Sunday, 24 June 2012

Alsace loaf with rye - Mellow Bakers Challenge

Mellow Bakers Challenge - Alsace loaf with rye - Dan Leopards recipe

This is my last of the three June challenges.
Where I live in South Australia we are very lucky to have fantastic local growers and suppliers of local grains and local flours. However, in saying that, I did have difficulty in getting these great whole grains at  local stores. ( different story for a different day ). Anyway!!! :-)

I followed the recipe as best as I could except that I dont have alcohol in my home as I dont drink.  Last week at work during friday afternoon drinks when asked if I would like a coca cola, (they know I dont drink alcohol)  I suggested that "I would like 200grams of white wine". The general chit chat around the room stopped, the room was suddenly quiet. They were all curious "why this 'teetotaller' was now asking for alcohol". I didnt really want to tell them what I wanted it for... I didnt want to 'fess up'.  My colleagues and friends obviously know me very well and they asked me ... "what?? are you planning on cooking with it?" So.. I coyly replied   .. "I need to soak rye grain for my bread this weekend" ... hmmm!! Not a good result.
 'Long story short'.... I followed Dan's suggestion and replaced the wine with yogurt.

I cooked the rye grains as per the instructions and then once cooled, soaked them in the yogurt in the fridge overnight. I had to rinse them very lightly in the morning as the yogurt was perhaps not thin enough. The recipe states a certain weight of soaked grains which I found to only be about half of what I had prepared so this is all that I used. I was very wasteful and unfortunately the remainder were discarded.

My home mill came into play to grind whole wheat and whole rye grains for the rye flour and the wholemeal flour that was required in this recipe.
All the ingredients were mixed. Once again that word jumped off the book, "Knead".. and again I thought "really"!!!???!!! This dough was wet and not yet able to be kneaded. My lightly floured board became a little more floured than 'lightly' but it did the trick. I could then do the required 'turns' at half hourly intervals as required.

Once fully fermented, I formed the 'sticks' or 'batons' as Dan described them and layed them on individual strips of lightly floured baking paper for their final rise. I find this method easy as then I can pick them up individually without disturbing the others and also use the paper to turn them over to put them on the baking tray or stone for slashing and baking.

They cooked well at exactly the temp and time shown in the book.

Result:- The taste is delicious. The crumb is light and the cooked grains are really nice.
I'm really looking forward to eating these with pasta for dinner.
I will definitely bake these again.
Of course I must finish by saying "Thank you Dan" for this really nice recipe.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Raisin and Cinnamon Loaf - Mellow Bakers Challenge

Mellow Bakers Challenge - Raisin and Cinnamon Loaf - Dan Lepard's recipe

This entry for the challenge began with great confidence. " what can possibly be so difficult in making a raisin bread?"
I mixed my ingredients and then began to worry when I realised that what I had created was potentially a lethal weapon. I had the hardest tightest ball of dough. If I strap it to a sling shot it could do a lot of damage. However, on the up side I'm sure there would be a purpose for it. If I left out the raisins I could use it as a house brick or a doorstop, the ideas are endless.
Ohhh well..!!! there goes my early morning confidence.
I somehow knew that no amount of time nor praying could get this thing into anything workable or edible. The instructions said to "knead it".. Really!!??..Wow!!... that's a big ask. I still gave it my best shot and in true optimism I formed it into a ball and put it in my oiled bowl.
(I was really becoming concerned for my elbow at this point in time .. sorry! a pitiful joke for those who have read Dan's recipe instructions.. ).
After at least 2 minutes I came to my senses and decided I had to fix it. I had to bring in the big guns for this. I went against all of Dan's teachings and put it into the Kitchen Aid with some water. Wow!! even my beloved Kitchen Aid had trouble getting its dough hook through this stuff. (What had I made?)

I think the honest part of me will tell you I was blaming the recipe. Lots of minutes later and a bit of chugging from my KA I had a workable dough!! Yay!!
So, feeling a bit more confident, I formed it into a ball for its first rise.

At this point I decided it was a good idea to check the ingredient list. Yes, I know!! a bit of an odd time to be doing this rather important step.
Going down the list.. check... check... OIL??? huh??? oops .. I didn't add oil to my mix!!
Sorry Dan ... for blaming you!!.
My reconciliation process said .. "well!! I oiled the bowl and I oiled the bench" ... would that have equalled the required amount? .. hmm... probably not.
I didnt want to add any more liquid to it now as I had got it to a good workable hydration so I left it to double in size which took about an hour and a half. Then formed the required ring and left it to rise again for about two and a half hours.

Thanks to my fellow bakers for already baking this loaf and realising that the time and temp for baking was a bit too long .. so I followed their instruction and decreased the temp but still baked for the time stated. I didn't get a 'dark' brown loaf but it was certainly cooked. My wonderfully formed circle joined together during the oven spring so next time I will try to ensure it is wider before baking.
Now for the real test... the crumb, the texture, the taste....
It was amazingly good. Crumb was soft and light, plenty of flavour. Crust was crispy, the raisins that protruded were not too burnt. I am so surprised at the good result.

I will bake this loaf again but with a slight difference I will replace the raisins with apple as Hubby is not a huge fan of raisins and he absolutely loves apples.
Ohh and I will add the oil!! :-)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Light caraway rye bread - Mellow Bakers Challenge

Mellow Bakers challenge - Light caraway rye bread - Dan Lepard's recipe.
My decision to start the June challenge with this loaf was based on "eeny meeny miny mo" .... not really!! I had all the ingredients at hand.
I can't bake the Alsace loaf yet,  I ordered rye grain over a week ago and still haven't heard that my order is available.
I also can't bake the Raisin and Cinnamon loaf yet ... who knew that I don't keep raisins in the house.
Enough of the nonsense :-)
I mixed together the ingredients for the 'cow pat'... oops I mean the ferment at about 9 am this morning and as it is a bit on the cold side in my part of the world at the moment, the ferment was placed on a towel on top of the electric heater. It took a bit over the recommended 2 hrs for it to be fully fermented as described. It was really bubbly inside and resembled a chocolate aero.

The final dough consistency was wet but certainly not too wet to handle with Dan's instructions to use a lightly oiled bench. I pressed it into shape and then rolled it without any difficulty. I then left it to to rise for a bit over the suggested hour. It certainly increased in size but to say 'rise' is a bit of an overstatement. There was certainly no oven spring and the loaf coming out of the oven was still quite small.

The good news is that by 3.30 pm, what we achieved is indeed a "light caraway rye bread".
It is not a brick!, has good texture, good crumb, good crust!!
Will certainly it bake again.

Thanks for your recipe Dan.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Beginning of the blog

I may be beginning my blog about my passion for the process of making bread but this isn't the beginning of my journey. The beginning was way back in the early nineties.
I started buying Lauke bread premixes and couldn't just make the occassional  loaf of bread!.
I had to make lots and lots of bread and was happy to stay up all night just to knead dough and bake.
I changed our dining room into a makeshift bakery. The dining table became my workbench.
I had bins full of bread flour premixes and I bought a huge Hobart mixer.
All the while I had no idea what I was doing nor any idea about the correct processes, shaping etc. However, thanks to Lauke Flour Mills and their great premixes I was still able to produce a variety of  breads, rolls, plaits etc that were more flavorful than the commercially produced breads that were available in our supermarkets.
Not too long later life changed significantly for me. With those changes my bread making days were packed up, the wonderful mixer sold and the passion stored at the back of my heart to became distant memories and a dream for another day, another life.
2010 ... I saw a tv program about a bakery that keeps a "starter", a wild yeast that is constantly preserved and renewed whilst using it to leaven their bread. I had to research this, I had to learn how to make my own wild yeast. I had to bake bread.
It took another 2 years until I really had a chance to give my time and energies to this passion. At this stage I have to thank my wonderfully generous husband who so graciously eats my breads ... the good ones and the bad ones.
No longer do I use premixes, in fact we now have our own home mill and we mill our own grain for most of our breads.
Wow, what a great research tool the Internet is.
I am learning so much from great bakers like Dan Lepard, Richard Bertinet, Jeff Hamelmann, Ciril Hitz, Peter Reinhart and great forums like and, not to forget all the fantastic people who have posted their expertise on YouTube.
I still have so much to learn.
From here I hope to share this journey.