Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beer Bread

We are going to a party and Zorra of 1 x umrühren aka kochtopf ask us to bring some bread. Not any bread but special bread with Beer to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Bread Baking Day. Cheers Zorra, on the next 5 years!

I’ve used beer in bread before.It reacts different from water; it makes the dough softer and smoother. The crust gets more color because of the sugar in the beer.

We choose Singha, brewed in Thailand, a 6% pale lager. The Singha is a mystical lion, found in ancient Hindu and Thai stories. It is a powerful mythological creature and was chosen as a symbol. 
I wanted a basic recipe, just made up with the baker’s formula. When you use the bread baker’s formula, can you call this your ‘own’ recipe? I thought; ‘what’s my own recipe?’ There is no ‘own’ recipe. I read on the Internet:  a recipe is not copyrightable -- though the description of how to cook the recipe could be. The list of ingredients, however, is factual. 

When I started to bake bread, more than a year ago, I loved all those blogs on baking bread. All those people sharing their experiences, their failures and victories. Giving advice and showing what they learned so far. When I e-mailed some of those artisan bakers, they gave me answers on all the questions I had. And there were many questions because in the beginning I had no idea. Most people love to show their artisan breads and share their recipes too. Thanks to those people I’m able to bake so many different breads. I don’t own many books on baking bread. Off course I would love to have some books and learn from the masters. Like Jeffrey Hamelman, Dan Lepard, Bourke Street Bakers, Tartine, and … That would have quickened my victories on baking bread. But, I choose the long way and made a lot of mistakes. I’ve learned so much. I love to share the recipes I found and baked so far.

I think the world will be a nicer place when we all share more of what we have instead of fight to protect of what we think is ours.

What is mine? What is yours? Everything you know or do, has been given to you by others; your parents, your teachers, your family, your friends, your enemies, your children, your …..  Even your parents and teachers had parents and teachers and their parents had parents and teachers too.  In fact, everybody is a teacher for you. So, what is really yours? What is really mine?

But, today we celebrate. I share this bread with you all.
For this 5th anniversary Bread Baking Day celebration I use a basic recipe and I used the bread baker’s formula; 100% white flour, 15% sourdough at 100% hydration, 2% salt and 61-66 % beer. The hydration of the loaf is 61% without sourdough en 66% included sourdough.

This time I didn’t want to use any rye, wheat, flax or other seeds, no nuts, no fruit. No extra ingredients to distract from the taste of basic bread with beer. And what a good thought that was. As you all know there is no alcohol left in the bread, but with beer something different happens with the dough. As soon as I started to mix the dough it was softer and smoother then when water is used.

It's delicious bread, the crumb is very soft and the crust is thin. Even thought I love a thick crust, this is a perfect soft bread. It definitely asks for fresh strawberries or a Dutch raw salted herring. Both are not available here right now, but our home made strawberry jam and the goat cheese we brought back from the Netherlands were also delicious. 

This is a real celebration bread!
Bread Baking Day # 51 - Bread with beer for 5th anniversary / Brot mit Bier zum 5. Geburtstag! (last day of submission/Abgabeschluss July 1st, 2012)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sourdough Twist with Oat, Dates and Walnuts

A few months ago Farine baked these beautiful morning cuddles. They are paired and twisted baguettes. She used oat, plums and hazelnuts. At that moment I knew; this one will be on our breakfast table too. And today is that day!!
Elle of Feeding my enthousiasms also found Farine’s morning cuddles. This month Elle is the host for Bread Baking Babes and Buddies.
Now I can join the Babes as a Buddie and make Farine’s twisted morning cuddles. This way I caught two birds with a stone or in Dutch “twee vliegen in één klap” or in French “J'ai attrapé deux oiseaux avec une pierre”.
Yesterday evening I prepared the poolish and fed my sourdough starter. This morning I started to collect all ingredients for the dough. We didn’t have any hazelnuts but I found  walnuts. When I was cutting the “plums” I discovered they were in fact: dates! The combination of walnuts and dates is great, so no problem. It’s obvious we don’t use plums very often.
It’s nice dough, easy to handle. I misread Farine’s instructions and made twists with one baguette instead of twisting them as a pair of baguettes.
Just when I was ready to bake the twists I saw Susan's of Wild Yeast twists. She mentioned it’s possible to over bake buns and rolls. I know this for a fact. I over baked some buns before because my gas oven only heats from the bottom and to get some color on the top of the buns I need a lot of heat (250°C) or a long time. The thermostat is not accurate, so mostly I just leave it at this high temperature. 
These twists are ready in 30 minutes at max. 204°C. So you see I needed to come up with a solution. I baked them for 20 minutes in the gas oven and with a pale top I placed them in my electric oven. I normally don’t use this oven; we get a very high electricity bill using it. 
It wasn’t over yet: when I was pre heating the gas oven I saw a weak gas flame; meaning low on gas. We use butane gas we buy at the shop in our village. Luckily we had just enough to bake the twists for 15 minutes and make lunch. But for our pizza this evening we need to go out and get new bottle of gas.
And this came out of the oven. It tastes delicious and Peter couldn't wait until tomorrow's breakfast. At this moment I'm typing this, he's heading off to the kitchen to get another one! 
My twists are not as beautiful as the ones Farine made, but that's for next time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Raisin Sourdough bread with mango

There was no raisin bread left in our freezer and we like to eat it all year round.
We don’t wait until Easter or any other special festive day. In the Netherlands you can buy “krentenbollen” or raisin buns or hot cross buns everywhere. Off course the best ones you buy at the artisan bakery shops or bake them yourself with this recipe.

Instead of buns I wanted to bake a loaf of raisin bread and I had some dried mango in the pantry. I bought these because I haven’t tried to dry mango from our own mangos.

Our garden is full of mango-trees. Because we don’t use any chemicals in our garden we have a lot of bugs. Some lay their eggs in the mango flowers and when the fruit is formed their larva have enough to eat. Other bugs just eat the ripe mangos hanging on the trees. Our neighbors spray a few times against bugs. There are a lot of bugs eating the mangos and the mangos are a big part of their income. So the remaining bugs in the area come to our garden. We don’t mind because we love bugs, butterflies, birds and all the rest. We don’t sell our mangos and like to give them to our friends. They all know about the bugs and they don’t care. We also have friends who take care of 25 macaque monkeys. The monkeys love mangos and maybe especially the ones with some extra bug-protein. 
As soon as I succeed to make my own dried mango I’ll post about it.

I wanted to use my sourdough along with yeast from the sponge. I made starter with 25% rye, which is really good in a loaf of bread. And, it’s also nice in Raisin Bread with Mango. Peter likes the version without the rye better. The bread has a light brown color because I added the raisin too soon and they were in the mixer for at least 6 minutes. Some of the raisins were torn up and this gave the dough its color.

Here you find my version of a sourdough loaf of “hot cross buns”. The original recipe of hot cross buns with sourdough you find at Sue’s You can do it at home. It's adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: a baker’s book of techniques and recipes.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sourdough with Fig and Flax

Since I started baking bread we have a full pantry. When I started baking bread there was almost nothing related to baking bread in my pantry. Now, more than a year later, my pantry is filled with different kinds of flour, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, pots, baking pans, stones for steaming, bannetons, etc.

I want to use all ingredients I buy because I hate throwing away food. But being frugal also leads to somewhat crazy behavior. I want to use everything I bought, but I also want to keep some since it’s not so easy to buy most ingredients. It’s almost a 200 kilometer drive to the nearest big bakery shop. Many ingredients are imported which makes them expensive. Peter doesn’t understand this contradiction in my behavior. He is able to eat and enjoy all that’s here, even though he knows it take months or years before he can eat it again. Being too frugal also leads to disappointment, because sometimes I keep an ingredient too long and it gets rancid or stale or old or rotten or … You get the picture.  

But, since I want to live an aware life I’m determined to learn and change this behavior. Now I use what’s in my pantry before I buy new ingredients. I saw these delicious dried figs our friend brought from the Netherlands. And they’re also organic! I immediately took them out and looked for a nice recipe. Whenever I want to bake non-fail bread, I go for Norwich Sourdough. This time I changed it, so it isn’t probably Norwich anymore, but it’s still non-fail recipe. The change I really love is the partly rye starter. I use 25% of rye in the 100% hydrated sourdough starter. It makes so a big difference in taste and flavor. 

I keep flaxseed in my refrigerator. Since I don’t want these seeds to go rancid I try to use them as often as I can. I used to soak the seeds to make them chewable. Our digestive system cannot always digest partially chewed kernels like un-chewed flaxseed. Whole flax seeds remain unbroken; they may pass undigested through the body, reducing the nutritional advantage of eating flaxseed in the first place. And secondly then flaxseed simply becomes expensive roughage. So to get the most health benefit from these little seeds I grind them. I grind them just before I add the flaxseed meal to the dough. Ground flax seed gets rancid more quickly.

Today I will bake Sourdough with Fig and Flax from my pantry! DELICIOUSLY GOOD

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lemon Cardamom and Cinnamon Rolls

Once a year we find lemons, the yellow ones. The rest of the year we buy limes, the green ones. Lime is used almost everyday in the Thai kitchen and to be found at all markets. I use them like I would use lemons, even the peel for zest.

The other day I saw these amazingly delicious looking fluffy sticky lemon rolls made by Karen of Bake my Day. Peter is not a fan of lemons, ok he almost hates them. But I love them and the combination of sweet and tart is great.

Off course I had to change something. It had nothing to do with the recipe because that’s great. But when I looked for the ingredients for the filling I saw those delicious smelling green cardamom seeds waiting to be used. And cardamom goes nice with cinnamon. I already made the dough with cinnamon and nutmeg. So cardamom in the filling should give it something extra.

Some time ago a friend gave us a secondhand blender. I had no idea what a great help it would be. Whenever a recipe called for lemon zest I tried to replace it, not because I don’t like the taste, but because it’s a lot of work to get the zest into itsy bitsy tiny pieces. Now I just put the lemon zest slices in my grinder. Wow, this is just what I needed.

That evening we had to try them. These rolls are delicious; soft, juicy, fresh, sweet and tangy. Even though I put lemon glaze on top of the rolls, Peter loved them!

Enough talking, let's bake!