Monday, January 28, 2013

Roggenmischbrot und Sonnenblumenkernen

My good friend Kyle has been trying to get me to bake authentic rye bread with him for quite some time. I am pleased to report that I have finally come around to doing it! Kyle is the kind of guy who likes to experience things as authentically as possible. Therefore, I decided that he and I would bake a rye bread that I have never baked before. It is also a bread that I translated from German. I also knew that I wanted to bake bread that was a Vollkornbrot (or completely whole grain). It is also important to mention that Kyle is, indirectly, one of the driving forces behind my embarking on my German Rye Adventure. 

About two years ago, Kyle and I began a very deep and intense conversation about symbols and symbolism on Facebook. One of Kyle's friends, Alexander, joined in the conversation. Alex and I soon became friends and began speaking on a regular basis. Alex has become my German translator, without whom I could not have even begun my German Rye Adventure. We now speak multiple times a week. 

Kyle is the kind of guy who is very down-to-earth, and the company that he keeps is the same. He is very open minded, friendly and warm. I rather enjoy the conversations that we have. 

It is almost funny that the bread that Kyle and I would eventually bake is one of the most intense breads to bake! I felt that baking this bread with him would make the experience very powerful. This bread requires a very long fermentation; a very long bake; and a very long rest before it can ever be eaten. All of this adds to the character of this amazing bread. 

Rather than spending all of my time on the formula itself, I would like to give my readers a few insights into some of the team effort involved in baking this bread. I will share a couple of my observations of my experience as a by-stander, observing Kyle's experience along with our mutual friend Adam's experience. Adam arrived on the scene after the actual mixing had taken place. Adam is a very deep individual, who has many interesting perspectives to share on many different topics.  While the bread was cooling and coming to terms with itself, Adam and I grabbed a brew and we had one of the most interesting conversations that I think I have ever had. It was very eye opening, and even mind opening! 

I did prepare the sourdough build the night before and I prepared the toasted sunflower seed and rye meal soaker. Due to the large amount of sourdough and soaker included in this bread, very little water is added to the final mix. 

This bread calls for malt powder, but since I do not have any, I used barley malt syrup. I love the smell of malt syrup with its rich and deep earthy flavor that almost has a dirty sweetness to it. It drives my olfactory senses wild. I explained to Kyle that since there is such a small amount of water in the final mix it is crucial to mix the barley malt syrup with the water, and to make sure it is warm so that the syrup will be combined as completely as possible. Another thing I explained was that it is very important to mix the sourdough build with the water to be sure that it becomes distributed throughout the bread. This was particularly important because I forgot to bring the yeast to Kyle's house. Because I had no yeast, we were relying solely on the sourdough starter to allow for rising. Remember that my breads have been slow to rise due to the very cold weather. Fortunately, Kyle's house is not kept at the same frigid temperatures that my house. Since we did not use any instant yeast, we did extend the length of all resting times for the dough. We also extended the fermentation time by an additional 90 minutes and added 110 minutes to the proofing time. Although the bread did not seem to rise too much in the pan I had faith that it would get good oven spring despite the fact that it was 100% whole grain. The bread gods were good to us on this cold and snowy winter day, so I send my thanks to them.

After this bread was shaped into a log, we rolled it in a very generous amount of sunflower seeds. Once again, I used toasted and salted seeds, because I love the flavor that they contribute to the bread. As you can see from the finished bread, this bread has a ton of sunflower seeds on the bread's crust and a fair amount of seeds within the bread's crumb. 

Lastly, I would like to share with you a bit of Kyle's experience, which I captured on video using my cell phone. This brought me so much joy. Kyle's grunting and heavy breathing during the kneading of this bread reminds me that this is a truly a labor of love; we do not use the word 'labor' lightly. 

It is truly a lot of work to produce bread like this. Seeing the finished product reminds us that our efforts were worth it. All of that sweat and work was worth it and gives us a sense of pride and joy as we marvel at the results of the finished product. The look on Kyle's face was perfect! He really got into the process. Adam asked so many questions, many of which I had a hard time answering. It is not that I could not explain the answer, but more along the lines of I did not know how to explain it. Some of my answers were long-winded, but I was able to answer them, no matter how long it took me to explain. When we become so skilled at a task, we take advantage of our understanding, as it becomes an extension of our hands (or knowledge). Explaining these things to Adam, reminded me of how much I know and how far I have come. More importantly, they remind me that I still have far to go and that there is no one destination; only journey and only bread!

Bake On!
DW, -The Bread Barron

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Weizenmischbrot: A light rye

This is a bread that I was really excited about, but in the end was a bit disappointed with the finished result. I am going to keep this post brief, so that I can dedicate my energy to the breads that are truly worth writing home about; this is not one of them.

This bread contained two different build which I found to be interesting. One was a rye sourdough build which was prepared with whole rye flour the other was a wheat build. What in German is called a Wheat pre-dough, which in international terms would be considered a biga. It was suggested to rise the dough for up to two days in the cooler, but I went with preparing it overnight, at room temperature, which in my abode mean barely 60 degrees, so not too warm. 

I woke up very early the next morning to get this bread under way. I noticed very little growth in the rye sourdough, so I was glad that a wheat pre-dough was included. I am in the process of making my rye starter much stronger. I am feeding it several times a week, but what it really needs is a warmer environment to grow in, which is hard to come by in the Wolfe Residence. It is coming along, but it is a slow and steady process. 

The mixing process is actually quite simple for this bread. The two builds are combined with the water, all of the other ingredients are added and the dough is mixed first of speed one for 5 minutes, and then on second speed for two minutes. There are no folds in this dough. The dough ferments for 30-45 minutes, and then it is proofed for 45 minutes. I decided to bake this bread in my brotforms. They came out very nicely, except for the wathe bread opened. I did use a scoring pattern that I never use, three parallel lines. Typically, if I use a parallel pattern I use two lines, and it turned out that the extra score did not work out in my favor. It split. Actually both breads split a bit funny, but the finished product is pleasing to the eye. 

One of my major problems with this bread is that it is a bit dry. I may have left it in the oven two long. Another issue is that my home oven vents steam very early. The newer gas ovens tend to do this. I prefer the older style electric ovens for my bread baking. But you got to do, what you got to do!

The finihed product is a dough with a relatively tight crumb, a light rye flavor and a significant crust. I would have preferred a more open bread. Typically the rye breads that I bake have all of their rye flour in the build and none in the final build, I should have known better. Had I placed all of the rye in the starter, with a little extra water, I most likely would have gotten closer to what I was hoping for, but it was German, and thus It's on my last. 

Keep your eyes peeled for the Completely whole grain volkornbrot with tons of sunflower seeds!! 

-DW, The Bread Barron

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kontinentbrot: Continent Bread

My German friend, Alex, and I were discussing whether this bread should be translated as continent bread or continental bread. Alex thought it was best to translate it as Continent Bread because continental has another meaning in the American Culture. I explained to Alex that, by dictionary definition, continental means coming from main land Europe. However, for some reasons in the United States we think continental means, "free breakfast", which I find very funny! I am not sure how that came to be, but, none-the-less, we will refer to this bread as Kontinentbrot from now on. I hope that this will reduce any confusion and will keep my quest of making German breads as authentic as possible. 

Alex and I both believe that this bread is referred to as kontinentbrot because it contains four different kinds of seeds, which come from different parts of the world. This bread recipe called for pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and sesame seeds. It called for a Brühstück soaker, which is a soaker made with hot water and is only given 1-3 hours to mingle. The word brühen means to pour hot water over something. 

There is another kind of traditional German bread soaker, a Quellstück, which is allowed to sit overnight. Quellen means to allow something to soak until it becomes plump. To be honest, even though this bread called for a Brühstück, I was going to make a Quellstückand allow it to rest overnight. However, I forgot, so two hours before I baked the bread I prepared a Brühstück. 

One thing that I do not like about quick soakers is that they are not loose and light, but tend to be very dense and heavy and have to be broken up considerably during the mixing process. Another thing which contributes to the heaviness of this bread is the use of oats, which become lost when a hot soaker is used.

I did make a few adjustments to this bread, mainly in the soaker. I removed the sesame seeds and replaced them with additional pumpkin seeds. I am not a huge fan of sesame in or on bread. I actually would prefer poppy seeds, but I decided to use pumpkin seeds in this bread. Normally I would bump up the sunflower seeds, but I was in the mood for that heavy, almost bitter, pumpkin seed flavor. 

Rather than simply placing the raw seeds into the soaker, I toasted the sunflower seeds and the pumpkin seeds before incorporating them. I did not toast the flax seeds because when you toast them they tend to jump and fly all over the place and you end up with a huge mess. I simply used raw flax seeds. 

I recently re-fed my sourdough rye starter, but for some reason it seemed to be much heavier than usual  I think that I may have used rye meal by mistake, and as a result it seemed a little slow. It is also possible that my starter was affected by my house being rather cool. Luckily, this formula has a small inclusion of yeast, which helped the dough to rise in a relatively short time. I don't think that this bread got as sour as it could have gotten, but I cannot complain because I was very pleased with resulting bread. 

I also use my brand new couches or basket covers for the first time, I would like to thank Kelly's wonderful mom Carla, for them! I will use them well! You can see in this photo that the basket covers do leave a cool texture on the bread. 

Another aspect of this bread that is different, is that it is not scored or slashed. In lieu of scoring, it is allowed to rise with full exposure to the air. This allows the bread to dry and slightly crack. Perhaps I could have given this bread more time to dry out at room temperature, but I was eager to bake this bread. With the Sabbath coming and my Mom needing to use the oven to roast two chickens and some butternut and buttercup squash, I went ahead and baked this loaf a bit quicker than I wanted. Since this bread was not scored, and it did not have time to fully develop, it cracked along the lower side of the boule. Actually, I think that it added a lot of character to the finished product. 

This is not a bread for the faint-hearted. It is a heavy bread with close to 75% whole grain once the sourdough and soaker are included. Also, it is not an open loaf. It is dense and absolutely full of seeds. After all was said and done, the heaviness and toasted seeds contributed an immense amount of flavor and texture to this wonderful German bread. 

I will certainly bake this bread again. Perhaps the next time I will include the sesame seeds in the mix and I will use medium rye flour in the final mix and use whole rye in the sourdough build and soaker. I think these changes might give the loaf a slightly lighter texture and flavor.  My readers and followers should know by now that I am not one to hide my rye. I want that rye flavor to be upright and in your face! I want those who eat this bread to be able to taste every ingredient that I used!

For the original formula go here.
But here is the hearthbakedtunes version:

Rye Meal
German Rye Starter

Rye Meal, coarse
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds

Final Dough
Rye flour
Bread flour
Sourdough build

 Bake On!
-DW, The Bread Barron

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Senfbrot: German Mustard Bread

I have always believed that as a cook you should always go hard, or go home, so here we go! Another year filled with crusty, artisan bread, but this year with a German twist. I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I know that I will! BAKE ON! 
My first authentic german bread
Initially, my plan was to bake a Pullman sized vollkornbrot to start my year of Authentic German Breads. However, I decided that it would be much better to start with something that I have never done before. In fact, this bread has an ingredient, which I never would have even thought of putting in a bread formula, mustard. Granted, I have no idea what the mustard is like in Germany. I did my best to use strong flavored mustard, without going to the store and spending five dollars on a tiny jar of imported mustard. This bread also contains an ingredient, which I simply love to use in my breads, cheese. This bread calls for the use of gouda cheese. Since I am translating these German recipes into English, I have enlisted my two German friends, Alexander and Nicole, to help me. Alexander told me that Gouda is originally from the Netherlands, and it is named after the city where it originated. This is the fact of the day. Typically, when I bake breads with cheese, I like to use a cheese with a strong flavor, such as sharp cheddar or Parmesan. However, because I wanted to stay true to this bread's German roots, I stuck with the cheese that the formula called for. I usually grate as well as cube some of the cheese called for in bra ead. This way, the dough picks up the general cheese flavor and there are chunks of melted cheese throughout the bread. I did not use this method for this bread. I simply grated all of the cheese like the formula instructed. To be honest, I did miss the globs of cheese but I was pleased with the richness that the grated cheese imparted.

On the right you can see some of the melted cheese
Since I am using formulas from a German baking company website, they are given in very large quantities. For instance, I had to scale the recipe down quite a bit. I scaled down the first two recipes that I translated by dividing by 23. Because of this, it is possible that the mixing procedure will need some altering, as is evident in this week's loaf. 

This bread called for a pate fermente, which is made from flour, water, salt and yeast. The inclusion of salt in this preferment is what makes this one a pate ferment rather than a poolish or biga. This preferment had a much larger amount of yeast from what I am used to. In the past I have measured dry yeast by volume. Because my scale can not handle such small gram quantities (less than five grams), I am going to have to find a conversion or get my hands on a better scale. Come to think of it, my Mom has a very sensitive digital scale that she carries in her purse.  She weighs everything that she eats and is very committed to her diet. I will work on figuring out a conversion and will share it with all of you once I have the final computations. This bread called for one hour of fermentation at room temperature then the dough is placed in the fridge overnight. It is taken out of the fridge an hour before the mixing so that it can return to room temperature. In the past I have fermented pate fermente at room temp. Because this recipe uses a much higher percentage of yeast, I did not feel comfortable leaving it at room temperature.

Pate fermente prior to mixing 
The mixing protocol in this recipe is interesting as well. All of the ingredients are mixed together except for the mustard, salt and grated Gouda. This is mixed for five minutes on first speed or as the recipe indicates "gently". After this initial mix, the salt and the mustard are added to the mix. This is then mixed on 'quick speed' for five minutes. I used second speed. I have to note that I ran out of bread flour during the pate fermente stage because I had already scaled out the flour for the final dough, and I had to use 45 grams of all-purpose flour.  To compensate for this, I added some rye meal and a little all-purpose flour during the mixing on second speed. Perhaps I shouldn't have added more rye meal to this bread because it does not contain much gluten. However, I am a RYE JUNKY, and I will often make any excuse to add more rye flour to bread; particularly rye meal. After the dough was mixed for four minutes on second speed, I added the cheese and mixed on first cheese until it was well incorporated into the dough (about one minute). 

The inclusion of the gouda to the mix

I then gave the dough forty-five minutes of bulk fermentation. During this bulk fermentation, I put the oven on to preheat and to get my stone very hot. I then shaped the dough into two breads: one batard and one boule. I did this because I did not think two boules would fit on my baking stone. In the end, this did not matter because the two breads fused together in the oven anyways. But I am getting ahead of myself. Before the bread is baked, the proofed loaves are brushed with mustard, I used Nathan's Coney Island, I would have liked to use coarse ground mustard, but I did not have any. I had a hard time spreading the mustard, so I added about a teaspoon of water. In hindsight, I wish I had not done this, and just used my hands to smear.

Mustard Coating prior to baking
The next time that I bake this bread, I am going to make sure that I absolutely douse the top of this bread with a strong mustard. I used a brush this time, but the next time I bake this, I am going to literally put a ladle full of mustard on the top of each bread and I am going to smear it on with my hands. There is nothing better than finding an excuse to make a mess with your hands. This is like an adult version of finger painting, which I absolutely loved as a kid!!

Bread with mustard and sunflower seed coat
This formula called for the bread to be baked for 15 minutes at about 425 degrees, and then baked for an additional 30 minutes at 375. But, after baking for fifteen minutes, the dough was not too dark in color, so I decided to bake the bread at 425 for the entire time. I still did not get the rich dark color that I expected from the mustard, but the bread is not too far from wonderful. I only wish that the mustard flavor and aroma was a bit stronger and that I used a stronger cheese. I did speak with Alex about this and he introduced to a wonderful website on German cheeses. I like the seeds on top of the loaf, but I think that they almost detract from the intensity of the mustard. So next time I will:
1.     Use a stronger German cheese
2.     Use stronger and spicier mustard
3.     Use much more mustard on the crust of the dough. 
4.     Perhaps sprinkle some freshly cracked mustard seeds, that would give this bread a nice kick and leave out the sunflower seeds.

All in all, I was pleased with this bread. It could have used a tad more salt, but considering that it was my first attempt at a formula that I translated from German, I was very happy with the results! I look forward to many more! The next bread on my list is either Vollkornrbrot or Kontinentbrot (literally: continent bread) it is also known as three-grain bread with seeds because the seeds in this bread come from all over the world. 

Bake On