Monthly Blog Post – Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers: June 2017

“Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it’s flat.”

Carmen McRae

Crispy on the outside with a soft moist interior.  Wow, our assignment this month was a big winner!  Our June Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers assignment was for a fantastic Potato Buttermilk Bread.  It was similar to the Olive bread we made a few months back in that it uses a biga or starter so you’ll want to allow plenty of fermentation time for full flavor development.  The addition of buttermilk and potato flour gave this loaf a nuanced, but lovely flavor and tenderness.  Rose warns in her introduction to the recipe that the potato flour promotes a very brown crust, and it certainly does.  Watch this one carefully while it’s in the oven.

As with the Olive bread mentioned above, I used the King Arthur Flour Artisan Bread Flour with outstanding results as usual.  I also tried their dried buttermilk powder for the first time which worked well, and I believe I will buy more once I use this up as it is much more convenient than having to go to the store for buttermilk since it isn’t a staple in my refrigerator.  For the potato flour, I picked up a bag from Bob’s Red Mill at my local Whole Foods.

Since I had not baked this bread before, followed all of the directions to the letter until it was time to bake the bread.  I always love using the La Cloche for the artisan-type free form breads.  For some reason, I forgot to put the bread on the La Cloche base,  and placed it directly on the hot baking stone that I had preheated with the dome.   As a result, I did have a bit of scorching on the bottom of the loaf, but it still turned out fantastic.  I baked the loaf under the dome for 25 minutes after lowering the temperature, and had I left it any longer I believe it really would have burned.

Potato Buttermilk​ loaf after the second rise
Potato Buttermilk​ loaf after the second rise

By the way, this bread used a good bit of vital wheat gluten which I suspect is essential.  My doughs typically rise in far less than the suggested time.  If a recipe says allow 1-1/2 hours, mine is often ready in 45 to 60 minutes.  Not so with the first rise on this one.  It took the full recommended time for the first rise, but the second rise did happen a little more quickly.

A lovely ham sandwich
A lovely ham sandwich

If you follow my bread posts, you’ll know that any bread I make is likely to end up in a sandwich, and this one was no exception.  In addition to the ham sandwich shown, it made a fantastic grilled cheese.  Rose says that this bread does not freeze well and is best eaten within a day.  I recently got a new bread keeper from King Arthur, and it has done a stellar job keeping this bread fresh for two days so far.  I’m confident that this tasty bread will be gobbled up before it has a chance to go bad.

If you’re interested in trying the recipe, you can find it here.  You won’t be disappointed.  Let me know if you try it.

 

Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers September 2016

This month I discovered a superstar ingredient that has really taken my hearth bread baking up to a whole new level. You might wonder how that could be when using such simple ingredients – flour, yeast, honey, water, and a touch of salt. Read on to learn more about this important discovery.

Our September recipe was Rose’s Basic Hearth Bread. Although this was the first hearth bread during our bake-along, I have baked this recipe and several others many times over the years. This type of bread is a staple for me, and many years ago I invested in a La Cloche clay bread baker. My baker is similar to this version from King Arthur Flour, the only difference is that mine is unglazed.

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My well used La Cloche baker
When baked in the La Cloche, your bread develops an absolutely awesome crunchy crust. I typically preheat my oven an hour before baking, with the La Cloche cover in the oven as it preheats so that by the time I’m ready to put my bread in the oven the cover is good and hot. The accumulated heat in the lid creates steam when you put the bread in the oven which leads to the fabulous crust. I’d highly recommend a La Cloche type baker if you plan to bake this sort of bread on a regular basis. A less expensive tool that I’d also recommend is an inexpensive lame to artfuly slash the top of your bread. The plastic version I use from Sur La Table retails for $9.95, while a more impressive version with a black walnut handle from King Arthur retails for $34.95. I baked this bread according to the recipe directions with minor modifications to account for the La Cloche. For example, it is not necessary to add ice cubes to the oven to create steam, and after 30 minutes of baking, I removed the cover and baked the bread for an additional five minutes.

In addition to a crispy crust, one of the things I love about a bread like this is the flavor. Rose’s use of a starter which you can allow to ferment for up to 24 hours before mixing the dough creates a wonderfully developed flavor in the finished bread. For this go around, I allowed my starter and flour mixture to ferment for 1 hour at room temperature, and then refrigerated it for about 10 hours. I had great results with 10 hours of fermentation, but I do wonder what would have been with 24 hours. The point is to start your starter or sponge as early as you possibly can for awesome flavor development. As you may recall, last month I forgot to add the salt as I rushed off for a mani-pedi, but I made sure to include it this time.

Now let me tell you what I think really took this bread to a whole new level for a white bread. Rose includes ¼ cup of whole wheat flour in addition to the bread flour which she says acts to enhance the flavor. I’ve done this in the past, and the results have been good – this time I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat, but the real superstar ingredient was a new one for me. img_0140I had decided to try King Arthur’s Artisan Bread Flour, and I’ll admit I had my doubts as it is a good bit more expensive than their regular bread flour. The price on the website for the regular bread flour translates to $.99 per pound versus $2.65 per pound for the Artisan version without tax or shipping. According to the blurb on the front of the bag,

 “This medium-protein flour balances strength and flexibility -– perfect for baguettes and pizza dough. Use it to bake European-style hearth breads with crisp crusts and airy, flavorful interiors.”

While the sentence about balancing strength and flexibility makes me think about what a good workout regimen should do, this flour absolutely delivers the baking results advertised. By the way, this flour has a five star rating on the King Arthur web site with over 170 reviews. Indeed, it is so delicious that I will need to step up my exercise routine to compensate.

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Freshly baked bread elevates the humble tuna sandwich
Case in point, I decided to elevate the humble tuna salad I prepared for lunch with this bread. It was so good, I had to eat a slice of the bread by itself afterwards. By the way, as a bonus, I’ll share below how to make a flavorful, but low fat tuna salad to accompany the bread.

This bread recipe is a great one to use to build your expertise with making hearth breads, and the Artisan Bread Flour provides the opportunity to achieve super delicious professional level results. Honestly, I had dinner last night in a well-regarded local Italian restaurant and decided to eat one slice of their hearth type bread to compare. Theirs was good, but honestly mine was even better.

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P.P.S. – just learned that this recipe was previously published on food.com at this link.

Bonus Skipjack Tuna Salad Recipe

The tuna salad shown here uses:

  • 2 5-ounce cans of Wild Planet Skipjack Tuna with the juices
  • Approximately ¼ to 1/3 cup chopped onion to taste, I use brown, red, or green onions based on what I have on hand
  • 8-10 pitted Greek olives, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill or parsley to taste
  • Approximately 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Lemon pepper seasoning to taste, I use one by Scott’s Food Products

Note that you do not drain the tuna, instead you use the juices and just a tiny bit of mayo which keeps the fat down. Stir the ingredients up and enjoy with veggies, crackers or on a sandwich.