Saturday, 31 December 2011

My Big Fat Geek Bagel Bake Off


Here's the deal

1 batch of bagel dough mixed up at 11 pm. 

It's enough for 12 bagels.

One third shaped into 4 bagels on a baking tray and slammed into the fridge ovrnight.

(Two thirds left to ferment in a cold kitchen overnight.)

Next morning,

From the 4 in the fridge:

2 bagels baked in hot oven

2 bagels dunked in a pan of boiling water until they floated to the surface and then baked.

Remaining dough -  8 bagels shaped

2 baked in hot oven

2 dunked in boiling water and baked

2 rested for 30 mins and baked

2 dunked in boiling water and baked after 30 mins.


The refrigerated dough wasn't just retarded, it was stopped completely.  All four were dunked in boiling water to give them a revival.  They still came good but were not as inflated as those shaped in the morning after a bulk rising overnight.

I also dunked all the morning shaped bagels, just because it wouldn't be a bagel without it. The bagels that were baked last came out the lightest.  But they all tasted great!!!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Challah, Challah, it's good to bake bread...

Jewish egg bread that is heavenly.


becomes this

and then this:

I was delighted with how the loaf turned out, as I haven't made it for years.  Thank goodness I found some poppy seeds in the cupboard to go on top of the egg  glaze.  We (five of us) ate the best part of this at lunchtime today with leek and potato soup. It has two eggs, butter and sugar in addition to the "usual" ingredients. Very sluggish at rising due to the high fat content but the texture is like satin.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Fougasse Success

After all that rye sourdough asceticism, time for some Provencal flat bread fun today. These are great fun to make as they involve cutting and stretching the dough before baking. These ones had 16 fresh sage leaves from the garden chopped into them. I was worried that the flavour would be too strong, but not at all. Next time I would even put more in. They went down a storm (with some parsnip soup) and were all eaten at the first sitting. (Not bad between four people.)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

High Ryes?

That's a high proportion of Rye - and no shop yeast - just sourdough. 
I split my 100% rye starter 3 ways and made up the loaves to be

  • 100% rye
  • 50% rye 50% wholemeal
  • 50% rye 50% white
Can you guess which is which?

OK the labels are a giveaway! 

Not surpringly the 100% rye was the most dense.

I was very happy with the 50% white.

The wholemeal was pretty much in the middle.

All three suffered from plummeting temperatures in our house over the course of proving, as this was over 24 hours in total. I gave into frustration and sat the rising baskets directly on top of the radiators for the last two hours before baking at 11 pm! I'm convinced I can build on this.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Trials and tribulations

This weekend I decided it was time to give my new starter a go. On Friday night it didn't look very prepossessing:

Starter straight out of the fridge
  Time to mix in half a cup of wholemeal flour half a cup of water and give it a good stir:

Leaving it out overnight, next moring it looked like this:

Nice and active. So pouring half into a bowl and returning the other half to the fridge for future use:

To the starter (1 cup) add water (1 cup) and flour (1 cup)

First mix in the water (warm unchlorinated water)

Then stir in the flour:

It should look nice and creamy.

Leave in a warm place

.Here's how it looked by 5pm

Stir it down and then add in another 1/2 cup of water and a cup of flour

By 10 pm it has risen again:

Prepare a couple of baskets.  Line with muslin squares and add a liberal sprinkling of flour. Best to do this before getting wet dough on your hands.

Now mix in enough flour to make a firm dough, tip onto a floured tabletop and knead away for 10 to 15 mins.

Divide in two and pop into the waiting baskets!

Cover with another floured muslin square and loosely on top of that, cling film.  This helps the surface drying out too much.

By next morning:

Now's the time to preheat the oven to it's highest temperature.  Put a metal tray of water in the bottom of the oven and a baking stone (pizza stone, ceramic tile) on a shelf near the top. (but leaving some room for the loaf of bread to sit on top and to rise!)
Tip each loaf out onto a floured baking tray:

Peel off the muslin carefully.

Slash with a lame, or a sharp knife.

Some deflation is innevitable.

Next slide the loaf off the baking tray onto the baking stone (preheated for 1 hr)  in the oven.

Bake for 40 mins, turning the loaf around after 20 mins to ensure even colour.


I'm alwayse keen to analyse my results to figure out how to improve!

This loaf was a 'tired'. It had risen all it could before being baked and as a result it didn't have any 'push' left. You can tell from this angle:

After slashing it didn't really recover any volume. Fearing this I might be the case I actually 'knocked back' the second loaf and kneaded all the air out of it, divided it into three and set these loaves to rise (while I walked the dog). My plan had been to roll/stretch them into baguettes and prove them a few hours more before baking. Life's never predictable and on my return my other half had not only removed the first loaf from the oven, as requested, but also put the 3 proving loaves into the hot oven.  Despite the short 30 min rise, and the lack of any slashing, these loaves did better than the first loaf! 

They did expand in unexpected places, but as you can see they had plenty of 'push' !

The texture of the loaf was good.

but the texture of the intended baguettes were better.

Conclusion: I need to adjust my timings, or allow for another rise before baking.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Starter Update

It's day 5 and my rye starter looks pretty active

A closer look:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Starting Out

Here's the rye starter on day 3

Not very exciting from the top, but side on through the glass there are tell tale signs of gaseous activity:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Pumpkin Pie Interlude

While waiting for my starter to activate I decided to clear the fridge of the Halloween pumpkin.

It went down a storm!

Bakewll tart next?

Monday, 14 November 2011

To Start at the Beginning

I've already got a sourdough starter. But that's not very helpful if you don't. So I'm making a new starter from scratch. One way is just to keep a piece of yeasted dough aside from a baking and mix it with equal parts of water and flour. Over days it will sour.  For any purists though here is the process from scratch:

Pour one cup of tap water (boiled and cooled to lukewarm) or bottled water (hence chlorine free) into a clean vessel (glass, ceramic or plastic) which has a lid.

Tip in one cup of rye flower:

Mix (to a porridgy consistency)

Cover with a muslin or paper towel, and leave somewhere out of harm's way in your kitchen

Wait several days.

The pictures above were taken today at 9 am so I'm going to have to wait and see if it works!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rye Sourdough - with a smile

Here's my first loaf since starting the blog.

On Thursday night I took my starter, which I keep in an plastic tub, out of the fridge to and added half a cup of rye flour and a half cup of water. After leaving the tub out overnight, the next morning I poured half of the bubbly starter (1 cup) into a soup bowl . The other cup went back into the fridge for next time.

I took my one cup of refreshed sourdough starter (my chef) and stirred it up with one cup of warm water and one cup of rye flour. After 4 hours I had a levain! It looked like this. Nice and active. Creamy and frothy.
Levain - refreshed sourdough starter

To this was added a cup of water and two cups of white flour. After mixing in, a further cup of white flour was tipped onto the tabletop and the dough mixture kneaded for about 10 minutes with sufficient flour being added only to stop the dough sticking to the tabletop. Then it looked like this:

Dough - kneaded and ready to rise

After three hours in a warm kitchen it had doubled in size and looked like this

Risen dough
 The indentations caused by poking the dough with my finger indicate that the dough is ready (because the dough doesn't bounce back). So now it is punched down to knock the air out of it. After a quick knead the deflated dough is placed in a whicker basket (banneton), lined with a floured muslin, and left ot rise.

Loaf shaped and resting in banneton
 3 hours later it had doubled in size.

Risen loaf in banneton
 so it was ready to turn out onto a baking tray

Turning out the loaf
 slash with a sharp blade

Scoring the loaf
 and bake for 45  minutes at gas mark 6.  End result : a rye smile.

Smiling loaf