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Preview: vernon.mauery.com - Bread

vernon.mauery.com - Bread





 



Artisan Breads Every Day and Sourdough Pizza

Sat, 14 Nov 2009 14:37:03 +0000

Over this past year, I have been testing recipes for Peter Reinhart's new book, artisan breads every day. The goal of this book was to find a way to get the full flavor that delayed fermentation offers, but to make the preparation time shorter. Or something. I don't know, because with the delayed fermentation plan, you mix the dough and then bake the next day. Not a lot of involvement in the middle.

But one thing that this book did offer was something along the lines of the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day style of making a bulk pre-ferment and then using a part of it each day for up to five days and baking a fresh loaf from that. This actually makes some really good French bread. One of my favorite recipes was the "same day french bread", which uses a pre-ferment to pull in extra flavor. It is called same-day because you don't count making the pre-ferment for some reason (maybe because you can also use it for the next 4 days). But that was some of the best French bread I have ever made. And in the process of testing these recipes, I learned the importance of the "stretch and fold" technique. This is the best way to strengthen the gluten in a very wet dough. Even a dough that has 70% or more hydration can become smooth and workable with the stretch and fold. After doing this, I found that my freestanding loaves gained 50% in height, rather than being so flat.

Part of the reason I though I would write this was that I chose to make some sourdough pizza dough from this book for our Friday night pizza night yesterday. Mmmmm. I do love good sourdough. The dough turned out to be very tasty, though I think next time I will leave out the honey since I think it made the crust brown too quickly. Our old oven died about three weeks ago and our new oven can bake at up to 550°F, which is about where you should be cooking pizza, but not having experience with those extra 50 degrees is making pizza baking interesting. As far as the rest of the family goes, they say they prefer the original Pizza Napoletana recipe from Peter's Bread Baker's Apprentice book. That is a darn good pizza dough recipe, so it is hard to beat it. But I have to mix it up every now and then or we wouldn't ever know if something better came along.

I will likely write more about Artisan Breads Every Day another time, as I find time to work through the recipes. Can anyone say Chocolate Croissants?




Duck!

Thu, 23 Jul 2009 03:08:03 +0000

We live not too far from a pond that ducks live in during the summer months. There are usually from 10-60 ducks there at any given time between April and October. In the spring and early summer we love to go down there and see the itty-bitty fuzzy ducklings. They don't usually get to come too close to the walking path because of the protective mothers, but as they get older, they get bolder. When we remember, we bring some bread heels or other grain product so we can feed them.

Not too long ago I burned four loaves of bread. Yes, Captain Bread makes mistakes too. We were upstairs watching a movie and I didn't hear the timer go off. Now when we do that, I set the timer on my phone so I will be sure to hear it. Anyway, they were overcooked by five or ten minutes and were a little bit too dark to be pleasant. The crumb was still soft and didn't taste burnt, so I took to cutting the crusts off each time we ate some. We ended up with about a loaf-sized pile of burnt crusts. I saved them so we could take them to feed the ducks. We went twice with our burnt offerings and the duck ate them up like candy.

About two weeks after that, I looked out the window in our breakfast nook and saw a mother duck and five little fuzzy ducklings waddling through our back yard. We were pretty stumped at first -- how did they get into our back yard with the fence and gate? Later I saw that the gate had a three or four inch gap on the bottom at one side. The mother must have had a tight fit, but the ducklings would have been just fine. The crossed the lawn and went to the garden. The mother duck hopped up onto the raised beds (only about six inches up) and wandered around. The babies were all cheeping and trying to hop up too, but couldn't make it. Finally they found a shorter spot and made it up after a few tries. Then one of the ducklings jumped off the back of the planter down into the space behind. It was terrified and let the whole world know. After a short time, the mother hopped down and went around back to fetch the little chick. They spent maybe half an hour in our yard and then left, never to return.




Mary's Bread

Sat, 20 Dec 2008 13:46:29 +0000

This post is dedicated to my dear sister, Mary. She has five adorable, but picky-eater kids. She buys a bread that her kids would describe as manna. They eat it by the loaf at her house. When our family was at my parents house over Thanksgiving, I learned of this and was enlisted by Mom to help find a recipe that Mary could make on her own rather than buy. Mary's BreadBeing the whole grains nut that I am, I could not condone a pure enriched flour recipe (which is what said manna contains). The ingredient listing was along these lines: enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, salt, yeast, potato flour. We tried to make something like that, but our first take tasted more like cotton than manna. I am pretty sure a bit of salt would have done wonders for it, but I think some whole grains could have added some more flavor too. The next thing we tried was the homemade buttermilk rolls recipe on the back of the Bob's Red Mill Potato Flour. But since that 24 oz. bag cost nearly $6, I thought we should try making it with mashed potatoes rather than potato flour. Sorry Bob. Anyway, the rolls tasted great. Lauren thought they tasted funny, but I thought they were fine. I am going to say any funny flavor was Mom's whole wheat or her powdered buttermilk. Anyway, I used that recipe as a start for Mary's bread. It was oh so soft and very tasty. I figured this was as close to bread candy as you could get and still have whole grains in it. Anyway, I guess I have managed to sell my own brand well enough that my kids will eat anything that is labeled as "Daddy bread" and tell me it is delicious. This is the first step to making this bread. Talk it up. Let your kids know that Uncle Vernon slaved for days in a hot kitchen trying recipes to get the perfect one. You could even tell them that I baked a loaf to send you, but their cousins snarfed it up so fast that there was nothing left to send. Make them want the "Mommy bread". After you have them craving it, go ahead and bake it. There is no other smell like fresh baked bread. Even bread that tastes bad smells good in the oven. If it is something that your kids enjoy, you could have them help you bake it. This gives them a personal vested interest in the final product and should set a positive prejudice in their minds toward the bread. And if nothing else works, tell them it will make Uncle Vernon cry if they don't try it and like it. Mary's Bread 1/2 T. active dry yeast 2 T. honey 1/2 C. warm water 3 C. whole wheat flour *See notes below 1/2 C. non-instant powdered milk or 3/4 C. instant powdered milk 1 T. salt 3 C. white flour 1 C. mashed potatoes (about 1 medium potato) *See notes below 1 1/2 C. warm water 3 T. oil Mix yeast, honey and 1/2 cup warm water. Set aside while mixing other ingredients. Mix whole wheat flour, powdered milk, salt. Mix up mashed potatoes until smooth. Slowly add 1 cups warm water until it becomes a smooth potato slurry. Add the oil. Mix the potato water and yeasted water to the dry mixture. Mix until smooth. Add the white flour and mix until dough forms a ball. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. (This makes the dough less sticky and reduces kneading time.) Dump onto counter and knead in as little extra flour to make the dough firm, smooth, and tacky. Don't be temped to add too much flour, the potatos make the dough kind of sticky. Put dough back in clean, oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size. Punch dough down, divide into two parts. Shape two loaves and place in greased bread pans. Let rise until almost doubled in size. Preheat oven to 400°F Put loaves in oven and reduce heat to 350°F. Bake for 30 minutes or until nice and brown all over. Makes 2 loaves. Notes Hard white wheat will give you the lightest colored bread. You still get all the goodness of whole grain without the 'brown bread' color. I personally think that hard red wheat has more flavor, so I always use a 50/50 mix when making bread. If you are using mashed potatoes from the fridge, zap them [...]



Mmmm. Buh-licious bread!!

Sat, 18 Oct 2008 02:21:55 +0000

(image)
Pain a l'Ancienne
Finally a crust and crumb that I can brag about. This is a loaf that I started as part of a Toastmasters speech. The speech was about how to make the best pizza dough ever. Since for demonstration purposes, the pizza dough and the pain a l'ancienne dough are identical to start with, I figured nobody would notice. Really the only difference is that the pizza dough has slightly less water in it, which makes it less sticky to the point that you can handle it. The pain a l'ancienne dough is so sticky that you really don't want to touch it unless you are armed with copious amounts of flour.

The first and only time previously that I made this recipe, I found myself just a little bit rushed (smaller holes) and slightly over cooked them (dry crumb). This time, rather than shaping them as baguettes, I shaped a fat batard, which puffed up nicely. And differently than other batches of bread I have done, I did my final shaping right on the foil I was going to bake it on so the final transition to peel would not degas it. I think this was especially important on this loaf because the dough was so wet.

To round out the meal (It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone) Lauren made a batch of delicious beef stew with home-made noodles. I am telling you, we eat like kings (and queens) in our house.




Happy birthday to me!

Wed, 06 Feb 2008 06:26:23 +0000

img_0695About a week before my birthday, Nicole and Nathan both came down with nasty head colds. I didn't need a crystal ball to figure out that this meant Lauren and I would likely be sick on my birthday. What we didn't count on was that Nicole and Nathan would still be sick as well. It turns out that by my birthday, my symptoms only included a sore throat in the morning, but Lauren was really not feeling so well. I can tell she loves me because she still cooked up a nice birthday dinner of roast chicken, homemade stuffing, broccoli, and a spice cake with cream cheese frosting for dessert. Mmmmm. Fresh sourdoughShark super steamerLauren knows that the past few months visions fresh baked bread have been floating in my head. I have been searching and searching for a way to get some more steam in my oven to give my free-standing loaves more oven spring. I stumbled across a $4200 double wall oven with a built-in steam injection system. Wow. How much is lofty bread worth? Not even $200 in my book. After consulting with some other people, I decided I really had two problems. One, the oven cavity size compared to the size of my loaf was very large. Two, the oven's vents made it nearly impossible to keep any amount of concentrated steam in the oven (we have a gas oven with considerably sized vents). So a container to bake the bread in. One friend had mentioned a dutch oven because it maintains the heat and keeps the steam from the bread inside the cavity. I hunted and hunted for a way to generate steam. I think I was looking in the wrong departments because I finally found that there are several little devices that are marketed as 'steam cleaners.' I found one of those for $40 and put it on my wish list. That is what Lauren got me for my birthday. I used the steamer with my own homegrown steaming setup to create the beautiful loaf of sourdough bread shown here. Salter kitchen scaleLauren's mom bought me a very nice Salter kitchen scale. I have been eying these scales for some time. After doing the research I finally settled on this scale and added it to my wish list. It is quite handy. It measures from 0-11 lbs. with a precision of 1/8 oz. (or 0-5 kg. with a precision of 1 g). Plus, it will zero out at any point in that range so you don't have to do the math in your head. I have 315 g. of flour, 210 g. of water, 5 g. of salt, and need to add 15 g. of yeast... And it looks nice too. I used it this evening to create a stiff sourdough starter (shown in the picture on the scale). Evidently, a stiffer starter tends to cultivate a more sour flavor. I am all for that. This was a kitchen tools birthday for me. My parents got me a mortar and pestle that had been on my list for ages. This is one of those tools that just has no good alternative. I have some fennel seeds that I need to crush... The side of a knife? I don't think so. There were sufficient times in my kitchen forays that I needed a mortar and pestle and didn't have it that I am very glad to have one now. They are not an everyday tool, but like that special star-head screwdriver, sometimes there is no working alternative. All in all, I had a good birthday. I can't even complain about the sore throat—it was gone by 10 A.M. anyway. Thanks for all your love. [...]



I have found my struan

Fri, 18 Jan 2008 15:33:45 +0000

About one week after I checked out Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book from the library, I decided to start my own wild yeast whole grain sourdough starter. I figured this was some easy business since people have been using wild yeast starters since the beginning of time. Oh, not so, my friends. My first try failed. I am going to point my finger at the vinegar bottle as the culprit. You see, I was trying to follow the 'Pineapple Juice Method' but I didn't have any unsweetened pineapple juice (or sweetened for that matter). The reason for adding the juice in the first place is to raise the acidity level of the mixture so the leuconostoc bacteria won't take over before the lactobacillus and wild yeast get a good start. I figured one acid was as good as the next and substituted a diluted acetic acid solution for the citric acid solution. After 10 days, all I had was a funny smelling slimy goop. I decided to start over. This time I used diluted lemon juice instead. After about 6 days I had definitely captured some wild yeast.

I nurtured it with care and when it came time to refresh the starter, I figured I could make a loaf of something. I chose a Rye Meteil, which I botched, but it was a good starting place. I think most of all, it helped cement into my head that I need to follow the recipe a little bit better. When it failed, I was a bit discouraged. The bread smelled great, looked fine, but tasted about like cardboard. Even with my 'sourdough' starter. I was planning to make it again to see if I could do it any better, but in the mean time, I took a chance and wrote an email to Peter Reinhart asking him if he had any ideas on what could have gone wrong. He responded very quickly with a very positive email saying that one thing I should check is whether or not I left out the salt from the final dough. That is very possible. As for the lack of sourdough flavor, I did not realize that this takes even more time for the starter to develop. Now at about one month old, my starter is just starting to get a rich sour smell and a mild sour flavor. So it may just take some more time. A big thumbs up for Peter. Great book and a great heart to help out a struggling wannabe baker.

The breads I have made out of the Whole Grain Bread book are only getting better. The sweet, almost nutty flavor of the breads is irresistible to me. All I can say is at least they are whole grain, so all the better to gorge myself on. The 100% whole wheat sandwich bread is a favorite, as well as 100% whole wheat bagels, which I tried recently. But so far, I think the most flavorful bread I have made from the book is the Multigrain Struan. Struan is a word derived from Gaelic meaning "the convergence of streams". The bread's multigrain recipe was originally made with whatever grains the harvest brought in. By weight, it is about 25% mixed grains. I used brown rice, cracked wheat, polenta and quinoa (my harvest was a half-hour playing in the bulk-foods section of WinCo). In the soaker I also used buttermilk, which really made the soaker have a quite questionable smell, but it turned out to taste terrific in the end. I also used wild yeast sourdough starter instead of the biga. I think I have found my struan. With the wealth of possibilities to change this recipe, it could very well be one tasty loaf after another. I am considering quitting my job and making homemade bread full time for the rest of my life. Much less stressful and much better tasting.




Best darn 100% whole wheat bread ever

Mon, 12 Nov 2007 05:17:19 +0000

I think the title says it all. After having read The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart, I really started making some tasty breads. I have tried the Pain a l'Anciene, the amazing Pizza Napoletana, Foccacia, Pugliese, Anadama bread, and Multi-grain Bread Extraordinaire. They were all very wonderful (and I plan on continuing to make them) but I was left feeling somewhat unfulfilled. For several reasons: I want to eat healthy, and too much white bread is not good for the body; I have more whole grains on hand than white flour and it would be nice to know how to make tastier breads with just the whole grains; people before G.A. Bockler survived without white flour, why can't I?

I found my answer when bumbling around on Amazon, looking for things to round out my wishlist. I was rating items so Amazon could give me better suggestions of things I might like (which it does a fairly poor job at), when I came across Peter Reinharts's Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor. Wow! Does he ever deliver. I love the science of bread that he puts into his books. Not being a chemist, I think the actual chemistry behind all the reactions in the dough is a little beyond me, bit the deconstruction of the bread, the nitty-gritty how it works is what really intrigues me. I am an engineer. I love to take things apart and see what makes them tick. When things are broken, I want to fix them. I have a deep need to see how the puzzle fits together.

Yesterday I made four loaves of 50-50 wheat/white bread from the recipe that my mother-in-law uses. It is a very tasty recipe that I have been using for the past 5 years. My technique has gotten better and I think the four loaves from yesterday were the most uniform and best tasting loaves I have made from that recipe. But it still bugs me that there is a requirement for 1 1/2 cups of white flour per loaf. I have tried substituting whole wheat flour for the white flour to varying degrees of success, but it never turns out as good as the original recipe. It is always more dense and the flavor isn't quite right either. I even took the advice of one recipe book that said to use less wheat flour when substituting and also increase the leavening to compensate. But it still wasn't quite right.

Yesterday was also the day that my time on the library waiting list for "Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor" was up and I got to take it home. Almost before the four loaves of bread were fully cooled (and one half eaten), I had read half the book and started on the first recipe, 100% whole wheat sandwich bread. Almost all the recipes in the book use two pre-doughs, a soaker and a biga. According to the science content in the book, the soaker provides flavor and a good environment for yeast production while the biga provides more flavor and the needed acidity to control the enzymes in the soaker before they do too much of a good thing. Put the two parts together, add a little more yeast for leavening and you have one tasty, tender bread. So today, after the soaker and biga had had plenty of time to do their parts, I finished the single test loaf. I just cannot get over how good that bread was. And that was my first shot at the recipe. Hold on while I drool as I imagine how good it will be after five years of practice....

I will certainly be back with more stories from my time in the kitchen.