Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oscar's Original Bread Recipe

I have realised that I haven't actually given out any recipes thus far. So what I am going to do is make my own up and give that out as the first recipe!!

I have no idea what kind of bread it's going to be, this is how I'm starting it.

2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water (one from the hot tap and one from the cold)
Add to that 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast.
Place it in  a large bowl mix it thoroughly with your hand and cover it with cling-film or a lid if you can make it airtight..

This is going to be the pre-ferment for whatever I decide to do tomorrow. This should be put in a large bowl and allowed to go mad. It will probably look like a witch's cauldron by tomorrow and I will take further pictures of it then. You can just see the bubbles of C02 rising already from it. This is a good thing. This is the fermentation process which will impart an extra shot of flavour into the bread we make tomorrow. This should really not be done till late tonight but I'm going to give it about 20 hours instead of the usual 15 to do its thing.

Ah I love the process of experimentation....


Ok there was quite the hiatus there but that doesn't mean I didn't make bread .. I did and lots of it.

The pre-ferment (or Poolish as it is know) looked like this the next day.

As you can see, lots and lots of activity there and you can imagine the stink that was off it. Yeasty/alcohol of some substance. This was left in a lot longer than is normally recommended but I don't see anywhere for the flavour to go so I don't think it is a major problem, AND I'm making up a recipe so I don't have to do very much that's recommended if I don't want to.

Baker's Percentage: For this bread I decided to use something called baker's percentage. Basically you call your flour 100% and everything else is stated as a percentage in weight. 
For example; if you had 1000g of flour and you wanted to make a bread that was around 60% water then you would add 600g of water. Brilliantly simple isn't it! 
Why would ya want to do this? 
Well it makes recipes really really easy to scale. You wanna make a smaller amount of some bread then you add only 2 cups of flour instead of the 8 that the recipe calls for .. you wanna make 20 loaves of bread? Then you just scale up the flour and everything else will fall neatly into place.
My new scales that I bought has a button which gives you baker's percentage without even having to think about it. I wanted a bread that was about 70% water. That would make really big airpockets and give a ciabatta type bread. This is one of the wettest doughs that is commonly made. You also have to remember that the poolish I made was 100% water and that raised the overall percentage by even more. I didn't calculate exactly how much.
I put about 4 cups of flour in.
70% water
2% yeast
1% Salt
This is what resulted. An extremely wet dough which I basically poured out of the KitchenAid onto the counter. FUN!

I forgot to take a picture after I had allowed to rest but it was very similar to the baguette picture earlier in this blog. Dough like this doesn't really go up .. it just spreads out.

This is what resulted from my efforts. I made a few baguettes and a loaf in the loaf tin also.
As you can see .. massive air pockets which is exactly what I was after; a really airy Italian bread perfect for dipping! It's a pretty tasty bread in fairness, I have invented a recipe and it was that easy. It's not anything particularly unique but it just goes to show that you can really pick figures out of your head with very little guidance and make a bread.  Happy Days...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Baking with Marco Ropke - Italian Breads

So the first 2 evening course was a present and I decided to gift myself another one. This was Italian breads, including foccacia, panne francesca, pita, pannettone, bread sticks, Lebanese style lavash, pizza dough and others.

This is what resulted .. well actually this is only part of what resulted but I don't seem to have a pictures of the other half of the haul.

I can heartily recommend this course if you're in the Vancouver area. Class sizes are small (no more than 8) and you bake all the time. You also gets lots of snacks. On the first night we had some of Marco's handmade chocolates and on subsequent nights he always had a selection of breads and cheeses there for us.

Twas kinda like going to a bread restaurant where ya get fed loads of different courses and you get shown how to cook them yourself as well. All of the recipes are repeatable at home although some simple gadgets would make the job easier (weighing scales does spring to mind)
At some other time I'm going to take a couple of his pastry courses as well but at the moment I'm a bit too busy with work.


Blaas are one fo the most amazing breads to ever be baked. For those of you not from Waterford, they're a soft white bread roll only available in the Déise.
Martin Dwyer kindly game me a recipe for blaas last week and sure enough I gave them the auld college try t'other day.
THey almost worked, the look like blaas, the taste like blaas, the smell like blaas.
Unfortunately I made them too big and they were kinda doughy in the centre even though they looked done.
Next time, however, they will be better.