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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Everyday Bread #12: 5 minuten Brot

Everyday Bread: 5 minuten brot
'Bread Off'

Baking two loaves at once the other day to compare them (see Struan vs Transitional Multigrain Bread) was fun, and I learned quite a lot.  Making and tasting breads side by side makes it very easy to discern one's likes and dislikes, and to consider the best method for next time.  I decided to try another 'Bread off'.

Once again, I found a recipe on the German website that I wanted to try: 5-Minuten-Brot, or Five Minute Bread.  The name is somewhat misleading.  The dough is baked for an hour; and furthermore, the day before baking (or earlier), you have to roast 300 grams of different grains and seeds over fairly low heat.  But the actual mixing up of the bread on the day of baking is said to take only 5 minutes.  The recipe, in translation:

  • 600 g wheat or spelt flour
  • 600 ml water, lukewarm
  • 1 pkt dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 50 g each of: oats, millet, flax, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, sesame seed

Roast all of the seeds and grains in a dry pan for one hour, using not much heat, stirring frequently.  Set aside until days later.  On baking day, mix water, yeast, sugar, salt, flour, and then the roasted seeds and grains.  Pour into a well-greased pan, place in the cold oven at 225 degrees C (437 degrees F) for one hour.

What I did:

A number of people who tried this and reported back to the German website sounded very excited at how good it tasted, how easy it was to make.  One baker said that they didn't have to roast the grains, they just added them and it worked that way too.  Others found it worked when they substituted other grains, like buckwheat, or even if they used nuts instead.

I wanted to try this recipe 'as is' so I roasted up the named grains.  I just put them in a roasting pan for an hour, shaking the pan every 10 minutes.  Our oven's lowest setting is 170 degrees F; and I don't think they properly roasted.  But I didn't feel that was going to be much of a problem, considering others used them entirely raw, too.  Besides, who needs the extra acrylamides?   I put the seeds in the fridge when I finished so whatever oils I had unleashed wouldn't get so very rancid before I used them.

The next day, I was thinking about hydration of dough in the various recipes for breads, and wondering if this recipe would work in a Lahey-style, high heat oven.  So I calculated the hydration percentage of this recipe, and compared it to Lahey's. 

Lahey uses a 75% hydration for his main recipe
this 5-minuten brot uses 66% hydration.

With this calculation I was all set for a bread recipe competition. (Unfortunately, this calculation was wrong.  Reinhart considers the total flour in the recipe to be 100%, and he doesn't include any grains or seeds in his calculation of that 100%.  Grains and seeds are always a percentage of the total flour.  So that means that the 5 minuten brot has a 100% hydration rate, and by trying to reach Lahey's hydration level using this incorrect assumption, I increased Lahey's loaf to have a hydration of 113%.)

The Bread-off is born

I thought I might try the official recipe with half of my semi-roasted seeds, and try a higher-hydration experiment with the other half.  For the official recipe, I would use a combination of all-purpose flour and spelt. 

    150 g all purpose flour
    150 g spelt flour
    300 g total

For the rest of the ingredients, I would merely half the recipe as written:
300 ml water, lukewarm
1 1/8 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
25 g each of: oats, millet, flax, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, sesame seed

For the experimental loaf, as a translation to a Lahey-inspired hydrated dough, I could use any kind of flour I wanted.  I chose to make a blend of whole wheat, all-purpose, rye and spelt.

    75 g all purpose flour
    75 g whole wheat flour
    75 g rye flour
    75 g spelt flour
    300 g total

With half of the seeds, this would bring the total weight to 450 g, which is slightly more weight than Lahey's recipes; but I would keep Lahey's hydration ratio, so the water I needed to add was 338 g.  I would use not half, but 1/4 tsp of the yeast for the experimental loaf, and let it rise 12-18 hours, as is Lahey's way.  I would use no sugar, but I would use 1/2 the salt (or 1 tsp, which is slightly less than Lahey uses).

This was today's bread-off basic competition.  Which of these two doughs would rise best, bake best, taste best?

Making the Official Loaf

The official 5-minute dough ingredients were gathered.  I remembered to include the salt after I took this 'mise-en-place' photo.  I think that the salt content is a bit high, but I did it anyway, for the 'official' recipe.

I mixed it all up, and it seemed quite wet.  I used coconut oil to coat the inside of a casserole dish (since I thought that the recipe might not fit into a tin).  The dough was smoothed out on top before I put it into the oven.

 Despite the coconut oil, this didn't come out of the pan very well, and needed some persuasion.  But it wasn't burned.  The top had separated in one spot, and it may have benefited from having the lid on for the first part of its baking cycle, like Lahey's method.  But overall I was happy enough with the appearance.  Any loaf that bakes without burning or blowing up is a good day for me.

Making the Experimental Loaf

While the official loaf was baking for an hour, I formed the experimental dough that had been fermenting for over 12 hours, as per Lahey's instructions.  It hadn't quite doubled, but it was about 1 1/2 times the original size.  While the official dough was quite wet, this dough was extremely wet.  It stuck to my pastry scraper as I folded it.  I put it onto the couche that was prepared with cracked wheat.  This was proofed for 2 hours.  I was glad it was wrapped up, or it would have flowed over the counter.

Into the preheated pot it went, and it baked a full 30 minutes covered, and another 15 minutes uncovered.  This is the only thing I did different from Lahey's method.

It rolled out of the ungreased crock pot when it was done without sticking to anything.  This alone makes me like the Lahey methods over the official greased loaf pan 5-minuten method.  If it takes longer than 5 minuten to clean up the pot, then it is no time savings.

The verdict

No clear-cut winner, I am afraid.  The experimental loaf (left) has a softer, more pliable crumb.  Due perhaps to the rye flour, it is substantially grayer in coloration.  Due to the fermentation, there is definitely more harmonic subtlety to the taste.  However, the higher hydration probably interfered with the full development of the flavour: it could have been better with less hydration, I know it.  The crust is softer than other Lahey loaves that I've baked, cover-off, for the full 30 minutes.  I like that. 

On the other hand, the 'official' loaf (right, above) has an interesting crust too, and I actually prefer it for this bread.  While harder than the experimental loaf, the crunchiness of it sets off the seeds and grains which make up the interior of the loaf.  The seeds, by the way, are certainly not roasted and might actually give the loaf a more interesting taste if they were.  The loaf doesn't have the subtlety of the experimental loaf, but it tastes fine.  There is a distinct problem with the cracking of the loaf on the bottom, similar to another high grain loaf that I made recently that stuck to the pot.  I now believe that digging the loaf out of the pan while it is still warm is going to cause these fissures.  They do not harm the taste in any way, but it makes the presentation of the bread unacceptable.  I will eat this loaf myself and never give it to anyone to share, I'm ashamed of it.

Both breads are filling, and taste good, but I would have to say that neither is particularly special.  I will have to attempt this bread again, to give it a fair trial.  I interfered too much with the recipe to say that I baked it the way the original author intended.

Notes to myself:
  • You probably didn't have to include the grains and seeds in the total of your flour: that is not, after all, how Reinhart does it.  The flour alone is a 100%, and any seeds he adds are a percentage of that whole when working out formulas.  Of course, he doesn't have this many seeds and whole grains in his breads without soaking them or mashing them. (Try 225 g of water next time, or keep it the same as the official version, 300 g)
  • Instead of roasting the seeds and grains, try cracking them and/or soaking or fermenting them. If they need to be cooked to soften a bit, you could boil some of them.
  • Try painting the top of Lahey's loaves before baking them with egg white or yogurt or something; or try scoring them.  They always blast apart.  Can this be a controlled blast?
  • Consider this: if you are halving a yeast recipe, is it right to half the yeast and keep the time allotted? Yeast is a living thing: what is its growth curve?  If x amount of dough rises in y amount of time using z amount of yeast, does it necessarily follow that x/2 dough rises in y amount of time using z/2 amount of yeast?  Only experimentation could prove this.  You have not given the official 5-minuten brot recipe an adequate trial here.
  • If you have a loaf that sticks to the pot, do NOT dig it out while it is still warm, the bread will develop large fissures.

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