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By Chris Hennes
On Nov. 7, 2017, Modernist Bread will finally arrive on my doorstep. Having preordered it literally the first day it was available, to say I'm excited about this book is a bit of an understatement. The team at The Cooking Lab have been gracious enough to give @Dave the Cook and me early electronic access to the book and so I've spent the last week pouring over it. I'm just going to start with a few initial comments here (it's 2600 pages long, so a full review is going to take some time, and require a bunch of baking!). Dave and I would also be happy to answer any questions you've got.
One of the main things I've noticed about this book is a change in tone from the original Modernist Cuisine. It comes across as less "everything you know is wrong" and more "eighty bazillion other bakers have contributed to this knowledge and here's our synthesis of it." I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Myhrvold and company are now the most experienced bread-bakers in the world. Not necessarily in terms of the number of identical loaves they've produced, but in the shear number of different recipes and techniques they've tried and the care with which they've analyzed the results. These volumes are a distillation of 100,000 years of human breadmaking experience, topped off with a dose of the Modernist ethos of taking what we know to the next level.
The recipes include weight, volume, and baker's percentages, and almost all of them can be made by both a home baker and someone baking in a commercial facility. The home baker might need to compromise on shape (e.g. you can't fit a full-length baguette in most home ovens) but the book provides clear instructions for both the amateur and professional. The recipes are almost entirely concentrated in volumes 4 and 5, with very few in the other volumes (in contrast to Modernist Cuisine, where there were many recipes scattered throughout). I can't wait for the physical volumes to arrive so that I can have multiple volumes open at once, the recipes cross-reference techniques taught earlier quite frequently.
I was cooking for a party last night at which a gluten free cake was served for dessert. I had a few bites and aside from the cake being dry and the frosting very sweet, there was that tell-tale grittiness that GF baked goods seem to have. This particular bakery uses a blend of millet, sorghum, tapioca and potato flours. I used some Bob's Red Mill GF flour to satisfy a customer request for GF shortbread and found the same grittiness - they use garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, whole grain white sorghum flour, tapioca flour and fava bean flour.
Obviously some sacrifices of flavor and texture are made when trying to replicate the magic of gluten, but why can't these flour blends be softer? Can't they be milled more finely? Or is it just the way the particular starches or proteins in those other flours are felt on the tongue?
It's like that chalky cold cooked rice texture, do you know what I mean? Why can't it be better? Almost every time I eat something made with substitute flours, it makes me sad and want to fix it.
Today I would like to share with you a recipe for a slightly different sandwich. Instead of traditional vegetables, I recommend strawberry salsa, and rather than a slice of ham – a golden grilled slice of Halloumi cheese. Only one thing is missing – a fresh and fragrant bread roll.
Halloumi is a Cypriot cheese made with sheep's milk or a mixture of sheep's, goat's and cow's milk. It is semihard and so flexible that it is excellent for frying and barbecuing, and it is great fresh too.
Ingredients (for two people)
2 fresh rolls of your choice
2 big lettuce leaves
4 slices of Halloumi cheese
2 teaspoons of butter
half a chili pepper
2 tablespoons of minced peppermint leaves
¼ a red onion
2 tablespoons of chopped almond without the skin
1 teaspoon of honey
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of balsamic sauce
Start by preparing the salsa. Wash the strawberries, remove the shanks and cube them. Dice the onion and chili pepper. Mix the strawberries with the onion, chili pepper, peppermint and almonds. Spice it up with honey and lemon juice. Leave in the fridge for half an hour. Grill the slices of Halloumi cheese until they are golden. Cut the fresh rolls in half and spread them with butter. Put a lettuce leaf on each half of roll, then a slice of the Halloumi cheese, one tablespoon of salsa, another slice of cheese and two tablespoons of salsa. Spice it up with balsamic sauce. Cover with the other half of the roll. Prepare the second sandwich in the same way. Serve at once while the cheese is still hot.
Enjoy your meal!
Not sure if the subject line really reflects the situation and my question.
Sweetie made a couple of loaves of soda bread the other day, and cut the top of the loaf in order to make a pattern something like THIS. However, the pattern or cut mark didn't show on the finished loaf. I don't know much more other than she said she made the cut "pretty deep."
What might be the cause of the cut mark not showing on the finished loaf? Thanks!
How to Make Rye Sourdough Bread
I don't know what it is about bread, but it is my favorite thing to make and eat. A freshly baked loaf of bread solves a world of problems. I was lucky enough to get to be one of the main bakers when I worked at the Herbfarm. We baked Epi, Baguettes, Rolls, Pretzels and so much more.
Rye Sourdough Wood Oven Baked Bread
My fondest memory when I worked there was our field trip to the Bread Lab(wait something this cool came out of WSU, of course!) here in Washington. They grow thousands of varieties of wheat and have some pretty cool equipment to test gluten levels, protein, genetics and so on. I nerded out so hard.
What came out of that trip was this bread. Now I can't recall the exact flour we got from them, but using a basic bread and rye will do the trick. We used to get a special flour for our 100 mile menu. This was where we were limited to only serving food from 100 miles away. So finding a wheat farm that made actual hulled wheat in 100 miles was a miracle. The year before...the thing we made, was closer to hard tack.
Now if you don't have a starter, I recommend starting one! It is a great investment!
1000 g flour (60% Bread Flour, 40% Rye)
25 g salt
75 g of honey/molasses
200 g of Rye starter
650 g of water, cold
Baker Scale (or other gram scale)
Bread Razor (you could also use one of those straight razors)
Start by taking the cold water, yeast and Honey and mix together and let sit for 10-15 minutes
I know, some of you just freaked out, cold water? Won't that kill the yeast.
Nope, the yeast just needs to re hydrate. I prefer using cold water to slow the yeast down. That way the lactobacillus in the starter has a good amount of time to start making lactic acid, and really get to flavor town!
While that is sitting, I mix the flour and the salt together(How many times I have forgotten to salt the bread).
Now mix the two products with a kneading hook for 3-5 minutes, only until thoroughly mixed but not yet at the window pane stage of kneading.
Instead, place into a bowl and set a timer for one hour. Then when that hour is up, push the dough down and fold all the corners in
Repeat this step 2-3 more times, pending on the outside temperature.
If you happen to have those cool bowls to shape round loafs! Awesome, use them. I would break the boules into 3 balls of about 333 grams
If not then just put the dough in the fridge and do the steps below the next day.
Once you have bouled the bread, can put it into the fridge and let it sit over night
Again, this lets the bacteria, really get to work(misconception is the yeast adds the sour flavor, nope, think yogurt!)
Now on the next day, heat up whatever form of oven you plan to use. We used a brick oven but if you just have a normal oven, that is fine. Crank it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have not bouled your bread yet, go back and watch the video and break the dough down into three balls of abut 333 grams. Then place the balls on a lightly greased sheet pan. Let sit for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
If you have used the fancy bowls then turn the the bread out on a lightly greased sheet pan, without the bowl and let temper for 15-30 minutes.
If your oven is steam injected, build up a good blast of steam.
If not, throw in a few ice cubes and close the door or put a bath of hot water inside.
The steam is what creates the sexy crust!
Let it build up for a few minutes!
Right before you put the bread into the oven use a bread razor to slice the top of the bread.
Place the dough balls into the oven and douse with another blast of steam or ice and close the oven.
Let them bake for 13 minutes at 450 degrees. Then turn the loaves and bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove when the crust is as dark as you want and the internal temperature exceeds 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now pull out and make sure to let cool off of the sheet pan with room to breath underneath. You don't want your crust steaming!
Now here is the hardest part, wait at least 20 minutes before getting into the bread. Also, cutting into bread to early really seems to come out poorly. I would rip the bread until 1-2 hours has passed.
Now serve it with your favorite butter, goat butter or whipped duck fat!
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