my bread babies

It has been two years that I started to bake bread. I have not bought store-sold breads since then.

First many trials were not so good (except the first oe below, which was amazing to me!), but it eventually came around.

Then I got into sourdough and boy, what a magnificent experience it has been: every weekend with great excitement I baked a loaf or two, shared it with my neighbors, and friends, and I even shared my starter with someone interested in. It sure makes me happy and joyful.

Happy baking! 🙂

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My first ever bread! (with commercial yeast and whole wheat flour – two years ago today:)))))

Spiderman sourdough :)

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Spiderman is here!!!! 🙂

Does it not look like the face of Spiderman – one of my favorite characters? 🙂

This loaf was the last and the best one I baked with multigrain bread flour.

FYI – I cannot recommend the multigrain bread flour – it does not rise much. If you are looking for better crumb, either have a warmer place to proof the dough (my kitchen is around 17C during winter and I am not patient enough to wait too long), or use the old, good plain bread flour.

This loaf contains:

  • 1 1/3 cup whole wheat starter/levain
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 4 cups of multi-grain bread flour and 2 cups of all purpose flour (i had run out of bread and multi-grain flour)
  • 2.5 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs salt

Everything is mixed and I stretched and folded it 4-5 times before I left it to rise overnight at room temperature; these happened yesterday evening

This morning I shaped it and placed in a mixing bowl upside down and left for proofing in the oven for 5.5 hours

Baked at 350F oven (non-prehetaed) for an hour

Delicious!

Sunday sourdough

I was trying to find the ways to reduce the proofing time lately: one thing I have tried in the last two weeks is proofing the dough in an oven (not turned or warmed up; no lights , either) to see whether this relatively temperature-wise stable environment would help reduce it. 

This dough was only proved for 3 hours (in contrast to my usual 4-6 hours proofing). It was almost flat when I placed it on the parchment paper and scored. But there was a great oven spring (just like last week), so it turned out to be just lovely.

I think the in-oven proofing helped. I also think that maybe in the past I was over-proofing my dough..

Of course, the hydration levels of the dough makes a difference in terms of the yeast activity – this was a slightly sticky dough. This may be another reason for the short proof time working with this loaf.

In any way, I am just happy to have this loaf 🙂

 

happy sourdough – III

 

IMG_3460Isn’t it beautiful 🙂

This was the first time that I tried 3 hours of proofing. When I took it out of the shaping bowl and scored, the dough was almost flat. But in the oven it showed a great oven spring and one of the largest air pockets I have ever seen. It even cracked itself on top even though I had slashed it, which tells me that yeast really worked hard this time.

Will continue like this – it has been a great experiment.

today’s sourdough loaves

Because of my trips lately I had depleted my frozen bread stock. I feel a lot better when I have extra loaves at the freezer. Thus, I baked two sourdough today using the same recipe 🙂

They both turned out to be lovely! Thin crust and soft crumb, with a kick of salt and feeling very homey 🙂 The oven spring was way more powerful that I would imagine, as both loaves had sides cracked despite the fact that I had scored their surface 🙂 Something worked really well 🙂

The catch is that I had run out of bread flour, so I had to prepare the dough with all purpose flour. Now, I  never have had a good rise with all purpose flour, even though I am in Canada (people says that Canadian all purpose flour is as good as the bread flour with high protein content…). That is why I thought I would add some oat or rye flakes to dough – my previous experience with these additions is that they make the yeast somehow happier and dough better and airy.

Recipe:

  • I used 1 cup of rolled rye flakes soaked for 2 hours in 1 cup of water, which was then topped with 5 cups of all purpose flour, 2tbs of sugar, 1.5 tbs of salt, 1 1/3 cups of starter, and I believe 2.5 cups of water.
  • I used the stretch and fold technique to form the dough and left it at room temperature over night to rise.
  • In the morning, I was looking at a puffy and healthy dough 🙂 I cut it into two, one smaller than the other, shaped, rested for 10 min, and then placed them in proving containers. The small one was proven in an oven pot and the other one was formed into a long loaf and placed on a cookie sheet surrounded with items to keep it in shape. I left them at room temperature for 4.5 hours to prove.
  • I scored them and then baked at non-pre-heated oven at 350F for 55 min.

Voila 🙂

Truth about sourdough

I see a number of blogs/recipes using commercial yeast in the dough and calling it sourdough.

Sorry to break the news to some of us, but if you use commercial yeast, it is not sourdough. I guess someone started this and it kind of stuck with some other people.

Sourdough is made from levain/starter that is a totally natural culture of yeast (and bacteria). If you do not believe me, please check internet and see for yourself.

It somehow hurts me to hear that sourdough culture and commercial baking yeast are equalized. They both are fantastic, yet different. So let’s give them the place they deserve.

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this is my sourdough culture that I created a year ago from water and whole wheat flour; it is love.

 

 

resurrected sourdough starter

I managed to revive my sourdough starter from dried flakes! 🙂

The new one is very similar to previous one (that I accidentally used all in a loaf) and has had a great oven spring. Since it will be served to my guests tomorrow, I did not cut it up to see the crumb, but I am sure it is good.

I could not ask for a better one 🙂

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sourdough bread with beet

Here we go – the most interesting sourdough loaf I have ever baked!

What do you think?

I had seen a recipe here at wordpress once upon a time using beet (thanks whoever had posted it at that time). It always intrigued me and finally this weekend it was the time to give it a try.

My verdict; this is a very easy loaf to work with because wild yeast loves the beet (or anything else like carrots that provide some kind of nutrients and moisture to the dough/bread) and the colour is just amazing! It was a fluffy dough that rose pretty well. The proving step was also short (~5 hours at room temperature in my cool Canadian kitchen) – partly because of the hydration by the beet and partly because I tried to make it kind of sticky with less flour than usual. The crumb is open (one of the best, if not the best crumb I have seen lately) and it is soft and palatable. The only thing was that the smell of raw/baked beet somehow threw me away at the beginning. But the remedy is easy and available – butter, as usual, makes it perfect! 🙂

This being said, I think next time I will try it with raspberry and some more sugar!

 

Recipe

Friday night: took the starter off the fridge and fed with whole wheat flour and water, wrapped in a towel and left at room temperature overnight

Saturday morning: fed the starter again and one hour later divided it into two portion: one portion went to fridge (starter) and the second portion left at room temp for 3 hours to flourish (to be used in the dough)

Saturday afternoon: added to 1 cup of starter, 2 tbs of sugar, and 1 cup of water. Grated 1 medium sized beet and added to the mixture. Then, added 2.5 cups of bread flour and 1.5 tbs of salt and mixed with a spoon. It formed a shaggy dough. After that I left for shopping, so only 5 hours later or so, I stretched and folded it once or twice before leaving it to rise at room temperature overnight (closed lid and covered with a towel)

Sunday morning: shaped on a generously floured work surface, let rest for 10 min and shaped again. I decided it was better if I proved it in an oven dish and directly baked it after proving. Hence, I placed the dough in the dish covered with parchment paper and put it in a nylon bag – that, I found a while ago, creates a green house effect and help dough prove faster

Sunday afternoon: After 5 hours of proving, turned the oven on (375F) and placed the dough in it. Baked for 45 min with oven on and then an additional 15 min with oven turned off.

Do not forget to cool down, admire, and enjoy it with butter and loved ones!  

Bon appetite 🙂

 

 

 

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! 🙂

! 🙂

 

tea biscuit trial – a success story! :)

My friends!

I am so excited! I baked my first tea biscuits today and on boy, are they beautiful, flaky, and tasty! I am so excited!

For someone who is not a great cook or interested in cooking at all, my recent interest in baking makes me awed. After the initial idea that came to me yesterday, I shopped this afternoon and wanted to give tea biscuits a try before I bake for the social on Friday. I am glad I have done this 🙂

The recipe is based on a great one, which is accompanied by a video clip. This eased my anxiety and made me more confident as there is nothing better than seeing how to do things or what to expect. Here is that recipe.

Since I do not have measuring cups and used a different oven temperature, here is my recipe with slight modifications:

  1. In a bowl mix the followings well with the help of a spoon
  • 550 ml of all purpose enriched flour (measured in a liquid measuring cup – I only later realized that one side of the cup shows the “cup” and the other “ml” measures. Sigh…)
  • 1.5 tea spoon of white sugar
  • 0.75 tea spoon of salt (less than the sugar)
  • 1.5 tea spoon of baking powder

2. Cut out 150 grms of salted butter. I took it directly from the fridge and cut into pieces over the bowl. I then mixed it with my hands into the flour. It does not completely mix with it, but that is okay. The idea is to crumble it a little bit. I recommend using unsalted butter only because the final product was saltier than I expected, and there was no or little sweetness in it. Perhaps the sugar amounts can also be increased, depending on the taste.

3. Add 1/2 cup of milk (I used skimmed milk – if you use whole fat milk, you may want to reduce the amount of butter) to the mixture and work gently on the mixture. Add another 1/2 cup of milk and continue until you end up with a rough dough-like stuff. they recommend not to mix it too much. As a lazy person, I did take this suggestion to my heart 🙂

4. On a clean surface, sprinkle some flour and place the dough. Knead 5 times using the fold and stretch technique.

5. Using your hands, spread the dough until its thickness is less than an inch. (This is where I made it a little bit too thick…. The biscuits were higher than what I thought they would be as they also expanded in the oven. So adjust the height/thickness of the dough as you please). Then I followed the recipe and folded it on itself – this is supposed to help the biscuit slightly separate in the middle during the baking process.

6. Cut out the biscuits as you please. I used a glass to do so, which had an oval shape.

7. Sprinkle vegetable oil on an oven pot and place the biscuits on it.

8. Bake at 400 F for 27 min. I used a lower temperature than recommended (425 F) because I am scared of higher temperatures. I took the biscuits out when their surface had started to get brownish. That explains the awkward timing 🙂

9. I applied solid butter on top of the biscuits to soften them. This is not a very effective technique, but certainly doable – just be generous with the amount of butter. Since the biscuits are hot, after a couple of trials, I could see butter on the biscuits.

10. Enjoy with a cup of tea! 🙂

PS: as you can see on the photos, one of the biscuits has crumbled a little bit. This is how flaky it turned out to be 🙂

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