Week 68: Rustic Ciabatta

ITALY, by way of NEW ORLEANS: It took me a long time to find a recipe for a ciabatta that was not made with 100% white flour. and that actually worked (whole wheat can be tricky to work with). This is from Bellgarde Bakery in New Orleans, whose mission is to “connect community and ecology through gastronomy”. All of their grains are identity preserved and single origin, and they use olive oil sourced from San Antonio, and salt from Avery Island.

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Week 63: Whole Wheat Burger Buns

Hamburgers originated in Hamburg, Germany, with the meat patty typically served between two slices of toast. The use of a soft bun was popularized by a fry cook named Walter Anderson, who in 1921 founded the White Castle hamburger chain, home of the “slider”.

These soft buns are made with 80% whole wheat flour, enriched with whole milk and butter, and topped with an Everything Bagel seasoning mix. You can make them vegan by using any non-dairy milk, and substituting a plant based oil for the butter. If you’re looking to make an all-white flour version, try the brioche-style Burger Buns from Week 10.

STEP 1: Make dough

  • 240ml warm milk (120°)
  • 2 eggs (1 for dough + 1 to used as an egg wash)
  • 240g whole wheat flour
  • 60g bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 7g yeast
  • 27g sugar
  • 13g salt
  • 28g softened butter
  • Everything Bagel seasoning
  1. Mix one of the eggs in with the warm milk and whisk to combine
  2. Measure out flours, yeast, sugar, salt into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk by hand to combine
  3. Place bowl in stand mixer, and with the paddle attachment, mix on low while slowly addingthe milk/egg until combined
  4. Add the butter in bits and continue to mix on low until combined
  5. Beat on high for 2 minutes
  6. On low speed, add 3 Tbsp bread flour until dough is more sturdy and comes away from the sides of the bowl

STEP 2: Rest dough

  1. Put 1 Tbsp flour on countertop, then empty dough on top.
  2. Gently knead flour into the dough so it is less sticky, using a dough scrapper if it sticks to the counter
  3. Place in oiled bowl, cover, and let rest 30 minutes.

STEP 3: Shape buns

  1. Scrape the flour off the countertop, then lighly coat in oil
  2. Empty dough onto the counter
  3. Cut dough into 8 pieces, about 80 – 90g each
  4. Flatten each piece, pull sides up and over, turn over and shape into a ball with a tight surface. (Check out this video on the Tips page)
  5. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet about a finger width apart
  6. Cover and and let rise about 30-35 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 400

STEP 4: Bake

  1. Just before baking, mix second egg with 1 Tbsp water and brush on top of buns, then sprinkle with the Everything Bagel seasoning
  2. Turn oven down to 375, and bake for 12-15 minutes
  3. Cool on wire rack.
  4. Don’t cut until just before serving!

Week 62: Low-Knead Bread

I don’t know what I enjoy more: eating bread or baking bread. But sometimes, when I set out to make it because I really want to eat it, I run into a problem with timing. Oftentimes, there’s a long stretch of time between starting the process to consuming the bread. Most artisan loaves aren’t ready on the same day as you prepare the dough because they require an overnight rise, and if you don’t get around to starting until late in the day, there’s not enough time for all of the steps.

Last week I tested a work-around that produces a delicious, satisfying, impressive loaf in 5 hours from start to finish. It’s as beautiful as a sourdough, but a lot less complicated, and not as time-consuming. It’s easy like the no-knead method, but incorporates a bit of “stretch & fold” kneading (see #2 Kneading During Proofing video here) to speed up the process of strengthening the gluten, thereby avoiding the overnight soak, i.e. autolyse*.

Back in 2006, the New York Times published Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread, which revolutionized bread baking. Two years later, Cook’s Illustrated introduced us to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s version, Almost No-Knead Bread. And just last month, in May of 2021, he gave us No-Knead Bread, Revisited, which is what I’ve based mine on. I didn’t use vinegar, added some honey, substituted whole wheat and rye for some of the white flour, cut the time down by 30 minutes and used a Dutch oven to bake.

Rest times are 1 hour + 1.5 hours + 1 hour, so perfect if you work from home, and doable if you work away from home because you can make it in the evening, pop it in the fridge after the final rise, then bake the next day.

STEP 1: Make dough

  • 300g bread or all-purpose flour (or substitute 50g with whole wheat or rye, or 25g of both)
  • 7g salt
  • 3g yeast
  1. Measure dry ingredients in a bowl and mix (I use a whisk) to combine.
  • 225g warm water
  • 11g honey
  1. Add honey to water and stir to combine
  2. Mix honey water into dry ingredients, using the handle of a wooden spoon, or your hand. Make sure there are no dry bits.
  3. Cover and rest 1 hour

STEP 2: Knead & Proof

  1. Keeping dough in the bowl, do a round of stretch and folds, then cover and let rest 30 minutes. See kneading during proofing, and shaping videos here. (#1 stretch + fold | 30 minutes rest total so far)
  2. Repeat this two more times. Each time you can pull the dough out a little longer, but not too much so that it tears. Only do four stretch and folds each round. (1.5 minute rest so far)
  3. Do one more stretch + fold, then leave to rest for 1 hour.

STEP 3: Final rise

  1. Carefully remove dough to a lightly floured surface, without deflating it.
  2. Pull sides to shape into a tight ball, then turn over, and with cupped hands, tighten surface some more.
  3. Place in lined and floured proofing basket seam side up and cover
  4. Proof 1 hour or until finger test, and preheat oven to 500. It’s better to be under proofed than over proofed, so check often:
    1. Dough is under proofed when you poke a finger in it and is springs back quickly
    2. Dough is proofed when you poke a finger in it and it springs back slowly
    3. Dough is over proofed if you poke a finger in it and it doesn’t spring back.
  5. Cover with parchment, then a cutting board and turn over
  6. Slowly remove basket and score. Score round loaves symetircally and mostly on the top, so they rise up, not out
  7. Bake, covered, at 475 for 25 minutes
  8. Remove cover and bake for 10 minutes.
    1. Put a cookie sheet on the lowest rack to redirect the heat so the bottom doesn’t burn
  9. Let cool completely before slicing

Week 61: Easiest Bread Ever

I’ve spent the last year and a half learning how to bake bread. It’s been fun, not always easy, and to be honest, not always successful. There are so many nuances to it: proper kneading techniques, making sure you don’t over-proof or under-proof the dough, getting the flour-to-water ratios just right, understanding the gluten structure of different types of flour, and having all the right tools — not to mention enough time — for all the steps.

When I came across this method I was very skeptical because it kind of goes against everything I’d learned so far. For one thing, it only takes about 15 minutes to throw together, if that. After a 10-minute rest, a bit of shaping, then a 30-minute rise, it’s ready to bake. You “knead” it in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (!) on high (!!) for just two minutes. It doesn’t compare to an artisan loaf with it’s overnight ferment and beautiful open crumb, but it makes a perfectly acceptable sandwich loaf and best of all, it’s something you can make on the fly.

I’ve listed the ingredients (in grams) so you can make your loaf along with the video instruction linked below. I also made four different versions so you have the option to make either a whole wheat, white, oatmeal raisin or ryre.

  • 300g bread or all pupose flour < OR >
    • Whole wheat: 240g whole wheat flour+ 60g bread or all purpose flour
    • Oatmeal raisin: 300g bread or all purpose flour + 50g oats
    • Rye: 125g rye flour + 175g bread or all purpose flour
  • 7g (2 tsp) yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk (any kind: dairy, oat, almond, soy, etc.) at 120 degrees
  • 2 Tbsp honey < OR >
    • Whole wheat: 2 Tbsp brown sugar
    • Oatmeal raisin: 2 Tbsp maple syrup + 1 tsp cinammon
    • Rye: 1 Tbsp sugar + 2 tsp caraway seeds + 1 tsp dill seeds
  • 1 egg (if you want to omit the egg, use 1 Tbsp oil in its place)
  • 2 Tbsp oil or melted butter (I use butter for the white and oat versions)

Notes:

  1. The video is for the whole wheat version. I translated the cup measurements into grams because it’s so much more accurate. If you don’t have a scale, it’s 1-2/3 cups whole wheat flour + 1/3 cup all-purpose or bread flour.
  2. She uses 1/4 cup of flour once the batter is mixed to stiffen it up a bit. I add it in one tablespoon at a time, because you might not need that much, and if you dump it all in at once, you can’t take it back.
  3. You can use 8 x 4 loaf pan if that’s all you have, but 9 x 5 is better
  4. She doesn’t grease her pan, but I went ahead and greased mine just in case
  5. If you let it rise for too long, and it gets too high, you’ll over-proof it, and it’ll collapse in the oven. So no highter than 1″ for sure. It’s always better to underproof a little than over proof!
  6. Mine definitely got too dark on the top, so do cover with foil

If you want all whole wheat try Week 21: 100% Whole Wheat from Year 2020. It’s a bit more complicated (a lot, really), but well worth the effort for such a healthy, delicious result!

Week 59: French Sourdough

FRANCE: Pain de Campagne is a multi-grain French sourdough, made with white, whole wheat and rye flours. Back in the day, French villagers would bake very large loaves in communal ovens, which could feed the family for weeks. Some say scoring was a way to identify your loaf.

This recipe follows Maura Brickman’s method for Pain de Campagne introduced on King Arthur’s website (see video link below) whereby you can use your starter straight from the fridge. You don’t have to feed it the night before, and you don’t have to create a levain with an active starter. This removes two steps from a very long process.

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Week 58: Same Day Sourdough

Baking a sourdough loaf is a two-day affair, because there are so many stages in the prepping and proofing. I set out to find if it was possible to a.) make a loaf in one day, and b.) be 100% satisfied with the result. And, I’m here to tell you that there is! This is a method for baking a sourdough loaf with no overnight rise, and if you get started early enough, (8:00 AM) you’ll have a warm loaf to bring to the dinner table.

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Week 56: Sourdough

If you do a Google search for sourdough recipes, you’ll get 25,600,000 results. There is a ton of information — and misinformation — to sift through. I tested five different methods and this version, from Full Proof Baking’s Kristen Dennis was the clear winner. Although it is time consuming, and a little tricky, the instructions are very detailed and the steps are demonstrated on the video, linked below. This is an all day affair — a perfect loaf for #bakingwhileworking.

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WEEK 13: Irish Soda Bread

IRELAND: Soda bread is a daily bread that was made by every Irish household with ingredients affordable to all. Dump everything in a bowl, mix it with your hand, and it’s ready to pop in the oven in under 5 minutes. I used 50/50 whole wheat and white flour; but it can be all white if you prefer. The method is so easy, you don’t really need a video, but Darina Allen’s instructions and history (she’s the Julia Child of Ireland) are worth viewing at least once!

Traditional Irish Soda Bread | Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School

Apparently, Irish measurements teaspoons are different from the U.S., so I’ve listed the proportions below.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees before your begin, so you can get it in as soon as the batter is mixed. And it bakes for about 30 ~ 35 minutes.

  • 2 cups whole wheat
  • 2 cups white
  • 1 teaspoon baking SODA
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • about 1-3/4 cup buttermilk (400ml) – I use Kefir – it’s thicker than US buttermilk