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, November 21, 2011

Calabogie Breads

Autumn oak leaves atop exposed Canadian Shield

We took a week off mid November and travelled to Calabogie near Ottawa.  This is off-season for Calabogie, which is a summertime swimming and boating paradise, or a winter skiing area.  This time of year, it's cheap!  We've been here a couple of times before, and usually this late in the year we'll have snow, but this year the weather remained quite lovely.

The weather was perfect for hiking and exploring and shopping in the nearby small towns. 

Old logging road, nearby a sacred clifftop.  Seriously?
Some of the views from the various surrounding hills are spectacular, even at this time of year when most of the leaves have fallen.

Lookout overlooking Otter Pond

Distant hills

steep trails

Kayaking Madawaska River

We even did a bit of kayaking on the Madawaska River.  It was cold, but it seemed like we had the whole river to ourselves...

What I brought: rye flour, sourdough, ww flour, some wheat berries
some old bread, some potatoes
Of course, I brought along some sourdough, and a bit of ww and rye flour; I even brought a few wheat berries.  I figured I could find everything else I'd need in the cabin.  I was wrong about that, but I made do.

A loaf made with Handfuls of Rye: about 25%, more or less

The first bread I made at Calabogie was a whole-wheat, rye bread, made with sourdough.  I didn't measure anything, just added some water, sourdough, flour, salt and flour by handfuls, until I had it a certain familiar consistency.

I made it without much in the way of a well-stocked kitchen.  There wasn't even a baking pan.  Instead, I would bake the bread in the only casserole dish.  I mixed up the dough in a chip bowl.  There was no scraper to fold dough with, so I used a mason jar lid. 

I proofed the dough in a colander. There were only 2 tea-towels. so using them to line the colander at the start of vacation was out of the question.  I decided to try to just put some flour on the colander, and to get it to stick to the plastic, I used a tiny bit of water.  But the dough stuck to the plastic anyway.  It was quite a mess.  I had to scrape it into the casserole dish with a spatula.

It was quite the mess, but I did get it into the oven.  Then, because I was unfamiliar with the oven, I think I had it on broil instead of on bake.  But I ended up with a loaf, more or less.  There was no rack to cool it, so I put it on one of the stove's burners to cool.

Totem Pond at Lost Valley Trail

Second and Third Loaves: Two Attempts at "Pain Complet"

I was asked to bring a bread to my son's place in Ottawa, and decided to try Joe Ortiz's "Pain Complet" or Whole Wheat Bread.  This bread uses milk for most of the hydration, and lots of yeast for the rising of the dough.  In place of baking with steam, this recipe calls for a heavy glaze of egg and milk.

The mixing of the dough is a bit unusual too, as Ortiz would have us do it on a countertop, without using a bowl.  This is where I ran into my first trouble.  My flour dam burst several times, and with milk going every which way, I was unable to keep one hand clean as he describes.  I made a horrible mess, my only saving grace was that my wife was still asleep and could not see it.  Without a scraper of any kind, this makes for a big cleanup job.

I also didn't have a baking tray.  I was told that I could have one at the main desk, but I had to sign for it.  And I didn't have any parchment paper, either.  I had a tiny bit leftover from beneath some chelsea buns that we had purchased at a bakery on the way up, and I used that.

I found the dough to be terribly sticky and difficult to work.  Without the proper tools, I couldn't stretch the dough properly, so I feel the gluten wasn't developed enough.  The formation of the loaf therefore failed because it wasn't tight enough.  And of course, the hour-long proofing meant it sagged terribly before even hitting the oven.

But when it finally hit the oven, that is where the real problems began.  I think that the pan was far too close to the element.  And this oven runs a lot hotter than my oven at home.  And the recipe might have been bad.  Or I had a bad day.  Who knows?

Anyway, I was reluctant to open the door to the oven to have a peek at the loaf, and there was no light in the oven to see through the window, so it was a mystery until I noticed smoke in the kitchen.
This bread was so badly burned and smoking, it had to go out on the balcony

Inedible crust.  I never tried eating this bread, although the crumb wasn't scorched.
I pulled out the charcoal bread.  What a disaster.

Good thing I started a Tartine-style "Pain Complet" made with sourdough around the same time as this one.  I baked it in a casserole dish, and it turned out slightly better.

Those who ate it with the borscht seemed to like the Pain Complet.

Kolivar Bread

I have been thinking of making some kolivar to take with me to a work-related Christmas party: it is a house party, where we bring our own booze and bring an hors d'oeuvres.  But I wanted to trial the kolivar before committing to it: what if it isn't the right thing to take?

Kolivar is one of the first recipes featured in Maria Speck's "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals".  By the description in her book, I was under the impression that this is some sort of confection, but as I began to make it, I realized that it is not exactly a fingerfood, so one could not really conceive of it as an hors d'oeuvres. 

It is made with boiled and soaked wheat berries, with walnuts, flour, spices (cinnamon and cumin and salt), dark raisins, sesame seeds, confectioner's sugar and silver dragees.  I didn't have the last three ingredients, so my trial was incomplete.  Still, I have an idea of what kolivar is supposed to look and act like.

Today I was baking a bread that I would take home with me from Calabogie, so that I would have something to eat when I returned to work on the weekend.  I mixed up a 100% whole wheat sourdough, in the Tartine Style, but instead of making the usual boule, I put some of the kolivar on the bread and rolled it up.  I might have baked it like that, in a batard-loaf shape, but I didn't really have any way to properly bake it in this understocked kitchen.  So I cheated and folded the ends under again, only to end up with a boule shape, to fit the cabin's casserole dish.

Despite going into the casserole dish unevenly, it baked beautifully.  I'm learning to reduce the heat a bit during the last stage of baking when the lid is off.  However,  my wife says that the loaf is very heavy.  So it is probably very dense, compared with my other sourdough loaves.  And I suppose this is due primarily to how I overhandled it during the shaping, so as to spiral up the kolivar.

So what I have here is a walnut and raisin whole wheat bread, with lots of whole wheat berries in it too.

tasted a bit bland.  Probably could have used more salt.  Once in a while you'd get a raisin or a walnut, or some wheat berry with cumin and there would be an interesting flavour.  It went well with old cheese.

Bon Echo, after the campground has been closed for the season. 

We were still able to walk in and see the "rock" although we couldn't get the kayak near it.

Notes to Myself
  • The Rye bread was a trifle gooey.  Rye breads require a bit longer bake, I guess.  
  • Make Ortiz' "Pain Complet" again soon.  The crumb looked quite nice, and I'll bet if you don't burn the crust, it will be quite a nice bread.
  • Kolivar without sugar isn't a great addition to bread, but it has promise.  I wonder what it would have been like if I had added it to the dough instead of just rolling up the dough around it at the end?
  • I also wonder what the wheat berries would be like roasted, after pouring boiling water over them and leaving them in the thermos overnight.  They really plumped up nicely, but they didn't have a ton of flavour or texture after that.  Perhaps roasting them following that boil and soak would give them both.  They might also taste a bit like roasted soybeans.  Would you turn them in a bit of oil first, too?


  1. November vacation - it's not a bad idea. Your photos remind me our Thanksgiving trip to Lake Gorge Area 2 years ago. I didn't bake any bread but it hiking in autumn was a real adventure.
    Kolivar bread is very inspirational. I love addition of cooked wheat in bread.
    And Koliva - this recipe is very similar to Eastern European Christmas Eve meal called KUTIA.

  2. I ate a lot of this batch of Kolivar with yogurt, and it was good that way too.

    I've been playing around with boiled wheat berries (boiling them and soaking them and turning them in oil and roasting them, etc.) and I like the versatility of them. With various herbs they can take on almost any taste, and when roasted their texture can range from soft to chewy to crunchy. I think they make a nice snack. And I recently put some in an olive bread (I've yet to blog about it).

    I'll look into Kutia, thanks for mentioning it.