Friday, October 26, 2007

Hello Everyone, and a special welcome to those of you new to the underground baker blog. I have posted the recipes for today's CBC Almanac Show faster than usual so listeners can peruse them if they are so inclined. I took a ton of pictures while baking, but am having trouble getting them online. So, if there are no photos on this visit, come back a little later and I should have them up.
If you have any questions, feel free to put them under "comments" and I will get to them as soon as I can.
Recipes not included in today's list (for Starters and Barms) can be found by going back to the previous Almanac Show found on the side bar.

Apple Pecan Bread

This loaf takes two and a half to three days to make, although the work is minimal. All the time is dedicated to the rise.


1 ¾ cup water
2/3 cup barm
2 T milk
1 T maple syrup
2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup dark rye flour
¼ t salt

¾ cup water
1 t maple syrup
1 T salt
4 cups unbleached white flour
The Sponge
2 T walnut oil
3 cups pecans, lightly toasted and cooled
1 cup roughly diced apple

A few handfuls of unbleached white flour for kneading

Day one: Making the Sponge, (I usually start around 5 pm)
•Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well until you have a sloppy but smooth batter. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula, wrap with plastic and let sit at room temperature until bubbles form and a few pop. This takes up to 5 hours, depending on how vigorous the barm.
•Place in a refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours. (I do this just before I go to bed)
Day Two: Making the Dough
•In the morning, combine in a 4 qt + mixer bowl or large standard bowl for mixing by hand, the water, maple syrup and salt and mix well. Add the Sponge and flour, mixing with the dough hook for a machine, and stirring heartily by hand until a shaggy dough has formed. For those using a mixer, continue kneading in the machine for about 5 minutes. (The dough is a bit wet, so will cling to the side of the bowl more than other bread doughs) If kneading by hand, turn out on to a floured surface and knead anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes. (Alright, a moment of honesty. I admit, I don’t actually time myself…I knead until it feels right, but I have kept a glancing eye at the clock on occasion and it rarely takes 10 minutes to knead a dough that has such long proofing times)
•Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let proof for 8 to 12 hours in a cool place.
Day Three: Finishing the Bread
If you are using a baking stone, sprinkle two peels or cookie sheets with a generous amount of cornmeal. You want the cornmeal to work like ball bearings between the sheet and the bread. The stickier the bread dough, the more meal you need.
•If you are using cookie sheets to bake on, you won’t need to use as much cornmeal as the bread will pull away from the sheets as it bakes.
•The dough should be almost double in size. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in two and shape each half into a round loaf by flattening the ball slightly, then pulling an edge into the center and pressing it into the center of the loaf. (firmly, but not so hard that you flatten the dough – remember, you are trying to make a ball) Place the ball of dough smooth side up on your prepared pans.
•Repeat with the second piece of dough.
•Let dough rise for about 2 hours or until almost doubled in size. Meanwhile, about an hour into the rising time, preheat your oven to 400. If possible have a rack under the one you will be baking on and place a shallow pan on it that you can pour water into when you have put you bread in the oven to bake. The water will create a swoosh of steam that will improve your bread. Measure out a cup of water and put it beside the stove.

•When the bread is almost ready to go in the oven, slash it with a very sharp knife in a criss cross pattern, or what ever you choose. Pop it in the oven and immediately pour your reserved water into your very hot pan below the bread. You may want to have oven mitts on for this. Close the oven door right away and bake the bread for 50 minutes, or until the interior registers 200 on an instant read thermometer.
•Cool the bread on wire racks.

Buttermilk Buns
My Grandmother gave me all of her recipes some time ago, and this is one of them. I have changed it slightly. Originally it called for dried potato flakes, which I have omitted, instead using cooking water from potatoes from if I have it, and switching buttermilk for milk. Sweet and fluffy they remind me of Sunday dinners at Nesta’s.


1 cup scalded milk
1 ½ cups cooled potato water
2/3 cup melted butter
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoon salt
6 cups flour
1 tablespoon granulated yeast
melted butter for glazing

•Combine milk, potato water, melted butter, sugar, eggs and salt in a bowl.
•Combine 5 ½ cups of flour with yeast in a 4 quart bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour and stir with a sturdy spoon until a shaggy mass has formed. Pour this future dough onto a floured surface and fold/knead the mass to a smooth ball. Use the reserved flour for this. If the dough is too sticky add a bit more flour. Dough with this much butter in it usually pulls away from a lightly floured surface more easily than dough with no fat content.
•Roll the dough in a buttered 4-quart bowl, cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature for two hours.
•Grease 2-12 cup muffin pans generously with butter.
•Punch dough down and form into a ball. Divide the dough in half and set aside, covered. Roll the first ball of dough into a log and divide into 12 pieces. Divide each of these pieces into 3, and roll these little pieces into balls.

Roll the little balls by kneading with the fingertip, then pinching the underside together to make the top of the round nice and smooth.
Place in the well buttered cup of the muffin pan. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
•Let the dough rise for 2 hours, then bake in a preheated 375 oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The buns should be golden and brown. If they brown too fast, turn the oven down by 25 degrees.
•Cool on a wire rack, if you can.

Potato Rosemary Bread


4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, steamed, cooled and roughly mashed
5 ½ cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 ½ cups water
2 ½ teaspoons yeast
leaves from 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, roughly chopped or torn


Day One
•Combine flour and salt in a 4 quart mixing bowl.
•Combine the water, yeast and potatoes.
•Stir the water mixture into the flour mixture until it messy dough. Add the rosemary and work it in a little.
•Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 to 8 minutes, until the dough feels smooth and springy. It will have little lumps of potato in it still. This is good.
•Transfer into a deep, clean, buttered bowl. It should be big enough to accommodate the dough doubling in size. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Day two
•Prepare a peel or cookie sheets with cornmeal, being extra generous with the meal if your dough seems a little sticky.
•Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board. Shape into on large round loaf, or two smaller. Place on the prepared peel or cookie sheet(s). Let rise about 1 ½ hours, or until almost double in size.
•About an hour before baking the bread, preheat your oven to 400. Place a shallow pan on the bottom rack for water. Place a cup of water at the side of the stove.
•When the dough has almost doubled, slash the surface with a very sharp knife in a cross or square. Place in the preheated oven and pour the water quickly into the pan under the bread. Bake the bread for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 200.
•Cool on a wire rack.

Sourdough Spelt BreadThis recipe is from the book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. I have written it the way I make it, so the procedures are in my words. My apologies Mr. Reinhart…in your eyes I have probably butchered it. So listeners, readers…. If you have any problems, well you know who to talk to.
I have included rye flour where spelt flour is used, as it is the same recipe BUT the Rye Bread really needs the second proofing. The Spelt Bread is nice even with the one-day short cut. If you have the time for a three day bread, follow the instructions for Rye, (don’t worry about the degassing with the spelt, it has more gluten like properties than the rye flour.)


The Starter:
½ cup barm
1 cup spelt flour (or rye)
¼ cup warm water

The porridge:
½ cup spelt meal, or flakes (or rye flakes)
½ cup boiling water

The Dough:
3 cups spelt flour (rye)
1 ½ t sea salt
The Starter
The Porridge
1 cup water


Day One:
•Combine the barm, spelt (rye) flour and warm water in a bowl and mix to form a stiff ball. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours. Transfer to the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.
Meanwhile, combine the boiled water and spelt (rye) flakes to make the porridge. Let this sit at room temperature until you are ready to add it to the dough the next day.
Day Two:
•Cut the Starter into 1-inch pieces and let sit at room temperature in the bowl, covered, to take the chill off. This photo will give you an idea of the density of the starter.

•In a 4-quart mixing bowl (for a mixer or for hand mixing) combine the flour and sea salt and stir well. Add the cubed Starter, the Porridge and water. In a mixer blend for about 5 minutes with a paddle, or by hand stir until a shaggy dough forms, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until a smooth dough has formed and there are no noticeable signs of the starter within the dough.
•Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let sit for 4 hours, or until almost double in size. (ok, the rye bread doesn’t really double in size, at least not for me, but it will get bigger and feel a little spongy)
•When the dough has almost doubled in size, prepare your pans, or peel if you are using a baking stone. Sprinkle cookie sheets lightly with cornmeal if you are planning on baking on them. Sprinkle the peel more generously, since you are using the cornmeal as ball bearings to help slide the dough off the peel. The stickier the dough, the more cornmeal.
•Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Divide in half.
•If you are making Spelt Bread shape into two round balls by pulling the edges towards the middle and kneading is slightly with your fingertips. Turn the dough smooth side up on the prepared cookie sheets or peel. Let rise at room temperature for 2 hours or until almost double in size.
Day Three if you are making Rye Bread
•If you are making Rye Bread, place each half of dough in two oiled bags and let the dough have a second rise over night in the fridge. In the morning shape into balls or logs, being very careful to gently turn the dough out of the bags and place it on the peel with out handling it too much. This will prevent the dough from degassing, and you will get better volume during baking, but remember, we’re talking rye bread, so don’t be expecting a lot of height.
•After the dough has risen for about an hour, preheat the oven to 400. If possible, have a rack below the one you will be baking your bread on and place a shallow metal pan that can hold a cup of water. Set a cup of water beside the stove.
•When the dough has risen, cut a few slashes on the top of the loaves, about 2mm deep. If the oven is big enough bake both loaves at the same time. If not, cut the rise time of one of the loaves a little short, (15 minutes? It kind of depends on how vigorous your starter is!), so that the second one won’t over proof by the time it’s turn comes to go in the oven. Pop your loaf (or loaves) in the hot oven and quickly pour the water into the hot pan below the bread, (you may want to wear an oven mitt for this). Bake bread for approximately 40 minutes or until the internal temperature is 200. (use an instant read thermometer)
•Cool bread on wire racks.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Summer Fun with the Little Red Hen

Summer is far behind us now, but the day of baking a hundred loaves in a day is still fresh in my memory. Which is good because I have another Almanac show coming up at the end of the month, and that means I need to put together some new recipes. If anyone wants a particular type of bread made just for them, now is the time to request it!
I plan on doing one white-ish loaf, perhaps a potato rosemary bread. A nice, dense fruit and nut loaf will be in order to go with the cool, rainy evenings. Add a nice fire, some blue cheese and a glass of smooth, sweetish port for a little piece of hedonistic heaven. Maybe a baguette would be perfect for sopping up winter soups.
That is a start.