’t too bad.  There wasn’t as much taste and I wonder if it was because I switched from regular salt to a sea salt and maybe it hadn’t mixed properly (with my mishap of adding the salt in much later than I should have and not incorporating it properly).

Summary of mistakes: improper measurements and trying to salvage by tossing in more flour and salt after the initial dough had autolysed, possibly putting in way too much yeast and letting it bulk rise/proof for too long. Mental corrections noted.

Onto the next one:  enriched white bread with milk instead of water.

-StewsCat

White bread – Richard Bertinet slap/fold

Over this last year when I first started getting into this baking business I was following the recipes based on their volume measurements (cups, Tbsp, tsps).  As I’ve researched and learned more about bread making, I realized that you often need to rely more on weight measurements when putting the ingredients together.

I invested in the Ozeri Digital Kitchen Scale.  This has helped me more accurately measure out ingredients.

This week I went for a basic white bread recipe and used the following recipe:

  • Bread flour 100% (500 g)
  • Water 66% (330 g)
  • Salt 2% (10 g)
  • Yeast 0.36% (1 g)
  • Added more water, suspect ~70% hydration

I followed Richard Bertinet’s slapping and folding method (here) to work the dough after the initial mixing.  I like this method because  you don’t need to use additional flour when kneading the dough and getting it to come together.  The engineer/math side of me says this makes sense because the recipe calls for a certain amount of flour.  If you’re using additional flour when kneading, then this throws off the original recipe.

I wasn’t sure how long I was supposed to do the slap and fold method.  In the video, Richard talks about continuing the slap and fold method until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch.  I think that I went a little overboard on how long I did this for.  I slapped and folded that dough for upwards of 45 minutes.  But here is the result:

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After slapping and folding

Then I let it rise for a little over an hour (the house was in the high 60s, so a little cool).

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After rising

One thing I did for the first time, again after watching Richard’s video above is some simple folding and shaping prior to splitting the dough up into individual pieces.

My goal for this day was to make a loaf using a loaf pan and also possible a boule (round loaf).  Now I wasn’t sure how much dough I needed to fit into the loaf pan that we have (9 x 5).  I looked online and some people were recommending something like 800-1200g.  My dough in total was maybe 700g.  I ended up making a small boule and using about 500g for the loaf pan.

After letting it proof (I think I may not have proofed it long enough), the loaf pan was hardly filled.

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Next time I will have to use the proper amount of dough to fill the pan.  I pre-heated this Lodge enameled cast-iron dutch oven in a 450 degree oven with the lid off.  Pre-heating will help prevent sticking of the bread to the bottom (my mistake the first time using this dutch oven included letting it proof in the dutch oven).

I cooked the bread at 450 F for 10 minutes, removed the lid and lowered the temperature ot 375 and cooked for another 20 minutes.  I did check the bread with my digital thermometer and found it to be around 210 F, which indicates it is finished.  I hope to one day be able to just visualize and feel the bread to know it is finished so I don’t have to put a hole in the bread with the thermometer.  Finished product below:

I was overall happy with the taste of the bread and used the loaf as scarpetta for a chicken masala (sliced the bread and made garlic bread = replacement for garlic naan).  The crumb was a little tight but worked out for the slices that we made from them.

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All in all I was happy with this.  Next up – rustic artisan bread (or that’s the plan at least)

-StewsCat

 

 

2015 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Race Recap

Race Summary:  Well-established race with a long history.  Needed more porta potties a the starting line.  Point-to-point with a challenging somewhat hilly race.  Great spectators and good on-course support.  Standard swag – tech t-shirt and medal.  Fairly spacious and large race expo.

This race holds some sentimentality for me.  I ran my first full distance marathon in 2011 at this race.  After moving away from the San Diego region in 2011, I try to get back to the city regularly as it is one of my favorite places.  Originally my good friend convinced me to sign up and then he ended up not traveling to or running the race.  I wasn’t too upset because, as I just said, it is one of my favorite cities to visit.

As this was my first race since the NVM 2015 disaster and injury, I was definitely not going for a time goal.  I really just wanted to run the entire race without having to walk.  The Expo was unchanged from when I attended 5 years prior.  The SD convention center has been the host of the expo, which is nice because it provides a large open room to hold the many many vendors.  As a Rock’n’Roll race, it is very organized and packet/bib pickup went very smoothly with only a short wait.

For my pre-race dinner, we headed to Buona Forchetta in the South Park neighborhood.  Pretty much every pre-race meal has consisted of a combination of pizza and beer.  For my half marathons, this has resulted in good results overall.  I don’t know how I feel about that combination as a pre-full-marathon race.

Compared to the first time I ran this race and lived in the area, we stayed at a downtown hotel this time.  This allowed me to walk to the starting line on the northwest side of Balboa Park (this is the same starting line as 5 years before).  My major gripe with this race was the lack of enough porta potties.  I arrived well before the half marathon race start so I could use the facilities and be ready.  The porta potties were spread throughout the park in groups of 5-15 in a line.  Since I wasn’t in a terribly huge rush, I jumped in a line that had maybe 20-30 people in front of me.  As I stood there waiting and waiting, I could hear people around me talking about how long they’d been waiting.  A lady came up behind me and asked if she could go in front of me because she was running the full marathon (that started 30 minutes before the half).  I let her go ahead of me and watched her make her way up towards the front.  By the time I was just 5 back the full race had started and I saw many people (in my line and other lines) forgo the porta potty as they needed to get to the starting line.

Rock’n’Roll race starts are all well-organized with lots of corrals.  I found my corral, squeezed in like a sardine and waited for our start.  The half this year runs through various neighborhoods east/northeast of downtown.  I used to hang out in this area with friends and enjoyed running through it to give me a different perspective.  There are tons of good restaurants and bars in this area.  While running through the residential parts, I actually ran directly in front of my friends’s house.   Since I hadn’t been training as well as I should have since the 2015 NVM, I felt very sluggish the first 3-6 miles.  I actually felt nauseous and almost started walking within the first 3 miles.  This is not something I’ve experienced with any other race.  I told myself it was way too early in the race to start walking so I just kept pushing on slowly.

The course has long areas of flatness with a few areas of both decent inclines and declines. The air felt muggy and while I know San Diego isn’t the most humid place, it definitely is a lot more than where I lie and train.  I settled into a routine after about 5 miles and trudged along fairly well.  Around the 9 mile mark when we started back into Balboa Park, I could feel myself slowing down some.   I’ve always prided myself on not walking during (most) races, but I ended up doing some run-walking.  I’ve always liked Rock’n’Roll races because of their regular entertainment throughout the course.  There was a DJ in the last 2 miles of the race that helped push me to finish.

Finish time: 2:16:09

I skipped the post-race celebration (Petco Park) and walked a few miles back to the hotel so we could grab some brunch.  Later that day we met up with a local friend at Bali Hai.  Bali Hai is a San Diego institution and famed tiki bar/Polynesian restaurant.  We enjoyed some tasty cocktails and food there.  It’s a bit out-of-the-way so you really need to know about it to actually visit/find it.  I’m glad that we were able to check it out and the cocktails were tasty.  There’s also a great view from the restaurant.

The next day before driving back up to OC, we checked out the San Diego Zoo.  Prior to this, we figured since it was a Monday morning that maybe we’d get a seat at Hash House.  I’ve been trying to take the wife there for 2 years and we were seated right away.  The food is definitely yummy!  After Hash House, we went to the SD zoo.  This was our 2nd time going and as always it is a wonderful visit.  To round out the SD adventure, on the way back up north, we stopped at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens for some lunch and brews.  If you haven’t heard of it, Stone built this large compound that has the brewery, a restaurant, and a garden area that you can walk with your beers.  It’s truly a lovely place.  The food was also tasty as well.

 

Overall a great trip to one of my favorite cities!

-StewsCat