Tuesday, September 28, 2010


This bread is very unusual to make. The dough is extremely wet, but that's what it takes to get the big holes of ciabatta. Seriously, it's thinner than pancake batter! The crust is thin and flexible, but not soft. It makes an absolutely fantastic sandwich. We used it for italian sausage, onion, and pepper sandwiches. Wow! The inside is soft and holey. BTW, coccodrillo means crocodile.

Adapted from "Jason's Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta" on thefreshloaf.com
Timing: 4-5 hours total

500g bread flour
475g water
2 tsp. yeast
15g salt

In Kitchen Aid mixer: Mix all ingredients roughly till combined. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Now beat the crap out of the batter with the flat beater; it will start out like pancake batter but in anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes it will set up and work like a very sticky dough. If it starts climbing too soon, then switch to the hook. You'll know it's done when it separates from the side of the bowl and starts to climb up your hook/paddle and just comes off the bottom of the bowl.

Ferment: Place into a well-oiled container for about 2.5 hours and let it triple. Empty on to a floured counter (scrape if you must), and cut into 3 or 4 pieces. 

Bake: Place the pieces on parchment paper. Spray with oil and dust with flour. Let them proof for about 45 minutes, while preheating the oven up to 500F. After 45 minutes or so the loaves should be puffy and wobbly.  Stretch the dough into ciabatta shape (~10" oblong rectangle). Bake on a preheated stone at 500F for about 15-20 minutes. I made a half batch and baked the two loaves separately.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread

This is the easiest bread in the world. On Sunday night I mixed it all together in a 6 quart container and left it on the counter for 3 hours so it could double. Then I stuck it in the fridge. I took a handful out on Monday night and made a pizza with it. That's another post. On Tuesday morning, I took the container out of the fridge and put it on the counter for about 3 hours to warm up and start rising. Then  I grabbed about 1 1/2 lbs of the dough out of the container and formed it into a loaf. I put it in a loaf pan and let it double and baked it. The bread is moist and soft. It holds together well for a sandwich. The dough is very sticky so use wet hands when handling it. Give it a try! I still have another loaf's worth in the fridge for tomorrow. You can make fresh bread for up to a week and the longer it ferments in the fridge, the better it tastes.
Update: I baked the second loaf today. The dough smelled a little sour but the bread was great. Before rolling it into a loaf, I sprinkled the rectangle with a good amount of cinnamon sugar. WOW!

100 Percent Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread
adapted from "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day"

1 T yeast (1 pkt)
1 T salt
1/2 cup honey
5 T oil, plus more for greasing the pan
3 cups lukewarm milk
6 2⁄3 cups whole wheat flour (not packed) (I like Gold Medal and King Arthur brands)
2 T vital wheat gluten (optional but makes a lighter loaf)

Mix the yeast, salt, honey, oil, and milk in a 6-quart bowl or other container. Stir it enough to dissolve the yeast.

Mix in the flour and gluten using a large spoon and a little muscle. Make sure all the flour is wet. The dough will be very wet.

Cover loosely, and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough doubles or triples (about 2 to 3 hours).

Refrigerate and use over the next several days.

On baking day, remove the container from the refrigerator to warm it up for a couple of hours. Lightly grease a loaf pan. Using wet hands, scoop out a 1 1⁄2 pound (cantaloupe-sized) hunk of dough. Keeping your hands wet, form a loaf. There are fancy ways to do this but you can just flatten the dough into a rectangle (the length of your pan) on the counter and roll it up. Spray the counter first with oil so it doesn't stick.

Drop the loaf into the prepared pan. You’ll want enough dough to fill the pan slightly more than half-full. Spray with oil and cover.

Allow the dough to rise until doubled. This will take an hour or so, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until internal temperature is over 200. It should be nicely browned and firm.

Cool completely before slicing.

Note: If you are weighing your flour, which is a great idea by the way, whole wheat flour is about 4.75 oz/cup or 130 g/cup. If you don't weigh your flour, at least don't pack it in the cup. Loosen the flour first and then scoop it.

Roman Bakery Video

This is just about the coolest video I've ever watched. It's a sped up version of a day in a bakery in Rome. Take a look!

Roman Bakery Video

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Baked Apple Pancake

 Many years ago, in Chicago, we had a baked apple pancake at a breakfast restaurant out by O'Hare Airport. It was so delicious and I haven't had one since. Today I found this recipe on thekitchn.com and it was beautiful! And did I mention it was delicious? It was. Give it a try for a special breakfast. It easily feeds 4 people or one pig! It has lots of caramely (not a word, I know) goodness and a custard pancake with great texture. It tasted just like the one in Chicago, as far as I remember. Here's the link again ---  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

100% Whole Wheat Bread

This is 100% whole wheat sandwich bread adapted from the book "Whole Grain Breads". It's a moist loaf and very light for a 100% loaf.

The recipe calls for both a biga and a soaker. A biga is a flour and water mixture with a very small amount of yeast. The biga is made a day ahead so it can ferment and give a lot of flavor to the loaf. A soaker is mixture of flour, liquid, and salt that is made a day ahead so it can become fully hydrated. These both can be mixed by hand in a small amount of time.

One problem with whole wheat bread is dryness due to the grain not being fully hydrated when mixed. This recipe takes care of that problem.

100% Whole Wheat Bread
(makes one loaf)

1 3/4 c whole wheat flour (227 g)
1/4 t instant yeast (1 g)
3/4 c tepid water (170 g)

Mix together very well, making sure all flour is incorporated. Place in a covered container and refrigerate.

1 3/4 c whole wheat flour (227g)
1/2 t salt (4 g)
3/4 c plus 2 T buttermilk (198g)
Mix together very well, making sure all flour is incorporated. Place in a covered container and refrigerate.

7 T whole wheat flour (56g)
1/2 t salt (5g)
2 1/4 t instant yeast (7g) (same as bread machine yeast)
2 T honey (43 g)
1 T butter (14g)

On baking day, remove the biga and soaker from the refrigerator a couple of hours before you start, to take the chill off. Cut the biga and soaker into pieces and add everything else. Mix and knead until ingredients are evenly distributed. Knead for 4 or 5 minutes, adding no more extra flour than necessary. The dough should be very tacky, almost sticky. Make adjustments with extra flour or water until you achieve this consistency. Place in an oiled bowl and allow to rise for about 45 to 50 minutes until it increases by about half. Form into a loaf and place in a large oiled loaf pan (about 9x5"). Sprinkle with bran, wheatgerm, or sesame seeds if desired. Let rise for 45 to 50 minutes until it increases by about half.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425. After putting the loaf in the oven, lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Cool for one hour before slicing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hamelman's Corn Bread

What a day! I am amazed this loaf made it to the table. Everything that I could do wrong, I did wrong and it still tasted good. Hamelman's corn bread (recipe  here) is a yeast bread with some corn meal (flour) in it and mostly bread flour. It's a moist, heavy, but at the same time soft bread. Delicious. I started making the bread at 10 am today. I mixed the preferment, thinking I could bake tomorrow. I decided to make half a batch then I went to Applebee's with my friend, Cathy. On the way home I was daydreaming and started to turn in front of a car. Whew! That was close! When I got home, the preferment (which was supposed to sit overnight) hadn't really done anything yet and I started the bread anyway (I don't know why I didn't wait until tomorrow). Forgetting that I was only making half a batch I warmed the wrong amount of water and tossed it in the bowl, without measuring or weighing it. What was I thinking? Then I added the corn flour, weighing it first (amazingly). Then I realized that the preferment was for a half batch. Okay, I thought, I can figure this out and save it. I did everything I could to make it into a full batch. But it won't have the flavor, I thought, so I tossed in a couple of spoonfuls of my sourdough starter, thinking that might give it a little flavor. Then I realized that I wasn't supposed to make the bread until tomorrow (crap!). I finally got the dough mixed up according to directions and it seemed okay. But then I decided we may as well have it for dinner and if I followed instructions, the rise time and folding would take too long. Soooo... I kneaded it longer until it almost passed a windowpane test and let it rise for 1 hour. It doubled so I made up loaves and let it rise about 40 minutes. The instructions called for baking at 460 degrees. I thought I would give them a boost and start at 500 and immediately turn it down to 450 when I put the loaves in. When the loaves were finally in the oven, I used my teakettle to put boiling water in the steam pan, or tried to. After fully steaming my right hand (ouch!) and spilling most of the water on the oven door and floor and stone, I gave up. The loaves were doing well after about 10 minutes so I set a timer and sat down in the living room where I couldn't hurt anything else or myself. A few minutes later, I smelled something burning. AAK! I forgot to turn the oven down. The loaves were very brown and only a little burnt but not done on the inside so I put foil over them (so they wouldn't brown anymore) and turned the oven down to 400 and let them go another 10 minutes. The back of one the loaves is very burned but I didn't take a picture of that.
Despite all of that, the bread was actually very good. I wonder how different it would taste if I made it correctly.
I hope you don't think I'm like this all the time. Today I just had one of those "should have stayed in bed" days. Anyway, next time you're having a bad day, read this again! It'll make you feel better.