About

Michael Zucchi

 B.E. (Comp. Sys. Eng.)

  also known as zed
  & handle of notzed

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Friday, 13 December 2019, 20:21

Zed's Bread Baby, ...

So I haven't been spending all my time just on the new computer, I've also been doing some cooking. It's quite a laborious process and the crutches keep getting in the way but most things only require short stints standing while the oven or mixer or some natural process takes it's course. Reminder: I'm on crutches until after xmas due to a broken hip. I can't go anywhere or do much or carry anything and even beer makes my foot swell up so I can't even bloody well get drunk.

Yesterday I made a pretty good approximation of a baguette - perhaps a bit too soft but it made a great chicken sandwich for dinner. And today I made a '(kneaded) no-knead' bread, and a couple of ciabatta.

A dutch-oven bread and a couple of ciabatta.

I sort of fucked up the latter because the starter was too cold in the fridge so the final dough was far too wet, but perhaps it turned out OK. I made some last week and didn't cook it long enough but otherwise it was an interesting bread with an almost rubbery texture quite unlike the standard recipe.

I'm going to write down the recipes I used here in part so I don't forget them. One might notice a lot of similarities in the steps - well that's just how you make bread I guess.

I don't normally bother adding salt but most bread recipes include it, perhaps 0.5 tsp. I notice the yanks put sugar in their recipes - sometimes alarming amounts - so maybe they just need the salt to make it palatable!

The bread improver could just be more flour. I use general purpose flour which is a bit too weak (low protein) to make good bread, and this helps make up for it a little bit. Adding an egg works really well but then you need to adjust the dry/wet ratio to account for it (just add a bit more flour usually).

Another trick which works on any of them is to spray water lightly a few times while it's baking. This will create a shiny hard crust by simulating a steam oven. I usually do it if i remember to as it doesn't take much work and is a nice touch.

I use a standard-sized kenwood chef mixer, and I have a new Bosch oven that has an almost moisture proof seal (nearly steamed my face off a couple of times opening it). I highly recommend a scraper (aka "baker's helper"). Finally the cooking times are a bit arbitrary and you can always go longer if you want more crust.

baguette

Recipe for Baguettes
AmountIngredient
390gplain flour
10gbread improver
1 tspyeast
260mlwater
10mlolive oil
  1. Put the flour and yeast in the mixing bowl and add the water.
  2. Start the mixer with the dough hook on low until they combine then run at speed 1 for about 15 minutes.
  3. Set the machine on low and add some olive oil, then turn the machine off. Remove from the dough hook and turn until an oil-coated ball is formed. It makes it easier to work with and stops it drying out.
  4. Either leave it in the mixing bowl or transfer to another and cover with a plate. Leave somewhere warm to double in size.
  5. Punch down and turn out onto a liberally floured surface and roll out the bubbles. Cut in halves and fold over thirds several times until a rough log is formed. A bakers scraper helps a lot here.
  6. I have a funky 80s baguette form that I then place them in.
  7. I let them rise in my oven set to 30C, and spray some water on them to stop them drying out. I then remove the tray from the oven and set the baking temperature.
  8. Cook at 220C for about 25 minutes or until they look done.
  9. Remove onto a wire rack immediately once done.

Up to about 100g of the flour can be replaced by other flours like semolina (more moist) or bulgar wheat (whole-meal like). This is probably a bit wet for a true baguette but it makes great rolls and buns as well.

ciabatta

Recipe for Ciabatta
AmountIngredient
200g + 240gplain flour
200g + 200gplain flour
10gbread improver
1 tspyeast
240ml + 240mlwater
200ml + 200mlwater
10mlolive oil
  1. Take 200g of the flour, the yeast, and 200ml of the water and mix in a bowl until a slurry is formed. Cover and leave for 12-24 hours somewhere at a cool room temperature. It should rise and puff up and go stringy.
  2. Put the remaining (200g) flour(s) in a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the water (200ml) to the starter to help remove it and pour that into the mixing bowl.
  3. Set the mixer running and let it go for about 15 minutes. Put in the oil and try to form a (wet) ball using a scraper.
  4. Either leave it in the mixing bowl or transfer it to another and cover with a plate. Leave somewhere warm to double in size.
  5. This is likely going to be messy. Pour from the bowl onto a very floured surface and use the scraper and adequate flour to form two soft logs of dough.
  6. I then transfer the logs to a deep baking dish with a piece of baking paper folded in the middle to form a barrier.
  7. I cover that with another tray and let them rise.
  8. Cook at 220C for about 25 minutes or until they look well done.
  9. Remove onto a wire rack immediately once done.

This is a simplified version of a stupidly complex multi-stage recipe I found on the internet. I've only made it a couple of times so I might need to make some changes.

Update: So this just isn't working right, yet. I tried a bit last night and it's texture is more like a crumpet than anything else! I'm not sure if I'm just not letting it rise enough before baking it, or the mix is a bit too wet, although I suspect it's a bit of both. Yesterday I ran out of hours in the day and cooked it because the oven was hot but I probably should've left it (much) longer. I will need to experiment more, but will try with a reduced recipe as this makes a lot of bread!

Update: Take 2. I reduced the water and flour a bit and let the formed loaves rise for much longer. The bread itself is soft and 'bready' with a slight sourdough taste. The crust is OK but not thick enough, it probably needs more time in the oven. The dough is still so wet that it 'runs' as it proves to fill the available space, I'm not sure how I could get around that other than less water again. It's nice bread however.

Dutch Oven Bread

Recipe for Dutch-Oven Bread
AmountIngredient
390gplain flour
10gbread improver
1 tspyeast
300mlwater
10mlolive oil
  1. Put the flour and yeast in the mixing bowl and add the water.
  2. Start the mixer with the dough hook on low until they combine then run at speed 1 for about 15 minutes.
  3. Set the machine on low and add some olive oil, then turn the machine off. Remove from the dough hook and turn until an oil-coated ball is formed. It makes it easier to work with and stops it drying out.
  4. Either leave it in the mixing bowl or transfer to another and cover with a plate. Leave somewhere warm to double in size.
  5. Carefully turn out onto a liberally floured surface and use a scraper to fold a few times and form into a ball. Do not punch down.
  6. Line a bowl with baking paper and place the ball into the middle. Cover them with a plate and let it rise.
  7. When it is nearly done rising put an enameled dutch oven with it's cover on into the oven and pre-heat to 220C.
  8. Using the paper, carefully transfer the risen dough into the put and put the lid back on.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes, remove the lid, and bake for about 10 minutes more or until done. If you're keen you can remove the paper at this point but it doesn't make a lot of difference.
  10. Remove onto a wire rack immediately once done.

This was based on a '2 hour' 'no-knead' bread recipe but then I realised I was using the mixer anyway so why not just let it do it's thing. The original made more of a bread-cake, and this makes proper bread but with a 'rustic' look and a great crust. I just had a piece and it's really very good.

This one can likewise have some of the flour replaced.

Tagged biographical, cooking.
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