28/06/2010 4 comments

And here comes the last June homework as a mellowbaker: Beer bread with roasted barley. I was a bit skeptical at the beginning but I must that I’ll bake this bread again. I find it very good with cheese.

But let’s start from the beginning.

First the recipe for one loaf of about 1 kg:

flour 180 g
Water 180 g
Yeast .36 g

Final dough

flour 300 g
Whole-wheat flour 120 g
Water 24 g
Beer 182 g
Salt 12 g
Roasted barley 30 g
Poolish 360 g

I prepared the poolish in the morning and baked the bread late in the night around 11 p.m.
After 12 hours I mixed all the ingredients with the poolish, let it ferment for 2 hours, folded it once. Preshaped as an oval, shaped as a batard and let it proof in a banneton. Then I scored it, and baked it.

Here are some pictures

The dough

Folding the dough

Folding the dough

Scored bread

Beer bread

Crumb not really amazing, but reasonable.

The beer I used

I found the dough very easy to handle, at 68 % hydration I expected something a little bit more loose, but the dough was absolutely easy to handle. This is probably due to the 20 % of whole wheat which absorbs a lot of water.  Scoring the dough was very easy and for the first time I made two decent scores…well, at least for me. The importance of  a proper scoring is sometimes underestimated.

There has been a long debate on how to properly malt and roast the barley at I tried to sprout some barley, a (vegetarian) friend of mine gave me some suggestion, but in the end I decided that since I know almost nothing about barley I would just roast it without any attempt to malt.  So I put some husked barley in the oven at 180 °C for 6 minutes, as Hamelman suggests, and then I ground it very finely. The final result is a powder with a light color (see pictures). This roasted barley gives a very nice flavour and aftertaste to the bread.

Roasted barley

Ground roasted barley

The beer. I live in Munich and Bavaria is the land of Weizenbier…but I used a Lager 🙂 . The effect of beer on the flavour is really important,  in my case it added a nice bitterness.

Categories: Bread Tags:

Vermont Sourdough with increased whole wheat

28/06/2010 Leave a comment

The techniques and the recipes are almost the same as the other Vermont sourdoughs but, as Hamelman says, the 5 percent difference in the levain and whole flour has a deep impact on the bread.

I scaled the ingredients so to have 1.8 kg of dough (two loaves of about 900 g each). I fed the sourdough just once and let it ripen for 12 hours, then I took 30 g of the mature culture and prepared the levain. Other 12 hours of feeding and then the final dough.  I folded the dough just once, whereas for the standard Vermont sourdough I folded the dough twice. The dough was quite easy to shape.  After shaping I a put the dough in two bannetons and then in the fridge for 10 hours.

Ugly score...I had hard time trying to get the dough out of the banneton.

I always forget that using bannetons for so long needs some extra flouring.

The crumb was not so bad, quite open

Vermont sourdough with increased whole grain

The bread is really good, I am still deciding which Vermont sourdough I like better. After three days it still has a very good taste and staling is just at the beginning.

Categories: Uncategorized

Hot cross buns

28/06/2010 Leave a comment

As a devoted mellowbaker, I thought that baking Hot Cross Buns would be a kind of initiation ritual, so I did it on Friday.

Really delicious. I knew something about allspice, but I had never used it before Friday, it was a real discovery. Hot cross Buns are easy to bake, the most important thing, at least from my point of view, is to pay attention to a proper gluten development. I use a planetary mixer (kitchenaid) and I think that you should at least double the time that Hamelman suggests in second speed. He says 3 minutes in second speed, I would go for at least 6 minutes. I let it go for about 4 minutes then I added the currants and mixed for 3 more minutes, for a total of 7 minutes. I think this is necessary for a proper gluten development, or the dough is too soft and fragile.

One thing I don’t understand about the recipe. Usually when you have fats (like butter in this case) these are added after gluten development, I add butter with the flour only when I bake a tarte, in which case case gluten development is explicitly avoided. I understand that in Hot Cross Buns a strong gluten is not really necessary but still adding butter with flour was quite strange for me. Anyway, I have followed Hamelman and the results is really perfect.

Here are some pictures:

Hot cross bun (close up)

Hot Cross Buns

I will bake them again and again and again…

Categories: Uncategorized

Rustic bread (with rye)

22/06/2010 Leave a comment

How is baking with rye flour? This is my first experience with this cereal. I know from theory that it does not provide a strong gluten network, and breads made with 70-90% rye are very compact with a strong flavour.  This rustic bread has 10% of whole rye flour and 10% of whole wheat flour. Well the 10% rye gives a very interesting taste to the bread, although after this bread I must say that I am not at all a fan of rye, I am not used to its taste, but everything can change.

The ingredients together:

Rustic bread ingredients in the mixing bowl

The dough was a little bit too sticky even after a long  mixing. The final proof was made in a banneton and the oven spring was quite good. Here are some pictures

Rustic bread dough

Dough in the banneton

Final bread

Rustic bread crumb

Categories: Rye Tags:

Vermont sourdough (retarded version)

22/06/2010 3 comments

So this is my second loaf of Vermont Sourdough with Whole wheat flour. The first I made it, I proofed it for about two hours, but I had the impression that the dough was overproofed. This time I put the final dough in the bannetons and let then stay in the fridge at about 9-10 degrees for 9 hours (11 p.m. to 8 a.m.). The dough didn’t rise too much in the fridge and when I tried to unmold it was very stuck to the banneton (not enough flour on the bannetons?…this was just my second time). It took me a few minutes to slowly take the dough out without spoiling it.

Then I scored the oval bread with one very long cut, and the round one with two parallel cuts. Again, I must definitely improve my scoring ability. When I baked it…I was so surprised!! The oven kick was really huge.

Some pictures of the baking process:

My levain after 12 hours.

Round loaf with two (ugly) scores

Folded dough

Bench rest.

Vermont (Munich) Sourdough

Nice crumb.

This is the best bread I have ever made up to now.

My notes: The first time I baked the bread I fed my sourdough just once before the final build, this time I fed the sourdough twice. Retarding in the fridge for 8 hours has a strong effect on the taste and flavour. The crumb was much more open than the first time I made it. The bread was a bit more sour (perfect for my taste) and I think it has better keeping qualities, but I’ll report on this in a few days, if it lasts for so long 🙂

Categories: Bread, Liquid levain, Sourdough

Vermont Sourdough

13/06/2010 1 comment

The first time I made it, I couldn’t wait enough, almost no proofing, then I had to bake, it was late. I just miscalculated all the timing. But yesterday i baked it again, I cut it this morning  and the bread is very good (at least for me).

For this bread you need a liquid levain. However usually I keep my sourdough as a stiff dough at 50% hydration. After I studied some articles on liquid levain I decided to move all my culture to a higher hydration (I still keep a small piece a 50% just in case something goes wrong with the liquid one.) This is the fourth day that my yeast and bacteria are living in a 125% hydration system and they seem quite happy.

In my liquid levain I couldn’t observe any big change in volume but just a froth on the top. Is that normal? these are just my first experiences with a liquid sourdough.
I have also bough two bannetons, one oval and one round, I used them for the bread and I already love them.

Here are the final results:

Round banneton...proofing

Long banneton after proofing


Seems a good crumb. Quite open.

I am quite happy with the bread.

Oh, and since I promised that I had to try the pizza again…and I like to have busy days, yesterday, I also prepared 11 pizzas, and invited some friends over.

Categories: Bread, Sourdough

Let’s start with pizza! (Hamelman’s pizza)

31/05/2010 5 comments

So, this is my first entry and hopefully I’ll be able to go on describing my work as a home baker.  I am from Naples, south Italy, and this means that I love pizza, but I am also quite picky about it. I might be “unpolite” to the rest of the world…but I rarely eat pizza outside Naples (though I had a very good pizza in Minneapolis), which doesn’t mean that anywhere in Naples you can have good pizza, there are places where they sell a really cr… pizza but other places where it is just delicious (I am sure “Michele” is famous abroad). That said, I tried Hamelman’s pizza, and my wife (from Turin) immediately said “no doubt, this is the best pizza you have ever made!”.

Now let’s come to the crust. I used Hamelman’s percentage formula and prepared enough dough to make 5 crusts of about 250 g each.

And this is my result:

Biga after 12 hours: is it over ripen?

Pizza dough after one fold.



My comments:

The dough is not technically a neapolitan pizza in which there is no oil, and the procedure is completely different. But Hamelman never claims it to be neapolitan, so this is just a comment. I folded the dough twice, not once as Hamelman suggests, but now I think that one was enough. The dough is very extensible, but I find it a little bit too wet to be easily handled. In the past seven months I used to make pizza dough with at most 60 % water. I cut the dough into pieces of about 250 grams each (“panetti” in Italian) which is the size of a regular pizza in an Italian pizzeria.
Taste: just good, very good, not too crisp.
The dough was very light and soft.
Final result: I’ll try this dough again next Saturday since I overcooked the first two pizzas, and I think that my biga was over-ripen.

Oh, I almost forgot, the topping was of course just tomatoes and mozzarella, and a few basil leaves.


Update 1 (01/07/2010) : just a short update on the dough. It is a little bit too puffed up. Too many bubble, due to the large amount of yeast. For the next time I am going to try a completely different version based on a poolish. I’ll post about it later.

Categories: Pizza Tags: , ,