Friday, June 20, 2014

Lets Bake Bread; Day one.

Greetings friends and fellow hobbits.
Over the next two days we are going to make bread.
A handful of my friends and family have sampled this recipe and found it taste , as have I.  This recipe is the product of close to two months of tinkering. A side effect of evening shift, I got bored before work.  I could have googled a recipe using the things I had, but I wanted to create something from  principles, and get it right through trial and error.

Errors there were.  The first batch was grossly under baked, but hinted at the potential, the second batch had too much whole wheat , it was also under baked.  The third batch was way too salty, the fourth or was it the fifth batch had no salt. The bugs got worked out, notes were made, variables isolated and consistency improved. So now after several successful runs I want to share.

This bread uses the sponge method.  In this method the bread starts as a near 50/50 flour water mix with yeast.  This soggy batter is left overnight to ferment, building flavours that are otherwise under developed.  Don't worry that the stuff in the jug looks nothing like bread dough, we'll fix that tomorrow.

Sponge Recipe.
2 Cups all purpose flour.

2 cups flour, 1/4 oats
1/4 oatmeal or mixed cereals.
I use a Rogers brand Porridge oats. This has oats, wheat bran, and flax seed.  I hated the stuff as a cereal but as a shortcut to multi grain bread it is perfect. I have tried using a little more but I found too much starts to mess with texture of the final product.

Warm Yeasty water
Not as good as beer.
7 ish gram yeast
7 grams yeast or one packet.  I am blessed with access to fresh baker's yeast, but Dry or active yeast would do just as well.  Fresh yeast is reputed to provide a better flavour but with the time you are giving the bread it will all balance out.  If your yeast has instructions consider following them.

2 Cups warm water, body temperature-ish.  You want to wake up the yeast and get it off to a good start.

Mix well
In a large nonmetallic vessel mix the dry ingredients together.  I have found a 4 litre plastic jug very handy, it gives the yeast lots of room to rise and I can pour it out easy for the next step.
You will want a large container for this as the stuff is quite vigorous and will try to make a break for freedom.  3 litre would be the safe minimum to contain.

In a separate container stir the yeast into the warm water.  Let it sit for a few, until it gets a little frothy.  When you are confident that the yeast has awoken add it to the flour.  Mix the whole lot up real good, be sure to use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula as yeast is not fond of metals. Yeast's fondness for the music genres of Metal is unknown to me.  Cover securely and place in a dark cool cupboard.

Put away and walk away. 
A note on long ferments.  Normally I let my breads rise in a overly warm cupboard above the fridge, not this one.  The sponge will ferment for 8 to 10 hours depending on when you get around to making the bread, high temperatures are not needed to keep the yeast alive. The readings I have done suggest cooler temperatures and longer time frames will produce better flavors.

I have tried both fermenting overnight at room temperature, and in the fridge, both batches produced good loaves.

My advice is, if your house is warm, or you just don't like the idea of it sitting out all night put it in the fridge.  But leave it out for a few hours to give the yeast strong start.  If you do refrigerate it be sure to let it warm up to room temperature before working it into the final dough.  Half an hour a least before working it.

Tomorrow we rise again, and then once more for good measure, before getting hot and steamy.

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