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DianaM

The Bread Topic (2016-)

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18 hours ago, Anna N said:

Simple answer -- sourdough starters defeat me!  No good telling me how easy it is, no good pointing me to this method or that method. I am sourdough challenged and have no further interest in flogging a dead starter. I have limited physical resources, limited energy reserves but a strong desire to make good bread.  I am quite prepared to leave perfect bread to others. xDxD

 

I, too, have been less than successful.  When, I am retired and have more time, I will try again.  In the meantime, I need to feed myself, not the starter!  xD

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I've played with sourdough. It worked OK, but for me it was too much of a PITA to deal with the starter, remembering to get it out of the fridge a day before I wanted to bake (and hoping that nothing came along to derail my plans after I'd fed the starter to get it ready for baking). I'm happier not bothering, and just using yeast.

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28 minutes ago, MelissaH said:

I've played with sourdough. It worked OK, but for me it was too much of a PITA to deal with the starter, remembering to get it out of the fridge a day before I wanted to bake (and hoping that nothing came along to derail my plans after I'd fed the starter to get it ready for baking). I'm happier not bothering, and just using yeast.

 

As one whose schedule is subject to major change on short notice, this is my chief quibble with sourdough as well.

 

Well, that and the fact that the first and only time I tried it, it was a dismal failure.

 

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I started making bread for the first time in several years this summer. The goal was to finally make pizza that can compete with what I normally spend too much money on in restaurants. I live in Brooklyn, so the standards for serious pizza are daunting ... among other things, they requires a sourdough culture, which I'd had no experience with. So I started with regular sourdough bread, just to learn the process.

 

Short version of the story: my pizza is still nowhere near good enough, but the bread is so good, that even though I live in a town with bakeries like Sullivan Street and Amy's and Balthazar, I'm never buying bread again unless I mess up and run out. 

 

I'm certainly done with commercial yeast. The flavors I'm getting out of the sourdough culture are insane ... like nothing I've had before. And the process isn't so hard. I was very worried about the hassle of dealing with the starter. Almost to the point of abandoning the project before starting. But I'm glad I didn't. 

 

My starter stays in the fridge, and I take it out the morning i need it. I feed it, and an hour later it's ready to go. This is likely because I use it about once a week and so it never goes completely dormant. If a couple of weeks or more go by, I'll try to take it out of the fridge and give it a small feeding the night before. But it's really a pretty low-maintenance pet.

 

My advice to anyone who wants to try sourdough: do not start your own starter. There are reasons people buy or borrow starters that others have kept around for decades. Some are unusually good—not just in terms of flavor, but in terms of robustness and ease of use. And if you buy a starter that other people are using, you have an instant support group online. I'm using the Ischia Island starter sold by Sourdoughs International. It seems like 3/4 of the people in the world who make Neapolitan-style pizza use this culture. If you have questions about it, someone's got answers.

 

It's a matter of making your life easier. As someone put it, if you want to learn how to surf, AND learn how to build surfboards, that's great—just maybe don't do both at the same time.

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Needed a loaf of white bread that was not going to tax my brain or my body much today  and this one fit the bill. No it's not going to have all kinds of complex flavours or win any prizes for artisanal flair.   Still I'm betting it's 100% better than anything I could've got by walking across the road to my local variety store!   This is from  Michael Ruhlman's Twenty.  It is kneaded in a stand mixer but baked in a Dutch oven. Its final rise is in the Dutch oven so there's no dealing with getting wet dough into a screaming hot pan. 

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On 11/2/2016 at 3:57 PM, Anna N said:

I am not sure if I have posted about this bread before but I am becoming very fond of it.   It is very straightforward and uses whole wheat and rye flour and no white flour at all yet the crumb remains quite soft. It calls for 100g of seeds leaving the assortment up to the baker. This time I used sesame, flax, pumpkin and sunflower. The recipe is from Felicity Cloake's The A-Z of Eating.

 

Looks great!

I'm envious!

I miss real bread. :(

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On ‎11‎/‎5‎/‎2016 at 10:25 PM, paulraphael said:

I started making bread for the first time in several years this summer. The goal was to finally make pizza that can compete with what I normally spend too much money on in restaurants. I live in Brooklyn, so the standards for serious pizza are daunting ... among other things, they requires a sourdough culture, which I'd had no experience with. So I started with regular sourdough bread, just to learn the process.

 

Short version of the story: my pizza is still nowhere near good enough, but the bread is so good, that even though I live in a town with bakeries like Sullivan Street and Amy's and Balthazar, I'm never buying bread again unless I mess up and run out. 

 

I'm certainly done with commercial yeast. The flavors I'm getting out of the sourdough culture are insane ... like nothing I've had before. And the process isn't so hard. I was very worried about the hassle of dealing with the starter. Almost to the point of abandoning the project before starting. But I'm glad I didn't. 

 

My starter stays in the fridge, and I take it out the morning i need it. I feed it, and an hour later it's ready to go. This is likely because I use it about once a week and so it never goes completely dormant. If a couple of weeks or more go by, I'll try to take it out of the fridge and give it a small feeding the night before. But it's really a pretty low-maintenance pet.

 

My advice to anyone who wants to try sourdough: do not start your own starter. There are reasons people buy or borrow starters that others have kept around for decades. Some are unusually good—not just in terms of flavor, but in terms of robustness and ease of use. And if you buy a starter that other people are using, you have an instant support group online. I'm using the Ischia Island starter sold by Sourdoughs International. It seems like 3/4 of the people in the world who make Neapolitan-style pizza use this culture. If you have questions about it, someone's got answers.

 

It's a matter of making your life easier. As someone put it, if you want to learn how to surf, AND learn how to build surfboards, that's great—just maybe don't do both at the same time.

 

Sometimes my bread is excellent.  Sometimes it is not.  Most times it is at least something close to good.  But I will not buy bread.  I decided this decades ago.  That is not how one learns.  (Heating up leftover baguette at the moment in the CSO.)

 

 

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This was a bit of an experiment. It is the 75% whole wheat bread from Forkish with the addition of about 150 g of mixed seeds.   Will not really know how successful until I cut into it tomorrow.  I do think I baked it just a little too long as it was just starting to catch on the under side.  But I do love how rustic it looks.

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Very satisfactory. Hearty, chewy bread that is approaching my goal. I think it could use a hint of sweetness. 

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Meant to post this when I baked it but better late than never! A challah with apples & honey.

IMG_4612 - lowres.jpgIMG_4628 - lowres.jpg

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Found a recipe when going through my Mama's recipe box, apparently one she'd clipped from the newspaper, and it sounded interesting: Grandmother's Oatmeal Bread. 

 

oatmeal bread 1111.jpg

 

Grandmother apparently baked a lot of bread. I cut the recipe in half and still had enough for two 8 x 4 1/2 loaves. Had no wheat germ, but Mr. Google assured me I could substitute flaxseed meal, so I did.

 

Here's the recipe:

ob recipe.jpg

 

A good, hearty bread. Makes good toast. Sturdy enough for most sandwiches.

 

 

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Interesting regarding mothers clipping newspaper recipes.  I have a couple of little Rotus-like little books that my mom used to keep her clipped recipes in.  Most are for cookies, squares and the like seeing that's what she loved at 4 pm with her tea...we are British.  I have a binder with the same kind clips except for savoury foods seeing that's what I tend towards.

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Rye bread from "Beard on Bread." Good stuff. Straightforward, don't-bother-me bread. 

Rye Bread.jpg

Rye Bread 2.jpg

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It has been quite sometime since I last made the dough from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.   Especially after only 24 hours in the refrigerator, it is not the most flavourful bread but it has this going for it: I was able to have fresh bread for breakfast this morning still just a little warm from the oven.  

 

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M'smen

 

 Be kind. This was my first effort.  I may be spending the next week with a sink full of hot, soapy water trying to clean my kitchen of oil.

 

image.jpeg

 

image.jpegimage.jpegimage.jpegimage.jpeg

 

Geometry was never my forte. Squares are even harder than circles. 

 

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M'smen

 

image.jpeg

 

Nan-e barberi. Much easier and less messy to make than the bread yesterday but is surprisingly hard to get those ridges to stay. 

 

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Somebody needs to come over here and rip this bread out of my hands. It is chewy with a little crispness to the crust and the bite of the nigella seeds...  

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The nan-e barberi looks wonderful. Aside from the mess, @Anna N, was the m'smen also a success? Thanks for pointing out that website.

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30 minutes ago, Smithy said:

The nan-e barberi looks wonderful. Aside from the mess, @Anna N, was the m'smen also a success? Thanks for pointing out that website.

Some were (those made when my inner Thomas Keller made a brief appearance)  some not so much.   I think I learned a great deal from making my first batch.

 

Lesson number one… Do not think you can do anything else while you are making this bread or you will find every surface in your kitchen covered in oil.  If the phone rings ignore it. If an email comes in let it wait. If there's someone at the door tell them to go away.

 

 Lesson number two… Even if you obey every point in lesson one have 1 to 15 rags nearby that you could wipe your oily hands on.

 

Lesson number three ...  It matters that you stretch that dough out until you can almost read the newspaper through it.

 

Lesson number four… Use at least twice as much of the butter/oil mixture as you think you should to coat the stretched out dough.

 

 Lesson number five… Use a bigger cooking surface than you think you need. Unless you are a trained sniper with an unerring aim, your 7 inch rectangle of dough will inevitably land on the sides of your 8 inch cooking vessel instead of squarely on its base.

 

 Lesson number six… Again when it is time to stretch the dough make sure you stretch it to the full 7 inches square.  Good luck on that one.

 

 Lesson number six… Do not attempt to remove the parchment paper until you see that 99% of the dough has turned translucent else it will stick and pull the dough up with it.

 

 Lesson number seven… Be willing to adjust the heat after the first couple of breads that you make.

 

If you can do these things and not lose hope you'll make some amazing bread.  

 

 And your hands will be baby soft for days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, shain said:

@Anna N It looks like you are busy baking - lovely breads all of them.

 

 Yes, thank you, but I still have not worked up the courage to retry your quick bread.  :(

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3 hours ago, Anna N said:

image.jpg

 

Somebody needs to come over here and rip this bread out of my hands. It is chewy with a little crispness to the crust and the bite of the nigella seeds...  

Oh dear God that looks good.  If I was closer, I'd be right over!

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My secret bread weapon, but first some background.

 

I live just north of the Tropic of Cancer (I cross the imaginary line at least twice a week - yes it's marked on the highway). This means that it is warm to very hot here for ten months of the year. However, those two cool months are killers. Temperatures drop to around just over freezing, but it is very humid. Wet, and cold.

Now, I hear many of you cry "Above freezing? That's nothing! You don't know what cold is!"

 

The thing is that few people have any heating at home or in the office. Homes, shops, school classrooms etc are all unheated - most people think it just isn't worth the expense installing heating for just a small part of the year. Instead, we all just pile on more clothes.

 

Being a pampered westerner, I have the luxury of air-conditioning but I seldom use it and then only on the hottest summer days. I can't bear that drying effect it has. But I do employ an electric blanket on the bed. Which brings me to bread.

 

bed.jpg

 

That is my bed. No, I haven't broken my foot or anything similarly serious. That square lump is my secret weapon.

 

I was having problems finding somewhere warm enough to prove my bread dough when it struck me - in the bed. So that is my loaf, sitting on top of the electric blanket (on the lower temperature setting) under my quilt and a blanket.  The loaf is in a tin and covered with an upturned Tupperware type box, allowing plenty of rise room without getting dough all over the bedding. Perfect solution.

 

Here is yesterday's "bed bread".

 

bread.jpg

 

.

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