Bread boules!!

Bread boules!!

A few weeks ago I decided to make some bread for my lunch (I’d bring the bread with some deli meat and sliced cheese – very European I know).  I decided to just make two boules and bring one for a co-worker who has asked for me to bring some bread for her previously (little did I know that she’d be out sick).  I went back and found an old recipe and tweaked it slightly.

Ingredients:

Preferment:

  • 350 g bread flour
  • 364 g water
  • 3 g yeast

Remaining ingredients

  • 350 g bread flour
  • 266 g water
  • 14 g salt

I mixed up the preferment and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  I then added that to the remaining ingredients above.  I mixed these up thoroughly and then let it sit for the water to absorb before I kneaded it.

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I then proceeded to knead it for approximately 15 minutes until it was relatively smooth and I could do the “window” test – not perfectly but close enough.  I then set it in a bowl, covered it and used the proof setting on the oven to allow it to rise (double in size).

I pulled the dough out, did the knead and fold method a few times with 30 minutes in between before dividing the dough into 2.

Continue reading “Bread boules!!”

Marathon Training Week 9

Marathon Training Week 9

Week 9 had some highs and a lot of lows.  As you’ll see below, I ended up only doing 2 runs the entire week.  For my scheduled Tuesday and Thursday runs I can blame work for not getting them in.  Normally I get off work around 6 but due to various circumstances on both those days I had to stay late and was just too tired to get a run in when I got home.  I’m not sweating it too much.

The high of the week was actually hitting the 18 mile distance and feeling somewhat okay afterwards.  I keep telling myself that for the actual race I’ll be doing an additional 8.2 miles so I better feel “okay” after an 18-miler.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 0.00 (3)

Thursday – 0.00 (8) – in reality, 8 miles was a bit ambitious considering 18 the following day.

Friday – 18 (18)

Saturday – 4.05 (5)

Sunday –  0.00 (4)

Weekly Total – 22.05 miles (37)

My long run was taken along the American River Trail again.  This time I went further and traversed the bridge past William Pond Park.  I ran over this bridge when I did the Run The Parkway Half.  There were tons of Canadian Geese out.  They were just all over the place.

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It is amazing how quickly the water level drops after no rain for a few weeks.  Not sure when we’re going to get more rain but I feel like we need some more over the next 1-2 months to feel okay with being out of the drought.

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My last run I ran past this tree with these bright vibrant yellow flowers.  Now, 2 weeks later the flowers are still there but they appear so much more dull.

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So I crossed the bridge and explored some new territory.  I stopped at a bathroom/water fountain area that was cool but a bit isolated.  I pictured a horror movie where I was being chased by some masked villain.  Luckily this was only about a 1/4 mile detour.

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Even though my 18 miler was slower than my 16 miler, I think it is good progress.  It is amazing how I slowed so much on the 18 miler even though for the 16 miler, I had put in some tough fast hill miles the night before the 16 miler.  Strange how the body works.

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Sunday I woke up in a funk and just wasn’t feeling it (it = life).

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The dog had the right idea

So rather than get a run in that may have helped my mood, I went out to dinner for some cocktails and pizza.  I had the notion of doing a few night miles after dinner but when I ordered that second cocktail, I knew that running was out of the question.  I also had a baking fail.  I decided to make some bread but was too cocky and didn’t check the temperature of the bread when I finished and of course the center of the loaf wasn’t cooked.  It was just gummy paste.  Fail.  But at least the cocktail and pizza look delish!

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Negroni
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Three types of pepperoni!!  And prosciutto with arugula

-StewsCat

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No knead sandwich bread

Last week for our work potluck I decided to bring bread since it was easy for me to do and something homemade.  I had already done a trial run on some honey wheat dinner rolls but also wanted a backup.  On my fb feed I saw a posting from King Arthur about how 2016 was the year of no-knead bread.  Now originally when I started my baking endeavors, I started with the no-knead variety just due to the ease of it.  The following link came up the weekend before the potluck.  I really like that you can make this ahead of time and toss it in the fridge for up to 7 days without doing any additional work.  My scale also was on the fritz – which I figured out appears to be due to low battery.

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 cups AP flour
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • ~2.2 tsp active dry yeast

Basically I mixed up all the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  After covering it with some saran wrap, I let it sit out on the counter for about 2 hours before putting it into the fridge.

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After mixing, before letting it sit for 2 hours on counter
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After 2 hours on counter

I made up this mixture on Sunday and pulled it out of the fridge on Tuesday evening to make for a Wednesday lunch potluck.  I like how simple the recipe is because after removing it from the fridge, I layed the dough out on my well floured countertop and shaped the dough (no kneading, no stretch and fold, no additional manipulations).  Since my scale was not working, I eyeballed the size of each roll.

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Each roll was dusted with some flour.  I covered the rolls and let it sit at room temperature for about 1-1.5 hours to allow it to rise/proof.  After this time, I checked the roll by depressing a finger into the dough.  The dough sprung back about halfway.  During the proofing, I preheated the oven to 450 F.  The recipe calls for using a pan in the bottom of the oven to create steam.  Rather than fussing with this and tossing in water into a hot oven, I elected to just use my water bottle sprayer.

Once the dough was ready, I took a knife and made some slash marks on top of each roll.  I placed the parchment lined cookie sheet of dough into the oven and sprayed the inside with 5-6 spritzes of water before closing the oven door.  Initially I let the bread bake for 10 minutes, then opened the door and quickly spritzed some more water into it.  I then let it bake for an additional ~13-15 minutes.

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As you can see, there were some creases that opened up on the sides of the dough.  This was most likely due to my not tightly rolling the dough balls into a cohesive ball.  Nevertheless I think it gave them a more homemade feel.  My coworkers raved and said the bread rolls were good – I didn’t end up getting to try one.

I also attempted to re-create the honey wheat rolls.  However, as described above my scale wasn’t working properly, I had to eyeball the ingredients with volume (measuring cups) rather than weight.  I also tweaked it slightly and so when I had my wife pull it out and start the stretch and fold process (as I had previously done: here), the dough did not come together like I had hoped.  It remained a very moist gloopy mess that you could not form.  In an attempt to salvage it, I put the wet dough into my loaf pan to see if it would at least attempt a rise.  Luckily the dough actually did rise somewhat (maybe 1 inch in the pan) and I tossed it into the oven and hoped for the best.  Overall it didn’t get the oven spring that you’d normally see but it baked well and actually had decent crumb.  Wasn’t my best effort but was still good.

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I’m excited to see what I will continue to try doing in 2017!

-StewsCat

Brioche – loaf and minis

Brioche – loaf and minis

I thought I’d give another shot at Brioche since it is too yummy and the wife likes it.  Last time I made small cupcake size brioche rolls and this time I figured I’d try my hand at a regular size loaf.  In the end I had enough dough to do both a loaf and the mini cupcake size ones.

The following is double the recipe of the minis I made previously.

  • 500 g AP flour
  • 200 g butter, melted
  • 140 g water, room temperature
  • 4 eggs (235 g)
  • 100 g honey (recipe said runny honey, I just used the honey I squeezed outta my container)
  • 10 g salt
  • 6 g yeast

As before, I first whisked the wet ingredients together (butter, water, eggs, honey) for about 60 seconds.  Then I added in the dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast).

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Since this was a no-knead version, after mixing the dry and wet into a homogenized mixture I let it sit for about 2 hours.

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This created a fairly wet dough mixture that I then proceeded to do about 3-4 stretch and folds.

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After stretch and fold

And that’s really the extent of manipulation of the dough until it is ready to form. I placed the mixture into the fridge to sit for anywhere from 24-48 hours.  I started the process later in the weekend so I ended up only letting it sit for 24 hours covered in the fridge.

This gave me a chance to have a beer.

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For those not familiar, Pliny the Elder and its much more rare sibling Pliny the Younger is a well-known craft brew out of the Russian River Brewing company.  Being in NorCal, we are lucky enough to have it on tap at a few establishments and bottled in local stores as well.  I was out with some colleagues the other night at Capitol Tap Room and happened to get the above.  Good stuff.

Back to bread.  After 24 hours in the fridge, the dough came out looking like this:

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After 24 hours in fridge

The key here is to work and shape the dough quickly while it is still cold, otherwise it gets sticky and messy.  I created a loaf with 4 round to pill-ish shapes and then had a little extra so threw that into the loaf pan as well.

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Then I formed 6 small balls and placed them in the cupcake pan.  As I was forming the last of the balls, the dough definitely started to become more tacky and difficult to work with.

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I allowed the cupcake sized doughballs to rise for about an hour.  The loaf I let rise for about 2 hours and 15 minutes.  For both, I used an egg wash (scrambled egg with water to allow for easier spreading).

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I set the oven for 375 F initially.  I baked the mini brioches for 8 minutes at 375 F and then turned the temperature down to 320 F for an additional 19 minutes.  This created a nice golden crust and the internal temperature was around 190 F.

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The insides of these smaller brioches came out perfect.

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The loaf brioche rose quite nicely after the 2 hours and 15 minutes.

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I baked this one at 375 F for 10 minutes initially, then at 320 F for an additional ~20 minutes or so.  I was pleasantly surprised by how it all came together.

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It came out nice and buttery and not dry.  Overall a nice bread loaf and mini brioches.

We had some fun visitors this weekend.

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-StewsCat

Sourdough baguettes

Sourdough baguettes

In a yet to be published post, I am currently creating my own sourdough starter.  I felt bad discarding 1/2-2/3 of the starter everyday so started looking up recipes on what I could do with that discarded starter.  One thing people recommended was using it for the taste (“sour”) component prior to it being strong enough to act as yeast.  Therefore you still had to use some yeast (active dry in  my case) to help the dough rise.

So I decided to try my hand at baguettes.  I have not attempted this type/shape of dough yet so this was more an experiment than anything.

I found this recipe online and decided to run with it.

  • Flour 100%
  • Water 66%
  • Salt 2%
  • Instant yeast 0.36%
  • Poolish: 33% of the above total.

Poolish (done the night before and allowed to sit overnight at room temp):

  • 60g Sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 103g AP flour
  • 58g Room temperature water
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Poolish made the night before

In the morning the poolish had spread out and developed the requisite bubbles to let me know it was working well.

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Poolish in the AM (~12 hours later)

To the poolish I added:

  • 267g AP flour
  • 176g water
  • 8g salt
  • ~1.5g Active-dry yeast

I mixed the above with the poolish until it was well incorporated and let it auto-lyse for an hour.

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Mixed dough after auto-lyse

I followed this with slap&fold kneading for about 15 minutes until I obtained a nice formed dough.  I let this bulk ferment for another hour and then did 2 stretch and folds separated by 20 minutes.

I divided the dough up into the individual baguette sizes and bench rested them for 15 minutes.

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Bench resting

Then I set about shaping the dough.  I followed the video as seen here.   I definitely need to practice rolling out the dough to get an even product.  As you can see below in the final pictures, the baguettes came out a little lopsided.

I don’t currently have a baguette bouche so looked up ways to create a homemade one.  What I ended up using was a sheet pan, parchment paper and rolled up table placemats.

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Homemade couche

I let these proof for 40 minutes and then turned them out onto my baking system (upside down sheet pan with parchment paper).  Other options I read include transfer to a pizza peel and putting on pizza stone in oven (I can see myself messing this up) or if you have the metal couche, you can bake directly in those.  I scored the baguettes with a sharp razor and did a terrible job of it (I also read that scoring is one of the hardest skills to master).

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Uneven scoring

I placed the baguettes in a 450 F oven, sprayed the inside with my trusty water spray bottle and closed the door.  I sprayed the oven walls/bread again at 1 minute and 5 minutes in.  After 6 minutes I dropped the oven to 400 F.

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Good oven spring

I wasn’t sure exactly how long to bake it for as some recipes I read said 12 minutes while others said 24 minutes.  I ended up going closer to the 24 minutes.  The baguettes never developed the deep brown color I was looking for but they were definitely cooked and done.  The wife noted the crust was a bit hard – though from what I read of classic baguettes they are supposed to have a very crispy outside.  All in all not a bad effort for a first try.

There was a mild sour taste to it so I may have to increase the amount of starter that I use to get the taste that my wife likes.

-StewsCat