Saturday, January 18, 2014


Einkorn Hazelnut Levain à la Forkish
Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

A while ago I needed to add another book from my Amazon wish list to qualify for free shipping. More or less randomly, I picked Ken Forkish's: "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast" - the price was right!

When I started leafing through the book, I was intrigued by his approach to kneading - or, better, not kneading the dough. From Dan Lepard's Pumpkin Whey Bread I knew that very brief kneading (30 seconds), followed by some folds, can be sufficient to process some doughs - but pinching?

Walnut Levain - my first take at Forkish's breads.
Usually I don't mix my doughs by hand (my skin is very dry) so I used a large wooden spoon for stirring flour and water together.

But Forkish is right, using your hands is much faster, and you have less cleanup afterwards.

During the pinching and folding process, the dough behaved exactly as it should: rising, then leveling out after each fold, calling for the next round.

And getting more elastic and smoother after each turn!

Forkish's descriptions are precise, and detailed, but, nevertheless, there were stumbling blocks on the way, and it took more than one trial to finally master the whole process.

Why the waste? You are supposed to build a huge amount of levain, only to use a small percentage of it for your final dough - the rest goes in the trash. Sure, flour and water don't cost much, but this is definitely not my idea of frugality and environmental consciousness!

The rationale behind this waste? Beats me. The breads taste great, even when made without all this splurging. Does a loaf, made with just as much levain as needed, taste any different from one where the starter came out of a big bucket? Hard to believe!

Sticky wicket: if you don't flour the rising basket really, really well (whether lined, or not), this can happen:

Oh, nooooo!!!

Don't think you can ease the proofed bread with your usual gentle coaxing from the basket. Forget your good manners - your dough needs slapping! After the sticky wicket of breads that stubbornly clung, and then deflated in the extraction process, I finally checked YouTube.

A bread that turned into a flounder (Overnight Brownie)

And there it was: I saw master baker Forkish slamming the banneton with gusto on the counter - brutal force did the trick! After this eye-opener I was less timid, and the breads finally let go.

Soft skin vs. hot pot. Not afraid of third degree burns, Ken Forkish places the bread smoothly into the Dutch oven. Others, with less experience, might not be so lucky. But there is an easy way out: the paper sling!

Use parchment paper for a painless transfer (Overnight White)
This worked well for other DO  breads I baked, like Aroma Bread. Therefore, save your skin - use parchment for a painless transfer.

Once these snafus were overcome, every bread I made from "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast", plus my "à la Forkish" variations, turned out great.

"Bold baked" crust, holey crumb, and extraordinary taste - my random pick to fill my shopping cart at Amazon became one of my favorite baking books!

A&B Naturals, my favorite food store (they sell my breads!) just started carrying Einkorn flour, and I love hazelnuts. This is the formula I came up with, combining both in a loaf à la Forkish.

I include the first step - refreshing your starter to make a Forkish levain - and a time schedule.


1. Step: Forkish's basic levain
12 g mature levain (your default)
48 g water (90ºF/32ºC)
48 g bread or AP flour
12 g whole wheat

 2. Step: Levain  (24 hours later)
12 g of the Forkish levain
48 g water (90ºF/32ºC)
48 g bread flour
12 g Einkorn flour

Final dough
302 g bread flour
138 g Einkorn flour
342 g water (90ºF/32ºC)
113 g hazelnuts, toasted, halved, or very coarsely chopped
11 g salt
120 g levain (all)*)

*) Following Forkish's recommendation I use a little more levain because my kitchen is usually cooler than 70ºF/21ºC (120 g instead of 108 g)

7:00 - 9:00 a.m. Feed your default starter to turn it into a Forkish Levain. (With this small amount the hydration of your starter doesn't matter too much, if it's between 75 and 100%.)

Lively levain

7:00 - 9:00 a.m. (24 hours after feeding your mature starter à la Forkish)
Refresh levain. Cover, and leave at room temperature for 7 - 9 hours.

Hydrating flours

2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
In large bowl, mix flours and water by hand, until all flour is hydrated. Cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Adding levain and salt

Pinching the dough...

...then folding it

Sprinkle salt over flour mixture and add levain. Prepare a bowl with water (for dipping your hands.) With (wet) hands, fold dough from sides over to the center, then, working like a pincer, pinch dough several times, alternating with folding, until dough is smooth, about 5 - 6 times. (DDT: 77º-78ºF/25º-26ºC.)

Let dough rest for 10 minutes, then incorporate nuts the same way.

Incorporating nuts (Forkish's Walnut Levain)

Fold dough three times more, twice at 20 minute intervals, the last time before going to bed. Leave, well covered, at room temperature overnight.

Dough should have tripled overnight (Forkish's Field Blend #2)
After 12-15 hours the dough should have tripled. Prepare a very generously floured rising basket.

Flour gives the sticky dough a "skin" underneath, so that you can fold it

Transfer dough to a floured area on an (otherwise unfloured) work surface. With floured hands, gently fold sides towards the middle to make a round. (The flour "skin" on the underside prevents sticking.)

Folding sides over to make a round

Then flip the round gently over, seam side down, onto the unfloured area. With floured hands, pull dough ball towards you, until you have a medium-tight boule.
Flip package over and shape into a ball (Overnight Blondie)

Place dough round, seam side down, in proofing basket, sprinkle generously with flour, cover well, and proof for about 3 - 4 hours.

Bubbly ball in banneton

3/4 hours before baking, place Dutch oven (with lid) on the middle rack, and preheat oven to 475ºF/245ºC.

Nice rise: the dough should at least double in size (Overnight Brownie)

Dimple should remain visible (Einkorn Hazelnut Levain)
The dough should at least double in size, use the finger poke test to decide whether it is ready to be baked.

Finger poke test:
Gently press a dimple with your finger in the dough - it should still be a bit elastic, but not fill up again, and stay visible. 

Place parchment paper on counter and place bread on it, smacking the banneton energetically on the counter! Cut off the 4 corners of the paper to make a sling.

Proofed bread on a parchment paper sling

Remove hot DO from oven, and put bread (with the paper) into it. Replace the lid.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid, and bake it for 20 - 25 minutes more, or until bread is medium to dark brown (internal temperature 210ºF/99ºC).

Forkish likes the "bold bake" - me too! (Overnight Blondie)

Tilt Dutch oven to slide bread out (the paper is now too brittle to serve as sling), and let loaf cool on wire rack. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Einkorn Hazelnut Levain

(To illustrate the process I used photos of different Forkish breads I made, therefore colors and structure differ a bit.)

Here you can see my baker's percentage (BreadStorm users (including the free version) can download the formula here):

Great fun to read: Kiseger's (The Fresh Loaf) hilarious post about her take on this bread: Einkorn & Kamut.

Submitted at Yeast Spotting

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


Sunday, January 5, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

The new year started on a bad foot - from a baker's perspective. My sleek new scale, one of last year's Groupon deals, let me down, just when our monthly ABC challenge was due.

The stores were closed on New Year, no new batteries could breathe life into the scale, and I did my best to fight early withdrawal symptoms with Maggie Stiefvater's "Raven Boys", and my daughter Valerie's Death-by-Chocolate-Cookies.

With the scale revived, the ABC Baker's first project of the year, Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies, (a recipe from King Arthur,) could finally get under way.

I used half of the recipe, a large pan full is a bit too much just for us two.

Warned by fellow bakers that the brownies were too sweet, I reduced the sugar in both batters, and cut down on the salt, too.

I also exchanged some white flour with whole wheat.

Coffee enhances chocolate flavor (and vice versa), so I added this optional ingredient.

And a bit of orange flavor would give some pizzazz to the vanilla cheesecake batter.

adapted from King Arthur Flour

(16 small pieces)

Chocolate Batter 
113 g unsalted butter (1 stick)
175 g sugar
  53 g cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. espresso powder
    7 g vanilla extract
    2 eggs
  30 g all-purpose flour
  30 g whole wheat pastry flour
170 g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

Cheesecake Batter
226 g cream cheese (1 package), at room temperature
  50 g sugar
  28 g all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1/2 - 1 tsp. orange zest
  28 g heavy cream
    1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°F/175ºC. Line an 8" x 8" baking pan crosswise with 2 stripes of parchment paper (8" wide), and long enough to hang over the sides.

Cook butter/sugar mixture until smooth and shiny

For the brownie batter: In a medium saucepan, melt butter, then stir in sugar, cooking until mixture is smooth and shiny. Remove from heat, and stir in cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla.

Stir flour last into the chocolate mixture

 Whisk eggs in the (slightly cooled) mixture, then flour, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

The cheesecake batter can do with a little orange pizzazz

For the cheesecake batter: Beat cream cheese until no lumps remain. Mix in sugar, flour, and orange zest, then vanilla extract, cream, and egg, until combined. Set aside.

Fold chocolate chips into the brownie batter. (It should have cooled a bit, so that the chocolate will not completely dissolve.)

Pour half of the chocolate batter in the pan

 Spoon half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan, then top with cream cheese batter.

Spoon cream cheese batter over chocolate bottom layer

Dollop remaining brownie batter onto cream cheese. Using a fork, swirl the two upper layers into a marble pattern. (My marbling could do with a little improvement.)

My marbling could improve a bit

Bake brownies for about 45 minutes, rotating pan after half the baking time (for even browning,) until a tester comes out clean (if it doesn't hit a chocolate chip), and the edges are set, but the middle still feels springy to the touch.

Using the parchment paper overhang as handles, lift cake out of the pan and set on a wire rack to cool.

My brownies were a little bit too long in the oven

The brownies were nice and moist, fudgy and very chocolate-y, with a hint of orange. Since they are so rich, I recommend cutting them in fairly small pieces.  We liked them best warm, with vanilla ice cream and a few chopped pecans.

Wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool room, the brownies keep for at least 3 days. You can also freeze them.