All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Everyday Bread #39 - Whole Wheat Brioche from HBin5 for Hamburger Buns

I've never made this brioche from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day before.  But I was pleased to see that it used 5 eggs (well, 6 if you count the egg wash, and you do have to count the egg wash).  Now that our backyard chickens are producing about 5-6 a day, we are beginning to look for ways to hide the eggs in various meals.

The brioche is one of the recipes that you have to be careful with, it has some errors on the page in the quantities of ingredients if you have the first edition of Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (I guess I do).   The errors are corrected on their website; and they even give the complete recipe here, with corrections, because they care so much about this recipe, and know how much it matters to their readers.

What I really wanted was a way to make some Hamburger Buns.  We don't eat a lot of veggie burgers, but once in a while we will have some for a quick meal.  And I really hate that we have to pull some crappy store-bought chemicalized buns out of the freezer just to slap a veggie burger on them every so often.  This web page from HBin5 suggested that the brioche doughs were good for making buns for burgers.

Although the dough is quite wet, I had to mix up the final bit by hand, because the wooden spoon wasn't getting to the bottom.  This is some gooey stuff.

In less than 2 hours, the brioche dough had surpassed the doubling point.  It has been a long time since I've used vital wheat gluten (I'm trying to get away from recipes that use it), and I was surprised at how quickly the dough rose.  The dough has to be refrigerated before use.  My intention is to bake some buns with it tomorrow.

Day 2:
The dough continued to rise slightly in the refrigerator. 

 I measured out the dough: 85 grams per doughball, and flattened them out as per the instructions on the web site.  I didn't have any muffin tins, so these are all free-form.

I had some black sesame seeds, and for a few of the buns I also used flax seeds.  The baked brioche smells great, but it didn't really rise all that well, in my opinion.  The first batch sat for only 20 minutes, the second for something like 40 minutes, and the same minimal rise was seen on both.  But they are probably good enough to slice in half and use as hamburger buns.

We'll freeze some of them, but they were too fresh to resist for lunch.  We had them with goat cheese.

Notes to Myself:
  • Try some of the other uses for the brioche dough, like that shown on Zoe's personal website, the blueberry lemon curd ring.  Looks amazing.
  • This dough tastes very sweet, and that's odd because I used 1/4 cup less honey than the recipe called for (that's all I had).  I wonder if this dough can be made without any sweet stuff at all?

Everyday Bread #38 - Sourdough Olive Bread a'la Lahey

 An Olive Loaf for Kathy

One of my co-workers has been asking for some Olive Bread.  This is so easy to make via the Lahey method, how could I say no? 

But easy = boring.  Of course, I thought I'd try something a little bit different.  I would have to experiment.  Instead of yeast, I would use some sourdough that I should have discarded when I refreshed my motherstarter today (but I am too cheap to do that!).  And I decided to use up some more of that Multigrain Bread Dough that we've had kicking around for awhile.  I was hoping that the many grains in the mix might add to the flavour.

The recipe calls for 3 cups or 400 g of bread flour.  This multigrain flour is so dense, it required only about 2 cups to reach that weight.  I dumped in some kalamata olives, and the water, and stirred it up. 

How much sourdough starter would I use?  There were no guidelines in Lahey's book.  He expects this dough to rise in 18-24 hours using only 3 g of dry yeast.

I used 1/3 c of my whole wheat motherstarter.  It seemed to me to be a bit more hydrated than the rye motherstarter, even though I've kept the amounts of flour and water that I've refreshed them with exactly the same throughout their life cycle.  Lahey likes a wet dough, so I was hoping these wild yeasts would fit right in and do their job.

I set it aside, expecting it to take a bit longer than the 18-24 hours that the commercial dry yeast would take.  I was hoping for a doubling in volume, but I thought it might be great if I could get even more than that.

It more or less doubled before the 18 hour mark, but I waited until then to refrigerate it.  I wouldn't be able to bake it until Saturday night after work, which was good because that was when I was working with Kathy, the one who likes olive bread.  If I baked it Saturday night, it would be ready to take on Sunday morning.

The trouble was, I would have to enlist the help of my wife to take the dough from the frig before I got home from work or I would be up past midnite.  She took it out a couple of hours before I got home and when I arrived home from my shift on Saturday, I began shaping the loaf and baking.

The dough was very wet, and gooey.  I thought that perhaps the gluten structure was spent, or past its prime.  Nevertheless I proceeded.  I used some cracked wheat for the crust: lately I've been enjoying the way this tastes.

The dough has to sit 2 hours after forming, and then it bakes for almost an hour.  So I was up until 11 pm anyway.

The results were okay on the outside.  I used a casserole dish as a makeshift Dutch Oven, and there was some decent oven spring.  I had to wait until I got to work to crack open the loaf to see the crumb.  Luckily I took my camera to work to get a picture of the inside of the loaf.  It was pretty dense, and perhaps a bit too moist.

Kathy said she liked it (but she may just have said that to be kind), and a physician who dropped by and tried a piece said he liked the slice that he had.  But others refused to try it or tossed it away with a 'blechh'.  The olives were very salty, and the sourdough was truly sour, and I can see how it might not be to everyone's taste.  I liked it well enough with some brie cheese.  I tried some with nothing but some olive oil, and found it fairly bitter that way.  I think I like the olive loaf made with the ordinary bread flour better, for colour and taste.  But the crust was nice.  The cracked wheat makes for a nutty and crunchy crust.

Over all, this one was a fairly good loaf.

Notes to Self:

  • Sourdough isn't to everyone's liking: when making a bread for public consumption, you probably should use yeast, unless you specifically are asked to bring a sourdough loaf.
  • When using sourdough to raise a Lahey-style loaf, 1/3 of a cup is good and works well, but you probably could have used less and it still would have worked well.   Either try using 1/4 cup, and/or add a bit more flour to make the dough -- and the crumb -- slightly less wet.
  • Eating sourdough bread means you are ingesting lactobacillus, which converts lactose and other sugars into lactic acid.  These beneficial organisms thrive in wild yeast doughs and give sourdough breads their distinctive sour taste.

    Today at break while at work I was reading a bit more of
    Sandor Katz' book, "Wild Fermentation".  Katz said something about Lactobacillus that caught my eye: these little beneficial bacteria live in our gut and they make Omega-3 Fatty Acids - they actually give off nutrients that are essential for our well-being.  Hey, isn't that cool?  A symbiosis right in our own human gastrointestinal tract, an ecology of thrift, a culture of cooperation.

  • This news particularly intrigued me as I have been looking for ways of increasing the Omega-3's in my (vegetarian) diet.  I read one of the popular books on Omega-3 recently, that says that Flax Seed Oil is one way, but that only gives you the short-chain Omega-3s, not the more beneficial long chain Omega-3's (EPA and DHA), which comes almost exclusively from seafood and some ocean algae; and besides, Flax Seed also contains Omega-6's which we should be cutting down on even as we are increasing our 3's. 
    Jerry Brunetti in his slide show 'Food as Medicine' says the body may be able to make EPA and DHA from the short chain Omega-3s in small amounts, but that you need extra "magnesium, zinc, B-6, and Vitamin C." The book I read, Evelyn Tribole's 'The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet", says that some algae that vegans can use to supplement their diet will give you DHA but not EPA; but while the body cannot manufacture EPA and DHA out of the short-chain Omega-3's (despite what Brunetti says), it can make EPA from DHA easily.  Not sure what to believe.

    But wouldn't it be nice if we could just live in harmony with a little, otherwise maligned, microbe in our own digestive tract?  We could feed it, and nurture the culture of lactobacillus in our guts, and it could feed us, and everybody would be very happy.  Right?

    Well, maybe not.  I was thinking: if the best thing for us is to create an environment where the beneficial organisms are thriving, how do we do this?  Do we eat more fermented, sour (acidic) foods, like Katz suggests, to add more lactobacillus life forms to our gut, or do we feed the ones already in our gut with things they like so they will reproduce and thrive and give us the nutrients we need?

    I know, for myself for instance, that if I eat sour cream (which I love), something in my gut loves it too: but they manufacture gas in huge amounts, and it is loud, painful and smelly.  The culture in my gut might be happy but I am unhappy because I cannot enjoy human culture at that point.  So for me, eating sour cream to keep my flora happy is not going to be a permanent solution.  I can't eat it the day before I am working with patients, for instance.  That's not fair to them.

    I have a ton of questions.  Why does sour cream affect me this way, but not cheese, not milk, not yogurt?  (or perhaps these items do affect me this way, but there is quicker pass-through so the gas doesn't build up to quantities that I notice?)  Is the gas that these microbes give off the only way to know if the bacteria in our gut is thriving?  Is it the lactobacillus in my gut that loves sour cream, or some other bacteria?  If lactobacillus ferments bread and other things we eat, does it also ferment things in our gut?  Is this a good thing to do inside us?  Would it have the same effect if we just ate fermented things instead?

    Obviously I need to do a bit more research. 

    I have been thinking lately that my own human gut is like a black box, where you don't see anything that is happening inside it, you only know what goes in and what comes out.  I can analyze what goes in, in terms of ingredients and how that breaks down to nutrients.  And I suppose I can also analyze what goes out: I can examine my scats, my farts, my boogers, my sweat, my energy levels.  But there is the thing: is this blog the place to do it?  Should I be talking about farts in a blog that has been so far mostly about bread and recipes? 

    I can't really think of a better place.  After all, it appears no one is reading my blog or looking at my pictures of bread (and why should they, after all 'nobody cares what you had for lunch').  But do I really want to have pictures of my bread side-by-side with pictures of my stool, for all the world to see?  Yuck.  I've actually been thinking of starting another blog, linked to this one, with the pictures of the output.  There would be pictures of things that I would be examining under a microscope.  But I would restrict access to that other blog to myself. 

    I mean, a blog with scat pictures is the human cultural equivalent of GI flora manufacturing too much smelly, bloating gas.

    Best to think on these things some more.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Everyday Bread #37 - Reinhart's Basic Sourdough from BBA made into a Detox Loaf

Sourdough Bread Made with the Detox Recipe Idea: Rolled up with bran

Before I begin today's bread, I have a confession to make about my ignorance.

How to Degas Dough
There was a time early on when I was learning how to bake bread, that I did not know what it meant to 'Degas' the bread.  I assumed it was a French term, perhaps named after a cultural icon in the artisan breadmaking world.  Something like the way we name certain things after our cultural icons, for example:
And of course, we in North America might know Edgar Degas as an impressionist artist who liked to use pastels to capture ballerinas, but wasn't he also a famous French artisan bread maker?

Er, no.

So, despite the fact that I still have a lot of bread failures, I am learning things (slowly).  To quote Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes (a recent acquisition for me):
"If the excess of carbon dioxide gas that is generated by the yeast is not periodically expelled, fermentation can be impaired.  The degassing function can in fact be achieved by the old 'punching down' method; however, it is more effective when the dough is folded..."
So you see, it is not pronounced 'Degas' the way the French would, but De-Gas, the way the H'English do.  Just thought I'd clear that up for others who were as lost as me.  (What?  No one else was that stupid?)

The Last Sourdough This Week

I decided to make the last sourdough bread this week (see Everyday bread #35 and #36) using the Detox Recipe I used a long time ago.  In that recipe, I add bran and germ back to the endosperm (all purpose flour), in the same ratio that it was there in the beginning, when it was still wheat.

So if we are using 655 g of total (graham) flour
  • 83 percent of that is going to be endosperm or all purpose flour - or 584 g
  • 14.5 percent of that is going to be bran - or 96 g
  • 2.5 percent of that is going to be wheat germ - or 16 g.
I mixed the bran and wheat germ in a soaker overnight in 1 1/2 cups of milk; I didn't think that any less than that would actually get the entire quantity moist enough.

Ordinarily, by taking that much hydration away from the recipe, this means I only have 1/4 cup to hydrate the rest of the flour, following Reinhart's recipe -- but there's no way that's going to work, so I decided I'd just have to play it by ear.  I figured it should probably take  at least 1 1/3 c water, and I had that amount ready.  But it was coming together with about 1 cup of water, so I set aside 1/3 of a cup that I didn't use.

This dough was not nearly as gloppy as the day's previous, and I am wondering to myself whether I should have just gone for the full hydration I expected to use.  On the other hand, even the small amount of whole wheat flour in this mix caused the gluten sheath to tear as I kneaded it.  I had to be a whole lot more gentle with kneading this dough.

Remember, I have not yet added the bran and wheat germ to the mix -- I will simply roll that up inside the white dough after it has risen in the bulk fermentation stage.  This dough is tearing apart from the smallest amount of whole wheat from the motherstarter that was there before the elaboration into the sourdough starter that I'll be using today.

Which leads me to suspect that rye motherstarters will be better to leaven sourdough breads that have only all purpose flour, since they will make a silkier dough without any sharp bran to catch on the forming gluten strands.

I have to say, though, that mixing this up by hand gave off the most marvellous aroma.  The sourdough starter had been cut up and tossed into the flour a couple of hours earlier, and I could see it was already starting to ferment the flour and expand a bit where it was touching, even in the time it had taken to come to room temperature, and even without hydration. 

Remember, this starter was mixed and had risen several days ago, prior to being refrigerated.  The texts say that you then have to use it within 24 hours.  But it has been a lot longer than that, for this final sourdough starter -- 4 days refrigerated.  The scent is not a sour scent.  It is woodsy, kind of nutty.  I really don't have the vocabulary to describe it, but it smells alive and fresh.

But would it still be able to rise my dough?

Yes.  In about 2 1/2 hours, it was noticeably bigger.  I am always amazed at this.  I get so excited.  I love found food.  It is better than going to your garden and getting it.  This leaven didn't cost me anything, really.  I found it on the flour, I found it in the air.  It just appeared.  No yeast, ma!  No yeast!

I flattened the dough out on the countertop (this degassed it!), to a more-or-less rectangular shape.  I dumped the soaked bran and germ on top, and smoothed it all out.  It was a lot more crumbly than I remember it.  Did I use yogurt last time?  Did I incorporate more of the flour?  Why was the consistency different? 

Undaunted, I smoothed it out and rolled it up as tightly as the gluten would allow.

A bit of milky bran oozed out and rather than trying to stuff it back inside, I just sprinkled it on top (along with a little bit of extra cracked wheat).  I shored up the sides of the couche with the nearest long cylindrical objects I could find.  Then I covered it for a couple of hours, hoping it would rise and not spread and sag.
It held together nicely, retaining its shape and plumping up the way it should, without oozing sideways.  And it baked up impressively, too, filling in my score marks for the most part (oozing a bit of milk from the slits as it baked).  The bran on the top was probably a mistake: it looks like it all burnt, despite its milkiness, and it will taste pretty roasted and bitter, no doubt.

Although I thought I was extra careful not to make the loaf long, this bread was still a tiny bit too horizontal for my baking stone, and drooped a bit off either end, although I am pleased with how I centered it and pushed it into place without deflating it or munging it too badly.  (I used a metal pizza peel to scoop the proofed dough off the couche, then I pushed the loaf off the peel onto the baking stone with my free hand.  Then I corrected some dough wobble before shutting the door on the baking loaf.)

Probably the ends are going to be a little too cooked.  They look somewhat dry.

I had this bread in the oven at 475 degrees F. for ten minutes, then I turned it, and after 10 minutes I turned it 45 degrees for another 5 minutes.  Because it was oozing milk at the 20 minute mark, I opted for the extra 5 minutes, afraid it would not be cooked through.

Crumb shots to follow.

Something interesting happened to this bread the other day when I wanted a slice. There was a funny discoloration and I took a whiff: definitely a fungus growth.  And it was growing on the bran/germ, but infiltrating into the white bread.  I have never had a bread go stale and grow bread mold this quickly before, not ever.  I am not sure why it happened, but it seems clear that it came from the milk-soaked bran and germ.  Now that I think about it, the soaker should have been in the refrigerator overnight, instead of out on the counter.  Probably the milk spoiled because of it.

The chickens ended up with half of this loaf.

Notes to Myself:
  • Be extra vigilant in not making your loaves longer than the baking stone!  Allow for some lengthwise expansion during the bulk fermentation or rising stages.
  • That couche idea worked well to shore up the sides of this loaf while it was proofing.  Of course, the way this dough is formed also has a lot to do with its tightness.  And finally, the dough was not too wet.
  • Try this with yogurt next time, rather than milk.  Go fermentation!
  • Keep soakers overnight in the refrigerator

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Everyday Bread #36 - Reinhart's Basic Sourdough from BBA

Continuing to bake some sourdough.  This is part of the experiment that I started a couple of days ago (Everyday Bread #35).  Today's 2 loaves were baked with the rye motherstarter elaboration.

I didn't knead for 14 minutes, more like 4.  And it was much wetter than the dough I used the other day.  In fact, it started like glop, but I just used the heel of my hands to stretch it outward a few times, and it quickly formed its gluten and became easier to work with.  I did give it a 5 minute rest, and then I kneaded another minute, and that seemed to work okay.  I oiled a bowl and let it sit, covered.

It was a high humidity day, this morning, when the dough was sitting for its bulk fermentation.  I gave it 2 1/2 hours.  I don't think it precisely doubled.  Then I folded it once on the counter.  I set one to proof on the pizza peel, coated with a ton of cracked wheat to help it slide off later; the other one I put in a couche lined basket.

This afternoon, we could hear the thunder, and it must have rained somewhere nearby, because it became distinctly cooler.  Once again I only waited about 2 hours, and I don't think the dough precisely doubled.  But I preheated the oven at 1 1/2 hours, and stuck the first dough in to bake when it was preheated 30 minutes.

This was the dough on the pizza peel.  It was starting to flow again, sideways and lengthways, so it got stuck on the peel on either end, and that explains why it is so misshapen.  I had no great hopes for it, but there was some nice oven spring.

I really have to clean out the oven.  Something has dripped down onto the bottom near the element, and every time you open the oven door at high temps, the fire alarm goes off.  Not exactly a soothing environment with which to achieve the perfect zen loaf.  I am always rushing the oven door opening and closing, and running over to wave some wind at the alarm to get it to shut up.

The boule ended up a little too close to the edge, and part of it dripped over.  I should have called this blog 'bread fail blog', or something similar, because no loaf of mine ever seems to turn out right.  This boule didn't have much oven spring.  I thought I had folded them about equally.  I know that I formed them differently, but I felt that I had pulled the gluten cloak approximately similarly in both.  Maybe I should have put the seam down in the basket, I didn't do that.  But it was sticking to my hand, and I thought it would work better this way for this dough.

I didn't follow Reinhart's suggestions for oven heat for these loaves.  I preheated to 475 degrees, and kept the temperature there for the entire bake.  I did turn the loaves at the 10 minute mark, and then baked for another 15 minutes.  I used steam.

The crumb is quite nice.  The holes that my wife demanded for her jam are there.  I quite like the chewiness of the crust, and the cracked wheat gives it a nice flavour -- a nuttiness that you don't expect.  I'm not sure that my wife will like that chewiness, though.  To my tastebuds, I can't detect any sourdough scent or flavour, and neither can I detect the rye motherstarter from which the entire loaf has risen.  Despite its ugly shape, this bread tastes good.  I wonder if I can make a whole wheat version of this, and still get a nice rise?

[Update: my wife quite likes the crust.  "Even the seeds are nice," she said, not realizing that they were cracked wheat.  She likes the fact that she can taste whatever she puts on it -- like her egg salad, made with our very own home-grown eggs.  To me, that just means the bread itself has no flavour.]

Notes to Myself:
  • Next time you try a batard shape, put it on a couche to proof, and then try moving it to a floured peel to slide into the oven, see if the moisture content stays in the couche and you are better able to move the loaf so that it doesn't stick to the peel.
  • You aren't scoring your loaves: is that why they don't have the oven spring?  Once again, try upending the basket on the floured peel before transfer into the oven on the stone.  Once you have it on the peel, you can score it and then slide it into the oven.