The idea of growing your own sourdough starter from just flour and water is something that many people shy away from. Maybe the idea of fermenting something at home is intimidating or unappealing; maybe it seems too risky or complicated. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame because the process itself is actually quite easy, and the starter can be used to yield wonderful results in the kitchen! In any case, the point of this
short post is to dispel those nasty rumours and let you know that with a little patience, you can make your very own sourdough baby completely from scratch!
As part of our nutrition club at school, the students often come for a snack whenever they are hungry. The simplest thing for them to do is to grab a bagel, toast it and put some spreadable cream cheese on it, (trust me they tell me when it’s not the spreadable kind). We haven’t managed to get a proper bagel recipe yet, that’s probably our next project. But in the meantime, we have managed to standardize a pain de mie recipe that’s easy to make in our 74 minute time frame. It takes an extra day or two, but that’s OK. For Ms. Brignull’s class, they even used this recipe for a fundraiser where the students made the bread into grilled cheese sandwiches to sell with soup and one-of-a-kind bowls produced by Ms. Levay’s class.
Ciabatta is a lean dough that is made with a poolish and something called the double-hydration method. This method involves adding water at two stages during gluten development. This is done to help incorporate the water of high hydration doughs. Continue reading
Focaccia is one of my favourite breads to make. It has a super high hydration (93% hydration in this case), but because it’s baked in a pan it doesn’t require any bread shaping skills. The possibilities for toppings are limitless, although it’s pretty good plain as well. Personally, I like baking focaccia in a lasagna pan, because it’s smaller than a sheet tray and has higher sides so the resulting loaf is dramatically thick. Eat it on its own, or even slice it lengthwise for sandwiches. You can’t go wrong! Continue reading
In the last few posts, I’ve been trying to cover some of the foundational topics of bread making. Today, I want to take a step back and talk about the steps involved in the overall process. My hope is that this will provide a general framework so that you know what to expect in a recipe, and even maybe start thinking about coming up with your own. Peter Reinhart says that the art of bread making involves 12 steps, I will try to give a brief description of each below:
In many bread recipes, a target temperature, or DDT (Desired Dough Temperature) is often specified for the dough for the end of the mixing process. Is it important? Mixing the dough in a specific temperature range encourages proper gas production during fermentation, resulting in the ideal loaf volume for the final product. The DDT may be influenced by factors beyond the ambient temperature. For example, if the water is too cold, it might take longer for the bread to properly rise. On the other hand, if the water is too warm, it will accelerate the fermentation process. By taking DDT into consideration, we can eliminate some of these variables and will achieve more consistency in fermentation, final dough and timing.
What is Desired Dough Temperature (DDT)?
Desired dough temperature is the temperature that the dough should reach at the end of the mixing stage just before bulk fermentation. Continue reading
Poolish, levain, biga, pâte fermentée – is there a difference? And what’s the point in preparing a part of the dough separately? In this post, I’ll try to clarify the terminology and the science behind the wonderful world of preferments.
What is a pre-ferment?
A preferment is a portion of dough that is mixed in advance of preparing the final dough. Its main purpose is to increase flavour, strength, and shelf life. Because it is mixed ahead of time, bulk fermentation as well as mixing time is reduced. Preferments can be stored either at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight, those that are stored in the fridge often assume more of an acidic flavour profile while room temperature preferments have a lactic flavour. Continue reading
Baker’s Percentage refers to a standard measurement used in most professional kitchens for yeast-raised products. It refers to the ingredients’ ratio to the amount of flour by weight, where flour or the combination of different flours always add up to 100%.
For example if you have 20g of salt to 1 kg of flour, salt is 2% of the weight of the flour. (N.B. salt is usually between 1.5-2.5% of flour weight.)
Another example, if you have 600g of water to 1 kg of flour, water is 60% of the weight of the flour, we can say that the bread is of 60% hydration.
It’s important to note that the formula’s total percentage will not add up to 100%, only the weight of the flour would. Depending on the number of ingredients, each recipe will have a different total percentage. Say you have a recipe for a bread that has: 100% flour, 60% water, 2% salt and 2% yeast, you would have a total of 164%. Continue reading
Autolyse is French for autolysis, which refers to the cellular process of self digestion. In the world of bread however, it refers to a technique that was developed by Professor Raymond Calvel. You may see the term pop up in bread recipes every once in a while. It involves a slow and minimal mixing of flour and water for a short period of time followed by a resting period, before moving on to the rest of the bread-making process. In this short post I’ll try to provide you with a better understanding of what autolyse is, why we do it, and some of the different ways it can be done. Continue reading