Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

sourdough baguette

A good sourdough starter is like gold.  I have tried in years past to make a sourdough starter but have failed miserably.  They always had that layer of hooch on the top and it smelled like rotting.  I tried to dump the hooch off but my starter was completely flat.  A few months ago I turned to my guru for advice: Peter Reinhart.  In his book Crust and Crumb he gives steps to make a starter using pineapple juice in the first few days of “trapping.”  This has worked for me and we have been enjoying the results ever since.  Merlin is a great little starter.  I keep my starter in the fridge and I feed it every two weeks when I am not using it.  Also, my starter is a 1×1 ratio of flour to water, by weight.  A more solid starter works but this wet one seems to produce superior results. 

I took the 3-2-1 method of sourdough and tweeked it a bit for my baguettes.  The dough is fairly wet but after its ferment in the fridge it will become more workable.  Also, if you sprinkly a little bit of flour on your work-space for the first shaping you will notice that it is much easier to manipulate.  You don’t want baguette dough to be stiff.  You want it to be fairly tacky so that it will stick together for both shapings.  

I have tried many methods for shaping baguettes.  The one that works everytime and produces consistent results is from Mark Sinclair

sourdough baguette

Baguette recipe: by weight

150 grams Starter
250 grams Water
420 grams Flour
8 grams Salt–I almost always use Kosher coarse grain

This will produce two 12″ baguettes. 

Baker’s Percent

100% Flour
59.5% Water
35.7% Starter
1.9% Salt

66% hyrdration

Mix until dough comes together.  Kneed for 3 min with KA on setting 2.  Place dough in lightly oiled container, roll around so that the whole dough ball is covered, and then refridgerate for 24-36 hours.  When you are ready to bake take dough out of fridge and let sit for 1 hour in order to take the chill off.  Shape according to Mark Sinclair method.  Preheat oven to 500F at the start of your shaping and have a pan or cast iron skillet on your oven flour. 

Right before baking score the top of your dough and pour 1/2 cup water into whatever pan is sitting on your oven flour.  Close the oven dough and wait 2 min.  Put your baguettes into the oven, mist the top of them with water, and bake for 2 min.  Mist the top again and bake for 2 min.  Mist the top for the third time and bake for 2 min.  Mist the top for the fourth time and bake for 20 min at 450F.   All of this misting allows your baguettes to rise without ripping the crust.  You want to keep your crust moist for the first half of baking so that it can expand and not split. 

Let your baguettes cool for at least an hour before cutting.  Sourdough breads have a longer shelf life than most breads.  Sourdough breads get better the longer you let them sit uncut.  These loaves still had a crisp crust and soft crumb on day two. 

Good luck with your sourdough.  Wild yeast breads require 50% skill and experience, 30% hope, and 20% magic.    

sourdough with brie and tomato

Champignon: German Brie with Mushrooms



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Beet Bread

beet bread

On Sunday I decided that I would make a beet bread.  Don’t ask why this craving hit me but I wanted bread that looked like and tasted like a beet.  My result was a modification of The Knead for Bread’s recipe.  Also, I have converted the recipe into metric measurements and baker’s percents.  Enjoy. 


1/4 tsp yeast
1 cup Bread Flour
1 cup water

Allow poolish to sit out overnight.  The small amount of yeast will create a great flavor for tomorrow’s recipe.

Beet Puree:

about 1/2 pound beets
1/2 cup water

Roast beets for 1-1.5 hours at 350F.  Roast beets in a small baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.  Beets should be tender to fork touch.  Cut roasted beets into cubes, I left the skins on mine, and blend with the remaining water in your pan. 

Final dough:

All of poolish
1 cup beet puree
2 3/4 Bread Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat flour
1/2 cup water
3/4 tsp yeast
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients and allow for 15 min autolyse.  Knead for 4 minutes or until dough passes windowpane test.  Let double in a lightly oiled bowl.  Once doubled take out and shape.  I shaped mine into boules but you could use this in a loaf pan.  I would have liked to place this in my banneton but I was afraid it would leave residual pink that would stain future doughs.  Let your dough proof until doubled.  Score the top and bake.

Bake at 400F for 30-35 min. 

My dough had enormous oven-spring that I wasn’t prepared for.  Next time I will allow it to proof for a little longer.  I got anxious to put my boules in the oven.   

Beet bread

Metric measurements and baker’s percents


209g water
209g Bread Flour (I used King Arthur)
0.7g DIY

Final Dough:

All of poolish
234g Beet puree
475g Bread Flour
80g Whole Wheat flour
100g water
3.5g DIY
10g salt

100% Flour
40% Water
0.5% Yeast
1.3% Salt
31% Beet Puree

It seems that this dough would be underhydrated but you need to remember that there is water retained in the beets.  This percentage does not take into account the 1/2 cup that was added to the beets while they were roasting.  1/2 cup is around 50 grams and would raise the percentage to 46%.  This dough worked for me but  you may need to adjust the hydration level according to the flour that you are using and how “juicy” your beets are.

beet bread

Beet bread sandwich: fried egg, smoked gouda, raw spinach

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Sun-dried parmesan bread

Sun-dried parmesan bread

This was my kitchen sink recipe.  I accidentally made too much baguette dough so I decided to throw some of it in my banneton with a few added extras.  I had sun-dried tomatoes around and I had recently ground up some parmesan.  So, I thought, why not mix it into my extra dough.  Before putting it into the oven I spritzed it with water and gave it a sprinkling of cracked pepper.  Out of all the breads I have made this one actually made my mouth water when it was baking.  The smell was incredible.  Here is how I made it. 

Follow my poolish recipe for the dough.  I made 900 grams of dough for this recipe.

After the second rise lightly flatten out the dough into a square that is roughly 12″x12″.  On one half of it sprinkle 1/4 cup ground parmesan cheese and then, on top of that, gently press in 1 cup of chopped sun-dried tomtatoes.  Leave 1/2 inch of dough around the edges so that you can seal it back up again.  Fold the empty side over the top of the tomatoes and press down on the edges to seal.  Flatten the dough slightly and business fold it into thirds (like you are mailing a business letter).  Let your dough rest for 5 min and business fold again.  I folded mine three times. 

At this point you should have a few layers of tomato and you will want to shape your dough into a boule.  You don’t need a banneton for this because all of the folding and shaping has made your dough fairly tough and it will stand on its own.  However, let your boule rise for an hour, until doubled, before baking. 

Pre-heat the oven to 500F while your dough is rising.

Right before baking spritz your boule with water and top with pepper.  You need the pepper.  Trust me. 

Spray the walls of your oven with water and bake for 2 minutes.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Turn the heat down to 425

Bake again for 30 min at 425. 

Check the temp of your bread after 30 min.  If the internal temperature isn’t over 195 it isn’t done.  The optimal temp is between 195 and 205. 

sun-dried parmesan bread

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Pumpkin Challah

Pumpkin Challah
This bread works for just about any occasion. It has a great pumpkin flavor but it isn’t overpowering. The extra pieces, if there are any, make great croutons.

Yield=two large loaves.

8 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp allspice
(I used ground allspice berries)
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup warm water
(100 degrees)
3/4 cup egg yolks (between 10-12 eggs)
2 Tbl canola oil
1/2 cup honey
15 oz. pumpkin puree
(if using canned pumpkin 15 oz. is a full can)
1 Tbl salt
1/4 tsp Ascorbic Acid (this will help your bread stay mold free–it is optional but it works)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and wisk together
Combine all wet ingredients in a bowl and wisk together

Mix dry and wet ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes. This allows for autolyse (the flour to hydrate).

Kneed for 5-8 minutes by hand or 3 minutes with a stand mixer. Your dough should pass the windowpane test.

Place dough into a covered oiled bowl and let double, about an hour.

Scale and cut dough into two pieces. Put one piece back into your covered bowl. You will now be braiding your challah. This is the best part, because challah dough is incredibly easy to work with, all those egg yolks. Braiding dough is the same as braiding hair. The diagram on this page explains two different ways to braid and it gives instruction on how to do a 6-strand loaf.  Challah is very forgiving when it comes to handling so don’t fret about getting it right the first time.

Proof for 1 hour, aka let sit out, or refridgerate overnight in a plastic bag. Before placing challah in the oven glaze with an egg wash. Egg wash=1 egg plus 1 Tbl water mixed together.

Bake at 350F for 50 minutes. Let cool for 1 hour before cutting.

I sprinkled mine with poppy seeds

Pumpkin Challah

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My New Year’s resolution was to eat more whole grains. Peter Reinhart will be my guide this year with his book Whole Grain Baking. (I don’t plan on doing a year in the life of a book, but I do plan to utilize the colon cleansing power of the whole grain.) I know that if you are a bread baker and have looked on the internet for recipes or formulas you have stumbled across that name before. He is the man. If you have never read one of his books before I suggest Artisan Breads Everyday or Bread Bakers Apprentice. These are good books get started and most library systems have them.

Anyways. Following my resolution I made Reinhart’s Broom Bread on the 2nd. Looking at the formula for this it seemed that it would be dense and painful to chew; however, it was the lightest whole grain bread I have ever had. The secret? A soaker. Soaking whole grains in water overnight allows hard grains to soften and hydrate. Also, it utilizes a biga. The recipes in Whole Grain Baking are all basically the same with minor variations. The reason for this is because it is not a recipe book. It is a book to explain whole grain baking and many secrets for success. So, what’s the point of this blog? I love Peter Reinhart and so should you if you are serious about becoming a better baker. He explains baking in a way that makes it accessible. Because of Crust and Crumb I am able to create my own recipes using only a scale, a pen, and paper. Check him out and enjoy the results.

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 Welcome to 2010. I haven’t been on here for a while because I almost gave up. No comments made it seem that no one was reading and what is the point of writing this if no one is reading. However, I am going to stick with this. Also, I will try to add more recipes that involve the dreaded Volumetric measure system. Ick. But I’ll do it for you.
Pretzels. Hard crumbly pretzels are made using a lye bath. Have you ever seen Fight Club? I don’t want to mess with lye in my kitchen. This recipe is for glorious soft pretzels. These are perfect for dipping in sauce or just eating plain as a snack. They can be covered in cinnamon and sugar for a breakfast treat or slathered in marinara and cheese to make an afternoon pizza-y snack. This recipe makes 6 75-80 gram pretzels.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.




3/4 cup warm water
1/2 Tbl yeast
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
(1 Tbl gluten–optional)
These do not need salt in the dough.
Kneed until dough forms a smooth ball: 5-7 minutes.


Let rest for 20 minutes or store dough in refridgerator overnight for even better flavor.


Scale dough into 75-80 gram balls, or six pieces.


Roll each into a thin rope, approx 1 1/2 feet in length, and shape into your desired pretzel shape.


Boil each pretzel in water that contains 2 Tbl baking soda and 2 Tbl mild molasses. (Baking soda gives it a darker color and molasses gives it shine–this doesn’t seem correct but it is) Boil each pretzel for 30 sec total.


Give each pretzel an egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt or other topping of your choosing.


Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes. Let the pretzels get a little dark but you don’t want to over cook them.


These can be enjoyed right out of the oven.



Bakers Percents: 

100% Flour
64% Water
10% Brown sugar
2% Yeast
2% Gluten


with a poolish–this gives them a more complex flavor




100% Flour
178% Water
0.01% Yeast
(with a 200 gram flour poolish I generally add 1/8 tsp for an overnight ferement, but the amount of yeast will depend on how long you intend to let your poolish ferment: shorter ferement=more yeast)


100% Flour
20% Poolish
52% Water
10% Brown sugar
1% Yeast
2% Gluten


10 80gram pretzels:


430g Flour (I used 50/50 with AP and whole wheat flour)
86g Poolish
224g Water
43g Brown sugar
4g Yeast
8g Gluten



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Chocolate Scones


Preheat oven to 375

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk (can use milk + 1tsp vinegar)
2 Tablespoons orange zest (finely grated orange peel)
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup cold butter
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
Mix egg, buttermilk, and orange zest in a separate bowl.
Cut butter into dry ingredients; add the rest of the ingredients and gently fold.
On a lightly floured area roll dough out to 1/2-3/4 inch high and cut into desired shapes or sizes.
I like to bake on parchment paper or a silpat because it guarantees that things won’t stick, but you could bake these on a non-greased pan.
Bake for 20 minutes and dark
Yield: 15-18 scones

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