Monday, 30 January 2012

Beer Bread

Yesterday I tried Dan Lapard's Ale Bread with Wheat Grains:

Risen Dough

Turned out onto 'baking tray'  peel

Slashed loaf

Baked loaf
 I was pretty happy with the results.

It made good eating for my sandwiches today and chicken soup tonight.  

Once again I am left saying - I enjoyed that, but next time I'll allow and extra hour for the rise!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Ancients

The books by Whitley and Lepard remind me of two earlier books that enthused me.

From 1993,  one American baker explores the heritage of three European countries  - France Italy and Germany and applies them at the Gayle's Bakery, Capitola, California :  

There's a hilarious account of a trip chasing down Siegle breads in Central France.  What Joe does is learn from the practitioners - and record their technique with admiral respect for his sources.  It's a heady mix of techniques: Yeast, Sponge, Old Dough, Porridge, Sourdough at source domestic and then professional levels. Just a little bit overpowering for the amateur, it is worth persisting with and remains a standard available to this day.

and prior to that published in 1973 - my first bread book, the one that set me off.  At the time I only had one bread pan (which subsequently I discovered my landlord reserved for feeding his dogs). No baking stone, water spray, baguette trays, let alone breadmaking machine.

It's all there.

Chapter 1. "Down with the Mystique" explores the basic ingredients and the basic science.

Chapter 5. "Sourdough - Trapping the Wild Yeast"

Chapter 7. Rye Bread and Pumpernickel

Floss speaks with the authority of a baking class teacher and all her recipes have been tested out, not only by her classes but also by hubby Stan - who gets his name on the cover as a result. At one point Floss describes her easy knead method: Stan does the kneading.

Both books have all the standards -   Sourdough, Rye, Challah, Maize Flour  breads that are in all the current books. They have provided the foundation for my breadmaking exploits - recently rekindled by Messrs Whitley and Lapard. I expect they have come across The Village Baker if not it's precursor of 20 years.
Myself, I've still got a soft spot for Floss.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Arkatena - Golspie Style

Andrew Whitley's "Bread Matters" has a recipe for a bread from Cyprus that uses a chickpea (gram) flour starter. It's called Arkatena Bread:

Arkatena Sourdough in morning light
 I don't have any gram flour just now, but I do have this:

Secret ingredient
It's ground legumes - like chickpeas, and it makes a sweet smelling starter:

Peasemeal Starter
I ended up splitting my dough 3 ways. Two in tins and one freestanding.

6 pm - 3 Way Split 
One of the tins has got added commercial yeast. This meant I could hedge my bets and be sure of an evening bake.

10 pm - yeasted loaf in middle

In fact the sourdough was not far behind and was also baked that evening. The free standing loaf was knocked back and left to rise in the cold kitchen overnight.

Tipped out and baked the next morning  (see the first picture above) it was a success.  There was not an appreciable difference in any respect between the all sourdough and the added yeast loaves. The flavour was subtle and the bread a hit, with my unsuspecting consumer panel. It was nice and light. 

Whitley adds fennel seeds which we eschew in bread, but googling images of Arkatena bread suggest sesame seeds are often used, so I sprinkled my loaves with these. I will probably do that every time I make this bread.

All in all a success!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Whitley v Lepard

Now that I have had time to try recipes from both of these books I can say that I love them both - for different reasons.

To my surprise (on checking the dates) Whitley's Bread Matters (BM) was published in 2006 two years after Lepard's Handmade Loaf (HL). I had thought it was the other way round as Lepard's presentation is modern (Dorling Kindersley?) whereas Whitley's layout is reminiscent of a 1970's book (not quite The Joy of Sex). Line drawings of fennel seed heads predominate and two bundles of (wow) colour photos bunched together in the middle. He is, thank goodness,  a stickler for detail in the particulars of dough. BM is a theory based novice's guide to baking a first loaf of sourdough bread. The detail means the exploration of the range of products takes second place to developing 'feel' for dough. Courageously Whitley starts his sourdoughs with 100% ryes and moves on to wholemeal wheat breads.  He doesn't use a white starter at all(!), but does include a gram flour and also a rice starter.

Dan Lepard's HL covers the basics of making a sourdough starter too, early on, but it is a (nearly all) white starter. Above all else HL is a guide to the wide range of bread products you can make in your kitchen. Different ingredients and different traditions are explored. Every recipe has a whole page devoted to it, every recipe has a colour picture alongside the text either on the same page or the facing page. Each is like a recipe card with ALL the instructions on the one card. This contrasts with Whitley's "Treat it from here in all respects like a French Country Bread  (see pages 182-185)"  The geographical based information is interspersed at random with the recipes aerating it - as appropriate for a bread book! It's positively seductive.

If you want to build up your skill and understanding of sourdough,  Bread Matters could not be a better role model, but if you have already developed your own sourdough technique, or alternatively if you want to make the odd stunning loaf without the 24:7 commitment The Handmade Loaf offers a cornucopia of possibilities. 

One problem is that if you try to follow more than one sourdough author at a time you can end up confused.  Is 'wetter better'  or is drier higher? Both  BM and HL are excellent but I suggest that if you are starting on your sourdough adventures you choose one and adopt that style before adapting it to your own experience. If you've already got your own style you can adapt from both.

These two are two of the best guides available to the sourdough adventurer.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Deft Lepard - Sunflower Seed Loaf

Really pleased with how this worked out. Dan Lepard comes up trumps again.

I followed the recipe slavishly - except 40 gms honey was the most I could bring myself to add to a loaf of bread (instead of 50) and my white starter was a bit sluggish. I added it for flavour rather than lift. Also time ran out on me. I would have liked to have proved it for another hour, and toyed with leaving it overnight  in the fridge (but my mornings are already hectic enough as it is). The bread went into the oven at midnight. Worth the wait when the results are good!

Slashing - just like Dan's

First rise

Tipping the loaf out
I did find the loaf too sweet and would reduce the honey further next time I made this loaf. 200 grams of sunflower seed I thought would be too much - but it wasn't. Just that extra hour rise and it would be perfect.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Rye Rye Rye?

A month ago I baked 3 rye breads with different percentages of rye in each (see here). But since then I have acquired my copy of Andrew Whitley's "Bread Matters". I gather he visited Russia and came back with the bread bug, and particularly the rye bread bug. In his book, after making a rye sourdough starter he sets the reader off with 5 rye recipes  4 of them 100% ryes. Now that's how to spot a rye purist. I made one of these in my last post Brodinsky so this weekend I set myself the task of making three more. Two 100% and the mixed grain Rye with Caraway (only without the caraway as the family has an aversion to it).

Friday night was mad as I prepared three starters and a soak of Rye grains

Friday Night - (feeling right?)

Whitley says of his Whole Grain Rye: "The loaf will be grey rather than black and will look pretty much like what it is - a brick-shaped  coagulation of coarse grains." Based on this description, I've succeeded!

Whitley's "Whole Grain" and "Russian"

"Russian " and "Caraway" minus Caraway
Caraway proving in banneton
 The first thing I've learnt from Bread Matters is that 100% ryes need a tin. The Caraway has some wheat flour and was raised in a basked and then baked on a baking tray. It spread like parafin wax all the same. Next time I will decrease the hydration or put it in a loaf tin.

Saturday Morning

Risen Rye

I baked my 100% ryes with tinfoil over the top to retain moisture. For Russian this was removed after 20 mins at high temperature,  but for Whole Grain Whitley suggests a Pullman tin with a lid. Not having one of these, cover with a baking tray.  The cooking is long (4hrs plus) at low temperature.  My approximation to the Pullman was to leave the tinfoil on with a baking tray on top to weigh it down. Mistake. It stuck good. ( it's  only 5 months to my birthday.)

Whole Grain comes to a sticky end!
Whitley has been a rye revelation.He points out that rye starter  is very active. You only need a little to raise a loaf. He is also clear that it is a waste of time kneading a 100% rye as there is no gluten to work on. I kept the dough sloppy, perhaps too high hydration as I could pour the 'dough' into the pan with just a little scraping required. He's contradictory about baking methods. Russian goes into a high oven but Whole Grain is cooked at a low temperature for a long time.  So, as both are 100% rye, it seems  anything goes!   Certainly judging the long cooking was a problem and I ended up baking uncovered for an extra 30 mins the next day (ssshhh) I no longer think of using extra dried yeast to make rye sourdough. You get all the lift you need from sourdough. None of these breads has any sweeteners. When you add them to rye you end up with something akin to a malt loaf! I will add comments on eating quality because in line with advice from the book, you need to allow 24 hours for the flavour and texture to develop!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Brodinsky Rye Bread

From Andrew Whitley's "Bread Matters" a 100% Rye sourdough loaf:

It's a bit more like cake making than breadmaking, because of the lack of gluten. It's not worth kneading it.

but there was a good rise all the same:

It shrank back a bit on baking.

As recommended it was wrapped and left overnight before slicing. The taste was excellent! It can't be denied that toasting it brings out the best flavour.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

2012 - A bread a day


Day 5 and no sign of the year's obsession abating!

Whitley's 'Cromarty' Sourdough

Taralli crispbreads - with chilli

Baguettes with old dough addition

Monday, 2 January 2012

Alsatian Bread

Dough with 'berries'

Shaped loaves

Baked loaves

Sorry you can no longer see Dan Lepard's picture of how it should have looked - That would infringe copyright.