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Archive for January, 2010

I have to say, I had high hopes for these sandwich rolls (they looked so beautiful in the book)—but, unfortunately, mine did not come out quite as expected, which was a tad disappointing. I made the starter the night before and then got up really early the next morning (7:30?) to take it out of the fridge an hour before I started to make the dough. According to the formula, this process would take a while, so I wanted to get an early start in order to avoid being tethered to the house for the entire afternoon. So, starting at around 8:30, I mixed everything (flour, salt, egg, oil, yeast, starter) together in my mixer. One problem I had before even starting the bread was the fact that the formula called for an item that I do not have, and have no idea where I would get it: malt powder…or, barley malt powder, or something to that effect. The book didn’t offer any simple substitute, so I just went on without it. I have no idea how much of an effect it would have had on the finished product, although I am still somewhat curious.

Once it was mixed, I let it rise for two hours. Then, I divided the dough into equal (truly equal, thanks to my scale!) 4 oz pieces, and ended up with seven rolls. Because I don’t have a Kaiser roll cutter, I had to roll out each ball and tie it in a knot to make the appropriate shape. I thought I actually did a pretty fantastic job (I’m not usually very good at forming complex shapes), although they didn’t really keep their beautiful shapes through the baking process.

The rolls had to rest for another hour or so, and then it was time to bake. The instructions said to bake them on a sheet pan lined with baking parchment, and at that point I realized—oh no!—I had none left. Luckily, I was able to instead use my new silicon baking mat that my brother got me for Christmas (and yes, I think that’s the last item that is going to be getting a Christmas shoutout). I have to say, it worked pretty well. Before I put the rolls in the oven, I sprayed them with water (I really should get a spray bottle at this point…the iron just isn’t cutting it anymore) and sprinkled some sesame seeds on top.

They baked at around 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. As I said, the knotted parts just kind of melded together, so I didn’t really get any discernible indentations in the rolls. They wound out coming out more like dinner rolls. Also, the minute I took them out of the oven, all of the sesame seeds started falling off. Why does this always happen to me? What am I doing wrong?

Anywho, aside from the small problems I had with these rolls, they tasted pretty good! I’ve been eating them strictly as dinner rolls since, although Michael did make a delicious egg sandwich on one. Next: Lavash crackers. Onward and upward!

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This week, I found myself baking Italian bread, which was a welcome change from last week’s French bread. It was a pretty straightforward formula and process, which I will quickly summarize below.

I had to make the biga (starter) the night before, which was made with flour, yeast, and water. After kneading it, I let it rise and then put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I cut it into smaller pieces before adding it into the other ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, yeast, oil, and water).

I mixed everything together and then let my stand mixer go to town on it for about 5 minutes. After that, I kneaded the dough myself for another 5 minutes. I then put it into an oiled bowl and let it rise for about 2 hours. I have to say, I got a pretty hefty rise out of this dough!

Once it had risen, I cut the dough into two almost equal pieces, thanks to my new kitchen scale that my mom got me for Christmas.

I formed the pieces into loaves and then let them sit for another hour or so, at which point Michael and I went out on a nice little walk around town in the lovely 45 degree weather. When we got back, it was time to put the loaves in the oven. I preheated it to 500 degrees with an empty roasting pan inside (again, for the “hearth atmosphere”). I was going to use the baking stone, but I haven’t had tremendous luck with it so far—plus, the instructions say to rotate the loaves midway through baking, and that is essentially impossible with the stone—so, I decided to bake them on a sheet pan lined with baking parchment. Just before putting the loaves in the oven, I scored them with a paring knife. This hasn’t really been my strong point so far, but the loaves actually looked halfway decent when I was done.

After making some steam in the roasting pan and spritzing the oven walls a couple of times, the loaves baked for about 25-30 minutes at around 400-450 degrees (it’s really hard to control the temperature in my non-digital oven). I left them in until they were nice and brown, although the bottoms did get a tad singed (maybe I should have used the baking stone?). Regardless, they came out beautifully, and quite tasty as well, if I do say so myself. Michael thought so too (that’s him giving the bread a thumbs up).

Next, I’ll be making Kaiser rolls, which I’m excited about! Stay tuned.

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The past few weeks have served as a bread-baking hiatus, but I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, the next bread on the agenda was French bread, which I’ve made once before and didn’t have a fantastic outcome. This more recent outcome was quite similar. Edible, yes, but not anything to write home (or a blog?) about. The one exciting thing about making this bread was that I got to use my new handy dandy stand mixer that Michael got me for Christmas.

I made the poolish the night before and then cut it into smaller pieces before combining it with additional flour, salt, etc.

The mixer did a great job, although I did remove the dough and knead it myself for the last 5-7 minutes to get a better idea of its consistency/stickiness/etc. Once I finished, I put the dough into an oiled bowl and let it rise for about two hours.

After the rise, I cut the dough into three “equal” pieces and rolled them out into baguettes. I then let them sit in a makeshift couche for another hour or so.

When they were ready to bake, I made some slits on the top of the loaves with a paring knife. I still haven’t really gotten this method down, because the slits did not have the desired effect on the finished product. Oh well. This was another bread that required a “hearth atmosphere,” so I preheated the oven with a baking stone and roasting pan inside. Once the oven reached 500 degrees, I placed the loaves on the stone and poured a cup of boiling water into the roasting pan to get the oven nice and steamy. After one minute, I gave the oven a couple more spritzes of water with my makeshift squirt bottle (aka the iron) at 30 second intervals.

They baked for about 45 minutes – in retrospect, I probably could have left them in a little bit longer, because they didn’t get a nice golden brown crust like they should have. I didn’t take any glamour shots when the loaves came out of the oven, but here’s one after I cut it in half for some sandwiches.

I’ll admit, this was not one of my finer breads, but it did make for a nice sandwich with prosciutto, mozzarella, red peppers, oil, and balsamic vinegar.

The next bread on the agenda is Italian bread, which I have also made in the past, with pretty good results. The recipe I used previously came from the King Arthur Flour cookbook, so it will be interesting to see how this recipe compares.

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