Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Bread Bible - Walnut Fougasse

I tried to make Walnut Fougasse and instead I modelled the face of a seven-eyed alien - potentially the next Dr Who nemesis (Evil Dr Fougasse, perhaps?). Apt since I wasn't overly taken with this bread. I'm not sure if I did something wrong but the dough had an odd texture when I first mixed it. It improved upon proving but the process was finicky and then I found the end result too rich and greasy for my taste. So, unfortunately not a success for me, which was a shame because it looked and sounded so exotic.

I ate some with pea and ham soup I had in the freezer (the soup was in the freezer because I wasn't overly taken with it when I made it...). While not the best meal I've ever had I did achieve that virtuous feeling you get when eating two homemade things you're not that fussed about.

I'm way behind the Bread Bakers schedule but I think I'm up to pizza next. Yay!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Bread Bible - Flaxseed Loaf

I spent absolutely aaaages searching on the internet for the pumpernickel flour which you need for this recipe. In the terrible, time-wasting way that the internet seems to inspire, I kept searching long after I had made the decision not to order it from overseas (which seemed to be my only option for true pumpernickel flour, although it's possible I could have sourced a freezer-busting 5 kg bag of dark rye within Australia). In the end I used the ordinary rye flour I had in the freezer from another Bread Bible project. 

The difference between the ryes, I seem to remember from my web travels, is that the rye is toasted or cooked in some way to make the pumpernickel which is what makes it the darkest, densest rye flour. Anyhow, after all the floury hoohaa, my loaf turned out really well and was particularly delicious toasted, as Rose points out in the recipe. It has a really lovely nutty flavour and is satisfyingly robust.

The flaxseed, which I don't remember having seen up close before, is a pretty, glossy brown seed. It wasn't immediately obvious in the recipe but it needs to be cracked before use for this loaf.

How many food processor attachments does it take to crack flaxseed? Hint: it's harder than it looks. The small food processing bowl didn't even make a dent on the flaxseed. The little grinding attachment was more successful.

There's also plain white bread flour and wholemeal flour in this, so this is another loaf which gives you that smug, healthy feeling. This was a very easy and quick loaf to make. I was too lazy to get the loaf tin out of the overstuffed drawer, so I made a boule shape which turned out very well. Another loaf to be (quietly) proud of. 

Next up is the Walnut Fougasse which is apparently a bit like focaccia with walnuts.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bread Bible - Olive Bread

I can't remember many of the details of making the olive bread, it was so long ago. I think it was pretty delicious from memory but not my most successful loaf. Not much oven spring and it looks a bit spongy in the photo below. Maybe the oven wasn't hot enough. I should try it again, and if I did I would double the dough because it makes a very small loaf.

I don't know what this photo was about - maybe the texture of the dough? It looks silky smooth.

A makeshift banneton using a tea towel.

The olive bread is the last of my catch-up posts. I have Flaxseed bread cooling on the bench right now so hopefully I'll post about that this week. Or at least within three months :)

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Bread Bible - Levy's Real Jewish Rye Bread

My memory of baking this bread is hazy in the extreme, but judging by the number of photos I have of the finished product, I was pretty happy with it. I do remember Rose saying that this type of rye bread was a favourite when she was young. I was surprised by that because it's very strongly tasting of caraway, which is not a taste that children of my acquaintance are fond of (and one I wasn't keen on when young). Luckily I'm keen on it now and I made short work of eating my loaf. It's not at all heavy with rye, with just enough to leave you with a smug aura of healthiness (as you slather on the butter).

I'm pretty proud of my slashes and the oven spring I got with this loaf. If only I knew how I did it...

Still to come in my catch-up posts - Olive Bread.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Bread Bible - Ginger Scones

Late last year, with the maelstrom that is Christmas, the end of the work year* and the beginning of summer holidays, I missed a few of the monthly Bread Bible projects. I've caught up with some of them - including my current favourite, the Basic Hearth Bread. Next on my list is the November 2016 project of Creamy Ginger Scones. 

I made these a while ago now but with the demise of the weekly discipline of the Baking Bible bake-through, my blogging mojo (always pretty tardy) has almost completely faded away. I have two other Bread Bible posts lined up to finish, hopefully I can whip up a bit of enthusiasm and get them out before I forget all the details.

These scones are really delicious. I mean really delicious. I urge you to make them. Unless you don't like ginger, in which case, don't. I'm going to make them next time I visit my parents because my mother would absolutely love them. She's always been a devotee of those old fashioned Chinese vase-like containers of glace ginger. Something I wasn't keen on as a child but now appreciate.

As I remember these were easy to make. I used glace ginger in the scones instead of the recommended crystallised ginger. This is only because I read the back of the two packets (i.e. glace and crystallised), while standing at the supermarket shelf, and the glace one had a 'perfect for baking' label on it, and a recipe for scones on the back (not as good as this recipe). So glace it was.

I was waaaay too lazy to whip the cream before I mixed it into the dough. This is meant to make the scones airy-er. And it might do. I'll never know.

I'm thinking that next time I might try then with milk rather than cream because for me they were overly rich. However, providing yet another reminder that it's all in the beholding, my colleagues thought otherwise. One of them asked for the recipe and another told me he 'really liked the stodginess' (thanks Che).

I also loved these scones because it gave me an excuse to show off my new Christmas-present-teapot (thanks J & M).

*Or that's how I like to think of it even though, disappointingly and in actual fact, work keeps rolling on.

Next up I'll be posting about Jewish rye bread and olive bread.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Bread Bible - Hearth Bread

I realise that this is a bit over-the-top but I'm in love with this bread. I can't tell you how happy I am to know that I can produce this chewy, dense type of bread with a great flavour. This is the bread I have been waiting for all my life, or at least since I started baking bread about two years ago. And I didn't have to fiddle-faddle around with a sourdough starter (I've never had/used one but it sounds tricky).

Making this bread is a pretty straightforward process, using a starter which ferments, in my case, overnight in the fridge. It makes a reasonably wet dough but not one that's difficult to deal with at all. I read Rose's tips for success with this artisan-style bread and tried to make sure the bread didn't proof too fast. This can be a problem in Darwin's hot climate. There can't be too many people reading this who have to put their bread dough closer to the air conditioner to keep it cool.

It's obviously not perfect - I know that artisan style means a big holey texture which I haven't quite achieved - but it's mine and I love it anyway. The only issue was that I couldn't stop 'trying' piece after piece. 

My dough developed a pimple or two on the last rise. I'm not sure if this means it's over-proofed?

You can see the wildly uneven slashes on the top of the bread. I'm always so nervous about cutting into the top of my lovely risen bread dough - in my mind's eye I see it deflating like a balloon - so I panic and end up slashing it like a newbie serial killer.

I was so happy with the crust when I took it out of the oven. My new baking stone had worked like a charm and the crust was thick and hard. It didn't stay crisp in the humidity but it was still lovely and chewy. 

Next up are the Ginger Scones.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Bread Bible - Irish Soda Bread

My only experience of Irish Soda Bread was many years ago during my mother's 'ye olde English baking' phase (inspired by Jane Grigson's English Cookery as I remember). During this time my brothers and I enjoyed homemade muffins, crumpets, suet pudding, lardy cake and other olde gems, including the Irish soda bread. I remember the soda bread being pretty stodgy and possibly a bit dry (sorry Mum). 

This recipe for Irish Soda Bread from the Bread Bible bears little resemblance to the bread I remember. Rose has added sultanas and a small amount of sugar that make this bread more like a large dense scone. I love a dense carbohydrate, and if it's threaded with sultans and slathered with some butter, even more so. This was very easy to make and nice to eat. 

I didn't soak the sultanas in whisky since I didn't have any, plus I quite like my 'dead flies' a bit chewy rather than soft. I also undercooked it a smidgen and forgot to slash the top of the loaf before I put it in the oven but I was pretty happy with the result anyway.

I still have a few breads to make to catch up with the Bread Bible Bakers' schedule. Next up is the Basic Hearth Bread.