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Baking with Myhrvold's "Modernist Bread: The Art and Science"

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Has anyone else tried making the Oreo-filled bread they show on page 2•422? The filling is easy enough, but their photo (which looks great) shows a frosting on the outside of the bread covered with crumbled Oreos. Do you suppose they actually frosted the entire loaf? I'm using the recipe for the Cinnamon Raisin bread as the base, but swapping the fillings.


Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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On a completely unrelated note RE: maintaining a levain...

 

The Modernist team is pretty adamant about maintaining a regular daily feeding schedule, and they include a host of options for how to keep your levain alive for a few extra days if you have to deviate, etc. Things like adding salt to slow down its activity, etc. I'd like to call "shenanigans" on the whole notion that a levain is as fragile as they suggest. I'm sure from a commercial baking perspective the absolute reliability and consistency of their method is great, but for a home baker it's total overkill.

 

First, I've adapted my normal feeding schedule to a once-per week, refrigerated levain schedule. I only feed on Friday evenings (I typically only bake on the weekends). I simply took a perfectly healthy levain constructed and maintained exactly per the MB instructions and tossed it in the refrigerator. No special modifications. I take it out Friday morning, and in the evening I divide it into a baking portion and a maintenance portion, feed each, and put the maintenance portion back into the fridge.

 

Second, I discovered this summer that if I fail to feed for, say, the entire month of May (I was out of town), I can just feed it as normal when I get back and it works fine. I actually fed it on a Thursday and left it at room temp before feeding again on Friday in anticipation of difficulties. But no difficulties arose. It just "woke up" and was ready to bake on Saturday, and probably would have been ready to go Friday. It probably needed a little extra rising time, and probably tasted a bit different, but for a home baker this is sort of a non-issue.

 

So, at that point it was June. And like 100°F outside. So I just put it in the fridge and ignored it until September. A few weeks ago in the fridge it definitely looked bad: "hooch" on top, smelled not so great, etc. I stirred it up, fed it as usual (25g levain, 100g flour, 100g water) and left it overnight at room temp. At which point is was a happy, healthy levain ready for baking. I frankly don't know what it would actually take to kill it at this point. The bread is still delicious, and now that it's back on its normal weekly feeding schedule it behaves exactly as it used to.

 

Obviously this is all entirely anecdotal, and would require a great deal of time to analyze properly, but in my experience you can be pretty cruel to those poor yeast and lactobacilli and they bounce back just fine.

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Oreo Bread

 

They don’t really have a recipe for this specific bread, but I made it by following their instructions for Cinnamon Raisin bread, and their recipe for Oreo filling. I decided against frosting the entire thing, but I’m not sure that was really the right call. The filling doesn’t really read as Oreos without the frosting component. Still, it looks and tastes pretty good.

 

6330B14F-D640-4A78-A782-D56B063A86C5.jpeg

 

B34120E4-3C42-439B-8779-0C32CD1CAA12.jpeg

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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On 10/6/2019 at 4:30 PM, Chris Hennes said:

On a completely unrelated note RE: maintaining a levain...

 

The Modernist team is pretty adamant about maintaining a regular daily feeding schedule, and they include a host of options for how to keep your levain alive for a few extra days if you have to deviate, etc. Things like adding salt to slow down its activity, etc. I'd like to call "shenanigans" on the whole notion that a levain is as fragile as they suggest. I'm sure from a commercial baking perspective the absolute reliability and consistency of their method is great, but for a home baker it's total overkill.

Hi Chris,

 

I agree with you. Here are a few good links I have gathered that challenge the conventional thinking on starter management:

 

https://breadtopia.com/challenging-sourdough-starter-convention/

The Scrapings Method, No Waste, No Discard - Bread Tip 71 - Bake with Jack - YouTube

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/a-smaller-sourdough-starter-recipe

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2018/10/30/maintaining-a-smaller-sourdough-starter

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Chocolate Brioche (KM p. 160)

 

This is a mid-fat-range brioche, clocking in at about 38%, not counting the chocolate chips. Since it calls for a Dutch-processed cocoa powder I used Hershey's Special Dark, which is easily available, and for the chips I used the Guittard 64% baking chips (IMO the best general-purpose chocolate chips out there). Other than the chocolate it's basically a straightforward brioche. The taste was good, but I might try it with the (non-Dutch-processed) Valrhona cocoa powder next time, which is what I normally bake with. That said, it did get rave reviews at work today.

 

DSC_2953.jpg

 

DSC_2955.jpg

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Walnut Bread (KM p. 98)

 

This is a minor variation on their Country Style bread, with ingredient ratios tweaked a bit and walnuts added. I particularly liked the very large quantity of toasted bran (scaled at nearly 9%) which gives this bread a ton of flavor. This is an excellent variation, even if you are only so-so on walnuts.

 

ED0B9AD0-92F8-49EB-BA36-9D2A2AD043A0.jpeg
 

8B639EF4-4DB1-4DC7-998E-50AA7F8709AD.jpeg

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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While perusing MB for something else I came upon a footnote (2-277) which advised to use 25% more instant yeast than specified if the instant yeast was stored in the freezer (as is mine).

 

Thoughts?

 

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Meh, yeast quantities are always sketchy, and are basically a trade off with rise time. I freeze my yeast, use the quantities specified (with no increase), and just let it rise as long as it needs.

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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