Monday, January 23, 2012

Portuguese Bread Rolls (Papo Secos)

This month Noor of Ya Salam Cooking is the host of Bread Baking Day #46. She came up with a great theme: Baking from a place you love to visit. Since we moved a few years ago from one great country to another; from the Netherlands to Thailand we don’t travel much. We try to live as basically as possible. Both Peter and I have been to different countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, South and North America, The Caribbean and Australia.

We have seen lots of beautiful people, nature and culture and ate delicious food.
We do have a list of countries we would love to visit (again). We would love to experience the different climates and nature in New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. Sit on some Mediterranean beaches in Greece or Italy. Look at a beautiful sunset at Malta or Portugal. Drink tea in the busy Souk of Istanbul or Tunis. See the amazing wildlife of Madagascar and feel the extreme cold and silence of Antarctica

I could go on and on for a while about countries but this is about baking bread. As you see it’s difficult to choose a place we love to visit and bake bread from that place. We decided to go back to Portugal and enjoy their Papo Secos.

In the original recipe I found they made a batter of yeast, lukewarm water, sugar and some of the flour. They proofed the rolls for just 5 minutes and didn’t use steam. I think the best ones are baked in a wood fired oven, but my gas oven will do nicely. 
I changed it to my own way of baking rolls. Next time I will do it their way, because these rolls will be back on our table. The crust is a little crusty and the crumb is very soft, this makes a nice combination. The indent gives the rolls a nice look and at the table you have two small rolls in stead of one.
We ate some of the rolls at breakfast with fresh home made strawberry jam; delicious. Ones you have made your own strawberry jam, you never buy another jar. The only thing you taste is strawberries.

Tonight we eat these rolls with a hotdog. I’m still in the middle of the process of making our own zuurkool (sauerkraut). Otherwise we could have this roll with hotdog, sauce and sauerkraut. I know it’s not the regular hotdog bun, but we don’t care. For us life is also about experiencing and learning.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How a big lump of bubbly dough becomes an amazing Ciabatta

I came across a Ciabatta and thought; ‘that’s a good looking Ciabatta; it would be nice for dinner’. I don’t bake much yeast breads because ones you start with sourdough you want to feed it and use it, over and over again. 

But, today I’m going for this beautiful yeasted Ciabatta by Craig Ponsford. Maggie Glezer writes about him and his recipe for Ciabatta in her book ‘Artisan Baking’. I had a look at his shop and saw an interview about honest bread and educating his customers.

For this Ciabatta you use a multigrain starter which is made the day before baking day. The next day you need patience, but what’s new with baking good bread, even though this is yeasted bread. Patience when you knead it by hand; it takes time and energy. You need patience when you see that beautiful big lump of bubbly dough and gently put your hands underneath to transfer it to parchment paper on a peel. Happy when you wait in front of the oven window and see it grow. Smiling when you see it turn from white to a nice brown color. And you need patience when you smell it and want to taste it.

I’ve baked Ciabatta before. The first wet dough drove me crazy, really it did. The dough is wet, pouring wet. Now I know to wet your hands before touching wet dough, now I know how to ‘knead’ wet dough, now I know how to stretch and fold wet dough and now I know how to handle wet dough from the couche to the parchment paper and into the oven. Now I know and now I love it! The feeling of this dough is so soft and you need to handle it with great care.

Because I wanted to bake one Ciabatta in stead of two, there wasn’t enough dough for my mixer. I had to knead it by hand. It has nothing to do with kneading because it’s pouring wet. I followed the instructions for very wet dough. When all ingredients are combined pour the dough on the floured counter. Don’t forget to place a bowl with some water close by. I decided to use one hand, in case I had to do something urgently. I'm sorry this hand couldn't take enough photos. 

This is how it’s done: grab the dough, lift it and smash it on the counter with a bang. Repeat this as long as the dough looks like thick batter. After a while, really, the dough changes and gets more strength. When you lift it you will see the dough-ball is cleaning the counter. But it stays (with me) very wet. I read the technical term is ‘gloppy’.  Don’t stop too soon; it’s tiresome but rewarding in the end.
Then I transferred the dough to a bowl and let it rise for 3 hours. The first 80 minutes I stretched and folded it 4 times (every 20 minutes). Stretching and folding in this case means: you just scoop it around and around. I use a plastic spatula and took a bit of dough from the bowl, lifted it and scooped it to the centre. And I did this a lot of times. Then I left the dough to rise without disturbance for about 1 hour and 40 minutes.   

Then it was time to place the dough on the thick floured couche. I just scraped it out of the bowl. With the couche I ‘shaped’ it. Covered it with a towel and left it there for more than an hour (the book said 45 minutes). We had to go out of the house. When we came back I thought it would have collapsed. But, it was big, very big. It was a beautiful big lump of bubbly dough. I was almost afraid to touch it, but did it anyway. I gently placed my hands underneath the dough and gently lifted it to parchment paper on a peel. It was perfect and kept it shape well. 

Now I know to leave my bread in the oven until it has good brown color in stead of following the time given in the recipe. I left it in the oven for 12 minutes with steam and 33 minutes without steam. And then I left the Ciabatta in the oven with the door ajar for another 5 minutes. This whole process will help to get a crispy crust and full flavor development.
romantic sunset colors on a big Ciabatta (35x15 cm)
Finally it was time to get it out and admire it and off course eat it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Beer, Fennel and Rosemary Sourdough

We needed beer to make ‘appelbeignets’ for our New Year’s Eve. And I remembered a recipe for bread with beer. So, why not use the beer in both?

My sourdough is verry active; it doesn’t need much to bubble even though it’s winter over here. The beer we found is a local lager beer. Fennel we found at the market and Rosemary in our garden. I always pound the herbs in my mortar before adding it to the dough; this brings out the nice flavors.

One of the bakers at the 4th anniversary of Bread Baking Day, Fabrice made a bread with Belgium beer. As soon as I opened the can of beer, the smell of lager filled the house. Peter, who was at least 8 meters away from the kitchen, smelled it instantly. Dark beer or  white beer would have smelled nice, this didn't. But this beer is what I found in our village  shop. 
When the bread was done, there was no distinct smell of beer or herbs. But, when I cut the bread open the flavors game out. Not too strong; but nice and mild. The beer gave the bread a fresh taste. The fennel tasted nice like fennel. But, every time I use rosemary in dough something happens; maybe because of the retard proofing the rosemary smells a bit like perfume. It's not bad, but strange when you take a bite. I was happy with the crumb. The crust could be thicker. Overall: a nice bread with a good flavor. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Norwich Sourdough

I have baked Norwich Sourdough before. And I have already post about it. This is such a great recipe. You can change it to your taste; add roasted malt for brown bread, add roasted wheat germ and multi grains for a healthier bread or nuts and dried fruit for a sweeter bread. It's up to you, but you don't need to add anything extra for a tasty bread. 
I send this to Susan’s YeastSpotting and Heather of Bake Your Own Bread 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Carrot Cake by Bourke Street Bakery

We ate too much "oliebollen" and "appelbeignets" at New Year's Eve. It's time for something healthy! We have some carrots in the refrigerator; they are healthy. 

I made some recipes by Bourke Street Bakery, so I know they are good. Pork and fennel sausage rolls are on my list for coming week. And off course I will bake their Sourdough Potato Bread. But first I bake their Carrot Cake.

As I said, we have carrots waiting to be used. In the Netherlands we eat ‘Hutspot, a traditional meal in wintertime with carrot, onion and mashed potato. You have to try it, it’s delicious. We like to eat it with pieces of fried bacon, a meatball and off course gravy.  It’s winter here in Thailand too and we have carrots, onions and potatoes too, so......  

But first I have to bake Carrot Cake. And off course I will bake Bourke Street Bakery Carrot Cake. Sometimes you can’t explain the reason why, it’s just a feeling you have.

This is definitely the best Carrot Cake we ever ate! It’s airy, moist, crunchy, sweet and tart and highly addictive. When you have a bit, you can’t stop and you want more.

It’s difficult to wait, but this cake tastes even better the next day and the day after; if you have any left. And when you have a carrot lying around, you could always …..

I couldn’t make the frosting because I didn’t have cream cheese and cream. But we didn’t miss it.