We had a delicious dinner this week, made of Falafel, lukewarm zucchini salad from Ottolenghis Plenty and Flatbread.
The dough for the bread I had already mixed around lunch time. It contained only a wee bit of yeast and some sourdough and was left on the counter for fermenting over roughly 6 hours.
After this time, the very soft dough was beautiful bubbly and I preshaped it as gentle as possible to keep the dough bubbles. While the preshaped dough rested I heated the oven as hot as possible. Baking was then only a question of minutes and we snacked the first loaf already while cooking the rest of the meal – it was just so good.
The bread is just as a flatbread should be: wild open crump under a thin crisp. And I’m asking myself why I bake flatbreads so seldom…
It was nearly 10 years ago when I stumbled over a sprouted grain bread. Susan from Wild Yeast baked it for Bread Baking Day with the theme “Bread with Sprouts”. A long, long time ago… I can still remember…
But it needed a second encounter to make me thinking about it. This second time I tasted a bread from sprouted spelt on a bread market a year ago. And this time I was hooked. But as sprouting is time consuming I took some time to start this project. But the Easter holidays were perfect for a new adventure!
Before Easter we had some young visitors. And as I doubted that a hearty whole grain bread would be their most favourite bread I baked a soft sandwich bread instead. But – and aunts can be a little mean – I still added 30 % whole grain flour to make the bread hearty and healthy enough for me to enjoy.
This bread is another step towards the whole grain spelt and emmer sandwich bread I work on already for some month. As the combination of emmer and whole grain tends to destabilize the gluten network I added everything to strengthen it: Egg as lecithin source, rose hip powered as vitamin c source and some physillium hulls to bind more water.
And the bread turned out just like a sandwich bread should be: fluffy with shreddable crumb and a crust that was crisp fresh from the oven but turns softer while cooling. And our seven and five year old guests enjoyed the bread very much. It vanished so quickly that my love complained that he got nearly nothing of this fluffy bread. But, as the first grader happily explained, this is because the bread is perfect to be eaten with tooth gaps. And then she took the last slice…
The most exiting part of my “Time for Bread” baking courses is the part when the participants and I develop together a new bread formula. It is so exiting because we bake it together, too and the result is as new for me as for my participants. And the breads in each course vary from each other. This time there was a bread with a heritage grain, nuts and fruits. To give the emmer whole grain flour enough time to soak we put it completely in the poolish. The nuts and fruit mixture soaks overnight as well so they do not withdraw the water from the dough.
I liked the resulting bread very much. The Emmer has a nutty flavour which underlines very nicely the aroma of the walnuts. Raisins and apricots add a fruit sweetness which is still subtle and goes well together with goat cheese.
When we drove through snow- rain to meet with the family on Easter Sunday, I mused if todays Easter weather was colder then on Christmas Eve or not. But good weather or not we had a broad mixture of rolls and a greek easter braid with us.
The idea of baking tsoureki I had in mind since a readers question last year. And so I did some research and found the braid in many different forms and different ratios of ingredients. But two ingredients were a stable: Mastix and Mahlep.
Mastix is the resin of the pistachios tree, while mahlep are cherry pits form Prunus mahaleb. While grinding the spices to powder I realized that mahlep has an similar aroma than tonka beans: almond like and very delicious. As always, the flavours of a spiced bread are depending more on the spices then on the aroma of the preferment. But using a preferment is useful anyway, as it helps to strengthens the gluten network as well as improves the shelf life.
We enjoyed this greek Easter Bread with its fluffy crumb and almond like flavours very much.
All the winter I did not make it to one of the bread baking days in our local history museum. It was due to different reasons: a lot of snow, a bad cold, our spontaneous weekend trip into the Ardennes…
But last weekend I finally was back and it was so good to meet all the nice people there once again. And as every time I was enchanted by all the little details around the wood fired oven and took many photos.
To honour the museum I call the bread I baked this time “Bergneustädter” as the Museum is seated at the historical centrum of the little town Bergneustadt. It is a bread made with white wheat and rye flour. To keep the bread moist for a long time I added a bit of potato flakes and a little bit of butter, too. The roasted malt enhances the subtle smoke notes of the wood fired oven. For rising the bread adding my hyperactive sourdough would be enough. But as a wood fired oven waits for no one I kept on the secure side and added a bit of yeast to make the proofing better controllable. So the bread needed 60 min to be ready for baking, which is fits perfect in the time schedule I have in the museum.
Sometimes I have “phases” in which I concentrate on a special topic while baking. At the moment it is whole grain. Maybe the very cold or dark winter is the reason why I am craving for grains, I do not know. But it is as it is and so I played a bit with the recipe I posted two weeks ago. The result is a beginner friendly bread which needs not so much planning as works without preferment. To still archive a balanced flavour I opted for a mixture of buttermilk and a tiny bit of balsamico. The amount of balsamico has to be well balanced, as to much can cause a unwelcome stingy tartness. But carefully dosed it creates a flavour with reminders of sourdough taste.
For the rest, I keep the parameters: enough time for kneading and proofing, so the whole grain flour can soak up all liquid its need. And for a little change in the palate I switched wheat with emmer flour. But if you have no emmer flour at hand, it can be baked with spelt flour all along, too.
Some time ago my mum handed two recipes to me. A very dear neighbour of my parents asked if I could give the recipes a work-over. And as its due to my mum and me that she got the bread baking virus, I could not deny. But the first look on the recipe made me sigh. It was a variant of the infamous “three minute bread”. There are many variants of this bread available, but all suffers at a stable crumb and a all overpowering yeast flavour.
The yeast flavour is due to an overdosed amount of yeast. This can be easily fixed by reducing the yeast amount. Fixing the crumb needs a bit more work and time. Most important is to knead the bread thoroughly. Beside of kneading giving the flour enough time to soak is important, too. And so I added a Soaker and a Sourdough and added proper time for fermentation.
The bread is not a three minute bread anymore. It needs time like every good bread, but this time is well invested. The bread has well balanced flavour and moist, but stable crumb. A delicious bread for my lunch at school!
Step for Step I move nearer to my whole grain sandwich bread with a great amount of ancient grain. After the variant of with 30% whole emmer flour and white wheat flour worked so well, I tried this time a spelt sandwich bread with 60% whole grain. I decided to use a whole egg instead of egg yolk, as the egg white helps to stabilize the crumb. The rose hip powder adds vitamine C which enhances the gluten network. Instead of rose hip powder you can use acerola cherry juice as well. A well developed gluten network is one key to a fluffy bread with a good volume. Butter helps to keep the crump tender.
I am very happy with the result. The flavour is nutty and mild, the crumb as fluffy as a good sandwhich bread should be. The next step is adding Emmer to the mixture…
There is one big christmas tradition in our Family: Cheese fondue with Grandparents, Grandaunt and –uncle, Parents, Aunts and Uncles, Siblings and Cousins and little nieces, nephews and great cousins. The recipe for the cheese fondue I published already some years back. Last year we had a little bread desaster. The bread was not only undelicous but crumbly and break rather than holding the cheese. A lot of bread got lost in the pots… And so my Mum and me volunteered (of course without any thinking) to bake baguette for all in the next year.
Over the year I did some researching and stumbled over the swiss fondue bread, something even my Swiss Grandaunt did not knew.