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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Everyday Bread #18 - A Bauernbrot for Mother's Day


I was told to bring some of my bread on Mother's day, for dinner at my mom's.

I've made this one before and felt confident enough that upon making it again it wouldn't be a total failure.  And this bread both looks impressive, and is easily made (given enough time - I was told late on Friday that I had to bring something for Sunday, which was just enough time to have this bread made).  I'm not really sure that my family will like it, though: they tend to like white bread and are suspicious of artisan loaves in general, and different grains in particular.  Oh well.  A little taste of the wild side won't hurt them too much.

There is very little whole wheat in this recipe.  What there is, though, is some rye and spelt in addition to all purpose flour.  If it was made for myself, there would be very little all purpose flour, if any, but since this is for my family, I kept the volume of AP flour at 400 g, as per the original recipe, which asks for about 75%.  I dusted the counter with whole wheat, so there may have been incorporated about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of it when kneading.  I didn't use much of the 250 g of whole wheat that I measured out.

The actual technique and recipe can be found on the earlier page.  This is a recipe that will work well with sourdough starter, but in the absence of that, the fake starter method works well too.

The dough is fairly wet to work with, but less so this time around.   It is actually stickier this time though, and I think that is due to the amount of rye I've used.  I just couldn't knead it for any length of time before the heat of my hands made it too sticky.  Then I would add a bit more flour from the bowl of whole wheat flour I had in front of me, and I would wet my hands so the dough wouldn't stick to them.  Eventually I just stopped this nonsense, however.  At some point you just have to trust that the dough is kneaded enough, and everything else you are doing is just more of the same.

The second kneading is more a degassing, and I'm not convinced it is required.  The following picture is what it would have been like if I had omitted the second kneading.  I don't think that in kneading it the second time I developed the gluten any further than it already was.  Next time I try this, if I think I can get the dough out of the bowl this nicely, I will omit the second kneading.

My biggest question this time around was, how do I get the bread that has fully proofed onto the hot stone without having it deflate or become misshapen?  I didn't think I'd be able to trust the cornmeal-on-the-pizza-peel method.  I have had some disasters that way.  I opted to have the bread proof on a baking sheet, and I placed that sheet on the hot stone once the oven was preheated. 

I had noted last time that this bread would be good with some whole grains in the dough itself, but they would have to be prepared in a soaker and I didn't have time for that.  But I had also noted that it would be nice to have some seeds on top of the loaf, brushed on with the yogurt.  That I could do.  I chose some sunflower seeds and some black sesame seeds.  With the black sesame seeds I followed my score marks, which made the crust look like it was burnt in some places.  It is not.

The baking sheet idea worked okay except upon taking it out of the oven the bread stuck to the sheet and had to be loosened with a spatula.  I then placed the bread back in the cooling oven on the still-hot stone for another 20 minutes or so, to firm up that bottom crust a bit.  Some steam escaped from the interior of the bread when I was chipping away at the bottom to get it off the baking sheet, and I am certain that because of that, the crumb will be less nice.

End of the Story: there were no obvious raves at dinner, but afterwards my mother asked to keep what remained of the loaf, about half (she wondered if it would freeze well, as it would take the two of them some time to eat even half a loaf, these breads are so big).  I gave it to her of course, but I had my sister take a picture of the crumb to send to me for my crumb page. 

Notes to Myself:

  • You still haven't solved the problem of what to do, to get the proofed bread onto the hot stone in the oven without making the bread misshapen.  If it is proofed on a baking sheet on cornmeal, perhaps you can slide your metal peel under it without interfering with the shape too much.  Try that next time -- if you are not making this bread for an 'event'.
  • Another method you can try: put the dough on a cold stone (again) and place a huge graniteware roaster or canning kettle over it to trap the steam from the bread (this idea is similar to Lahey's; he uses an inverted Rumtopf for his ciabatta), for the first 30 minutes of this bake (then remove it for the last 30 minutes).  You will need a roaster small enough that it fits on the stone, but big enough that the rising bread doesn't run into it.
  • Try this recipe with whole wheat.
  • Try this recipe with soaked whole grains.
  • Try this recipe with true sourdough starter.

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