A “Sampler” Heirloom Wheat Loaf

We had company over last night for board games. I baked a loaf of heirloom wheats so that everyone could try and compare the varieties side by side:

(L-R) Red Fife, Rogue de Bordeaux, Turkey Red, Sonora White

I decided on a combination loaf because I thought that would be easy to bake into a reasonably good and consistent result and it would eliminate variables that could happen if I baked all four little breads individually. The sections tasted distinctive, which was my one concern going in.

I started by milling 150 grams of each wheat berry. (Each process repeats four times, once for each variety.) I then combined in a tupperware 100 grams of a flour variety with 100 grams of cold water and a faint pinch of yeast as a poolish. I put the “extra” 50 grams of flour into another tupperware. I refrigerated both overnight then pulled them out in the morning to warm up.

In the morning I added the reserved 50 grams of flour to the poolish along with 3 grams of kosher salt (2% salt as a percentage of flour weight) and 1/2 teaspoon of Instant (not Rapid-Rise) yeast. Mix all to combine thoroughly, cover, and let sit one hour. Form the doughs into oblong disks so that all four will fit side-by-side in a 9″ x 5″ baking pan. Cover. Let rise another 90 minutes, then bake at 450F for 30-35 minutes.

They were definitely distinctive. The Rougue de Bordeaux tastes of cinnamon and spices. The Red Fife is less spicy but also sweeter. The Turkey Red was described as “meaty” or “bold”. The Sonora White is mild by comparison and it’s really intended more for tortillas, but it was a good contrast to the other red wheats.

It was fun introducing people to bread like they’d never experienced. I think next time it’ll be four (or just two) full-sized loaves — two loaves would be way less fiddly and people could literally stick their nose in to smell the aromas.

Herbed Focaccia With Poolish

One of our holiday traditions is attending a pot luck / lasagna party hosted by a good friend of ours. I’ll typically make some sort of bread. (Search the bottom of the webpage for “epi”, “focaccia” or “fougasse” for some examples.) This year it was a festive herbed focaccia created using a room-temperature overnight poolish as the base:

One day ahead I started the poolish: 800 grams of bread flour. 800 grams cool water. A few grains of Instant (not fast-acting) Dry Yeast, about 1/16 teaspoon. Mix thoroughly, cover tightly, and let sit on the counter overnight.

The next steps need to start at least 6-8 hours before consumption. Most of it is hands-off, but all up it comes out to over four hours of preparation + cooling.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine 200 grams of bread flour, 2 teaspoons of Instant Dry Yeast, 30 grams olive oil, 20 grams kosher salt. Mix that briefly then add the poolish and mix on low speed for 8 minutes. Cover.

The total baker’s percentage formula comes out to 1000g flour, 800 grams water (80% hydration), 30 grams olive oil (3% of the flour weight), 20 grams kosher salt (2% of the flour weight), yeast.

Bulk rise until doubled in volume – this will take 1 – 2+ hours depending upon the temperature of the house.

Once doubled transfer the dough to a parchment-lined-and-oiled 18 x 13 sheet tray.

Lightly coat the top of the dough with olive oil.

Using your fingers, poke the dough all over down to the base.

Sprinkle on fresh herbs of your choice. I used rosemary and thyme from our raised garden beds. Which were buried under snow, so that took a couple of extra minutes to pick through for good stuff.

Cover the dough and start the oven preheating to 450F.

Let rise one hour. Sprinkle the dough with flakey (Maldon’s) salt.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 200F and the bread is pleasantly browned.

Another cell phone pic taken at the event. I cut it into squares to make self-serving easy.

Notes:

I accidently let the bulk rise much more than double. Between that and the starter poolish the dough was extremely loose and extensible. I sort of had to wrestle it into shape using a generous amount of oil to keep it from sticking to everything. Given a more correct rise time the dough should have been much more manageable.

I liked the festive appearance and the focaccia got nice feedback. I can see making this one again, though I think I may use a biga next time with the idea that it may make the dough more manageable in the shaping stage.

Bonus No Knead pic:

Day Of The Dead Focaccia

A simple focaccia for a Day Of The Dead Party-

The topping is olive oil, zaatar, and Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.

The hydration is 75%, which is not on the high end for a focaccia — the dough is sticky but can be handled with wet or oiled hands.

The formula:

  1. 800 grams King Arthur Bread Flour, 600 grams cold water, 16 grams kosher salt, 2 teaspoons Instant (not rapid-rise) yeast.
  2. Mix the dough for 8 minutes on low speed, then cover and move to the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The refrigerator step can be skipped if crunched for time, though the focaccia will taste better after an extended cold fermentation.
  3. Remove from the refrigerator at least 4-5 hours before you intend to serve the bread.
  4. As the dough returns to room temperature: About every 30 minutes to one hour work around the bowl, lift the dough from the sides and push/drop the dough back towards the center, taking care not to pull so hard that the dough tears.
  5. When the dough is near room temperature remove it from the bowl and place it on a baking sheet lined with oil-coated parchment paper. 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil should be plenty to coat the parchment. Spread out the dough without tearing it into a round/oval shape towards the edges of the sheet tray. If the dough fights back wait five minutes and try again.
  6. Cover (I use another inverted sheet tray) and let rise one hour. If using zaatar mix 4 tablespoons with 4 tablespoons olive oil and let it rest and hydrate.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425F. Using the tips of your fingers, dimple the dough all over, pushing down to the sheet tray. Spread a liberal amount of olive oil over the top, then top with the zaatar and a “healthy” sprinkle of flake salt. Cover and let rise one hour.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 425F, then remove to a cooling rack, taking care not to spill any residual oil on yourself or other things you’re attached to. If during baking the bottom of the dough is getting too dark add a second sheet tray underneath the first. For this bake I used two sheet trays for the entire time.

The focaccia was served at a friend’s house with a Day of the Dead menu and beer theme and the bread was a big hit — the zaatar “face” motif didn’t last very long. This focaccia would also be good if substituting other herbs or cheese for the zaatar — I was targeting a sort of scary pumpkin face sort of thing, and zaatar tastes good and stands up to other strong flavors which made it a good choice for this event.

I’ve made many focaccias and I’ve come the the conclusion that the most important element is patience. The bread will be fine without the long refrigerator rise or extra folds and multiple rises, but I think the end result is better when it isn’t rushed. Because this was a weeknight bread I brought the dough to work and stored it in the refrigerator there, then removed it around to my desk at 2:30pm to start warming up for a 7:00 dinner. Many recipes will call for “one hour out of the refrigerator then proceed…” , but that never seems like enough time for the dough to warm up to room temperature and the later rises don’t wind up very satisfactory. Give it time.

Four New (Old) Heirloom Wheat Berries. And a Boule.

In April I purchased four varieties of heirloom wheat berries from Breadtopia: Turkey Red, Rouge de Bordeaux, Sonora White, and Red Fife. UPS caused a bit of a hang-up when they delivered to the wrong address, but the customer service at Breadtopia was top-notch in sorting it out. I’m a happy customer.

I’ve read through both of the books I purchased (Leonti’s Bread Lab and Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads), and I’ve baked a little bit out of both. I’m at the point now that I want to try things that aren’t huge departures from how I’ve been baking to see how the finished products compare. With that in mind, a boule with 50% fresh milled Rouge de Bordeaux and 50% King Arthur Bread Flour:

Another added variable is the new Le Crueset Bread Oven. I’ll likely do a review after a few more bakes but so far I think it’s going to get a lot of use in the future. It was a very thoughtful gift.

Continue reading “Four New (Old) Heirloom Wheat Berries. And a Boule.”

Easy Sandwich Bread With Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Attempt #3. And Leonti’s Flour Lab Yeasted Loaf

First up, the weeknight sandwich bread with whole wheat:

The recipe: 600 grams total flour — 200 grams whole wheat (the picture above utilizes freshly milled hard red winter wheat), 400 grams bread flour (King Arthur), 420 grams room temperature water (70% hydration),12 grams kosher salt (2% of total flour weight), 1.5 teaspoons instant yeast.

  1. Place the whole wheat flour in the mixing bowl. Combine with all of the water and let rest and hydrate for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix on low speed for 8 minutes.
  3. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Fold the dough so that it will fit into a 9″ x 5″ bread pan. I used a fair amount of surface tension, which may have helped the dough rise evenly.
  5. Cover and let rise for two hours. At the 90-minute mark set the oven to 425F
  6. Slash the dough down the center.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes covered with another upside-down bread pan. Remove the cover and bake for another 35 minutes.

So it’s totally doable after work, assuming you get home at a reasonable time. All-up it’s about 4.5 – 5 hours and most of that is hands-off.

Continue reading “Easy Sandwich Bread With Fresh Milled Whole Wheat Attempt #3. And Leonti’s Flour Lab Yeasted Loaf”

Easy Sandwich Bread With Whole Wheat — 2nd Attempt

At least from an appearance standpoint, this one is closer to the truth:

The recipe was similar to the first attempt, but this time I gave it more total flour, yeast, and time.

The recipe:

375 grams bread flour, 125 grams (fresh milled) hard red winter wheat (500 grams flour total, which gives the following baker’s percentages), 325 grams cool water (65%), 15 grams honey (3%), 20 grams oil (4%), 10 grams kosher salt (2%), 1 tsp instant yeast.

Continue reading “Easy Sandwich Bread With Whole Wheat — 2nd Attempt”

The Mockmill 200 And Starting Up Baking With Whole Grains

I recently purchased a Mockmill 200 as well as four varieties of wheat berries. I also got a couple of books so that I wouldn’t be completely reinventing the wheel while trying to learn new skills for baking breads.

For me, the purchase decision on the grain mill came down to the Mockmill 200 or a Komo. When researching the choices they seemed to be fairly even in terms of performance and quality — there are a whole bunch of sites that review and compare the two. I settled on the Mockmill partly due to appearance, and partly due to an aggregate of thoughts from reading about the “pros” and “cons” of each, though frankly there was a good amount of conflicting / contrasting information on both. My feeling is that they’re both quality products and I’m not sure there’s really a “wrong” decision.

A picture from the Breadtopia site.
Continue reading “The Mockmill 200 And Starting Up Baking With Whole Grains”

Joy of Cooking Gingerbread House Recipe – Step by Step

Note the little window box on the left. It’s a Kit Kat with bits of gummy. We were pretty pleased with how that came out. I like the snowman too — neither of the snowman nor the window box were my contributions. I contributed the oddly shaped tree.

The Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Gingerbread House recipe. I chose this recipe because it seemed to be the simplest dough, or, at least the dough that was the most similar to something that I was familiar with. I treated the house-pieces as crackers and I think that “grounding” helped.

The dough recipe begins with 1 cup (2 sticks) butter melted over low heat. Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup unsulfured molasses and stir until the sugar dissolves. Let cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl whisk together 4-1/2 cups AP flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, and (I left these out) 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Make a well in the center and mix in the wet ingredients. Add another 1/2 cup AP flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Knead on the counter a few times, wrap in plastic, and move to the refrigerator to fully cool for up to 3 days. I removed the dough from the refrigerator 1 hour before rolling out — I’d suggest allowing 3-4 hours for the dough to come to room temperature instead.

Note: I found this dough too grainy and loose to knead, so I added a couple of tablespoons of water. Interestingly, the recipe thinks the dough may already be too wet and calls for adding more flour if needed…

Continue reading “Joy of Cooking Gingerbread House Recipe – Step by Step”