Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roasted Garlic Levain: Mellow Bakers (January)

I finally got around to making the Roasted Garlic Levain from Hamelman's book Bread, this week.  The recipe, which is on page 183 of the book, was on the January list of Mellow Bakers breads to make.  I'd gotten a bit distracted and was having so much fun making cookies from KAF's website and spice bars from The Modern Baker, that time got away from me, and I forgot to get back to bread making.  I was planning some baked mostaccioli for dinner on Wednesday, and I thought this would be the perfect meal to serve the Roasted Garlic Levain with.

First off, I prepared my stiff levain the night before baking, by combining bread flour, water, and ~ 2T of stiff sourdough culture.  My sourdough culture was at 100% hydration, which I thought was correct for a stiff culture, but last night as I was flipping thru the back of Hamelman's book, I discovered that a stiff levain is 60% hydration.  Oops, I guess 100 % was close enough, though.  I will file that in my memory banks for next time.  Stiff = ~60% hydration.

I let my stiff levain build ripen on the counter for 12 hours, while roasting my garlic cloves near the end of that time.  I wanted by garlic cloves to cool off a bit, before mixing up the final dough.   I peeled off the top layer of papery skin from my 4 extra large cloves, cut off the woody end of each clove, drizzled them with olive oil, then baked in my 325° oven for ~ 20 minutes.  I poked them with a knife and it went right into them, so bingo, they were done!

Here are my culture and garlic all ready to get thrown into the final dough.  I mashed up the garlic really good with a fork before adding it in,
Since everone else had shaped their dough as rolls or loaves so far, I decided I'd shape mine as fougasse, since JH said this bread makes excellent fougasse.  Besides, when I asked hubby whether I should shape it as a boule or as fougasse, as he was heading out the door for work, he confidently responded 'fougasse', so fougasse it became.

I always like trying something different, so when I saw shaping directions for a leaf-shaped fougasse in Baking With Julia, I decided to give that a try.  The Leaf-Shaped Fougasse shaping directions are on page 146 of Baking With Julia, and a picture of it is shown on the inside front cover.  It's a little hard to see in the picture of my finished fougasse, but what was new to me in the shaping of this fougasse were the 3 slanted cuts on either side (edge) of the teardrop shape.  I made these with a razor blade, and only cutting into the dough about half the length of the blade.  

I baked my fougasse for 20 minutes at 450°  At first I thought it was too done when I took it out at 20 minutes, and was kicking myself for not checking on it earlier, but when eating it, it tasted just right to us.
This recipe made quite a large fougasse, which just barely fit onto my stone.  

Oh, we were in heaven as we tore into our chunks of sourdough garlic fougasse.  It tasted kind of like pizza dough and the garlic flavor is subtle in this bread, but you can definitely tell it is there!  I had also sprinkled Italian Seasoning into my dough when I was mixing it up to give it even more flavor.  Also, before I slid the fougasse into the oven, and onto the stone, I brushed the dough w/ EVOO and sprinkled on a bit of kosher salt.

We both love the chewy interior and slightly crunchy exterior of fougasse, so I'm sure this garlic bread will be on the menu again in our house.  This one's a keeper!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sourdough Seed Bread: Mellow Bakers (December)

As the Mellow Bakers group winds down with its final few breads left in Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread, I'm trying to sneak in a couple on my 'must make soon' list.  The Sourdough Seed Bread was one that the group did back in December, but that's when we were moving, so I wasn't able to get it done then.

Hubby and I love seeds in our bread, so this one was right up our alley.  I have not made nearly enough sourdough  breads yet, so this one was destined to be made.  The bread calls for a liquid levain build (which is just some bread flour, water, and 2 Tbsp of mature sourdough culture) and a soaker.  Both of these were put together the night before and left to rest on the counter.  The soaker was made up of 1.1 oz (31g) of flaxseeds and ~ 3 oz of water.  I read a comment posted on The Fresh Loaf yesterday that said if you google it,  you will find that soaking flaxseeds in water makes the seeds more readily digestible and I guess helps release some of the good stuff in the flax for our bodies to use.  I had previously thought our bodies only received the benefits of flax in baked goods if it was ground first.  I learned something new!

The final dough for this bread includes two other seeds, sunflower and sesame, both of which are lightly toasted first .  Here are my seeds ready to go, the flax seeds having gotten kind of gooey after sitting in the water overnight.
 The liquid levain, which I mixed up the night before, was to sit at room temp. for 12 to 16 hours.  I mixed up my final dough after 13 hours.  My levain smelled pretty tangy, tasted good and it had lots of little bubbles on the surface so I figured it was ready to go.  I tried to get a good picture of the gluten that had developed in my liquid levain,
but my picture was not nearly as good as the one Joanna took of her levain for this post (second picture from the top).  Her levain was a stiff one, but I think it's a pretty cool shot of the gluten that can develop in a sourdough levain build overnight.

The recipe for this bread was really quite simple.  The final dough only involved combining 12oz (348g) bread flour, a bit of whole rye flour, the two bowls of toasted seeds, water, salt, the soaker, and all but 2Tbsp (returned to the fridge) of the liquid levain build.

The bread, since its a sourdough, and didn't include any commercial yeast in the dough, involved ~ 4 1/2 hours of fermentation time.  I could have retarded the loaf in the fridge overnight, but I hate doing that, because it takes up so much room in my already too crowded fridge.  The first stage of fermentation took 2 1/2 hours and involved folding the dough once.  After this, into the pan it went, since I wanted a sandwich loaf.
The above photo is just before the loaf went into the oven.  For the final 2 hours of fermentation I kept the loaf pan in the oven w/ the light on.  It was quite happy in there I think.  I baked the loaf @ 360° for ~ 36 minutes taking it out when the temperature reached ~197°.
The loaf was beautiful, at least from this side:)  The other side burst open a bit.  Note to self is already in the book  This loaf needs scored.  Even if its baked in a loaf pan, I believe it needs scored since the loaf will split, burst open, if you don't.  When the crust starts to form and when the pressure builds inside the baking loaf, it will seek to release this pressure by opening at the weakest point in the loaf.  I should've gone w/ my gut feeling that told me before I slid this into the oven, that it needed scored!

Over at The Fresh Loaf site, the consensus was that this was not a good sandwich bread, which dampened my spirits a bit as my 'intended for sandwiches' loaf baked away in the kitchen.  Hubby and I think, though,  that this will make wonderful sandwich bread.  He took his usual turkey/cheese sandwich to work for lunch today, so when he gets home we'll see how he liked it.  For myself, my lunch sandwich is usually peanut butter and jelly, but today I just warmed a slice and slathered on the fresh ground peanut butter.  Yum!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Melting Moments:Modern Baker Challenge

Yesterday seemed like the perfect day to bake cookies.  It was sunny with a few big puffy clouds outside and not too cold.  All the gingerbread men were gone, and since I missed out on most of my holiday cookie baking due to our move, I was not all baked out.

When I was at Whole Foods this week I picked up a plump, organic navel orange.  I love this time of year when the citrus fruit from Florida begins filling the supermarket bins.  I was searching for a cookie recipe to try & noticed that the recipe for Melting Moments from Nick Malgieri's book The Modern Baker, called for lots of orange zest.  This was one of my picks for The Modern Baker Challenge,  so I zipped back over to Whole Foods yesterday and got me another orange so I could try out this recipe.

The first step in the recipe calls to beat together 1 cup confectioners' sugar and one stick of unsalted butter.  I was already a bit hungry and craving something sweet, so when I saw the sugar and butter coming together in the mixer bowl, all I could think of was buttercream frosting, and had a strong urge to stick my finger down in the bowl to sample some of it.   I was good though, and resisted.
This recipe is kind of unusual in that it calls for lots of cornstarch, 3/4 cup worth.  I have made another cookie recipe before and it calls for a lot of cornstarch too, and sometimes it seems like I can taste the cornstarch and I don't like that, so I wondered if these cookies would be the same.

For the first sheet of cookies, I slid a small amount of dough off of a spoon with my finger onto the parchment sheet (since I don't have a tiny cookies scoop).  The first finished batch of cookies came out sort of irregular in shape, though, so on the remaining sheets of cookies,  I rolled balls of dough between my hands to make my rounded teaspoons.  The finished cookies came out much rounder that way.  I baked my cookies for 19 minutes and only one sheet at a time and I got exactly 48 cookies.
These cookies baked up firm with a very assertive orange flavor from the orange zest and orange extract.  I don't know that they melt in your mouth, like I thought the name implied, but they are very good.  I think these would be a good cookie to make at Christmas time to complement all the other goodies.

Before you bake the cookies you're supposed to make a crisscross design on top with a fork, but the pattern didn't show up very well on my finished cookies.  I tried flattening the cookies more, but the pattern still wasn't very visible.  I wanted to add a bit of pizzazz to the cookies, so since chocolate goes well with orange, I decided to melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies.
There, that's much better!  You couldn't taste the chocolate much since the drizzle is so thin, but they sure looked prettier.  I think I'll have to drizzle more chocolate on next time.  Hubby and I are really enjoying these cookies.  Since they're small, its kind of hard to eat just one, and they are wonderful with milk or hot tea.

We are enjoying the cookies, bars and biscotti section of NM's book, so I'll definitely be on to the next recipe as soon as we're finished with our Melting Moments:)

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