Entries in bread (27)


the newest bread iteration

Bread is one of those things that I go along happily making the same recipe for months, years.  And then I read something.  Or see a picture.  The recent read was the Nordic Baking book (tome) by Magnus Nilsson.  I also listened to a BBC broadcast where he was being interviewed.

The main jist of the conversation was that Nordic baking was really quite good.  If not superior to say French baking because of all the hurdles that needed to be surmounted.  A lot of that baking never left the small regional area it started.  

There was also a lot of conversation about how Nordic baking could be used as our climate changed and there were less places wheat could grow.  Also, the grains that were and are being developed in that part of the world are much hardier to the changes in climate.  When the rock record is studied, it is actually quite interesting to see how even though there is an increase in global temperature, there are parts of the world where the microclimate gets colder.

I could get into a long discussion about climate change but the basics are I believe in climate change.  Climate has always changed and is very cyclic.  I do believe that humans have affected the rate of change and that is going to impact our children and grandchildren.  We need to do better for them.  But the Earth will be okay without us.  It will heal.  

What has this to do with bread?  After the conversations about Nordic baking and climate change, I was intrigued about how my oatmeal bread would taste with a cup rye added to it.  I have been making yogurt cheese so I replaced one cup of the two cups of water I normally use with one cup of whey.  A cup of rolled oats and a cup of rye were added to the batter.  The amount of wheat flour that was used was about four cups.  I kept the salt, sugar, and butter the same.  I have been kneading my butter in.  A little more work but a better loaf.  It helps develop the gluten because of the lower gluten levels with the oats and rye.

These changes made an exceptionally tasty loaf.  It went wonderfully with the honey my best friend has been sending me.  I get boxes of love which usually contain honey and yarn.  Someone who knows me well!  I am going to keep making this.  Especially since I have two quarts of whey in the refrigerator.  The last loaf I did I used two cups of whey and no water so there would be room in the refrigerator for the next batch of whey from the yogurt cheese.  Yes, I can be that frugal.  And if small boys only wish to eat bread for a day, I know they are getting good food.


toasted oatmeal bread

I mentioned in my last post I was trying a new bread recipe.  Toasted oatmeal bread.  The goal was to have more flavor in the regular oatmeal bread that the boyos like so well.  And I did succeed.  I will also admit that I have made this twice and it turns out better for me if I do not extra hands helping.

I could get very philosophical about this bread.  Bread in general.  But bread is wonderful food for the belly and meditation for the hands.  The boyos think they will starve if there is not lady made bread in the house.

My house was very cold when I made this so all the rising times were very long.  That helped develop more flavor as well.  It will be April before I have to worry about much warmth in the house to make the rise happen faster.

toasted oatmeal bread

Note:  I used Zachary Golper's method of toasting and grinding the oats in this loaf.  He uses steel cut oats and those are my favorite.  I would like not to have to buy three types of oats for the house!


1 cup steel cut oats

2 cups water

2 tablespoons molasses

1/4 cup brown sugar

5 plus cups flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons butter

Lately, I have been using so much sourdough that I have gone to a quart jar.  I used about 1/4 cup of sourdough that had been refreshed for this bread.

Put the steel cut oats in a cast iron pan.  Put the pan in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven and let toast for about four minutes.  Stir.  Toast for another four minutes.  Stir.  Check the browning.  Watch them closely for the next four minutes because somewhere in there they will go from nicely golden to black very quickly.  It does not take much more then this, especially in a toaster oven!

I have a high powered blender.  A ninja.  I dump the toasted oats in that and let blend for about 15 minutes.  I usually leave the room.  The flour should be fairly fine but you will have to blend it even longer to get fine flour or sieve.  I just chose to have a gritty texture added to the bread.

In a large bowl, put the sourdough, 2 cups of water, the oat flour, molasses, and brown sugar.  Mix well. Mix in three cups of flour. Cover and let get bubbly.  It took about four hours or more in my cold kitchen.  But the yeasty beasties were happy!  The batter should remind you of pancake batter.

When the dough is bubbly, mix in the salt.  Mix in enough flour to make a kneadable dough.  Soft but not stiff.  It is better to go for less flour because the grittty oats will still take up water.  Smear the butter on the counter and knead it into the dough as well.  Put back into a bowl and cover.  Let rise for about an hour.  Flatten gently and fold.  Do this twice more.  Put in the refrigerator for over night.

The next day, line a loaf pan with parchment paper or butter it.  Take the dough out of the refrigerator and shape it into a load.  Put in the pan.  Let rise.  This could take close to all day.

When the dough has risen well, bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour.  I over filled my pan so I had crazy edges.

So good!  My next loaf is seedier because I had help.  But it is all good.  It is bread.  The bread I was making today got turned into pizza so I will start more tomorrow.  I need to clean the bowl out a bit.



needs more work

The experimentation for Saturday came out of the oven.  I think it needs more work.  I think I might leave the buckwheat flour out of it next time.  It adds a bitterness that is not coming from the cocoa.  The flavor of the buckwheat and cocoa combined overwhelm the cherries and pecans.  I need to go down this road some more.  It is like having cake but not having cake.  Especially right out of the oven which is when the boyos cut into it.

The last two days I did basically nothing.  Coached.  Read.  Slept.  Watched some videos.  I have the feeling I may have worn myself out a bit.  I always have a list of things I would like to get to during the day.  It is usually longer then the day will allow so I have come to terms with that.  But I just keep running with it.  I am coaching tonight and I probably should not be if my energy levels are anything to go by.  Oh well.  I will make sure to do some hand work tomorrow.

It is hurricane season.  And we may have some weather this coming weekend.  It does not look like it will be a storm but there was some talk of that for awhile.  I am not still rebuilding.  I came out of it fairly unscathed.  There was a roof that needed to be repaired.  But I am having some anxiety.  A plane flew over the house quite low yesterday and I became stressed.  Time will help but I could see where the next storm I may wish to leave town.  Just trying to live within myself and not taking anything extra on.  It can be hard.


one of the many french style breads

Obviously, when I got back from camping I had milk that was going bad.  Drinkable but it tasted just a bit off.  I also needed bread.  

I have been wanting a French style bread.  The boyos really like the oatmeal.  I could have made the oatmeal bread with the milk.  Not a problem.  I just wanted something a little different.  I like a French style bread with butter and jam.  A bit drippy but not holey.  Which is why I say French style.  I do not wish a crust that cuts my mouth and I want enough bread to hold the butter and jam and not fall on the plate.  I can make the artisan style breads.  I chose not to because I want the jam and butter to be on the bread not running down my arm.  It sounds so picky but is true.

I went through the Bein Cuit cookbook to be inspired.  There was a French style loaf with milk and olive oil.  I have to admit I quite like it.  Here is where it gets really silly.  I looked at the proportion of measurements, realized they were very close to Chris Bianco's pizza dough measurements and went from there.  It is really how simple bread is to make.  Please try it!

I have actually made this bread again already with the whey I saved from straining the yogurt.  Again, so good.  There is a a half a loaf left and I am told bread is needed.  Partially because the boyos have said there is a need for bread pudding with rum sauce.  This is my life.  There are many times where I do not feel like i am not getting anything done but it is because I am always making and doing!  I just laugh. 

Eat bread, butter, and jam.  This is a good starting place.  Ask questions if you want!

I also realized as I reread this post that words, fingers, and keyboard are not necessarily working very well.  Ask questions if I am not clear please!  I just have to laugh at myself.  Time for more tea.

French style bread

Note:  Used ideas from Zachary Golper of Bein Cuit and Chris Bianco of Bianco.  It is bread.

a couple tablespoons of sourdough starter (I then add flour and water to my sourdough jar to refresh it for next time)

1 cup water

1 cup milk or whey

1/4 cup olive oil

5 cups or more of flour

2 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, place the starter in a large bowl.  Add the water, milk, and olive oil.  Mix in 3 cups of flour.  Stir really hard.  Cover and let sit until bubbly.  Starting with cold starter and cold milk, that is four to six hours.  Maybe even eight depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  No, I do not warm my milk.

Once the batter is bubbling, mix in the salt.  Mix in almost two cups of flour.  My flour is very fresh and very moist so I actually need to add almost another cup of flour to get a smooth dough.  Mix in the two cups of flour until there is a rough ball.  It will probably still be sticky but knead it until smooth.  Get your hands in.  Add as little extra floor as possible because the higher the water content of the dough the lighter your bread can be.

When the bread is a smooth ball, put back into a bowl and cover.  Come back in about an hour, flatten, fold into the center, and make another bowl.  Do this three times.  After the third time, or I am ready to go to bed, I put the ball of dough in a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator.

The next day, I line a loaf baking tin with parchment paper.  I take the dough out of the refrigerator and shape into a loaf shape.  I put it into the tin and cover.  I let it proof until double.  Or the fingerprint pressed into it does not bounce back.  My kitchen, this can take eight hours.

Once it is at this point, put the loaf into the oven.  Turn the oven on to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and back for one hour.  It should be golden and sound hollow when the bottom is tapped.  If it is not proofed enough, the center will be doughy and it will never truly bake.

Bread.  Good basic bread that used milk that was souring.  It is good with fresh milk and whey too!  I am starting this bread this afternoon.  I will probably bake it on Saturday.  That is how my timings work.


An Italianish brioche

To no one's surprise, I am a baker.  So this should be no surprise that that many of the people I follow on Instagram are bakers.  The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook has come up a few times.  It is always very interesting to see what other cookbooks other bakers are interested in.  Especially those of us who make bread.  I have not gotten very deep in the volume I got for Christmas!  That is going to be interesting when I do.  Beware close friends!  I may be hitting you up to receive bread!

I was able to get the cookbook from the library.  Which is my preferred first choice of reviewing a cookbook.  I flipped through it.  I have heard of Jim Lahey and no-knead bread before.  If you want to do this technique, I think it is great and more power to you.  You will have fresh bread at home and that is the goal.  Personally, I have been baking too long and it is too messy and fussy for me.  Saying that, he did have a brioche recipe that I wanted to use as a guideline.

To be completely honest, I like a good brioche better then a good croissant.  The main problem is that most purchased brioche are on the dry side, tending to stale.  It is just the amount of butter, eggs, and milk that are in them.  I have good brioche recipes so I was not really on the look out for another one.  According to Jim Lahey, this was an Italian style one.  Not quite so plain.  Was I going to give an Italian brioche recipe a try?  Of course!  I am not an Italian grandmother but I have been accused of those tendencies.

I really liked it.  I would make them again.  There was a bit of lemon and vanilla added.  I could see making them with orange like the coronetto I make have in them.  Again, Italian flavors.  And for a baker, who more then likes a cup of tea, a perfect breakfast with some mountain jam and butter on them.  A small bit of heaven.

italianish brioche

Note:  This recipe is modified from The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook.

100 grams (a scant half cup) water

113 grams (8 tablespoons) butter

90 grams (a scant 1/2 cup) sugar

5 grams (1 teaspoon) honey

2 large eggs

4 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon or 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (I had extract and not the lemon)

125 grams sourdough starter

540 grams (3 3/4 cups) flour plus extra flour for kneading and shaping

6 grams (1 teaspoon) salt 

In a large bowl, put the water, butter, sugar, honey, eggs, vanilla, lemon, and starter.  Mix well but it will be lumpy.  Mix in half the flour, 270 grams (1 3/4 cups flour).  Mix well.  It will still be lumpy.  Cover and let rise until a bubbly mass like pancake batter.

At this point, mix in the salt.  Add in the rest of the flour.  Mix until you can mix no more and then turn out onto a clean floured surface and knead until smooth. 

Put back into a clean bowl, and let rise for an hour, covered.  After an hour, flatten the dough.  Fold the dough like a piece of paper into thirds.  Then fold the ends into the middle.  Put the folded side down.  Cover and let sit again for an hour.  I do this about three or four times.  

After the last fold, put in the refrigerator for an overnight rise.

The next morning, cover a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.  I shaped the dough into knots instead of the traditional brioche shape.  Dust you hands with flour and took a golf ball size of dough. Shape it into a snake and then tied a knot.  Place it on the baking sheet.   When all the dough has been shaped this way, cover and let slowly rise until double.  Since the dough was pulled from the refrigerator, this could take some time depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  My kitchen was cold so it took almost all day.  I probably did not need to refrigerate the dough.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the dough is risen, bake the rolls for about 20 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  The range is due to the size.  You want a golden roll.  I used a white whole wheat flour which tends to a darker shade when fully baked.

I toasted mine and smear them with jam and butter for breakfast.  So good!  If I did not have three half loaves of bread currently, I would be making more for breakfast and tea.  But that is life.