Monday, September 29, 2008

Suas Baguettes using my poolish

Sept 29, 2008 -- The San Francisco Chronicle posted an article about Michel Suas, a bakery consultant in that town. I used his recipe ( to make baguettes using my 100% poolish. Mrs A and I nibbled on one as we watched the market crash tonight at 4:30!
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The San Francisco Chronicle posted an article about Michel Suas, a bakery consultant in that town. I used his recipe ( to make baguettes using my 100% poolish. Mrs A and I nibbled on one as we watched the market crash tonight at 4:30!

French bread using my poolish

July 15, 2008 -- This is a loaf of French bread made from my poolish that lives in the refrigerator and the recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread. I made a couple of loaves and froze one to use later. My wife doesn't eat much bread and I am not supposed to either, so a little goes a long way. I give away a lot, too.
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Ciabatta with my poolish

Sept 4, 2008 -- Since making the 5 minute bread I have changed the recipe in the refrigerator to a 100% poolish so the dough can age somewhat before making bread. This increases the flavor. Here is my ciabatta made with the poolish. Any recipe can use this method by taking equal (gram) quantities of the water and flour and useing that from the stored poolish, then complete the recipe with the remaining ingredients. That's my theory anyway and this is, therefor, a test. It came out pretty good. The loaf in the back of the oven got too close to the back oven wall and burned slightly. See in the last slice where the very top of the slice is blackened.

See for the original recipe.
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Plain White 5 Minute Bread with Ribs

We had ribs! But we needed to have white bread with barbecue. There was this 5 minute bread dough in the refrigerator, so I made it up in a bread pan and baked it in the oven while the ribs cooked on the grill outside. Oh, boy this stuff works really well. There is nothing like white bread with barbecue!
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5 Minute French Loaf with Flax Seed

July 13, 2008 -- A 5 minute bread french loaf with flax seeds. This came out pretty good. The dough has had a chance to mature in the refrigerator for a couple of days. I bought a box of flax seed after going to the fair and getting sold on flax as an internal medicine to make you healthy. I bought the flax at the store, not at the fair. It works nice on bread. We had medallions of pork, homemade cole slaw and bruschetta with tomatoes and goat cheese. Really good.

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5 Minute Bread, the boule

July 11, 2008 -- This is my first loaf using the 5 minute bread recipe that can be found on the web. I didn't buy the book, just watched the video on YouTube and went from there. This is just a plain boule made from a grapefruit sized piect of the dough. It cam out OK with a nice rise and OK crumb, but the flavor was lacking. It needs to age more than this did.

So I'll tried again later...
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Ciabatta pizza

July 2, 2008 -- I made a pizza using a ciabatta recipe for the crust. This crust is really wet and very hard to handle. I poured it out onto the parchment paper! I struggled to get it into somewhat of a pizza crust shape, but finally made it. The oven was as hot as I could get it, over 500 deg F. And, I put it on the pizza stone on the very top shelf of the oven to get the maximum heat. I trimmed the parchment to the size of the pizza so it wouldn't burn in the hot oven. It was charred when I took it out. Cooking time was about 11 minutes. The pizza in the picture is on the pizza pan for cutting. It was baked without that pan directly on the stone. It tasted great, crisp crust with lots of big holes. What do you think?

White Lily hamburger buns

June 28, 2008 -- Here are some quick hamburger buns I made using White Lily soft wheat white all purpose flour. This is our local flour company and the flour is renouned for making light airy biscuits. Since my last effort to make hamburger buns came out tough using bread flour, I thought I would make some using a soft wheat flour. See for yourself how they came out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Quick Hamburger Buns

We needed hamburger buns, so I decided to make some using a recipe I found for 40 minute Buns. I thought these should be quick, and they were. It uses a lot of yeast to get the fast rise, 2 tablespoons. Also there is oil and egg which should make a soft dough. I used Hodgson Mill Naturally White flour that I had on hand. I also added 1 teaspoon of dried onion to add a little flavor. These are supposed to be fast, to I took a picture of the clock as I started.

I let the yeast dissolve in the warm water then mixed all the ingredients by hand to get everything wet, then I turned on the oven to 425 using the Bread Bake setting that gets the oven completely hot before saying it is ready. With the oven heating, I used the KitchenAid mixer to knead the dough for 5 minutes as called for in the recipe.

I turned out the dough and formed it into 12 buns and placed them on my baking sheets. I used the last piece of parchment for one and oiled the other sheet. Here they are.

The clock is running and at this point it appears that we have used 30 of the 40 minutes promised in the recipe. The oven wasn't hot yet, so I covered the buns with cloths and misted the cloths with water while I waited for the oven to get hot. Note for future baking: Turn on the oven early, not at the last minute. The buns go into the oven at 5:38 for 8 to 12 minutes. I think I used about 11 minutes for baking. I used a cup of hot water in my hot cast iron frying pan in the bottom of the oven, so there was steam for these. They cracked during baking. Not good for hamburger buns. And the little bit of onion I put in turned out to be quite potent. This is what they looked like when out of the oven.
The crumb is OK. Nice and tight. The crust is crispy and a little too hard for a hamburger. I guess I will reduce the temperature next time to, oh, 375 and I won't use steam. Here is the crumb.
And the clock says we are done at 5:58, about 1 hour and 10 minutes for everything. I guess bread takes a little longer to make than you think and generally longer than the recipe says. Here is the last clock image. The buns are done at 5:58, 1 hour and 10 minutes after starting the 40 minute hamburger buns.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beer Bread

Barry Harmon on did it again. He posted a recipe for a beer bread that sounded simple and that I immediately wanted to modify. His recipe calls for all purpose and cake flour. So I made it with bread flour. His notes and recipe are found at The title is 2008 06 11 Beer Bread and a Nice Surprise.

I followed his recipe fairly closely using a warm bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Barry did not specify the beer he used) and only bread flour. So here is the modified recipe:

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (one package)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar

4 cups bread flour (512 grams). I weighed the flour.
1 1/4 cups warm light beer (285 ml). I weighed the beer.
Note: Next time I will use the whole bottle of beer and skip the water.
2 tsp salt.

I put it all in the mixer bowl and smooshed it together with one hand until it felt evenly wet. Then I went outside to play. After 40 minutes or a little longer talking to my neighbor over the fence, I turned on the mixer for about 5 minutes on my lowest setting (real low no longer works) and let it run. The dough came together nicely. I turned it out and rinsed the bowl, then oiled it and replaced the dough to rise for an hour covered with plastic wrap. Then I went outside to play some more. After all, this is Saturday, Flag day, and I had to install my new flag and pole.

When the flag was installed and the dough was risen, I put it into a floured wicker basket and covered it with plastic wrap again. I turned on the oven to 450 deg F which turned out to be too hot for this bread.

Here is the bread rising in the basket.

Following the instructions I turned out the risen loaf onto the peel lined with parchment and placed it into the oven on the tiles, then added a cup of hot water to the cast iron frying pan that lives in the bottom of my oven. Here is a picture of the bread in the oven on the tiles. Note the steam condensing on the glass window on the left lower corner. Also there is a pizza stone on the top shelf of the oven.

Here is the finished loaf and the crumb.

It turned out that the temperature given in the original recipe, 450 deg F, is probably too high for my oven. The bottom crust burned a little. Next time I will use 400 deg F. Here is the bottom crust picture.

Is it different? I don't really know. The crust is crusty, chewy as it should be. The crumb color is darker than a white bread, but not as dark as a wheat bread. It is chewy and tasty. The bread is easy to make and could be done in a bread pan just as easily for sliced bread.

Barry, its a keeper.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Barry Harmon's French Bread

Barry Harmon is a frequent poster on the news group. Recently he posted this recipe for French Bread

32 oz bread flour
20 oz water
1 Tbs salt
1 packet yeast

It sounded easy so I decided to try it. I mixed the dough in the Kitchen Aid mixer and put it in a plastic tub with a loose lid to rise. After it doubled, I divided it into two pieces and made a fougasse and a batard. The fougasse is a ladder bread with holes in it so it can be pulled apart and eaten as an appetizer. I patted out the dough onto a sheet of parchment in a sheet pan, then covered it with olive oil. I used kitchen shears to cut a leaf design in the flat dough, pulled the holes open and ground Italian spices over the whole thing. A little kosher salt went on last for that salty crunch.
fougasse made with French bread recipe

It looks like I didn't pull the openings open enough. Next time I will. Meanwhile the batard was rising and ready to go into the hot oven. I washed the dough with water and sprinkled raw sesame seeds on top, then cut the dough with my new tomato knife that viince suggested to me. It works wonderful. (Next time I will angle the blade a little to cut less deep.) Here is the batard baking, finished and the crumb.

French bread batard in my oven.

Batard out of the oven, cooling.

Crumb of the batard.

It looks like I didn't roll the batard as tightly as I should. Not too bad for a simple and easy French bread.

Here it all is as we got ready to try the fougasse with some olive oil for dipping, some cheese and a little wine.

Thanks, Barry. We enjoyed the bread.

One note. This bread does not keep well. Bake it and eat it. Although, I did freeze half a loaf while we went away for a week. It made fine toast when we got back.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

English muffins with egg and vinegar

These are really good English muffins. Here is the recipe. It came from Ruth Reichi, with cooking technique from Alton Brown:

1/3 cup warm water
1 Tbs sugar
1 package active dry yeast
in the bowl of the mixer.

Warm 1 2/3 cup milk and
3 Tbs butter till melted
Cool, then add 1 egg
and 1 Tbs vinegar
and add it all to the yeast.

Stir in 2 1/2 cups (340 grams) of flour and mix for 5 minutes.
Add another 2 1/2 cups (340 grams more) flour and mix with the hook for 5 more minutes.
Let rise for 1 hour. The dough tripled in one hour. After the rise, I put it in the refrigerator for another hour to make it easier to handle.

Preheat the griddle to 300 deg F. [I put water on mine as it heats so I can tell when the corners are hot.]
Scale the dough into about sixteen 80 gram pieces. Coat liberally with corn meal. I used my wooden dough bowl with corn meal in it to coat the dough. Works nice.

Place rings on the hot griddle and spray lightly with cooking spray. Place a piece of dough in each ring, then place a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan on top of the rings. This forces the dough to stay in the ring. Cook for 5 minutes, then slip the rings off and turn the muffins to cook the other side for 5 more minutes. You don't need the cookie sheet for the second side. They should be golden brown on both sides. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Split with a fork.

Wife and I split one, coated it with olive oil, kosher salt, Italian spices and Parmesan cheese, then broiled it for an appetizer. Good.

These were too thick and were scaled to 125 grams. I note in the recipe to use 80 grams. They will be thinner and more like commercial muffins.

The last time I made these, I made them in the evening, let the dough rise, then put it in the refrigerator overnight. I baked them in the morning for my son and his family. Worked like a charm. Do let them cool, though. That is the finish of the cooking.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another No-knead Bread

"No-Knead Bread - Another Variation using Beer

18.5 oz bread flour
12 oz Yuenglings Traditional Lager (a dark lager)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (heaping)
2-1/2 teaspoon salt

Sesame seeds
Flax seeds
Kosher salt, coarse

Mix the bread ingredients until the flour and beer are incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature (65/70 degrees) for 16 hours, give or take.

Turn out the dough and give it a couple of folds stretching the dough to give a smooth surface. Heavily flour a wicker basket and place the dough in it, good side down. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and stick it in the oven with the light on. I added a bowl with warm water to raise the humidity. Let rise for 2 hours, give or take, until doubled.

Prepare the oven with the baking stone in the middle (it lives there) and cast iron frying pan on the bottom shelf (it lives there too).

Cover the peel with parchment paper, then invert the peel over the basket with the dough. Turn the whole thing over to get the bread onto the parchment and onto the peel.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray the top of the dough with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds, flax seeds and the kosher salt. Slash the dough with your design choice.

Slide the dough and the parchment paper onto the stone. Add 1 cup of hot water to the frying pan imediately. Now turn the oven down to 400 deg F. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done.

Cool and store in a paper bag.

My loaf deflated when I turned it onto the peel. It should fill the basket; mine didn't. If it deflates, bake it anyway.

Here is the crumb. This is great. Just what I wanted. Big holes, soft bread, tender crust.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Irish Soda Bread

I found this recipe for Irish white soda bread while browsing food blogs. It is an Irish soda bread with no sugar, eggs, seeds, raisins, or anything else. I made it with Harvest King flour and powdered buttermilk. The result is a nice moist loaf with a yellowish tinge from the flour. The flavor is nice, very plain, but more flavorful unlike a biscuit. Mrs. A and I had it for breakfast this morning with butter and blueberry jam. I toasted some for a peanut butter sandwich snack this afternoon. Even better. The original recipe is at under Soda Far Soda Good.

Here is the recipe I used:

400g plain flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp bread soda

300ml buttermilk. I used 5 tablespoons of dry buttermilk and 300 ml of water.


Mix the flour, salt and bread soda together in a large mixing bowl.

Add in the buttermilk and mix completely. Use your hand in a claw-like shape to bind the ingredients, you can use a dough hook. I did.

Take out of the bowl and put onto a floured work surface and knead into a circular loaf shape.

Cut a deep cross into the bread, this allows it to expand, and bake at 170 degrees C (350 degrees F) for one hour. I baked it at 350 in the convection oven with a cold start for 40 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The digital scale I use

This is the digital scale I use for making bread. Barry Harmon asked what it was and it seem to have no model number unless 9V is the model. (I think it is the battery.) There is also a minute timer with a beeper. I don't use the timer as we have several others. The scale displays a "H" in the upper left corner when nearing the upper limit of 2 kg or 4.5 lbs. I suppose that is a warning device since it has no other obvious purpose. The scale turns itself off after several minutes unless it is used again. A touch will keep it going if you don't want it to shut off. I don't remember how much it cost, but it was in the $10 range. Our e-mail exchange is below the pictures.

Barry Harmon wrote:
>> I found a nice digital kitchen scale at Home Goods. Now I always weigh my ingredients. I even weigh when doing volume recipes. That way I can adjust intelligently if I need to.
>> My wife likes the scale, too. It is easy to use, tares out the weight of the dish holding the ingredient, weighs in grams our ounces/lbs, and turns itself off if not used. I can weigh 2 lb of flour in the mixer bowl with no trouble.
>> If you have a Marshals, Home Goods, or TJ Max nearby, these may have these from time to time. Keep your eyes out for them.
>> For those unfamiliar with these store, they are purveyors of leftover merchandise from other stores that have sold out dated or overstock or bankrupt type merchandise. Lots of clothing, glassware, fancy stuff and kitchen articles. I love to browse there.
>> John Andrews, Knoxville, Tennessee
> John,
> What is the make and model of your scale? I've been on the lookout for a new scale for some time now, but haven't found one that is much of an improvement over my current, horrible, one.
> Barry

My scale is a Polder with no model number. I will post a picture on my bread blog so you can see it. See

John Andrews, Knoxville, Tennessee

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


While discussing turkish pita on alt.bread, I went browsing and found Pam's site here: She has a recipe for piadina that I tried. Look there for the recipe. I followed the instructions most of the way, but tried baking it from a cold oven. I baked it for 25 minutes in a convection oven set to heat to 500 deg F which in my oven is 475 deg. Here is what it looked like.

Mrs. A and I snacked on the warm bread dipped in herb olive oil with a couple of glasses of inexpensive but good wine. Mmmm, good.

Ciabatta from Martha Stewart Living, Jan 2008

The January 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living has a series of photographs and recipes for artisan breads. I made the multigrain boule and was dissapointed with it. This ciabatta, on the other hand was just right. The recipe makes 2 small loaves, just right for Mrs. A and me. The instructions in the magazine are detailed on how to make the dough and knead it properly. I tried to follow them as much as I could. The results were tasty. I liked it very much.

Ciabatta is a very wet dough and difficult to handle. I did the kneading directly on the stone counter, not on my bread board. As a result, I had no trouble with the dough sticking or needing to add additional flour.

The recipe uses a preferment so I started that the night before. It was ready the next morning. Here is the recipe as I made it:
6 ounces bread flour
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 ounces cool water

8 ounces bread flour
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
6 ounces cool water
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Cooking spray

Make the preferment mixing with your hands, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Make the dough by adding the preferment and the other ingredients EXCEPT THE SALT and OIL, mixing to just combine, then let stand for 20 minutes. Turn out the dough onto an unfloured surface and add the salt and drizzle with the oil. Knead the salt and oil into the dough stretching and folding according to the detailed magazine instructions. It even had nice pictures of the sticky dough. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 45 minutes. Stretch and fold. Return to the bowl until doubled, about 75 minutes.

Turn out the dough, divide into half, cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Shape into two loaves by carefully stretching in to a rectangle and folding into thirds. Don't deflate the dough. Place the dough loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I didn't use my stone or peel. Cover and let rise again for 40 to 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 deg F. Prepare the cast iron frying pan on the bottom of the oven for steam. (1/2 cup of water ready to go.)

Before baking stretch each loaf into a 10 x 4 inch rectangle. Dimple the surface with your fingers. Slide the bread into the oven. I baked directly on the baking sheet. Add the 1/2 cup water to the pan (careful) and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 450 deg F.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Cool before eating it all.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Multigrain boule

When Living magazine came in I was delighted to find some neat recipes for bread with nice pictures and great detail on how to do it. I decided to make the multigrain boule. The loaf was somewhat overdone and the crust was thicker than it should be. The flavor was not as expected. The bread was dense and relatively tasteless. My wife didn't like it either. Since I should not eat bread, I gave it to the birds.

Here is the recipe for multigrain boule.

For the preferment, make the day before:
4 ounces bread flour (1 cup)
2 ounces rye flour (1/2 cup)
2 ounces whole wheat flour (1/2 cup)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
12 ounces cool water (75 to 78 deg F; 1-1/2 cups)

Stir the preferment ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 12 to 15 hours.

For the dough
12 ounces bread flour (3 cups)
2 ounces rye flour (1/2 cup)
2 ounces whole wheat flour (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 Tbs toasted sunflower seeds
2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
2 Tbs flaxseed
1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
8 ounces cool water (75 to 78 deg F; 1 cup)
3-1/2 tsp sea salt
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Make the dough. Whisk together the flours, wheat germ, seeds, and yeast. [No salt yet.] Add water and preferment. Stir together until the mixture comes together in a ball of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface. Sprinkle with salt.

Knead the dough stretching and folding until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Dough will be very sticky, but avoid adding more flour until the end when it may be necessary to add a very small amount. Form dough into a ball.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temperature for 1 hour.

Turn out the dough and stretch and fold once. Stretch the dough into a rectangle. Fold into thirds, then in half. Place back into the bowl. Cover and let rise again for 40 to 50 minutes.

Turn the dough onto lightly flowered work surface. Form a rectangle and then fold into thirds. Roll up tightly and form into a tight round shape. Gather edges and tuck them underneath. Place the dough on the work surface. Cup hands around the dough and rotate it in circles until a smooth, taut ball forms.

Place dough smooth side down into a colander lined with a well floured linen towel. I use a basket sprayed with Crisco oil with flour and heavily floured. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 40 to 50 minutes.

Prepare the oven with the baking stone. place the iron frying pan on the bottom of the oven and prepare 1/2 cup of water to provide steam. Preheat the oven to 425 deg F.

Turn the boule out onto a parchment lined peel. Slash the top of the boule with four slashes like a # sign. I use the tomato knife for this. Slide the bread on the parchment onto the baking stone. Immediately add the water to the hot frying pan. Watch out for the steam. I use a small watering can for this.

Reduce the heat to 400 deg F. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, rotating half way through the bake period, until the loaf is deep golden brown and the interior is 205 deg F. Let cool on a rack before slicing.

Martha Stewart Living magazine, January 2008, pp 152-4.

Note: The article covers the kneading process in great detail with pictures not included in this recipe.