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Saturday, 17 August 2013

Rye Swirl Bread

Since I've now finished my Julie & Julia trip through Daniel Leader's "Local Breads" I will now make breads on a whim, choosing from any of the books I have, online recipes I've saved, or recipes people have given me.  It's not that I didn't do this before, but now there's just 'no next recipe in the book' to move on to.  That said, there are plenty I will make on a regular basis - pain au levain (must have made this about a million times), Auvergne dark rye, blue cheese and rye loaves, alpine baguettes . . . . . so many wonderful breads to revisit.  Then there are all the yeasted ones I glossed over that I'd like to remake using sourdough.  So much bread, so little time!

Anyway, while leafing through my bread books (Dean Brettshneider's book "Global Baker") this loaf immediately caught my eye - such a spectacular looking crumb!  So sort of make it I did.  Well when I say sort of, I used the basic idea in the recipe, but not the recipe itself.  For starters the recipe is yeasted, 2nd it had molasses it in which I don't particularly like (well that said, I had one bad experience with back-strap molasses and haven't gone back, but maybe I just need to try again), and it also used caraway which my friends don't particularly like.  So I used the same recipe I made last week (Polish cottage rye), and split the dough in two.

Mr Brettschneider's recipe made two batches of dough (200g of flour in each) essentially the same, except the dark rye dough had twice as much molasses as the light as well as 15g of cocoa powder for colour.   I split mine in two after kneading but before fermenting, but stupidly forgot to add in the cocoa, so folded it in by hand during the fermentation.  It started off a bit swirly and my hands were brown and oily, but we eventually got there!

Dough layers pressed together
So once the dough had fermented the shaping fun began.  Each dough was split into two equal pieces - so you have 4 pieces of dough, two light and two dark.  Each piece was flattened into a rectangle and the dark dough placed on top of the light dough and tightly rolled together to form two logs.  The logs were placed seam side down into 2 loaf tins, covered with plastic bags and left to proof for a couple of hours at RT.

Doughs rolled together
In loaf tin
Prior to baking (oven preheated to 210°C), the loaves are slashed once straight down the middle of the loaves lengthwise.  Baked with a handful of ice cubes for 25mins.


I think my loaves were slightly under-proofed so had a lot of spring in the oven, plus I think I slashed them too deeply, and should have only made one big loaf as I think the swirls got a bit distorted.  Also the dough recipe I used probably wasn't the most ideal as it was a very soft, delicate dough, and something slightly firmer would have suited better.  Mr Brettschneider's dough was at 60% hydration (175g AP flour, 75g rye, 150g water), whereas the one I used was 65% excluding the large volume of rye starter.  Still looked pretty cool, will send to YeastSpotting, but would like to get it looking better!

As per the original dough made last week, the bread had nice flavour, and the cocoa was not noticeable in the taste.
Happiness is making bread!!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

"Local Breads" - Polish Cottage Rye (Wiejski chelba)

This is the very last recipe in "Local Bread" which means I have made all the breads in the book - not bad considering the book is 327 pages long!  My intention was to blog about each bread, but some of the Italian breads I didn't particularly love (mostly because they were yeasted, and I'm really only interested in making sourdough bread), and consequently didn't write up, as the website I was initially using to post all my endeavours was really for sourdough bread only.  So maybe I might go back through and find the ones I didn't like and convert them to sourdough and see how they turn out.

So this polish rye.  I have just checked through my notebook, and it would seem I didn't make any notes whilst making this bread, and since I never seem to have enough time on the weekend I make the bread to write about it, and I made this one back in August, I can't remember a great deal!  Hopeless!

I've just turned the page in the book and have found I made my notes on the recipe page!  Doh!

This bread uses 380g of rye sourdough starter, which is a lot more than most breads use (generally about 150-200g starter for a couple of loaves), and Mr Leader does mention in his preamble to the recipe that he has included a 'build' step to increase the amount of rye sourdough, but unless I'm even more stupid than I've already made out above, I can't for the life of me find it in his recipe!  That notwithstanding, my notes indicate that I fed my fridge starter (about 60g) by adding 200g water and 200g fine rye flour to start this loaf off (at 3pm Saturday afternoon).  Enough for the recipe and some to put back in the fridge for next time.

Rye starter ready to roll!
Sunday morning, I then used my nice bubbly rye starter (he is always SO very happy after being fed, bubbly, smelling wonderful, eager for business!) to make the bread:

380g starter after overnight feeding (put the remainder back in the fridge)
325g tepid water
500g bread flour
10g salt

Given the intro to this loaf said it was the darkest, most rustic of Polish rye breads, I was exceedingly surprised the dough did not contain any rye flour!  But follow the recipe I did.

I kneaded the dough using my Kitchen Aid on speed #4 for about 12mins.  I did stop and scrape down the hook a couple of times as it was a pretty sticky dough.  I also kept a careful eye on the machine as had just had my floor repaired from when it bounced off and broke a couple of my floor boards!  The KA was just fine, nothing broken, but the wooden floor clearly couldn't handle the beast falling on to it!

At 8.30am the dough was put in an oiled bowl and left to ferment at RT but in order to make my bread work around my day, I put the dough in the fridge at 10.30am so I could go out for a few hours.  At 3.00pm I removed it from the fridge, and let warm up at RT for another couple of hours.

This is a very soft dough, light, springy and delicate - maybe because of the amount of rye starter used? 

I preshaped into one big round let rest for 15mins, then did my final shaping and placed it into my banetton, put the banetton inside a plastic bag and left at RT to proof.  And there my notes stop!  So I have no idea how long I let it proof for!?  I would imagine it was 1.5-2hrs, or until it had increased in size by at least 1.5times.  My rye starter has plenty of oompff, so sometimes it takes a little less time than this.  but if the dough was still relatively cool after its ferment in the fridge, it might have taken a little longer.

Dough proofed, ready to slash and bake

I have a clay tile in my oven, and my oven is very special needs and slow to heat up, so an hour before I'm ready to bake I turned the oven to 230°C to heat up.  This allows enough time for the stone to fully heat up.

I covered my bakers peel with a sheet of baking paper, placed this over the banetton and gently inverted the banetton to tip out the dough.  I slashed the loaf 5 times in a rough start pattern, and then slid it into the oven, along with a handful of ice cubes and baked for 50 mins until nice and golden brown (with a turn around at half time).

Baked loaf

Crumb shots

This was nice bread,  nothing startling, but nice.  I still think I prefer the Zitny chelba for flavour, despite the large amount of rye starter in this.  Maybe I would try swapping out some of the bread flour for rye in the dough to see how much that alters the taste.  Would definitely make again and will send to YeastSpotting!

Happiness is making bread!!



Sunday, 4 August 2013

Rolled Oat and Apple Bread

I've been so busy working my way through Daniel Leader's book "Local Breads" that I've scarcely been making any other breads that his.  However last weekend I decided to break from the mould and go a bit crazy - I made a bread fom Dan Lepard's book "The art of handmade bread".  I can't tell you why I decided on this particular loaf, maybe it branched from the success of using grains in my Zitny Chelba pop-top loaves a couple of weekends back, or maybe it was the lovely looking apples I'd just bought, or maybe even the Bircher muesli I'd had for breakfast during the week?  Anywho, make it I did . . . . and yes I kind of think it is a bit like a Bircher muesli bread!

I refreshed my liquid levain for the first time in ages - the last time I hadn't used it in ages it was a bit on the whiffy side and I ended up chucking the loaf as the loaf was also a bit whiffy and didn't rise that well, so I then fed it twice more and it sparked into bubbly life and came good again.  Lesson learnt - fed it more often or make bread from it more often!  This time after feeding it was full of life and not in the slightest bit whiffy :)

50g starter + 100g water + 125g flour - mix together and let ferment for at least 12 hours at RT, or until nice and bubbly.

My scales were still stuffed so I had to do all my measuring using cups again!  Note to self - must try a new battery in my scales, or get a new set!

1/2c rolled oats (50g)                          1.75c bread flour (250g)
6Tbsp boiling water (100g)                    3/4 tsp salt
1.25c grated apple (200g)                     egg wash  
3Tbsp water extra (50g)                      fine oats for finishing
1c starter (100g)                                (3/4tsp fresh yeast)*

First up I soaked the rolled oats in the boiling water, then grated the apple.  The recipe said to peel the apple, but I think you lose the best bits doing that so left the skin intact.  The apples I am currently eating are called Ambrosia.  They are a delicately, sweet, crisp apple full of summer (even though it is August - it is a bit scary how they keep apples fresh for so long), not unlike a Gala, but perhaps not so sweet.

Mixed the apple, levain, second measure of water and soaked oats, then stirred through so it was well mixed.  Then I added in the flour and salt, and mixed till a rough dough formed.  Covered it with a plastic bag and let sit for about 20mins.  The dough was still super sticky after the autolyse so I added more flour until it felt right (total about 2.5c).  This maybe due to the jucyness of the apples, or the fact I was using cups instead of weights? 

I oiled the bench and kneaded the dough for 10 secs, then covered and rested about 10mins then kneaded again.  Placed the dough ball into and oiled bowl, covered with a plastic bag and let it ferment at RT.  I gave it a stretch and fold after 2.5hrs.  The let ferment another 1.25hrs.

* I didn't add any yeast to the dough.

On a lightly floured bench top I shaped the dough into a rough round, covered and let rest for about 10mins, then did my final shaping.  I tipped it smooth side down into my round banneton that had been sprinkled with blitzed rolled oats (so they were fine in texture).  The banneton and loaf were popped inside a plastic bag to proof at RT for 1.5hrs.

Dough shaped and ready to proof

The oven (and baking stone) was preheated to 210°C.  I turned the loaf out of the banneton onto  my peel covered with a sheet of baking paper, slashed the loaf in a "star" type arrangement, and slid it into the oven followed by a handful of ice-cubes for steam.  Baked the loaf for a total of 50mins with a turn around at half time.

Out of the banneton and onto the baking paper covered peel

Slashed ready to bake

Now that I read the instructions, I see I was supposed to drop the oven temp down to 190°C after 30mins, which I neglected to do!  Never mind, the loaf turned out very well :).


The loaf had a distinctive apple flavour, but saying that it wasn't overly sweet.  The combination of soaked oats and apple gave it a spectacularly moist crumb, without being heavy or stodgy. 

Moist crumb

It was a wonderfully flavoured bread, that unfortunately made me keep slicing off pieces, smearing them with butter and eating them!  I did give a good half dozen slices to a friend, and I'm sure if I hadn't troughed it down like a starving waif the loaf would have stayed fresh for the better part of a week!

Was ever so nice with or without butter!
I'm not sure why you would want to add yeast to this dough if you have a perfectly working levain, and the resultant loaf certainly wouldn't have benefitted from its addition.  The fermentation and proofing steps are just a bit longer is all.

Very delicious bread that I would make again in a flash!

"Local Breads" - Dark Silesian Rye (Chelba)

Despite it's name, this bread isn't all that dark or rye-y!  It definitely has more rye flour in it than the light version preceding it, but still . . .

100% rye starter fed as follows - 50g rye starter + 100g rye flour + 100g water, mixed together and left to ferment at RT for at least 12 hours.

Note: The rye flour used for this bread is all fine grade.

My scales were on the blink when I went to make this bread, so sadly I had to make all my measurements but the cup, which was less than ideal, but worked out just fine.  It made me pay attention to how the dough felt, which was a good thing.

I used all but about 1/4c of my rye starter (200g), added in 1.5c (300g) tepid water and then mushed my starter into the water.  2.25c (350g) bread flour, 1c (150g) rye flour and 2 tsp salt.  Combined this altogether and let autolyse for about 1/2hr, then did my usual 10 kneads 3 times over 1/2-3/4hr (on an oiled bench).  It then fermented in an oiled bowl for 2.25hrs at RT.

I was supposed to shape it into a round, but instead used my long banneton, as had decided to cut it in half and give it to a couple of my staff at work.  So shaped into a round first, then let rest, the shaped into a long baton and placed in my banneton that had been lightly coated with rye flour.  The banneton was them put inside a plastic bag and popped in the fridge (as I had plans for the early evening and wouldn't be home in time to bake it had I left it at RT).
Shaped and ready to proof

So the loaf proofed in the fridge for about3.5hrs then at RT for another hour before baking at 210C for 50mins.  As per the light Silesian rye, I was supposed to scatter this with caraway seeds prior to baking, then brush with water after baking, but I did neither of these.  I did however slash the loaf 5x horizontally prior to baking.

 Baked loaf
I didn't get to taste this loaf as gave both halves away, but  both staff members did comment on how nice it was.  Who knows . . . . maybe they were just being polite?!  To be honest, I'm sure it was a perfectly nice loaf, maybe I'll make it again another day to try myself.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

"Local Breads" - Light Silesian Rye (Chelba)

Now we're on to the final couple of loaves in Daniel Leader's book "Local Breads" and we're in Poland.  This loaf is traditionally scattered with caraway seeds, but the friends I was baking it for don't like them, so I left them out.  The recipe called for white rye flour, and the closest thing I could find is a very fine ground rye flour.  It is very light and mild in flavour, so I thought it would do the trick nicely.

Using 50g of the rye starter in my fridge I fed it with 100g of fine rye flour and 100g of water and let it ferment at RT for 24 hours.  The recipe calls for 200g of starter, but only gave you instructions to make 200g = nothing left for next time, so I upped the quantities to create an extra 50g for a rainy day!

200g starter + 300g water + 500g bread flour + 10g salt (+ 5g instant yeast which I left out).  All of this mixed together (I always put in starter first, then mush it in with the water, flour on top, then salt last) until it formed a shaggy dough.  I let this sit for about 1/2hr to autolyse, then kneaded for about 10secs every 15mins 3 times (on oiled bench and put in an oiled bowl covered with a plastic bag in between).  It fermented in the bowl for another 2 hours with a fold after 1hr.

The dough was divided into 2 equal portions and shaped into rounds then rolled into a sort of blunt ended bullet about 6 inches long with rounded ends.  These proofed in my "couche" in the fridge for a while, then on an ice pack in the back of the car (I was away for the weekend and visiting friends on the way to another friend for dinner, and didn't want to bake it until I got there!) and was finally baked about 4 hours later!

I was very nervous they were going to be over-proofed, but the looked just fine when I uncovered them - phew!

My friend had preheated her oven for me to 200C (no baking stone, but there was a heavy metal tray in the oven in its stead), and the loaves were baked for only about 30mins, although I would have needed 40mins in my oven.  Oh, I also slashed them with about 5 parallel cuts straight across the loaves.

Chelba baked
Theoretically prior to baking the loaves should have been brushed with water and sprinkled with caraway seeds - not this time for me though.  And also brushed again with water after baking to give a shiny crust . . . . yep you guessed it, I didn't do this either!

Allegedly they can be stored for about 5 days in a paper bag at RT, but these were eaten for dinner that very same evening! :)

As you would expect with a white loaf using rye starter, the flavour was very mild, and I have to say, I preferred the taste of the very similar Zitny Chelba I made the other weekend.

Chelba crumb


Monday, 22 July 2013

Just couldn't stop!

Well after making this recipe (Zitny chleba) last weekend, I have since made twice more during the week, but with a twist!  I decided it would be nice with some grains added to it - sort of like the volkornbrot but not quite.

So I soaked 125g of rolled rye and kibbled rye (about 1/2 of each) in 175g of boiling water - the first time I soaked overnight, the second time for about an hour only.

The test of the recipe was the same more or less, adding in the soaker when I made the dough, and reduced the water in the dough to about 3/4-1c (scales not working).  Both "grain" versions had 2 retardation steps (in the fridge) to work around me doing my real day job.

Both times the dough was refrigerated all day after kneading for the bulk ferment, and then again after shaping for the proof.  I did let the dough warm up for a hours at RT prior to shaping both times.  Once again I slashed in a circle around the shoulder of the loaves, and the oven spring was fabulous!

I didn't get any photos of the crumb of either batch as I gave the first to some friends and took the second lot to work for a shared lunch and they got scoffed before I even thought about it!  VERY tasty, moist crumb, nutty flavour, crusty . . .

. . . . could just about be my new favourite bread!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

"Local Breads" - Czech crescent rolls (Rohlik)

Well these are apparently the Czech equivalent of a NY bagel in popularity.  They are a light, yeasted roll that were a little too easy to keep stuffing into your mouth!

I decided to par-bake these and give them to friends to finishing baking fresh for a breakfast or with dinner whenever it suited them (can be frozen until needed).

300g warm water, 15g instant yeast, 500g bread flour, 50g soft unsalted butter, 15g sugar, 10g salt

Note:- I don't have unsalted butter in the house so used 50g salted butter, and only one heaped tsp of salt (would usually add 2).

All of the above mixed together in a bowl (I always add the water first, sprinkle over the yeast "granules", let them get wet and then add everything else on top) until it turned into a rough dough.  I left it to sit at RT for about 1/2hr to autolyse.  I then kneaded it for a couple of minutes (on an oiled bench with oiled hands) and rested it for about 15mins.  Gave it another knead for a few minutes then let it ferment in covered bowl for about 1.25hrs.

Dough mixed and kneaded, ready to ferment

Recipe said to ferment for 1-1.5hrs or until doubled in volume - mine got about 1.25hrs fermenting time.

Fermented and ready to shape

This was sort of akin to making croissants - but without all the layer upon layer of rolling in butter!  Just the rolling out, cutting into triangles and rolling up!  So, roll the dough out into a big rectangle on a lightly floured bench top - about 8x24 inches (didn't bother converting to cm sorry, just got out my tape measure and used the inches side).  Don't use too much flour, but use enough so the dough doesn't stick to the rolling pin or bench.  Cut the dough in half lengthways, then into 4 inch squares (mine ended up more like rectangles), then each square into a triangle.

Rolled and cut ready to be made into crescents

Stretch each triangle out slightly so the wide edge is about 6 inches long (or roll it  a bit with the rolling pin) then roll the stretched side towards the point, while at the same time gently stretching out the pointed end.  I almost needed another hand to do it all,  Some worked out better than others, and I figured they'd taste the same no matter how they looked!  Once rolled, ensure the point is tucked under, curve the ends inwards to make a crescent shape and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  I needed two trays to fit all the rolls.

Brush the rolls with a little water and sprinkle over poppy seeds or sesame seeds mixed with a little sea salt.  Cover the trays with a plastic bag and let proof for about 45mins until expanded and pillowy.

I rearranged my oven racks so I could fit both trays in at one time, heated the oven to 180°C and then baked the rolls for about 10mins only (with steam).  I didn't completely cook them all as gave them away par-baked to friends.  They had started to colour, and the outside was slightly firm at the end of the 10mins.  I did however let a few cook for about 10mins longer until slightly golden. 

Par-baked rolls with a couple of fully baked ones on top


Even though I'm not a big fan of yeasted breads, these rolls were so light and small and easy to slice open, stuff in a smaller slather of butter and pop into your mouth!  I probably ate more of them than I ought, but they were so warm and smelling lovely and freshly baked I couldn't help myself!

If you made a sourdough version of these I'm not convinced they'd be great, but maybe I'll give them a go one day.  Despite being yeasted these were cute and tasty enough!

"Local Breads" - Czech Country Bread (Zitny chleba)

Well I had a HUGE day in the bread kitchen this weekend!  Made 4 different breads, have given them all away, and would love to do the same again tomorrow . . . . . too bad I have to go and earn my keep!

I made this first bread in the Czech chapter last weekend, and made it as per the recipe (including the yeast), docked the loaf instead of slashing . . and was very disappointed with the result.  The docking didn't allow for the big oven spring I usually get, so it split as well as being hampered by it's tight skin.  It tasted just fine, just didn't look very interesting.  So I decided to revisit it this weekend, leave out the yeast and slash to my heart's content!  And yes, I got a much better result!

So to the recipe:

Fed my rye starter at 10.30pm Friday night - 50g starter + 100g water + 75g rye flour.  Left it at room temperature overnight, and it ended up sitting there all day as well, as I left house to go for a walk with the dog at 10am, but didn't end up getting home until 8pm!  No I wasn't walking the dog the entire day, but ended up visiting friends, staying for dinner etc. so into the fridge the rye starter went at 8pm.

150g rye starter, 300g tepid water, 400g bread flour, 100g rye flour (fine), and about 14g salt (recipe also calls for 5g yeast, but I gave that a miss) - mixed this all together in a bowl until formed a rough dough, then covered with a plastic bag and let sit for about 30mins to autolyse.

My day got interrupted yet again by a walk around Panmure basin with friends and dogs, so the dough only got a couple of 10sec kneads before I had to head out the door.  It rested about 15mins between kneads.  And got to relax in a bowl inside a plastic bag whilst I was out getting some air and exercise.

(Theses photos are from the first take making this bread last weekend.  Only the last couple of photos are from today.)
Dough fermenting
At 12.30pm on my return it got another knead, back in the covered bowl, folded about an hour later, then at 2.15pm I shaped it into 2 boules.  The dough hadn't risen that much during fermentation, but on slicing into 2, there were nice bubbles in the dough.  The boules rested in my couche at RT until about 4.30pm.
Shaped and ready to proof

Sprinkled with rye flour ready to bake
The oven was heated to 210C an hour prior to baking.  I slashed the loaves in a circle around the "shoulder", just for something a bit different.  I haven't yet found the ideal way to slash round loaves.  Last weekend I slashed a pain de champagne doing a sort of branched pattern down the loaf, but the slashes weren't big enough as the loaf burst through, and ended up a really ugly shape, so didn't want to try that again.  I have only slashed around in a circle when I made an Auvergne couronne, so was expecting a similar result.

Docked loaves from last weekend - see the splits/tears

The loaves were baked for a total of 40mins (with 5 ice cubes thrown in at the beginning for steam), with a rotate at half time.  This time around I got a fabulous oven spring and my loaves completely popped their tops!  I think they look super cute.

My popped tops from this weekend
You almost wouldn't think they were the same recipe.  Admittedly I did use quite a coarse rye flour last weekend and a fine one this weekend, so my dough was a bit of a different texture.  I haven't cut one of these open yet, so will how the crumb looks tomorrow morning.  One of them got given to a friend and I have kept one for myself to compare it to last weekends effort.
Today I also baked the 4 pain au levain I started last night when I got home - 2 had linseed, 2 plain.  This pain au levain is pretty much my favourite and most often baked bread.  All 4 loaves were given to friends tonight on a neighbourhood bread run at about 6pm.  I just love making bread!
Not a bad looking day's work!

PS. here is the crumb shot taken the following morning:

Decided to send this one off to Yeast Spotting on - cheers Susan!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

"Local Breads" - Baviarian Pretzels (Laugenbrezeln)

I haven't had a decent Brez'n since living in Munich, and the next bread in the book is this very thing!  Every bakery in Munich made Laugenbrezeln and they were part of the traditional breakfast in Munich - weisswurst, brez'n, sweet mustard and weizenbier.  I wasn't much of a weizenbier drinker, especially not for breakfast, but give me the rest anytime!  Brez'n are also great with a beer (and definitely a favourite when in a biergarten) the salted crust makes you want to drink more bier and then you want to eat while you're drinking  . . . . . . and so it goes on . . . . .

This recipe isn't sourdough, but I'm sure I could convert it for next time.  So first time round I made it as per the recipe provide by Mr Leader :)

500G bread flour
40g cold butter (supposedly unsalted, but I don't stock that)
300g tepid water
5g instant yeast
15g salt

Rub the butter into the flour using your hands or paddle on stand mixer (I started doing it by hand then thought 'stuff this' and shoved it on the mixer!), until its nice and crumbly.  I soaked the yeast in the water until it softened then added this and the salt to the flour.  Kneaded it for about 10mins on speed #4 until it was smooth and pliable.

Once kneaded the dough was fermented in an oiled bowl covered with a plastic bag at room temp for about 1.5hrs.  I checked the dough after the prescribed 1hr, but it hadn't expanded sufficiently so I left for a bit extra.


This shaping was a bit different to anything I'd done before so I decided it warranted some step-by-step photos.  First off though, prepare your baking sheet - I covered mine with baking paper and wiped over some oil.

Flatten out the dough into a rough rectangle and cut into 8 equal pieces.  I then weighed mine so they were all more or less the same (about 104g).  Once all the same I rounded them and let them rest for about 10 mins covered in the plastic bag.

Weighing and shaping the dough
Each ball is then rolled out like a snake to about 30cm long, following the photos below, cross it, twist it, then fold it over so it becomes the pretzel shape:

Once shaped, all the brezn were placed on the baking tray, covered with plastic bags and popped in the fridge to proof for a few hours.  I didn't write down what time I took them out, but the recipe says you can leave them there for 2-24hrs.  I would think at 24hrs they would be over-proofed as the yeast would get a bit carried away with itself, but maybe that's not so.  However mine were probably in there for about 3-4 hours at a guess.

Before I took them out of the fridge, I brought a preserving pan full of water to the boil and reduced it to a simmer then added 1/3 cup of baking soda to it (a bit at a time so it doesn't al boil over).  The pretzels were placed into the soda water one at a time (and only 4 in the pot at once), and simmered until they floated to the top (about 20 secs) then I turned them over for another 20 secs.  They inflated slightly whilst "bathing".  I retrieved them with a slotted spoon, drip dried them and put them back on the baking paper leaving at least a couple of cm between each one.

 Once they'd all been boiled I sprinkled them with sea salt and sesame seeds:


The oven was preheated to 180°C about 15 mins prior to baking and I then slid in my baking tray and cooked the brez'n until they were reddish-brown - about 35mins with a 180° rotate at half time.

They looked absolutely fabulous when cooked, and the smell drove me mental as I was taking them to a friends place for pre-dinner drinks.  I did manage to resist ripping one open and sampling it . . . until I got to Julie's house and then it was a mad scramble to eat them.  The kids liked them, the boys loved them with their beer, and us ladies enjoyed them with our wine (and soda in my case).
I'll definitely be making these again.  Will have to read up what the baking soda treatment does to them, clearly bagels must be treated in the same way.  YUMMO is all I can say to this recipe!! :)  Think I might also send it to Susan at YeastSpotting which is something I have only done about once before.
Happiness is making bread!!
PS. So  I've just done some searches on the baking soda thing, traditionally in Germany they boil them in a lye solution prior to baking, but because of all the associated OHS issues around lye, baking soda is used instead.  It's still alkali, but not hazardous.  The alkali bath enables the brez'n to brown a lot faster at lower temperatures than would occur normally with baking - the colour is very important, plus it does alter the taste.  If you didn't alkalise the outside of the dough, and baked them long enough to brown, then the dough would dry out and be crunchy rather than the soft, chewy deliciousnesses that they are!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

"Local Breads" - Whole Rye Berry Loaf (Volkornbrot)

I'm not entirely convinced I got the right "rye berries" for this recipe as they didn't become all that soft after soaking, but make the bread I did.

This is the second to last recipe in the Germany section of Daniel Leaders book "Local Breads" that I am working my way through.  I think Mr Leader left out part of the recipe as he mentioned in his preamble that he had included a refreshment step or "build" to make sufficient rye starter for the dough, but in fact he had not.  So I just made double the amount of rye sourdough preferment that he suggested in the recipe.

Starter - this is 1.5 times the amount mentioned in the book - 50g starter + 170g water + 225g fine rye flour - left to sit at room temperature for 16hrs.
Rye starter bubbling away after 16hrs

Soaked berries - 125g whole rye berries + 175g boiling water - placed in a bowl and also let sit for 16hhrs at room temp.  They didn't swell up that much and didn't soften, which makes me think they weren't quite the right think.  Or alternatively I guess, they could have been old and past their best?
Soaked rye berries
Take out 50g of starter to keep for next time and then add the remaining starter (400g) into a mixing bowl along with 50g of water, your soaked rye berries, 200g fine rye flour and 10g salt.  I then mixed all of this on my stand mixer (#2 speed) for 2 minutes -it was supposed to form a thick, batter-like dough but wasn't quite battery so I added a touch more water until I was happy with the consistency.

I covered the bowl of dough with a plastic bag and let ferment at room temp for about 1.5hrs. It was lightly spongy and had only slightly risen.

I oiled a loaf pan (a fairly big one) and coated the oil with rye flour then scraped the dough into the pan with a spatula (yes it is the consistency of peanut butter!) and smoothed it over.  The loaf pan was popped inside a plastic bag and left at RT for just over 1hr to proof.

The oven was set at 160°C about 15 minutes prior to the loaf going in with a rack in the centre of the oven.  The loaf had formed a slight dome prior to going in the oven and was baked with steam for nearly 2 hours.  It had come away from the sides of the tin and didn't leave any wet dough on a skewer when poked.
I let the bread cool overnight before slicing it - this is recommended for high percentage rye breads.
The rye berries were a bit firm for my liking, almost a bit dry, but the bread had a really nice flavour.  As mentioned earlier in this post I don't know if the berries weren't right for the recipe or what, but next time I make this bread I think I'll use rye flakes (like coarse rolled oats) instead.