I recently had a charcoal-fed oven made to use specifically for bread baking and I'm thrilled with the results that I got when I baked Hamelman's Five Grain Sourdough with Rye Sourdough with it. After pre-heating it for more than an hour with a good amount of charcoal, I slid the unbaked loaves right in, closed the door and waited for the oven to do its magic. I got mixed results using this oven though, the first batch I made (Hamelman's Whole Wheat Multigrain) had good oven spring but they flattened eventually during cooling. Having already made a few loaves with this oven, I know now that the key is to really heat up the masonry for at least an hour or even more which will ensure even heating of the bricks resulting in proper convection, radiation and conduction.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
My second bake with the The Home Bakers (THB) group is the Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake from the book "Coffee Cakes Simple, Sweet and Savory" by Lou Seibert Pappas. The recipe originally calls for the batter to be baked in a 9 inch springform pan but I decided to halve the recipe instead and baked it in a 7 inch springform. It turned out really cute and just the right size for us. I was hoping that my cake would look similar to the cake's photo which also happens to be the cover photo of the book but mine turned out a little darker. Should you wish to try this recipe, Yvette of Bizzy Bakes posted it in her blog.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I try to avoid buying multigrain breads from bakeshops around here because I've always been dissatisfied with the flavor and texture of the loaves I end up with. Most of the time they're bland, dry or have this very rough feel on the palate. Ever since I started making my own multigrain breads though, the first being Peter Reinhart's Multigrain Struan from his book "Whole Grain Breads," I realized that it's quite possible for any avid home baker to make flavorful multigrain breads that could surpass any commercial variety as long as you use the best ingredients and the proper techniques. I'm thankful that there are great bread books out there that provide exceptional formulas as well as thorough instructions that are geared towards the home baker and whatever simple equipment they may have in their kitchens. Hamelman's book "Bread," though not a book dedicated solely to whole grains, has a comprehensive list of formulas containing whole grains and this Five Grain Levain bread is one of the healthiest and certainly the tastiest from that list and it thrills me to think that I made these myself in the comfort of my own kitchen!
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
My fifth bread baketogether (BBT) with Hanaa is a brioche-based cake filled with yummy caramel custard cream from Tish Boyle's book "The Cake Book." I just love how versatile brioche dough is--you can turn it into hamburger buns or dinner rolls, fill it with something savory or sweet or even turn it into fried confections like beignets or donuts. And brioche as a cake? Well, it's simply out-of-this-world! It's so wonderful to eat a "cake" that's not so sweet yet still has that decadent buttery goodness and tender albeit slightly chewy crumb that normal butter cakes have. And the soaking syrup flavored with vanilla or your favorite liqueur just enhances the delicious qualities of the brioche even more placing this cake a notch above being just a casual coffee cake (though I ate this for breakfast yesterday) LOL. The caramel custard cream is really just a lightened pastry cream with the added step of caramelizing sugar beforehand which lends a wonderful flavor to the cream but I think blending dulce de leche into the cream would be a good alternative as well.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Among all the levain breads that I made from Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, this Cheese Bread was the most successful one so far. I got really good oven spring and oven bloom during the bake and the loaves had a very crisp and crackly crust that they sung!! I'm pretty pleased with the flavor and openness of the crumb as well....it's definitely a must to use really good cheese -- I think any hard cheese like Parmesan, Asiago, and Gruyere would work really well. Given this bread's very good results as well as all the other successful bakes I had from Bread, I might just bake through the entire book! I'm actually (unintentionally) just a few recipes away from completing the chapter on levain breads and the process of creating these loaves in the few months since I started on this book has really helped me understand the complexities of sourdough bread making. Hamelman's book is definitely one of the best if not THE BEST book you can get your hands on if you really want to understand baking with wild yeasts.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
This month's recipe for ABC is for yummy buttery scones found in Abby Dodge's book The Weekend Baker. Scones seem to be a very popular breakfast item the world over but I must say that I've baked and eaten scones only once in my life (many years ago) and this would be the second time since then. Abby's recipe certainly showed me how easy they are to make by giving steps that you can do in advance like creating a big batch of scone mix by combining all the dry ingredients and storing them in a large container ahead of time where you can simply get a portion from it to make a single batch of 8 scones. She also provides a few flavor options which all sound really delicious as well as a recipe that only makes a single batch which is what I used here.