Friday, October 27, 2017


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Whenever I'm visiting my hometown Hamburg, I check out new bakeries. Two years ago I noticed people lining up in front of Bäckerei Jochen Gaues, in Eppendorf quarter, where my Mom lives around the corner.

Taking this as a good omen, I joined the waiting line. The shelves full of loaves and rolls looked promising, all with fairly dark crusts - boldly baked, as Ken Forkish ("Flour, Water, Salt and Yeast') would call it. A paradise for crust lovers!

Like Forkish, Jochen Gaues is a purist baker, his breads are made with flour, water, salt and yeast. No dough enhancers, no preservatives, no artificial flavoring. Only sourdough and passion for his craft. And he shared his recipes in a beautiful baking book, too.

His sunflower seed rolls are hearty, crusty and delicious. (I tweaked the recipe a bit, of course, as I always do). The crumb is rather light and more airy than chewy. You can enjoy them with cold cuts, German meat salad, honey or jam. 

The rolls have a thin, crisp crust and a somewhat airy crumb

SUNFLOWER SEED SQUARES  (adapted from Jochen Gaues' "Brot")
(8 square rolls)

  10 g/0.3 oz recently refreshed rye mother starter (100%)
  10 g/0.4 oz water, lukewarm
  10 g/0.4 oz rye flour

  25 g/0.9 oz cracked rye
  25 g/0.9 oz flaxseed
  50 g/1.8 oz water 

Final dough
  30 g/1.1 oz starter (all)
367 g/12.9 oz water (95°F/35ºC)
    3 g/0.1 oz instant yeast
475 g/15.8 oz bread flour
  50 g/1.8 oz old sourdough bread, ground and toasted
  25 g/0.9 oz medium rye flour
  25 g/0.9 oz sunflower seeds, toasted
  14 g/0.5 oz sugar
  14 g/0.5 oz salt

egg white, mixed with a little bit of water, for brushing
sunflower seeds, for topping

Seed soaker and rye starter

In the morning, mix starter ingredients in small bowl. Leave, covered, at room temperature for 4 - 6 hours, or until it passes the float test (a teaspoonful should float in water).

In second small bowl, stir together soaker ingredients. (This extra step is not absolutely necessary, but hard ingredients like rye chops and flax seeds benefit from longer soaking.)

In the afternoon, mix final dough at low speed until all flour is hydrated, 1 - 2 minutes. Let dough rest 5 minutes, then knead at medium-low speed for 6 minutes. Dough will be soft and sticky, but pull back from sides of bowl. 

Dough will be sticky, but pull back from sides of bowl

Transfer dough to lightly oiled work surface. With oiled hands, pat and pull it into a rough square. Fold dough from top and bottom in thirds, like a business letter, then the same way from both sides.

Pat and pull dough into a square...
...then fold in thirds, top down, and bottom up... a business letter.
Repeat folding from both sides...
... until you have a neat package

Cover dough package with the empty mixing bowl (if necessary, re-oil works bench). Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Repeat stretching and folding the dough 3 more times, at 10 minute intervals. It will gain strength and starting to resist. Place dough in oiled container, cover, and refrigerate overnight (a square container helps with shaping later).

...and after fermentation: it has doubled in volume

Remove dough from fridge 2 hours before using. It should have doubled in volume.

Preheat oven to 475ºF/240ºC (no steam).

Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, sprinkle with a little flour (it will still be a bit sticky), and gently pull and pat it into a rectangle, then cut into 8 square pieces. Place squares on parchment lined (or perforated) baking sheet.

The rolls are cut, not shaped

Brush rolls with egg white, then sprinkle each with sunflower seeds, gently pressing them down to stick. Cover, and proof for about 25 - 30 minutes, or until a finger-poked dimple remains visible. (Since the dough is cut, not shaped, it is puffy and doesn't need to rise much more - basically only until the oven is hot).

Ready for the oven

Bake rolls for about 20 minutes (rotating them halfway through), or until they are a dark golden brown, and register at least 200ºF/93ºC on an instant read thermometer.

Freshly baked Sunflower Seed Squares

BreadStorm users (also of the free version) can download the formula here.

Monday, October 16, 2017


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Before my friend "The Rye Baker" Stanley Ginsberg went on his mission promoting European rye breads to American bakers, he had published another remarkable baking book: "Inside the Jewish Bakery - Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking".

I was among his test bakers. One of my test recipes was the Polish Potato Bread - Poylner Kartoffelbroyt - with its unusually high potato content an interesting recipe, but, as I soon realized, somewhat challenging in its preparation.

My first Post-It notes about the recipe

I had problems gauging the necessary water amount, first the dough seemed too dry, then turned sticky from the potatoes.

Not only that: Stanley had warned of dire consequences if you tried taming the gooey dough with more flour - it would turn into a brick!

Somewhat intimidated, I jotted down on my note pad: "No shaping possible".

In the end, somehow, I managed to get the sticky glob into the pan. Or I wouldn't have (later) rejoiced in its "excellent taste!"

At that time I had no whatsoever experience with stickier doughs. Meanwhile, I know better how to deal with the tricky potato bread - the extra flour needs to go on the work surface, under the dough, not into it! 

 Potato Bread tastes especially good when toasted

The excellent taste encouraged me to bake the Potato Bread again and again, while tweaking the recipe a little bit, especially withholding some of the water to (slowly) add it during the mixing later.

Allowing the dough to rest in the fridge overnight, I could reduce the amount of yeast a bit.

This favorite loaf really deserves to be presented at Zorra's World Bread Day 2017,

Golden brown and wonderfully moist

POLISH POTATO BREAD (adapted from Stanley Ginsberg's: "Inside the Jewish Bakery")

227 g/8 oz Russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled or unpeeled *), cut in chunks
170 g/12 oz potato cooking water
4 g/1 tsp instant yeast
250 g/8.8 oz first clear or high-gluten flour
34 g/1.2 oz whole wheat flour
9 g/0.3 oz salt
vegetable oil, for brushing

*) I like using local red potatoes with thin skins and don't peel those

Drain cooked potatoes and reserve 170 g of the cooking water

Cook potatoes in about 2 cups of unsalted water until soft, then drain, reserving 170 g/6 oz of the cooking water. Mash potatoes, and let both cool to room temperature.

Our local red potatoes don't need to be peeled

Mix mashed potatoes, flours, yeast, and 150 g/5 oz of the reserved cooking water at low speed, until all flour is hydrated, 1-2 minutes. (Dough might seem a bit dry at first, but potatoes will add more moisture).

In the beginning the dough seems relatively dry...

.... but soon becomes sticky from the potatoes

Add salt, and knead at medium-low speed for 10-12 minutes, very slowly adding remaining 20 g/2 oz water. Dough will soon become (and remain) sticky, but in the end pull back from sides of bowl. Don't add more flour, if you don't want to end up with a brick!)

Ready for its slumber in the fridge

Place dough in oiled container, cover, and place overnight in the fridge. (Using a square container helps with shaping the bread later.)

Overnight the dough has doubled in volume

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using. It should have doubled in volume, but will still be sticky. Grease a 9 x 5-inch/23 x 13 cm loaf pan.

The dough will still be sticky - flour your hands and bench knife!

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. With floured hands (or bench knife), pat and push it into a rough rectangle. Lift one shorter end up and fold it over a little bit, pressing gently down to seal. Continue rolling up dough in the same way into a log.

Place loaf, seam-side down, in the prepared pan

Re-flour your hands, (or bench knife), and - this is the tricky part - lift the loaf cylinder up and place it, seam-side down, into prepared pan.

Brush top of loaf with oil, cover pan, and proof until top of dough has reached rim of pan, and a dimple, pressed with your finger, will not fill up at once (about 45 - 60 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC (no steam).  

Ready to be baked

Score loaf lengthwise (snipping with scissors works better for sticky a dough than a lamé.)

Bake bread for 20 minutes (no steaming), rotate pan 180 degrees for even browning, and continue to bake for about 20 minutes more, or until loaf is golden brown (internal temperature should be at least 195ºF/90ºC.)

Freshly baked Polish Potato Bread

If you like your crust to stay crispier, leave bread in switched-off oven, with door slightly ajar, for an additional 10 minutes to dry. Then turn loaf out onto rack and let it cool completely.

STORAGE: The bread keeps for at least 3 days, wrapped, at room temperature. It, also, freezes well. If you slice it before freezing it, you can take out single slices for toasting.

Baked with German flour type 1050, the crumb looks a little darker

BreadStorm users (also of the free version) can download the formula here: