Sunday, May 26, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

If you know the facebook group "Baking 101", you might also know Danny Klecko's blog "Last American Baker". Klecko's posts are whimsical and often very funny, and he seems to snort them out joyfully and without any effort (unlike one envious baker whose name I will not disclose).

 Now and then he puts a recipe in one of them, as a "teaser", to lure you into his world, even when you think you already overdosed on facebook. This happened to me when I followed the link with the intriguing headline: "The Recipe That Ended The Cold War".

Klecko describes how 20 years ago presidents Reagan and Gorbachev held a peace summit in St. Paul, his city. And the bakery, where Klecko worked at the time, was formally requested to supply a bread that the two heads of states could break, as a symbol of peace.

The job went to Klecko, to create a loaf that would please a Russian while being quintessentially Minnesotan/American.

After sweating plenty of blood and tears, and many prayers to his "Polish Jesus", this was what he came up with:

Danny Klecko's Wild Rice Sourdough  (3 loaves)

2 1/2 tablespoon yeast
2 3/4 cups water
1 1/3 cup brick starter (this refers to a mysterious Polish contraption, made of rye, bread flour and potato flakes)
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoon vinegar
2 1/4 wheat flour
6 cups bread flour
1/2 cup bran
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup cooked wild rice

So far so good. But now it comes:

Bake at 400-450º F for close to 30 minutes.

Quite a temperature range! Klecko's comment: he would like a crustier bread, baked at 450ºF, but many home bakers might prefer 400ºF.

I asked Klecko about the low amount of salt. He admitted to having "moved the salt content around a bit to pacify cry baby Americans that wouldn't eat the bread because they felt the salt content was too high."

Wild rice, expensive, but very tasty

So I set out to metrically "remaster" the recipe, figuring out the starter, and calculating the amount of uncooked wild rice that would yield 1 cup of cooked rice with as little leftover as possible.

Since the technique should include my preferred overnight fermentation, I found that I could safely reduce the amount of additional instant yeast.

Here is my version of this historically important bread, (down-scaled to 2 loaves:)

WILD RICE SOURDOUGH   (2 loaves)  (adapted from Danny Klecko's "Last American Baker")

43 g rye sourdough starter (100% hydration)
53 g rye flour
74 g bread flour
80 g water

144 g water (for cooking, don't discard any remaining liquid after cooking, add to dough)
  37 g wild rice, rinsed and drained

440 g water (95 F )
   2 g instant yeast
all starter
all cooked wild rice (including any remaining water)
500 g bread flour
192 g whole wheat flour
  20 g wheat bran
  16 g salt
  26 g balsamic vinegar
  13 g molasses
  13 g honey (optional, if you like it sweeter)

1.DAY :
In the morning, mix all starter ingredients at low speed (or with wooden spoon), until all flour is hydrated (1-2 minutes). Knead 2 minutes at medium-low speed (or by hand), let rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for another minute. Cover, and leave at room temperature.

After cooking the rice absorbs more water while it cools

In a small pan, bring wild rice with water to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Leave at room temperature, the rice will absorb most of the water.

In the evening, prepare final dough. Dissolve instant yeast in warm water. Add to all other ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix at low speed for 1 - 2 minutes (or with wooden spoon), until all flour is hydrated. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Sourdough, ready for action!

Resume kneading at medium-low speed (or by hand) for 2 minutes, adjusting with more water, if really needed (dough should still be sticky). Knead for another 4 minutes. Dough should still be somewhat sticky.

Transfer dough to lightly oiled work surface. With oiled hands, stretch and pat dough into a rough square and fold it like a business letter in thirds. Gather into a ball and place it, rough side down, into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover, and leave to 10 minutes.

After the last fold, the dough goes in the refrigerator

Repeat this stretching and folding 3 times, with 10 minute intervals. After the last fold, place dough in lightly oiled container (I divide it at this point in two equal portions,) cover, and refrigerate it overnight.

DAY 2:
Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up.

Overnight the dough has almost doubled

Preheat oven to 450ºF/232ºC, including steam pan and baking stone.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape dough into 2 boules or bâtards and place them, seam side up, in bannetons. Proof for 45 - 60 minutes, or until they have grown 1 1/2 times their original size (Finger poke test!).

The bread has grown 1 1/2 times its original size

Transfer breads to parchment lined baking sheet (or bake directly on baking stone.) Score them crosswise.

Crosswise slashes give the breads a nice pattern

Bake breads for 20 minutes, steaming with 1 cup boiling water. Remove steam pan, rotate loaves 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 20 - 25 minutes. They should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, and register at least 200º F/93ºC (instant thermometer.) Leave them in switched-off oven with door slightly ajar for 10 more minutes.

Remove breads from oven, and let them to cool on wire rack.

The wild rice gives it a nice speckled crumb

Like Reagan and Gorbachev, we would have been willing to end the war, ANY war, hot or cold, after tasting this wonderful bread. Slightly nutty and very moist, and, with the wild rice speckling the crumb, beautiful to behold.

So we might all thank Danny Klecko for the recipe that brought the Berlin Wall tumbling down. The Wild Rice Sourdough put Reagan and Gorbi in such a mellow mood that they couldn't help but ending the Cold War!

(Completely updated version, originally posted 2011)

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico
                                           Indovina chi viene a cena                                            

Friday, May 3, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts
Visiting my hometown Hamburg in May, I didn't really expect to bake anything. But our little Airbnb apartment in Schanzenviertel, Hamburg's youngest and dirtiest most colorful quarter, had a fully equipped kitchen, and I had some time on hand.

Occupied house in Schanzenviertel

Richard was attending a full immersion German language class: "so that you can't say nasty things about me on the phone anymore!"

Some mornings I visited my Mom, helping her detailing her car - my mother is 93, her Honda Civic 19 years old, and both in great shape! Some mornings I enjoyed coffee and quality time with my son (who lives around the corner and works from home.)

Enjoying the sun with my Mom at the Alster

My ABC baking group's project of the month were ENGLISH MUFFINS, so, rather than going cold turkey on baking withdrawal, I bought eggs, milk, flour and yeast, and started mixing the dough.

Since there was no way we could eat, or store, 16 large muffins, I made only half of the recipe. Do you know how to measure half of an egg? Crack it in a small bowl, beat it with a fork, and then spoon half of the amount into your dough. 

Out of habit, and to save tedious waiting time, I mixed the dough in the evening, and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.

It is a bit tricky to handle the soft and stubbornly sticky dough, but oiling your work surface, hands and tools, and generously sprinkling your pan and baking sheet with semolina helps quite a bit.

The cooking was easy, each time it took about 15 minutes for one side, but only 4 to 5 for the other.

Nook-ed and crannied: English muffins taste best when toasted

The muffins split open into nice, nook-ed and crannied halves, toasted well, and we ate them with butter and raspberry rhubarb jam. According to my spouse they were "exactly as English muffins should be."

Just the right snack for a hungry, homecoming "school boy"!

Richard wrestles with German, while I enjoy my leisurely mornings

ENGLISH MUFFINS  (16 large muffins) adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 3/4 cup/397 g lukewarm milk 
3 tbsp/43 g softened butter
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 tsp salt/6 - 8 g (I used 1 1/2 teaspoon)
 2 tbsp/25 g sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 1/2 cups/539 g bread flour (I used, of course, German 550 flour)
2 tsp instant yeast (6 g was plenty)
semolina or farina, for sprinkling the griddle or pan

German ingredients for English muffins

Combine all dough ingredients in bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle (to handle the very soft dough). Beat at medium-high speed, until dough starts coming away from sides of bowl, and is satin-smooth, shiny, and very stretchy (about 5 minutes.) 

Using a bowl scraper, transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, fold it from all sides to coat with oil, then cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator overnight. (Or, if you want to bake the same day, let it rise until it's nice and puffy, about 1 to 2 hours.)

Sprinkle a large well-seasoned or non-stick pan or griddle heavily with semolina or farina. Also, sprinkle a baking sheet generously with semolina (or farina.) 

Remove dough from refrigerator, and scrape it onto an oiled work surface (it is quite sticky!) With oiled hands and bench knife or large kitchen knife (also oiled to prevent sticking) gently deflate dough, and cut it into 16 pieces. 

Roll pieces in your hands (re-oil, if needed) into fairly smooth balls, flatten until they're about 3" to 3 1/2" in diameter, and place the first 4 muffins on the prepared (cold) pan (or as much as fit, on the griddle,) the others on the baking sheet (they can be fairly close together.) 

After their 20 minute rest the muffins look a bit puffed, but not much different

Sprinkle all muffins with more semolina or farina, cover them with parchment or plastic wrap, and let them rest for 20 minutes. They won't rise much, but puff a bit.

Cook muffins over low heat for 7 to 15 minutes per side, until crust is golden brown, and interior cooked through, registering about 200°F. (If they are brow, before they're done, place them into preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until they're thoroughly cooked.) 

English muffins, baked on a bed of semolina flour

Let baked muffins cool on wire rack, and cook remaining muffins in batches, until they are all done.

REMEMBER: use a fork to split, not a knife to cut. Fork-split muffins will have wonderful nooks and crannies; knife-cut ones won't.

First of May holiday in Schanzenviertel

For the First of May we were warned to stay indoors as there might be riots in the streets, by occupiers and their supporters. But absolutely nothing happened, and the mood of the crowd was festive, not ugly.

Time for another visit at our favorite café around the corner. Their wide selection really needed several trips to decide which one of their tortes and bars we liked best. After all, inquiring minds want to know!

Chocolate Mousse Torte and Cappucchino at Café Stenzel, just around the corner

Did I mention that our apartment was "athletically located", on the fifth floor? Without elevator! We took that as a pass to unrestricted intake of pastry, brötchen, böreks, döners, and other delicacies that the surrounding eateries had to offer.

Eateries in Schanzenviertel have funny names, like "Vier Fäuste" (four fists) or "Berliner Betrüger" (Berlin fraudster)

Recently, occupied houses and graffiti covered back yards have become regular stops for tour buses. Their punky inhabitants are not too happy to be viewed as interesting tourist destination!

Tourist destination: graffiti covered occupied houses and back yards

So they put up this sign: 


"In this back yard there is absolutely no: dealing, pissing, photos, police patrols! "

Post updated 6/23/13

Submitted to Panissimo:  Bread & Companatico
                                        Indovina chi viene a cena