Bread Basics – Class Outline page is now active. The page started in 2016 and is still a work in progress.
Setting the site record for longest post title by far..
The tomato and tomatillo plants are heavy with fruit right now so it’s time for Rick Bayless’ Tomato Carpaccio Salad:
We last posted the salad recipe in 2014. The 2019 version featured Black Krim and Taxi tomatoes as the base. The pictured tomatillo salad topping included Oregon Cherry and Sun Gold tomatoes as well as avacado and red onion.
The salad was fairly filling for three adults, but we had some frozen pulled pork to use up as well as some “empty” jars of mustard. I really dislike that bit of waste, so I rinsed out the mustard jars in a little bit of water and used that as a base to reheat the pulled pork. We then moved the thawed pork to a mixing bowl and added shredded cheese and mustard-pickle relish.
The pork mixture was originally intended to become Cuban Sandwich Style Pulled Pork Pigs In A Blanket, but there was too much filling for that so it became a Cuban Sandwich Style Pulled Pork Stromboli:
Served with more of the mustard-pickle relish on the side. Super tasty.
The dough was basically a simple pizza dough — 400g AP flour, 240g water (60%), 10g salt (2.5%), 1 tsp yeast. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 10″ x 8″. Arrange the filling in a row down the center of the long axis and fold the dough over the filling, overlapping slightly. Press to seal the seam. Place the stromboli on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet tray seam side down. Slice a few cuts into the top so that steam can escape — I placed cuts about every 2 inches which then became the portion sizes after it came out of the oven. Bake at 425F for 30 minutes.
If there’s extra dough it can become bread sticks.
Next time I’ll cut the salt back to 2%, I think the extra salt may have toughened the finished product a little bit. The extra bite would have been fine with pigs in a blanket but the stromboli form was already enough work to get through without the added salt.
Still, a very nice dinner all around. Thanks to SeattleAuthor for his help in the kitchen.
Epi Bread makes an appearance at the Iron Chef Leftover Annual Lasagna Party (cell phone pic):
I feel like everything came together pretty well this time around. The color was better than usual due to the addition of egg wash — two eggs were beaten then strained and brushed onto the doughs before the doughs were cut into the Epi shape. The egg wash created more contrast between the light and dark parts.
Each individual Epi was around 15″ long. The finished weight of all of the breads put together was around five pounds.
As far as the actual “mechanics”:
Each “batch” was three breads at 150 grams of flour each.
This time around I used a refrigerated “Poolish” (preferment) that I started on the 22nd — two days before the event. I went with a refrigerated Poolish because on the 22nd we weren’t sure we were going to be able to make it to the event, and I could bake the dough on the 25th if we missed out on lasagna.
To make one batch of Poolish combine 150 grams of bread flour, 150 grams of refrigerated water, and a pinch of instant yeast. Mix on low speed for 8 minutes. Cover. It can be refrigerated for up to three days with no real loss in quality.
(I did all three batches together (900 grams total), then divided it out into three – 300 gram units on baking day.)
On baking day combine in the mixer one batch of Poolish with 300 grams of bread flour, 120 grams water, 9 grams of salt, 1/3 stick unsalted butter (36 grams), and 1 teaspoon of instant yeast. Mix for eight minutes. Hand knead a little if the dough looks rough. Let rest, covered for 20 minutes.
Divide into three pieces and roll each piece into a baguette shape that will fit lengthwise into a Silpat-lined sheet tray. Cover and let rise two hours.
Brush each baguette with (beaten and strained) egg wash. Using scissors, cut the breads and lay the cut segments off to the sides for the finished Epi shape.
Bake at 460F for 22 minutes. Carefully remove to a cooling rack. (I used tongs to slide the Silpat out of the sheet tray, then slipped the Epis off of the Silpat.)
The addition of butter to the recipe made the finished product a little richer and dinner-roll like. The Epi shape made it easy to cut or break off pieces, and increased the total amount of “browned goodness” surface area. I’d like to think those decisions helped the breads fit in with the rest of the meal. Nobody complained.
[Total recipe in Baker’s Percentage is 60% hydration, 8% butter, 2% salt, yeast. Or: 450g bread flour, 270g water, 36g butter, 9g salt, yeast.]
The weather has cooled and that means the kitchen is cooler too. I’m way more inclined to bake stuff when it’s not a million degrees in the kitchen.
Epi breads on October 28:
To the left is a potato foccacia, similar to this 2011 recipe. What’s interesting to me is that recipe uses volume, not weight. I don’t bake using volume anymore. At some point I need to go back and figure out when the approach changed, and whether it was an overnight thing or if using weights was gradually phased in. [Late edit: The answer is further down this post.]
The epi breads used 150 grams of flour each. (This recipe, raising the oven temperature to 450F.) They really had a lot of oven spring this time. I’m guessing that the epi were allowed to rest a little longer after shaping, increasing the existing holes for steam to push up and out. I’d still like more contrast in color, other than that I’m pretty happy with them.
Next up, bread sticks on November 2:
There are two or three recipes here-
The sticks on the left use bread flour and 57% hydration. I rolled the 200 gram dough mass out to about 1/4″ thick, sliced it into ~1/3″ wide strips, twisted the strips, placed them on a Silpat, and baked at 450F for 22 minutes. They came out nice and crispy.
The sticks on the right were treated identically, except that I lightly dusted the dough mass with semolina flour for extra crunch. They didn’t need the extra crunch, but the semolina did offer a little bit different taste and texture.
I added about four tablespoons of butter to the sticks in the center. The 400 gram bulk dough was divided into about eight pieces and rolled out. These were intended for sopping up the sauce Iron Chef Leftovers had included with dinner. (Many Iron Chef Leftover dinners involve something awesome that needs sopping at the end of the meal.)
This batch comes at about the 5 year mark of messing with breadsticks. I was fairly happy with how they all came out, so that’s progress.
[Late edit: On the linked post it says: “This is the first time I’ve done a recipe using weights instead of volumes.” Mystery Solved!]
I think I’ve gone through some broad baking trends since 2011: increasing temperatures, decreasing hydration, decreasing oil, slightly increasing salt, more preference for a room temperature rise vs a refrigerator rise. Total abandonment of using volume and English measurements. (Thankfully, look at the tortured math in the link.) In other words, the baking is moving from a Reinhardt influence to a Hamelman influence, but that’s a long blog post in itself.
Finally, a big, goofy, pretzel necklace on November 8:
The pretzels would have looked better if I would have rolled them out thinner. The flipside is that they had enough durability to tolerate being worn on a string. It’s basically this recipe, except that the egg wash was only yolks thinned with a little water. That, and they were baked at 460F, which is the temperature that Hamelman uses for many of the doughs in his book. Each change was intended to produce a darker end result. A little more color would have been nice, but they tasted good, which is the main point of the thing anyway.
As Iron Chef Leftovers said: “It’s a Flavor Flav pretzel necklace!”
by A.J. Coltrane
Attempt #2 at Epi bread:
It’s basically just a baguette recipe: 400g Bread Flour, 240g water (60%), 9g kosher salt (2.25%) 3/4 tsp instant yeast. 425F oven for 22 minutes.
The shape is better this time around. Each Epi contains less flour — 200 grams (1/2 lb) of flour per epi. (Instead of 300 grams of flour as in Take One.)
I think maybe the “right” answer is 150 grams of flour per 18″ Epi. Baking at 450F and adding malt might help the appearance as well.
Still. Better this time. “Better” is good.
by A.J. Coltrane
1st attempt at Epi de Blé (sheaf of wheat):
The finished result is a long way from the “flower of wheat” idealized form. (Search “epi bread” for examples.)
The recipe is basically a standard baguette dough that is cut with scissors. I used 300 grams of flour for the dough. That was too much. As a guess, 200 grams would have made a thinner, more “graceful” epi.
Recommended temperatures run between 400F and 450F. I went with 425F for 20 minutes, which seemed to work out ok.
The Verdict: It’s a nice pull-apart bread for dinner or a crowd. The shape creates a high ratio of crust, so there are more crunchy bits to go around. It’s easy, attractive, and festive. I’ll be making this again soon, and probably a bunch of times through the holidays.
by A.J. Coltrane
A big batch of pretzels:
Using this recipe:
400g bread flour, 220g water (55% baker’s percentage), 10g (2.5% bp) salt (does not including the finishing salt), 4g diastatic malt (1% bp), 20g unsalted butter (5% bp), 1 tsp yeast.
It’s the same ratios as the 2nd Pass — everything was doubled this time. (All the more reason to use Baker’s Percentage when baking.)
Each pretzel used 1/2 of the recipe, so each one contained basically 1/2 lb of flour. Everything on the counter represents a little over 6 pounds of flour, almost 10 pounds of ingredients in total. The oven has enough room to bake two at a time, so I was starting a new batch every 20 minutes. Two in the oven, two proofing on the counter covered in egg wash, two resting before shaping, two being shaped, and two in the mixer. It was an assembly line.
I finally got the “classic pretzel shape” right. I’m not sure what I was thinking before. I doubt I’ve ever really looked at a pretzel I guess.
All that, and we discovered that we couldn’t bring them into the beer event, so they got to hang out in the car.
by A.J. Coltrane
The malt powder arrived today. Time for a 2nd attempt.
The recipe from the 1st attempt: 200g bread flour, 102g water (51% baker’s percentage), 6g (3% bp) salt (does not including the finishing salt), 1/2 tsp yeast.
Tonight’s recipe: 200g bread flour, 110g water (55% baker’s percentage), 5g (2.5% bp) salt (does not including the finishing salt), 2g diastatic malt (1% bp), 10g unsalted butter (5% bp), 1/2 tsp yeast.
TLDR; Less salt, more water, and I added malt and butter. The recipe is now sort of an aggregate of Beranbaum and Hamelman.
The Beranbaum recipe calls for 400F. Hamelman calls for 450F. I decided to make two batches, one at 425F and one at 450F:
The two on the top were baked at 450F for 16 minutes. The two on the bottom were baked at 425F for 14 minutes. The lower temperature and shorter time was enough to cook the pretzels, but the color still wasn’t as deep as I’d like. Even the 450F batch darkened quite a bit in the extra two minutes it was given.
The other mini-experiment was an egg white wash vs a “whole” egg wash. The two on the left got the egg white wash, the two on the right used “whole” eggs. I couldn’t really tell a difference either in appearance or texture (bite).
All in all, every change seemed to be an improvement. Now it’s time to try making some really large pretzels and see how that goes.
by A.J. Coltrane
The first pass at pretzels:
It’s a variation on the Preztel Bread recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible. I didn’t use malt or the optional butter, and I used egg white instead of lye. (I didn’t and don’t feel like messing with lye.) The I may go out tomorrow and find malt — I doubt the finished color will be as dark as I’m looking for without it.
The “recipe”: 200g bread flour, 102g water (51% baker’s percentage), 6g (3% bp) salt (does not including the finishing salt), 1/2 tsp yeast. Knead for eight minutes. Let rest for 20 minutes then cut the ball into two pieces.
Roll each piece out into a 22″ log. Shape into preztels. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.
Combine one egg white with 1/2 tsp water and brush on the pretzels. Brush again with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Preheat the oven and a sheet tray to 400F, add three ice cubes to the preheated tray for steam, and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
I need to try this again using malt and butter. I may also raise the temperature to 450F on the next attempt in the quest for better browning.
by A.J. Coltrane
Breadsticks for the recent Belgian Beer Fest, somewhat overexposed:
The Formula (I made 3 batches): 400 grams all-purpose flour, 240 grams cool water (60%), 10 grams kosher salt (2.5%), 8 grams olive oil (2%), 1/4 tsp instant yeast.
- Mix on low speed 10 minutes. Transfer to an oil-coated bowl, lightly coat the dough with oil. Cover. Refrigerate 1-3 days. (I put these in the fridge on Thursday night and pulled them out of the refrigerator at 5 am for an 11 am departure time. I had some time left over, but that’s better than transporting them hot and steamy.)
- Remove from the refrigerator and allow to warm up for 1.5 – 2 hours. (I then slept in until 7 am.)
- Lightly oil the counter if needed to prevent sticking, then pat the dough out to a 12″ wide by 8″ tall rectangle. The dough will be close to 3/8″ thick.
- Sprinkle your “enhancements” onto the rectangle. I used a little bit of all of: Himalayan Pink Salt, Sea Salt, Cracked Black Pepper, and Semolina. Parmesan would work. So would sesame seeds. Or herbs. Tons of possibilities.
- Use a pizza cutter to cut into 8 pieces, top to bottom, about 1-1/2″ wide. Each piece is now 1-1/2″ x 8″. OR:
- Use a pizza cutter to cut into 1″ wide pieces. Each piece will be 1″ x 8″.
- Twist each piece and place on a Silpat lined sheet tray. When I did mine the pieces “grew” another 3-4 inches, making them almost as long as the 13″ width of the sheet tray.
- Cover with a towel and let rest 1 hour.
The thicker doughs were baked at 425F for 22 minutes. The thinner doughs were baked at 450F for 17 minutes.
The breadsticks came out crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The twisting meant that all of the “enhancement” ingredients were mixed through the dough; it made the breadsticks more interesting and added crunch (semolina) to the interior. It also gave the breadsticks natural “breaking” points. I think I liked the skinny ones a little bit better, but that could have just been personal preference.
Overall it’s an easy, versatile recipe. Using the refrigerator for a slow rise means that the dough can be mixed up to 3 days ahead — the dough will wait. If the breadsticks are being served with dinner cut the salt back to ~2% — the 2.5% salt was intended to stand up to the bold flavors of the beer and help cleanse the palate.