There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
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One person, Greg Craven, has suggested changing the question from "which side is right" to "what is the wisest thing to do given the uncertainties and the risks involved?" To me, this seems like a very productive way to refocus the conversation. So, if you are confused about, concerned by, or interested in the issue of global warming please take a few minutes to watch his VIDEO. If you find it interesting or helpful, please pass it on to others.

This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Apple Barley Bread and Whole Grain Butterfat-and-Yolk-free Brioche (29 of 42)

Barley Malt Syrup is nasty stuff!  (Barley malt syrup is a natural sweetener produced from sprouted barley that is roasted, and slowly cooked into a thick, dark brown syrup.  It is half as sweet as refined sugar and Eden Organic's is 76.13 percent maltose, 15.81 percent glucose, 6.3 percent sucrose, 2.04 percent fructose and the remainder is lactose, for those who care about such things.)  It is thick and gooey and sticky.  And it must be "refrigerate[d] after opening," so it pours even slower than molasses in January.  And when you try to stop pouring, it NEVER STOPS.  It just forms these sticky threads like spider webs that go all over everything.  We used Barley Malt Syrup in the Apple Barley Bread. We also used barley flour.  I ground some pearled barley and used that. 

For the Apple part, we used apple cider, raw grated apples, and dried apples.  That is a lot of apple stuff.  And the raw dough tasted pretty apple-y. The baked loaf--not so much.  It was not bad.  It was just kind of blah.  In my opinion it was just not worth the extra work and all the special ingredients. 

My dough was pretty wet when I made it, but it firmed up quite a bit in the fridge, in part no doubt due to the dried fruit absorbing some of the liquid.  It was still pretty sticky, and I smooshed more than formed it into the pan.  I made a whole batch, having gotten the ingredients, and used half of it for this loaf.  My pan was a bit small for the loaf.  It came out of the pan well, though.

I was going to use a slightly larger loaf pan for the second batch, but then I remembered a long narrow pan I have, and decided to try a Pullman style loaf without the Pullman pan.  The Pullman Loaf  is made in a long, narrow, lidded pan. The lid makes the top of the loaf flat, if you do it right.  The French term for this style of loaf is pain de mie.   One theory of the origin of the name, "Pullman," is that the word was derived from a resemblance between the loaf (or its pan) and the Pullman railway car.

I smooshed the dough into the pan (now the pan was too big) and let it rise, just covered with plastic wrap.  Then  I made a "lid" out of cardboard and wrapped it in foil.  (The loaf bakes at 375, the ignition point of paper is 451 (hence the title of the book Fahrenheit 451) so I figured (hoped) I was good.   (There is a difference between the flash point of paper, which is 350 and the ignition point. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which it is ignitable by an external burning source.  The ignition temperature is the minimum temperature at which the fuel will automatically get ignited in the atmosphere without even an external source of burning.)  

 I sprayed the lid and the top of the loaf with cooking spray, and weighted the lid with pie weights in mini loaf pans.  I baked it for 45 minutes.  When I checked it I decided it could use a few more minutes, and since I had removed the lid to check its temperature (speaking of thermometers, do you know how to tell the difference between an oral and a rectal thermometer?  The taste.)  I finished baking uncovered.

When I put my level on top it was maybe 1/4  of a bubble off (then who of us isn't),

but I thought it worked pretty darned well for a first attempt!  (In my experience with such things, it is often best to quit while you are ahead.)

Our second assignment was the Whole Grain Butterfat-and-Yolk-free Brioche.  I used pasteurized egg whites and I bumped up the vital gluten since I was using freshly ground white whole wheat flour.  The recipe said the dough would be "loose," and it certainly was, but it firmed up some in the fridge.

The dough rose well but I did not get any "oven spring"--the top stayed flat.  The bread was pretty good, and 100% whole wheat.  It made very good toast. 

As you can see, I used my brioche pan, but I still have not figured out the best way to slice it.

And finally, my Blue Bird of Happiness (and his Missus) arrived
though on last Friday they might have wished they had waited a bit.
That is it for this time, check back next time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bavarian-Style Whole Grain Pumpernickel Bread (28 of 42)

 Before getting to the assignment, I thought I would share a tip I  saw in the most recent Cooks Illustrated.  It is not particularly pertinent to this assignment, but I was afraid I would forget to mention it if I waited.   It is a method of getting seed, grains and such onto your loaves, and works best for baguettes and other longer or oval loaves, though you might try it with a boule.

You sprinkle your topping onto a rimmed baking sheet (I just put some on the counter), and after you loaf is formed but before rising you roll the loaf in the seeds.  DUH! 

 Cooks suggests rolling the loaf on a dampened towel first, to moisten it, but I found that not to be necessary with our HB in 5 dough, though it may depend on the moisture in your dough that day.  To save a towel, you might just use wet hands to form the loaf.  Anyway, when I tried it it worked really well,  so I thought I would share. I rolled one loaf all around, and so covered the whole thing, and then tried only rolling half the loaf.  (The top one is the HB in 5 seeded oat bread and the bottom one is the AB in 5 semolina bread with sesame seeds.)  So that is my mitzvah du jour. 

This fortnight is (almost) all about pumpernickel.   According to "There is also a popular rye bread called pumpernickel, which was a West Phalian specialty (Osnabruck and surrounding area). It consists of cracked and whole rye berries which are soaked overnight in hot water, then packed into a closed mold and steamed for 16 - 24 hours. Modern production has reduced this time to 12 hours by adding yeast or sourdough to the mixture to help the heat penetrate through the dense dough through rising. Beet syrup is often also added, but the taste and aroma comes from caramelization and the Maillard reaction during baking. It can be stored for several month to several years and was used in the Middle Ages as emergency rations."

Our pumpernickel was baked, not steamed; for 30-35 minutes, not 12-24 hours; and we ate it all in a day, rather than keeping it for several months; so I cannot say if it would have stored for years or not, but I doubt it.  

Our bread gets its dark color not so much from the  Maillard reaction (a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat) as from caramel coloring and molasses, both of which contribute to the flavor profile.  The AB in 5 pumpernickel also uses espresso powder and cocoa powder.  I have used both of those in this dough when I made Date Nut Pumpernickel, but with the added whole grain and dark rye I am not sure how noticeable they really are.

We were supposed to use a brotform to shape this loaf as it rises, but the wetter HB in 5 dough can stick, which only leads tears, so I baked mine in my perforated bread pan.  It baked up nicely

and had a good crumb and flavor. 

The other loaf we were to bake was a rye/pumpernickel braid.  I did a two strand braid, because that is one I can do.  

It baked up nicely, although the color difference is not particularly noticeable from the outside, (except on the bottom).  
After making these breads I still had a little pumpernickel dough left over, and I baked (cooked) it as I would for Naan.  AB in 5 suggests using a cast iron skillet to make naan, which I have done, but it holds heat so well that it can overcook quickly, so this time I just used a 10 inch non-stick skillet, heated some oil in it, rolled out the dough and threw it in the pan.  I covered the pan, and after a few minutes, flipped the dough, covered the pan and cooked for a few more minutes.  It is the quickest bread you can make, and it turned out beautifully, soft and chewy and delicious.  
Instead of saving some rye dough from the previous exercise for the braid, as instructed by our Fearless Leader (I never have followed directions well) I made two half batches, one for last time and one for this time.  As a result, I had extra rye, and was suffering some baker's remorse for not having "manned up" and used my brotform for the pumpernickel.  So I used it to make a loaf of rye.  I used plenty of flour, and the dough was not too wet, so it worked pretty well.  No tears.
I also used some of the extra rye to make the ham, cheese and sauteed cabbage variation of the Stuffed Sandwich loaf.  Similar to Danielle's Stuffed Reuben, it was really good, especially with the rye bread.  

Well that is it for now.  Check back next time for Apple Barley Bread and Whole Grain Butterfat-and-Yolk-free Brioche.