Gas station without pumps

2021 July 21

Crab-apple sourdough

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:17
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been baking with sourdough since the rye bread rolls, 14 months ago.  But I’ve always felt like I’m cheating, since I started with commercial bread yeast and bacteria from yogurt and vinegar. Last Saturday (2021 July 17), I noticed while mowing the lawn that the crab apples were ripe and covered with wild yeast, so I thought that this would be a good time to start a new starter without any deliberate addition of commercial yeast or bacteria.

I chopped up

about 20 unwashed, ripe crab apples,

discarding the cores and seeds, but making sure to include the skins. I blended them in the blender, adding about

¼ cup warm water

so that the blender could process them.  The food processor would probably have been a better choice as it may not have needed as much water—not that it matters.  I then pushed as much of the pulp as I could through a fine strainer, ending up with about ½ cup of pinkish apple juice and water.  I added

½ cup warm water (to make up a cup)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup bread flour

in a medium bowl and stirred to get rid of lumps. I left the bowl out on the counter, uncovered for a few days.  After one day (on Sunday), it looked there were a few small bubbles, and the pink color from the skin was all sitting on the top.  I stirred it down and left it uncovered.  On Monday there were more bubbles, and it looked like there might be some live yeast, and by Monday evening it began to look like a sponge.  I stirred in

2 cups bread flour
2 cups warm water

and let it rise overnight.  On Tuesday morning, it looked like a good sponge, so I stirred it down and removed one cup of mixture for new sourdough starter.

For the remaining, I mixed in

4 cups bread flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons safflower oil
1 Tablespoon of salt

with a bread hook.  I had not expected to need quite so much bread flour, so I was adding half a cup at time and kneading with the hook until it was all incorporated.  The dough was still a little sticky when I took it out of the mixer and kneaded in another

¼ cup bread flour

by hand.  I put it in a greased bowl, covered it with a cloth, and let rise for about 20 hours.  I then shaped the dough into two baguettes and left it to rise another 10 hours sitting on baking parchment. I preheated the oven to 400°F (probably only 350°F, as my oven thermostat seems to be off) and put a pan of boiling water on the shelf below the baking tiles.

I mixed

2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons cold water

and brushed the tops of the loaves with the mixture.  I slashed the loaves and put them in the oven.  I rebrushed the loaves every 5 minutes for the first 15 minutes of baking time, then removed pan of water from the oven. At 25 minutes, I removed the baking parchment, leaving the loaves directly on the baking tiles.  Starting at 35 minutes, I checked the bread every 5 minutes to see if the bottom crust sounded hollow when tapped. The total baking time was about 45 minutes.

crabapple-sourdough

The bread came out looking good—perhaps the best-looking baguettes I’ve baked so far.

The recipe is entirely bread flour and a rather flavorless oil, so that I can get the taste of wild sourdough.  The crust was nicely crunchy, though I probably should put less cornstarch in the water that I basted the loaves with.  The crumb was good, but fairly dense—not the very open crumb that my wife prefers for a baguette.  The flavor was good: slightly sour, but without any off-flavors.  I think that this was very successful for a wild-yeast sourdough—it is a little slower rising, but seems to produce as good or better results than the sourdough that I made from commercial yeast.

2021 July 16

Sourdough beer bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:17
Tags: , , ,

My sourdough starter in the refrigerator burst out of the 1-pint plastic container, so I needed to bake bread again.  I decided to make up my own recipe, because I didn’t feel like following one from a cookbook. I mixed together

2 cups sourdough starter,
1 cup whole-wheat flour,
1 cup warm beer (Trader Joe’s Drive Through Red),
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar

and left it overnight covered with a damp kitchen towel.  In the morning, I removed 1 cup of the sponge to save as sourdough starter and added to the rest

½ cup rye flour,
1 cup bread flour,
1 cup whole-wheat flour,
1 Tablespoon salt,
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar,
2 Tablespoons olive oil,
¼ cup warm water,

and kneaded them with the dough hook (I had to add the water at the end, because the dough was too dry).  I then kneaded the dough by hand on the counter, adding

about 2 Tablespoons whole-wheat flour to prevent sticking.

I added a little olive oil (a tablespoon?) to the bowl and coated the ball of dough with it.  I left the dough to rise about 3 hours, then transferred it to a loaf pan greased with cocoanut oil, where I let it rise again for about 4 hours.

I slashed the top of the loaf lengthwise, brushed the top with milk, and baked in an oven preheated to 350°F (set to 400°F on our oven). I brushed the top with milk again after 20 minutes.  At 35 minutes, the center of the loaf was up to 150°F, so I turned the bread out of the pan onto the baking tiles, and brushed the sides of the loaf with milk.  I baked the bread for another 15 minutes (for 50 minutes overall), bringing the center temperature to 190°F.  The crust came out a little too dark—I probably should have turned the oven temperature down for the last 15 minutes.

sourdough-beer-bread

The loaf looks good except for the too-dark glaze.

The crust was nicely crunchy, and the crumb was a good color, but a little denser than I prefer. The flavor was good, but dominated by the sourdough and the rye flour. It might be better to try a more conventional beer bread without the rye and with more bread flour than whole-wheat flour.

2021 June 25

Retirement present from my students

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:56
Tags: , , ,

Several of the students in my applied analog electronics course got together to get me a retirement present, which was very sweet of them.  They gave me two “foodie” books: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart and Renaissance Recipes by Gillian Riley.  A dozen of the students wrote notes on the end papers of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It was a very sweet and thoughtful present. Somewhat surprisingly, my wife and I did not own either of these two books in our collection of about 140 cookbooks (which include over a dozen renaissance cookbooks and at least nine books on baking bread).

The students also gave me an apron with silk screening: 

The Man   The Myth

THE

 LEGEND

HAS RETIRED

I suppose I should pick one of the recipes (oops—formulæ) from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for the next bread-and-tea event.


2021 February 13

Mixer-bowl bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:51
Tags: , , , ,

On Friday, I made a variant of the mixing-bowl bread of a few weeks ago.

I started the bread on Wednesday, but baked it Friday afternoon.  I did not measure all the ingredients, so the numbers here are approximate:

1½ cup sourdough starter
1 cup bread flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yogurt
2 teaspoons vinegar (with mother of vinegar—vigorously shaken before measuring)

The yogurt and vinegar were added to re-inoculate the starter with their bacteria—the focaccia last week did not seem to have enough old-dough flavor.  Use the dough hook of the mixer to mix the ingredients (they are too liquid to make a dough). Let the sponge rise for several hours, then take out a cup of it to save as the next starter.   The sponge did not seem very active, so I let it rise more overnight.

Thursday morning I added

1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar.

While mixing with the dough hook, gradually add

4 cups whole-wheat flour

The goal is to get a dough that is elastic but still slightly sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a counter floured with whole-wheat flour and knead by hand for a couple of minutes, keeping the dough lightly floured to keep it from sticking.  This used another

¼ cup whole-wheat flour

and resulted in a soft and elastic dough that was not too sticky.  Put it in a mixing bowl (not the one from the mixer) with a little olive oil and turn it to coat the ball of dough with oil.  Let it rise for a day with a damp cloth covering the bowl.

Friday morning, I greased the bowl of hte KitchenAid mixer with

cocoanut oil

and turned the dough into the mixer bowl. The dough deflated a little on being transferred from one bowl to the other. Let it rise in the new bowl for 4 hours. Bake at 400–450°F for about an hour and 20 minutes (until the center of the load is around 195°F). I turned the loaf out of the bowl then to bake another ten minutes on terra cotta tiles, but that may not be necessary.

The loaf is quite tall, with cute dimple in the middle from the corresponding bump in the bottom of the mixer’s bowl.

The bread was very similar to the previous mixing-bowl loaf, but with a slightly better crust.  The crumb was good and the bread had a good whole-wheat, sourdough flavor.  This is probably the tallest loaf of sourdough I’ve ever baked—about 13cm high (5″) at the tallest part.

2021 January 16

Mixing-bowl bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:40
Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday I had a small bread-and-tea event (only 2 people besides me)—the events really don’t work as well on Zoom as on-campus, where the smell of the freshly baked bread fills the hallways. On Zoom, I can’t share the bread I bake.

The bread I made yesterday was not a particularly special recipe, but I tried baking it differently.  Instead of using a loaf pan or shaping the loaf on baking parchment, I just left it in the mixing bowl that it had been rising in, and baked it there.

I started the bread on Thursday, but baked it Friday afternoon.  I did not measure all the ingredients, so the numbers here are approximate:

1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups bread flour
2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar

Use the dough hook of the mixer to mix the ingredients (they are too liquid to make a dough). Let the sponge rise for a couple of hours, then take out a cup of it to save as the next starter.   To the rest add

2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil

While mixing with the dough hook, gradually add

2½ cups whole-wheat flour

The goal is to get a dough that is elastic but still slightly sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a counter floured with whole-wheat flour and knead by hand for a couple of minutes, keeping the dough lightly floured to keep it from sticking.  This used another

½ cup whole-wheat flour

and resulted in a soft and elastic dough that was not too sticky.  Put it in a mixing bowl with a little olive oil and turn it to coat the ball of dough with oil.  Let it rise overnight with a damp cloth covering the bowl.  After a couple of hours the dough had doubled in size, but shaking the bowl a little deflated it, without needing to punch it down.

In the morning, grease a different stainless-steel mixing bowl with

cocoanut oil (or butter)

and turn the dough into the new bowl. The dough again deflated on being transferred from one bowl to the other. Let it rise in the new bowl for 4 hours. Bake at 375°F for about an hour (until the center of the load is around 195°F). I turned the loaf out of the bowl then to bake another ten minutes on terra cotta tiles, but that may not be necessary.

Here is the baked bread still in the mixing bowl it was baked in.

Turning the bread out onto the tiles was very easy. I could have just cooled the bread at that point, but I decided to bake it a little longer to make the crust a little crisper.

The bread cooling on the rack shows the nice color and shape from the unusual loaf pan.

The bread had a slightly softer crust than some of my sourdoughs (as expected from using a pan), but the crumb was excellent—the somewhat soft dough and gentler handling of the bread before the final rising probably helped.

Next Page »

%d bloggers like this: