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

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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

50% Whole wheat sandwich bread

50% Whole wheat sandwich bread

Since we’ve been suffering from triple digit heat the last week, I wasn’t planning on making bread this week (hot oven just makes the kitchen that much hotter, especially because we don’t actually have an A/C register in the kitchen – I blame the previous homeowner).  However, the wife asked for bread (and/or tortillas) for the week for lunches and of course I obliged with both.  I decided I was going to try a 50% whole wheat sandwich loaf baked in my 9″ x  5″ bread pan.  I started this whole recipe fairly late in the day (around 2 pm Sunday) and with no poolish.  I also did not follow a specific recipe this time.

I did read up on the things you should do when using a whole wheat (whole grain) flour.  The extra outer layer on whole grains basically acts like razor blades when you’re trying to develop gluten.  I elected to do a 50:50 mixture of whole wheat flour and bread flour because bread flour has a higher gluten content and should allow for good rises/proofing.  And while maybe not technically healthy, having 50% whole wheat is healthier than pure white bread.  Other tips I read were to make sure that you included some fats (oil) to help with dough texture.  I incorporated some honey to help with taste.

50% Whole wheat sandwich bread recipe:

  • 300g – 100% Whole wheat bread flour
  • 300g – Bread flour
  • 145g – Rice milk
  • 305g – Water
  • 18g – Salt
  • 35g – Honey
  • 1/4 c. – Vegetable oil
  • 10g – Active dry yeast

I mixed up all the above ingredients and let the well-incorporated mixture rest for 30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb all the water.  I then proceeded to knead the dough for about 14 minutes using the Richard Bertinet slap & fold method.  I could really feel the dough developing good structure this time (before I used to just keep slapping and folding forever not entirely sure that it was developing the gluten structure that I needed).  I know because of the whole wheat and its tiny razor blades I needed to make sure the dough was well kneaded.  After kneading, I allowed the dough to rest in a large bowl for the bulk fermentation.  Bulk fermentation can go anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on temperature.  With the aforementioned heatwave we’ve been experiencing, the inside of the house has been around 81-83 so I knew that rises and proofs most likely would be shorter than I expected.

After about 50 minutes I checked on the dough and it had more than doubled in size (~2.5x original).  I poured the dough out carefully on a lightly floured countertop and did a stretch and fold a few times.  I replaced the dough into the bowl and allowed it to sit for 25 minutes.

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Beautifully formed  dough

The dough had come together nicely (and was not the sloppy wet mess that was my previous attempt at whole wheat bread).   I did the envelope fold which helps de-gas the dough somewhat.  This was followed by a 10 minute bench rest.

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Bench rest

I then formed the dough into the proper shape for the bread pan, ensuring I created a nicely tensioned top portion.

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Shaped for the bread pan (9″ x 5″)

I lightly floured the top of the dough and covered it with a lightweight cloth to proof.  I set the timer for 60 minutes but started checking the dough after about 30 minutes (due to the heat of the kitchen).  I also pre-heated the oven to 425F.  The way to check whether a bread has proofed properly, at least from what I’ve read thus far, is to take a lightly floured finger, press the dough down and see what happens.  If it stays down, it has over-proofed, if it bounces back fully it isn’t ready yet (under-proof) and when it bounces back halfway, then it’s proofed.

I wanted to create that “muffin-top” like look for the bread, the same look you get from store-bought sliced bread.  I had to look up the dough size I needed to create this, since my 9″ x  5″ bread pan is larger than the standard size.  From my research, I came up with a dough around 850-900 grams.  As you can see above, I achieved that look I was going for. I had recently ordered some spray bottles so I could spray the oven/bread as it went into the oven to create that nice top crust.  I popped the bread pan into the oven, sprayed it and shut the door quickly in my 425F oven.  After about 15 minutes, I dropped the temperature to 375 F and sprayed it once more time.  A total of 40 minutes baking created the perfect color and doneness (I checked the internal temp which read around 197F).

Since I’m not planning on cutting it until tomorrow when I make my work for lunch, you’ll just have to check back later to see how the crumb and taste turned out.  Enjoy!

-StewsCat

 

 

100% Whole wheat bread

Since I’m starting to feel more comfortable with bread making, I decided I should try my hand at making something that is a little healthier.  We had switched from buying bread to me making tortillas for wraps for our lunches (less dense, less calories).  Somewhere along the way I started to get interested in making bread and I want to try to keep this new hobby as healthy as possible.  I most definitely will not stop making other white breads and such, just thought I should try to do some healthy breads.

Poolish

  • 100% Whole wheat bread – 240 g
  • Water – 240 g
  • Instant yeast – 2 g

Remaining formula

  • 100% Whole wheat bread – 480 g
  • Water – 480 g
  • Olive oil – 50 g
  • Honey – 75 g
  • Instant yeast – 3 g
  • Salt – 3 tsp

I must have done something wrong with my conversions because this created an almost 100% hydration dough.  And it all just went downhill from there.

The poolish came out fine as above.  However, I then mixed up the poolish and the above remaining ingredients.  As I was doing this, I was thinking to myself that this hydration was a bit high.  I let the dough do its normal rest and then did the stretch and fold method for 3 minutes, then let it rest.  I repeated the stretch and fold method at 25 minute intervals but the dough just did not seem to be coming together, it remained a very moist and weak structure.

I finally gave up on it developing any sort of strength and form.  I elected to throw it into my breadpan and see what would happen.  As expected, it didn’t turn out great.  There was no good proofing and oven spring and it came out as an inedible brick.

The above happened on Saturday.  I worked Sunday and so to make myself feel better I whipped up a quick white bread boule (I did add a little whole wheat flour into it).

This bread had the following formula:

Poolish

  • 170 g bread flour
  • 170 g water
  • 1/4 tsp (2g) instant yeast

Remaining mixture

  • 100 g bread flour + 30 g whole wheat flour
  • 180 g water
  • 10 g salt
  • 3 g instant yeast

I mixed the poolish (overnight in fridge) with the remaining mixture and then let it sit for 30 minutes to allow some autlyse (let the flour absorb all the water).  I then followed the Richard Bertinet slap and fold.  I feel like I’m getting a better hold of this kneading method as the dough started to form up and come together after only about 10-12 minutes of kneading.  I formed it into a ball and then let it bulk ferment for about 1.5 hours.  It’s been warm here and the bread probably didn’t need to ferment that long but I also needed to fit my long run in so I let it go a little longer.  I did 2 stretch and folds with 10 minutes between them.  By now the dough had developed good gluten and structure.  I was able to form the dough into a nice boule and did the drag method on the counter to create a nicely tensioned top portion of dough.  I then placed it into a well floured cloth in a bowl to let it proof.  After about 1 hour of proofing, I tossed it into my pre-heated dutch oven (450 F) and covered it.  I let it cook for 20 minutes covered then removed the lid and turned the heat to 425 F and let it go another 20 minutes.  By then it had a nice brown crust and I checked its internal temp (~195F).

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Looks good!

Overall I’m happy that I seem to have the basics down.  Now I just need to work some more on the whole wheat stuff.  I think that tweaking the hydration level will probably allow me to create a better product next time.  I should have paid attention that I was creating an essentially 100% hydration dough.

For dinner I also did pizza and I’m getting better at developing pizza dough that isn’t too loose.  I think one problem I’ve been having in the past is that I let the dough go way past what it should (over-proofing).  Before I had just been blindly following someone’s recommendation on the Jim Lahey No-knead but now I actually am listening more to the dough.

-StewsCat