Pumpernickel Bread– how to make your own caramel coloring

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[Another awesome Mark Luinenburg photo by the way] I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the caramel color, a brown and slightly bitter powder )made by over-caramelizing sugar) that we call for in the pumpernickel bread recipe on page 67 of the book.  It’s hard to find in local stores, and it’s not an absolute requirement for the bread, but most U.S. consumers will miss it if it’s left out.

Yes, caramel color can be made at home, but not as a powder– what you make will be a liquid that is added to recipes; you should decrease the liquid a bit to account for the extra. Here’s what I’ve done at home (it won’t be quite as dark a result as powdered caramel color): Put 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon water into a saucepan. Melt the sugar over a low flame, then increase heat to medium-high, cover, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add a pinch of cream of tartar and continue to boil uncovered until the mixture becomes very dark. Remove from heat and allow to cool partially. Very carefully, add a quarter cup of boiling water to the pan (it may sputter and water may jump out of the pan so wear gloves and keep your face away from it). Dissolve the caramelized sugar and cool to room temp. Use about a quarter-cup of this mixture in place of commercial caramel color powder in our Pumpernickel recipe on page 67.

If you use liquid caramel coloring like this, you need to add extra flour to make up for it– about twice the volume of flour as liquid.  Otherwise the dough will be too loose.

Come Get Your Hands in a Bucket of Dough!

bret’s table

(Bret, Suvir Saran, Zoë and some of the wonderful students at the last class we taught at Bret’s Table)

Come to Bret’s Table on June 11th and roll your sleeves up. We’ll be making dough and baking bread. It is a wonderfully intimate kitchen, decked out with great equipment and a glass of wine. Bring your ideas and questions and we’ll tailor the night to what you want to learn. This is the beauty of a class with only 10 students. If you bring your own 6 quart bucket you can fill it with dough to bring home and continue baking. Continue reading

How to Form the Pain d’Epi (wheat stalk bread)

Pan D’epi

The classic wheat stalk shaped bread is impressive and somewhat intimidating, until you see how easy it is to make. We love the Pan d’Epi not only for its gorgeous appearance but because it is the crustiest loaf there is. All of those cuts and angles leave more surface to crisp in the oven. Something a little more sophisticated to serve with dinner than ordinary rolls but just as easy!

Here’s how it is done: Continue reading

Q&A MISC. Bread Questions

Until we can figure out a more sophisticated way to handle your feedback, your praise and your questions, we hope the following series of Q&A posts will help. Our goal is to get a conversation going about a particular topic in one location. Hoping that it will be easier for you to follow and get the information you need to bake gorgeous bread.

If we haven’t started a thread on the subject you are interested in then leave it here and we can create another post!

Thank you so much for all of the conversation. We enjoy it immensely and are learning so much from you all!

Zoë and Jeff