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)
*at the bottom of the post I will announce the 6 lucky winners of last weeks RED STAR YEAST giveaway. Continue reading
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
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Many of you have asked about nutritional information… you can use the USDA Nutrient Database , at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/ to calculate nutritional content for the ingredients in any recipe you like. The US Department of Agriculture provides this as a free resource, available to everyone in the world. Using that database, I’ll work through an example of what you can do:
For our 100% Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Bread in the new book, here’s what I came up with for a 2-ounce slice:
Protein: 4 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 21 grams
All these gram amounts are rounded to the nearest whole number, which introduces some error, but this gives you a great starting point to compare your homemade breads with commercial products. You can use the USDA database to come up with gram weights for nutrients for any ingredient and portion size you can think of.
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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.
So I was pleased to see his latest book, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, which was released on October 27, 2009. Here was a world authority giving his take on super-fast bread (he doesn’t store his dough so it’s very different than what we do in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day). Peter acknowledged our books and the quality of our results in his own book. Here’s what he had to say in Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day:
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 beautiful post 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 Brotchen were 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 Day to 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