Saturday, October 24, 2009

So Simple Pitas

These are truly delicious and easy to make. One little tip, after you take them out of the oven, do leave them wrapped in the tinfoil so they stay flexible as the air leaves them. It takes over half an hour. I did my pitas on a stone the second time and actually found that more convenient. I still put them in tinfoil when I took them out oh the oven. I stole the recipe from Group Recipes and it goes like this:
  • 2-1/2 cups bread flour (I used Heartland Mill Organic Strong High-Gluten), plus more for sprinkling while kneading & rolling out dough
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)

  1. 8 8-inch squares of aluminum foil for baking pitas
  2. In a large bowl combine 1 cup flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the oil and water.
  3. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for three minutes, then stir in the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time.
  4. The dough should be a rough, shaggy mass that will clean the sides of the bowl.
  5. If the dough is moist, add a small amount of additional flour.
  6. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 6 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  8. Divide the dough into 8 pieces.
  9. I patted the dough into a circle and used my metal dough scraper to quickly and evenly cut it into eighths (as if cutting up a pie).
  10. Roll into balls, dust lightly with flour, and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  11. Use the palm of your hand to flatten each ball into a disk. Finish with a rolling pin, flattening the dough into a disk about 6" in diameter and 3/16" thick. Their thinness is more important than making them perfectly round.
  12. Place each round on a square of foil, and carefully place 3 or 4 of the rounds directly on the oven rack. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they are puffed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rustic Bread

This is a truly yummy bread, especially right out of the oven. It is a fair amount of work but the results are very impressive. This is another one of my shameless steals from the Fresh Loaf.

Here is the recipe

Makes 2 large loaves

1 lb. bread flour (3 1/2 cups)
9.5 oz. water (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Final dough:
10 oz. bread flour (2 1/2 cups)
6 oz. whole wheat or rye flour or a mixture of them (around 1 1/2 cups)
12.5 oz. water (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
all of the preferment

Put the yeast in the water and stir. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl and pour in the yeasted water. Mix until the flour is hydrated, adding more water if necessary. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave the pre-ferment out at room temperature overnight (up to 16 hours... if you need more time before baking put it in the refrigerator).

To make the final dough, combine all of the ingredients except the pre-ferment in a mixing bowl. Chop the pre-ferment up into small pieces and mix or knead it into the final dough until they are thoroughly combined. This is quite difficult to do by hand: Hamelman assumes the baker has a mixer and can mix it for 5 minutes by machine. I mix and knead my dough by hand for about 10 minutes. At the end of that time the new and old dough aren't perfectly combined-- you can still see a few streaks of the lighter colored pre-ferment in it-- but they are sufficiently combined that loaves bake evenly.

Place the dough back in a greased bowl and ferment for 2 1/2 hours, punching down or folding the dough twice during that time.

(Folding the dough consists of taking the dough out of the bowl, spreading it out a little on a clean surface, folding it in thirds like a letter, rotating it 90 degrees and folding it up again, and then returning the dough to the bowl and covering it again. Like punching down, folding degases the dough some, but it also encourages gluten development. More on this topic in a future post.)

At the end of the fermentation, divide the dough into two pieces and preshape each into a ball. Cover with a clean towel and let each rest for 5 to 10 minutes before shaping into the final shape. Once shaped, cover the loaves with a clean towel and set aside for a final rise, approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Halfway though the final rise, begin preheating the oven to 450 degrees. If you are using a baking stone, preheat it as well.

Right before placing it in the oven, score the loaves. Place them in the oven and use whatever technique you use to create stream in the oven (squirt bottle, skillet full of hot water, etc) to encourage proper crust development.

After 20 minutes of baking, rotate the loaves 180 degrees so that they'll bake evenly. Bake until an instant read thermometer reads around 200 degrees, which took approximately 35 minutes for my batard ("football") shaped loaves.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Buttermilk Cluster

It's "Soup Day", the day before Thanksgiving when we get together with a great group of friends for a nice fall hike and some awesome soup. It is traditionally the last outdoor meal of the season and it is always a great time with excellent food. This year I am contributing bread to the cause, including these great little rolls.
These little guys are great with soup or stew, They are a little spongie for soaking up liquid or sauces. The recipe is a straight steal I have to admit, from a site called the Fresh Loaf. Here it is:

Buttermilk Cluster
Makes 12 to 18 rolls, depending on size
6 to 6 1/2 cups (750 grams) bread or all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 envelope (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry or instant yeast, or 1 15 gram cake fresh yeast
1 tablespoon warm water
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

1-2 tablespoons seeds (poppy, sesame) or grains (cracked wheat, rolled oats)

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Combine the warm water and yeast in a small cup and allow to proof for 10 minutes.

Pour the yeast, buttermilk, and honey into the flour mixture and mix well. If the dough is so dry that some of the flour won't stick, add a bit more buttermilk or water. If the dough is too sticky to knead, more like a batter, add more flour by the tablespoon until the correct consistency is achieved.

Knead by machine or hand for approximately 10 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 to 18 pieces. If you are a stickler you can scale them so that they are even, but I just cut them roughly the same size. Shape each piece into a neat ball and place in a round dish or spring-form pan close together.

When all of the rolls are in the pan, cover again with plastic or a damp towel and set aside to rise again for 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425.

Uncover the rolls and brush gently with the egg wash. Sprinkle on the grain topping, if you like. I used cracked wheat, but it may be a little too hard after baking.

Cook for about 30 minutes or until 200 degrees inside.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hamburger Buns

I have been travelling a bit so have fallen off the pace. I'll catch up next weekend. Two weeks ago we had friends over for a burger bar party that my wife concocted. She wanted to have homemade hamburger buns small enough for "sliders", those little burgers that are becoming popular. So I gave it a try and here are the results. I am off to Newfoundland in just a couple of minutes so will post the recipe when I get home. They are very easy and fun to make.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Another very simple bread started in the breadmaker. This bread is perfect for lunch sandwiches or morning toast with peanut butter. Add the ingrediants in order to your breadmaker:

1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp powdered milk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp yeast

When the dough comes out of the breadmaker, turn it out on a floured surface. I just press it out a little until it looks about as long as my long cooking pan, then roll it with the jelly roll look and pop it in a pan sprayed with Pam or lightly buttered. Let it rest about 15 minutes while the oven heats up to about 375 degrees. I cook this one at a slighly lower temperature to give it a softer crust and lighter texture. Put it in the oven for about 30 min or until the internal temp is about 200 degrees. Turn it out to a cooling rack and soon you will have some yummy and healthy whole wheat bread.
Ready... bake

Monday, September 7, 2009

Inglourious Batards

Inspired by the North Head bakery in Grand Manan, this is a family favourite. We call it "St. John Valley Bread". The recipe is very simple if you use the breadmachine to make the dough. I have just done a variation of the recipe in the breadmachine book and added a few twist. To make the dough just add the following ingredients to the breadmaker and mix on the "dough" setting:

1 2/3 cups water
3 tbsp powdered milk
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups white flour
3/4 cup Spearville Mills St John Valley grains
1 1/4 tsp yeast

When it comes out of the machine put it on a floured surface and divide in two (I use a dough knife). Then slightly flatten the dough and roll like a jelly roll to make a batard (like a french loaf). Place them on a slightly oiled pizza stone and let them sit for about 15 minutes while the oven heats up to 450. Slice the top of the loaf with 3 diagonal slices. Bake at 450 for about 10 mins then at 400 for another 15 min. Check the internal temp with a food thermometer for 200 degrees. Let it cool on a rack before cutting.
This made a beautiful bread for an outdoor meal with friends.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Great Sandwiches

The brown bread was excellent for sandwiches, especially my all time favourite, brown bread with peanut butter. The sweet rich bread and the creamy nutty butter are such a great combination and make a simple and quick sandwich to throw in my knapsack in the morning.
Check out the nice crust. I was worried I had blown it when I experimented with spraying a little Pam on top to hold some decorative oatmeal flakes. It was smoking a bit in the oven and I thought it would be burnt but it just made for a nice dark crust. The crumb was perfect for sandwiches but maybe a little tight for toast.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oatmeal Brown Bread

This week I wanted something for a hardy sandwich that I can take to work. This Oatmeal Brown was the perfect choice. It was easy to make with just a few adjustments to the receipe that came with my breadmaker. I did the dough in the breadmaker but baked it in a long loaf pan. It has become my favourite pan because it makes a moderate sized slice that is perfect for sandwiches and it is long enough to last a couple of days. The other loaf is a Greek white bread that we will talk about at another time.
It's late so I won't enter the receipe tonight. I am behind from last week's as well but will catch them both up as soon as possible.
ready... bake

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cracked Wheat and Honey- The Results

Well, it didn't turn out too badly. A nice crust, a little to the golden side and a little chewy (but good). The crumb was a little denser than I would like but it made for a very hardy bread. It made some nice sandwiches for todays lunch and a great piece of toast for this evening's snack. I'll post the receipe and some more details later in the week.
Ready... Bake

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cracked Wheat and Honey in the breadmaker

This week's bread is officially in the breadmaker. The bread is Cracked Wheat and Honey. I had a late start this evening so the breadmaker will work while I sleep. If all goes well we will have the nice smell of bread to wake up to in the morning.
My wife bought me a beautiful bread knife at the Grohmann factory in Pictou NS this weekend, I can't wait to try it out tomorrow.
I'll post results and the recipe tomorrow night.

ready... bake

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inspired by Julie and Julia

I love to bake bread! Recently I went to see Julie and Julia and was inspired to steal the concept and try to see if I can make a different type of bread or rolls every week for a year. Starting this weekend I will try to produce a different treat each week and share the receipes here. Please come back regularly and check it out. I would love to hear your comments.

There are no rules, my breadmaker is my friend and will certainly help out. Whole wheat bread and whole wheat rolls are two different things. I will shamelessly steal receipes but will try to reference them whenever possible.

Failures count, anything worth doing is worth failing in the attempt.

Ready... bake