Thursday, October 16, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Zorra hosts the annual World Bread Day "to honor our daily bread" and show that baking bread can be easier than you think, and also great fun.

World Bread Day 2014 (submit your loaf on October 16, 2014)My contribution - I participate for the first time - is one of my all-time favorites: Pane Siciliano from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

One of the few all-white breads in my repertoire, I bake this often, my customers love it, and I always make some extra loaves for us.

Many Mediterranean countries have a tradition of sesame breads, like ring-shaped Turkish Simit - another favorite. Pane Siciliano, from Sicily, is rolled into an attractive S-shape.

Made with semolina flour, it has an extraordinary good taste, due to a preferment and a long rest overnight in the fridge.

The sesame topping provides an extra-nice crunch.

Pane Siciliano is no quick bread - plan ahead, start with the pâte fermentée 2 days before you plan to bake.

Fluffy inside and crunchy outside

BreadStorm user (also of the free version) can download the formula.

PANE SICILIANO  (adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice)
(4 small breads) 

Pâte Fermentée
142 g/5 oz all-purpose flour
142 g/5 oz bread flour
5 g/0.18 oz salt
1 g/0.4 oz instant yeast
177 g/6.24 oz water

Final Dough
454 g/16 oz pâte fermentée (all)
227 g/8 oz semolina flour
227 g/8 oz bread flour
9 g/0.3 oz salt
3 g/0.1 oz instant yeast
29 g/1 oz olive oil
22 g/0.75 oz honey
235 g/8.3 oz water
10 g sesame seeds, for topping

For the pâte fermentée: mix all ingredients at low speed for 1 minute, until all flour is hydrated, then knead on medium speed for 4 minutes (the dough should be tacky, but not sticky, adjust with a bit more water or flour, if necessary (DDT: 77-81ºF/25-27ºC).

Pâte fermentée

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, roll it around to coat with oil, cover, and leave for 1 hour at room temperature, or until it has grown 1 1/2 times. Degas it lightly, and refrigerate it overnight (or up to 3 days).

Remove the pâte fermentée from the refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up. For an easier distribution in the final dough, cut it in several smaller pieces.

For an easier distribution in the dough, cut pâte fermentée in small pieces

Knead all dough ingredients at low speed for 1-2 minutes, until all flour is hydrated, then at medium speed for 6 minutes (DDT: 77-81ºF/25-27ºC). Like with baguettes, the dough should be supple, smooth, tacky, but not sticky. Adjust with a bit more water, if necessary (Beware: if the dough is too soft, the coils will be less distinct!)

Fermentation in square containers makes the shaping easier

Place the dough in an oiled container, turn around to coat with oil, cover, and leave it at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. (I like to divide the dough in 2 portions before the bulk fermentation.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle it with semolina flour.

Divide dough in 4 equal portions

Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Shape first into bâtards, then baguettes. Take each piece at both ends and extend it to about 61 cm/24" length (this should be easy).

Shape pieces first into bätards....

....then into baguettes

Working from both ends, coil each baguette to form an S (take care that the seam stays underneath!)

Coil baguettes from both ends into an S-shape

Place breads on the prepared sheet pan, mist them with water and sprinkle them with sesame seeds, gently pressing the seeds a bit down to attach to the dough. Spray with oil spray.

Place breads on the semolina sprinkled baking sheet

Put the baking sheet in a large plastic bag - like a clean, unscented garbage bag - and place the breads for a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight.

In the plastic bag they go, and then in the fridge

Remove breads from refrigerator 2 hours before baking - they should have doubled in volume, if not, let them rise a bit longer (finger poke test: a dimple shouldn't fill up again, but remain visible!)

Preheat oven to 500ºF/250ºC, including a steam pan (I use a large baking pan, placed on the highest, or lowest tier.)

Over night nicely risen

Place breads into the oven, pour a cup of boiling water in steam pan, and reduce temperature to 450ºF/220ºC.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove steam pan, and rotate baking sheet 180 degrees for even browning. (If some of the breads stick together, separate them now.)

Continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until breads are golden brown, and register  200-205ºF/93-96ºC on an instant thermometer. Let breads cool on a wire rack.

Pane Siciliano

Pane Siciliano can be easily frozen, wrapped in plastic foil and placed in a freezer bag. To re-crisp, spray thawed loaf with water and bake for about 7-10 minutes in a 375ºF/190ºC oven.

My delivery basket: Pane Siciliano, multigrain pitas and rustic baguettes

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

Apples are one of my favorite fruits.

Therefore fall means apples - preferably baked apples, as in Schwäbischer Apfelkuchen - Swabian Apple Cake or boozy Apfelkuchen with Almonds & Apfelkorn.

Hanaâ's pick for our October ABC project, Cinnamon-Apple Twist Bread was a novelty for me - a bread with an apple filling! King Arthur Flour's two beautifully twisted breads are enough for a large family, so I made instead a batch of Cinnamon Apple Rolls.

Apart from halving the recipe, I made a few changes, replacing a third of the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat, reducing the amount of yeast (while enhancing the flavor!) with a slow overnight rise in the fridge, and omitting the sugary glaze.

Next time I would use even more grated apples for the filling

For the filling, I used half white, half brown sugar, and cut down on the overall amount. I also added some lemon zest. Measuring weight rather than volume, I ended up with more than 1 cup grated apples in the filling - which was fine, it even could have been more! 

Using Instant ClearJel in the filling, I didn't experience any pesky leakage, when I rolled up the dough. (You can take flour instead, but, unless you cook the filling, this doesn't work as well!)

We liked the fruity little buns and finished them in no time. They taste best when they still a bit warm.

NEXT TIME  I would put even more apple in the filling, add some walnuts, brush the dough coils with egg wash, and sprinkle them with a bit of raw sugar.

Fruity little Apple Cinnamon Bun

CINNAMON APPLE ROLLS  (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
(12 Rolls)

130 g/4.6 oz all-purpose flour
55 g/1.9 oz white whole wheat flour (or more all-purpose flour, total amount 1 5/8 cups)
22 g/1/8 cup potato flour or 1/4 cup dried potato flakes
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
2.5 g/1/2 + 1/8 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 + 1/8 tsp. salt
21 g/0.75 oz butter (1 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 egg*)
113 g/1/2 cup milk

*) Break egg into a small bowl, set on a scale, beat it lightly, weigh amount and spoon half of it in your dough.

20 g sugar
20 g light brown sugar (instead of 1/4 cup all white sugar)
10 g/1 1/2 tbsp. Instant ClearJel powder (or 10 g/1/8 cup instant tapioca)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
170 g/12 oz apples, peeled and grated (1 large apple, I used Honey Crisp - it could have been more!)
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl, so that they are evenly distributed. Add butter, vanilla, egg and milk, then mix until a shaggy dough forms. Let rest for 30 minutes.

The dough is nice and smooth, ready to go in the fridge overnight

Knead dough for ca. 10 minutes; it should feel slightly sticky and soft (adjust with a bit more water, if needed).

Gather dough into a ball and place in an oiled container, rolling it around to coat. Cover, and place in the refrigerator overnight. 

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using. It should have almost doubled in volume and show large gas bubbles.

The bottom of the dough shows large gas bubbles

For the filling, whisk together sugar, ClearJel powder and cinnamon.

Whisk together sugar, ClearJel and cinnamon

Toss grated apples with lemon juice, then add to ClearJel-sugar mixture. Mix well, and set aside.

Mixing the filling

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured or greased work surface. Roll into a 25 x 30-cm/10 x 12-inch rectangle.

Spread filling over the rolled-out dough, leaving a 1 1/4 cm/1/2-inch margin clear along all sides.

Spread filling over the rolled out dough

Starting with a short side, roll dough into a log, then seal the edges.

Roll dough with filling into a log

Now cut the log into 3 cm/1-inch slices. Place slices, cut side up, on parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing them that they touch each other.

Let rolls rise about 45 minutes, or until they are puffy and a dimple remains visible when you gently poke the dough with a finger. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.

Nicely risen and ready for the oven

Bake rolls for about 20-30 minutes, until they are lightly browned.

Let them cool before serving. We liked them still a bit warm.

Mount Desert Island in October - still sunny and fairly warm

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

I missed a few ABC baking projects (there was always something else going on), but our "pack leader" Hanaâ's September pick, King Arthur Flour's Almond Tarts featured almonds, and nuts are my favorite baking ingredients.

There was one problem, though - my husband doesn't care for strong almond aroma, and complains every time I use more than a few drops almond extract. And what is an almond tart without almond taste?

My birthday cake has always been a plum cake, in early September, when they are just ripe. When I first came to Maine, I couldn't find Italian prune plums, the best kind for baking - too tart for raw consumption but delicious when cooked.

Fortunately that has changed, and now, soon as I see them at our supermarket, I grab a few pounds -  it's time for my plum cake. And what could better offset a sweet, almond-y filling than a combination with tart, flavorful plums?

A few other tweaks to the filling: I reduced the sugar by 25%, using a mix of white and brown, and substituted some of the white flour for whole wheat. For my husband's sake, I added only half of the almond extract.

My Almond Plum Cake turned out just as I had hoped - a blissful marriage of tart, juicy plums with marzipan-like sweet almond filling: the BEST PLUM CAKE I EVER HAD!

De-licious - the best pum cake I ever had

ALMOND PLUM CAKE  (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

99 g/3.5 oz sugar (1/2 cup)
113 g/4 oz soft butter (1 stick)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
130 g/4.6 oz all-purpose flour
47 g1.7 oz whole wheat pastry
74 g/2.6 oz almond meal (3/4 cup)

57 g/2 oz soft butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 tsp. salt  (I used only 1/8 tsp.)                                       
75 g/2.6 oz sugar                                           
75 g/2.6 oz light brown sugar
14 g/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. almond extract                      
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
124 g/4.4 oz almond flour (1 1/4 cup)
ca. 600 g/21 oz plums, pitted, and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together sugar, butter, salt, and extracts. Add flours, stirring to make crumbs that cling together when squeezed.

Using a tamper or a flat bottomed cup measure to press the crumbs into the pan

Press crumbs into bottom and up the sides of a 9"/23 cm springform pan, and prick crust all over with a fork. Place crust for 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake crust until it is just beginning to brown on the edges, 22 minutes. Let it cool on a wire rack (don't turn the oven off).

The almond filling is very easy to make

Beat together butter, salt, sugar, flour, and extracts. Beat in eggs, then add almond flour, stirring just to combine.

Distribute plum halves over the par-baked crust. Pour filling evenly over the plums.

The almond filling covers the plums almost completely

Bake the cake for 40-43 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To serve, remove the ring of the springform pan and transfer the cake to a serving plate. (I usually don't bother to remove it from the bottom of the pan).

In all its glory: Almond Plum Cake

NOTE: The almond plum cake keeps very well, even after 3 days at (not very cool) room temperature it tasted still good!

If you would like to join the Avid Bakers and take part in our monthly challenge, click here. New members are always welcome!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

Don Sadowsky, author of the wildly popular guest post "Really(?) Authentic Bread"
unearthed this historic WWI-recipe from the very trenches of Verdun. Even though Don's innate modesty doesn't allow him to admit it - his 1914 German Army Kriegsbrot comes pretty close to a really authentic bread!

Karin, you issued a challenge to create a bread honor of Gottfried von Berlichingen, Götz of the Iron Hand. Your friends rose to the challenge, coming up with a variety of imaginative, pretty, and well-crafted breads.

Powered by BannerFans.comNeedless to say, my bread is not any of these things.

Götz was a military man. He spent his time out in the field (when he was not being imprisoned and scratching together money to pay his own ransom).

He didn't eat light and tasty bread prepared by artisan bakers, he consumed rough and ready military bread, baked by someone who two days ago was pulling an arrow out of his leg.

Soldiers in the field needed bread that could be made quickly, could stand the rigors of the field and would last out in the open while the men were out battling.

Taste? Hah! The mercenaries ate whatever bread they could get their hands on, and you can bet that they were given bread made with the cheapest ingredients available (but don’t worry, this is not quite going to be my “authentic bread”).

What to make, then, that would satisfy such draconian requirements? Well, armies have been traveling on their stomachs for millennia, so they must have perfected the art (if art be the proper term).

German soldiers, fortified with kriegsbrot, handle the "Dicke Bertha" canon

And military history buffs can be found in every back alley of the Web, so it was easy for me to reach back just a single century and find a recipe for German Army ration bread (Kriegsbrot) from 1914 at The Trenchline (slightly adapted here - I cannot vouch for its accuracy, but we all know that everything on the Internet is true).

The bread is coarse, rises quickly, has a fair amount of rye (as a good German military bread should) a stiff dough (59% hydration), and would never win any 21st century bread competition, though some concession was made to taste (the soldiers of the Deutsches Heer must have loved their cocoa).

But it wouldn't do to simply copy an existing recipe, no matter how apt, so I made one modification to try to turn the kriegsbrot into something truly honorary of the man of the Iron Hand. Unfortunately it looks more like a tribute to Götz of the Iron Foot, no one ever accused me of being an artiste.

The bread came out about as bricky of a brick as I have ever made. It was dense enough to make a useful trenching tool or to safely intercept shrapnel if held in a fortuitous location.

Eating it made me grumpy enough to go to war (perhaps that was the intent).

In the trenches of Flanders - soldiers made good use of their kriegsbrot


420 g rye flour
369 g white whole wheat flour*)
  43 g cocoa
  13 g/1.5 tbsp. active dry yeast**)
    7 g/1 tbsp. caraway seeds
  34 g/2 tsp. salt
110 g brown sugar
          vegetable oil
  28 g/2 tbsp. butter
473 g/2 cups water

*) It’s what I had, white whole wheat would have been scorned by the                                                   Kaiser's men.

**) I used instant - no slow fermentation here.

Kriegsbrot Dough

Mix flours, cocoa, caraway seed and salt in large bowl.

Mix water, brown sugar, and butter in a sauce pan and heat until dissolved. Cool slightly and add yeast. (Yes, this will rise quickly!)

Mix all of these ingredients in the large bowl and add enough vegetable oil to cover dough ball. Knead until it forms a pliable dough.

Let the dough rest in a warm place and cover it.

Grease and flour a baking sheets (bowing to convenience I used parchment paper)

When the dough has risen 2 hours, punch it down.

Roll into a ball and flatten slightly to a height of about 2 ½ inches.  (This is where I made my modification.)

Lightly brush the top with oil.

Proof for 1-2 hours.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until it is done.

A Swiss army knife kind of a loaf 

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts
Before I present you with the amazing bread collection you submitted for my Knight with the Iron Hand challenge, I owe you my own creation!

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These goals I had in mind when I thought about the formula. I wanted to create a bread with grains and seeds used in German breads, preferably growing in the Baden-Württemberg region.

Though worthy of Schloss Jagsthausen's long tradition and its noble, iron-fisted ancestor, my bread should meet modern baking standards, not authentic medieval bread tradition (weevil-count >100/kg!)

Flours in my bread (from left): rye, wheat, einkorn, spelt and (top) barley

I also aimed for a bread that was not too fussy, and could be prepared either by the pastry chef of Schlosshotel Götzenburg's fabulous restaurant or outsourced to a local bakery. Therefore no holey loaf à la Tartine, and no overly complicated procedure.

Introducing a porridge to power up the hydration without making a whole grain dough too wet - this idea I happily took from Chad Robertson's "Tartine No. 3". It would work its magic in my less holey bread, too.

BreadStorm did the math for me, and this is the result:

Götzenburg Bread - a multigrain sourdough with millet porridge

This hearty loaf with a nice crust and moist crumb (or another one of the fabulous challenge breads) is exactly what we would love to find on Schlosshotel Götzenburg's breakfast buffet, when we visit next time!

Millet for a porridge to add moisture and a little crunch


Rye Starter
21 g rye mother starter 100%
40 g water
34 g whole rye flour
30 g whole spelt flour

Millet Porridge
18 g millet
37 g water

Final Dough
all porridge
all starter
243 g water
2 g instant yeast
205 g bread flour
60 g whole spelt flour
40 g barley flour
60 g einkorn flour
8 g sea salt
7 g honey

Mix starter. Cover, and leave at room temperature.

Place millet and water in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until millet is soft (add a little more water, if necessary). Set aside to cool.

Mix all dough ingredients at lowest speed (or by hand) for 1-2 minutes, until all flour is hydrated. Let dough rest for 5 minutes. Knead at medium-low speed (or by hand) for 6 minutes (dough should still be somewhat sticky).

Stretch and pat dough first into a square...
...then fold like a business letter... three parts.
Repeat the folding from right...
...and left to make a package.

Transfer dough to an oiled work surface. With oiled hands, stretch and pat into a square. Fold from top and bottom to the middle in 3 parts, like a business letter, then from both sides. Gather package into a ball and place, seam side down, into an oiled bowl.

Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat stretching and folding 3 more times at 10-minute intervals. After the last fold, place (well covered) overnight in the fridge.

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using.

Preheat oven to 450ºF/232ºC, including baking stone and steaming device.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, and shape into a boule or bâtard. Place, seam-side up, in well-floured rising basket.

Proof for 45 - 60 minutes, or until bread has grown 1 1/2 times its original size (finger poke test). Turn out on parchment lined baking sheet (or on peel to bake directly on baking stone). Score as desired (don't be too timid, cut decisively!).

Bake bread for 20 minutes, with steam. Rotate bread 180 degrees for even browning, remove steam pan, and continue baking for another 20 minutes, or until loaf is nicely browned and registers at least 200ºF/93ºC on an instant read thermometer.

Let bread cool on wire rack.

Medieval Castle Jagsthausen - nowadays Schlosshotel Götzenburg
Submitted at Yeast Spotting