First off, sorry for the loud cricket sounds– couldn’t do anything about that, because…
It’s still summer, and I’m still grilling bread, but I wanted to show how to roll dough exceptionally thin for crackers use the outdoor grill as an oven. The key with crackers is to prevent them from getting scorched. In Artisan Bread in Five and Healthy Bread in Five we talk about doing crackers at in the 375 – 400 degree F. range (190 – 200 C), and that definitely helps prevent scorching. You can also use oil on the crackers, and that helps too. But oil does increase the baking time– my crackers took 20 to 30 minutes to get crisp. And that range depends on whether you get them truly paper-thin. The thicker ones take a little longer. So be more patient than I am and get it to less than 1/16-inch thickness– you should almost be able to see through it.
One other tip: If you bake large flat crackers and don’t cut them before baking, “dock” (puncture) them with a fork before baking or they might puff, which you don’t want with pita.
The idea of crackers has always to have a crisp dried result that stored well– as you can see in the video, these didn’t last long enough to test the theory. And remember: serious bakers wear closed-toe footwear!
The heat wave isn’t nearly as bad in Minnesota as it is in on the East coast, but I can’t say that I’m itching to fire up the oven and bake fresh buns for hot dogs or bratwurst. It’s a cinch to do it on the same grill that you use for your hot dogs or bratwurst, and this video shows you how. Use any lean dough from either of our books, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If anything in the video’s unclear, just visit back and post a question into the “Comments” field.
One word of caution: I can’t vouch for the durability of baking stones placed on a gas grill. I haven’t had any trouble with my half-inch thick stone but the thin ones crack at the drop of a hat. My guess is that if you call any stone manufacturer, they will tell you not to do this. None of them warrant stones against cracking (one company did in the past, but they’ve withdrawn that). I haven’t been listening.
This summer, the son of one of our book’s first testers started a bread business and is delivering bread door to door, by bicycle, right here in Minneapolis. Check out Bicycle Bread… They were recently featured in the Southwest Journal and were on TV, on Fox9 News (click here to view).
Another interesting little home-town business is the Gourmet Girls, who are making fresh breads using our books as the recipe resource. Send an e-mail to inquire about homemade artisan bread via local delivery (southern Westchester County, NY).
Click here if you’d like to see the list of past postings on summer grill-breads again… Continue reading →
In case you have one of our lean doughs in the fridge (no enrichment or sweetener), but you want to bake up a morning bread or other sweet buttery thing, hope is not lost. I started with our basic light whole wheat recipe, and rolled some delicious things into it.
More about rolling in the fruit, brown sugar, and butter…
After mixing the dough, our recipes only require two hours at room temperature for their initial rise (assuming you’ve used lukewarm water); then the container goes into the refrigerator where it can be stored for up to two weeks (depending on the recipe). Occasionally, we’ll forget about a batch and leave it out overnight. We’ve found that this has little effect on the final result, maybe just shortens the batch life by a day or two.
So don’t throw out that good dough if you forget about it overnight!
When people write to tell us that their dough seems “too wet,” the first question I ask is: how are you measuring? Because we measured with the “scoop-and-sweep” method, not the “spoon-and-sweep” method.–view the video to see exactly how we do it.
American recipes usually are based on volumes, measured with standardized measuring cups. If you press down into the flour bin (use a flour bin, not the flour’s bag), you’ll compress and get too much flour. If you use the “spoon-and-sweep” method, where a spoon is used to gently fill the measuring cup before sweeping, you’ll get too little flour into the cup. Likewise, don’t “aerate” the flour by mixing it or whisking before measuring; that will lighten the cup.
If you do it the way we tested it (and use flours like the standard ones we tested with), you’ll get results like you see in our photos and videos. You can also consider weighing flour, using the weight equivalents in “Healthy Bread in Five…” We go through the use of the digital scales (we like the Escali or the Salter) in this post from last year.
People sometimes ask us for simple formulas for converting traditional bread recipes to our stored-dough method. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to the question. Developing recipes for our books takes lots (and lots) of trial and error.
If we put our our testing methods and approaches up here on the web, our publisher would kill us! If you want to try to convert a traditional recipe to our high-moisture, stored-dough method, read through the two books to get a sense of the moisture level that’s needed, then check out the rest of the FAQs here on the website. Pay attention to our “videos” tab as well. It may take a bit of work, but you should be able to transform your existing repertoire.
Some people get excited by a football game or a new pair of shoes, but for me it is finding fresh cake yeast at my local grocery store. I haven’t played with fresh yeast since I was in culinary school many years ago. I certainly hadn’t tested the recipes in our books with it, because I assumed it was too difficult to find. There it was sitting next to the cream cheese in the dairy section of the store. I admit I yelped and did a little dance right there in the aisle. I will most certainly continue to use granulated yeast, but thanks to Red Star there is a fresh option available for those of you who want to give it a try. It is very easy to use and for those with a sensitive palate you may detect a difference in the flavor. I loved working with it and the bread was wonderful. The only draw back is that fresh yeast has to be used when it is FRESH. Most only survives about 10 days in your refrigerator and Carol at Red Star Yeast says that freezing it is tricky business. For those of you who get excited about trying new techniques and ingredients I highly recommend you give it a go.
Recently we have seen lots of new readers on the website who are asking wonderful questions about how to perfect their loaves. First I’d like to say welcome to the site and thank you for trying the bread. As I bake through the basic Master recipe from ABin5 I will try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and also introduce you to a few new pieces of equipment I’ve recently started to use that make the whole experience just a little easier. The goal is to create a large batch of dough that stores in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. That’s why our method saves you so much time– all the mixing and prep is divided over four one-pound loaves. Continue reading →
The “black and white” pumpernickel/rye braid is a New York specialty that brings back fond memories for me. Mark Luinenburg’s photo above is downright savory; you can almost hear the caraway seeds crunching in your mouth. Pumpernickel is a kind of rye, and we included a whole grain version in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which also has a rustic Bavarian-Style pumpernickel based on the same dough. Let’s throw together the recipe for this healthy and hearty dough, plus talk about a new feature on our website: The FAQs–Frequently Asked Questions tab… Continue reading →
We try to make only enough bread to eat on the same day, but if you have leftovers, the best way to store homemade bread is unwrapped and cut-side down on a non-porous surface like a plate. This preserves the crust a little more than if you put it into a plastic bag, which softens the crust very quickly. The exception is pita bread, which is soft-crusted in the first place and is great in a plastic bag–but wait till it cools before bagging.
(… and a recipe for pitas from so-called “Cornell” dough). Our third book will be officially released on October 25, 2011, but it’s now available for Pre-Order on Amazon! To view the book’s cover, which is now finalized, click here. It will have pizza and flatbreads from all over the world—plus, the recipes will be complemented with soup, salad, and dip recipes so that these pizzas and flatbreads become the basis of an entire five-minute meal. As in all our books, the idea is to do all the mixing once, but serve many times from a big batch. That’s a perfect fit for soups and dips (and you can get a salad ready while your bread’s in the oven).