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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Playing Catch-up

A few breads

Just for the sake of completeness, here are a few of my December breads.

I was working nights right up to Christmas, and we've had a lot of stuff going on at work that required some extra attention, so I haven't been able to blog about my breads.   And I haven't been able to give the bread much thought anyway.

I wasn't able to make any nice Christmas loaves like I wanted to.  Thank goodness I was able to continue making some of these Tartine-esque loaves that got me through the holiday season.  And thank goodness there were so many other things to eat besides bread, this time of the year.

1. Baking 2x100% whole wheat breads and 2x25% Rye/75% whole wheat breads on the same day

These are sourdough Tartine-like loaves
made with 25% rye/ 75% whole wheat  (back 2) and 100% whole wheat (front 2)

The Whole Wheat loaf. 

We ate these both whole wheat loaves quickly: they were good
One of the rye loaves

It also was good, but misshapen.  Gave the better one away.

2 Farine's Idea for Camembert baked within a sourdough boule

This idea sounded a whole lot better than the reality turned out to be.  In theory, it is great: bake a loaf, and then cut it horizontally, scoop out a spot for a camembert cheese round, and when you get to the party, bake it.  People are supposed to tear off bits of the warm bread and dip it in the molten cheese. 

But here's the thing: the bread when it comes out of the oven will burn your fingers as you tear off hunks.  And if you wait a couple of minutes for it to cool, the cheese congeals.
size the cheese in the horizontally cut boule

scoop out holes for the cheese

add butter and the rub

score the loaf for easy gription

plunk in the cheese

ready to go to the party

I baked another 2 whole wheat loaves and took extra camembert just in case we needed more. 
We didn't.  I ate those 2 loaves in December too.

There is, however, a 3-minute window where this is perfection.  And as one of my co-workers said, maybe that's all we can ever expect of perfection: 3 minutes of orgasmic bliss followed by sticky, but quickly hardening goo. 

Well, most people who tried this loved it.  I wasn't as impressed.

3. Some more Tartine-like 17% Rye loaves with 73% by weight 100% whole wheat, no AP flour.

Made 2 of these light rye breads, gave one of these loaves away.  They were good with the leftover nutloaf.

I have given the recipe for this nut loaf before, it seems to be one of our family's traditional holiday foods now.  We eat it hot with cranberries or mushroom gravy, in place of the turkey that everyone else is consuming.  I like the nutloaf the next day, too.  It is good cold, with a bit of mustard, on a slice of these rye breads.

Nut loaf with Rye loaf
I also mixed up some whole wheat dough the same time as this loaf: but I didn't make the bread on the same day.  instead, the dough sat an extra day in the fridge.  I baked it one full day later.  It smelled really sour when forming it.  Perhaps I will blog about it tomorrow, after I slice into it.

Unless I get busy again.

Notes to Myself
  • Once again as end-of-year approaches, I am beginning to re-think the bread blog.  I know the reason the blogging started was because I wasn't able to write anything at work, and I love to write.  And I wanted to make some whole grain bread that I could eat.  Is all that still true?  Or is my writing actually needed at work now?  All December I have been researching and writing, work-related things.  And I have been eating the Tartine-style bread that I happen to love (I can never call it a Tartine bread any more, since I only make these loaves with whole grains, and there is no actual recipe for a 100% whole grain recipe in the Tartine Bread book).  So end of year, start of year: a time for reflection on what the hell it is I'm doing with this blog.  Is it at an end?
  • I was going to do a '10 best loaves' feature this year (whereas last year I did a '10 worst loaves').  But I just haven't had time.  Maybe if things settle down a bit.  Or if I get fired.
  • I really want to explore the chemistry of bread and sourdough more.  Perhaps that is my next general direction in blogging.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ortiz-Tartine Love Child Pain Complet

Bastard Love Child of Ortiz French Pain Complet and Tartine 100% WW Bread

Has anyone else noticed that the best bread bakers marry the best pastry bakers and they start bakeshops and write cook books together and become dominant forces in America's culinary tradition for a generation or more?  Chad Robertson's "Tartine Bread" is poised to be as significant to this generation of home bakers as Joe Ortiz's book "The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America" was, several years ago.  Ortiz' wife Gayle wrote a similarly influential book on pastry.  Robertson's spouse wrote her book on pastry in 2006.  Just as Robertson & his spouse started Tartine in San Francisco, Ortiz and his wife started a bake shop over 30 years ago in Capitola, California, and it is still going strong.

Bear with me while I ask this rather strange question: what if Robertson and Ortiz had never met their wives, but met each other instead, and then had a bastard love child (because gay marriage is still not legal in California)?  What would their bread be like?

That is what I set out to discover in this blog.  I found an old used copy of Ortiz's bread book, and I've been keen on trying one or two of the whole grain recipes in it.

I made the Ortiz Pain Complet once before and it was a disaster.  That was when I was on vacation and didn't have a scale and didn't know the oven I was working with (a poor craftsman blames his tools).  Despite the charred remains of that bread, I felt the crumb showed great promise, and I wanted to try it again.

However, I have this sourdough that needs to be used.  I like the taste of bread made with it much better than bread made with commercial yeast.  The flavours are complex, and not at all sour, but interesting. 

So this time, I've made the Ortiz recipe using my sourdough (rather than the commercial yeast his recipe calls for).  I've scaled the recipe up to Tartine loaf size by first weighing the ingredients that Ortiz uses, and then taking the whole wheat flour to 1000g.  Your mileage may vary, if you weigh out the ingredients.  But this is what I got when I scaled the recipe:

    •    1000g wwflour 100%
    •    830g   scalded milk 83%
    •    140g   water 14%
    •    19g      salt 1.9%

I don't include Ortiz' yeast measurement scaled here, because I used Tartine's sourdough amounts: 200g of my 100% whole wheat sourdough at 100% hydration.  However, you can try 3.76% yeast if you don't have a sourdough starter at hand, (that is what his home-baker amount of yeast works out to, when you convert from ounces) and this recipe might work for you.  Or you can use Ortiz's baker's math.  Ortiz actually puts the percentage weights of all his recipes in the back of the book, for professional bakers (I didn't know that when I started this; the book, while old, is new to me).  So the pain complet whole wheat bread's weights are already given, and their percentages laid out for all to see without doing the calculations or weighing like I did above.  So how close are my percentages?  Ortiz's:

    •    100% ww flour
    •    70% water  (milk can replace the water and powdered milk)
    •    2.5% powdered milk
    •    2% salt
    •    2.25% yeast

Hmmm.  While searching online for others who have made Ortiz recipes, I found the testers at KitchenCookingRecipes left a warning about his weights and measures that ought to be wisely heeded.  His home kitchen recipes can occasionally result in a dough with too much hydration, they say -- and that was my experience here.  It would be better to work from the professional recipes in the back of the book (but recognize that they are different -- see here the difference between milk and milk powder in water).
mis en place: scalded milk, wwflour, salt, water, sourdough starter, book
add milk

For the Pain Complet,
The milk is scalded, and Ortiz wants us to wait 20 minutes before adding the water-yeast mixture to it.  I waited 30 minutes and I did not expect anywhere near the same rising times that he describes (about 2 1/2 hours).  I was prepared to wait much longer, in the Tartine range of bulk fermentation and proofing (about 8 hours, plus or minus a night in the fridge).  But the warmth of the milk still got that yeast more active.

add sourdough

mix to goo
salt and water get added after about 30 minutes of rest

When I added the salt and water, I was a bit disconcerted.  That was a lot of water for my already very wet dough to handle.  My dough sat in a puddle of water even after I scoogled it all in.  I was worried about how gooey the dough had become.

But at the very next turn, 30 minutes later, the dough seemed to like being that wet.  The gluten was still a bit gooey, but at least it was foldable now.  And the water seemed to be more absorbed.  Now I was hopeful.
uh-oh.  was that too much water?

Dough sits in puddle.
Suck it up!

gee, I guess this dough can take being that wet, after all

the last fold before dividing and forming
The 2 Ortiz-Tartine Bastard Love Child loaves (with one of the Advent cookies, made the same day)

Basically, how I have made it, this recipe is just a high-hydration Tartine-style loaf, using mostly milk instead of water.  Alternatively, one could think of it as an Ortiz pain complet that uses wild yeast instead of commercial yeast.  If you think of it as an Ortiz loaf, you have to realize that I'm adding the water when I add the salt, a'la Tartine-style.  I'm also not mixing it on the counter top like Ortiz would have us do.  I had a disaster using that method before, and since I'm sharing the kitchen with my wife while I make it (she is making Advent cookies), I can't make that kind of mess with her watching.

If you want to see Ortiz' technique of mixing the dough on the counter with one hand in the fountain or well, take a look at the first of these two short YouTube videos (10 and 12min).  Here, Ortiz teaches Julia Child how to make whole wheat sourdough and bread sculpture.  Ortiz makes it look easy.

Sourdough Whole Wheat Sculpture Videos

while waiting to add the salt to this mixture, I decided to hedge my bets.  I had a bad experience the last time I made the Ortiz loaf.  What if it bombed again?  I'd still need bread.

So I decided to try making an ordinary Pain Complet using the 75% Tartine Recipe, but to change the method somewhat to reflect the Ortiz way.  In other words, I would add the salt to the Tartine-style 100% whole wheat dough that I put together, but then instead of the 4 hours of folding during the bulk fermentation, I would knead it for awhile and then let it rise, and then punch it down and let it rise again -- the "old fashioned" way.  This would be a congenital twin of the bastard love child of Ortiz and Tartine.  I was hoping that the resultant loaf would have fewer overly-large irregular holes.

I kneaded it for 8 minutes after a 30 minute rest following the addition of salt.  The dough felt overworked and flaccid when kneaded that long.  The kneading didn't bring me any closer to a tighter dough, in fact, quite the reverse.  It actually felt much sloppier than the first bread, the one that was hydrated with (more?) milk.

So on the day my wife decided to bake advent cookies, I had 2 doughs on the go, to make 4 loaves.  I did, however, only bake 2 loaves that day: I retarded the congenital twin, until the next morning (for that dough, I was only using 168g of sourdough starter anyway (I reserved some so I could refresh it), and it could stand a slightly longer rise).

The breads turned out well, like any other Tartine loaf I have baked this way.  A few of the loaves got slopped into the pan, so they aren't perfect boules.

The crumb of the milk-hydrated bread still has some irregular holes, but they are not nearly so wide and irregular, and they do hold the jam.  I find the crumb to be a bit more tender, a bit softer to the tooth, but that could be because I'm comparing it to the ends of a now-staling rye bread, the last bread I made.

milk-hydrated bread

unfocused crumb

I cut one of the boules in half horizontally, and then froze the loaf.
with jam
The crust of this milk-made bread is as crunchy as ever.  I think that the crust would have been a bit softer had I glazed it with egg the way Ortiz wanted me to.  I had some egg white to do it, too, but I got excited at the last moment when I turned it into the 500 degree F cast iron pan, and forgot.

To Follow:
I've given one of the twins away; the one I kept I cracked into, to see if the kneading I did was able to reduce the size and number of the irregular holes.


Back to the drawing board.  I think next I'll have to figure out how to manipulate the pH and temperature.

Notes to Myself
  • I've set aside one of these loaves so I can take it to a work party next week (in case I don't get a chance to bake another loaf before then).  I plan to bring along some camembert and try this great idea from Farine's blog with this bread.  We each have to bring hors d'oeurves.
  • The crumb of this bread looks much more Tartine-like, and less like the Ortiz loaf I made on vacation.  I should try that Ortiz method again, shaping it as he described, and baking it on a stone.
  • Notice one of the tips that Ortiz gives to Childs on the videos: if your bread is over-proofed, increase the temperature of the baking.
  • Found while browsing for Ortiz recipes:

    Ortiz Bread (from CIA) - a YouTube video

    Here is an interesting misshapen loaf, with onions, that looks easy to make.  Maybe I'll try it soon with 100% whole wheat.  I suspect it is Joe Ortiz' original recipe (hence the name of the bread), but here it is made by a CIA chef, Jonathan Highfield.   I was unable to find the written recipe that the video refers to on the web.  It should be here, at wtkr's website  but it is not, nor is on the CIA site here.  But by stopping and starting the video I gleaned the following info:

    • 2 1/2 c cold water
    • 1 tsp instant yeast or 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast sprinkled into a 1/4 cup warm water from the water above and allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes before adding with rest of cold water
    • 4 c unbleached bread flour
    • 3/4 tsp non-iodized salt
    • 1 large onion, diced and soak in olive oil - set aside for later use

    • semolina or cornmeal for bottom of the pan
    • olive oil
    • kosher salt

    • combine flour and yeast, make a well and add water.
    • add some olive oil to the top, cover with saran and leave at room temperature 2-3 hours.
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    • Prepare a tray with parchment and sprinkle on semolina or cornmeal.
    • Put about 3 blobs of dough on the tray, then top with olive-oil-soaked onions.
    • Add some kosher salt to taste
    • Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown and delicious

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Inedia Rye Bread

An Inedia Bread?

We've all heard of vegetarians, fruitarians. and vegans.  But it was only a couple of years ago that I first heard of breatharians.

Yes, apparently there are some people who believe that they can live on breath alone -- from which they draw prana or life energy.  There are fewer and fewer breatharians these days, though: as you can imagine, many of them are dying out.

There is a current trend among artisan bakers to make breads with wide, irregular holes.  I'm guilty of loving the look of the crumb of a bread like this too.  But I had to chuckle at a couple of other bread forums and blogs that I've recently perused.  Chazzone at Sourdough Companion was back baking after many long years, and  remembers baking with grandmother.  The reason she kneaded her dough for so long, we are told, was to eliminate these irregular holes.  Now Chazzone finds that the artisan community is striving for them.  What gives?

And the excellent bread-baker/blogger Farine, in her wonderful series on the baking of Gérard Rubaud, reports that Master-baker Gerard says of "les bulles" (the bubbles): "on ne les mange pas."

I've spoken of it before several times.  In fact, one of my most popular (20 views!) blogs has been about a "jelly sieve" bread.  I assume that the "huge" popularity of that particular page is merely a fluke: no doubt someone has googled the words "jelly" and "sieve" for no good reason and they get steered toward my page.  Sorry about that.

The trend toward ultimate airiness can only end in a bread that has no crumb at all.  An empty bread, a bread full of air.  A bread that only a breatharian can love.

A plain "rye" bread

This is a whole wheat bread with about 20% whole rye flour.  It was made in the Tartine style, with wild yeast starter, lots of folds during the bulk fermentation, and a long (though not over-night -- it has been a long time since I did the over-night, refrigerated way of) proofing.

Toppings for a bread like this?
The past little while, when I bake 2 loaves like this, I deliver one to a friend.  Lately I've been getting gentle complaints from this friend that the holes are too big, and he "can't put anything on them" -- it just drips right through. 

But I like to lightly toast a bread like this and then scrape a minimal amount of butter or peanut butter on top and have it ooze through.  If a lot gets onto the plate below, I feel I'm putting too much topping on anyway. 

However, jam has a different viscosity, it flows differently.  It can blob right through the big holes without even touching the bread.  Black Currant Jam may be the exception, you can sometimes spread it thin enough that it won't flow like that, but it doesn't seem to work as well with strawberry jam or blueberry jam.  And of course jelly is out of the question.  So I don't use much jam or jelly for topping my irregular-holed bread.  It's too bad, because we preserve our own jam, and it is marvellous.

I simply love quality cheese, again sliced very thinly, atop such loaves.  The bread doesn't have to be toasted.  A couple of slices of this bread and some well-aged cheddar (for example), and I can work like a slave for hours and hours.  For me, it is the perfect take-to-work lunch bread.  I usually don't have enough time to eat anything more than a couple of slices of bread for lunch anyway.  So I need something insubstantial but filling.  I need a bread with contradiction.

I'm not going any closer to the breatharian ideal than this.

Click on the picture to see the prana

Notes to Myself
  • A certain number of holes is necessary for the bread to rise.  They are caused by the yeast, in their respiration.  In the old days, bread dough would have been pounded down to avoid these huge irregularities.  But these days, it seems to be a mark of an artisan-made loaf.
  • Germans typically like a denser loaf.  If you give them bread like this, they complain loudly of being ripped off.  "This is where the baker and his wife climbed through," they will tell you.
  • Take a deep breath, and eat.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pumpkin Bread with Coriander seeds

A Path to Obscurity
I've been busy the last few days doing official professional development stuff.  Every nurse has to make an effort to be a better nurse, every year.  There is always more to learn.  My only complaint with the process is that it just isn't always what I want to learn, when I want to learn it.  So it becomes more like work.  C'est la vie.

It has been a long time since I pushed my mind through a curriculum devised by other people.  Because of that lapse, now even textbooks, which are a record of another person's train of thought, are difficult for me to study.  I'm used to a different sort of random self-teaching.  And I trust it to lead me to the next Right Thing.

Everything's working out perfectly.

I've often wondered where I'd be today if I grew up with a tool like the Internet at my fingertips, able to look up virtually anything at a moment's notice.  I used to spend a lot of time and money trying to find information, spending it on books and magazines, traveling to libraries.  Would I have been better off, had I found the info I wanted immediately?  Or would I have missed some serendipitous event -- for example, when I went to a library and found an altogether better book on the shelf next to the one I was looking for, that ended up sending me off in another direction entirely?  Would I ever have studied anything to any depth, or would I still be just skittering across the surface of every distraction like a water strider?

I guess the result of my meandering attention is: I have ended up teaching myself a lot of things that most other people are simply not interested in.  I'd never call myself an expert at any of them: you need a chain of other experts called Ph.D.'s to tell you that you are that, these days, to make it official.

The point is, I've had to pay a lot of money and spend a lot of time teaching myself things because the things I tend to be interested in are quite obscure.  That's what happens when you get off the beaten track.  It is expensive, tough slogging.

I've had episodic passions, in my life, trying to find out information on any number of arcane or absurd subjects, immersing myself in things that most of the world couldn't give a damn about. 

Perhaps the last couple of years exploring wholegrain bread-making is just a similar episode or interlude.

Long before I ever had a computer, I left notes in my journals as I wandered this trail through my unknowns, lurching from one interest to the next.  It has been a very obscure path I've taken, following the stream of my distraction.  I have very little to show for it all now, except those shelves and boxes of journals.  Well, also perhaps my brain has built some strange neuronal intersections.  It was inevitable.
A small section of shelving containing some of my old journals
-- that someday, Some Day, I'm going to have to deal with

Those journals remain like breadcrumbs, so I can find my way back (or perhaps so others could follow, were I to become utterly lost).  Hey, maybe that is what this blog has become: another trail of breadcrumbs.  And it has some benefits, over the old journals: it doesn't gather dust and it isn't so heavy to lug around when you move.  And it is automatically indexed thanks to Google or other search engines.  I can probably find anything I want in it without having to remember which book I wrote it in.  As long as I know something about what I'm searching for.  Today's bread, for example, will be found by me from here-on in if I simply ask for exorphin junkie pumpkin bread.

As if I'd ever go back there.

But I might, for this recipe.  It was a good one.

Pumpkin Bread
So here is another pumpkin bread.  I am, of course, simply using up that pumpkin puree I made so much of.

I wanted to try it this time with coriander seeds.

    •    168g Pumpkin Seeds
    •    9g Coriander Seeds ( ~ 1 1/2 Tbsp)
    •    1 tsp Ground Cumin  (these ground spices weigh very little, less than a gram)
    •    1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
    •    3/4 tsp Ground Turmeric
    •    1000g whole wheat flour
    •    700g Pumpkin Puree
    •    20g Salt
    •    150g Water when salt and spices are added
    •    Some Paprika added to some whole wheat flour for final dusting of the loaf during forming

The usual Tartine style folding while bulk fermenting and then bench-resting, forming and baking.  I haven't grown tired of it yet.  Some day I'll outgrow it -- maybe -- but for now, it provides me with some great bread.  And that's all I really wanted, when I began all this.

The colour is a distinct greenish orange, made more orange by the turmeric and pumpkin puree, more green by the seeds and other spices.  I  look at the colour of the crumb (it doesn't show well with this old digital camera and its flash) and I am reminded of pistachios.  Next time I might even add some pistachios.

Ugh.  The awful focus of this crappy camera.

The taste is pretty darn good.  The whole coriander seeds provide an interesting occasional crunch and burst of flavour.  I like this combination.  And although it is inspired by Continental Indian Cooking spices, it doesn't really taste like Indian food.

Notes to Myself
  • Don't fight it.  Try adding pistachio nuts to an orange-green loaf like this.