Thursday, August 20, 2009

Short-Knead Bread

The "beginner" recipe at looked really great, with a small problem: the recipe is written in metric and by weight. I don't have access to an accurate scale right now, and I'm stuck using volume measures.

I did some math and some trial and error and think I got a working conversion out of it. You'll want to check the original recipe for technique information, but here is the general gist of it:

Mix 1tsp yeast and 5 tbsp warm water. Let rest 10 min.

Add 1/3 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. Mix, cover, and let rest for 2 hours.

Add 1 3/4 cups water and stir until sponge dissolves.

Add 4 cups flour and mix just until shaggy. Cover and let rest 10min.

Oil hands and workspace, knead for 10 seconds.

Let dough rest, covered, in oiled bowl for 5-8 min.

Knead 10 seconds. Let rest 10 min.

Knead 10 sec. Let rest 30 minutes.

Knead 10 sec, let rest 45 min.

Form loaf, let rest 45 min.

Preheat oven to 450F and bake 25-35 min.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yeast in a Sealed Container

When I make pizza dough, I usually make a batch big enough for 4 pizzas.  Then I individually portion out the dough and stick it in the freezer so it's ready for quick weeknight dinners.  

This is what happens when you forget to open up the baggies before letting the dough thaw and rise.  The "air" that filled up the bag is carbon dioxide that is made when the yeast starts to eat up the sugars in the dough.

This dough is Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Eating Well.

Flying Purple Pita Eater

I made pita yesterday using this recipe.  I sweetened with honey and used a 50/50 mix of white and wheat flours.

They turned out delicious, but didn't puff as much as they were supposed to.  Next time I'm going to crank the heat up higher (pita puffs up because the yeast goes into a "shock" state, causing the pocket in the center).  

Tody we will have fresh hummus!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Everyday Sourdough: Day 2

Got your sponge ready? It's time to make the bread dough.

First, take the sponge out of the refrigerator and get it up to room temperature. It should be about double the volume it was last night, and have lots of little bubbles in it.

If it's looking skinny and doesn't have bubbles, you have a problem with the yeasts. Either your starter is dying (did you forget to feed it a couple of times? Did you expose it to heat?) or it hasn't had enough time to ferment. Try leaving it out for a few hours, if it hasn't improved by then, it's time to toss it and start over.

If your sponge is looking good, you can move on.

I use a stand mixer because I am lazy and don't have the arm strength to knead for long periods of time by hand. You're welcome to knead by hand if you like, though.

In your mixer bowl, combine:

The sponge
16 ounces water
8-10 ounces flour (start with 8, add until you get a dough you like the feel of)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix with the paddle until it's well-blended, then switch to the dough hook to knead. I knead for 10-15 minutes, you may need more or less to get good gluten development. To test when the dough is ready, use the windowpane test.

When your dough is kneaded, plop it into a greased bowl (I spray mine down with PAM), cover it with a damp towel, and let it rise until it's doubled. Then form the bread into the loaf shape you want, and let it rise until doubled again.

Preheat your oven to 450 F with your baking stone or pan in it. You want the pan to be nice and hot when you put the bread in. If you want a crispy crust, try steaming the oven.

When the oven is hot, score the loaf and bake at 450 for 30 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 375F and let it bake for 30 more minutes.

Remove your bread and let it cool on a rack (letting it cool on the pan will make the crust mushy on the bottom).

Everyday Sourdough: Day 1

Day 1 of sourdough baking is making the "sponge" or preferment.

To begin, you need a sourdough starter. You can buy one, get one from a friend, or make your own pretty easily. If you keep it in the refrigerator, you'll need to get it to room temperature first (consider that Day 0).

Remove one cup of your starter and toss it in a mixing bowl. To this, add:

10 ounces bread flour
16 ounces warm water

(I use weight to measure for greater consistency. If you don't have a kitchen scale, this is about 2 cups unsifted flour and 1 3/4 cups water. However, I recommend you get a scale, you'll end up with much better baked goods).

Stir it up until fairly smooth.
Depending on how wet your starter was, the weather, and how humid it is in your kitchen, you may need more or less moisture. You want a wet, sticky concoction that looks something like this:

Cover with plastic wrap and let it hang out in the fridge overnight. I usually make my sponge at about 4 or 5 PM, but a couple of hours either way isn't going to affect things much.

Go on to Day 2