There is 20 inches of snow on the ground here in Minneapolis and the temperature has dipped WAY below zero. This is why we Minnesotans are such bakers, it warms up the house and makes everyone happy. Christmas Stollen is a great tradition this time of year. A sweet loaf that is studded with fruit, spiced with cardamom and a little treat of almond paste runs through it. Once it comes out of the oven we dust it with a thick layer of confectioners’ sugar to look like the snow outside. If there is any left the next day it makes amazing French toast.
To celebrate the holidays and this frigid weather we are doing a giveaway with Red Star Yeast! They are giving a package of these fabulous baking items to 6 lucky winners.
Happy Thanksgiving! We wish you all a wonderful holiday and lots of fresh bread at your table to share with family and friends. I’m making these soft pull apart buns for our dinner tonight. They are perfect for sopping up gravy and making little turkey sandwiches. You can do this with any of our doughs, but I used the brioche from ABin5 to get a luxurious texture and the soft crust that so many people associate with this style bun.
We have you mix up your dough in a nice big 6-Quart Food-Storage Container, because over the course of 2 hours it will grow to nearly touch the lid. Some folks have asked exactly what that should look like, so I mixed up a batch of each Master recipe from ABin5 and HBin5, then sat back and watched them rise. I promise this is more fun than watching paint dry, it will show you exactly what your dough should look like and I’ve set it to a little Johnny Cash (Ooops, apparently I can’t do that. Had to switch to something with a little less….copyright).
We also have an exciting announcement to make, especially for those Brits who are baking our bread or people excited to bake with weights.
Our first book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day was translated for British bakers. Yes, it is still in English, but the recipes are converted to weights. They appear in both ounces and metrics. For those of you Americans excited to bake by weights this will be a welcome edition. The book’s title and look are also changed, but the recipes are the same. Five Minute Bread is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.UK and will be on bookstore shelves in January 2011.
I met Bradley Benn at a pottery class many years ago. He is a master of his craft and a kind and patient teacher to those of us who dabble in clay. Little did I know that he was also a skilled baker, until he showed up in a classic MG with a loaf of fabulous bread. One of the hazards of this career of mine is that people rarely, if ever, bake for me, so this was an especially cherished loaf. He shared not only the bread, but also the recipe. When I decided to put it into Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I adapted his recipe to 100% whole grains. The dough is made with beer, which gives it a jump start on the sourdough flavors we usually wait for. Then we wrap the dough around sauteed onions, rosemary and walnuts. Together they create a bread with so much character and flavor you can eat it alone, but I love it with sharp cheese, grainy mustard and some sweet ham.
Below you will find my first attempt at a video and the recipe for BBBB. I will show you exactly how to roll the dough and prepare it in the pan so that you get onions in every bite. (This same technique can be used to create the raisin bread from last week’s post)
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 →
By jeff, November 15, 2009
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Peter Reinhart is the dean of American bread bakers, possibly the best in the world. He teaches baking at Johnson & Wales University in Providence RI, has written six books on bread baking, and has won the James Beard and IACP Cookbook of the Year awards. On any given day, he’s flying around the world spreading the gospel of great bread– Peter’s an international authority on my favorite subject.
Page 7: “… when I first read the instructions for the master hearth bread recipe in a recently published book, I immediately assumed, based on my understanding of dough science, that it contained way too much yeast to work as promised. How could it possibly last in the refrigerator for even one day without overfermenting while the yeast gobbled up all the released sugar? How could it possibly create a tasty, moist, and creamy loaf (what some describe as the custard-like quality found in great breads)? Yet, when I made the recipe, it worked and didn’t overferment. Sure, I saw areas where the recipe could be tweaked and improved upon, but this didn’t diminish my astonishment at how greatly it exceeded my expectations. Although I have yet to find a scientific, chemical, or biological reason to explain why it works, the results forced me to reconsider all of the premises I once held sacrosanct…”
In case anyone’s wondering if Peter’s really talking about our method, turn to page 204 of his book, where he acknowledges our first book by name, as a resource, and again mentions our “excellent results.”
So many people asked us about baking our dough inside a closed cast-iron pan that Zoe did a beautifulpost on the subject a few weeks ago. The cast-iron pan method is based on a much older method, where bread is baked inside a closed clay pot (or “cloche,” meaning “bell” in French). Both methods depend on trapped steam from the dough to create a perfect crust, but the clay pot has the added benefit of being porous, so moisture is trapped, but also conducted away from the surface as the bread bakes. I tested the Sassafras brand “La Cloche” product, and I’m very impressed with the crust I’m getting –take a look at the picture above; this crust is thin and shatters when broken (the burned bits are perfect in artisan loaves; that’s how you know you’ve baked long enough). Keep in mind that these crust results are hard to re-create with loaves very high in whole wheat (because of oils in the wheat’s germ). The bread above is about 15% whole grains– it’s a light version of the Peasant Loaf on page 46 of the book. Whole grain breads perform beautifully in “La Cloche,” but the crust tends to be softer and thicker.
For crust aficionados, I think the ”La Cloche” results are a little better than what I get inside closed cast-iron. We didn’t put these two methods in our first book, because we wanted to keep things as simple as possible. But with results like these, they’re going into he second one (publication date is 10/13/09)! Continue reading →
OK, I’m pretty happy with this photo, but… well, they aren’t really Kaiser Rolls. I was on a “roll” from last week (sorry), when I thought my Brotchenwere more than passable. So I wanted to re-create another German roll style– the famous 5-petal Kaiser roll. I have to say that even though the picture is pretty, the rolls didn’t retain the 5-petal shape that defines the Kaiser roll– it ended up as just a round, though beautiful and tasty roll.
And so fellow bakers, I turn to you for help! What did I do wrong? Please make suggestions that help me perfect this beast, and I’ll send you a signed copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Dayto the winning suggestion (as judged, I’m afraid, by me). If no one can help me, I’ll draw a random winner from all the responses. OK, here’s what I did… Continue reading →