today’s sourdough and the creamy wild rice soup

IMG_1011

Here is my baby today 🙂

This loaf is similar to others in making, only with an additional 2 tbs water to make it slightly sticky. During stretching and folding, the dough formed well and the stickiness has almost disappeared. I also did not add sugar to dough for the first time.

IMG_0997
proofing 🙂
IMG_0998
after the proofing step
IMG_1000
this scoring worked well 🙂
IMG_1007
and the end product 🙂 what a beauty! I am very pleased with the oven spring.

 

———————————

And, finally I am consuming the wild rice that I have had for some years!!!

I totally improvised this soup:

IMG_1009

  • Add in a pot 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup red lentil, 1 small potato, 100 grms of butter, and 3 cups water
  • Boil and then simmer for 1 hour, or until rice softens

This is a very creamy and hearty soup because of the lentil and potato, and has a mixture of both soft and somewhat crunchy texture (the wild rice has a tough outer membrane)

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

The 1st anniversary of my bread-making adventure :)

IMG_0899

Today is the 1st anniversary of my bread-making adventure!

And what an adventure it has been 🙂

I first got enticed by commercial yeast by chance, and tried my first loaf without knowing what I was doing 🙂 It was a very tasty, very hearty bread though – I enjoyed it 🙂 

With the confidence coming out of that experience, the week after that I tried baguettes and this time I was very badly defeated 🙂 I have had very serious concerns about whether I would ever be able to bake a decent loaf. This lasted some time, while I read, read, and read about how to best bake a bread. 

It was my mom who encouraged me to get hopeful and try again. And again I tried. It was not an easy period I would say; I often failed and only every once a while I could get a decent loaf. I experimented a lot with autolysing, kneading, stretching and folding, over-night dough risen at room temperature or in the fridge, using a roaster as a substitute for a dutch oven, using milk or water in dough, using pre-heated and non-preheated oven, misting the oven versus not doing it while baking, adding rolled oats or seeds like flax seed to dough, and different types of flour (all purpose flour and bread flour).

I got intrigued by wild yeast and sourdough, hence I also experimented with it 🙂 I attempted four times to get a decent starter and eventually got one with a whole wheat flour. It is my Monster starter that has been working just great since last August-September. I almost every single weekend bake a loaf or two using this starter, and I must say every week I notice a subtle progress and development in it. It is a living organism alright 🙂

So I found that while I am still far away from the “perfect loaf”, stretching and folding really works and develops the dough, over night dough is the best, there is no need for pre-heating or misting the oven, or using a dutch oven/roaster to bake a good loaf. All you need is love, patience, and paying attention to dough. If you do this, you will get a great loaf each time after a while. Guaranteed.

Today, on this very special anniversary, I tried sourdough with rolled oat with a recipe similar to this (and without the flax seed). What a beauty 🙂

IMG_0899
my sourdough loaf is “crowned” with rolled oat today to celebrate this important anniversary 🙂

Here are select loaves I have baked within the last year, starting with the first ever loaf I baked. Looking at them literally makes me happy.

If you are intrigued or interested at all, I would say go for it and try a loaf or two. Baking your own bread is very healthy, satisfying, and most importantly, an exciting hobby 🙂

Happy baking!  🙂

IMG_8319
The first loaf  🙂

today’s sourdough

IMG_0865
the end products! look at these beauties! The scoring on boule makes an impression of a face, do you not think? 🙂

I baked two sourdough today; one boule and the other baton-shaped.

The recipe is quite similar to previous ones with:

  • 4/3 cup of whole wheat flour starter fed Friday evening and Saturday morning,        1 1/4 cup water, 3-4 cups bread flour, 2 tbs of sugar, and 2 tbs of salt. It should be slightly sticky
  • mix, rest at room temperature, and stretch and fold 4-5 times with 20-60 min in between (it is quite forgiving; you do not need to time everything. what is important is to fold and strech so that the dough and gluten form)
  • rise at room temperature over night in a mixing bowl with lid and wrap with a towel
  • the next morning (aka today), shape and rest for 10 min. Re-shape if required, cover the loaf with a towel, and place in a plastic bag for a green house effect (I think that works really well) for 4 hours or longer (this week at the end of 4 hours, the loaves had almost doubled)
  • bake at 375 min for 50-55 min (until it becomes golden crisp. I no longer pre-heat the oven or use a roaster/dutch oven to bake. Eventually if the dough is good, the bread comes out wonderful)
  • cool down and make sure to take your time to enjoy 🙂

 

Today’s loaves

Sourdough loaves are for myself (of course! – since I started baking sourdough in August-September last year, there has not been a week that I have not eaten it 🙂 ) while the bread loaves with commercial yeast will be given to my colleague who gave me a ride last week.

Sourdough loaves were done very similar to previous ones with flax seed and rolled oat.

The loaves with the commercial yeast were prepared similar to this one, only without the milk. I am aware that the shapes are not the best, but we will hope at least  the taste, crumb, and crust are superb 🙂

 

 

sourdough with a touch of rolled rye

IMG_0670

What is a Sunday without a home-baked loaf of sourdough?

You got it right – it is almost impossible!!!!! :))))

Since I started sourdoughing last August, except one weekend and when I was away for vacation/business trip, I baked a loaf or two every…single…Sunday! 🙂

I keep experimenting with the rolled cereals/grains in my sourdough loaves. My recent a couple trials including the soaked rolled oat and flax seed in sourdough (for example, here and here) have been quite successful. I think they help with  the moisture even though they lack the gluten so they take up only a small part of the total dough (other wise the loaf does not rise – I know by experience – unless you want a flat and stiff loaf, do not try to have a loaf with only rolled oat).

Anyways, I saw and purchased the rolled rye a couple of weeks ago. Honestly I have no idea what it could be used for, but I thought it would be a nice addition to my baking adventures and a nice ornament for the crust. I was not wrong.

This is the biggest loaf I have ever baked so far; thus rather than a boule I opted out for a baton loaf (I thought it would bake more evenly). Also, I proved the dough in a large plastic bag that kept it somewhat warm (something like a greenhouse effect). I am glad I remembered to do this as I think it reduced the proving time.

Recipe:

  • tend to the starter and prepare the levain as explained here
  • mix 1 cup of rolled rye with 1 cup of water, soak for 30 min
  • add the rye mixture,  1 1/4 cups of starter, 1 cup water, and 2 tbs sugar together and mix well
  • add 4 cups of bread flour and 2 tbs of salt. Mix and form a shaggy dough. It will be a little bit sticky dough
  • stretch and fold 4-5 times at 30-60 min intervals
  • cover, wrap with a thick towel, and rise at room temp over night. My kitchen is around 17 C
  • the next morning, take the dough on a floured surface, expand and form a rectangular dough, and then fold over itself to form a baton shape
  • cover and rest for 10-15 min at room temp
  • re-shape if required and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet
  • cover with a thick towel and place in a large plastic bag; tie the ends of the bag and rest for 5 hours at room temp
  • pre-heat the oven at 375 F
  • wet the surface of the loaf with your hands and sprinkle with rolled rye. Gently press to make sure the flakes will stick. Score the loaf as you please
  • bake for 55 min
  • cool down and enjoy!

Happy baking!

The day of sourdough – Sunday

IMG_0624

IMG_0634

You know I bake sourdough bread every Sunday. Since each dough, each loaf is different, Sundays are usually very exciting times for me 🙂

This baby is part semolina sourdough – my second take on semolina.

My experience with semolina flour has been consistently good really, but it is true that it does not rise, so I used only a cup in this loaf. There is something nice about it that helps yield a great dough, even though I cannot put my finger on it. Let me know if you have any idea 🙂

Recipe:

Like other times, I fed the starter on Friday, and then again on Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, I added 3/2 cup starter, 1 cup water, and 2 tbs sugar and mixed it well with a fork. Then I added 1 cup semolina flour, 3/2 cup bread flour, and 1.5 tbs salt and mixed everything well using my hand. 

The rest is very similar to other times (check this) except that I proved the loaf at room temperature for 8 hours today – only because I stepped out for a quick shopping trip, bumped into friends, and spent (lovely) time with them, so when I returned back home it was already 8 hours of proofing 🙂 

I was scared that it would be over-proved, but it was not – the loaf turned out to be great; I think if it was sticky, it would not shape this well and would possibly end up being over-proven. So I feel lucky this time 🙂 

Happy baking! 🙂

 

 

 

oat and flax seed sourdough

img_0590

I surprised myself with this loaf; if you are looking for a change in the taste of your sourdough loaf, I would highly recommend you to give this one a try. This loaf tastes very realistically “nutty” because of the oat. I plan to bake a loaf only with oat and levain next time – let’s see how that will turn out.

I think it is true when they say that salt brings in the flavor. Salt level in the recipe may be too much for many, so feel free to use less, but for me it was great. 

 

Recipe:

Friday: feed the starter with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water, wrap in a towel, and rest at room temp overnight.

Saturday: The next morning, feed  the starter again and divide into two; one part to go to fridge and the other one to rest at room temp, wrapped in a towel for a few hours, which will be used in bread.

Once the levain seems bubbly;

  • Add 1 cup rolled oat and 1/2 cup of flax seed to 1 cup of water, mix and let stand for 30 min or so
  • Add to the oat/flax seed mix, 1 cup levain, 1 cup water, 2 tbs sugar and mix well
  • Add to this mixture 1.5 tbs of salt and 3 cups+2 tbs of bread flour. Mix and form a shaggy and sticky dough, cover with a towel, and rest for 20 min. At this step the dough does not have to be perfect and there is no need to knead.
  • Stretch and fold ever 20-30 min 4 or 5 times. Honestly I put my hands on the dough whenever I had time 🙂
  • Cover with a towel and rest at room temp over-night

Sunday: In the morning:

  • Take the dough on a counter sprinkled with flour, stretch and form a rectangular dough, and then fold over to form a round dough. Cover and rest for 10 min
  • Check the shape, re-shape if needed, and try to form surface tension by pulling the dough towards yourself on the counter, repeat 10-15 times till it feels alright. I also “swirled” it around with the hope that it would keep its round shape
  • Wet your hands and touch on the surface to make it a little bit wet. Apply rolled oats and gently press on them to make sure they stick, turn the dough upside down, and place it in a proofing basket (in my case a mixing bowl) covered with a baking towel. Cover and proof at room temp for 3.5 hours 
  • Turn on the oven at 375 F, take the dough on a baking sheet/parchment paper seam side at the bottom, score, and place in the oven. I no longer pre-heat my oven.
  • Bake 50 min uncovered, then 10 min covered, and then another 10 min without cover.
  • Take out of the oven and cool down.

Enjoy 🙂

improvised two loaves of sourdough today

 

Yesterday I visited a bulk-produce retailer and bought myself some flax seed, rolled oats, and some other dry food at very affordable prices!!!

This excitement had to be experienced – I love it when I can get great food at such low prices. I feel grateful 🙂

This being said, I have bought the rolled oats and the flax seed to experiment/improvise new bread recipes. So, today I baked two different sourdough loaves – one with oat+bread flour and the other 100% whole wheat flour+flax seed. 

Boy – they are beautiful, do you not think? So soft, so nicely risen, such great oven spring, and the air bubbles inside are making me fall in love with each one of them.

It is official; I have the greatest sourdough starter ever, which I hope to bake with forever and ever… 🙂

————————-

Recipe

Levain: I have a 100% whole flour “Monster” starter that I feed with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour+1/3 cups+1 tbs water on Friday afternoon. I then let it rest at room temperature overnight wrapped in a thick towel. The next day I feed it again the same way; one hour later divide it into two: one part goes into the fridge till use next week, and the other continues to rise at room temperature for 5-6 hours. At that point it becomes very bubbly and that is always exciting to see this 🙂

img_0499

Prior to preparing dough, I mix the levain with water and sugar to make the liquid base for dough (my measurements were: 1+1/4 cups of levain, 1 cup of water, and 1.5 tbs of sugar)

Sourdough with rolled oat:

add 1/2 cup rolled oat and 1/2 cup water- mix and let stand for 20 min

add 1+1/5 cups of levain/water/sugar base, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of bread flour, and 1/2 tbs of salt. Mix well and form a shaggy dough – do not worry about kneading or forming the perfect dough. Just cover, rest, and *stretch and fold every 20 or 30 min or so for 4-5 times.

*I lately started to “slam” the dough to the mixing bowl 7-8 times during each stretch and fold, which I kind of feel like helps stretch and form the dough. It is a strange feeling to do this to my dough and yeast, but then it feels also right…Try if you wish.

Then, cover, wrap with towel, and let rise at room temperature over night (my kitchen is usually cold around 17C. If you are in a hot climate, you may rise the dough at the fridge).

 

100% whole wheat sourdough with flax seed:

Rinse 1/2 cup of flax seed and add 1/2 cup water, let stand for 30 min

add 1+1/5 cups of levain/water/sugar base, 1 cup + 3 tbs of water, 2.5 cups of whole wheat flour, and 1/2 tbs of salt. Follow the procedure above.

Since whole wheat flour requires a little bit more water, I wet my hand before each stretch and fold to humidify the dough a little bit – it did help with a relatively softer dough. Alternatively you can add an additional 1-2 tbs of water while preparing the dough.

 

The next day; gently place the dough on a surface sprinkled with flour, deflate, stretch and form a rectangular shape, and fold & shape. Cover and let rest for 10 min. Shape again and place in proofing containers (i used a small mixing bowl for the oat loaves and a baking dish for the flax seed loaf).

Proofing time: 2.5 hours for the oat loaf, and 3.5 hours for the flax seed loaf

Baking: I recently started not to use roaster to bake my loaves. It gives a thinner crust and the oven spring is equally successful. I used a non-pre-heated oven for the oat loaf (375F, 50 min, baked uncovered). Once I was done with it, then I placed the flax seed loaf (pre-heated oven, 30 min open lid, 15 min closed lid, and 5 min open lid at 375F.)

Results, observations, and verdict: both loafs are gorgeous and better than what I thought I would get.

I know it is difficult to get the whole wheat flour rise so I was pretty impressed with the oven spring and the overall crumb of this lovely bread. It also had a nutty flavor and was an absolute delight even though for some the 100% whole wheat bread may sound a little bit intimidating.

The oat loaf was a delight from the beginning on – so easy to handle and the first rise was amazing with big air bubbles that I only had experienced with commercial yeast in the past. The taste of oat was undetectable but that is perfectly fine with me.

In both cases (oat and flax seed) the resting them on water prior to adding with flour and water produces a little bit sticky and mucus-like liquid, which I kind of think that helps with “binding” the dough. But of course we need a scientific proof for that.

I would certainly try these two loaves in the future and perhaps with the oat loaf I would increase the amount, just to see how the dough would respond.

Happy baking everyone! 🙂

 

oat sourdough

img_0506
smooth dough at the end of the stretch and fold episode
img_0527
what a beautiful loaf, waiting to be enjoyed 🙂 )

 

img_0531

100% whole wheat and flax seed loaf

img_0505
at the end of the stretch and fold episodes – kind of tough dough. would be better if I had added an extra 1-2 tbs of water to dough. I made up for this by wetting my hands prior to handling it each time so that it could get some more hydration. it did work 🙂

Sunday Sourdough anyone?

Friends; have a look at this 25% whole wheat – 75% bread flour sourdough!

Is it not magnificent? 🙂

With no ego I can tell this is the finest loaf of mine yet.

Sticky dough absolutely pays off – in my experience sticky (that literally sticks lightly-but not overly to your hand when you stretch and fold, or otherwise handle it) yields the softest bread with the best crumb.

This one was baked on a cookie sheet at 375F for 50 min (for 20 min of which it was covered with a lid to prevent the surface from burning).

I no longer use the roaster to bake my loaves, which gives me loaves with much thinner crust (which I love)!

Happy baking everyone! 🙂

! 🙂

 

my beautiful sourdough

img_0459

img_0463

 

I have been getting wonderful loaves lately – this makes me excited and happy 🙂

Maybe the starter got a little bit seasoned, maybe I now have better baking skills, maybe it is just the cold temperature (ironically!), but something is working. I am grateful.

This is a loaf that was very similar to what I baked last week with a slightly sticky sourdough.

Bon appetite!

Today’s sourdough

This baby is the product of a little bit sticky sourdough risen overnight at room temperature (around 17 C), pre-shaped, shaped, and proofed for 4 hours (also at room temperature), and baked at 375F for 45 min in an oven bakeware (20 min of which it was covered with a lid to prevent its surface from burning).

This is the softest and the best risen sourdough loaf I have baked in a while 🙂

I think; a) being sticky  helps rise the dough; b) using bakeware may help keep the shape of sticky dough – loaves (which I appreciate); and c) if the dough is sticky and healthy enough, I may not need roaster (I use roaster as an alternative to dutch oven) to bake my bread.

Bon appetite 🙂

PS: I prepared my sourdough starter and levain with whole wheat flour, which dominates the colour and the texture; each loaf is around 30% whole wheat and 70% bread flour. Very healthy and sturdy dough 🙂

carrot sourdough loaf

img_0230

I am excited to write this recipe 🙂

It gives a strong, slightly sticky dough that forms a great crust and very soft crumb (the softest I have seen in a sourdough). The carrots, I believe, help with the moist crumb and with a fairly good rise. I also believe that yeast loves the carrot (or carrot juice coming out of the grated pieces). In anyway, I suggest you give this loaf a try and see how you like it 🙂

—————————————

Recipe:

1. Grate 4 mid-size carrots

2. Add 1.5 cups of sourdough levain to carrots (I fed 2/3 cups fridge-stored starter with 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup+1 tbs water and let rest over-night at room temperature. In the morning it was risen and bubbly. I fed it again two hours before I prepared the dough)

3. Add 1 cup water, 4 cups bread flour, and 1.5 tbs salt. Mix by hand or using utensils.

4. Leave at room temperature (covered) to rise: I had a social to attend, so left it for 4 hours and stretched and folded it twice in between.

5. Place in the fridge over-night

6. The next morning, take it out and rest at room temperature for around 1 hour

7. Shape the dough (I formed a baton today), cover with kitchen towel, and let rise for 1.5 hours

8. The last 20 min; pre-heat the oven and the roaster (if you are using one) to 375 F. Flip the loaf upside down on parchment paper

9. Score the surface, and bake in the roaster; 35 min closed lid and 25 min open lid. Turn off the oven and leave the loaf in the roaster/oven for an additional 1 hour (since this is a moist loaf, I found that this step helps with baking inside the loaf)

Enjoy 🙂

my finest sourdough loaf

img_0050
does it not look awesome? 🙂

This is my finest sourdough so far. I could not be more excited 🙂

For many, the amount of levain in the recipe may be too much, but it just worked wonders for this loaf. I added this much this time because I had extra starter that I did not want to waste.

I reduced the oven temperature to 375 F this time as I am a little bit annoyed by the 400 F (too high; not sure what happens to the roaster at such high temps).

The dough was a little bit sticky but not runny and there was a very nice oven spring, which always pleases me; it is magical 🙂

I note that while the majority of the flour is white flour, the colour and the texture of the whole wheat (from the starter) is quite dominant.

This was the softest sourdough I have ever baked and the crispy crust was surprising and very welcome 🙂

——————————–

Levain: 3/4 cup of Monster sourdough starter, 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup water. Mix well and place in a clean glass jar. Left at room temperature over night. The levain should have risen ( around 2x), smelling a little bit sour, and bubbling the next day.

Sourdough loaf:

Add to the levain (around 1 1/3 cup), 3/4+2 cups bread flour, and 1 cup water. Mix well with hand or a spoon. Leave at room temperature covered with a lid and stretch and fold 4 times every 30 min. Leave at room temperature for an hour and then place in the fridge for the night

In the morning take the dough out and let rest at room temperature for 5 hours or so. It should slightly rise

Add 1 1/2 tbs of salt and gently knead and shape (I tried a baton this time). Place on a parchment paper and let rise for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature

Pre-heat the oven with a roaster (or dutch oven if you have one) at 375 F.

10 min before putting the loaf in, place another sheet of parchment paper on top and flip the loaf (I do that because I think it helps with the air packets to occur on both top and bottom of the loaf.. any ideas anyone?)

Place the loaf in the heated roaster and bake for 30 min with closed lid and then another 20 min with open lid.

Enjoy 🙂

today’s bread

img_9878

I changed my mind and rather than making a sourdough for tomorrow, I decided to sacrifice (!) my early-levain to bake some fresh bread today, also containing commercial yeast.

My first time trying small loaves, which turned out to be pretty good. I think I will try this in the future. The small loaves are softer and easier to manage, and they delighted me with their individual characters 🙂

This is also my first time mixing the commercial yeast and wild yeast in a dough. I suspect that the wild yeast was not at good levels as expected; I had only fed my starter and aliquoted my levain a few hours before I decided to bake this bread. The taste of the loaf did not give a hint of sourdough.

 

Recipe:

1. Add 1.5 cups of warm milk (1%), 1 tbs of sugar, and 1 tbs of dry active yeast; mix well, cover with a kitchen towel, and rest for 10 min to activate

2. Add 3.5 cups of bread flour, 1 cup of sourdough levain, and 1 tbs of salt, and mix and knead for one-two minutes.

3. Place in a new pot/bowl smeared with vegetable oil, cover, and let rise for 20 min. At the end of the 20 min, stretch and fold 4-5 times, cover, and rise. I repeated this for 5 times today.

4. Cut portions of dough, shape with your hands (I did not use flour or a counter top for this purpose), and place the loafs on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Put stretch film over the loaves (to prevent dehydration), place the cookie sheet in a large plastic bag, and proof for 1 hour at room temperature

5. Pre-heat the oven at 375 F. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the loaves, and bake for 30-35 min

 

bread; with or without milk

img_9819
today’s bread with water (instead of milk) – not bad, is it? 🙂

I baked a loaf with milk that was risen over-night at the fridge and another one without milk and risen at room temperature during the day.

I love the milk in bread because it makes it quite soft; in the last few weeks that is how I was baking my loafs. Today I wanted to give a try to plain bread (i.e. with water) to move out of my comfort zone and to strive for making a bread without the help of the milk.

I guess, it turned out to be great 🙂

I used 3 cups of bread flour, 1.5 cup of water (warmed and mixed with 1.5 tbs of sugar and 1 tbs of dry yeast; rested at room temperature at a warm place; a.k.a. on top of the stove, for 10 min to activate), and 1.5 tbs of salt all mixed up with the help of a spoon. I did 4 rounds of stretch and fold at 25 min intervals. Dough did not look great, but honestly I did not care much today 🙂 Took the dough on a floured surface, extended and then folded to form a baton shape, proofed at room temperature for 1 hr 15 min, and baked at the pre-heated oven and in a roaster for 30 min (20 min lid on, and 10 min with open lid). (Since the yesterday’s bread was somehow almost burn at the bottom, I reduced the oven time for this loaf.)

It is soft and certainly airy 🙂 For a recipe this short, I would not expect to see such a great loaf, but I guess the warm environment really helped; I keep my dough (while rising or proofing) on the stove, which I turn on for 30 seconds or so to give warmth a couple of times. The containers are covered by thick towels to conserve heat. In my experience these work better than keeping the dough in a warm oven, because I usually turn out to over-proof.

Another thing I notice is that with shaggy (i.e. high hydration dough), it helps to have the surface of the dough covered with a thin layer of flour; I think it helps with not only limiting dehydration, but also with giving the surface a nice relatively stronger layer.

So my two cents is  that next time you find yourself in hurry or lazy, try to keep the dough and the yeast warm and make sure to flour the surface 🙂

My second two cents is that the dough with milk gives a better looking crust with rich colour – I love it 🙂

 

today’s bread (with water):

yesterday’s bread (with milk):

what is a Sunday without a sourdough bread?

img_9763
does it not look awesome 🙂 I LOVE oven-spring 🙂 since I started using a roaster to bake my loafs in, the majority of the time I was able to observe a significant level of rising. I get excited each time I see it 🙂

I tried one sourdough recipe with semolina flour this time. I was worried because it did not rise as much, but the oven spring was there as well as the air bubbles in the loaf 🙂

It contained 1 cup of levain prepared from my Monster sourdough starter, 1 cup of semolina flour, 1.5 cup of bread flour, and 1 cup of water and salt as desired. Minimal kneading at first; 6 stretch and fold every 30 min or so; and resting at the fridge overnight. The next day, I left it at room temperature for 2 hours; shaped, and proofed for 1 hour 15 min; baked at a preheated oven (at 400F) in a roaster (25 min closed lid and 25 min open lid).

Taste is somehow unusual, but the crust was rich and crumb was soft and quite palatable.

As usual, immediately enjoyed with the butter 🙂

parchment paper disaster and a wonderful loaf

img_9726
this is the second loaf, which was baked in the roaster and thus did not get affected by the parchment paper disaster….

Today I learnt that the smoke detectors in my kitchen work just fine because I burnt the parchment paper in the oven!!!!

Never though that would happen. I recently started using it, always in a roaster without any problem; this was the first time I tried it on a cookie sheet.

I had placed the cookie sheet lined with the parchment paper + loaf on the lower shelf of the oven; is that the reason I wonder (oven was at 400 F – many people say that parchment paper is safe to use at this temperature)…

Anyways; a lovely loaf is gone to garbage (the one on top of the burnt paper); luckily I have had another loaf baking in the roaster at the same time, which turned out to be just great 🙂

This loaf is the same as last time where I used milk rather than water in the dough. This time I also increased the amount of yeast, sugar and salt (2 tbs of each for 4 cups of flour), and baked 15 min at 400 F (until I realized parchment was burning…); took out while still in the roaster for 10-15 min until I cleared the oven from smoke; and then baked it at 350 F for an additional 15 min (lid open).

I think I have reached consistency in terms of baking a soft and beautiful loaf, which also happens to have excellent oven spring. I would recommend this recipe to everyone, especially those that are new to baking bread; it is much easier and more forgiving than the bread prepared with water (which I could never bake well) 🙂

 

 

can dough be forgiving?

IMG_9697.JPG
milky bread – is it not gorgeous? 🙂

I have been experimenting with bread making for some time and I can say I am still on the way to reach a perfect loaf.

For some reason I am not interested in following a recipe and I rather improvise. While this is exciting (each dough and bread feels like an “experiment”), the end results are usually not great.

This week I tried two loafs; one sourdough and one loaf with milk and commercial yeast.

The sourdough was miserable and did not forgive being poked, adding too much flour and then too much water. The dough was the weirdest I have ever made and I guess I should pay more attention to it 🙂

This being said, the loaf with the milk turned out to be the best ever! The oven spring was obvious, it was soft and incredibly tasty. Next time I should be using a little bit more yeast to make it really fluffy and with large air pockets 🙂

Milky bread recipe:

Add 1 cup warm skim milk, 3/4 tbs sugar, 3/4 tbs dry yeast. Mix well, cover with a kitchen towel, and rest for 10 min until the yeast forms the foams on top

Add 2.5 cups of bread flour, 3/4 tbs salt and mix with hands and knead for 4-5 min

Place in a container brushed with vegetable oil, flip the dough to make sure it gets oil all over

Let rest at room temperature 30 min and then and stretch and fold (total of 3 times; 30 min apart)

*I am not good at kneading, or at stretching and folding. So this time I tried to do a little bit of both of them to see whether I could get a nice, well formed dough

Rest in the fridge over-night – it should get fluffy and risen a little bit

In the morning, take it out to room temperature and let rest for 3.5 hours (only because my kitchen was cold today and I had to go out to shop. In a warmer environment, this time could be much shorter)

Gently de-gas, shape, and let proof for 1.5 hours

Score the surface, place in a pre-heated roaster, and bake at 400 F (oven is pre-heated too)

Enjoy 🙂

 

IMG_9675
this is my sourdough (50% whole wheat and 50% bread flour) 😦 just a little bit better than a brick 😦

 

 

mystical sourdough bread

IMG_9570
And the final product 🙂 (where is the score cuts?) Looks like the dough has risen (oven spring 🙂 ) and created “stretch marks” over the surface. I t is also almost doubled in size due to oven spring (use a roaster/dutch oven, my friends – it really does help)

This sourdough bread is mystical because I cannot remember how much water I added to the dough 🙂

Argh… Murphy’s law – this is a wonderful loaf and it would be awesome to replicate it in the future. Anyways, at least I remember how the initial dough felt; shaggy but not runny. Good…

This is my second sour dough bread trial using my Monster sourdough starter. The first one last week ended up being something beyond brick….. Something even stronger… Like steel or something….

This time, it is better. The crust was definitely chewy and inside was very soft. It could use more salt next time. By the way, with this loaf I started to believe in “oven spring”; this dough has doubled in size  while in the oven. I could not be more enchanted right now 🙂

Bon appetite! 🙂

——————————————————-

Recipe

Day 1.

Levain: Activate the starter by feeding a night before and resting at room temperature over-night.

For this purpose, I mixed 1/2 cup of starter with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Then, I transferred it in a clean jar, secured the lid with a clean kitchen towel and elastic band, and forgot till next morning.

*well… that is not true – I checked it many times during the night. Seeing it rising was magical 🙂 After all, I just had transferred it to fridge last week and this was the first time I tried to revive it back at room temperature 🙂

**basically, the starter I used for this levain is the portion of the starter that I am supposed to throw away while feeding the starter every week. Making no waste feels good 🙂

***it makes a stiff, not runny, levain

It must have at least doubled in size and have bubbles around the jar, indicating an active, robust starter.

 

Day 2.

Dough:

1. Mix 1 cup of levain with 1/2 cup water in a bowl. Add 2 cups of bread flour and just enough water to make a shaggy and sticky dough. Cover and rest at room temperature for 4 hours

*the autolyse step is supposed to hydrate the flour and help develop gluten. At the end of this period, the dough should look a little bit swollen and possibly flattened out

2. Add 2 tps of salt and 2 tps of sugar to dough while still in the container and mix

3. Spread 1/3 cup of flour on a clean surface and place the dough on. Knead for 2-3 minutes lightly and add flour as needed.

*The dough should be fluffy, somewhat sticky but not too sticky

4. Place the dough in a clean container that has been brushed with vegetable oil. Turn the dough upside down to make sure it gets oil all over. Cover and let rest for 30 min

*vegetable oil helps with preventing the dehydration of the dough. i somehow feel like it also helps with the dough structure, but I have no convincing evidence for this yet (many people say that vegetable oil actually reduces the rising capacity)

5. Stretch and fold 4-5 times and let rest for 30 min covered

*this technique is supposed to be a good alternative to kneading. If you do not have a dough mixer or a bread machine and are using your hands to knead, you may want to give it a try

6. Stretch and fold for a total of 4 times and then rest the dough for a final 30 min

*I perform all these steps while the dough is still in the container with the help of a bench cutter

**by the way I use a large pot to mix the dough and for the fermentation/first rise. It is a very practical alternative. Just close the lid and cover with a blanket/thick towel or place in a warm place, like a warm oven, for the fermentation step

*** you will notice that the dough slightly rises/gets fluffier and develops some structure with each stretch and fold. 

7. Take the dough on a lightly floured surface, spread with the help of your hands, and then fold over and shape. I made a round loaf. Cover and let rest there for 10 min.

8. Proofing: I used a bowl covered with a clean white fabric that had around 1 tbs of flour sprinkled to prevent the dough from sicking to it. I covered the dough and let proof for an hour

*they say sourdough does not rise as much as the commercial yeast, which in my experience was the case as well

9. 20 min before the end of the proofing step, pre-heat the oven to 400 F and place your roaster/dutch oven in

*I recently became a fan of using roasters to bake the bread. It provides good heat conductance and shortens the baking time. They say dutch ovens are even better. I bought a turkey roaster which is quite big. The advantage of it is that I can bake loafs with any shape; e.g. baton or boule. Not sure whether I can do this with a dutch oven – they usually looks small and suitable for boule only

10. Transfer the dough upside down on a parchment paper, score with sharp knife (around half an inch), and immediately place into the heated roaster

*dough was leveled down as soon as I scored it, which discouraged me. yet, the spring oven surprised me; the end product had risen and formed a lovely bread

11. Bake 30 min covered, and then an additional 20 min uncovered at 400 F

12. 🙂

🙂

 

 

 

 

left-over bread with poppy seeds

IMG_9447
air bubbles 🙂 (baton-shaped loaf)

I try to bake every weekend to quench my interest in yeast and its activities, and to consume.

This week, I had planned a “left-over” bread that included the left-over green olives (they have been in my fridge for some time now) and the piece of the sourdough starter I was supposed to throw away yesterday (my starter was on its 5th day yesterday and quite a monster, I must say). Since I was inspired by a blog (which, sadly I cannot remember now), I also added poppy seeds to dough.

It was a dough that rested at the fridge over-night (I prefer this kind of dough – in my opinion it makes better breads).

Overall, the green olives were not enough and kind of got lost during the kneading/stretch and fold attempts. I do not know what to think about this now… Poppy seeds are okay and not overwhelmed the taste, which is pleasing. The dough had a slight sour taste – I am almost sure that it was not because of the starter but the olives, but I may as well be wrong. Crust was crispy while inside was soft and tasty.

I also experimented with the roaster I purchased a while ago to see whether baking bread in a container like roaster really makes a difference. I prepared two loaves from the same dough and baked one in a baking dish without a cover and another one in the roaster at the same time. In fact it does; the crust of the roaster-baked loaf was more browned and better looking. I may as well continue to bake breads in the roaster.

I seem to have shallow scoring cuts on the loafs. I will remember to make deeper cuts next time.

On a final note, parchment paper seems to be a baker’s best friend. If you do not have a roll, you may consider having one. It keeps everything clean and helps with not using vegetable oil, spray, or cornmeal that we would otherwise use in the oven dishes while baking.

Recipe

1. Activate 1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast in 1.5 cups of warm water and 1 tablespoon of sugar by mixing all and resting at room temperature for 15 min (cover the bowl).

*Note that the amount of dry yeast is really low. I find that dough that rests at the fridge does not need a lot of yeast

2. When the yeast is activated, add 1/2 cup of sourdough starter, 2 cups of bread flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix with spoon or hand and let rest at room temperature for 20 (the autolyse step)

3. Add 1/3 cup of green olives (you should add more if you are looking for an olive loaf), 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 tablespoon of poppy seeds and knead on a clean, flour sprinkled surface for a couple of minutes to make sure the ingredients all mix.

4. take the dough in a clean, vegetable oil spread bowl (i use a pot) and let rest at room temperature for 30 min. After that do stretch-and-fold for a total of 4 times, each time with 30 min rest in between.

*this technique is supposed to eliminate the need for kneading and develop the gluten structure equally. Basically hold a corner of the dough, stretch it as far as you can and then fold it over the dough. repeat this with other corners of the dough (4-6). Turn the dough over so that the folded part lies at the bottom

**my experience with kneading is pretty conflicting. I cannot knead even though I know it would make my bread structure better. So I failed in today’s attempt too as the dough did not become a mature, elastic dough. That is why I decided to stretch-and-fold

***you will notice that over-time the dough becomes fluffy but not necessarily overly risen

5. Put in the fridge over-night. I left the dough in the fridge for a total of 12 hours and then let rest at room temperature for 2 hours

6. Take the dough out and spread over flour-sprinkled surface, degassing at the same time. Cut into two loafs, shape, and let rest on the bench for 15 min (covered)

*since the dough is not sticky, there is no need to add more flour than required

7. Re-shape if needed, cover, and proof for 1 hour 45 min at room temperature. I used a bowl to proof the round loaf and a cookie sheet for the baton/francala. Cover the loafs so that they will not dehdyrate and keep warm.

8. Pre-heat the oven to 400F (keep the roaster inside too). When the proofing is done, transfer the loafs in the oven dish (I used this for the round loaf with parchment paper at the bottom) and the pre-heated roaster.

9. Score the top of the loaf and bake for a total of 50 min; after the first 25t minute take the lid off the roaster.

 

my “Monster” sourdough starter

5th day-before the feed-3
5th day – right before the feed. Isn’t it  a beauty 🙂

My 4th attempt in sour dough starter seems to be the best so far 🙂

The Monster started to smell sour this morning and has been rising incredibly, especially after the feed today. 4 hours after the feeding today, I had to transfer it to a new, bigger jar as it had risen up to the lid and was ready to escape! :).

I could not be more excited! I hope that is what it is and it is really a sourdough starter, but not some weird micro-organismal activity.

—————————–

Here is the chronicle of Monster:

Day 1.

Procedure: Mix in a bowl 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup filtered water with the help of a fork. Transfer into a clean jar, cover top with a piece of fabric (clean and thin enough to allow air in/out), secure the fabric with the help of an elastic band around the lid, wrap the jar with a small towel (keep the lid part uncovered by the towel), place in a shelf away from the kitchen.

*There is no need to keep the starter away from the kitchen. I just have had pest problems lately, which prompted me to keep the starter away from their active areas.

**I started the starter in the evening around 6.30 pm. I tried to feed it everyday at around the same time.

***I decided to wrap the jar with a towel because I live in a relatively cold climate.

Day 2.

Observations: no apparent rise, a few tinny bubbles, smells like whole wheat – nothing exciting.

Procedure: Mix the starter with the help of a fork; take it out in a bowl and add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup of water. Mix all well with the help of a fork. Cover, wrap, and rest the jar/starter at its usual place.

*I made a mistake here. I was planning to add the same amount of flour and water as Day 1 but somehow got confused and ended up with smaller amounts added.

2nd day-after the feed
Day 2 – after the feed

Day 3.

Observations: There was a slight rise, a few large bubbles, somewhat unevenly elated surface, and no distinct smell. There was liquid accumulated at the bottom of the jar.

*slight rise was promising 🙂

Procedure: Remove 1 cup starter. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and mix well with fork. Add the remaining starter and mix everything. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap, and rest as before.

3rd day - after the feed-1
day 3 – right after the feed

Day 4.

Observations: There is ~0.5 cm rise in the starter – first measurable rise so far. There was no distinct smell and little, if ever, bubbles.

*I decided to take less starter out today, considering the fact that it was not flourishing. So I reduced it by 3/4 cup, rather than 1 cup.

**I forgot to take a photo before the feed today.

Procedure: Remove 3/4 cup starter out. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup water, and the remaining starter in a bowl. Mix well. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap and rest as before.

*from today on, the starter become a less runny/batter-like. I prefer this kind of starters – my feeling is that it helps the yeast flourish better.

**I removed a smaller amount of starter today, as the remaining amount did not look enough to me.

4th day-after the feed-2
Day 4-after the feed

Day 5.

Observations: When I checked it in the morning (yes, I have a habit of checking the starter 6-7 times a day – it is very exciting! 🙂 ), it had risen 2.5 x of its original height 🙂 It also smelled sour for the first time and there were many small bubbles and a slightly uneven surface.

In the evening, it had collapsed a little bit ( I think that is because had exhausted itself – definitely it is the time to feed.)

Procedure: Take 1/2 cup of starter out. Add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of water, and the remaining starter in a bowl. Mix well. Transfer the mixture into the jar, cover, wrap and rest as before.

*I removed less starter today compared to previous days. I kind of improvise. Many people use standard measures/amounts and follow them every day, but I like to adjust things as they develop. 

**I noticed that the starter does not have a smooth texture; it must be the particles in whole wheat flour that give it rather a crumby look.

5th day-after the feed-1
5th day – right after the feed. Excuse the mess around the jar 🙂

Additional observations the same day (day 5): 

2 hours after the feed: The starter had doubled in size. The best activity so far. No distinct sour smell yet.

3 hours after the feed: The starter reached the lid! Now knowing what to do, I decided to try to mix it well with a fork  and hope that it would not rise till morning. No distinct sour smell yet. Forking caused the starter to go back to its size right after the feed.

4 hours after the feed: I was being naive – even I mixed it and it went down to its original size, the Monster did rise and reach the lid again in an hour.

Time to change the jar. I mixed the starter well with a fork, and transferred all of it into a larger jar. Repeated the usual step; cover, wrap, and rest, as before.

5th day-after the feed-post 4 hours -3-changed the jar
5th day – 4 hours after the feed. Transferred it to a new, larger jar

5 hours after the feed and 1 hour after moved to a bigger jar: the Monster has doubled in size. Unfortunate that I could not take a picture (battery was charging). It is such a Monster!

6 hours after the feed and 2 hours after moved to a bigger jar: boy, the Monster is at work – it has risen so much 🙂

I cannot wait to see it tomorrow!

 

Day 6 (added after the post)

Observations at noon: At noon, the starter had collapsed. It smells slightly sour and seeing bubbles were very pleasing. I decided to feed it and use the left-over starter to prepare a levain for sourdough bread.

*This is the only day that I fed the starter twice – one at noon and one at evening (its regular feed time)

Procedure for first feed of the day: Mix well with a fork. I took out 2/3 cups of the starter to prepare the levain. To feed the remaining starter, in a bowl add 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water to the remaining starter, mix well with a fork, and transfer back to the jar. Cover, wrap, and rest at room temperature for an additional 6 hours.

Observations prior to the second feed of the day: Six hours after the new feed, the starter had doubled and had nice bubbles. The slight sour smell was there, too. The texture is pretty stiff (i.e. not runny at all, which I kind of like).

 *At that point, I decided it was time that I put it in the fridge for future use.

Procedure: Take 1 cup of starter and add 2/3 cups whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water, mix well, and transfer into a new jar and cover with a piece of cloth. Let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour prior to placing into the fridge.

6th day-after the feed-before goin into the fridge
right before putting in the fridge, still bubbly 🙂

Observation -3 hours after the fridge: I was right naming this starter “Monster”. Can you believe that this starter is continuing to rise in the fridge???

I love my Monster 🙂


A couple of thoughts.

This was so far the most robust starter.

I am thinking a couple of things may have contributed to it:

  1. whole wheat flour (rather than all purpose flour I had used in the earlier starters)
  2. mixing the starter together with the fresh flour and water in a bowl (i.e. not in the jar). Not sure whether aeration (i.e. getting out of the jar) helps the starter/yeast somehow.
  3. I also used fork rather than the spoon to mix the flour/water/starter – fork may be doing a better job than the spoon. Maybe, again in terms of aeration.
  4. I am almost sure, even though I have no evidence for this, stiffer starters (not runny) rise faster.
  5. Pure luck? 🙂

today’s bread

IMG_9261

My quest to be able to bake the prefect bread continues 🙂

Over-night dough is becoming my favorite. It rises well, consistently makes better breads, and it fits my schedule better. This loaf too is a product of an over-night dough.

Recipe:

1. Add 300 ml warm water, 1 table spoon of sugar, and 0.5 table spoon of dry yeast together; cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest for 10 min.

*I use less yeast for over-night dough. Previously I figured that this amount is more than enough to have a well risen dough. Yet, next time I will increase this amount to see whether I can get a better structured bread with air-holes in it.

**The yeast usually move up to the surface of the mixture and starts metabolizing and foaming on top. In this recipe, there is more water than the yeast can cover, so the foamy top may not fully cover the surface of the bowl – do not despair; it still works.

IMG_9239
activated yeast; all foamy and lovely.

2. Add to yeast mixture 3.5 cups of all purpose flour and stir with a spoon till it forms a shaggy mixture. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 20 min.

***This step is supposed to help hydrate the dough and start gluten development (i.e. the autolyse step).

3. Knead for 10 min or so until the dough becomes elastic and strong, or if you are like me, stretch and fold every 20-30 min and let rise for a total of 2 hours at room temperature, covered with a kitchen towel (since it is summer, I do not need to use a warm oven this time.). I failed my stretch and fold attempt with this dough – for some reason. I wished I had kneaded it 🙂

IMG_9248
right before placing in the fridge, my dough looked a little bit unhappy after all the stretching and folding trials. Perhaps I should have left it all alone – I am sure it would look better than this 🙂

4. Cover and place in the fridge. I kept it there around 14 hours. While yeast works better at warm temperatures, it nevertheless slowly continues to strive while in the fridge. The next morning, you should have a fluffy dough looking at you 🙂

IMG_9249
there has been a lovely rise in the fridge

5. When you are ready to work on the dough, take it out and rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours. I left mine for 2 hours while I went out for shopping. Upon my return, when I opened the cover, there was a large bubble in the middle. Well, hello you little miraculous yeasties 🙂

IMG_9250
hello yeasties!

6. Mix 1 table spoon of salt with 1 table spoon of water and add to the dough. Take the dough on flour-sprinkled bench, which will deflate the dough (i.e. no need to punch). Lightly work on the dough to shape and let rest on the bench for 10-15 min (covered).

IMG_9251

7. For proofing, I used a metal basket and a piece of clean clothe sprinkled with flour. I placed the dough upside down (where the seam is; make sure to close them by pinching the dough. Mine below was quite stubborn 🙂 ), cover lightly, and place either in a large nylon bag (works like a green house) or a warm oven (warmed to 100 F) for an hour, or until it rises again.

IMG_9253

8. To transfer the loaf into the oven, I placed a piece of parchment paper on top of the loaf, placed the cookie sheet on top of it, and then turned the entire assembly upside down. Cover and let rest for 10 min.

IMG_9257

****I read somewhere yesterday that whenever we “poke” the dough, we must let it rest for 10 min or so. So, for the first time today, I rested the loaf on the parchment paper covered with a kitchen towel. It does make sense to me as there has been some additional rise at the end of this rest 🙂

IMG_9258
the rest after the transfer to bake-ware made a difference – the loaf risen considerably. I am happy 🙂

9. At this point, pre-heat the oven for 400 F.

10. Pet the dough with wet hands and sprinkle sesame seeds on the surface. Score with a sharp knife and bake the loaf in the oven for 40 min.

11. When 40 min is over, turn the oven off and let the loaf sit there for an additional 10 min.

12. I took out the loaf and applied solid butter on the surface. I also sprinkled with generous amount of water to keep it moist, covered it with a kitchen towel till it cooled down, and cut the bread 10 min after I took it out of the oven.

13. Do not forget to enjoy the bread 🙂 I did with a nice chunk of butter. The bread was soft inside and pretty tasty. I just wished I had more air-packets. Next time 🙂

 

bread for the kind neighbours :)

I mentioned earlier that one of my neighbours has left me 4 pots of yard plants a couple of days ago, after an initial talk with her late May.

I saw her today and told her that I was baking a loaf of bread for her 🙂 I just left the loaf in her mail box. Hope she will enjoy.

This is another trial for a dough which is left at the fridge over night. I wish I could see the inside of the loaf I baked today so that I would know how the crumb was. But my overall impression is that it makes great bread with lots of rise and smell, even though the amount of yeast in the recipe is less than usual 🙂 I think this kind of dough also helps me with my busy schedule. So it is my favorite so far 🙂

*While in the fridge, I stretched and folded it a few times only out of curiosity – I do not  think it is required.

**I think the dough would take another 1/2 cup of flour – well, next time 🙂

——————————————————————–

Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

1. Add 1 cup of warm water and 1 dessert spoon of sugar together, mix well. Add 1/3 dessert spoon of dry yeast. Cover and rest for 15 min.

The yeast was crazy good with a nice foam on top. I think the temperature of the water was just right 🙂

IMG_8640

2. Add  2.5 cups of all purpose flour to yeast and mix well with a spoon. My dough was sticky but not “batter-like” like last time. Cover the container and rest the dough at room temperature for 25 min.

IMG_8642

3. Stretch and fold 6-8 times and place into a clean bowl covered with 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil. Turn the dough upside down to make sure it gets oil all over.

IMG_8646

4. After 60 min, there was a noticeable rise in the dough and there were bubbles 🙂 Stretch and fold a couple of times. The dough is elastic, and not stiff and not like batter, either. That is pretty good 🙂

after 60 min, this is how it looked like. rested 🙂
stretched and folded a couple of times – time to rest in the fridge now 🙂

5. After another hour of resting in the fridge, the dough has kept its shape, is strong and very elastic, not batter-like at all, and there are some bubbles in it.

Stretching and folding was easy – basically held a corner of the dough and let it hang for a second or two, and repeated this 5-6 corners each side of the dough.

Dough is 100% coherent (i.e. did not break or left pieces around the container).

Because of the oil, it is shinny and I kind of believe that oil helps keep inside humid but may also make it have some kind of stiffness/strength, which is not necessarily bad. I also think that oil helps with the crust somehow.. Gut feeling:)

after stretching and folding – back to fridge now 🙂

6.  after the 4th hour at the fridge, dough did rise just a little bit but feels soft and fluffy 🙂 It was exciting 🙂 Stretch and fold was very easy and this time the dough stretched quite a bit. There is a noticeable softness in the dough and 4-5 large bubbles were visible. Happy 🙂 I did not necessarily formed a nice looking ball this time; hope that will be okay 🙂

after 4 hours at the fridge, this is how the dough looked.
after stretch and fold

 

7. After 18 hours of fridge rest (in the morning), dough has risen and looks fluffy. No stretch and fold this time – I gotta catch the bus 🙂

8.  After 21 hours of fridge rest, it looks good.. I added 1 1/3 dessert spoon of salt, stretched and folded and also worked with my hands to have salt integrated. Left at room temperature for 2 hours covered.

 

prior to handling it 🙂

 

after I worked on it a little bit 🙂 the bubbles are gone and it looks good and shinny 🙂

9. At the end of the room temperature rest, dough looked fluffy and gas bubbles were detectable. It was a little bit sticky, but on a floured surface I did 4-5 stretch and fold and tried to form surface tension. The surface of the loaf does not look uniform but that should be okay. Bench rest for 10 min covered with a cling film.

10. I am finally at the proofing stage. I placed the loaf in an oven dish covered in a little amount of vegetable oil, covered with a pot lid, placed in a large shopping bag, and proved for 1 hour at an oven warmed to 100 F. I also left the oven lights on – it increases the temperature to around 123 F. that seems to work for me.

IMG_8666
beginning of the proofing stage

11. At the end of proofing, dough looks good and risen. Looks a little bit too juicy :))) Next time I can increase the amount of flour.

I applied whole egg wash carefully and sprinkled the top with sesame seeds and scored. Baking at oven at 375 F (turned on the oven and put the dough in immediately – not pre-heated oven) with 2 cups of hot water in the lower shelf. At 45 min, I sprinkled the surface of the bread with a generous amount of water. Total time in the oven: 1 hour 30 min

at the end of the proofing stage 🙂
I was not sure whether it was over or under proved. So I tried the “poke” test. I am still not sure what the answer is – help! 🙂

12. After I took it out, I applied solid butter on the crust, let rest for 10 min, and then took it out to my neighbours!:) (she was not there, but at least I tried 🙂 – hope she will remember our conversation earlier this noon and will not be surprised to find the bread in her mail box 🙂

the crust formed really well. I would love to see the crumb, but I could not cut the loaf. I guess my neighbour will have a better idea about it.

IMG_8680IMG_8678

 

 

how to bake the perfect bread?

Well; the best way to learn how to bake the perfect loaf is learning through trial and error.

This is the best way for me. No matter how many books or blogs I read, my own experiences with baking bread are the best teachers for me.

More than that, I am an experimenter. I would love to follow recipes, but to tell you the truth, I like improvising better; observing the thickness of the dough, the rise of the dough, the oven-spring of the loaf, the crust, taste, and crumb, and all the conditions (warmth while rising/proofing, minutes/hours of waits/rise/baking, amount of ingredients, etc.). And then coming up with conclusions to bake a better bread next time. That is priceless 🙂

So, last week I decided to try an over-night dough recipe – I have got the idea from internet (there are many useful sites out there). They say that while the fridge will slow down the activity of the yeast, the long fermentation (in the fridge) does enrich the taste of the bread. Intrigued, I decided to go for it 🙂

I must say it has been a great learning experience:

  • Now I know how to handle a very sticky/batter like dough better
  • Now I know that over-night fermentation of the dough is okay and, as they said, may even be better for the texture of the bread
  • Now I know that the sticky/high-hydration dough should not be proofed/baked on cookie sheets – loaf pans/oven dishes that support the dough are a lot better (they support the dough and prevent from spreading/expanding to the sides to form a rather flat-type of loaf that I observed with my trial today.)
  • Now I know that proofing may be extended to 1.5 hours (rather than 1 hour), which yielded a better rise for this dough today
  • Now I know that I will try some other varieties (e.g. with olives) using this dough some other time. The most bubbles I have ever seen in a dough 🙂

———————————————-

Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

This dough could have been a great flat bread or a pizza dough; crunchy outside, soft and crumby inside – highly recommended 🙂

1. warm 100 ml water and mix with 1 dessert spoon of sugar; mix well. Add 1/3 dessert spoon of yeast – let stand for 15 min. Yeast will start smelling but not necessarily form a foam (only because its quantity is less than regular yeast mixtures. For a same-day bread, I would have used a full dessert spoon of dry yeast)

2. add 2 cups of flour, 75 ml of water, and the yeast mixture – make a very sticky dough (almost like a batter).

IMG_8581

3. let rest for 35 min at room temperature (cover the bowl with a kitchen towel)

4. use a dough cutter (or your hands) and stretch and fold it onto itself (repeat for 3-4 min – the dough will be still sticky). This is supposed to help the gluten form and give a structure to the dough. Note the absence of kneading in this recipe.

5. grease a large pot/bowl (with 1.5 table spoon of vegetable oil) and put the dough in. Stretch and fold again to make sure it gets oil all over. Close the lid of the pot or cover it with cling film.

IMG_8596

6. keep it in the fridge overnight.

7. the next morning (after 19 hours in the fridge): the dough/batter looks healthy and flattened itself out. It smells great:) There are noticeable bubbles in it.

after over-night rest at the fridgeIMG_8612

8. add 1 table spoon of salt and stretch and fold 7-8 times. Transfer into a clean pot sprinkled with flour. The dough is coherent and sticky, and prior to the stretch and fold there were large bubbles in it:) (they are removed during the stretch and fold procedure). Sprinkle flour on top, close the lid of the pot, place over a kitchen towel and rest at room temperature for 1.5 hours (to help it reach the room temperature)

9. transfer the dough on a clean surface sprinkled with flour, stretch and fold a couple of times, and form a baton shaped loaf. You may flour the hands and the surface as required, but do not be tempted to add too much flour.

IMG_8618

 

IMG_8620
bubbles 🙂

10. bench rest for 10 min (covered)

IMG_8622
after 10 min of bench rest – the loaf certainly does not keep its shape and has a tendency to flatten…

11. Place the dough in an oven dish sprinkled with a generous amount of cornmeal, [if using cookie sheet like myself; support the loaf on both sides by stretch film-covered long boxes (stretch films better be greased). I would rather recommend using a deep oven dish for this dough if you are aiming for a tall bread…], place everything in a big shopping bag, loosely tie the bag, and put it in a warm oven (warmed to 100 F with lights on), and proof for 1.5 hour.

 

Untitled
this is how the dough looked like after 1 hour of proofing

12. Apply whole egg wash gently without deflating the dough, sprinkle with generous amount of sesame seeds, and score the surface. Remove the supports from the sheet

IMG_8631
this is how it looked right before I put it in the oven. when the supports on both sides are removed, naturally it expanded to the sides. I guess this will be one nice flat bread! 🙂

13. Place 2 cups of boiling water in an oven-safe dish and place in the lower shelf. Bake for 35 min (375F the first 15 min, and then 400 F)

IMG_8639
the best crumb ever!

 

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

plain bread – a success story

My next door neighbours are great people. She brought me some hand-made clothes; she said she loves knitting them and they are very useful. I was touched and decided to take advantage of being home early and bake a loaf of bread or two for them.

I am still not confident about baking bread. But it is a lot of fun! So, I decided to experiment to bake a loaf that can taste and look good. I prepared one dough and prepared 2 small loafs; one round, one baton (aka “francala”) shaped. The baton bread went to my neighbour and I kept the round one.

The crust of the round loaf was amazing (and crunch), so was the taste! I did not have large holes in the round bread but I hope there were some in the baton  – it rose better than the round loaf:)

IMG_8568
“baton bread” that I gave to my neighbour. This little beast looked amazing and I hope it tasted so, too 🙂
IMG_8575
this loaf is mine – I loved it 🙂

Recipe (1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon)

1. Warm up 200 ml of water and add 1 dessert spoon of sugar – mix well until all sugar dissolves. Add 1 dessert spoon of dry yeast. Do NOT mix yeast. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 min.

2. Add the yeast mixture to 3 cups of all purpose flour. Add 2/3 cups (150 ml) of water and mix with spoon or with your hands until it forms a somewhat sticky but coherent dough.

IMG_8544
right before the autolyse step – smelling nice and yeasty 🙂

3. Cover the top of the container (I used a pot and its lid for this purpose), wrap with a kitchen towel and rest for 20 min to autolyse at room temperature.

IMG_8545
right after the 20 min autolyse step. The dough is a little bit sticky (just like I wanted it), looks plumpy and risen a little bit. Looks pretty rested to me 🙂

4. Add 1 table spoon of salt and lightly knead the dough while still in the container (no flour is needed at this step as I aim it to be a soft and not a hearty bread). I noticed that dough become “fragmented” as soon as salt is added – but do not worry; it fixes itself during the process. Work on the dough and give it a round shape.

5. Add 1 table spoon of vegetable oil to a clean pot, spread it around, and put the dough in; then flip the dough over to make sure it gets oil on both sides  (top and bottom). Close the lid and put in an oven warmed up to 100 F (I covered the pot with also a kitchen towel).

IMG_8547
ready to rest and rise 🙂 I noticed that as soon as salt is added, the dough lost its structure and get “fragmented”. I am hoping this will fix during the rise

6. Let rise for 30 min and then stretch and fold 4-5 times and then turn the dough upside down and repeat stretching and folding. Let it rise in the warm oven for another 30 min and stretch and fold again. Put the dough back in the oven and let rise for an additional 30 min.

IMG_8549
at the end of 1st 30 min of rise – the dough has risen and conserved its plumpy and sticky nature. I could see the bubbles when I took it out of the warm oven, which is pleasing. The oil seems to help dough keep its moisture – but I wonder whether I applied too much oil. Something to think about. As long as it does not affect the taste, I am okay with this – in my experience the dough with a little bit oil in or around it rises pretty quickly.
IMG_8550
after stretch and fold at the end of the 30 min rise. Dough has lost some of its plumpiness but I am certain it will continue to rise 🙂
IMG_8551
after the 2nd 30 min rise – dough looks good and moist (because of the vegetable oil I used to cover the container). Folding and stretching was not particularly easy as if pulled a lot, the dough breaks. Not sure whether this is a good or bad thing. the final product will tell 🙂
IMG_8552
right after the 2nd stretch and fold. let it rest and rise for one last time 🙂
IMG_8553
at the end of the 3rd 30 min rise – looking good 🙂

 

7. Cut the dough into two (only because I wanted to have two small loafs) on a flour-sprinkled surface. Try not to add more flour and gently shape. Gently press down the bubbles (I had some). Shape, cover with a bowl or kitchen towel and let rest for 10 min.

 

 

8. Gently shape again and put in floured dishes for proofing upside-down. Sprinkle some flour on top, wrap loosely with cling film, and cover with a thick blanket on stove (I slightly warmed up the stove to help provide some warmth to dough). Let proof for 45 min

 

9. Apply egg wash – that is, whisk one egg and brush over the loafs. On one of them I also added sesame seeds. Score carefully using a sharp knife. Place in oven dishes sprinkled with corn meal.

 

11. boil 1.5 cups of water and place in the lower shelf of the oven in an oven-safe dish (to provide humidity during the bake)

10. bake at a pre-heated oven (400 F) for 45 min. At 30 min I took them out and sprinkled a generous amount of water on top. The round one needed to bake an additional 5 min (its bottom did not get brownish at 45 min)

11. Apply butter on the surface when taken out of the oven and enjoy!

Bon appetite! 🙂

IMG_8579
I cannot see much of a hole in the bread. I guess I needed to rise it a little bit longer. But the recipe is okay and I am excited that I made this beauty! 🙂

 

 

olive and rosemary bread & plain bread

 

 

I decided to make two different types of bread today: One with rosemary leaves and green olive and the other just plain. I so far have not tried plain bread and I would really like it to work out.

Recipe

It started with the same dough, which later was divided into two loafs.

*1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon

1. Activating the dry yeast: add 1 dessert spoon of white sugar to 1 cup of warm water – mix well with a spoon. Add 1 dessert spoon of yeast, cover with a kitchen towel and wait for 10 min. It should happily bubble and smells gorgeous 🙂

I found that the yeast behave the best if I do not mix them after adding to the water+sugar mix. Any ideas why?

IMG_8427
This is how yeast does it 🙂 bubbly, almost formed a film on top 🙂 Have I mentioned I was amazed by yeast? Yep. I guess I have. But it does not hurt to state it again 🙂

2. Add 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1.5 dessert spoon of salt, and 1 cup of water to the yeast mixture and mix well with the help of a spoon. Through the end I had to use my hand as it was a little bit sticky and I wanted it to get the flour in. After that, cover it with a towel and let rest for 20 min to autolyse.

I covered the container with a thick blanket this week – I am trying to see whether it will be enough to rise the dough. If so, I will stop using a warmed oven to rise my dough. Just trying to be self-sustained 🙂

IMG_8429
Right before the autolysis step. Do not mind the crumbles on top – I did not want to waste any pieces, hence these pieces from the container, which will rest with the rest of the dough 🙂

3. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes. As you go, you will see it will get smoother and also stickier. Add flour as required, but make sure that it does not get too hard. From now on, the first rise will start.

IMG_8431
This is how it looked after kneading. I like taking pictures at each stage because it tells me how much the dough rise 🙂

4. Sprinkle flour on a container and put the dough in (I use the same bowl I used to form the dough). Sprinkle some flour on top as well. Cover and keep warm for two hours.

During this time, I used the blanket again to keep the dough warm. This being said, at one point I thought I could put the dough-container still wrapped with the blanket on stove as I was cooking and it was warmer there (to help rise). Long story short, I ended up having a chunk of blanket melted and stuck on the stove!! It is good that I noticed 🙂 This was the misadventure # 1 for today 🙂

During this step, every 30 min (three times total) I took the dough out and applied the stretch and fold technique. Basically, I assumed the dough had 4 corners. I grabbed a corner of the dough and stretched as far as I could (gently) and then stuck it in back to the dough. I then repeated this with 3 other corners of the dough.

I have the pictures of the dough before each stretch and fold application:

IMG_8432
This is how it looked right before the first stretch & fold (total rise time =30 min). It seems to be rising 🙂
IMG_8433
This is before the 2nd stretch & fold application (total rise = 1 hour). It is getting bigger! Woohoo :))
IMG_8437
Right before the third stretch and fold (total rise = 1.5 hours). This time it does not look like it did rise more than the previous. I am not worried. I am not worried. I am not.. I am… I…. 🙂
IMG_8440
At the end of 2 hours of rise.- not bad is it? 🙂

 

5. Take the dough on a clean surface sprinkled with flour. The dough was sticky so I added a small amount of flour, lightly mixed it in, and then cut the dough into two.

a) I shaped the plain dough in a francala shape and placed on wax paper and supported on both sides by two long boxes. I then placed the entire stuff in a large nylon bag, loosely tied up the bag, and placed it in an oven warmed to 103 F with lights on.

b) I added the olive and rosemary into the dough. I thought they would mix well but no; they did not – misadventure #2. So I rather placed everything inside the dough and formed a round loaf. I placed this loaf in a bowl upside down that was covered by cling wrap sprinkled with flour. In the absence of shaping baskets, I thought that would work 🙂 I covered it with a towel and placed in the warm oven.

Rise the dough for 1 hour in the warm oven.

 

6. Take the loafs out and re-shape them gently again.

a) The francala had stuck on the wax paper – misadventure #3, so I literally had to drag it onto a cornmeal coated oven dish. Poor thing….

IMG_8449
poor francala – not looking happy 😦

 

b) the olive and rosemary loaf looked good 🙂 I put it on a cornmeal-coated oven dish (upside down).

IMG_8448
Olive and rosemary bread. We cannot see them as they are hiding inside. My bad! 🙂

7) Score the surfaces as you like. I then brushed them with vegetable oil – for the round loaf I also applied it to the sides as it looked like the dough would expand and stick. For a lazy and careless baker, I am proud of myself for coming up with this idea 🙂 I sprinkled the francala with a few sesame and nigella seeds.

8. Heat the oven to 375 F and place some hot water in another contained (to provide steam during the baking – I hope it did work). Place the loafs in and bake for 1 hour. During this period, I sprinkled a generous amount of water on top of both loafs three times.

9. Turn of the oven and apply butter stick on both loafs – it melts as it touches them. Then I left the loafs for an additional 5 min in the oven.

Bon appetite! 🙂

IMG_8456
plain bread – looking happier after the bake 🙂
IMG_8462
enjoy this bread with a nice cup of tea. This is exactly what I am doing right now 🙂
IMG_8455
the scoring was not successful today, yet this is one juicy, soft, and delicious olive and rosemary bread 🙂

 

volcano soda bread with cheddar and parsley

My love for bread-making is continuing 🙂

I was excited the whole week about my next bread trial. I wanted to give the soda bread a try this time. This recipe does not require yeast or wait-times for rising; so if you are looking for a yummy breakfast bread, I would highly recommend this one or any other soda bread.

After the success of the cheddar+parsley combination I tried earlier, I decided to improvise a soda bread with these ingredients. It ended up being quite delicious and softer than I thought it would be. The cheese when melted and together with parsley gave a yummy taste to this soda bread.

Here it is 🙂

————————————————————–

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of purpose enriched flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 90 gr mild cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 dessert spoon baking soda
  • 1/2 dessert spoon baking powder
  • 1/2 dessert spoon salt (*use much less as the cheese is salty)
  1. Mix everything in a bowl – it will form a rough dough, which is fine
  2. Form a round dough and let it rest for 3-5 minutes
  3. Oil an oven dish and place the dough in
  4. Brush the surface with milk and make a X cut. (**they recommend it to be a little bit deep to help inside to bake well. Unfortunately, I made the cut too deep which caused its wide-open shape – so is the name “volcanic”. )
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven (375 F) for 30 min
  6. After I took it out, I sprinkled water on top to provide some moisture

bon appetite!

 

sunflower seed bread

While I had opted out for baking my next bread using baking powder, my mom encouraged me to try the yeast again.

Later I almost decided not to, but eventually came to my senses (I would have to figure out how to bake nutritious breads with yeast anyhow).

So here is today’s baking adventure 🙂

IMG_8376

 

————————————————————————-

Recipe:

1 dessert spoon = 0.8 table spoon

Yeast mixture:

Add 1 dessert spoon of white sugar to a 1 cup of warm water – stir well. Add 1 dessert spoon of dry active yeast. Do not mix and let it stand for 10 min. It should start bubbling and form a foam on top.

Previously I used to mix the yeast with sugar and water with the help of a spoon, which did not work out well. This time, with this technique, I could see the foam on top, telling that the yeast is  activated 🙂

Dough:

1) Add 1.5 cup of all purpose flour, 1.5 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 dessert spoon of salt, and 3 dessert spoon of olive oil. Mix with a spoon..

2) Add the yeast mixture and mix the dough with spoon until it becomes a rough but coherent dough.

3) Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20 min.

I admit that I was trying to do an “autolyse” step, which helps with gluten formation and ease of kneading later. It looks like I did not remember it correctly, though – they say the yeast should NOT be added at that step. But I have.. Should I sigh or be okay with it? 

4) Sprinkle flour on a clean surface to start working on the dough.

The dough was sticky so I needed to use some extra flour to make it non-sticky, soft and smooth.

Knead for 4 minutes.

You will notice that as time goes on, it will become stickier again (I guess kneading helps move water within the dough). Apply little amounts of flour but do not over-saturate the dough.

5) Apply olive oil (or any other type) to the mixing bowl and place the dough in. Add *3/4 cups of sunflower seeds and mix until it becomes a uniform mixture. Cover with a thick kitchen towel and place in an oven with lights on. Let rise for **1.5 hours.

*The amount of seeds looked quite a lot at the beginning… But later turned out to be just right 🙂

**At 45 min, I noticed that the dough was not rising well. This can be mostly because a) it contains whole wheat flour that is difficult to rise, and b) the environment was not warm enough. So I turned on the oven till it reaches 102 F and then turned it off immediately. I let the dough rise for another 45 min (with the towel and the oven lights still on) in this warmer environment.

PS: I guess I should have been more liberal with the oil and cover the entire dough with it (lightly) to prevent dehydration during the rising process. I will do that next time.

6) *Lightly “punch” the dough down to get the gas out of it. Put on a floured surface.

*There should be some rising that has happened and when you punch it down, you should see it returning to its original size. And that is okay 🙂

The dough was sticky and I added a little amount of flour on my hands and the top of the dough.

Gently **stretch and fold for 4-5 times.

**This technique is done while the dough is raising to help with dough formation, but I felt like this can be a good alternative to kneading at this stage. Improvised – good or bad I am not sure. Hey, I am experimenting 🙂

7) Shape the dough and put in a greased baking dish. Score the surface of the dough as you wish and let it rise for another 45 min at the oven (with lights on and covered with a towel). It does rise 🙂

8) Mix an egg and brush the surface of the dough. Bake at 375 F for 1 hour.

I applied generous amounts of (around 20 ml) of water to the surface of the bread 3 times during the baking process, starting at the end of the initial 30 min. I repeated that when I took it out of the oven, too. I believe that helps with a rather moist bread.

9) Take out, admire the scenery, and let it cool for 10 min. Then slice and enjoy with butter or jam and a cup of nice tea! 🙂

 

my baking adventures and excitement in life

I have written a couple of days ago; excitement is a lovely thing 🙂

I have been thinking since then that that is actually very true and I seem to like excitement (planning, thinking, reading or writing about future plans, whether it is my budget and savings, or currently, my baking adventures).

I like this kind of excitement because honestly I am too stressed to enjoy my life. My mood is pretty much dependent on how the work goes and what hurdles we face. This gotta change and I gotta find a balance in my life between work-related emotions and life-related emotions. Eventually I am hoping that they will balance and when one of them sinks, the other can still keep my mood at a healthy level. That is why it is important for me to find things that will excite me. Who knows what it will be next day, but nowadays it is baking. I

I am planning to bake yet another bread tomorrow with baking powder based on a recipe I found on the net. I hope that this time I can do this as I really am not interested in buying another store-baked bread.

While at the beginning of my baking saga, I was only interested in yeast and how it works, I later got determined to bake my own bread all the time, dwelled into other recipes (such as tea biscuits), and now I can see that I am actually getting interested in dishes where oven is involved.

Not sure why that is but I am kind of thinking;

First, my subconscious mind. For years I have been saying “I cannot cook. I do not like cooking.”. Now the term is different (baking) and I believe that is why I am not negatively reacting to it and I in fact am okay with preparing food by baking.

Second, the availability of all kinds of recipes on the internet makes it easy and convenient to select and try dishes/bread.

Third, I am really in love with yeast and how it works, even though I have failed brutally once I was trying to bake bread/baguette. Baking powder is also interesting for me – improvising with these two is an interesting adventure, with lots of learning and all.

Fourth, baking enables me. I can bake for myself and I can bake for others. This morning for example, instead of buying something to eat with my coffee, I opted to bring in my own biscuit and enjoy it with my coffee at the cafe. Yesterday, I baked for a social. These are new abilities in me and I like this feeling.

Fifty, there is an excitement in planning to bake, choose a recipe to try, shop for ingredients, and actually try it. Considering the fact that baking does not require anything expensive and can be done at the comfort of my home, I am extra excited.

Sixth, I am eating better. Well, maybe not the tea biscuits 🙂 but the bread I made and the zucchini dish I tried today are healthier than what I would otherwise eat. I will never try those store made breads full of who knows what. Less chemicals to consume and more confidence in what I am eating. And any veggie that stays in my fridge while relentlessly waiting me to cook, can now be included in an oven dish or a veggie bread. I can trick myself eating more veggies by baking – I am excited about this.

Seventh, making use of what I have and not wasting food/veggies.

Do I have to say more?

🙂

I wish you to have such excitements in your life that make you healthier, happier, learning, and excited about life.

I am gonna make that bread thing work

I am feeling discouraged by the unsuccessful baguette trial today.

I made my first bread last week without knowing much about bread-making. I did not measure water or the flour; it included egg and vegetable oil (as I thought bread would contain these), it was 100% whole wheat flour (which rises slowly and usually yields hard breads), and I only raise the dough once and only for 45 min  and at room temperature (it was supposed to raise twice and rest each time around 2 hours at a warm place. At least that is what others are saying) and then baked in the oven at an arbitrary temperature (325 F) until I thought it looked alright.

Then I read a lot about bread-baking and watched I do not know how many videos, and I tried my second bread today. I admit I forgot many things that I had learned (kneading well and making a solid dough, not a sticky batter), adding seeds on top, etc. but, I thought I was more knowledgeable this time and would end up having a great loaf.

Alas….

Anyways… While I was excited to have my dough risen today, I was quite discouraged after the baguettes I made today, but I am not letting this bread making saga leave my hand yet. I will follow recipes if I must. I will watch more videos, read everything I read again, and I will follow my guts. I will make this work.

This being said, I wonder whether sometimes reading/learning too much confuses us or makes us more and, perhaps even falsely, confident (my second bread)? Maybe improvisation and listening to our guts can prove to be better sometimes (i.e. my first bread)?

Anyways. I know that like anyone else, I am capable of making breads. I also learnt by experience now (knead the dough, make a dough not a batter, rise the dough less, add seeds on top and apply egg mixture, etc.). Maybe I will  not become an expert of all bunch of different ones in a short time. Maybe I should focus on replicating my whole wheat bread recipe (the first bread) until I get confident that at least one type of bread I can make without failure. I then can move on with the recipes.

You know that I will be baking another bread next weekend, right?

The hearty baguettes (failed attempt)

Baked my second ever bread today! Yay!

I have been excited the whole week after I have baked my very first bread, quite randomly and without much of a thinking or knowing what I was doing. It turned out to be hearty and lovely loaf 🙂

After watching countless of videos, reading blogs and other written material on the internet, and contemplation, I have decided that this time I would have a better chance of experimenting, recording, observing, and most importantly, achieving a nicely risen bread.

I also decided to go with basic bread today (i.e. no veggie or seeds added) – wanted to see whether I could do this.

I recorded time, amount of ingredients, and poking/kneading activities I have done during the making of this bread. Ahem, I also had lots of thoughts and feelings going thru me; they are too dully noted.

Here they are:

———————————————————————-

Yeast mixture

Ingredients: 1 pkg of traditional dry yeast (8 grms) and 1/2 table spoon of white sugar mixed with 200 mls of warm water. I generally followed the instructions on the package – nothing fancy here.

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) This time water was really warm, but not hot (I checked with my finger and it was not an annoying temperature). Mixed well with a spoon and let stand for 10 minutes. I twice mixed the liquid with the spoon in between for a consistent mixture.

Through the end, the mixture started to give its distinct, nourishing, and lovely smell 🙂

———————————————————————-

Dough mixture

Ingredients: 400 mls (211 grms) of whole wheat flour and 400 mls of enriched all purpose flour (the conversions are based on an internet site; I do not have baking cups or a balance to weigh the flour; but I do have a liquid measuring cup. So I went with this rather simple measurement).

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) I mixed the flour well in a container with my hands and making sure that the flour gets “air”. I then added the yeast mixture and mixed them all lightly. It very easily formed a nice and smooth dough. It was a little bit sticky but not too much. A little bit of extra flour helped get rid of the dough from my hand.

Surprisingly, I did not need to add flour or water – looks like I just got the right amounts 🙂

2) I then formed an imperfect and round dough to which I also added salt, and put aside for a minute or so. (They say that salt can inhibit the action of yeast- that is why I added the salt at the end).

———————————————————————-

Rising of the dough

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) I turned on the oven for a minute to make it a warm environment for my dough to rise. I immediately turned it off after making sure that inside temperature was warm. I placed the dough in the oven, which I had covered loosely with cling wrap.

2) Half an hour later, I took the dough out and tried “pull and fold” technique I had seen in multiple places. This is supposed to help with the formation of “gluten” protein. The pull and fold technique is rather a gentle procedure to prevent from breaking the gluten.

The dough had risen a little bit and was sticky and did not fold well, but I pulled it 3-4 times. This almost brought it back to its original size. I was saddened a little bit, thinking that I have done something wrong 😦 and put it back in the oven, this time also placing a clean towel on top of the wrap).

I also sprinkled the top of the dough with some flour (mom told so – thank you mom!).

3) As someone who is intrigued and not sure what she is doing, I admit I took the dough out around 5-6 times during the 2-hours in-oven rising saga, and checked whether the dough was rising. And the great news: Yes, it was!

Each time I did that I was also aware that the temperature in the oven would have been lost, so I made sure that the container was still warm – and to my surprise it was okay the first 1.5 hours. After that I left the oven light on to keep it warm

I took a picture 1 and 2 hours of rising. 1 hour rising was really cool 🙂 

4. After 2 hours of rising in the oven, the dough had risen so much that I could not even believe that someone like me (who does not like cooking or is patient enough) could help make such a wonderful thing. What a beauty 🙂 🙂 🙂

I was also not sure whether it rose too much – I read somewhere that it was not good for the loaf :((

As recommended, I gently pressed down the dough to let gas out and moved on with shaping the loafs.

But wait…. The dough went down to its original size pretty fast… Did I do something wrong?? Will it rise again?? Is this tears in my eyes and disappointment that breaks my heart??

Considering the small volume of the dough, I decided to make baguettes.

———————————————————————-

Shaping the baguettes

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

Dough was stickier than I expected. So, after collecting myself and telling myself over and over that there was still life in the dough :), I added a fistful of flour to the mixture and I rolled/kneaded it gently on a floured surface.

Then I cut it into 4 pieces with a bread knife. I rolled the dough pieces with my hand until they became long and thin, pressed them down a little bit with my hands (well… maybe I pressed them too much….), wrapped around with a dry towel, and let the mini baguettes rest for 60 min again in the oven with the lights on.

I really hoped that they would rise again; they were so tiny….

So after 25 min in the oven with lights on, I checked them and they were not rising!  😦

The oven was not warm enough, I thought – so I turned on the oven for a minute or so until it reached 120 F and let them rest for another 85 min (total 1 hour 50 min), checking in between to see how they were doing.

At around 1 hour of the rising, I noticed that some baguettes (well covered) rose more than one other and were more moist. I also noticed that they were getting a little bit dry – so I sprinkled water on them with my finger tips.

And, boy! They rose  little bit again! 🙂

I believe moisture helped them rise- good thinking 🙂

———————————————————————-

Baking the baguettes

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1. Awed by the rising success, I joyfully slashed the surface of my little beauties 5 times (not too deep).

2. Mixed 1 table spoon of olive oil with equal amount of water and brushed the mixture on top of the baguettes.

3. I sprinkled an oven tray with cornmeal and placed the baguettes in it. Baked at 375 F for 50 min (they recommend a higher temperature and less baking time, yet I am a little bit chickened of high oven temperatures).

4. During this time, I took the baguettes out and sprinkled water 3 times (each time around 20 ml/baguette) on top of them to achieve the crispy texture. I also did that after I took them off the oven and covered with a clean towel to keep them moist.

———————————————————————-

———————————————————————-

Lessons learnt

1. Use more flour next time – may be 500 ml of each type (whole wheat and white flour) to have a larger dough.

2. Baguette shaping is important.  Try a more regular folding/shaping technique. Also, I guess it is better to rest the baguettes on the oven tray rather than on another surface -the transfer after the rise to the oven tray caused thinning of some parts of the dough.

3. The first rise was satisfactory, but the second rise was a little bit less than awesome. I wonder whether with a larger piece of dough and better handling, this could have been achieved.

4. Oven rising works. Moisture helps rising. Cornmeal prevents sticking of the dough to the oven tray, but next time I can use a little bit more.

5. I might have pressed the baguette too much while shaping prior to the second rise. They kind of lacked depth 😦

6. Have adequate amount of butter at home!! After the baguettes were done, I could only have a couple of slices of baguette with butter melting in them….. One should have more 🙂

7. Follow a recipe – they are there for a reason.

 

why I decided to make my own bread

From today on, I will make my own bread and unless excruciating circumstances happen, I will not buy another one, especially the toast bread, from stores.

I do not even toast; why did I keep buying them?

I have been elated by the bread I baked yesterday; it turned out to be just fine. I am awed by yeast making all the work in raising the dough and the pleasure coming out of how healthy this bread was… I kept read all bunch of recipes (thank you fellow bloggers out there) and I know I can improvise and create breads just like I would like them to be. Also, I see this as an  opportunity to enjoy my life, at least for now or as long as I have time to bake my breads. What other hobby than baking to feel excited nowadays 🙂

I also made a cost analysis; it is rough but I think it is much more cheaper (not more expensive as I had thought earlier) to bake at home than to buy at stores. What was I doing all these years, buying, eating, and absolutely not enjoying the toast bread?

There is a freedom in this decision. I hope to have time every two weeks to bake my lovely loafs. I really do no like the store breads (except the baguette). So baguette will be one type I will try soon. I am planning to have so many different types, I hope I will not end up eating too much 🙂

The bread I baked yesterday (my first trial) changed me in a very positive way. This morning, I switched from bagel to tea biscuit; the reason was that at the cafe I eat now the coffee is awesome, but bagel is not the best (usually not toasted well, it is served almost cold and even the butter does not melt… come on..). I decided after getting so delighted by my bread experience yesterday that it was enough – I needed to substitute things that did not serve me well anymore. And finally after contemplating and reading many recipes, I have decided that I can make my own bread, many different types all healthy and healing, and get rid of the store bread as well.

I am glad I have had a good experience with my first trial of bread (very motivating); I am glad I have decided to leave the bagel behind and switch to something I rather can enjoy; and I am glad that I could translate this attitude for my feelings toward the store-bought bread and now am determined to leave it behind, too.

Life is good my friends 🙂

whole wheat bread with sesame seeds

Here is the first ever bread I have baked!

Is it not awesome! 🙂IMG_8319

I am excited as I am getting awed by yeast. This little organisms can do so much in such a short time. i am also excited as I am a big bread-lover and this experience tells me that I can try many different recipes in the future. Why should I pay for the additives and chemicals while I can do my own bread as I want it?

Here is the recipe for this hearty bread:

1. Add 2 cups of warm water, 1 table spoon of sugar, and one pack of dry yeast in a bowl. Mix and let stand for 20 – 25 min. I waited longer only because I had to take care of some other stuff. Otherwise, the yeast package says 10 min is enough. Make sure the water is warm but not too hot or cold; it is required by the yeast to start working.

2. Add two eggs, salt, one table spoon of sugar, and just enough whole wheat flour to the yeast mix. Mix well and knead as required. Cover with a wet towel for 45 min. I kneaded twice in between to make sure consistency.

3. Spread 2 table spoon of vegetable oil in an oven pan. Shape the bread as you would like it and place in the pan. I made 4 vertical cuts on top to give the bread some character.

4. Mix 2 table spoon on vegetable oil with one egg. Mix well and apply on the surface of the bread. Top up with a generous amount of sesame seeds.

5. Place the bread in an oven and bake 45 min or until done at 375 F. I moisturized the surface of the bread 3 times during the process, by applying little amounts of water.

 

Enjoy 🙂

 

added after the post: I am sure I put too much water (and way diluted the sugar needed by the yeast)  at the beginning. I would have been better if I had used a much less amount of water (check the directions on the dry yeast package) and then add water after that while preparing the dough.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: