Yet. Another. Rye.

January 17, 2010

I think that this is going to be my year to go all out with the whole grains.

I like white bread. Love it even. however, when I’m looking for toast in the morning, it isn’t white bread I turn to. Multigrain, rye, whole wheat…this is what my nightly dreams are made of. 100% whole grain? Sometimes, but usually even just a hint of whole rye or whole wheat in a bread will give it a good enough flavor to be deserving of a name other than plain.

This is one such bread.

Behold the 10% Rye Sourdough.

This is a simple, extremely basic loaf of bread. Your ingredients are starter, white bread flour, whole rye flour, water, and salt. It stays good for more than a couple days due to both the rye and the sourdough if kept in an airtight container. An extra long fermentation period, but not too long, and the addition of the rye flour give the loaf a pleasant, subtle tang, but nothing a person who doesn’t love sourdough bread would detect.

And the crumb…

Perfect for sandwiches. Not completely uniform, but your mustard isn’t going to slip out of these holes…much.

If you want a slightly higher loaf, add a bit of gluten flour in place of the white flour in the formula. It’s slightly wet at 68%, so it would benefit from stretching and folding after the all-night ferment. If I hadn’t shaped a round loaf (and scored a bit too long) I think I would’ve achieved something that could be a little higher…but this is just fine for my sandwiches.

Basic Sourdough Rye
My own recipe

175g 75% hydration starter
350g bread flour
50g whole rye flour
14g salt
265g water

Dissolve your starter in the water. Mix together the bread flour, rye flour, and salt. Add to the starter/water. Mix until you form a shaggy mass.

If using a stand mixer: I like to give it about 4 minutes, turn off the machine and let the dough rest for 10 or 15 minutes, then 3-4 more minutes to make sure of good gluten development.

If using the stretch/fold method: I don’t think I’ve really explained how this method works on the blog, but it’s explained elsewhere. For those of you who don’t understand the method, this is how it goes.

After the dough has had a 20 or so minute rest, take the edge of the bowl in one hand and use the other hand, with a bowl scraper or not, to gently fold the dough in on itself while turning the bowl. I hold the bowl with my left hand and use my right to fold. I move the bowl in a clockwise motion, slowly, while stretching small amounts of the dough into the middle of the larger mass. I do this as much as the dough can actually stand; you don’t want to see gluten strands breaking. That’s generally 20-25 times. You want a 20 minute rest between each of these little sessions, and I generally do about 3 of them. Then I do a letter fold twice during the fermentation time: take the dough out of the bowl, flatten it a bit on the counter, and fold in thirds like a letter from left to right and from top to bottom. This will give the dough even more strength.

Once your dough has finished the initial first ferment (mine rises about 2x the original size in about 4 hours), punch it down and do one more. If you’ve used the mixer method, I suggest at least one letter fold here to strengthen your dough. Allow to double in size again.

Shape your dough to proof. About 30 minutes before fully proofed, if using a baking stone, or about 15 minutes if not, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. When your oven is ready, slash your loaf as you choose and slide it carefully into the oven, whether on parchment, a cookie sheet, or just using semolina on a peel. Bake until a thermometer registers at least 200 degrees. My one large boule baked for about 35 minutes.

Makes 1 large boule or batard, 2 medium sized boules or batards, and about 3 smallish baguettes.


Today’s first: bagels. Sourdough bagels. With no added yeast. My first try with bagels, I decide to try a formula that I’ve come up with off the top of my head. Yes, I’ve read enough to know the very basics of what makes a good bagel, but, as you can see…

Had I kept them on a parchment sheet, they would’ve been fine…but I didn’t. I wanted to bake them on the stone. Without semolina. Without parchment. Plain bagels.

They stuck.

Four of the six at least look edible, but the other two were beyond help. This was really my second error. My first was letting them come to room temperature.

The one thing I did right, though: the taste is almost spot on. It’s exactly what you want a bagel to be like. While I plan on getting some malt powder to compare, I really don’t know if I’ll use it. The brown sugar seems to do a great job of getting color on them and the little bit in the dough is not really even noticeable, but seems to give the bagels a depth of flavor that a straight flour/yeast/salt/water dough wouldn’t have.

I plan on trying this exact formula again side by side with a less hydrated dough and see what happens. I also plan to boil right out of the fridge.

One other tidbit of information: if you don’t have a stronger mixer such as an Electrolux DLX or commercial-style stand mixer, just knead by hand. I have a KitchenAid Pro and my bowl liked to pop off the tab in back that holds it down on the mixer. I may look for a solution to that problem, but for now I plan on doing bagel doughs by hand. A KitchenAid without the bowl lift is going to be destroyed by this dough.

The formula, in case anyone wants a puffier, breadier bagel:

Sourdough Bagels (Bread-like)
Adapted from various sources

175g 75% hydration starter
375g bread flour
25g gluten flour
20g brown sugar
14g salt
200g water

Mix until you can’t mix anymore and then turn the dough out on a flat surface. Knead in all the flour, and then knead for at least 10-15 minutes. Your dough should feel just the slightest bit tacky, and not sticky at all. It should also be smooth, and all the flour should be incorporated into the dough.

Ferment until about 1.5 times original size. Took about 3 hours for me.

Divide your dough into your desired amount of bagels. I made 6. Shape bagels. I used the poke and stretch method. Put on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.

Next morning, remove the bagels from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and put a large pot of water on to boil. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the water. Drop bagels in the boiling water in groups of 3 or 4, giving about 30 seconds on each side. Drain well and place on parchment.

Bake on a stone or baking sheet for 20 or so minutes, until the bagels are golden brown and delicious.

Makes 6 good-sized or 12 mini bagels.

Chocolate is the world’s most indulgent comfort food. After a particularly unforgiving day of child-rearing, dinner disasters, and wide awake 2 month olds, it is the perfect ending. But what do you do if you have no prepared chocolate goodies?

You make some at 10PM.

These cookies came out of my head after seeing the recipe for Chocolate Crinkles on Joy of Baking. With no good chocolate in the house, though, that recipe doesn’t quite work for me. Enter my cheap Hershey’s cocoa powder and some Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chip Crinkles

1 cup (135g) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (20g)cocoa powder
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/4 (3g) teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons (75g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons (30g) milk
1 cup (175g) chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Whisk well to combine and to break up any lumps. In another small bowl, stir together the softened butter and sugar until combined. Stir in the egg well, and then stir in the milk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoon (or small cookie scoop) into the powdered sugar and coat very well. Place on cookie sheet and bake until the cookies just bounce back after you poke them with a finger. 12-15 minutes should do it. Cool for about 5 minutes on the sheet before moving to cooling rack.

Yield: 23-24 delectable, cake-like morsels of powdered-sugared chocolately deliciousness.

My Daily Bread – Redone.

January 5, 2010

Simple bread can have great flavor if you do it right. This, for me, is right. A long fermentation time, from final mix through final proof, gives the bread flavor. A very small amount of yeast facilitates that fermentation time. A scant one teaspoon of sea salt complements the flavor in the bread. A good bread flour gives the dough the strength it needs to withstand the long fermentation.

You can substitute a little whole wheat or rye flour for part of the bread flour for different flavor.

This bread has a crisp, crackling crust. It sang to me when I pulled it out of the oven. Note that my shaping skills need work. My putting the loaf in the oven a little before it was fully proofed was likely the culprit than shaping, though, this time.

Sent to Susan for Yeastspotting, hopefully one of two this week.

My Daily Bread
Influenced by various sources.

300g bread flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
scant 1 teaspoon salt
205g water

Fully mix bread flour, yeast, and salt. Add water, mixing with a spoon and then your hand until all the flour is moistened. Let stand 10 minutes.

After that 10 minutes, stretch and fold the dough in the bowl for 20-25 strokes, moving the bowl clockwise with your left hand while working the dough with your right (or the reverse if you’re left handed). Do this twice more before covering the dough and setting it in a relatively cold place for the night. Not your fridge, though, unless you want at least 24 hours before the dough is ready for the next step.

12 or so hours later, get the dough out of the bowl, degas, and do a French fold: stretch the dough out and fold it like a letter. I do this twice, once from side to side and then from top to bottom. Put it back in the bowl and ferment again until double. Shape as desired and proof, in a banneton, basket, or on parchment, until about double.

Your oven should be preheating at 425 degrees. If using a stone, preheat the oven for about 1/2 an hour. If not, preheat your oven for normal time. Place the dough on parchment if it isn’t already, slash it as you wish, and spray with water. Place in the oven, spraying both sides, and bake for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave for at least 10 more minutes, or until desired coloring is achieved. Cool before cutting.

Again with the crackers.

Last night was not really too much of a flop. I think I finally got these the way I wanted them. Made the same way as Deb from Smitten Kitchen did except for one thing: I substituted buttermilk for the cream. It gave the crackers a slight tang that they were missing using the cream.

Now if only my butter had been colder. They are a little on the tough side where the others were light and flaky. Still rather tasty, though.

Parmesan Crackers
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Mark Bittman.

1 cup all purpose flour (unbleached is what I always use)
1/2 cup parmesan or other hard cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cold
1/4-1/3 cup buttermilk
seeds, course salt, etc, for garnish

Cover a half sheet pan with parchment paper.

Wisk together flour, cheese, and salt in a small bowl. Cut in butter (I used a wire potato masher. Again. It seriously works.) Add buttermilk and mix with a fork until dough forms. Form into a ball carefully so as to work the dough as little as possible. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough to 1/8 inch and cut with pastry (or pizza) wheel into desired size. Place individually on sheet pan and bake until browned, 10-15 minutes. Cool completely before eating.

Let it snow, let it snow…

December 26, 2009

This is what I think of as comfort food; the type of thing you’d fix on a cold, snowy day in December and serve with fresh baguette and bowls of lettuce dressed simply with oil and lemon. It’s rich, hearty, and warming. Just don’t fix it while you’re on a diet and then come to me saying it threw you violently off the wagon.

Cream of Potato and Vegetable Soup
Serves 8 *very* generously

3/4 pound bacon, diced
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
3/4 pound baby carrots, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 pound broccoli, cut
2 pounds potatoes, cut in 1/2″ pieces
1/3 cup flour
2 cans vegetable broth, or 30 ounces homemade stock
1 pint half & half
1 cup cream
salt to taste
pepper to taste
good cheddar, for garnish

Cook bacon in a large soup pot until crisp. Remove bacon, saving bacon fat. Add 2 tablespoons butter to two tablespoons bacon fat and add onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper, cooking until the carrots just start to tenderize. Add broccoli and potatoes and cook until potatoes start to tenderize. Add the rest of the butter and 1/2 the flour, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil, cooking until the vegetables are tender. Add enough half & half to the rest of the flour to make a paste and stir it into the soup with the half & half and the cream. Simmer until thickened. Serve with cheese and bacon bits sprinkled over top.