I’ve mentioned many times in many different places that Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio changed my life. The ratio given for bread in that book is 5:3 flour to water, which represents a hydration rate of 60%.
It’s not a huge change, but I’ve started using 3:2 (67% hydration) for many of my workhorse bread recipes, notably pizza dough (which I’ve already posted here), pita dough (which I hope to post shortly), and a standby I’m calling pan bread. I find that this ratio, when kneaded properly, makes super-tacky but workable dough that ultimately yields a much better crumb.
In the spirit of Ratio, I love to tailor the flavours in this pan bread to fit how it will … Continue reading.
I wanted to develop a bread that I would feel good about eating every morning. For me that means using only whole wheat flour, no white flour at all, and lots of added whole grains and seeds. The result was this brown bread recipe.
This recipe is adapted from the Whole-Wheat Bread recipe in one of my favourite books on bread, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Full disclosure: it is a bit of an ordeal. To coax flavour from the whole wheat flour and make a moist, tender loaf, this recipe employs a soaker and a poolish to create a rather wet, sticky dough that can be difficult to work with and requires very long fermentation and proofing times. It … Continue reading.
Originally published March 16, 2014.
Soda bread is plain quick bread, bread made with a chemical leavener like baking soda instead of yeast.
You’ve no doubt heard of Irish soda bread. The two defining characteristics of the national bread of Erin are 1) the inclusion of lesser parts of the wheat berry, such as the germ and husk, and 2) the use of buttermilk.
One way that my soda bread differs from true old-school Irish soda bread is the inclusion of such luxuries as butter, eggs, and honey. This is emphatically not traditional, but it makes for a moist, delicious bread. Picture a fine cornbread, only instead of corn meal there are coarse bits of wheat germ. The wheat germ … Continue reading.
English muffins make the best toast: much crispier than standard pullman loaves, but not overly-crunchy like rustic artisan loaves. I think there are at least four reasons for their toasting superiority:
- The dough is enriched with a small amount of sugar and fat.
- The way they are shaped, as individual pucks instead of slices from a loaf. A typical slice of bread is cut from the interior of a larger loaf, so the two sides are from the soft, interior “crumb” of the bread. When you cut and toast an English muffin, one of the surfaces of each half used to be the exterior crust of the bread, making a crispier piece of toast.
- The way they are cooked. Unlike
… Continue reading.
I’ve been doing some all-grain brewing this spring. After the mashing process the malt has given up all its caramel earthiness to the wort, and you are left with several pounds of spent grain, or draff.
There are lots of ways to use this stuff up. Commercial breweries commonly sell or give draff to farmers as livestock feed. It can also be composted so long as you have lots of other, greener compostable material to balance out the mixture.
Draff is also commonly baked into bread. Realistically the home brewer will not be able to bake enough bread to use all of the spent grain – the bulk of mine still ends up in the compost heap – but it’s … Continue reading.
Cornbread has developed a regional connotation in North America: the mere mention of the dish awakens borrowed images of the American south. I resent this, because I know that my dad ate cornbread growing up in eastern Ontario. They called it johnnycake, which is a very old, eastern North American term derived (we think) from “journey cake,” referring to the dry bread’s portability.
The bulk of the transcendent cornmeal we made this fall was baked into cornbread and consumed with butter and maple syrup. Below is my go-to recipe. It makes a moist bread (mostly on account of the several types of fat in the recipe: full-fat milk and buttermilk, sour cream, canola oil…) with a fine texture and … Continue reading.
This post is actually about two kinds of Austrian dumplings that are made from old bread.
The first is best made with bread that is a few days old, bread that is dry, but not brittle. If you let your bread sit for more than a week, so that it’s completely hard throughout, you can make the second dumpling.
The first dumpling, made with days-old bread, is the Serviettenknödel, which literally translates as “serviette dumpling.” Much like the French word torchon, which means towel, Servietten implies that the dumplings are shaped into cylinders by rolling in a towel or serviette.
The old bread is first cubed and soaked in milk, butter, and egg (full recipe below).
Then the … Continue reading.
When I say bread pudding “as God intended it,” I mean using actual, stale, left-over bread heels. Buying fresh bread just to tear it up and dry it out is like using striploin to make sausage, or rolling a torchon of foie gras just to melt it into cooking fat.
To make bread pudding stale bread is soaked in milk, cream, eggs, and sugar, then pressed into a casserole and baked.
There is a continuum of bread pudding textures, ranging from the dense and eggy (the well-known Jack’s Grill (RIP) bread pudding was a good example) to the light and ethereal.
I want to take a paragraph to describe an interesting style of bread pudding that chef Nigel Weber taught … Continue reading.
Even once I had a handle on basic techniques like dough-shaping, I found that the bread I made at home wasn’t as good as the bread I made at NAIT, where they have commerical equipment like proofing boxes and deck ovens.
Here are some quick notes on using household kitchen items to replicate the equipment in professional bakeries and bake better bread.
I’ve always felt that my bread doesn’t proof as well at home as it does at school. At first I thought this was a temperature issue, so I tried fermenting and proofing my bread in increasingly warmer corners of the house. Turns out humidity was the more important factor.
In commercial kitchens bread is proofed in proofing … Continue reading.