Results tagged “bread” from ol'-eth-ros :: blog

Dave writes about apples - in particular the pink lady, which is not a bad apple at all. He also talks about the Jazz variety which I found in the local upmarket supermarket a while back. I found them nice, but not so much to rave about. It could have been the growing climate - France, or just the supermarket imposed flavour destruction via cold storage and shipping , I bought them because I miss the quality Braeburns from back home.

It made me realise that Apple season is just around the corner over here - and it might be a good idea to prioritise that decent oven before it arrives. I wrote about baking with of one of the true classic apples last autumn - the Danish Gravenstien.

Astrid's favourite bread is a five grain sourdough recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes.

I've baked this recipe many times now, but always find it amazing how wet the dough starts out feeling.

Anyway, a few days ago I decided to make another loaf of this recipe, the first step requires making a hot grain soaker and a separate liquid levain and leaving for 8 hours or so to allow the levain to mature and the grains to absorb the hot water and swell.

It's getting cold here (or I did something wrong) as my levain didn't work properly. Thinking it needed more time, I just left it. A few days later, it looked decidedly wrong and I realised it wasn't going to work. I'd also (stupidly) left the grain soaker on the bench this whole time.

So I made a fresh levain batch, which worked fine, but I had no more ingredients left for the five seed mix. Giving the existing soaked seeds a sniff, I realised they had started to ferment (despite the salt in the soaker which should have slowed/prevented this) and there was a slightly off odour about the mix.

I decided what the heck, maybe it will all bake out okay and proceeded to mix it all up - left it for a cold overnight rise (this usually helps bring out the sweetness of the flour and I was worried a warmer rise might accentuate the off flavours) and baked the next day.

In the baking I tested out my new silicon baking form, and now I can see why the damn things are so popular. The bread baked fine in the form, and had significant loaf spring, part way through the baking I slipped the loaf out incredibly easily and let it stand free-form on a baking stone to get a more even crust.

I made sure to bake it thoroughly in the hope that the off seed flavour would be baked out, and in tasting it today, it sure has, the seeds are extra soft from their lengthy soaking and the only thing I can detect is maybe a slightly more complex flavour - kind of like what you would expect from a rye sourdough.

Went for a job interview at Schlumberger on Monday arvo. I've found it harder than expected to get a job here in Norway, they want IT people who speak Norwegian. Which is a pretty tough ask seeing as they don't seem to have a lot of focus on getting young Norwegians into IT courses. Also anyone with real IT smarts would be off to work in the US or UK pretty quickly as the opportunities are greater there.

I guess i must have screwed up the interview, because I got the call from Adecco today turning me down for the job. I was hoping this would go the other way, as I've been applying for a while and this was the first time anyone has showed interest.

On the flipside I baked three loaves of bread this afternoon, got them out of the oven just before the call came through.

Pain au Levain with mixed sourdough starters - from Bread - A Baker's Book of techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman. I'd made this one in Oz before, but been trying slightly different techniques over here, kind of a modified pain a la ancienne technique to draw out different flavours in the flour.

The difference is I am using sourdough culture, wheras all the ancienne recipes I have seen use regular yeast.

Well, my latest batch of bread baking is done.

Earlier this week I started my own sourdough culture from scratch, something I guess I should have done a while ago.

The main reason why I picked now to start is that my most successful results with making sourdough cultures (flavour and ease of creation) have been by using an apple starter recipe that is given in the Village Baker, this is another good thing about this book, when introducing a bread it will often give the recipe for making the sourdough starter specific for that type of bread. many other books just simplify it to one starter - described at the beginning of the book.

It's apple season here and the Norwegians grow plenty of heritage varieties that don't have great shelf lives, but if you catch them before they turn floury they have the most amazing flavours.

Regardless, I love the apple starter idea as I find that (at least for the first batch or so) you end up with a lovely sweet aroma from the apples, unless the replenishable bacteria and yeast specifically produce any apple flavours, this trait should disappear as the starter progresses, however my experience last year with making a variant starter based on quince rather than apple, I found the aroma stuck around for quite a few refreshes. Granted quinces are incredibly aromatic.

So I made a traditional Normandy apple sourdough bread, with chunks of Gravenstein apples embedded through the dough.

Also (as with sourdough you always end up with heaps of starter, that I can't bear to throw away) I made a Pain au Levain with Whole-Wheat flour. This recipe was from Bread - A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes.

Both turned out quite well, the sourdough starter was possibly not active enough (needs to be used for a month or so before it gets to full strength) So i ended up having to spike the doughs with a little bit of commercial yeast before the final proof and bake.

Baking was probably ten minutes longer than necessary because I wanted good crusts and was worried about the crumb in the wholemeal dough needing a longer (or hotter) bake. So the crusts are thick (but oh so flavourful) and both breads rose more than I was expecting. Because both breads were baked at the same time, and they were close to each other, most of the steam escaped at the side, rather than the top, so creating slightly lopsided loaves - which definitely are not amongst my most aesthetic creations. The taste is fantastic though, almost no sour from the sourdough culture, just the sweet flavour one can extract out of flour with skill and the right micro-organisms!

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I've started doing some baking the past week or so, this marks the first bread I've baked since leaving Sydney. There were a lot of factors that kept me from baking over the past few months. The most significant though would have to be motivation. I'd bought most of the ingredients required not long after my arrival.

Factors why I have not been baking so much:

  • Decent, stonebaked, grain focused, un-sliced bread affordable and available at the even the small local supermarket
  • The labelling of flour and related products was confusing, I rapidly learnt the words for the different grains, but the milling processes and sensible use of non transparent paper packaging means it's still a bit of a surprise when I open up some packets of flour. However some things seem good, they print the extraction percent on the packet here. Also the availability of non wheat flours is much improved over Australia
  • My baking books only arrived last week, and although I know the correct percentages for various basic loaves by heart, I still end up making some dud loaves when I experiment too far away from the recipes outlined in the books.
  • No sourdough culture, something I regret I did not attempt to start during my non baking period, in Oz I'd rarely been making anything non sourdough recently as I have long preferred the flavour nutrition and keeping qualities of sourdough and also had perfected the art of barely maintaining my starter culture, just enough tender loving care to survive until the next baking round
  • The need for a bit of a holiday from everything that became my life back in Sydney, work, baking, metal. This was essential for rebalancing and centring myself in this new country.

Regardless, the break seems to have naturally come to a close. As I baked two loaves today, one an improvised whole wheat and rye loaf with cracked wheat, sunflower seeds and using a biga as the starter as well as the old bread technique to add depth of flavour. It reminded me a bit of the type of bread Dad would bake out of The Tassajara Bread Book when I was young. This style of bread is what got me first interested in baking

The other also used a biga, but was an Olive Bread, with lower protein content all purpose baking flour, it will hopefully produce a soft and tender crumb with a moreish flavour wrought out of the flour. I'm very happy with the crust on this one, especially as I only fridge'd it for an hour or so, rather than the usual 8+ hours I usually do to get the same crust

Now, a few hours have passed and the bread has cooled, I'm tasting it and it has an amazingly thin crust, which splinter into large chunks as you bite or slice it. The black olives were not the best quality, but they are sweet and have not bled much into the crumb. Nor do they taste obviously of the chemical aftertaste one often finds with commercial olives. The crumb is golden and incredibly sweet. All in all I am quite happy with this bread

These are made with a light rye sourdough, lightly spiced with a mixture of fennel and caraway seed with baby dried figs liberally studded through the dough.

A very tasty bread, but one that needs a bit more work, particularly with respect to the dried figs as they have a tendency to rob the crumb of moisture and cause the bread to stale prematurely.

This recipe is loosely based on the Barm Bread recipe from Dan Lepard's - The Handmade Loaf

I added quite a bit of atta flour, some barley flour and a little wheat germ to his basic recipe.

Richard agrees that it is the best loaf I have made recently, something I think was partly helped by not actually cutting it until nearly 48 hours after it was baked, giving the sourdough crumb a bit of time to set properly and the moisture balance in the loaf to equalise between crust and crumb.

It's amazing to think that a commercially yeasted baguette would have staled to rock-hard in that same time frame.

Over the past week or so I have been playing with my long term goal of creating a unique yeast based coconut bread.

Most coconut breads are actually made like cakes using a non yeast raising agent (usually baking powder) in what the Americans call "quick breads"

So, trying a recipe for a yeast based banana bread I adapted this for coconut, then being too busy left the dough in the fridge - intending to bake the next day

A week later, finally got around to working on the dough, which was treated as pre-ferment and supplemented with fresh flour and water. Plus the odd addition of some sourdough pre-ferment to the commercially yeasty mix.

The end result was to my mind successful, with hints of sweet and tangy, flavoured with a medium scent of coconut and a soft crumbly texture due to the liberal addition of desiccated coconut

Me mate Dave however who happened to be present when the bread came out of the oven had a different opinion "I like my coconut bread sweet". He did however suggest I try this approach with orange rind. Having saved some of the coconut dough from the prior batch, I tried just that last night and had great fun making oddly shaped doughs. The bread itself was almost too complex, with too many flavours vying for attention if I were to make it again, I would go for a lot less zest, it is amazing how strong that stuff is!!

I baked sourdough today, the process of growing the starter was fascinating but I was worried about the bread itself not being a success (my prior attempt at sourdough was a failure due to mistaken experimentation with custom bread machine settings)

This time, however it all went right and I have already devoured two thirds of the loaf!

My homemade sourdough starter is not really very sour, instead it has a slight tang to it which seems to just make the bread taste even better