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 http://www.valskitchen.com/ 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 http://johnsbread.blogspot.com/.

John Andrews, Knoxville, Tennessee

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


While discussing turkish pita on alt.bread, I went browsing and found Pam's site here: http://backyardpizzeria.blogspot.com/search/label/bread. 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.