Monday, February 25, 2013

Just One of Those Days

Minutes from school and minutes from my presentation, my car was rear-ended. It was a four car crash-- the offending taxi drove off before we could get any information from him. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt and the people couldn't have been nicer.

However, spending four hours at the emergency room ate into my week, a bit, so I probably won't be posting for a few days. Be back soon!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Beauty of Freezers

85% Whole Wheat Bread
Before the advent of refrigeration and freezing, bread baking must have been much harder. One of the things that allows me to bake bread as much as I do is that I know if I need to slow down the fermentation time to fit my schedule I can throw it in the refrigerator for a few hours and, so long as I do my math correctly, the bread will turn out fine-- and sometimes better because the slower fermentation allows time for the enzymes and bacteria to work and provide more flavor to the bread. Previously, bread was subject to the whims of the weather.

However, more importantly, freezers allow me to bake large amounts of bread without worrying about waste. At the moment, I have loaves of amaranth, oat, and 85% whole wheat bread sitting in my freezer as well as crumpets and waffles, and balls of pizza dough. This is fantastic because I can make new bread at my leisure, without worrying that I will run out, but I also don't worry that any of it will go stale or go to waste. The best part of this is that here, where I live, it often gets too hot to turn an oven up to 500 degrees F so a freezer full of bread means that there is fresh bread whenever I need it.

When bread is fully cooled, it can be wrapped tightly and frozen. It will be as fresh as when you put it in the freezer when it comes out. leave it for 5-12 hours to thaw-- no need to bake it. The crust will not be quite as good due to the freezing process, however if you toast the bread as needed (or crisp chunks of it in the oven or toaster oven), it can be just as delicious.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The 100% Whole Wheat Project, Part I

85% Whole Wheat Loaves
So everyone knows that 100% whole grain bread if the most nutritious. For a long time, I have wanted to make a 100% whole wheat bread that tastes delicious, but I've run into issues. Red whole wheat tends to be bitter when in levels above 70% or so. And, honestly, I just don't like the flavor of white whole wheat on it's own, so when I use it I supplement it with red whole wheat and other grains like barley which tends to ameliorate the distasteful flavor. I did this with great success in my last loaves.
Crumb shot
However, I still wanted to work out a 100% Red Whole Wheat loaf. Not yet satisfied with the loaves from Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, although the book is an unbelievably rich resource for information about bread baking (a topic to which I will return in a forthcoming post), I looked for other possibilities. My goal, ultimately, is to make a 100% whole wheat bread with an irregular, open crumb, a crunchy crust, and a hearty, complex, wheaty, but not bitter, flavor. The catch is that I want to make the bread out of only wheat, flour, salt, and sourdough starter. Can it be done? I don't know, but I'm going to find out.
Amazing Bloom on the Loaf
I was very excited when I noticed a 100% whole wheat in Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread. However, when I actually stared reading the recipe, it sounded very much like one of my favorite recipe's, Tartine's 70% whole wheat bread, with the notable exception that it was 100% whole wheat. So I figured that I would start by changing the Tartine version into an 85% loaf, and if it seemed to go well, I would make a 100% loaf. It did go very well, although the crumb was not quite as open as I had hoped, either because of my folding method or because I left it for 16 hours in the fridge instead of 12. Also, the bottom crust was a little too bitter, but it was good.

  • 200g Leaven (1tbsp starter, 100g whole wheat flour, 100g water)
  • 850g +50g water (75 degrees F)
  • 150g unbleached bread flour
  • 850g whole wheat flour
  • 20g salt
 The Leaven ("young" starter)

  1. Take 1 tablespoon of mature starter and put it in a small bowl.
  2. Add 100g water (about 75degrees F) to the starter.
  3. Then add 2000g whole wheat flour and mix them into the water and starter until it comes together as a dough.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or similar and let sit until it passes the float test. This should take about 12 hours, depending upon the vitality of your starter. When it is ready, it should smell very sweet-- like overripe fruit.
  5. There will probably be 10-20 grams left over. You can add these in or use them to mix a new starter.
The Final Dough
  1. Mix the leaven (all of it) with the 850g water.
  2. Then add the whole wheat and bread flours and mix until the dough comes together.
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or equivalent and let rest (autolyse) for 45-60 minutes.
  4. After the autolyse, add the salt and the last 50g of water in a little bit at a time, using the water to help the salt dissolve and incorporate into the dough. Make sure that you pinch the dough around the salt and incorporate it throughout the dough. Try not to tear the dough, but you do want to vigorously incorporate the salt.
  5. Move the dough into a heavy glass or plastic bowl, preferably a deep on with a fairly small diameter on the opening in order to keep the heat in.
  6. Stretch the dough and bring it in toward the center like this. Be careful not to degas the dough too much. Do this all the way around the dough to make sure that you develop the dough evenly.
  7. Place the dough in a place between 78 and 82 degrees F. You can improvise a proofbox by placing a pot of boiling water in an unheated oven beside the dough.
  8. After 30 minutes, stretch and fold the seeds, oats, and germ into the dough. Incorporate them a few into each fold.
  9. Repeat the stretch and fold this procedure every 30 minutes for 3-4 hours. In general, the wheat rises faster and only needs 3 hours. As the dough rises, be more careful not to degas the dough. The dough should become very billowy on top.
  10. When the bulk rise is complete, turn the dough out onto a floured surface.
  11. Fold the dough in half so that the outer surface is lightly floured (although you want to incorporate as little flour as possible into the dough).
  12. Fold the dough like an envelope. Fold the bottom up 1/3 over the dough. Then fold the left side in 1/3 and the right side over it. Fold the top all the way over the bottom  and pinch it slightly into the bottom.
  13. Turn the dough seam side down and let it sit under an overturned bowl for 20 minutes.
  14. After the 20 minute bench rest, do the final shaping. I usually shape my dough into a boule. To do this, follow the same pattern as the pre-shape, and then gather the corners together to tighten the surface tension and pinch them together.
  15. Put the boule seam side up in a floured branneton or a bowl lined with a floured cloth. Use both wheat and rice flour because the rice flour soaks up more water and prevents the dough from sticking.
  16. Let the dough sit for half an hour and then put it in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
  17. To bake the dough, 30 minutes before baking take the dough out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven with either a stone and a oven-safe pot or a combo cooker.
  18. When the oven is heated, turn the dough onto a peel and score it. Put it onot the stone or into the combo cooker and put the broth pot or lit over it.
  19. Bake for 35 minutes and then remove the lid. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the outside is an chestnut brown and the interior temperature reads 212 degrees F.
  20. Wait at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Some more pictures:

More posts to come on all of this whole wheat stuff!

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Not to Do: Adventures in Sourdough Crumpets

So remember when I said crumpets were so easy? Well, it turns out, it's still pretty easy to make mistakes. So here are some tips from my recent experience:
  • Don't use baking powder instead of baking soda in the recipe. I decided I had the recipe memorized, so I made this accidental switch. What I realized is two things 1) baking powder does not cause rising nearly as quickly as baking soda, so the crumpets burn before they rise properly and 2) if you're using really sour starter (like I was), it makes much more sour crumpets. Baking soda, on the other hand, is activated by acidity, and so it counteracts a little bit of the sour flavor and rises quite quickly.
  • Don't use a mild sweetner like non-diastatic malt powder-- use a real serious sweetener like honey, agave, or sugar, especially when counteracting a very sour batch of starter.
  • I also found that the 100% whole wheat crumpets were less sour than my 25% whole wheat crumpets. This may be because of the origin of my starters: my white starter is from Portland, while my whole wheat starter is a hybrid between Portland and my current locality I accidentally used up the end of my Portland whole wheat one day, but the white can easily be changed into whole wheat.
After my tips, I thought I would reiterate my crumpet recipe. Fortunately, I had a ton of sourdough starter left, so I was able to make another batch correctly:
  • 270g sourdough starter, 125% hydration or 100% hydration + water or nonfat milk (I used whole wheat, but you can use white or a mix)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (you can add another half a tablespoon if your starter is really sour.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • vegetable oil for greasing pan and rings
Note: you don't have to use crumpet rings, but I tried this and the crumpets really don't look much like crumpets. I don't have crumpet rings, I have some kind of egg rings for making breakfast sandwiches or something. They seem to work fine. When I made yeasted crumpets in college I used a can with both the top and bottom cut off of it. This works too.
  • Mis the starter, honey, and salt together. Stir. Let the starter begin to bubble on it's own.
  • Grease the pan and the rings and then heat them to medium. Be very careful with temperature. It is easy to burn the bottom of the crumpets if you're not careful, so be ready to regulate.
  • Then add the baking soda to the batter and mix. It should begin to bubble quite quickly.
  • When hot, fill each ring with batter so that you can see half a centimeter of ring over the top. They will puff up.
  • Then, wait until they bubble. When you see that the edges are cooked, extract them from the rings and flip them over.
  • Wait until they finished cooking (there should be some brown among the bubble as shown in the picture at the top), take them off, and repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
  • Crumpets can be eaten hot plain or with butter, jam, almond butter, etc. After fully cooled, they can be saved in an airtight container for a few days and toasted or frozen in an airtight container (preferably a baggie) and then toasted.
Delicious crumpet

I took a picture of the crumb:
Mostly White Crumpet Crumb

Whole Wheat Crumpet Crumb
The crumb of the white crumpets was slightly less moist and had larger holes for a slightly lighter crumpet. The whole wheat one was more moist

Sourdough griddle cakes are a lot of fun-- I want to try sopapillas soon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Amarnath Wheat Sourdough

One of the bread recipes that I use for experimentation is Wild Yeast's Norwich-More Sourdough. It's a wonderfully easy recipe, once I realized a few things (such as that it requires 20-35 minutes under steam rather than the 8 in the recipe and, in my oven at least, it needs a higher oven temperature), things actually work out fairly well. Usually, I just post modifications, but today because the bread is so good and is quite different from the recipe.

Crust and Crumb
 Amarnath Wheat Sourdough
  • 480g of sourdough starter 100% hydration (I used about 75% white starter and 25% whole wheat starter) May I suggest using some fairly lively sourdough starter. Mine was about 50-50 of starter from the refrigerator and starter that had been newly refreshed a few hours before.
  • 500g white whole wheat starter
  • 175g bread flour I ended up using bleached because I bought it by accident but, as always, I suggest unbleached
  • 150g barley flour This gives a lovely sweetness to the crust. Delicious, seriously.
  • 130g red whole wheat flour
  • 610g + 50g water around 75 degrees F (total 660g)
  • 50g Amarnath (the seeds, not flour)
  • 23g salt
Day 1:
  • Mix the sourdough starter, flours, and 610g water in a bowl. Mix until it forms a homogenous dough.
  • Let the bowl sit for a 30 minute autolyse period under plastic wrap or similar.
  • Then mix in the amarnath, salt, and water. Mix a little and then let it sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the water. 
  • Knead the bread for 2-3 minutes. Then do a stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold. (so 4 times total)
  • Cover the bowl for 45 minutes (at around 75 degrees F) and  do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Cover the bowl for 45 minutes (at around 75 degrees F) and  do a final stretch-and-fold (2 times total)
  • Cover the bowl for 20 minutes  (at around 75 degrees F) to finish the bulk fermentation.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 medium loaves or 2 quite large loaves.
  • Preshape the balls lightly into round.
  • Bench rest for 20 minutes. Cover them with something. If you live in a dry climate, make sure to cover them in an airtight fashion-- I usually turn large bowls over them. While they are resting, flour bannetons or similar shaping devices for the final proofing.
  • Then shape the loaves into your desired shape and place them into bannetons.
  • They need to proof for 1 hour and 45 minutes before they are placed in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Make sure they go into the refrigerator for 16 hours or less.
Day 2:
  • Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F about 30 minutes before you take the dough out of the refrigerator.
  • Take them out of the refrigerator, score them, and immediately place them into the oven under steam.
  • After 20-35 minutes under steam (depending upon how tightly the steam container closes. I would suggest trying about 25 minutes. It is done when it begins to be golden and the tips of the score marks are beginning to be brown.
Golden with a hint of brown on the tips of the score marks.
  • Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is a rich brown and the internal temperature reaches 210 degrees F.
  • Cool for 45 minutes before eating.
Bread with Brie (it also goes well with almond butter)
Flavor Notes: I totally forgot (until a comment reminded me) that I hadn't talked about the flavor of this bread. it is absolutely delicious. It's wheaty (from the white whole wheat), but it doesn't have that usual bitterness that I associate with white whole wheat. Instead it's got this warm, complex, nutty richness too it (which I believe comes from the amarnath) and a hint of sweetness (from the barley). Five stars.

While I share with you the wonderful success I had today, I should also explain two things that went wrong (although they didn't keep it from being a success).

First, a small mistake, I messed up the autolyse period (I extended it it an hour because I wasn't paying attention). As such, when I mixed in the salt, water and amarneth, I messed up the gluten structure. Being a reasonably practiced at breadmaking, I was able to manipulate the dough in such a way that I got the gluten structure back together (mostly), but the crumb was still a lot tighter than it should have been.
Tight Crumb
However, the crumb did have a wonderful gelatinized structure and it was moist and delicious.
Cool picture of the crumb
I highly suggest making this bread and the crumb structure will be a lot better if you don't make mistakes :)

Second, I messed up on the shaping of the two batards. At first, I thought that I had underproofed the dough, but I quickly realized that I had not when the boule came out fine. This is what happens when you don't shape a batard well. Seriously, I need lessons. Advice anyone?
Comparison of the two loaves
Even the less pretty one will taste delicious.

Tasting Note 02/18/13: This bread makes some of the best toast that I have ever tasted. Toasting brings out the barley sweetness of the bread creating an amazing depth of flavor with the warm wheaty taste. Seriously delicious. You will not regret making this bread, I promise. I'm so excited that I have two more loaves of this in my freezer!

I am submitting this to Yeast Spotting.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Amazing French Toast

So remember when I gave Oatmeal Bread 3.5 stars? Well, that may be true but it makes 5 star French toast.
Commercial Bread (right), Oatmeal Brad (left)
These days, my family buys little to no bread. I make almost all of what we consume. However, with grad apps and school, we bought a loaf of multigrain bread a while ago. It was a little old, so we decided to make French Toast for dinner. We did a side-by-side comparison: my bread vs. the store bought bread. While the store-bought bread made good French Toast, there was no contest-- my bread was head-and-shoulders above the commercial bread.

This brought up some of the issues that Andrew Whitely discusses in his lecture on bread. The commercial bread I used was about 2 weeks old and it was still fairly squishy...that is frightening, he's right. My bread, while it took a little bit of time to make, made better and more wholesome French Toast. While I realize not everyone can make their own bread, Whitley brings up some pressing issues about the current state of commercial baking.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Oatmeal Bread

Two Loaves; Photocredit: Servia
Seriously, more oats? Yes, I just love oats in bread. They are delicious and nutritious. I think my obsession might be because I spent my entire childhood eating cheerios. Anyway, for the moment, anyone reading my blog will be subjected to oats (although I should be doing some other things soon).

I checked Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread out of the library. I've haven't been hearing much good news from Graduate Schools and so I thought it would be a fun distraction. As it turns out, I may even buy a copy of the book because so many of the recipes appeal to me.

One that caught my eye for it's simplicity was the Oatmeal Bread.

Oatmeal Bread (Adapted from Hamelman's Bread)
  • 680g High-Gluten Flour
  • 227g Whole Wheat Flour
  • 150g Rolled Oats
  • 567g Water, around 75 degrees F (I added another 50g or so because it's very dry here)
  • 100g Milk
  • 68g Honey (3T)
  • 68g Vegitable Oil (5.5T)
  • 20g Salt (3.5tsp)
  • 5g dry active yeast (1.5tsp) I reduced this to 1tsp because I was worried about leaving it too long in the refrigerator because I had class this morning. I think the decision was wise and I highly recommend it.
  • Wheat bran and water for topping (optional)

Day 1:
Oats Soaking; Photocredit: Servia
  • Mix the oats and the water. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  • Mix in the remaining ingredients (yeast first, in order to hydrate it). The dough can be mixed by hand or on a mixer at a medium low speed for 3 minutes. The resulting dough is tacky and looser than a typical sandwich bread.
Other Ingredients; Photocredit: Servia
  • Then, knead the dough by hand (using the heals of the hand in the typical kneading style) either in the bowl or on a surface (either oiled or very lightly flowered). By hand, this will take 5-6 minutes to create moderate gluten development (passes the windowpane test). The same effect can be achieved in a mixer for 3-3.5 minutes on medium speed.
Dough, rising; Photocredit: Servia
  • Then let the bread ferment for 1 hour at room temperature (around 72 degrees F) folding once at 30 minutes and once at the hour mark. If you decided to use the full 1.5tsp yeast, you may want to leave it out for 40 min and do a fold at 20 and a fold at 40.
  • Put the bread, covered in plastic wrap or similar, into the refrigerator overnight. Note that if you don't want to take it out first thing in the morning, I would suggest that you use less yeast just so it doesn't overproof.
Day 2:
  • Remove the bread from the refrigerator. Turn the bread out on to a floured work surface and divide into 2-3 pieces (I would suggest 3 pieces if you have regular loaf pans, 2 if you have large loaf pans) I divided it into four, and my loaves are quite small; my mistake.
  • Preshape the dough lightly into rounds.
  • Bench rest the dough seem-side up for 15-20 minutes.
  • During the bench rest, prepare loaf pans. I use spray oil and then coat them lightly with flour. This might be overkill-- oil alone might do the trick.
  • Shape the dough into blunt cylinders and place them seem-side down into the loaf pans.
  • Let them rise for 1-1.5h under plastic wrap or similar at 72-75 degrees F Mine rose for 3h15 at around 68 degrees F, but they only had 1tsp yeast. Make sure you adjust based on your conditions. If you only use 1tsp yeast, increase the time to 150%. If the temperature is cold, remember that for every 17 degrees below temperature, the rising time must double. A calculator is your friend.
  • Optional: When ready to bake, brush the top of the loaves with a tiny bit of water and then sprinkle wheat bran over the top for that finished look.
  • Put them in the over at around 445 degrees F (420 convection) understeam for the first 15 min. Then add about 7-10 minutes at 425 degrees F (400 convection) without steam. Watch them carefully. I overcooked mine by putting them there for 20 min + 10 min without steam. The oil and honey causes them to brown really fast. For steam, you can either try putting the baking pan on a stone with a cover or you can turn another loaf pan upside-down on top of it. They are done when they read 190 degrees F on an instant thermometer.
  • Wait at least 1 hour before cutting.
Photocredit: Servia
Review: 3.5 stars
Slices and Loaf; Photocredit: Servia
The bread is a lot lighter and airier than I anticipated, which is kind of disappointing. I was hoping it would have a little more heft (so it could stand up to something like almond butter). Maybe if I added more whole grains it might be better. However, it's got a lovely slightly oaty flavor and is ideal for a delicate sandwich or butter/jam and a cup of coffee/tea.

*NOTE (02/12/13): While I still think the bread is far too light, I have to say it tastes delicious with almond butter (so my original complaint was totally wrong).

For the similarly oat-obsessed out there, here's a list of other yeasted oat confections I've made:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A New Kind of "Oat" Bread

I've wanted to make this recipe ever since I received Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. I finally made it two weeks ago.

Oat Bran Broom Bread

My apologies; I forgot to take a shot of the crumb. However, it was quite a tight crumb...slightly tighter than the other sandwich bread's I've made, but I don't think it was as tight as the picture in Reinhart's book.

Recipe for Oat Bran Broom Bread (modified from original):
  • 184g whole wheat flour (medium to fine grind)
  • 28g Oat Bran (4tbsp)
  • 14g flax seeds (1.5tbsp)
  • 4g salt (1/2 tsp)
  • 198g water
Starter (or starter straight out of the jar if your starter is fairly vital and 75%)
  • 50g starter (100% hydration)
  • 177g whole wheat flour
  • 120g water
Final Dough:
  • All the soaker (429g)
  • All the starter (or 398g starter)
  • 56.5g whole wheat flour
  • 5g salt
  • 1tsp dry active yeast (3g)
  • 20 g water
  • 2 tbsp honey (42.5g)
  • 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
Day 1: 
  • Mix all of the ingredients for the soaker together in a bowl until they form a reasonably wet dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-24 hours. If it will be longer than that, place it in the refrigerator.
  • Mix all of the starter ingredients together and mix them until they form a fairly stiff dough. Knead for a minute or two in the bowl before covering with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 8-48 hours.
Day 2:
  • About 2 hours before mixing the final dough, take any refrigerated ingredients out of the refrigerator.
  • Chop or tare the soaker and the starter into pieces and dust them with the flour.
  • Hydrate the yeast in a cup or bowl (no need to make it bubble, just mix it with the water). Pour the hydrated yeast, the oil, and the honey over the dough. Mix with wet hands or with a spoon. If you don't like the stickiness, you can also slightly oil your hands. Add water or flour for adjustments-- due to the different protein content of whole wheat flours, you may need to adjust. The dough should be soft and slightly (but not very) sticky.
  • Knead the dough for about two minutes in the bowl.
  • Lightly flour your hands and a work surface with whole wheat flour. Coat the dough in flour and knead by hand for 3-4 minutes. Try to incorporates little flour. I found this step very frustrating. My hands got sticky and the dough didn't cooperate well, so I changed the next few steps from the book.
  • Put the dough in a clean bowl and do a stretch-and-fold. Do the stretch and folds with wet hands.
  • Wait 5 minutes and then do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do another stretch-and-fold.
  • Wait 10 minutes and do a final stretch-and-fold. By this point, the gluten should be adequately developed.
  • Let the dough rise under plastic wrap for about 2 hours at 75 degrees F.
  • After the 2 hours, turn the dough onto a floured surface.
  • Gently stretch it out into a rectangle and roll it up; then seal the seem.
  • Place it seem-side down into a loaf pan (I tend to spray my loaf pans with oil and then lightly flour them so the dough doesn't stick, but this might be overkill).
  • Let the dough rise for another 2 hours in the loaf pan.
  • 30 minutes before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. If you would like to bake under steam, prepare whatever you will use for steam (this is not really necessary, but I baked it under steam).
  • When ready to bake, turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and place it in the oven for 20 minutes. At the 20 minute mark, take off the steam (if you chose to use it), and rotate the pan 180 degrees. Then bake for another 20 minutes (so 40 minutes altogether).
  • Check the loaf to make sure it's at least 190 degrees F.
  • Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and cool for at least 1 hours before slicing and serving.

Review of Oat Bran Broom Bread: 3 Stars
One of the things that really bothers me about this book is that Reinhart puts absolutely absurd amounts of yeast in everything. It's really unnecessary and it doesn't give the dough the time to develop that wonderful flavor. With bread, quick and delicious very rarely coincide (except maybe with sourdough crumpets). So I slowed this bread down. But even then, it didn't have the flavor I wanted. I need to play with the recipe.

Furthermore, the bread doesn't taste anything like oats. The oat bran in it is minimal. I've decided I will rewrite the recipe and try again.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

More on English Muffins

Sourdough English Muffins; Photocredit: Sue
Sue posted an amazing set of pictures, along with her recipe for English Muffins. Her muffins, made with commercial yeast, were fast and easy and they tasted delicious. She added buckwheat and oat for that extra bit of flavor and I think it really kicked her muffins up a notch. You can also try my recipe here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Confession: More on Oat Bread

Oat Bread; Photocredit: Servia

So I have a confession to make. I think I switched the dough of the English Muffins and my traditional oat bread. This would explain the fact that the English Muffins didn't taste sweet at all while the bread is sweet and delicious. But it's not sweet in the way that bread sweetened with honey or sugar's like the sweetness of barley. Because, well, it is. Non-diastatic malt powder is made out of roasted barley. It's the sweetener that is used in bagels, but this bread is far better than any bagel I've ever had. It tastes like a barley oat bread and it's lovely and moist on the inside (from the oil). This would probably make far better English muffins even then the ones I made with the unaltered dough.
The bread was not nearly as burnt as it looks in this picture-- that was the lighting; Photocredit: Servia
The dough is delicious. I will include a version the recipe because it is so good, you should make it into bread as well as English Muffins. Seriously, you'll love this bread.
Baking in my new combo cooker; Photocredit: Servia
Sulpicia's Sourdough Oat English Muffins (in testing)

  • 100g starter (very active) 100% hydration white or whole wheat based upon preference
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 50g water

Final Dough:
  • All the preferment (250g)
  • 450g bread flour
  • 150g whole wheat flour
  • 130g rolled oats (thickly rolled is better)
  • 470g cold water
  • 17g salt
  • 1.5 tablespoon  non-diastatic malt powder
  • approximately 15g vegetable oil

Day 1:
  • Prepare the pre-ferment by dissolving the starter in water and then mixing in the flour. When it is fully mixed, cover the container and put it in the refrigerator.
  • Let it sit in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours. It should have almost doubled in bulk and it should pass the float test.

Day 2:
  • When the starter is ready to be used, leave it in the refrigerator for one extra hour.
  • Mix together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, non-diastatic, and water together in a bowl into a dough.
  • Let it sit for 1 hour.
  • Then mix in the starter, salt, and oil by hand.
  • Knead by hand for 3-4 minutes.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 2-3 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 30 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds. Then put the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, into the refrigerator for 15-18 hours.

Day 3:
  • 1 hour before handling (3.5 hours before baking), take the dough out of the refrigerator.
  • Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each into a boule or batard. Place them into floured bannetons or a bowl lined with a floured linen.
  • Dust with flour and cover with plastic for 2.5 hours (at about 75 degrees F).
  • At the two hour mark, heat the oven to 460 degrees F (435 degrees F convection).
  • At 2.5 hours, scored the dough and put the dough into a combo cooker or onto a baking stone.
  • Bake under steam for 35 minutes. When done, it should be a light golden color with darker brown along the scoring mark.
  • Then, turn the over down to 440 degrees F (415 degrees F convection) and bake for 15 minutes or until it registers an internal temperature of 210 degrees F. Remove the bread from the oven.
  • Let it cool at least 1 hour before slicing and eating.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

English Muffins, Part 2

My English Muffins worked! They were actually quite amazing. So were Sue's.

English Muffins, Photocredit: Servia
I took the hypothesis from Tartine Bread that one needs to use some kind of dough that has a reasonably low hydration but also produces a bread with fairly large holes. Corudata's Oat Bread was perfect (which was the base for my English Muffin Recipe) because it is a low hydration bread that acts like a high hydration bread (see crumb shot of oat bread).
English Muffins, Photocredit: Servia

English Muffins, Exterior; Photocredit: Servia
Muffins baking in the skillet, the ugly one was made from leftover dough; Phodocredit: Servia

Sue and I had a day planned to do a taste test between sourdough and commercial yeast English Muffins as I mentioned in yesterday's post. It was a lot of fun. Both of our muffins turned out amazingly, although hers turned out much prettier than mine (see below). Totally coincidentally, both of us added oats to the recipe. Sue also added buckwheat to hers which gave them a delicious earthy flavor and a beautiful color.
Sue's English Muffins; Photocredit: Servia
We both ended up baking them on griddles (her on a real griddle, me in a my great-grandfather's cast iron skillet-- yes, the really do last that long). I was convinced it could never work, but it worked great.
Sue's Crumb; Photocredit: Servia
Sue's muffins, cooking on the griddle; Photocredit: Servia
Try these for yourself. I highly recommend it. And/Or try Sue's recipe. I posted this to Yeast Spotting.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

English Muffins, Part 1

So a long time ago I promised that I would make English Muffins with Sue. She is going to make muffins with commercial yeast and I was going to make muffins with sourdough so that we could compare the flavors. I thought it would be a really interesting experiment, especially since I found so many different versions of the recipes online.

However, when I looked more closely, I realized that almost all of them have a chemical rising agent such as baking powder or baking soda which entirely ruins the quest for the difference in taste between sourdough and commercial yeast muffins, so I realized that I had to come up with something different.

When I was thinking about it, I wasn't sure what kind of dough I could use to make good English Muffins. I've never made them before and I'm simply not sure what makes them work. However, I knew that the dough had to be fairly stiff, so that it could survive the cutting, and probably would need to be slightly sweetened. Now that I think about it, the recipe should have oil to soften the crust, but I forgot to put that in at the beginning. In this instantiation of the recipe I will just oil my hands for kneading, but next time I will probably add some into the dough itself to make things easier.

Sulpicia's Sourdough Oat English Muffins (in testing)

  • 100g starter (very active) 100% hydration white or whole wheat based upon preference
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 50g water

Final Dough:
  • All the preferment (250g)
  • 450g bread flour
  • 150g whole wheat flour
  • 130g rolled oats (thickly rolled is better)
  • 470g cold water
  • 17g salt
  • 1.5 tablespoon  non-diastatic malt powder
  • approximately 15g vegetable oil

Day 1:
  • Prepare the pre-ferment by dissolving the starter in water and then mixing in the flour. When it is fully mixed, cover the container and put it in the refrigerator.
  • Let it sit in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours. It should have almost doubled in bulk and it should pass the float test.

Day 2:
  • When the starter is ready to be used, leave it in the refrigerator for one extra hour.
  • Mix together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, non-diastatic, and water together in a bowl into a dough. I put the non-disastatic malt powder in with the salt because I forgot to put it in earlier.
  • Let it sit for 1 hour.
  • Then mix in the starter, salt, and oil by hand. I put in the oil later because I forgot it.
  • Knead by hand for 3-4 minutes.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 2-3 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 15 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds.
  • Wait 30 minutes. Then do 1-2 stretch-and-folds. Then put the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, into the refrigerator for 15-18 hours.

Day 3:
  • 1 hour before handling (3.5 hours before baking), take the dough out of the refrigerator.
  • Thoroughly flour a towel or a piece of parchment
  • Turn the dough onto the floured surface and press it into a 1" thick disk from the center outward
  • Dust with flour and cover with plastic for 2.5 hours.
  • Use a cookie cutter about 3" in diameter or a bench knife to cut 3" squares (if you don't mind the odd shape) and cut the muffins.
  • Coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil and heat on medium-low heat.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the muffins. Cover them with a lid.
  • In 5-6 minutes, they should puff 2" high. When the undersides are golden brown, flip the muffins and cook until the other side is golden brown/
I am doing the third day stuff today. Cross your fingers that it works!