Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Normandy Apple Sourdough Bread

This is the third and final bread that I made with Brett on Saturday, and it is an absolutely marvelous formula. I made this bread once before, with excellent results. This bread calls for some special ingredients, including dried apples and apple cider. Regarding the cider: unpasteurized is best. Hamelman notes that this is a wonderful formula to use up old apple cider which is beginning to turn.

The first time I baked this bread, I dried my own apples in the oven by thinly slicing 4-5 granny smith apples and placing them on a baking sheet. These apples are then baked at 270 degrees for a few hours. It is important to flip and stir them frequently which helps to dehydrate them without burning them. The smell of the baked apples is wonderful. It is sweet and earthy and it just makes me want to leap into a pile of dry crisp maple leaves. It also reminds me of Thanksgiving at my Uncle Barry and Auntie Jean's house. They used to make mulled cider on top of their wood stove. Since they converted to a pellet stove they make it on the electric range. It has lost a bit of its charm but it is still great. It is amazing how many memories we associate with smells and aromas.

The dried apples that were used in the bread 

I have to admit, Brett and I made quite a few errors on this one, but we were able to correct them in time. I had converted all of the measurments into grams and wrote them down on a piece of paper. I figured that we were good to go, so I placed 'all' of the ingredients in the mixing bowl except the dried apple pieces and started to mix. After about a minute and a half I peered into the mixing bowl and what I saw certainly did not look right! We forgot to add the sourdough build to the dough. I immediately stopped the mixer and added the levain. I put the mixer back on and it still looked a little dry and not quite right. Then I remembered that we forgot to add the apple cider. 

I went to the fridge and got the cider. It was cold and should have been allowed to come to room temperature. No time. We had to add a very cold ingredient to the dough. This was certainly not ideal, but we had to do it. So we added the cider and mixed it for a minute on first speed, and then we mixed the dough on second speed for two minutes. Then we added the dry apples to the dough one handful at a time. It took about one minute for the apple pieces to be distributed throughout the dough.

Talk about making errors! I made two or three serious errors in less than 60 seconds. This certainly was not one of my best efforts. Surprisingly, the bread came out wonderfully. If you are going to make this bread, it is best to make sure that the cider is at room temperature. Had I know that I was going to make this mistake I would have used very warm (borderline hot) water to make up for the difference. OOOPS! Luckily, this bread formula called for yeast.  Had it not, this bread would have taken a very long time for the dough to rise because of the lower than ideal temperature of the mix. 

A photo of the dough prior to bulk fermentation. As you can tell it is not very smooth, this is dough to all of my errors, especially the lack og hydration during the beginning of the mix.

Hamelman mentions that if bulk fermentation lasts longer than an hour, you will need to fold the dough. The gluten development in this bread seemed okay so we skipped the fold altogether. 

This bread was supposed to be shaped into a batard. Since we were already baking the Roasted Potato Bread, there was not enough room on the stone so we decided to bake them as pan loaves. Brett had these high quality 10" loaf pans. I think I will have to purchase some eventually. What a wonderful size. The pans were a little big for the task but they worked out just fine. We allowed these loaves to proof for about an hour before they were baked. Like the Roasted Potato Bread, these loaves are baked for 20-25 minutes at 450 degrees and then the temperature is lowered to 420-430 for the final 15-20 minutes. Watch them carefully, the sugar in the apple cider has a tendency to darken during the bake. It was really nice to use Brett's oven because it has a light and a viewing glass. My stove is solid metal. It was a luxury to check on these breads without opening  the oven and worring about the heat loss. 

Here is a picture of the beautiful finished product!

I love the horizontal tear in the finished loaf, its adds a wonderful aesthetics to the loafs appearance

I am so pleased, especially after all of my stupid mistakes. The bread came out beautifully. Sometimes you have to make decisions on the fly. Have some faith in your abilities and in the fruits of your labor.

This bread came out beautifully! Try to bake this one you will not be let down

I recommend eating this bread with some fresh goat cheese. I think a panini with goat cheese and roasted onions would be marvelous in this bread. Then again a nice sharp cheese would also be wonderful. This bread is absolutely a ten on its own! You can eat it straight and you will not be disappointed. This is the perfect bread for Thanksgiving or an autumn outing. It is also perfect for a picnic. 

I recently read this quote and I thought I would share it with all of you. It comes from a Dalai Lama flip calendar:

"If humankind continues to approach its problems from the perspective of temporary expediency future generations with face tremendous difficulty" -Dalai Lama

Mother earth is no longer passive to mankind's abuse, let us be mindful that we are guests in her home!

Bake On


  1. Your glossary terms aren't linked, you just bolded them. can you link them to the glossary page?

  2. Awesome looking bread. I now know what I'll include in my Fall sourdough class!