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.
Some traditions are important. For me having a new years pretzel for the first breakfast of the year. And so there are more than one recipe for new years pretzels on the blog. That I like to use sourdough or sweet starter for that I realized when a reader asked me what recipe she could use for a “only yeast” pretzel.
I took the hint and my 2018 pretzel is made with yeast and poolish as yeasted preferment. The poolish together with the bit of spelt flour makes the dough extensible and so its easy to roll the dough into strands. For the flavour, I added sour cream and some honey to the dough.
And while I was baking my pretzel a question came to my mind: Do you have special breads or pastry you need to celebrate the first day of the year?
I struggeled a lot with Emmer or Einkorn Whole Grain Sandwich breads this year. The problem was always the weak gluten network of the ancient grain in combination with the bran in the whole grain bread which destabilized the gluten network even more. And so the crumb never satisfied my high standards.
Adding Spelt flour to the mixture did not do the trick and so I still try to create the perfect recipe. And will continue in the next year. To relax meanwhile I decided to bake a sandwich with white wheat flour and 30 % whole emmer flour.
The flour bag with white kamut flour contained still 400g flour which had to be used. And that was the beginning of this delicious rolls. They contain some sweet starter made of spelt which I used directly from the fridge. Using a ripe starter adds a lot of flavour to a bread and is an easy way to use up leftover starter. And the complex aroma notes of the starter harmonize very well with the deep nutty flavour of the Kamut flour.
Kamut is not very complicated to use. It needs just a bit of care while kneading as it tends even more to get over kneaded then spelt. And so I kneaded it only a short time and developed the gluten network with strech and fold circles during fermenting. And you can feel how the dough build up strength while folding. Kamut is really the easiest of the ancient grains!
After a lot of recipe development for my last course I have a lot of little flour leftovers from various ancient grains. There was for example the packet of white Kamut flour which I bought before I decided that the ancient grain workshop would be a whole grain workshop, too. And so I decided to use the last bread baking day in the museum to cut down some leftovers and baked pure kamut bread.
The bread contains about 40% whole grain flour which is mainly added to the poolish. That allows the flour to take up a lot of water. Especially Kamut is able to soak up a lot of water – at least all the batches I worked with in the last month. Anyway it is a good Idea to start with less water and add the water while kneading – just in case. The mild flaovur of the poolish fits very well to the nutty aroma of the Kamut.
Sometimes I have the feeling that baking bread follows as many fashions as you can observe in cloth. The trend flour of the last years was the French ones. Nowadays it seems that Swiss Ruchmehl is the new “in” flour. (Ruchmehl is a light wheat flour that contains more bran than normal white flour.) But this is not my kind of philosophy. I like to buy my flour in our local mill in which Wheat from the Rhineland and Spelt from The Bergischen Land is milled into very good flour. Just like Arndt Erbel I prefer to bake with the things that grow in my nighbourhood. And I firmly belief that every baker has to school his or her feeling for the dough for produce a great bread. Of course a great bread needs to have a great ingredients, too. But these can be found in your home region, too.
My rule is an easy one. I buy local flour. And when I in a new region, I buy the local flour there, too. This makes traveling much more exiting. And of course I bought some kilo Ruchmehl when we visited Basel – I like playing with new flour as much as everyone else does.