Sally’s Baking Addiction: January, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Bagels 😋

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Sally’s first challenge of 2019 finds us back into yeasted breads. Homemade bagels, yum 😋 Now, you probably have figured out that I do love to bake bread. However, I am not a huge consumer of bagels. Not sure why. It may have to do with the fact that they are too large and bready for my taste. But if I get to make them, well, then they can be any size I want! And, any flavor 😉

I kept it simple for this go around. I made her basic recipe, but if you want to change it up, Sally did provide a list of her other tasty varieties!

One item that is truly unique to bagel, or pretzel making for that matter, is barley malt syrup. This is what gives bagels their malt like flavor. You don’t have to use this of course, honey and/or brown sugar can be used instead. But, I decided to order it online, just to be authentic.

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I also opted to do this overnight, as I was kinda busy during this time. Actually, allowing the dough to rise slowly, overnight, allows for a delicious flavor development 😄. So, I mixed up the warm water and yeast.

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Once I saw it was activated, I added the barley syrup, bread flour and salt. And that’s it!

The mixer pulled the ingredients together, and then I kneaded it for another few minutes until the dough was firm.

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This went into an oiled bowl, covered and left overnight in the fridge, to slowly rise.

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The next morning, I allowed the dough to come to room temp, about 2 hours in my house that morning.

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Sally’s recipe called for the dough to be divided into 8 “equalish” pieces. But, you know I can’t just do that! 😂 I did weigh the dough so that the bagels would be similar.

I weighed the bowl with the dough, removed the dough, and weighed the empty bowl to find the total weight of the mixture. 838g of dough, divided by 8 came to, a little over, 104g per bagel.

I divided the dough into 8 pieces and checked them on the scale. A little extra dough here, a little less there…. And, each was ready to be shaped.

The first step was to roll it into a tight ball.

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Then flattened, and a 1-2 inch hole punched into the middle

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Seven more later….

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These were covered and allowed to rest while I prepared the water bath.

Yes, water bath! Bagels (and pretzels) need to be boiled prior to baking. This gives them the crusty exterior and helps them color properly.

The boiling water has more barley malt syrup, but you can use honey. Check out the color of the boiling solution with the syrup!

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Once the mixture had boiled, I added the bagles and cooked them 1 minute per side.

It took a little time, but this step is quite important. Once all were boiled, an egg wash was applied. I decided to add some course salt to the top. We had been given a special sea salt from our yoga trip to Mexico last year, so I used that.

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Now they were ready for the oven!

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The bagles were baked at 425F for 20 minutes, until dark brown

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After they cooled, we dug in! I know that most people associate bagels with cream cheese, and that is delicious. But I like mine with goat cheese and honey 🍯

 

A great start to this year of baking challenges 🤩 And this was not hard! It really is simple to make bagels at home, and they freeze well if you have extra😊💕

Give it a try, and let me know what you think! Or better yet, join me in the next challenge😁👩🏻‍🍳

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Sally’s Baking Addiction: April, 2018 Challenge: Croissants 🥐

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Sally threw down her toughest challenge yet when she went for laminated dough! I have talked about my feelings for laminated dough a few times already. You may remember that I had to make this many times in culinary school and had no desire to revisit those days!

But I have a tough time turning down a challenge! And, Sally has a novel approach to making laminated dough. There are more steps that require longer refrigeration times, but they are quite easy! Check out her site first, she has wonderful videos and tips to help along the way!

We begin by making the dough, which is straight forward.

Butter, flour, sugar, salt, yeast and milk were combined. The dough was kneaded in the mixer and rested, in the refrigerator, for 30 minutes. This allowed the gluten to relax so it could be rolled out in the next step.

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The measurements from here on are important. The goal is to encase the butter layer completely within the dough. So, I had to take my time to make sure that this rectangle was exactly 14 in X 10 in. Use your hands, a rolling pin, a measuring stick and lots of flour!

Once the rectangle was the correct size, and the corners were squared off, the dough was ready for its first long rest. The directions were to rest for 4 hours or overnight. I chose to leave this, covered, in the fridge until the next morning.

 

Lamination and Turns

The next day I made the butter layer.

Three sticks of room temperature butter, and 2 tablespoons of flour, were thoroughly combined. The butter layer was spread onto a parchment paper in the precise measurements of 7 in. X 10 in. This smaller rectangle was cooled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until solid. It is important that the butter be cold!

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After 30 minutes, the butter layer was laid in the center of the cold dough layer from the day before.

The dough was folded over the butter, completely encasing the butter layer. The dough has now been “laminated”.

Make sure the dough is pinched tight around the butter so that the butter will not ooze out of the edges when it is rolled out in the next series of steps!

 

The dough was rolled out to 10 in X 20 in this time. When this dimension was achieved it was time to fold the dough. Fold the top third down, then the bottom third up, until you have a smaller rectangle, like the one at the bottom right. That is the “first turn”. You will do this twice more, for a total of three turns. This is what makes the layers of flaky pastry!

If the dough is too warm then refrigerate for 30 minutes in between each turn. In my kitchen, I was able to do two turns and then had to cool the dough for 30 minutes before finishing the third, and final, roll out.

The dough needs to rest again for 4 hours or overnight. Since I did this in the morning, my dough rested for 5 hours before I finished baking the croissants later that evening.

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The dough after three turns, and before going into the fridge for the second long rest.

Shaping and Baking

The dough was rolled out again, this time 8 in X 20 in. Cut the dough in half lengthwise, then again three times to make 8 4in X 5in squares. Cut each square diagonally to make 16 triangles.

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check out the layers! 

Gently stretch out the triangles to make the base more centered and the triangle a little longer. Make a small cut at the base of the triangle to make it easier to roll up. Curve the final form into a crescent shape. Let them sit at room temp for 30 minutes to being the final proof. Finish proofing in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours, you want them cold going into the oven. I left mine for 1 hour.

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Brush with an egg wash and bake at 400F until golden brown. That was about 30 minutes in my oven 😊

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The verdict? They were delicious 🤤 😋 I will be honest, I am not a croissant person and really don’t enjoy eating such a buttery bread. I know I am not “normal” where these are concerned. But I did try one to assess flakiness and taste. I was impressed with Sally’s technique! It was easier than the regular laminated dough process, but does take more time. Breaking it up over a couple days did make it simpler. And, Sally gives some great tips for freezing or making ahead to aid in your planning.

If you have ever wanted to try making croissants but felt intimidated by the process then give this a try! It really is simple, and my family loved them😊💕

Sally’s Baking Addiction, January Challenge: Conquering Yeast!

Well, actually we were supposed to make bread bowls. But Sally really wants this group to expand their abilities and provide us a successful way to learn the basics of bread baking.

Many of you know that I already love to bake bread and have had a lot of practice with artisan loaves. So, I wanted to try out her recipe but also play a little bit! As a result I did not bake the bowls but used a recent episode of “The Great British Baking Show” as part of my inspiration with this challenge.

Hubby and I have been watching the most recent season on Netflix, and in one episode the bakers made Fougasse bread for one of the technical challenges. Traditionally this bread is made with olives, but I detest olives! And, I had some leftover caramelized onions and roasted peppers from a pulled pork recipe earlier in the week (maybe you saw that sandwich on my Instagram?), so that was my flavor profile for the Fougasse.

I began with Sally’s bread bowl recipe which is a straight dough for the most part. I chose one of her recommended variations and added 2T of Italian seasonings.

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The dough came together quite nicely.

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The yeast is good and active, always a positive sign!

The dough was left to prove and double in size. It was a hot day here in Tucson so this only took an hour!

The final weight was 2 lbs 12 oz or 44 oz total. As I said before, I wanted to play so I divided the dough into two equal portions, 22 oz each (or 1 lb 6oz.)

 

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Time to get out the leftovers and chop finely

I added the caramelized onions and yellow peppers to one portion of the dough. The tricky part is getting them incorporated as they do have quite a bit of moisture. I just kept at it! I was careful to not over knead the dough as I did not want it to be too tough.

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This was shaped into a rough (so very rough!) oval and the Fougasse cuts were made.

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The cuts need to be quite large so they don’t fill in during the second prove and subsequent baking.

I left this to prove for a second time and turned my attention to the second portion of dough. I kept this one a little simple and just formed it into a long baguette. I then used a pair of scissors to make the leaf sections.

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This turned out to be too long for my sheet pan! So I had to cut it into two loaves

 

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This also had to be set aside for its second proving.

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Both types of bread needed a crunchy exterior so I did not use Sally’s egg wash and put them into a 400°F oven with steam. The results were pretty darn tasty!

 

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One of my concerns was that the onions and peppers on the surface would burn, fortunately, that did not happen.

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When we got inside it was baked through and retained the moisture from the vegetables, so it was not dry!

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I was also pleased with the flavor and texture of the baguettes.

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These froze well and made some wonderful sandwiches later in the week.

Overall, we liked both versions but really found the Fougasse to be extraordinary! My husband has not stopped talking about that one!

I do hope Sally continues with the bread challenges, my hubby hopes so too 🙂

 

Artisan Bread from your home oven!

Of all the items I enjoy baking, artisan bread is far and above the top of the list! The culinary program where I was enrolled offered many, wonderful courses and I learned a great deal from each one. But Artisan bread baking was my favorite. We used 20-quart mixers and rotating shelf ovens with a stone platform and the ovens had steam injection options. My home oven is, well, normal and does not have any of those features that produce a crackling crust and the wonderful chewy internal texture that are synonymous with artisan bread. I have spent many hours (and more than a few dollars) to turn my normal oven into the best artisan bread production center possible. I am pretty happy with the results so far, but am always on the lookout for a better upgrade.

Now that the craziness of the holidays is dying down I wanted to get back to baking some of my favorites. The first on the list is Ciabatta, Italy’s answer to the French Baguette. This bread, like many other artisan bread begins with a preferment (more later).

I want to take a moment to talk about lean bread dough. A lean dough is when a recipe only calls for flour, yeast, salt and water. Since there are so few ingredients each is vital to the finished product, as is the ratio in which they are combined. I am rather picky about my bread flour and often order it on the internet. One of my best go to product is King Arthur Flour, which is found in many grocery stores. The specialty flours I have to order, for this ciabatta I am using this blend.

 

This has 11.7% protein content, a good medium strength flour for this recipe.

 

 

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This stores for long periods of time, does not require dissolving and I use it interchangeably when recipes call for active yeast, I have found no need to convert measurements. For the salt, I like to use Kosher and, unless stated in the recipe, use temperature controlled water.

Back to the preferment!

If you have made french baguettes than you may be familiar with the poolish, which is made from equal parts flour and water and used within a short time frame, generally 2-3 hours. A biga is only 30% water to flour and requires a much longer fermentation time, generally 18 to 24 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. I started my biga at 6:00pm the night before by mixing 737g (13oz) bread flour, 199ml (6.6fl. oz.) 80°F water and a pinch (~1/8 t) instant yeast in my 6 quart stand mixer.

 

 

 

Once combined, the biga was left covered at room temperature until 2pm the next day.

 

 

 

By the end of fermentation the biga should have risen and begun to recede, and appear bubbly and airy. This took 20 hours in my rather cool kitchen!

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Now you are ready to mix the dough. You will need the rest of the flour, water, instant yeast and salt. The full recipe is at the end of the post.

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I combined the biga, water and salt with the dough hook attachment on my 6 quart kitchen aid set on low to begin mixing, then added the flour and yeast to form this wet, slack dough. Artisan dough is wet by definition, you do not want to add more flour at this point, resist the temptation! After the dough is combined, transfer to a large bowl to bulk ferment until doubled, ~ 30 min.

 

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I sprinkled a little flour around the outer edge of the bowl, to help with the transfer to the counter later and a little on the top to help prevent drying out. I covered the bowl with plastic and a tea towel and placed it in a draft free area.

 

 

 

Everything up to this point has been fairly standard bread making, until now. This is where traditional bread and artisan bread become quite different. If you were making a standard loaf you would add enough flour so you could pull out the dough and knead it until it held your final shape. The key to artisan bread is to retain as much hydration (water content) as possible. You will not be able to knead this dough, instead you will be doing a series of stretch and fold techniques.

First transfer the dough to a floured surface. I find that my plastic bowl scraper works best for this process.

 

 

The dough will feel like jelly and be quite sticky. Using floured hands, lift one end and stretch the dough as you fold it back over the midline.

 

 

Repeat with the other side. fold-1k

Now you have completed 1 fold. Rotate the dough 90° and begin fold #2

 

 

Then return the dough to the bowl for the second fermentation (another 30 minutes). You need to do one more stretch and fold after the second fermentation. Then it is time to shape your bread.

Each time you fold then rest the dough, it will begin to hold its shape better as the proteins align and strengthen.

 

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The bread is still too fragile for a rolling pin and you need to take care to avoid tearing it with your fingers. Working with the palms, stretch the dough into a rectangle.

 

I decided to make two full loaves and six buns.

 

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Using a bench scraper, I divided the dough through the middle, into two halves. I set one half aside for the buns, and split the other half, longitudinally, reshaped into rectangles and placed on a couche. A couche is a floured, cloth that allows the dough to proof and will be useful in transferring to the oven later.

 

 

 

The other half of the dough was also split longitudinally, then sectioned into three rolls each, yielding 6 rolls total and placed in the couche.

 

 

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The bread was covered with a tea towel and allowed to proof for another 45 min.

While the bread proofed, I turned my attention to the oven. In order to mimic the oven found in a professional bakery I had to purchase a home oven baking stone. I bought mine from Breadtopia.com another one of my favorite websites!

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I leave my stone in at all times to help it cure, but only use the surface directly for my bread baking. To mimic the steam environment, I purchased a smoker box from Home Depot and filled it with volcanic rock. I load the stone with my bread and pour a cup of cold water into the smoker box, then quickly close the oven door to keep the steam inside. Resist the urge to open the door in the first 10 to 15 minutes of baking to prevent the humidity from escaping!

Now it is finally time to transfer the bread to the oven. A few key tips and tools for this process! A baguette flipping board will come in handy, and again, I bought mine from Breadtopia.

Transfer the bread to the baguette board that has been dusted with flour.

 

 

Flip the bread onto a pizza peel or a sheet pan for loading on the pizza stone. Dusting the surface with semolina flour or cornmeal will allow the bread to slide off the surface onto the baking stone.

 

 

 

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The loaves will slide off the cornmeal dusted surface quite easily

The bread needs to bake for about 30 minutes or until desired color is achieved. I like my bread on the darker side.

 

 

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I hope you are inspired to try some artisan bread baking at home!

Ciabatta Bread

  • Servings: 4 loaves or 2 loaves and 6 large sandwich rolls
  • Difficulty: moderate to advanced
  • Print

This Ciabatta recipe produces a wonderful crusty exterior and a soft, chewy interior. This bread hold up well to saucy ingredients such as pulled pork or barbecue and pairs well with your wine and cheese tray.

Credit: Baking and Pastry textbook 

Ingredients

-Ciabatta  Makes 4 1/2 lbs of dough (2.02 kg)

For the Biga:

-13 oz or 368.5g Bread flour

-6.6 fl. oz. or 199ml water (60°F/16°C)

-a pinch of instant yeast

 

 

For the Final dough:

-1 lb 10.8oz or 0.76kg Bread flour

-1/4oz or 3.5 g Instant yeast

-22.6 fl. oz or 680ml water, temperature controlled to ~80°F/26°C)

-Biga from the day before

-1 oz or 28.5g salt 

Directions

  1. Prepare Biga the night before. combine flour, water and yeast and mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment for 3 minutes, or until combined thoroughly. Transfer to a container, cover and ferment at 75°F/24°C for 18 to 24 hours, until bigs has begun to recede; it should be airy and bubbly.
  2. Prepare the final dough. combine the flour and yeast and set aside. place the biga, water and salt in the mixer and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Then add the flour and yeast and continue to mix on low for 4 minutes and then medium speed for 1 minute. Dough should be combined by still slack and very wet.
  3. Bulk ferment in a tub or bowl until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Begin the stretch and folds by folding gently in half four times (it should feel like jelly). Ferment for another 30 minutes. Fold in half again, gently, two times. Allow to ferment for another 15 minutes.
  4. Place the dough onto a floured surface and, using the palms of your hands, gently stretch the dough into a rectangle. Be careful to avoid tearing the dough with your fingertips. Divide the dough into desired shapes and place onto a floured lined couche. Gently reshape as needed.
  5. Proof, covered, until the dough spring back slowly to the touch but does not collapse, 30-45 minutes. While the bread proofs, preheat the oven to 460°F/238°C. Lightly flour the top of the dough, flip each ciabatta over onto a floured transfer board and slide each one onto the floured peel.
  6. Load the ciabatta into the oven and add steam. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the ciabatta sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on racks.