Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BBA #25: Pizza Napoletano

Pizza NapoletanoThe BBA Challenge 2011 arrived at the "real" pizza recipe last week, labeled Pizza Napoletano. I'd also taken the suggestion earlier and made pizza from part of my pain à l'ancienne dough, and liked that version a lot--very chewy, flavorful crust. The pizza napoletano was not as good to my tastes, but part of that might be that I played with the recipe a bit.

I made a half recipe, aiming for 3 9-12" pizzas, and decided to replace half the flour with whole-wheat and used bread flour (the options were bread or unbleached AP) for the rest. I put one-third of the dough in the fridge for its overnight (well, a couple of days) rest, and froze the rest. Then it occurred to me that sister-in-law, younger niece, and the nephew would be back from their visit to grandparents in Arizona and could share the pizza, so the other two-thirds came back out of the freezer and went in the fridge as well.

Pizza NapoletanoDay of pizza making, the dough came out to the counter to warm up and rise, then was easy to stretch into pizza rounds. Almost too easy--my crusts got a little too thin in places in the middle and I had a cracker crust there. Pizza Napoletano(Which was quite good, really, as it didn't quite burn and thus was toasty cheese and toppings on a crispbread.)

Toppings were: tomato sauce, "Italian shredded cheese mix" (mozzarella, asiago, parmesan, provolone, and romano), and pepperoni
tomato sauce, caramelized onions, mushrooms, cheese mix, pepperoni on about a quarter of it
olive oil, caramelized onions, mushrooms, cheese mix, prosciutto

The pepperoni pizza suffered a serious accident after gluing itself to the pizza peel, requiring scraper-surgery to remove it, and ended up rather misshapen and uneven, alas. I have learned to be more generous with the semolina, or to just play it safe and use parchment paper...

Pizza Napoletano Pizza Napoletano

There were no complaints from the niece and nephew on the crust (nephew got some bits of mushroom on one piece, requiring careful removal before the rest could be eaten), but no great kudos either. We all like the whole-wheat flavor, so I'm thinking I may try the pain à l'ancienne with half whole-wheat next time I'm making pizza and have the lead time to do that recipe.

Monday, June 20, 2011

BBA #24: Panettone

PanettoneWrong season and all that, but I like fruit-in-bread (as the usual weekly whole-wheat challah with dried cherries) and I really want to get caught up with the BBA Challenge, so I baked panettone this weekend despite the high 90's temperatures of a summer day in Georgia. Regardless of the season I don't do candied cherries any more, so I went with the base golden raisins, then added a few dried apricots, a dried peach, and dried tart cherries to my fruit mix, doused it in dark rum with lemon extract and Fiori di Sicilia, and let that sit overnight.

I again wanted a half recipe, and this time I worked with the amounts written on a sticky note covering the recipe amounts to try to forestall the problems that plagued my Pane Siciliano. This panettone recipe calls for a wild-yeast sponge starting with a barm, and as I did the last time we used barm, I grabbed for my standard sourdough starter, refreshed it one day, then made the sponge with barm/starter, milk, and unbleached flour the next. That sat out to bubble then got refrigerated overnight.

All the preparatory mixes made and aged as needed, it was on to the actual bread today. Flour, salt, yeast, and sugar got blended with the sponge, and an egg and a yolk. For my half recipe, I just took one egg and removed some white until I had the correct weight of egg+yolk. All that got mixed to form a "supple ball". It took almost no water after that--the directions were less than clear, anyway, as when the ingredients form into a supple ball, I for one would feel that was "a dough". Apparently not, so I added a tablespoon or so of water to get a dough that machine-kneaded with just the bottom of the dough sticking to the bowl, a criterion given for some earlier breads. The dough then rests for 20 minutes, then the butter and the dried fruit plumped in rum are added, and the dough is ready for kneading.

Panettone Panettone Panettone Panettone Panettone Panettone

I stuck with my KitchenAid kneading, just using a lower speed to keep from beating up the dried fruit. I was rather surprised when the dough really did pass the windowpane test at the end of the kneading period, though I held the dough out from the dough hook to do the test because it was quite tacky. The dough is sweet and rich and so is slow to rise--it did take two hours for each rise. I found small baking papers and made 8 small panettones (4 ounces of dough each) with my half recipe.

PanettoneMy little breads baked in about 30 minutes. I missed the note about spraying the baking papers with oil, and so the bottoms seem to leave a thin layer in the paper. The texture is even and smooth, and it's a soft bread--not as rich as the brioche, but definitely a bread for special occasions.

BBA #23: Pane Siciliano

Pane SicilianoLet's just say I made a mess of the pane siciliano. In trying to halve the recipe (and doing three or four other things at the same time), I halved everything but the water, and only noticed this when I had added almost all of the amount and had thick pancake batter instead of dough. Starting over would have meant a new pâte fermentée and a delay of a couple of days, so I added more flour and semolina, threw in a little more salt and yeast, and hoped for the best.

Pane SicilianoI decided I had enough dough for 2 loaves, and would bake them separately as I had them on separate pans. Then my baking distractions continued and I failed to turn down the oven temperature from 500 to 450 after the steam spritzing for the first loaf. It was very dark brown--not a burned taste, but well beyond where you want your bread to be. I managed the right temperatures for the second loaf but it was still a little too brown when I first checked it and then covered it.

Pane SicilianoTaste results? It's not really fair to say, I think. My crust was certainly not really crackly, and the texture didn't have as many open holes as I wanted. I didn't get any character from the semolina--maybe overwhelmed by my unmeasured additions of flour. I'd say I'd try the pane siciliano again someday, but I think there are breads I like better out there.

BBA #22: Pain de Campagne

Pain de CampagneCatch-up time again--I'm now on schedule for the BBA Challenge baking, and if I get three blog posts done I'll be completely caught up. On the Challenge, that is...let's not discuss other aspects of my world that are behind schedule or just out of control.

Next up after the pain à l’ancienne was pain de campagne, "country bread". It is made with a light sourdough starter (pâte fermentée), and has a little whole-wheat flour in addition to the unbleached bread flour. I did a half recipe of the pain de campagne, but looking ahead I made a full recipe of pâte fermentée and froze half for the pane siciliano coming up. Thanks to a weekend out of town, the pâte fermentée for the country bread spent a couple of extra days in the fridge and acquired a little extra sourdough character before I made the bread.

Pain de Campagne
Pain de Campagne
Pain de Campagne

No issues with making the dough or kneading it (by machine, as always). The dough rose very quickly, and I just shaped the dough when it had doubled. Short on time, I didn't follow the instructions to degas it and let it rise again if it doubled in under two hours, I moved on to the shaping. This dough is supposed to lend itself to a variety of shapes. I divided my dough in half and started with one auvergnat (a cap) and a fendu (split bread), then converted the fendu to a couronne (crown) on second thought. My cap manage to remain rather cap-like after rising with it's sesame-seeded topknot, but my crown ended up as a rather featureless oversized doughnut shape.

The recipe calls for hearth baking with the bread directly on the baking stone. However, I grabbed polenta instead of cornmeal or semolina to dust my parchment paper, which was too gritty and I then couldn't get loaves off the paper they proofed on. Oh, well, so the bread baked on paper. I did manage a good blast of steam, and the resulting loaf was nicely crusty.

Pain de CampagneTasting results: Lovely browned crackly crust and a very chewy texture like the pain à l’ancienne. Without side-by-side comparison the only distinct difference I get is the flavor from the small amount of whole-wheat flour, and perhaps a little from the long pre-ferment. Not really strong, though. Still and all, a very nice bread.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

BBA #21: Pain à l’Ancienne

BBA: Pain a l'AncienneWe move out of a stretch of sandwich breads and back to the chewy, crusty, open-textured least if they come out right. I was more than a little surprised at my success with the Pain à l’Ancienne on my first shot. The method is the thing here--the bread is one of those most basic ones, with just flour, water, yeast, and salt. But the water is ice water, and the bread goes immediately into the fridge so that the yeast won't start working. The goal is to retard the yeast action to let the bread develop more flavor. After a night in the fridge the bread comes out for a sit at room temperature to let the yeast get going, until the dough doubles. You then move it from fridge to oven with as little disturbance as possible, for the baguettes anyway.

My loaf proceeded a little differently than the above plan, but the results were still great. My dough almost tripled in the fridge. Yes, the fridge is at the recommended temperature and no, the door wasn't opened very much over the rising period--I think I've just got enthusiastic yeast. I did let it come to room temperature, then gently eased the dough out of my rising bucket onto a pile of flour (the dough was very soft), and it was already a good bit larger than the size suggested. I cut it in half, cut three strips from one half, moved them to a piece of parchment paper with no stretching needed (they were already as long as my baking stone), snipped them with a pair of scissors, and popped them into the oven on the baking stone and poured hot water into my steam pan. After the couple of sprays of water at the sides of the oven, all I had to do then was take the lovely browned loaves out when done. The whole procedure seemed like a snap, which might be a combination of true "relatively easy recipe" and "I'm getting better at these skills".

BBA: Pain a l'AncienneThe other half of the dough got split into 4 pieces for pizzas, and went back into the fridge. I had a carb day--I ate most of a baguette for lunch with a little Jarlsburg cheese and some herbs in oil for dipping, then made pizzas with the folks next door in the evening.

Pizza: I went with 4 pizzas, knowing that we generally end up with a variety of opinions on what the toppings should be. I wanted thin crust pizza and as crisp as possible, so we fired up sister-in-law's oven to 500 degrees and put in her baking stone. The dough was quite soft, too soft to consider trying to toss it as even draping it over the backs of my hands had it almost putting apart. With a combination of stretching and rolling (and a little patching) we got 4 pizzas roughly 12" in diameter. Toppings were:
tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni
olive oil, roasted garlic, mozzarella, chicken, spinach, and parmesan
tomato sauce, mozzarella, chicken, and bacon
margherita--olive oil, buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and basil from the garden (tomatoes were not from the garden, as I just got the plants in a week or so ago...much later than I'd intended)

The bread makes for a sturdy, chewy pizza crust, very much to my taste. Sister-in-law would prefer part whole-wheat the way I've been doing pizza crusts lately, so perhaps I'll try the pain à l'ancienne again with 1/3 or so whole wheat flour. The kids didn't find the crust to be notably different from the last homemade pizza we had, but found the overall results very satisfactory. Our first experiment with pizza margherita was not a complete success, as we overdid the toppings and things got soupy in the middle. We will also apply the basil after the pizza comes out of the oven next time.

BBA: Pain a l'Ancienne BBA: Pain a l'Ancienne BBA: Pain a l'Ancienne BBA: Pain a l'Ancienne BBA: Pain a l'Ancienne BBA: Pain a l'Ancienne BBA: Pain a l'Ancienne, margherita before baking BBA: Pain a l'Ancienne, pizza remnants

Monday, June 6, 2011

BBA #20: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, as Hotdog Buns

BBA Multigrain Bread ExtraordinaireAs I'm baking lots of bread in catch-up mode and don't eat that much loaf bread anyway, some sort of alternative use for the multigrain bread seemed appropriate. I had picked up some Riverview Farms bratwurst at the startup weekend farmer's market at Oak Grove near my house, and decided that I could turn the multigrain into buns suitable to hold the brats. Sister-in-law grilled a few beef and pork ribs, and with all that we put together a Memorial Day mixed grill.

For my multigrains, I used polenta and rolled oats--I had quinoa but wanted the smaller grained polenta, and didn't have any of the suggested alternatives to the rolled oats. My cooked brown rice was from a Trader Joe's frozen packet, and then there was the bread flour and wheat bran for 5 grains total. This is a bread with more sweetening than usual, both brown sugar and honey.

The procedure is to make a soaker with the polenta, rolled oat, and wheat bran, just barely moistened with water. That sits overnight "to initiate enzyme action". The next day ti all gets mixed in with the remaining ingredients, kneaded, has one rise, then is shaped, rises again, and bakes.

For my hot dog buns, I divided the dough into 8 pieces which I believe worked out to about 3 oz. each. Following the advice on a couple of different web pages I shaped them into 5" long rolls and put 6 of them about an inch apart on a baking sheet, looking for the rolls to merge as they rose for soft-sided buns. (The other 2 were to the side, where they got crusty on all sides.) After the rise I brushed the buns with egg white thinned with water for better stick on the poppy seeds, and did a few plain in case there were poppy-seed averse among the tasters.

BBA Multigrain Bread ExtraordinaireResults: Buns with a nice chew, but a little sweet. Younger niece found the honey flavor struck an odd note with the bratwurst, but would have found it OK for breakfast toast. I think I'll leave out the honey on a repeat and let the brown sugar carry the sweetness profile if I'm after a sandwich loaf or hot dog buns again. I might also substitute a little whole-wheat flour for the bread flour, for a more wheaty taste. If I'm making hotdog buns again, I think I'll line up all 8 down my baking pan so the rolls will be confined and rise higher, for a more round cross-section.

For the completed dish, I used a Cooks Illustrated recipe for grilling the sausages with onions and thyme, which I'll use again. The brats had good flavor, and if I hadn't been in a hurry to get my contribution toward dinner done the onions would have finished browning and been really pretty in addition to to their very nice flavor. The buns were lightly toasted on the grill before adding the wurst.

More pics:

BBA Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire BBA Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire BBA Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire BBA Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire BBA Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire BBA Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BBA #19: Marble Rye

Marbled RyeThe most difficult part of making the marbled rye bread was finding caramel color to make the dark rye dark. As in a pumpernickel bread you can also use unsweetened chocolate or coffee, but as this bread is quite light in flavor, I suspect those are a little more likely to come through in the taste profile. After googling turned up a hint in posts for the first-round BBA Challenge ("try Asian groceries"), I made one pass at the DeKalb Farmer's Market before trying the high-percentage shot of the Buford Highway Farmer's Market. Sure enough, after writing out my question for the Eastern European woman at Customer Service when her English comprehension couldn't figure out how to search the database (her spoken English was quite good, though), she determined that I could find caramel coloring in the Korean grocery section. The Vietnamese CS person directed me to, well, not the right aisle, but close, and after several passes through 3 different nationalities' grocery, soft drink, and other foodstuffs I finally spotted the bottle labelled "caramel coloring". Ingredients: molasses, water. I am a little leery of the translated ingredients stickers on these small-scale imports, and I must say it didn't taste exactly like molasses. It worked for the dark rye, though!

That hurdle over, the marbled rye was basically 2 batches of light rye bread, one with caramel coloring added. I made a half-recipe, and added the optional caraway seeds. I went with the "four slab" method of getting a marbled pattern with pretty good success--one end was more bull's eye than swirl, but in the middle of the loaf I got a nice swirl pattern. I think if I flattened my slabs a little more and worked on a tighter roll (trying to get a full rotation of the doughs) I could get a consistent swirl end-to-end. The bread nicely filled my bigger loaf pan.

Tasting results: it's a light-textured rye with a pretty light rye flavor, too. I prefer a rye with a little more chew and a little stronger rye character, but this is certainly a very acceptable rye sandwich loaf. It made for very nice grilled cheese sandwiches with some leftover asiago and aged provolone cheese last weekend.

Marbled Rye Marbled Rye Marbled Rye Marbled Rye

BBA #18: Light Wheat Bread

Light Wheat BreadI almost forgot about the light wheat bread as I started draft blog posts for baked-but-not-blogged BBA Challenge breads--it made very little impression on me, clearly, for either baking or taste. It was just what was advertised: a soft wheat bread like the basic supermarket bread--texture close to a soft white sandwich loaf and not a big wheat flavor. It was easy to mix up and shape, baked up into a pretty loaf, and made for nice sandwiches. It's not the sort of bread I have a lot of call for especially with our weekly whole-wheat challah filling the craving for freshly baked wheat bread, so I don't think I'll be repeating this one.Light Wheat Bread

BBA #17: Lavash crackers

Lavash crackersI'm behind on my BBA challenge baking, and further behind on blogging about it. Blame it on lots of busy weekends and a real crunch to finish the challenge of the Rose's Heavenly Cakes Bake-through, and my summary post of all the cakes. If I can get caught up on the blogging part for BBA Challenge 2011 I'll only be a week behind on the baking. Or maybe 2. The next few posts may be brief, especially if I don't remember much about the baking process.

Lavash CrackersThe lavash crackers presented no problems in the mixing or kneading, just in my attempts to roll the crackers very thin. I wanted that look of the ones in the book--almost shatteringly crisp. What tripped me up was going by the size of the finished dough (though the recipe did say you might need to trim the dough to fit your sheet pan), not the "paper thin" description, which I took as hyperbole. Well, it might have been somewhat hyperbolic, but nonetheless I should have rolled my dough thinner. The crackers I got were almost Ritz cracker thick and not being as rich as Ritz crackers, they felt rather, shall we say, solid. They worked fine as a base for spreadable cheese, but weren't really what I was after. File this one in the "try again someday with a better idea of what I'm doing" pile.