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.