Monday, December 20, 2010

Blurry bread

I'm getting my mojo back for making bread, just in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, I'm losing it photographically.
This looks better than it looks, and is generally OK - a light crumb and a crisp crust. Here are the ingredients:

230 g strong wholemeal flour
170 g very strong white flour
40 g wholemeal rye flour
4 g salt

260 g water
1 tsp muscovado sugar
4 g dried yeast
1 glug of rapeseed oil added while kneading

I baked it on the stone at 240 for 20 minutes, then 220 for another 20 or so. No steam, and I left the fan on.

Actually, given that it's >50% wholemeal, it's surprisingly light. I had used mostly a folding method letting the dough rise through the afternoon.

What speculation can I make? I think the most important thing is the temperature. I really have to accept that I need the full force of the oven. I think the small amount of sugar helps to give a good crust. I also think I'm better off using a lower percentage of water than is orthodox - here it's 60%.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Different ... better?

The real point of this loaf was to use up various odds of flour, so the dry ingredients were:

80 g strong white flour
220 g strong wholemeal flour
50 g plain white flour
50 g smoked wholemeal flour
5 g salt

With 25 g olive oil and liquid consisting of:

260 g potato water
4 g dried yeast

Pretty average, but during kneading, I glimpsed the remains of half a lemon I'd squeezed into a marinade yesterday and thought ... what if? So I grated a little of the peel and a few drops of juice into the mix.

Kneading and cooking were normal, and I'm not showing a photo - it looks the same as any other whole-ish meal loaf prepared in the banneton.

But the taste is nice. The lemon's noticeable but subtle. It somehow feels a bit christmassy, which can't be bad. I don't think it would work with white flour, though.

I think one thing I've never done is cook a white loaf using the banneton, so maybe that's next up.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm getting to terms with my new oven, and this is about the best loaf I've yet made in it. However ...

The first thing i decided was to use less rye flour than I've tended to use recently. I love the taste, but it has relatively low gluten so you're never going to get a very light bread. I noticed that flours like Dove's Farm Malthouse have around 3.6% rye flour so I aimed for 5%. I slightly overdid it, giving the following quantities:

400g strong white flour
30g wholemeal rye flour
4g salt

250g water
5g active dried yeast
half a teaspoon honey

I tried the folding method, which some people recommend over traditional kneading. After mixing the ingredients, and autolysing for 20 minutes or so, you flatten the dough out, fold it in three, like folding an A4 letter, rotate 90 degrees and repeat five or six times. You do this (or rather, I did this) five times during the initial rising, and once more before proofing. The feel of the dough was at least as good as if I had kneaded it in the usual way, so it was encouraging.

Before proofing, I rolled the dough in poppy seeds.

Then to face the oven. I've accepted the fact that I need to use the full force of the oven - 240C (reducing to 215 ish after 15 mins), but I've also decided that it's a good idea to turn off the air circulation. The only way to do this is to turn off the oven's electricity supply after it's lit, and the unfortunate thing is that this means the oven light goes out too. I also used steam by pouring a cup of water into a baking tray beneath the bread.

Here's the result. The loaf is rather unevenly cooked, probably because of the lack of air circulation, so I should have turned it I suppose. But at its best, this has a proper crust, better than any I've had recently.

Here's the however, however. I haven't shown the inside of the bread because there was a clear split between two layers, a vestige of the folding process. It wasn't fatal, but did mean the slices were in danger of falling apart. Maybe the surface of the dough dried a bit during the rising, and it would be helpful to spray water on it?

Never mind, it's lovely bread. The rye flavour is very faint, but the poppy seeds punched well above their weight.