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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dan Leapard's Crusty Potato Bread

The recipe came from Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf that I bought few months ago. I haven’t got around to bake anything from the book until now. Too many baked goods I want to try, so little time.

I made potato bread several times with mash potato and baked potato but never made one with grated potato which was used in this recipe. I was curious to find out. I was tempted to tweak the recipe a little by including rosemary, olive oil, nigella seeds and/or garlic as but I remembered the word of wisdom, “not to tweak the recipe when you make it the first time”. So, I struck with the recipe, well sort of. I replaced some of the bread flour (15%) with rye (5%) and whole wheat flour (10%). I also increased the hydration a little.

The dough was rather wet as grated potato continued to release its water into the dough which was somewhat a challenge to work with. I had to do stretch and fold in the bowl several times to achieve proper gluten development.  In hindsight, I should have struck with Lepard’s original hydration (50%) or may increase the hydration to 55% instead of 60% in this recipe. Umm, I just couldn’t help myself to tweak the recipe.

The bread was nice and moist. Grated potato was cooked and disappeared into the dough and gave the moisture to the crumbs. Honey (about 5% in term of Baker’s Percentage) gave slight hint of sweetness. The crust was browner than usual due to honey (I believe). The brown caramelised crust also added flavour to the bread.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Croissant with Natuaral Starter - the new PB

Another winning recipe from Suas’s Advance Bread and Pastry cookbook, Croissant made with Natural Starter (sourdough starter). So far, I have made croissants using four different formulas; one with preferment, one with poolish, whole wheat croissant and the latest into the repertoire, croissant made with natural starter.

I considered this batch my new PB (personal best) as it gave the most wonderful and flavoursome croissants, and the best looking ones tooJ. Contrary to what you might be thinking, that sourdough starter will produce sour taste croissants. This is not the case at all. The amount of starter was small enough not to give the acidic taste, but in the meantime, it was enough to enhance the flavour. If you have sourdough starter, I encourage you to give this recipe a go. Though there is a little extra step to prepare the starter dough (using natural starter), it is very well worth it.

Because Suas’ book gears towards professional, adjusting the recipe to a domestic batch size involved some math works. The recipe also didn’t include roll-in butter (for lamination). Converting the recipe to the homemade batch size resulted in tiny amount of egg used in preferment and half-egg in the final dough mixing. I omitted the egg in preferment altogether and used half of one egg in the final dough and the other half for egg wash.

The dough was a breeze to work with in the rolling and laminating departments. I'd like to believe that having sourdough starter and preferment contributed to the pallable and strong dough. Making croissants might sound daunting and involved but it is achievable and the results are truly rewarding. Fresh homemade croissants will beat any great commercial croissants. It made the perfect weekend for us and I'm sure it will make yours.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wheaty Sourdough with cracked wheat, wheat berries and wheat germ

I picked up a bag of bulgur and wheat berries from the grocer few weeks ago and plan to make multigrain bread from it.

Seeing wheat berries somehow made me feel connected to the food source. It was also interesting to see that most grain seeds looks almost identical, to name a few, wheat, rice, barley, etc.

I wanted to make bread with many forms of wheat in it. Wheat products I got in my pantry were wheat berries, wheat germs, bulgur, whole wheat flour, wheat brans (that I didn’t use in this bread). Most of them were included in this recipe. Yes, you’ve got that right, another baking week with toasted wheat germ!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Focaccia with Rosemary and Tarragon herb oil

There seem to be many similarities between pizza, focaccia and ciabatta. Apart from one obvious similarity which is ‘they’re all Italian bread, they have the same dough consistency with the same hydration (water to flour ratio). They are all rustic and somewhat lean bread (with or without olive oil in them). Some of the cookbook also used the same recipe to produce these three breads and shape them differently.

I bake pizza often but hardly make focaccia. This was only the second time I made them. I used Peter Reinhart’s recipe from American Pie. The dough is prepared a day before and baked the next day. The recipe and process is somewhat similar to his pizza recipe in Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It called for cold water and overnight retardation straight after the mixing. The dough was relatively easy to mix by hand (I did this in a bowl with wet hands). The dough came together and the gluten was developed quickly, which I believe resulted from high level of water in the dough. Kneading dough with olive oil by hand was enjoyable. My hands and the dough were so soft and supple as a result.

From time to time, I had trouble shaping pizzas to the desired shape, size and thinness. The trouble also extended to transferring the pizza from bench to the baking stone. Making focaccia eliminates these issues as the dough is shaped and baked in trays or pans. Focaccia and pizza are similar in more ways than one. You can use the same dough to make focaccia or pizza. Toppings also work interchangeably between the two.

 I also adjusted the recipe a little by including 200 g of sourdough starter and reduce the amount of yeast by half (from 1.5 % to 0.75% in term of Baker’s Percentage). I made pure sourdough pizza before. Though it tasted great, it wasn’t as light as I wanted. In my opinion, the sourdough starter didn’t have enough power to rise against the topping. I decided to include both starter and yeast in this recipe for both flavour and rising ability.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ciabatta with toasted wheat germ and olive oil – wheat germ obsession continues

I have an obsession with wheat germ. I love its aroma and taste, especially when it is toasted and used for bread. I’m so obsessed that whenever I saw the recipe with wheat germs, I would jump to it.

Flipping through Bread cookbook by Jeffrey Hamelman, I came across Ciabatta with wheat germ and olive oil. The recipe is in the pre-ferment dough section that deserves more attention than I gave to it (I generally bake more with sourdough starter, and less with yeast). The flavour profile sounded promising, wheat germ and olive oil with high hydration dough (high water percentage to flour).

This was the second time I made Ciabatta. The first time, I used recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice cookbook. Reinhart’s shaping method was rather different from others. He shaped the dough by folding it into three-fold, like a letter fold. From my understanding, one of the characteristics of Ciabatta is random large-holes, which requires gentle shaping to retain the air pockets. This would mean minimum shaping, if any. I did some more searches on the shaping and reconfirmed (from Susan@Wild Yeast’s video and Jeffrey Hamelman instruction) that ciabatta need no shaping at all. Instead, ciabatta dough is gently patted into big rectangular dough piece and cut into a long wide strip. The big strip is then placed onto heavy floured baker’s linen to proof. The purpose is to not deflate the dough and retain the air pocket produced during fermentation. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rosewater Buttercream Macaron - Dare I compare to Laduree?

Yes, I have a love affair with rosewater. I love it with dessert especially for meringue kind of dessert. It is also best with macarons. Rosewater flavour is one of S’ favourite. Delicate floral flavour goes well with delicate texture of macarons.

I made rosewater macaron before with rosewater flavoured white chocolate ganache which was aromatic and lovely. I had Rose Macaron from Laduree when I was in Tokyo last year and loved the flavor. Its filling was light and subtle, which, I think was made from egg white buttercream. I had never made buttercream using egg white before, the so called Italian buttercream, so I can only guess. The flavor of Laduree's was good and that was it. The shells were too dry, too chewy and there wasn't enough filling in there.