Thursday, May 14, 2009

Norwich Sourdough With Oats

I've been wanting to post this for a couple of days now, but with everything that's gone on, I haven't had the chance. However, now I'm sitting here, full of Dr. Pepper peppiness, and I have nothing better to do. Thus, a post is born...

Norwich Sourdough w/Oats

directly adapted from Susan's Norwich Sourdough

Makes: 4 petite loaves
Rise Time: ~5 hours
Bake Temp: 475F, 240C, Gas Mark 9
Bake Time: ~35 min

  • 1c, 8oz, 227ml hot water
  • 1tbsp, 3/4oz, 21g honey
  • 1 1/3c, 4 1/4oz 120g rolled oats

  • all of the soaker
  • 5 1/2c, 24 5/8oz, 700g bread flour
  • 1 2/3c, 7oz, 200g white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2c, 20 1/4oz, 600ml water
  • 1 1/2c, 12 5/8oz, 360g ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 1tbsp, 3/4oz, 23g salt

NOTE: When measuring starter by volume, you MUST stir it down first! I am making the assumption that an average cup of wheat-based starter (whole grain or not) weighs 240g. If you have a rye starter, a spelt starter, a kamut-amaranth-potato starter, whatever, it's going to weigh differently. Possibly a lot differently. Use weights whenever possible to avoid horrible mishaps. Grams or ounces doesn't really make a difference; while grams are more rigidly precise, ounces are still very accurate. As long as your scale goes down to eighth ounces, you'll be fine.

Soaker: Mix hot water (very hot tap water works fine) and honey until well blended. Stir in rolled oats and let sit 5 minutes.

Mix/Autolyse: Combine all of the soaker, the flours, the water, and the starter in the bowl of a stand mixer on low. When just combined, turn off the mixer and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Mix in salt and knead on medium-low speed until a medium level of gluten development is reached. I could try to explain it, but Susan from Wild Yeast has already done a stand-up job of it here. Seeing as this recipe is directly adapted from her Norwich Sourdough, it's a very good place to go for advice.

Ferment: Plop (gently!) into an oiled container of some sort and cover loosely. Susan suggests a low, wide container so the necessary folds can be done at 50 and 100 minute intervals inside the container. It does make things a bit easier, but you can always oil up a surface and your hands and do it, too, if you don't have a big enough bucket.

Divide: Turn ye ol' mass of dough onto a floured or oiled surface. (I prefer oiled, since it doesn't muck with my hydration as badly.) Divide the dough in half, then in quarters. If you want to break out your scale again, cover it with oiled plastic wrap (greasy side up, please!) to make your 500g loaves as close to perfect as the laws of physics... and digital readouts... will allow.

Shape: Make the little buggers into whatever shape you so desire, keeping in mind that large deviations in shape may require adjusting of bake times. I like mine in little rounds of pillowy goodness. Susan shapes hers into pretty batards – go look! Oooo, pretty... *drool*

Proof: Gently scooch your dough shapes over to where they will rise; baking sheet if you plan to bake on that, pizza peel/parchment paper/what-have-you if you plan on baking on a stone. Sprinkle with flour, cover if you want (I rarely do and it doesn't seem to hurt anything) and walk away for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Well, actually it sorta depends on how active your starter is, but as long as it's not half-dead or a raving beast of bubbly demonic power, 2 to 2 1/2 hours is a good guideline. Now set your oven to 475 (or equivalent) and go watch a movie like a good bread baker.

Bake: Are your dough shapes poofy and at least marginally bigger than they were before? No? Go away again. Check back every half hour until they are. Yes? Wonderful! Now we score. Slice open the tops of those bad boys any which way you please, trying not to deflate and totally ruin all your hard work. When that's done, toss the method of choice into the oven and let it roasty toast away for 30 minutes. Check your bread. Not done? Go an extra five and check again. Keep doing this until your loaves are golden brown and delicious, and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Now I know your first inclination will be to take the bread out, toss it on a cooling rack, and hover over it like a nervous new mommy. It also probably involves lots of sniffing, oooing, ahhing, and steaming of unlucky eyeballs held too long over a very hot loaf. But do not give in! Leave those loaves in the oven, with the door cracked open and the oven off, for an extra five minutes.

Now you may steam your eyeballs. Cutting is not allowed until the loaves have cooled; however, sniffing is permissible. At least until your husband/wife/child/roommate/dog/cat/fish looks at you like you've finally lost it... then you might wanna stop.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not that anyone's even following this, but...

I won't be posting for a while. I just found out this morning that my mother passed away last night. So while I'll probably post elsewhere, I don't expect to feel up to posting daily blog entries for a while. That might change, might not. I'll still be baking, so maybe I'll do a "looking back" post when I'm ready and highlight the goods and the bads.

See y'all later,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I had the itch...

To bake bread. What did you think I was gonna say?

After being without flour for two days, I was getting mighty twitchy to bake something. Anything. I debated making a (gasp) all-white banana bread, but decided to ask my darling man to pick up some bags of King Arthur on his way home from work in the morning. I resisted the evil urge to make an all-white loaf by this much. You see, I've made this promise to myself to incorporate as much whole grain flour into our diets as I can without sacrificing taste and texture, because we eat a LOT of bread, and it's a good way to get whole grains into me and mine -- especially the kids -- without having to really work at it. I'm lazy, and I'm comfortable with that. =)

So when he came home with the flour this morning, I got all giddy happy and debated what to make first. Sandwich loaf? Artisan? I finally settled on a country loaf, but put it off to make lunch, then my littlest was upset most of the day. Around 7 o'clock, I figured I probably wouldn't be able to make anything. Then my littlest dropped off, and yay! I had just enough time to rip off a loaf. Bread machines are wonderful things, by the way. Then I remembered Andrew had mentioned wanting some bread, cheese, and wine soon. Go figure, I end up making an all-white loaf anyway. xD

I really need to break him of the all-white habit, though. Seriously. Maybe I'll try adding cornmeal...

Italian Bread
Bake Temp: 375F
Bake Time: 40 minutes +5
  • 500g Bread Flour
  • 350g Water
  • 20g Oil
  • 8g Salt
  • 8g Yeast
Put all ingredients in your bread machine in the order suggested by your manual, set to dough setting, and press start. Or if you prefer, knead by hand or stand mixer until dough is supple and no longer wants to stick to your hands more than itself. Put in an oiled bowl (or just let it stay in your stand mixer bowl) and mist the top with spray oil. Also spray some plastic wrap and lay over the top of the bowl. Allow to rise until doubled. If using a bread machine, be sure to keep an eye on the dough; mine rose in half the time allotted by the machine, about 30 minutes. Shape as desired (I did one large batard, so cook times are for one large loaf; if you divide, cook times will change) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with oil. Dust loaf with flour and allow to rise again until doubled. It took mine about another 30 minutes, maybe 35. Slash as desired, spray with oil, and put on top of an empty 12 cup muffin pan in a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes uncovered, then cover with foil for 10 minutes. Crack the oven door open for an additional 5 minutes of bake time. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack at least an hour and a half before slicing.

Friday, May 8, 2009

BBA Challenge: Anadama Bread

Several dozen enterprising bakers are working their way through Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, and while I don't yet own the book, with the help of some of the BBA Challenge participants, I'll get my hands on some of the recipes and follow along as best I can. If you're interested in joining, hop on over to Pinch My Salt for more info and to contact Nicole to add your name to the growing list.

The first recipe on the list is called Anadama Bread. I got the recipe (and story behind it) courtesy of Heather over at Flour Girl, and after admiring her wonderful loaf, went off to make my own, ecstatic that I actually had all the ingredients on-hand. I was temporarily set back when I realized I didn't have all the bread flour I needed, but hey, I'm just following along, right? I can make substitutions if I need/want to, and as long as I learn something, I got something out of it. Bonus if the bread is tasty!

I'd soaked my cornmeal overnight, anticipating this gorgeous, high-rising loaf, and lo, it rose. And rose. For something weighted down with a cupful of whole cornmeal, it was a big sucker! Not to mention the 2 cups of King Aurthur White Whole Wheat I'd tossed in to make up for my lack of 4 1/2 cups of bread flour. I'd figured at nearly half whole wheat, it would at least slow the thing down. But in just under the times given by the recipe, my dough had crested my 9x5in bread pans, and I tossed them in the oven.

So you can imagine my surprise when, upon opening the oven after the first twenty minutes of bake time (to rotate the baking sheet the pans were on, as per instructions) I saw they had shrunk slightly. *blinkblink* O-kay. Well, they were still pretty high-rising for whole-grain loaves, so I figured, what the heck. Maybe that's just the nature of the dough. But sure enough, at the end of bake time, I pulled out what looked like two bricks. Well, crap.

Except, they weren't bricks. Two hours after I'd pulled them from the oven, I sliced into one to find the moistest bread I'd ever made -- that was actually cooked through, of course. I don't know what miracle happened, but those scrawny blocks of golden-brown pitifulness actually turned out to be really (I mean REALLY) good. Go figure!

Now, I don't like to judge a bread until it's been around for a few days, and I've had a chance to taste it at different points of maturity. But after only two days, I can tell you I much prefer this Anadama Bread fresh. Not that it isn't still chewwy, moist, and flavorful; it is! But I personally prefer the flavors to be defined; the molasses to have a sharp sweetness, the corn to be a prominent feature in my mouth, both taste and texture. Unlike a good rye bread, which smooths with age to the betterment of the bread, this one just becomes... okay. You may feel differently. In either case, I encourage you to go grab a copy of the book and try it out yourself.

Happy Baking!

First post! Yay!

So to follow the craze and insanity of bread baking websites, blogs, and challenges, I have created this: All Your Bread Are Belong To Us. For those of you with even a hint of gamer background, you'll likely get the reference. If you and those close to you have escaped the gaming horde uncorrupted, congrats! Also, see here: All Your Base...

It's an amusing mistranslation that has lent itself to all sorts of usurping, from DnD's "all your gold are belong to us" to my own very bad attempt at blog humor. Now that I think about it, it's funnier for someone (like myself) who loves Japanese games/anime/everything and thinks that dubs -- and sometimes subs -- are done by drunk French monkeys trying to speak English. Seriously. It's that bad.

But back to bread. I've got the bug. Yes, the wonderfully tasty, often frustrating yeast bug. It should really have it's own entry in the mental health dictionary. It's an affliction yielding ungodly good bread with enough carbs to make your jeans groan. You think I exaggerate? Make that perfect loaf of sourdough, mow down with some good cheese and a bottle of wine, then come talk to me. My fiance still hasn't forgiven me for the dent to our wallets.

That isn't to say making bread is expensive! I read somewhere that the average sandwich loaf costs about $0.50 to make, and for the same high-quality bread, you'd pay something like $2.50-$3.00 at the store. No, bread isn't the expensive part... It's that once you've made nirvana in a crust, you can't just toss some Kraft on it and sip a coke. No, you need to get that nice Pinot Noir you saw at the store for $12.99, and that $8 per pound jarlsberg. To do it justice, you understand!

But seriously, now. Bread baking has become quite the passion for me, and while my significant other might blame me for his addiction to bread, cheese, and wine over the last few months, I can't see an end. Sourdough, yeast, quick, it doesn't really matter. I'll make it all, and enjoy it with something close to orgasmic pleasure. So this little corner of the WWW is dedicated to my obsession, and whether no one reads it, or millions do, I'll enjoy sharing my trials and triumphs.

Happy Baking!