Sunday, October 16, 2011

BBA #33: Poilâne-Style Miche

BBA: Poilâne-Style MicheNext up in the BBA Challenge list was another entry in the sourdough section, the Poilâne-Style Miche. This bread is in the cover photo--a huge round of very dark-brown bread. I did my usual half-recipe, so my round loaf was merely large, not huge. After seeing the size of my loaf, I don't think my baking stone could handle the full-sized miche. To deconstruct the recipe title: Poilâne is Lionel Poilâne, a famed French baker. Miche, according to wikipedia, is the word for a large round loaf. The recipe uses a sourdough starter and long fermentation times to build flavor in the bread, and calls for a sifted medium-grind whole-wheat flour to replicate Poilâne's flour. I went with the suggested substitution of half whole-wheat, half bread flour.

The mixing of the miche was much like other sourdoughs: it started with making a firm starter the night before using a refreshed barm, and letting that rise for 6 hours. The day of, the starter came out of the fridge to warm up, then was mixed with flour, salt, and water to make the dough. Reinhart warns that this bread is too large for machine mixing, but my half recipe worked well in the KitchenAid. I added the maximum amount of water (11 ounces), then added almost another ounce during the kneading--that was almost too much, and my dough was probably beyond 'tacky' to 'sticky'. With generous coatings of Pam, I was able to keep it from sticking too much.

The first rise was in a plastic dough bucket, and I let it go for a full 4 hours. Then I shaped the dough into a boule, trying hard to get a good taut skin without degassing the dough more than necessary. The boule then went into a mixing bowl (a rather shallow one) lined with a heavy pastry cloth, and rose another 2-1/2 hours. I got the risen loaf turned out onto my peel without too much difficulty, but found my pastry cloth had stuck some despite the spray of Pam and a dusting of flour--I got a few little folds in the top of the loaf while removing the cloth. Then it was on to the slashing of the loaf, where again my lame snagged and produced an irregular cut, then I slid the loaf onto my baking stone, poured the 2 cups of hot water into my steam pan, and closed the oven. Unlike other hearth loafs, this one doesn't call for spraying water on the sides of the oven in the first few minutes, so the loaf bakes undisturbed until it is rotated for an even baking.

BBA: Poilâne-Style MicheI should haver reduced the first oven period from the 25 minutes for the full-sized miche, as mine was quite dark when I rotated the loaf and turned the oven down. I covered the loaf with foil and gave it another 10 minutes (the full loaf goes for 30-40), and the internal temperature was at 203.

The bread got sliced while still a little warm (both nieces wanted some for dinner), but wasn't gummy. It has a nice even and chewy texture, maybe a little dense, and a good crust. I had some with herbs and oil, and a little more with butter, both of which complemented it well. The bread is supposed to keep well, too, so I look forward to trying it on day 2 or 3.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

BBA #32: 100% Sourdough Rye Bread

100% Sourdough Rye BreadAnd I'm up to date on the bread blogging--I baked this bread this weekend. The seven weeks between baking the NY Deli Rye and this one allowed for recovery from Too Much Bread and Too Much Sourdough Baking (I love sourdough, but it does create more hassles in the bread-baking process), and for ordering white rye and pumpernickel flours from King Arthur to use for BBA challenge breads coming up. Other baking occurred (to be blogged later) and there were two business trips to Denver in there, too, for other distractions. Now the weather has gotten cooler, I've got a gap in my work and personal travel, and bread baking has picked up.

I refreshed my rye starter early in the week, then made the firm starter for my usual half recipe of bread on Friday morning. It took 5-6 hours to double, then I moved it into the fridge for an overnight stay. Friday evening I mixed up the soaker of pumpernickel flour and water, and left that out overnight.

Saturday morning started the real bread making. The firm starter came out of the fridge and warmed up, then I mixed in the soaker and the rest of the ingredients, including fennel seeds as a switch from the usual caraway. I was trying to mix and knead it in the KitchenAid, but sort of messed that up--I didn't add much of the water at first, had the dough go to a pretty firm ball on the dough hook instead of Reinhart's "very tacky ball", then tried to add more water. That never works well (much easier to add more flour than more water after the dough has started to come together), so I ended up mixing more than I wanted then having to hand-knead anyway. In the end I didn't have as hydrated a dough as I wanted.

It rose well, doubling in 4 hours. I then made my second error in the shaping--while trying to form a batard without degassing the dough, I didn't get a good skin on the dough. When it rose, the loaf had lots of open holes against the covering plastic wrap. I decided to try to fix this and turned over the mostly risen loaf, brushed off as much of the flour-and-semolina dusting as I could, then let it rise a while longer. That got a better surface on my loaf (though it did crack and open up a little in that last rise), but I lost some height on the final bread in the process. Baking went smoothly using the hearth baking setup, and the somewhat flat loaf was browned and at 200°+ degrees in 20 minutes.

100% Sourdough Rye BreadThe crumb was denser than I'd hoped given how well the dough rose initially, but it had a nice flavor with the fennel seeds and the rye flour. We ate most of the loaf with the now standard herbs-and-oil dip purported to be the blend used by Carrabba's Restaurants, despite competition from a whole-wheat-and-dried-cherry challah still warm from the oven. I do have to attribute part of the gobbling of the rye bread to the herbs and oil, and another part to older niece breaking her Yom Kippur fast in serious carb-loading mode. I think the bread goes in the "good, but won't try it again" pile.

BBA #31: New York Deli Rye

NY Deli RyeCatchup, catchup, baked this bread on August 20. It's the second bread in the sourdough section, a New York Deli Rye, or onion rye. A hefty quantity of sauteed onions go into the rye sponge starter to give the finished bread a definite oniony character.

I made a rye starter from my old sourdough starter, just refreshing it with rye flour earlier in the week before baking. It was therefore about a 50/50 rye/white starter for this one--if I keep it around and keep feeding it rye flour only, the wheat component will keep shrinking. I used a generic organic rye flour, as I couldn't find white rye flour locally.

The bread is a blend of rye and wheat flour, with a little brown sugar, some oil, buttermilk, and the usual salt and water. As usual I made a half recipe to get one 1-pound loaf, and did bake it in a loaf pan instead of as a batard. I left out the caraway seeds, as I think someone next door dislikes them.

Memory has faded on this one, but from the photos it rose well (despite being a sourdough bread with no extra yeast), and I seem to recall it had a nice flavor and did well as a sandwich loaf. Should I ever go back to fixing sandwich lunches, this would be a good bread for them.

NY Deli Rye NY Deli Rye NY Deli Rye NY Deli Rye

BBA #30: Basic Sourdough Bread with Asiago and Walnuts

Basic Sourdough with Walnuts and AsiagoStill catching up--this one was baked August 14. It's the first bread up in the sourdough section. I skimmed over the "make your own sourdough starter" section, choosing instead to use my years-old sourdough starter, originally from King Arthur Flour but by now probably all local yeasts. That starter, like the one Reinhart develops, is made of equal weights of flour and water, which works out to about double the volume of flour to water. Weighing is easiest!

I made the firm starter the first day, a mix of the refreshed starter and more flour and water--but less water, to end up with a kneadable dough. The firm starter took perhaps 6 hours to double, slower than Reinhart's base estimate of 4 hours. After an overnight refrigeration, the final dough was made from it plus more flour and water, plus salt. I got it a touch too wet, maybe, and had to dust the counter with flour while moving it to my rising container. I also went with Reinhart's suggestion to try some variations, and added walnuts to get the lovely purplish color to the bread, and a dry asiago cheese in about 1/4" dice, spread on the dough and rolled in. I put in about 1.5 oz walnuts and 2.5 oz. cheese to my half-recipe of bread--about 10 oz. of flour so that's the 40% of the final flour weight in addtions that he recommends.

Basic Sourdough with Walnuts and AsiagoThe dough tose slowly, so I eventually put it in the warm garage to speed up (August, Atlanta...the garage was probably 85 degrees) and it had almost doubled in maybe 5 hours. I decided to shape it as a batard. I'm still working on shaping-without-deflating: I didn't deflate my dough, but as my loaf ended up pretty flat but not dense, I think I didn't manage to get enough surface tension during the shaping.

Basic Sourdough with Walnuts and AsiagoI baked it using the hearth baking method on a stone with steam in the first few minutes, yanking the parchment out from under the loaf when I rotated the bread after 10 minutes. Results: very tasty bread. It had a nice sourdough flavor. The asiago cheese was crusty on top and crunched nicely with the good bread crust, and formed little pockets of melted cheese inside the loaf. The walnuts did give a lovely purplish cast to the bread, and added another crunchy element.

It's a keeper. There are lots of other interesting variations listed, but I'll be coming back to this one, I'm sure.

BBA #29: Pugliese

PuglieseA pugliese, Reinhart says, is a rustic bread similar to ciabatta but baked in rounds instead of slipper shapes, and using durum flour. It should be a very wet dough when baking with U.S. flours, to get the characteristic large open holes. I couldn't find any variety of durum flour (besides the coarser-grained semolina), so for me this bread was another chance to practice handling very wet dough. I'm still doing catch-up blogging: I baked the pugliese July 31.

The pugliese starts with a biga--flour, water, and yeast mixed to a firm dough, let rise, then refrigerated for at least overnight. Come to think of it, so did the potato rosemary bread, and what I did was make a full recipe of biga, then split it to make half recipes of that one and this. I also used leftover mashed potato from the potato-rosemary bread, learning from that loaf to press the potato through a sieve to get out the lumps.
Don't remember much of this one, except that I think I deflated it when trying to slash the loaf despite my new and therefore supposedly sharp lame. I must be lacking in the proper technique. The bread had a nice flavor (we ate most of it dipped in olive oil and herbs), but it was flat and didn't have the larger holes shown in the book. Technique again--if I made high-hydration breads every week for a while, I might get this down.

Pugliese Pugliese Pugliese Pugliese

BBA #28: Potato Rosemary Bread

Potato Rosemary BreadAnother bread with few notes, but the iPhoto pictures have survived to tell me I baked it on July 24. It's a white bread with added mashed potatoes to make the dough more tender, flavored with chopped rosemary and roasted garlic. I did leave a note to run the cooked potato through a ricer or a sieve as I had some small lumps in the dough that didn't bake out--my usual mashed potatoes are on the rustic side. Those lumps just show the mashed potatoes are not from a box, right?

I used a jarred chopped roasted garlic, I think, certainly not as flavorful as if I'd roasted some fresh. The rosemary was fresh from my abundant rosemary bush--the stuff grows like a weed in my herb garden. Overall, the bread didn't make much of an impression, so that may be the judgement there. I'd hoped for a more open, "holey" texture, but only had a few larger holes.Potato Rosemary Bread

BBA #27: Portuguese Sweet Bread

Portugese Sweet BreadI've been a couple of senses. I'm in the travel-heavy part of my work year, so had fallen behind on posting and somewhat on baking. computer drive failed. Or maybe it was a problem with the system software, but no matter what I had a business trip, came back and almost immediately had the computer failure, took it off to the shop for a new drive (bless you, AppleCare), and left on another trip before the repair was done. Once the computer was back up and the drive restored from Time Machine, I discovered that iPhoto had longer-standing problems than the drive failure, and I have lost the originals of all of my photos back to May or earlier. On some of those I still have the thumbnail version iPhoto produces, on others I just had an album thumbnail which I never could dig out of the iPhoto file structure that was visible in the damaged iPhoto library--just enough to remind me that I had various sets of photos that are now lost. Since all that there have been 2 more business trips, further delaying blogging and baking.

Moral: save and backup digital photos multiple ways. They cannot be replaced. On a few of these sets I made Flickr uploads, just not enough of 'em.

Portugese Sweet BreadSo anyway, last bread post was July 4. I baked the Portuguese Sweet Bread July 16, which tells you how behind I am between computer messes and not-baking due to travel. And since I didn't blog these as I baked them and didn't always make notes, things may be....brief, this one in particular. I have very little memory of this bread, but as I'm not fond of Hawaiian/Portuguese sweet bread that's perhaps not completely due to the several months' lag in the writeup. It's an egg bread with enough sugar to make it taste sweet but not to put it in the sweet-roll category, and is flavored with lemon, orange, and vanilla extracts. My photos (uploaded before the computer crash and iPhoto losses) show that I made a single loaf, braided and baked in a loaf pan instead of the suggested boule. It had a nice even crumb, but with the sweetness and flavorings, not much got eaten as a loaf bread. The remainder did make very nice French toast, though.

Portugese Sweet Bread Portugese Sweet Bread Portugese Sweet Bread