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Everything posted by cognitivefun

  1. In Charcuterie, Ruhlman and Polcyn have a pickling veggies recipe where they say you can pickle in 5% brine. They say that after 1 week, the lactic acid producing bacteria produce a pleasing sourness. No vinegar needed. Since Summer is coming to an end, there are lots of veggies that are available at a local farmer's market and I would like to pickle some of them this way. I want to be clear that I am talking about a refrigerator pickle, not canned pickle. So I don't mind storing the brined veggies in the refrigerator.
  2. very interesting topic. My impression is that if you use less yeast, you will end up with longer bulk and proofing times and better quality bread. Also, retarding in the refrigerator seems to enhance flavor. Does fermenting at 70F instead of 80F make a difference? My impression is that it does. Bread made quickly seems to have a stronger flavor of yeast and not as developed flavors. But I can't prove that. Sourdough takes a lot longer to develop than baker's yeast formulas and to my mind produces much, much better flavor. Why, I can't say. Supposedly due to the bacteria as well as the yeast. When I retard sourdough poolish and then the dough during proofing, the sourdough flavors are marvelous compared to not doing that. So again, slow means better flavor.
  3. I bulk ferment and proof in a basement that is cool. I aim for 70F. I think it improves things a lot. It slows down the fermentation quite a bit but I think it brings out flavor. Even baker's yeast breads do better this way. I started a poolish Monday, refrigerated it overnight after it had bubbled along, and then made the dough Tuesday and let it ferment and proof all day Tuesday and refrigerated it overnight. This morning, Wednesday, I baked it right out of the fridge, while cold. Worked great and I am told it has wonderful flavor. (I don't eat during the day so I'll wait until night to see how it tastes. It is sourdough rye).
  4. I have had this bread rise faster but only when I've used a really warm place, in order to rush, such as the oven that was preheated for a few minutes (bad idea in general but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.) Otherwise I agree, the rise times in BBA are on the very low side.
  5. I'm working on my next sourdough ciabattta. I refreshed my starter and acivated it by leaving it out, then took some and started a poolish. The poolish was out all day and rose and showed foam and activity, and now I refrigerated the poolish overnight. Hopefully tomorrow there will be a liquidy hooch in the poolish and I will proceed to make the loaves. I will make in the food processor and will let rise all day, in the cool basement, then will proof and bake tomorrow night. Always an adventure!
  6. I threw mine away today and started a new batch which is going into the oven shortly. I have had this formula fail, this is the second time. I don't know why, really.
  7. What a coincidence...funny thing. I've made this recipe 3 or 4 times. And tonight I made it again. It is very, very tasty. One of my favorite enriched breads. The taste really grows on you. As usual, I tried to use the food processor but it stalled. I should have done it in two halves but I got lazy. And the dough was much wetter than normal and the Cuisinart couldn't handle it. So I scraped it into the Viking mixer and used the dough hook. And I had to add flour. Then I put it in the basement for the bulk rise, about 68 - 70F. I expect it to take 5 or 6 hours there. And indeed, several hours later, nothing much has happened rise-wise. The dough seems a bit denser than normal. Perhaps I added too much flour. Perhaps it heated up too much during the machine kneading. I put it in the fridge and am going to bed. Will see how it is tomorrow. Always interesting lessons learned.
  8. During proofing, they held a shape because I folded them. I should have folded them with more tension, but I did fold them and they did hold the slipper shape. I dusted mine during proofing so the plastic wrap wouldn't stick. What surprised me was the amazing amount of oven spring. They almost doubled in height from the oven spring.
  9. I made ciabatta today, sourdough. And it came out a bit sour, for the first time with the starter I developed about 4 weeks ago. And it came out very light and airy. Here's what I did. I made a lot of very liquidy poolish, fed it, left it out for the day, then refrigerated overnight. The next morning the poolish had some thin "hooch" type stuff in the bottom and I mixed it all in and used it all in the bread. I could tell it would be sour when I saw that. I think retarding the poolish at this point let the bacteria beasties grow and made the poolish sour. I then made the dough quite liquidy. I used 1 cup of this very liquidy poolish to 3 cups flour. I use the food processor and I used enough added water to make sure it just barely formed a ball with a lot of dough trailing the ball. The dough was almost a batter. During the primary ferment (about 8 hours in the basement at about 70F.) I folded a few times -- put on a floured board, stretched and folded. I continually wet my hands so they wouldn't stick and I floured the countertop also. This was the only way to manage such wet sticky dough. I proofed about an hour on cookie sheets lined with parchment. When I baked, I did so first at 550F. on the stone but I just stuck the cookie sheet on the stone. I steamed in a pan at the bottom of the oven. They puffed up very well, great oven spring. They were very light with lots of big and small holes. I was surprised how tender they are. And they tasted a bit sour, for the first time since I've been trying this. (The last ciabatta I made using a mixed starter/yeast formula but I wanted to be a purist on this and only use my starter this time.) So, lessons learned: 1. high sponge to flour ratio 2. develop your sponge and then refrigerate overnight 3. work with very hydrated dough 4. fold dough during bulk fermentation Next time I will work more carefully in folding when I proof, so there is at least some surface tension in the dough. I don't think I had enough surface tension. Next time, I will fold the dough during proofing, to create as tight a seam as possible with the wet dough, and then turn over so the seam is at the bottom.
  10. Too high a fermentation speed, I would say. In general, the slower the fermentation the better the flavor. It sounds like a combination of too high a temperature during fermentation, and too little salt. Salt slows down fermentation. It is amazing how much faster yeast doughs ferment if you don't add yeast. The faster the fermentation, the less flavor. Of course flour quality is also very important. But good long fermentation is essential to good bread. Yeast doughs will do quite well fermenting in the refrigerator and the bread will taste better. Or at least ferment in a cool basement at 70F. if you can.
  11. I made a genoise today with a lot of melted butter. Then I put some really good jam and some whipped cream cheese/sugar/vanilla on it and rolled it up. It cracked -- although it still looks and tastes wonderful. Do you hae any tips on rolling up a genoise so it doesn't crack?
  12. I've taken to using water, not oil. I dip my hands in water each time I handle the dough and nothing sticks. Dip a utensil in water, ditto. I think the key to yeasted bread tasting good is long rise times at a lower temperature. Under 72 degrees F. Less important with enriched dough of course.
  13. I try to ferment in the basement, 70-72F. Slower is tastier. Although for enriched breads it is less important and sometimes I must admit it is tempting to speed up the process using the proverbial "warm place".
  14. I've been trying out sourdough bread. I use the food processor method from Van Over. I realized I wasn't hydrating enough when I made two sourdough rye breads, one more hydrated than the other, and could see very easily the higher rise of the more hydrated loaf. I also think I wasn't letting the dough tell me how long to bulk ferment and proof. This most recent loaf from today had more oven spring than any other sourdough loaf I've tried. I didn't over proof it going for about doubling in size on the bulk ferment, and 1/3 increase in the proof. It was about 90% bread flour and 10% whole wheat flour. Most importantly I made sure the dough was pretty sticky. I have found that if I wet my hands or wet whatever it is that will contact the dough, no sticking will happen. I will vouch for the food processor method. The bread lasts longer without staling and tastes very good. I don't use my mixer for bread anymore.
  15. We bought some more herbs at the farmer's market in Arlington VA USA. So I put the basil with the stems in the water, like a vase of flowers. And I wrapped the oregano, dill and mint in paper towel and put it all in a bag loosely in the refrigerator. I will report back... Meanwhile, the basil has the most heavenly smell...so it can't be all bad
  16. I love to buy fresh herbs all the time, but especially these days of Northern Hemisphere summer (who doesn't?) Basil Thyme Cilantro Parsley Sage Dill I find that the herbs don't keep very well. I am sure there is a solution to this continual waste of herbs. I get the herbs in plastic bags. I've had the most success in just putting the herbs in a loose fitting bigger bag and putting them on the shelf in the fridge. The basil doesn't seem to like the fridge at all, but the other herbs often last this way. A combination of keeping them dry, but keeping them from drying out. If they are at all wet, it seems they turn slimey. What are the secrets that I am missing here?
  17. my favorite bread baking books and techniques are using the food processor technique from The Best Bread Ever by Van Over, combined with the formulas from Bread Baker's Apprentice. For instance, I recently made the Hawaiin (Portaguese) bread in BBA using Van Over's food processor technique and it came out better than it had before using the traditional kneading (by mixer) specified in Reinhart's BBA. So, Van Over's technique is to put the flour in a food processor together with salt and instant yeast (smaller amounts than on most other forumulas, often 1/2 teaspoon instead of, say, 2 teaspoons.) Also any starter if you are using any. Then you measure the temperature. Add water that is at a temperature that when combined with the flour temperature equals 130F. if you are using a Kitchenaid or Cuisinart food processor. Then process for 45 seconds making sure the dough is 75-80. Refrigerate or process 5 seconds longer to cool over 80F dough or heat up under 75F dough, respectively. Then you do your bulk fermentation in a 70-72F. room. He says that the food processor doesn't introduce as much oxygen into the dough and the result is better keeping qualities and better taste. And I agree, it really does work better. You can also adopt this to Reinhart's food processor method, doing a quick 10 second food processor spin, letting sit for 5 minutes or so, then completting the other 35 seconds. According to Van Over, this results in a lighter crumb, fluffier bread. Reinhart says this hydrates the flour better. I now use Van Over's technique as it is easier, quicker, comes out better, and quicker to clean up. However, BBA has better formulas in many cases especially more long fermentation and pre-fermentation/poolish/biga/pata fermentee/sponge formulas. It turns out though that with Van Over's method of a slow bulk fermentation rise in a cooler room and with less added yeast, you get greater flavor without the pre-fermentation in most cases. I am now experimenting with pre-fermentation and retardation using the food processor method. For lean doughs, I think this combo might be the big winner in terms of flavor.
  18. The next stage is the hardest part of sourdough baking to learn, when to bake. Experience will tell you, but for a guide just proof to the point where the loaf only barely springs back when you poke it gently with your finger. Remember it is far better to bake underproofed than overproofed. ← Why is it better to underproof than overproof, Bill?
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