Whole Wheat Loaves {TWD-BWJ}

Many of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes from Baking with Julia have been new to me, either in ingredients, technique, or finished product. Not so these hearty whole wheat loaves. I’ve been baking bread for over 30 years, so there was nothing new here. Classic ingredients, standard techniques, nothing fancy.

But don’t take that to mean this was a ho-hum recipe. Far from it. While everything about this recipe was comfortably familiar to me, the finished loaves were nothing like the dense, crumbly whole wheat loaves so many recipes produce. No, these were light, airy, slightly sweet loaves that rose well over the pan and far beyond my expectations.

The ingredients list for the loaves was simple: water, yeast, honey, bread and whole wheat flours, canola oil, malt extract, and salt. It’s the honey and malt that give these loaves their earthy sweetness. And the combination of flours resulted in a hearty, yet tender, crumb.

The dough was wonderful to work with: firm, tacky but not sticky, and quite supple.

Here it is before bulk fermenting:

And here’s what it looked like 1 1/2 hours later:

I divided the dough (not too evenly, as it turns out), shaped the loaves, and put them in pans to proof.

After an hour of proofing, the loaves were well-risen and ready to bake.

This, boys and girls, is why you should always scale your dough.

I baked the loaves, cooled them, then put one in the freezer and kept the other out to use for toast and sandwiches.

This is a delicious bread, and easy enough to make a bread baker out of anyone!

Our host for this week are Michele of Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of The Family That Bakes Together. Check out their posts for the recipe and to see what they thought of this bread.

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Fig & Almond Bread {BOM}

This month’s BOM (bread of the month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers group is a recipe that Nick Malgieri recently developed for his upcoming book. You can find the recipe here.

The recipe is made with a basic, sweetened bread dough enhanced with:

Figs!

And Almonds!

 I kneaded the dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer and added the figs and almonds near the end. In order to get them to mix in better, I first flattened the dough in the bottom of the mixer…

…then spread the figs and almonds on top.

I pressed the fruit and nuts into the dough, then folded the dough over itself several times with a bench scraper.

The dough is minimally kneaded at the beginning and further mixed and developed through several “turns”. After an initial 30 minute rest, I gave the dough its first turn:

First, I flattened the dough on a pastry mat.

 

Next, I folded the sides in toward the center.

 

Finally, I rolled the dough from one of the short ends,

 

...and returned it to the bowl to continue rising.

 I let the dough rise for another 30 minutes, then gave it a second turn. After 30 more minutes, it was ready to be shaped into a boule.

This dough was very nice to work with and easy to shape. And it baked up beautifully. I served the bread for dinner, along with some freshly baked French bread.

This bread was absolutely delicious! The figs and almonds paired well together, making the bread flavorful but not overly sweet. If you like raisins in bread, you’ll like this bread, even if you don’t usually like figs.

This bread really has me looking forward to Nick’s book. I can’t wait to see what else he has up his sleeve!

Grissini: Classic Italian Breadsticks (ModBak)

This week’s entry for the Modern Baker Challenge is Grissini, or Italian Breadsticks. These breadsticks are very simple to make, containing only flour, water, salt, olive oil, and active dry yeast. The recipe calls for both warm and cold water — warm to activate the yeast; cold to cool the dough in the food processor.

Because I was using instant yeast, I didn’t have to dissolve it in water first, so I mixed the yeast with the flour, salt, and olive oil in the food processor, then added all cold water. The recipe makes 24 breadsticks, but I didn’t want that many, so I halved the recipe. After mixing the dough, I put it in an oiled container to ferment.

I let the dough proof for about an hour, until it had doubled in volume.

After the dough had fermented, I put it in the refrigerator to chill. The recipe says to refrigerate the dough from one to 24 hours. I wanted to bake the Grissini with dinner the next day, so I left the dough in the fridge for about 22 hours. The next day, I took the dough out of the fridge, pressed it into a rectangle, and cut it into 12 pieces.

I rolled each piece of dough into a roughly 15-inch cylinder and put them on a baking sheet.

I baked the breadsticks in a 325°F oven for about 25 minutes, until they were golden and crispy. I let the Grissini cool on the pan, then put them in a tall glass for serving.

I served the Grissini with Dorie Greenspan’s Potato Gratin. The breadsticks were crisp and light and paired perfectly with a meal. They could easily be spiced up by adding herbs to the dough or by topping them with sesame seeds or cracked pepper. But I liked them the way the were — crisp, crunchy, and delicious.

Sunflower Seed Rye – The End of an Era

Sunflower Seed Rye, the 35th bread (out of 43) in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, is also the last in a series of sourdough breads featured in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. If you have read my blog before, you know I am a big fan of sourdough, often adding it to yeast bread recipes and having gone so far as to make a sourdough starter tutorial. Needless to say, I loved this bread. And my wife, who is a sunflower seed fanatic, was pretty fond of it, too.

This bread starts with a soaker of pumpernickel grind rye flour and water. In a departure from many of Peter Reinhart‘s other sourdough recipes, this recipe calls for instant yeast, in addition to the firm starter.

I made the soaker and firm starter the day before making the dough.  The dough was supple, soft and just a tad on the tacky side. Although I’ve had mixed results stirring in fruit, nuts, etc. with the Kitchen Aid dough hook, the sunflower seeds folded in easily and didn’t change the consistency of the dough.

After a 90-minute fermentation, I divided the dough in half and shaped each piece into a couronne, or crown. This is done by making a boule, poking a hole in the middle, stretching it into a giant bagel shape, and finally pressing a dowel (or in my case, the handle of a wooden spoon) into four sides of the dough. I dusted the creases with flour to help keep them from growing shut as the bread proofed.

I proofed the dough for about 90 minutes, until it grew to about 1 1/2 times its original size.

While the dough was proofing, I got the oven ready by putting a roasting pan on the bottom shelf and preheating the oven to 500 dF. I proofed the bread on parchment paper that I had placed on a baking sheet, and when the dough was ready, I put the baking sheet in the oven and poured a cup of boiling water into the roasting pan.

I lowered the heat to 450 and baked the loaves for about 25 minutes, rotating them after 10 minutes. The loaves looked pretty nice when they came out, even though the holes baked closed.

The bread was delicious, with a nice tang from the sourdough, a sweet saltiness from the sunflower seeds, and a robust flavor from the rye — definitely a bread worth making again.