Friday, February 14, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

In 2012 I had made a New Year's resolution - to give all my baking books a fair chance.

I wanted to bake one bread from every one of them, not only from my couple of favorite books. "Equal Opportunity Baking" was born!

With Malt Rye Rolls and Saatenbrot I was off for a roaring start. Also, Muesli Rolls and
Beer Rye Bread worked out after some tweaking.

But then some loaves folllowed that either required a lot of trials, or underwhelmed me with their taste. My initial enthusiasm was dampened, and the last posts endet up with the sympathetic hobby bakers of The Fresh Loaf, and didn't make it to my blog.

That is about to change now, I renewed my resolution (please, no knowlegeable grins!) In the meantime my baking book collection didn't diminish - on the contrary! - and the to-do-list of breads is large. So, here we go!

Was it my childish resistance against praying with St. Jeffrey's faithful congregation, or an unconscious dislike of dealing with a tome - so far I haven't baked a lot from Hamelman's "Bread".

Though one bread, the wonderful "5-Grain Sourdough with Rye Sourdough", made it straight into Karin's Bread Hall of Fame, and I used his "Rye Sourdough with Walnuts" formula for testing a 1-step versus a 3-step starter. But that was it!

For my "Equal Opportunity Pledge", I wanted to kill two birds with one stone, having another go at "Bread", and finding a use for the chia seed I had just purchased for a bargain price. Therefore I chose a simple white loaf to jazz up with the omega-3-rich seeds: Country Bread.

Working with the recipe wasn't very difficult. I refrigerated the mature pre-ferment overnight, and upped the amount of water in the dough a bit to accommodate the seeds (I didn't soak them, because - according to the description on the tag - "You can eat them directly out of the package").

The dough was slightly sticky, as intended, and I gave it an extra Stretch & Fold right away, and let it ferment for an additional 50 minutes after the last S&F.

The result was a very pretty loaf, with a pleasant, slightly nutty taste - for goodie-two-shoes people who prefer a milder bread, without too much noticeable tang.

COUNTRY BREAD WITH CHIA SEEDS  (adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread")

227 g bread flour
136 g water
4 g/3/4 tsp. salt
1 pinch instant yeast

Final Dough
all pre-ferment
227 g bread flour
185 g water
45 g chia seeds
5 g salt
0.9 g/1/4 tsp. instant yeast

Mix pre-ferment ingredients just until smooth. Cover, and leave at room temperature for 12 - 16 hours (70ºF/21ºC.) It will be ready to use, when it has domed, and is just starting to recede in the center. (I refrigerated the mature pre-ferment overnight.)

Cut pre-ferment in 12 small pieces. Mix all final dough ingredients, at low speed, until all flour is hydrated, and dough comes together (about 3 minutes,) adjusting with a little more water, as needed. Dough should be slightly sticky.

Continue kneading at medium speed for 3 minutes more. Dough should be supple, and still a bit sticky (Desired dough temperature 75ºF/24ºC).

Transfer to a lightly oiled or moistened work surface. With oiled or wet hands, stretch and pat it into a rough square. Fold it from top and bottom like a business letter, then do the same from the left and right side. Gather dough package into a ball, tucking sides under, and place into a lightly oiled bowl.

Cover, and let rise for about 2 1/2 hours, with 2 folds at 50 minute intervals. (In my cooler kitchen the rising time was 50 minutes longer.)

Pre-shape dough into a round, and place on the lightly floured work surface, seam side up. Cover, and let relax for 10 - 20 minutes, then shape into a boule or bâtard.

Place, seam side up, into a floured banneton, sprinkle with more flour, cover, and proof for 75 - 90 minutes (at 75ºF/24ºC), or longer, when your kitchen is cooler.

About half an hour before baking, preheat oven to 450ºF/230ºC, with baking stone and steam pan.

Use the finger poke test, the bread is ready for the oven, when a dimple doesn't fill up again, only comes back a little bit. Transfer loaf to a parchment lined baking sheet (or bake directly on baking stone.) Score into desired pattern.

Bake bread for 15 minutes, steaming with a cup of boiling water. Rotate bread 180 degrees, remove steam pan, and continue baking for another 20 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom and registers at least 200ºF/93ºC.

Let bread cool on wire rack.

An attractive looking bread: mild, with a slightly nutty flavor

BreadStorm-Users, (including the free version) can download the formula here.

Submitted to Yeast Spotting

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Rummaging through our basement refrigerator (inherited from my late in-laws and mostly used for retarding my doughs), I rediscovered a bag with whole grain pita dough.

After bulk fermentation I had pre-shaped the dough (made with instant yeast) into balls, placed those, individually wrapped, in a ZipLock bag, and then in the freezer.

The date on the bag was 9 months ago!

My first impulse was, of course, to throw those snow-encrusted (and suspiciously dark looking) packages into the trash. But then my curiosity and scientific instinct won, and I decided to give the Ötzi-Pitas a chance, and find out whether there was any life left in them - after all this time.

Whole grain pitas made with fresh dough
I placed them in a warm spot in the kitchen, and, while baking my usual breads for sale, checked now and then on them.

After 3 hours nothing had changed. Again I was tempted to end their misery, but decided to wait a little longer.

Fife hours passed - it appeared as if the dough balls had grown a tiny bit.

Six hours, seven, eight - very slooowly more growth.

After 10 hours the rolls were about the size they normally are, when I shaped and proofed them for 60 minutes (after their overnight stay in the fridge.)

Gescheckte Ötzi-Pitas: geschmacklich einwandfrei
I started rolling them out, the dough now reacted as elastic as a fresh one, but the surface of the pitas was darker, and somewhat mottled.

In the oven the defrosted pitas did not swell with a few large bubbles that merge before puffing like a balloon.

Instead, they showed many smaller bubbles that didn't quite manage to join into one large gas pocket.

The Ötzi-Pitas didn't look as nice as fresh ones, but otherwise performed amazingly well. And their taste was not different than fresh ones!

Facit: if you don't give up, and are patient enough to wait, the surviving, more frost resistant yeast cells are still able to do their job, albeit very slooooowly.

Discovery site basement freezer

Sunday, February 2, 2014



Left to his own devices while working on some projects, the best of all husbands didn't want to spend much time on cooking or going into restaurants. But men have to eat, especially if they are tiling and putting up sinks, so he went to the supermarket and grabbed a piece of stollen, a leftover from Christmas (and heavily discounted!) 

Most of it he brought home (who can live of stollen for a sustained time?) and there it was, waiting for eager eaters, where there were only people who, after the holidays, were "stollened-out" for the rest of the year. 

Stollen leftover, ready for recycling
St. Honoré, the patron saint of bakers, must have heard my weary sigh, when I saw this Stollen of Christmas Past.

The very next day I found in my blog list a post by master baker Wolfgang Süpke: the leftovers Stollen Torte!

Having a smaller piece of stollen, I downsized the recipe from 28 cm/11" diameter to 21 cm/9".

Since the store bought stollen was quite sweet, I reduced the sugar a bit, and added some lemon and vanilla.

And, living in Maine, I used (frozen) wild blueberries instead of a preserve (and doubled the amount.) The quark in the filling I substituted with cream cheese.

We liked the torte very much. The sweetness of the stollen bottom was balanced by the berries and slightly lemony cream filling.

Stollen Torte looks nice with a simple blueberry topping, too

STOLLEN TORTE  (adapted from Wolfgang Süpke)
(12 servings)

560 g/20 oz blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used wild Maine blueberries)
420 g/15 oz stollen, cut in thick slices (1.5 cm/0.6")
130 g/4.5 oz sugar
17 g/0.6 oz gelatin powder
56 g/2 oz cold water
225 g/8 oz whipping or heavy cream, at room temperature
225 g/8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
225 g/8 oz low fat yogurt, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. lemon juice, or more to taste
2 tsp. lemon zest, or more to taste

Frosting and decoration
1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream

Cook blueberries with 20 g of the sugar, until they break down, and the liquid is reduced by about a third (too much juice will leak out of the cake bottom.)

Grease 21-cm cake rim (or ring of a springform pan), then dust with powdered sugar.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Fill ring with stollen slices, filling out holes with smaller pieces.

Fill cake ring with stollen slices

Spoon cooked blueberries evenly over stollen bottom. 

Distribute blueberries over stollen layer

In a small bowl, stir gelatin into the water, and let sit until water is absorbed. Microwave until mixture is dissolved, stirring now and then.

Mix cream cheese filling

Whisk cream until soft peaks form. In second large bowl, mix cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest, until well combined. Stir in whipped cream, mixing well.

Spread filling over blueberries

Temper melted gelatin by adding 3 tablespoons of the cream mixture, one by one, mixing until well combined.(If the gelatin clumps because you didn't work fast enough, briefly nuke it in the microwave again.)

Pour gelatin in cream mixture, stirring until well blended. Pour filling over blueberries, smoothing surface with rubber spatula. Cover, and refrigerate torte overnight.

After removing the ring, the sides have to be frosted

To serve, remove cake ring. Frost sides with whipped cream, then decorate the top. (I made small circles on top and fill them with blueberries.) Or simply sprinkle it with blueberries.

Update 12/30/15: In the meantime, I have made the Stollen Torte with leftover stollen, panettone, and poppy seed stollen - all tasted wonderful!

Stollen Torte with Blueberries