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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!