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Chris Hennes

Modernist Bread: French Lean Bread (MB Contest Topic #1)

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2 minutes ago, Michael-hb said:

 Household oven, stet to 470F, Baking Steel. Water in heated cast iron fry pan for steam. For vent I just cracked open door. kept that way for remaining time.

 

Hmm the goal is to get the steam out - is there still water in your fry pan when it is time to vent the steam out did some of it actual boil?  Goal is to get steam in the oven - and then vent it all out.  You won't want to leave the door open as that will affect the temperature.  One recommendation I found was to preheat a pan with the oven with the pan empty and then toss in a small amount of water or some ice cubes, this will quickly become steam.  It should all boil of quickly since the pot is 470F.

 

The way my steam oven works is there's a spot at the bottom where water is added (from a side tank) and an element is under it - this element heats the water up when steam is desired.  When I turned off steam and was only running on convection that water was not longer boiling.  And since the oven works by convection the heat is coming from the back and not the top or bottom of the oven.  We bake bread nearly daily in our steam oven and have so for 3 years.

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15 minutes ago, Raamo said:

 

Did you have the issue with the french lean bread?  I also measured in grams and had no issues - the dough was a bit sticky so to help in folding I added small amount of flour to coat - but humidity does play some factor in this I bet.  And this is the consistency I'm used to working with for dough from ATK and AB in 5M

 

 No not nearly so much with the French lean bread but like you I added flour to helps shape it properly.

I am accustomed to working with very wet doughs but the last two recipes have given me something very different than what I’m accustomed to.  I dumped the pain de mie out onto the bench and hand kneaded it.   Even after adding flour during the mixing stage I was forced to add even more as I kneaded it to make it even reasonably capable of being shaped and handled.

 

I do know that humidity plays a  role but I can assure you I am living in a very dry atmosphere given that it is below zero outside and my forced air gas furnace is in full operation. xD  Even I am dehydrated. 


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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1 minute ago, Anna N said:

 No not nearly so much with the French lean bread but like you I added flour to helps shape it properly.

I am accustomed to working with very wet doughs but the last two recipes have given me something very different than what I’m accustomed to.  I dumped the pain de mie out onto the bench and hand kneaded it.   Even after adding flour during the mixing stage I was forced to add even more as I kneaded it to make it even reasonably capable of being shaped and handled.

 

I do know that humidity plays a  role but I can assure you I am living in a very dry atmosphere given that it is below zero outside and my forced air gas furnace is in full operation. xD  Even I am dehydrated. 

 

Grr why don't I have my books yet.  It's well below 0C here as well - but we keep the house humidified.  We are used to very wet dough since that's one of the keys behind AB in 5 mins a day.  Anyway back to the topic - we've found with other high end cookbooks that they sometimes require some adjustment - I was hoping MB would be more precise.  But there will be a Corrections and Clarifications page - alas it doesn't seem to be up yet...  

 

Are we talking about off by a cup or more  - or is this enough to be a factor of flour conditions?  I've made plenty of bread in the past where I had to add more flour then it called for.    What are the recipes pain de mie and _________?

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59 minutes ago, Raamo said:

 

Grr why don't I have my books yet.  It's well below 0C here as well - but we keep the house humidified.  We are used to very wet dough since that's one of the keys behind AB in 5 mins a day.  Anyway back to the topic - we've found with other high end cookbooks that they sometimes require some adjustment - I was hoping MB would be more precise.  But there will be a Corrections and Clarifications page - alas it doesn't seem to be up yet...  

 

Are we talking about off by a cup or more  - or is this enough to be a factor of flour conditions?  I've made plenty of bread in the past where I had to add more flour then it called for.    What are the recipes pain de mie and _________?

 More than half a cup. And I’m not for a minute suggesting that the recipes are at fault. They’re using a very different flour  and probably a very different atmosphere.

 

Don’t think it would be too wise to post recipes. And while I know that ingredient lists cannot usually be copyrighted,  I am loath to risk any infringements. 


Edited by Anna N (log)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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12 minutes ago, Anna N said:

 More than half a cup. And I’m not for a minute suggesting that the recipes are at fault. They’re using a very different flour  and probably a very different atmosphere.

 

Don’t think it would be too wise to post recipes. And while I know that ingredient lists cannot usually be copyrighted,  I am loath to risk any infringements. 

 

 

I just wanted to know the other recipe you had issues with - I'll have my books on Monday.   I'd never heard of pain de mie but it seems like one I'd want to make myself.  No need to post recipes.

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23 minutes ago, Raamo said:

 

I just wanted to know the other recipe you had issues with - I'll have my books on Monday.   I'd never heard of pain de mie but it seems like one I'd want to make myself.  No need to post recipes.

 Sorry I just misunderstood you.  Pain de mie Is a white sandwich bread made in a pullman pan.  I had to adjust the recipe considerably because it calls for the larger pan and I only had to smaller. 

 I wish your books would arrive so you could enjoy them!   No idea how we Canadians got so lucky. 

 

 Edited to add

 

the other and final recipe that I’ve made and had trouble with is the direct country loaf.  Direct means it just uses yeast and not pre-ferment. It has bread flour, dark rye flour, whole wheat flour and some asorbic acid and the one ingredient I didn’t use because I didn’t have it is the diastic malt.  Was such a sticky dough that I could not begin to handle it without adding much more flour. My final dough weight was 1180 g. 


Edited by Anna N (log)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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My first attempts at the French Lean Bread. I thought it would be quite similar to the Ken Forkish white bread with poolish recipe, but the results are significantly different. The hydration in the Forkish recipe is slightly higher, but since it calls for all-purpose unbleached flour, it's much more slack than this recipe. The crumb is OK, but not great. It might help if I had the book to guide me with more detailed instructions.

DSC07260.thumb.jpg.56253df6c8afae48a82b3005b496f889.jpgDSC07259.thumb.jpg.2c25d3cc79af42d71f841ec4169f7427.jpg

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I gave the recipe a try today. The poolish was fermented for close to 10h only. Flour was 90% strong wheat and 10% rye flour (type 1050) for a slightly more robust flavour. To accommodate for the rye I upped the hydration to 70%. Bulk ferment w/ folding was done in 5h, proofing after shaping took about 2 h (my house is 26 oC, and 60% humidity - controlled by air con and dehumidifier).

Baked at 250 oC preheated oven in an equally preheated Le Creuset for 25 min, then for 15 min more without ("venting").

The resulting loaf is satisfactory. Decent oven spring, maybe a bit overproofed but definitely correct hydration. Taste is pretty good.

 

Fresh from the oven (please disregard the lousy slashing).

IMG_0268.thumb.JPG.37e04f0b8848408c8c1ede2d8e649767.JPG

 

Crumb shot.

IMG_0280.thumb.JPG.56a33853725b6c781c143d02febb8f17.JPG

 

The second half of the batch made a decent pizza dough.

IMG_0275.thumb.JPG.9288731e1ffa41b12f4412e6cc52fc05.JPG

 

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I made my attempt at the Lean French Bread in a combo cooker today, overall it came out well.    I followed the recipe as close as I could.  For mixing, I went with 6 minutes in a Bosch Compact.  It was somewhat sticky, but I mostly make high hydration whole wheat, so it was not too bad.  I used my proofer for the final proof and used the timing in the chart of 1 1/4   hour at 80 F,  and think it was slightly overproofed.   It sang after came out of the oven, I enjoyed the cracking noise, normally I don't get that with 100% whole wheat, and the flavor was fine for a lean bread with bread flour.  

modernist cuisine.jpg

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On ‎11‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 12:59 AM, Duvel said:

The second half of the batch made a decent pizza dough.

IMG_0275.thumb.JPG.9288731e1ffa41b12f4412e6cc52fc05.JPG

 

 

 

I can't top @Duvel but I too made some of my leftover MB dough into pizza, pizza Margherita, baked on my new DeLonghi...

 

Slice11132017.png

 

 

Best pizza this old thing has made.  I detest fried pan pizza.  Detest I say, Kenji notwithstanding.  I couldn't quite achieve char on the upper crust but I got brown spots, and not a few black ones on the bottom!

 

Brings back primordial post war memories -- my first pizza, the most wonderful slightly underdone pizza on the Seaside boardwalk.  Back when basil did not exist.  Back when one wasn't sure the Neapolitans were friends or foes, the sunken tanker could still be seen off shore,  the arcades featured storm troopers, U-boats, and little yellow men in aeroplanes.  And if history is to be believed not a few of the patrons a few years before had been U-boat crews on R&R.

 

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4 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

... the arcades featured storm troopers ...

Being the father of a four-year old I can assure you they still do. Sure, they now report back to the First Order rather than a German military organization, but rest assure they still would be delighted by your pizza. As would I (and being German is only part of it :D) ...

 

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I'm a late starter, but having returned from a weekend away and with a spare day before I have to go and do more of that 'work' stuff, here we go.  Poolish started:

 

Poolish.png

 

More tomorrow.

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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Well, that was quite entertaining.  My usual bread is essentially the master recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day with a few tweaks, and I've finally got it in the last month or so exactly where I want it.  The French Lean involves a lot more time but not really much more work; although my results weren't as pretty as some here the end product tastes great and I'll do it again.

 

Here are some progress shots.  First, the obligatory shaggy mass:

 

Shag.png

 

This is actually the second attempt, after I realised after 10 minutes or so I hadn't put the yeast/water mix in originally.  Some reading I did (not in MB) suggested autolysis is done just with flour and water - no yeast, certainly no salt.  Can somebody with the books comment on this vs. the instruction in this recipe to include the yeast?  Or did I misread something?

 

Here's the dough just before the final fold.  Looking good, I thought:

 

Risen.png

 

Slashed and ready for the oven.  Note to self: please remember cast iron lids remain VERY hot for a while after being removed from a 250°C oven (thanks, I'm fine):

 

Slash.png

 

And straight from the oven.  The one on the left was just done on an oven tray with hot water below; the other was in a large cast-iron casserole.  I think the casserole one has a better colour, but next time I need to work out a better way to get the boule into the casserole - this one folded a bit:

 

Out.png

 

And cut.  I'd like more rise and a more open crumb, but the crust is good and it tastes great:

 

Cut.png

 

 

Overall I'm happy, apart from the scorched finger, but there's room for improvement.

 

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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They've got a pretty good chunk of info in the books on the use of the term "autolyse" and how various references use it differently and assert different reasons for it. It's an interesting read. 

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
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1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

"Autolyse" grates my nerves used as a noun.  My bread undergoes autolysis.

 

You can’t stop the grammar train.  I’ve tried and have the bruises to show for it. xD

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Made the poolish overnight - took the ingredients to work today. Baked in the CSO at 450º F on the bread setting. Second loaf I shielded the top with foil - then switched over to convection 425º F for another 10 minutes or so.

 

IMG_7599.thumb.jpg.04d6605b487241da7bb99c4402a6bd2f.jpg

 

First loaf. A little underproofed. 

 

IMG_7597.thumb.jpg.b31849ceda83f347f62b0ff0add80e02.jpg

 

Crumb of first loaf.

 

IMG_7595.thumb.jpg.b8df99aeba6f28bb31e2069b160340e4.jpg

 

I was quite taken by the gelatinization on the surface of the loaf under the influence of steam. 

 

IMG_7592.thumb.jpg.6b13c9ccea9659036c27aeeb8e411615.jpg

 

Second loaf.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Kerry Beal said:

 

IMG_7595.thumb.jpg.b8df99aeba6f28bb31e2069b160340e4.jpg

 

I was quite taken by the gelatinization on the surface of the loaf under the influence of steam. 

 

 

 

 

Kerry, in the oven picture above, what is the dough resting on?  When I bake loaves in the CSO I use a thin sheet of Teflon.

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On ‎11‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 2:23 PM, Raamo said:

How did you do the proof step?   It's listed to be as short as 30 for just that reason.  I find if I do it in my steam oven on proof it doesn't take as long.

 

Forgive me, I only just realized this was a question...as I recall I proofed for an hour and fifteen minutes at room temperature.  The CSO manual suggests steam proofing dough at 100 deg F.  for 30 minutes.

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6 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

Kerry, in the oven picture above, what is the dough resting on?  When I bake loaves in the CSO I use a thin sheet of Teflon.

Anna gave me an aluminum grill plate from a retired griddler.

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@Kerry Beal 

 

would you provide more details on the CSO bread above ?

 

I do have MBr  and it looks like Ill be using that for a while w MBr

 

Im concerned on the optimal size of loafs in the CSO

 

thanks

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9 hours ago, rotuts said:

@Kerry Beal 

 

would you provide more details on the CSO bread above ?

 

I do have MBr  and it looks like Ill be using that for a while w MBr

 

Im concerned on the optimal size of loafs in the CSO

 

thanks

I split the lean dough into 2 boules. Proof done at room temp under bowls.

 

CSO to bread baking at 450 F, 25 minutes. No preheat. First loaf was kind of dark. Second at 425 under foil after 10 min. After 25 minutes too light - so baked further 6 or 7 minutes at 400 F convection. Might try bread program 425 no foil next.

 

 


Edited by Kerry Beal (log)

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      Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.

      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Lightly oil or flour your hands. Take one portion and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the prepared floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Now fold the dough over itself.

      Take the folded dough and roll it around itself into a spiral.

      Tuck the end under.

      Do this for all eight dough balls. (This folding and rolling will make the paratha very flaky.)

      Now flatten the spiral and roll again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.


      Heat a griddle on medium heat. Brush it lightly with butter and add the paratha. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the paratha begins to blister. Brush the top lightly with butter and remove from heat. Put the paratha aside on a warm plate.

      Grease the same griddle a bit and break an egg on it. Cook the egg sunny side up. Place the cooked side of the paratha on the egg. Press down gently to break the yolk. Let it cook for a minute. Brush the top of the paratha with butter, flip carefully and cook for another minute or two until the paratha is no longer raw.


      Remove the paratha from the griddle and place on a serving platter. Cover with a paper towel. Continue until all the parathas are cooked.
      Serve hot.

      Indian Bread Stuffed With Spicy Potatoes (Aloo Ka Paratha)
      This filled paratha is a very popular North Indian bread, served traditionally with homemade white butter and Indian pickles of your choice.
      • 2 cups Indian atta flour (whole-wheat flour)
      • 4 tablespoons semolina
      • 1½ teaspoons table salt
      • 2 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • Water as needed
      • 3 medium potatoes, peeled
      • 2 Serrano green chilies, seeded and finely minced
      • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
      • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated
      • 1 teaspoon Chaat Masala
      • 4 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • A few tablespoons flour for dusting
      In a bowl combine the wheat flour, semolina flour, salt and two tablespoons of clarified butter. Slowly begin to add the water, kneading the flour as you go. Make a dough, kneading for at least 10 minutes. The final dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky, or else it will not roll out well.
      Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.
      Boil the potatoes in enough water to cover for about 15 minutes. Drain.



      Put the potatoes in a bowl and mash them well with a fork. Add the green chilies, cilantro, ginger root, and chaat masala and mix well. Set this filling aside to cool.
      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Lightly oil or flour your hands. Take one portion and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the prepared floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Lightly brush the surface with the clarified butter. Add a tablespoon of the potato filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.



      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.


      Heat a griddle on medium heat. Brush it lightly with butter and add the paratha. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the paratha begins to blister. Brush the top lightly with butter and flip over. Cook for 2 minutes.

      Remove the paratha from the griddle and place on a serving platter. Cover with a paper towel. Continue until all the parathas are cooked.

      Sheermal
      A sweet bread, it is one of the few Indian breads that uses yeast. Keep the dough in a warm place to ensure that it rises. You can increase the amount of sugar if you like a sweeter taste.

      • 1 packet dry yeast
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • ¼ cup water
      • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
      • ¼ teaspoon salt
      • 2 tablespoons sugar
      • 2 eggs (separate 1 egg and set the yolk aside) beat the whole egg and the white together
      • 2 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • Extra flour for dusting
      • Pitted cherries/raisins for garnish
      Mix yeast with the sugar and 1/4 cup water. Set aside until frothy, about 5 - 10 minutes.
      Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the clarified butter, egg and yeast mixture. Knead until a smooth dough is formed. (You may need more warm water.) Set aside to rise until the dough doubles in size.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour.
      Knead the dough again on the floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide it into 6 equal pieces and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
      Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a disc. Continue until you have made 6 discs.
      Beat the reserved egg yolk and brush a little on each sheermal. Place a few cherries on the sheermal for garnish. Place the discs on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

      Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

      Tandoori Roti
      We wanted to show how the tandoor is used to prepare breads. These pictures are of a special roti or bread, called Tandoori Roti, being prepared in the hot tandoor or clay oven.
      The basic recipe entails preparing a dough of whole-wheat flour. (See the paratha dough prepared earlier.) The flattened rolled out discs are then cooked in the tandoor until the dark spots begin appearing on the surface of the bread.




      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
    • By eGCI Team
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
      Sourdough Bread
      by Jack Lang (jackal10)
      Acknowledgements
      Dan Lepard, for inspiration and and contribution.
      Charles Lang, whose hands are in the photographs.
      Brendel Lang for the painting.
      The Members of the eGCI team for considerable labour and expertise.
      Samuel Lloyd Kinsey (slkinsey) my fellow instructor.
      Jill Grey, my partner, for putting up with the mess.
      Introduction

      The object of this lesson is to teach you to bake better bread— bread that will be the envy of your non-baking friends—bread so good that people will wonder where it came from!
      The recipe is archived here.
      Why sourdough? Because it tastes better. This is the real stuff; not some machine-made pap. You will make bread you just can’t stop eating, and that will spoil you for mass-produced bought bread. Once you have mastered basic white bread, you (or we) can go on to whatever variations you like or request. This is daily bread, fragrant with tastes of the yeast and the grain, and with a crisp crackling crust. Perfect on its own, or with good butter, or jam, or cheese and maybe a ripe tomato. It keeps (in a paper bag, not in the fridge) for close to a week, although you may need to toast it toward the end of the week. Toasted it makes magnificent bruschetta. You can bake weekly, or less often as the bread freezes well.
      This recipe and technique may seem straightforward, but it contains the results of years of experimentation and optimisation. We’ll make plain, white bread. Once you have mastered that, you can go on to fancier loaves. However (unless you really need the bran) you will come back to this basic bread just because it is so good and so pure.
      Bread comes in many shapes.

      English bread shapes

      European bread shapes
      This lesson will teach the basic French boule or flattened ball shape. We will also look at baguettes. But you can make any shape you fancy. The same dough works well in a tin, too.
      You can find more technical details regarding the history of sourdough bread and the composition of the starter by clicking this link. Reading this background history and science is not essential, but very helpful. It will give some insight into why as well as the how.
      Where to get your starter
      You basically have three options –
      1. Buy a starter off the web or from a local artisanal bakery. One place is here.
      2. Order the eGullet starter.
      You can obtain the special egullet starter by sending a PM to jackal10 with your snail-mail address. The starter will be sent out free, although the cost of the starter and postage is about $10. Please donate at least that much to your favourite charity, and we would appreciate it if you could include the name of the charity and the amount in your PM.
      Your egullet starter was collected originally in the vineyards of California, but has travelled extensively since. It produces a light, mild bread. When it arrives, it will look like raw dough in a plastic bag

      How your starter will look when you unpack it.
      You can leave it in the fridge until you are ready, or better, turn it into your own starter. To do this, add one cup of flour and 1 cup of water and mix to a smooth batter. You can do this by hand or in a food processor. Put the batter into a basin, cover and leave in a warm (80-85F/27-29C) place for 4-8 hours, or until you see bubbles on the surface. Ideally refresh it a couple of times, and you are ready. You can store the starter in a jar in the fridge.
      3. Make your own.
      You can make your own starter and harvest the local wild yeasts with some patience. The key is the remarkable stability of the yeast-lacto bacillus pairing. If you keep almost any fermentable mixture of flour and water at about the right temperature, and when it begins to bubble, feed (refresh) it regularly, you will get the right bugs.
      Some people add grapes with bloom on them (yeasts live on the surface), rye (high in enzymes), or other things, but that is mostly superstition.
      How to roll your own starter
      a) Mix 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to a smooth batter.
      b) Cover and leave in a warm (85F/29C) place until it starts to bubble (12 hours or so but it can take several days). Don’t worry about off smells or colours at this stage. Skim any obvious muck.
      c) Refresh it by adding another ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of water and stir. If the volume gets too much for your container, throw some away. Cover the rest and put it back into a warm place.
      d) Repeat the last step for 4 times at 8-12 hour intervals. The starter should be active, and smell wholesome.
      Starters can be kept in a closed jar in the refrigerator for months. They may separate into two layers, but just stir them together before use. They will, of course, keep best if used and refreshed regularly. If the starter seems sluggish, refresh it a couple of times (step c above) before use.
      Starter doesn’t freeze well, but can be dried for a reserve supply. If you need to ship it, make some into a lasagna sheet, or stiff dough.
      For best results always use the same flour, so the bugs can get used to it. Some people keep separate starters for white, rye and for wholemeal (whole wheat). I use white unbleached flour, which has added Vitamin C as an improver. As mentioned above, if your flour does not already have Vitamin C in it, you can add 1/2tsp Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) but it is not critical.
      Recovering a sick starter
      If your starter smells off (cheesy or of peardrops), or has gone sluggish you can recover it by following the procedure for a new starter above, but inoculate the initial flour and water mix with a tablespoon or two of the old starter.
      Practical Section
      A typical bread-making timetable is
      Day 1:
      09:00: Refresh starter
      - Starter ferments -
      13:00: Make dough
      13:15: Dough kneaded (by hand)
      -Amylisation-
      13:45: Add Salt
      14:00 Finished dough
      - Bulk fermentation-
      16:00: Shape
      -Retard overnight –
      Day 2
      Pre-heat oven, and bake for 40 minutes.
      Ingredients for 1 loaf or four baguettes.
      To refresh the starter:
      1 c sourdough starter
      1 c Strong white bread flour
      1 c water
      For the dough:
      1 c refreshed sourdough starter
      3 c Strong white bread flour.
      1 c water (you may need more -- see below)
      2 tsp salt
      The dough in the illustration is ordinary unbleached supermarket (Tesco) strong white bread flour, 11.7g protein, with ½ cup of spelt flour added for flavour. This supermarket adds Vitamin C and amalyse to their bread flour. Different flours may adsorb different amounts of water. This flour needs a bit more water. The object is to make a very soft dough -- one that has only just stopped being a batter and just holds together.
      Sourdough Bread Instructions
      A. Refresh the Starter
      1. Mix together 1 cup starter, 1 cup strong flour and 1 cup of water. It should be the consistency of very thick cream.

      Starter just mixed.
      3. Cover, and allow to stand in a warm (85F/29C) place for 4 hours.

      Starter after 4 hours.
      After 4 hours or so, it should be bubbly. Temperature is fairly critical, as discussed above. Any hotter than 85F/29C and you start to kill the yeast; any colder and it will not be as sour and will take longer to rise.
      What we are making here is a sponge starter or poolish. Starters (pre-ferments) can be roughly divided by hydration into wet, batter-like pre-ferments, often called poolish from their origin and dry, dough-like pre-ferments, often called biga, as the technique is typical of Italian bread. Some bakers call a poolish a sponge; others use sponge to refer to all pre-ferments.
      B. Make the Dough
      Assemble Ingredients as listed above.

      The storage jar with the rest of the starter is at the back right, ready to go back into the fridge for next time.
      The easiest way is to whizz together refreshed starter, flour and water (but not the salt yet) in a food processor for 20 sec.
      Alternatively mix them in a large bowl:

      Ready to mix

      Dough after mixing.
      Should make a softish dough. The wetter the dough the bigger the holes in the final bread. Different flours need different amounts of water – add more water or flour to get the right consistency. You may need to add up to another ½ cup of flour so that it just stops being a batter and holds together as a dough. On the other hand if it is too stiff then add more water. Plenty of loose flour will stop it sticking too much.
      If you are making the dough by hand then knead for 10 minutes by the clock.

      Be rough with it. Lose your temper with it. Take out your frustrations on it. Slam it about. When it is properly kneaded it should feel resilient to the touch. It has been described as feeling like an earlobe, but I describe it like feeling a soft breast or buttock. You should be able to take a pinch of dough and stretch it so thin you can see through it – called the “windowpane test”.

      When kneaded the dough will stretch without breaking
      You cannot over-knead by hand. It is possible (but quite difficult) to over-knead if you are using a mixer or a food processor, as the dough can get too hot, and if worked too long and hard the gluten will begin to break down.

      Finished Dough
      Gather it together, and wipe a little oil over the surface to stop it sticking, cover it and leave it in a warm place for 30 mins.

      Resting
      This pause, before the salt is added, is for several reasons:
      - It lets the enzymes do their stuff. They begin breaking down starches into sugars to feed the yeast to make a better crust colour. Salt tends to retard this reaction.
      - It lets the dough (and you) rest and relax after the exertions of kneading.
      - It allows the flour to complete its hydration, High levels of salt can interfere with this.
      - It allows time for you to prepare your “banneton” to receive the finished dough. See Preparing Your Banneton below.
      After 30 mins add the salt and whiz for another 20 sec, or knead for another 10 mins. Oil, cover, and leave for 2 hours or so in a warm (85F/29C) place. The exact time is not critical – anything from about 90 minutes to 3 hours will work. Temperature is more critical than time.

      Rested Dough
      The dough will have expanded a bit. Don’t worry about whether it has doubled or not. A lot of nonsense is written in some cookbooks, resulting in much overproved dough. The dough will also have got a bit softer and wetter.
      Turn out onto a floured board.

      Dusting the board with flour
      Now handle gently - don't knock all the air out. The time for rough handling is over. Take the sides and fold to the centre.

      Folding the dough
      Folding the dough like this (you can also fold top to bottom as well) gently stretches the gluten and the bubbles forming in the bread. Dan Lepard's technique for his wonderful bread is to repeat this folding operation every hour for up to 5 hours during an extended bulk fermentation phase, resting the dough between times. When the dough is ready for shaping bubbles are clearly visible if you cut a small slit
      in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
      Turn the dough over and shape into a ball. As you shape it try and stretch the surface a bit so it is taut.

      Shaping the dough
      Put it upside down (on its stretched, taut surface) into a cloth lined basket (called a banneton). The top of the dough in the banneton will be the bottom of the finished loaf.
      Preparing Your Banneton
      Traditionally, bannetons are made of cane or wicker, lined with linen, but you can improvise from a basin or a basket and a tea-towel or a piece of muslin. Ideally they are porous, so the outside dries slightly to help in crust development.

      Dough in the banneton
      Don’t worry if the top surface of the dough in the banneton is uneven: it will even itself out. Put into the fridge, covered with a cloth, overnight.

      In the fridge
      The dough is soft and needs the support of the basket. You could bake it after letting it rise for a hour or so, but its easier to handle, and gives a better crust if you keep it in the fridge (retardation) for between 8 and 24 hours. The cold will practically stop the fermentation, and so timing is not critical, and it gives you back control in that you can bake the dough when you want, rather than when the fermentation dictates.
      I’m lucky enough to have a brick bread oven that has a brick floor that holds the heat. The shell of this one I imported from France, from a company called Four Grandmere. If you are inspired to build your own, Dan Wing’s and Tom Jaine’s books are given in the references

      My oven

      Inside the oven
      You can approximate a similar environment in a domestic oven by putting a pizza stone or a layer of quarry tiles or engineering bricks on the lowest shelf to provide bottom heat.
      You are aiming for 440F/230C or even 500F/260C, as hot as most domestic ovens can manage. Heat the oven at least an hour before you want to bake to allow time to stabilise, and for the heat to soak into the tiles or equivalent. (If you have a wood fired oven you will need to light the fire about four hours before baking.)

      My oven heating up
      If you have an oven thermometer, check the temperature of the oven. You are strongly advised to do this as oven thermostats are surprisingly inaccurate.

      Thermometer
      When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.

      The dough from the fridge
      Again, don’t worry that it does not seem to have expanded much. Most of the expansion will be in the oven (called oven-spring). This will result in a lighter and better-shaped loaf than if the expansion is from proofing when some of the gas may leak out.

      When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet and remove the cloth. (For the wood fired oven we use a peel, lightly dusted with dry polenta meal so the dough does not stick.)

      Slash the top firmly with a very sharp knife. Professional bakers use a razor blade on a stick, called a “lame”. Slash quickly and decisively – it is a slash not a cut. Don’t mess the dough about. Spray the knife blade with cooking spray to prevent it from tearing the dough.

      The slashes allow the dough to rise in a defined way, and lessen the resistance to expansion by making weak points in the crust. In ancient times the pattern of slashes identified whose bread it was in the communal oven.
      Here a slightly careless slash has caught the dough on one side, so the finished loaf will be a bit uneven and rustic.

      Into the oven:

      Just loaded:

      20 minutes later, and halfway through the bake. Most of the expansion has happened. Our loaf is the one on the left.

      The pattern on the rye bread on the front right is created by using a banneton made from coiled cane. No cloth is used in that sort of banneton. Bannetons can be obtained from any good baking supplier. The ones shown come from Four Grandmere and the San Francisco Baking Institute.

      Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it is a good colour. You might need to rotate it after 30 mins.
      Let the bread cool to warm before you slice it. Hard to resist the temptation to slice into the loaf too soon, but it needs time to finish cooking and for the structure to firm up as it cools.

      I like an open texture, as it gives more room for the butter. The crust is a little thick as the bread was slightly over baked.

      That completes the basic bread lesson.

      Variations on the basic recipe/technique
      I’d advise practicing plain white bread before trying variations. When you get that right you can get fancier. You might not get it completely to your satisfaction the first time, but as you go on your baking will improve. There are infinite variations possible.
      Crust Variations:
      My brother prefers a flour dusted crust. These were the other loaves in the bake:

      To get this effect, lightly dust the banneton and the top of the dough with flour before putting in the dough.

      The legs in the top of the picture are my sister-in-law, painting the scene. I’m the one sitting down; my brother is loading the oven.

      The dough is slashed in a feather pattern. To achieve this, make alternate slashes from each side of the loaf to just over halfway across. This pattern was tought to us by Ian Duffy, then of the San Fransisco Baking Institute.

      This is a loaf with 25% rye flour.
      For a shiny, thinner crust, put an empty pan in the bottom of the oven and pour a cup of boiling water into it after you have put the bread in the oven (be careful of the hot steam), and shut the door quickly. The idea is to provide a burst of steam, which gelatinises the outside of the dough. Professional ovens have steam injection for this purpose. Alternatively (but not as good) you can paint the bread with water before it goes in the oven, or use a garden sprayer. (Be careful not to get cold water on the oven light or it might shatter.) The baguettes below are made like this.
      Other crust variations you can try:
      Brush with milk or cream
      Brush with egg glaze (egg yolk+milk)
      Toppings (stick on with egg-wash or water):
      Porridge oats (oatmeal)
      Muesli
      Poppy seeds
      Sesame seeds
      Grated cheese


      Flavours and additions
      Add with the salt, but you might want to chop them and then hand-knead them in – the food processor chops them a bit too fine
      Onions (soften in butter first),
      Hazelnuts, walnuts
      Olives,
      Sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed?)
      Caraway seeds
      Dill weed
      Raisins
      Smarties or M&Ms
      Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
      Flour variants: I’d recommend replacing only 1/3-1/2 of the plain strong white flour with:
      Wholemeal (whole wheat) (will not rise as much)
      Granary (has added malt)
      Rye flour (makes a sticky dough)
      For dark rye add 1 Tbs black treacle (molasses). Some like caraway seeds as well.
      Spelt (ancient wheat) (Poilane is reputed to use 1/5th Spelt. This was the example bread).
      “Mighty White” (steamed, corned grains)
      For a sweet bread: add sugar and butter with the fruit. Saffron for Easter.
      Baguettes
      Baguettes, that typical French loaf, are long thin loaves made with a soft, white dough. Because they are thin, they are baked at a higher temperature but for less time. The dough is delicate, and needs supporting continuously during proof and baking. You can get special pans for this. I’ve now thrown away my tin baguette pans (the ones in these pictures) and instead use a silpat baguette form (from www.demarle.com). You can just see it in the crust variation photo. Much easier and no sticking.
      To Make Baguettes from the Finished Dough
      Divide the dough into four, at the shaping stage:

      Roll and stretch into long cylinders, tucking the end in neatly. Cover, put into a large plastic bag, like a dustbin liner so that they do not dry out too much, and put in the fridge overnight. Next day take them out, and slash the tops.

      Put them in the hottest oven you can, and throw half a cup water into a pan or onto the oven floor. Beware of the hot steam!

      Bake until golden, say 30 mins

      Let cool on a rack. Enjoy with cheese and a glass of wine, or maybe some good soup.

      References
      Dan Lepard Baking with Passion - Dan Lepard - A great book. Website: www.danlepard.com.
      Joe Ortiz The Village Baker ISBN 0-89815-489-8 wonderfully evocative.
      Bread Builders. Hearth loaves and Masonry Ovens - Daniel Wing and Alan Scott. The definitive book on building and using brick bread ovens.
      The Bread Baker's Apprentice - Peter Reinhart
      Breads from the La Brea Bakery - Nancy Silverton
      Elizabeth David English Bread and Yeast Cookery ISBN 0-14-046791 is, like all her books, masterly for its time.
      Tom Jaine, Building a Wood Fired Oven for Bread and Pizza. Prospect Books ISBN 0907325
      Web resources
      www.danlepard.com
      www.fourgrandmere.com (Click on the Union Jack to get the English version).
      www.sfbi.com
      www.demarle.com
      www.sourdoughhome.com
      http://samartha.net
      www.sourdo.com
      www.faqs.org SLKinsey is a contributor- a good resource.
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
    • By Terrasanct
      Hi all, haven't been here for years, not since about the time Bourdain was stuck in Lebanon.  It's been a while.  But I knew it was the best place to ask a food question.  On a trip to Seattle a year or so ago, we stopped at the Starbucks reserve at the headquarters.  They sell Princi baked goods.  There were so many things I couldn't figure out what to get, so I got a big round loaf of bread and a package of three huge crackers.  The crackers were just so good, and we've been getting them on every trip.  Since the apocalypse and everything, no traveling and lots of baking.  I ordered some overpriced semolina, thinking those huge crackers must be semolina based.  The crackers I baked were very good, but not quite the quality I was hoping for.
       
      So here are the things I could do differently--I only have regular olive oil right now, not extra virgin.  That might make a difference in the richness. The recipe calls for half semolina, maybe a higher percentage would be better?  I was able to roll out really thin, so that's not a problem.
       
      If anyone is familiar with those crackers and how they are made, I'd appreciate it.  Maybe I'll stick around this time.
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