After spending the last 100+ days bringing you along on all of our wanderings, I thought that I would change gears for a little while, and bring you to the other purported half of this blog; the half that has told me recently that she has felt a little left out of the action. And she just isn’t going to take it anymore.
So to start, I thought that since we are moving, hopefully in the next 2-3 weeks, that I would bring you along on a little culinary adventure. Not to places far, but into the depths of the cupboards in our kitchen, where the ingredients for some potentially tasty baked things have been sitting idle and gathering dust for the last 3+ months. My goal, is to use up as much as possible…clean it all out, hopefully baking up some good things in the process.
My first assignment.
One thing, among many, that I missed while traveling, is that smell of yeast, the kneading of a young dough and the punching down of a risen one. Bread is my first love, when it comes to baking, and it is something that I never tired of even when working at my first bakery, with my head and my hands in dozens of different doughs a day. I always loved the process of mixing, using the larger than life ‘phaebus’ or the smaller ‘hobart’ by its side, mixing dough’s simultaneously.. rosemary sourdough in one, honey wheat in the other.. then, ciabatta in one, pumpernickel rye in the other.. And that isn’t where it stopped. I loved the benching. (the forming of the loaves) I loved giving each loaf its own shape, giving each type of bread its own personality: torpedo shaped with sesame seeds on one, rounded with oats and multigrain mix on the other…. Then, there is the baking. Checking the risen doughs for that perfect airy, yet springy feel..the act of loading the bread belt, scoring each loaf with its signature cut, the dusting of flour, the light spritz of water….then, lifting and sliding the loaves onto the stone hearth of the multi deck oven, letting the doors close, then giving a hearty burst of steam from the button on the side…a boost for good measure, not to mention a nice shiny crust. Then, there is the shuffling of the breads using what is called ‘the peel’, a huge paddle with long handle. I loved this part. This is where the theatrics came into play. The oven was in the retail area of the bakery, so you could always hear people “oooohing” and “ahhhing”, as you shuffled numerous breads onto and off of the paddle, moving them from one end of the oven to the other, giving all an equal chance at the perfect brownness, the perfect crust. As you pulled the breads out of the behemoth oven, again you could hear the “oooohs” as you precariously balanced the crackling loaves, beautifully crisp browned crusts and all, and deposited them with a dramatic flick of the wrist, onto the cooling racks.
Of course, I can’t recreate this whole experience, in our smaller kitchen, with our two shelved non-bongard oven and our lack of industrial sized mixtures, but I can still hope to make a decent loaf or two.
Ingredients that I have on hand for this project: Wheat Flour, Honey, Dark Corn Syrup, Oil, Yeast, Kosher Salt.
Recipe that I found: Vollkornbrot, from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads.
This recipe calls for nonfat dry milk, molasses and butter, along with whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, thick oats and water.
I tweaked it a bit, since I didn’t have molasses, dry milk or butter.
Here is what I came up with:
3 c whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon + 1 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 Tablespoon clover honey
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
A spritz of water and thick oats to garnish..
-bloom yeast in warm water for 5 minutes, then add honey and syrup and oil.
-add flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. (you may not need all three cups, so reserve the last cup, and see where you are at before adding. You can use it for dusting your counter while kneading, also)
-add salt, and mix in.
-throw down on counter, and flour with remaining flour as needed, as you knead the dough for 8 minutes, until it becomes smooth.
-let dough rise for 90 minutes, in a bowl, in a warm place.
-punch down, knead briefly and shape into a round. Let sit for 10 minutes.
-form into a torpedo and place into a greased loaf pan.
-let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
-preheat oven to 375, and add a pan with water, 20 minutes before baking.
-spritz the loaf lightly with water and sprinkle with oats. Then, score the loaf by making a slice vertically down the center, about a ½ inch deep.
-bake for 30 minutes, then remove the pan of water and bake for 15 minutes more.
-remove from the oven and onto a metal cooling rack.
-cool, then devour…preferrably toasted, with crunchy peanut butter and honey.
* this bread, made of all whole wheat, typically wont rise as high as one with white flour. This is in part to the lower level of gluten formed when using whole wheat flour.