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The Staff of Life - A Primer on Baking Bread

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2013 at 05:09
Actually, Rod, I am getting ready to wrap it up. Those tips and tidbits were the finis to yeast breads. Today I'll be posting about non-yeast breads. After that, I don't think I have too much to say.
 
I do recognize the intricacies of biscuit making. But I'm not the one to discuss them. I making biscuits maybe once a year, if that. So, as with sour dough, I'll leave that conversation to somebody who knows what they're talking about.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2013 at 20:09
Sorry Brook, I thought you were kinda wrapping it up there. I'll wait for the next installment. Great thread.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2013 at 19:11
See tomorrow's edition, guys. It's all about non-yeast breads.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2013 at 12:19
It's not my intention to speak for Brook, but I say they would definitely be bread.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 January 2013 at 12:12
Epic!

Question: where would you put things leavened with baking soda and such? Like Irish soda bread or the many kinds of biscuits.

Biscuits could be a study onto themselves, I think. Maybe they really aren't bread. I don't know. What say you?
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Part 15.

 

I’m going to subtitle this installment “bits and pieces.” It’s nothing more than a collection of bread baking tips and techniques that I’ve learned, that work for me. They’re in no particular order.

 

Sheet pans. If you’re using those thin cookie sheets sold in supermarkets, do yourself a favor and invest in some sheet pans instead. Unlike cookie sheets, sheet pans will not warp and twist in the high heat of a bread-baking oven; they are sturdier for lifting and moving; they can double as a mock-baking stone; and, in general, are better choices. Plus you’ll find all sorts of other uses for them in the kitchen. I do much of my prep work with them.

     Make sure you get the right size for your oven. Unless you have a 36” oven (and few of us do), a full sheet will not fit. But half-sheet and quarter-sheet pans will.

     Sheet pans aren’t all that expensive, not much more than some cookie sheets. In the box stores you’ll find half-sheets for about ten bucks. But check out any restaurant supply houses in your area, and you’ll do even better than that.

     Some places (Gordon’s Food Service is one) have plastic lids that snap fit to sheet pans, turning them into ideal storage containers for some items. Unfortunately they only come in full sheet and half sheet sizes.

 

Loaf pans. Loaf pans come in a range of sizes, technically rated by the weight of bread they produce. Generally they are sized as 1-lb, 1 ½ lb, and 2-pound. This didn’t used to be a problem from home bakers, because only the 1-lb pans were generally available. Nowadays you can find a loaf pans just about anywhere in a diverse range of sizes. And some non-stick pans are not made to standard sizes.

      What this means is that if you’re having loft problems with your bread---it’s either not rising enough, or is over-flowing the pan---it might be your pans, rather than your recipe or work methods at fault.

     Keep in mind, too, that glass and metal absorb and retain heat differently. Most bread recipes assume metal pans. If you’re using glass you’ll have to adjust baking time, temperature, or both.

 

Cornmeal and semolina are about the best release agents you can find. Not only do they prevent doughs from sticking, they add a bit of flavor (and, sometimes, color) of their own.

     To prep loaf pans and other molds, lightly grease them. The key word here is “lightly.” Then pour a handful of the grain into the pan. Shake and rotate it until the bottom is coated. Then do the same on each side in turn.

     For sheet pans, don’t even bother with the grease. It contributes nothing, and could lead to frying the bottom of the bread. Instead, just dust the surface of the sheet and place your dough on it. If you want, you can lay-down a sheet of parchment paper first. This will help keep the pan clean, but isn’t really necessary for baking.

     Awhile back I saw what may be the stupidest, and certainly the most unnecessary direction in bread baking history. It said to first oil parchment paper, then dust it with cornmeal. Yeah, right! Modern parchment paper is silicon impregnated. Oiling it serves no purpose whatsoever.

 

Baking stones are very useful. As detailed above, they regulate the oven and help provide a consistent temperature. Mine lives permanently on the bottom of the stove.

     Many breads are baked directly on a stone. But this presents some challenges. If you keep one always in the oven, as I do, it is in the wrong position (breads should be baked in the middle of the oven), and awkward to use. This leaves you a choice. You can either move it, as necessary. Or you can buy a second one, and place it on the middle rack when needed.

     Using a stone to bake on also means investing in additional equipment. At a minimum, you need a peel to put the bread in and out of the oven. A peel is, essentially, a thin, oversized paddle, made of either wood or metal. You dust it with cornmeal or semolina, place the dough on it, and line it up on the stone. A sharp pull, and the dough slides off.

     Alternatively, use an inverted sheet pan. Set it on the middle rack of the oven while it preheats. When ready, remove it, dust it, lay the shaped dough on it, and immediately return it to the oven. Works just as well.

 

Flours should not be stored in the paper bags they come it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that’s how your mamma did it. She’d remove what she needed, roll down the top, and slip it into a cabinet.

     Fact is, that’s a good way to assure pests. Everything from mice, to ants, to weevils can find their way into the flour that way. Instead, transfer the flour to a sealable container. I happen to use large tubs available from restaurant supply houses, that hold eight pounds of flour each. But any appropriate sized container will do. Rubbermaid, among others, makes a whole range of them.

     If you prefer, you can leave the flour in its original bag, and put the whole thing in a sealed container. But it’s not necessary to do so.

     FWIW, I store my sugar the same way.

 

Measuring utensils are not all the same. For instance, glass measuring cups are designed to measure liquids, whereas metal ones are designed for solids. But, due to manufacturing methods, different brands of the same utensil can be different. One brand or model of, say, a tablespoons might measure more or less than a different brand or model.

     Does this mean you need discrete measuring tools for your bread baking? Not at all. But it does mean you should be consistent, and use the same ones each time.

 

 Storing bread presents an interesting challenge. In theory, bread keeps best either frozen or at room temperature, but should not be kept in the fridge. Why not? Bread kept in the fridge tends to dry out quickly, even if stored in a plastic bag.

     I reserve comment on that. Suffice it to say I keep bread in the fridge all the time. There’s just the two of us, here, and I’d waste a lot of bread if I didn’t.

     That aside, if you want to retain the crispness of lean, crusty breads, they should be stored in paper, never in plastic. These sorts of breads go stale fairly quickly, though, and are best eaten the day they are baked. Soft, enriched breads, on the other hand, are best stored in plastic.

     Frozen bread should be pulled from the freezer at least two hours before you intend serving it.

     To rewarm thawed breads, heat the oven to 400F. Cover the bread with a damp towel and pop in the oven until warmed though. To restore a crackly crust, remove the towel and pop the oven up to 450F for the final few minutes.

 

Glazes can be used on any bread. They provide a glossy sheen to the crust, and, sometimes, make it more crispy. Glazes can also be used as a glue to hold other toppings---nuts, seeds, etc.---to the bread.

     Glazes should be applied gently, with a clean, soft pastry brush. Try to avoid drips, or actally brushing the pan, because this can glue the bread to it. Even if that doesn’t happen, glazes on a baking pan tend to burn.

     Glazes can be applied before or after baking. When used as post-baking application they soften the texture of the crust.

     Each glaze has a different effect on the appearance and taste of the bread. So it pays to experiment. Among the items used as glazes: Egg wash; milk; salt water, honey, olive oil, and cornstarch made into a slurry. For vegans, a mixture of soy powder and water makes a nice glaze.

 

Not all standard techniques work at home the way they do for professionals. For instance, the so-called windowpane test for determining gluten development. The literature says to stretch the dough until you can practically see through it. Maybe so. But I have to confess, I have never made a dough that the windowpane test worked with. Yet I’ve made some superlative doughs.

     So don’t get frustrated with these aspects. Pay attention to your dough, so you learn what a good dough looks and feels like.



 

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Part 14:

 

Stuffed and filled breads can be thought of as a separate category. There’s not much difference in how you mix the dough. But handling and shaping are often more complex. Plus, because of the fillings, the liquid content sometimes has to be adjusted. Russian Sauerkraut Bread is an example of how the filling can affect moisture content.

 

These adjustments are nothing you shouldn’t be able to handle by this point. So, if you have a favorite bread, and want to add sliced green olives to it, go ahead and try it.

 

Is there a difference between “stuffing” and “filling?” Technically, no. They’re just different words for the same thing. But I think of them differently.

 

To me, a stuffing is something that goes into the middle of the bread, with dough sandwiching it one way or another. The Peach Couronne I referred to in Part 10 would be an example of a stuffed bread. A filled bread, on the other hand, is one that has the filling ingredients incorporated throughout the dough, or has them pressed into it. Focaccia, which is often made with “toppings” like olives, cheese, and anchovies, is a good example of a filled bread.

 

For the sake of convenience, however, we’ll just refer to all of them as filled breads.

 

(Finding your own way: I’m going to assume, from this point forward, that you understand how to adjust yeast from active dry to instant; to knead by machine vs. by hand; that “cover” means with a damp towel or plastic film, and so forth. So, from now on I’m not going to include the how-to for those things.)

 

What can be used as a filling? Among the more common ingredients, used alone or in combination, are olives, anchovies, nuts, cooked eggs, ham and other charcuterie, dried & glazed fruits, cheeses, and vegetables. The list is endless, limited only by your taste preferences.

 

Because they are more time consuming to make, and are often formed into complex shapes, filled breads are often reserved for holidays and festive occasions. Many of them, as it happens, become associated with that special event.

 

Panattone is a classic example of this. Like so many specialty breads, there is a romantic tale behind it. In short, a baker in Milan spent six months developing a bread in order to impress a lady. Unfortunately, they never got together. But he started selling the bread in his shop, under the name “Pane di Toni” (Tony’s Bread) This eventually got corrupted to Panattone. It’s very popular throughout Italy, particularly at Christmas, and has become associated with Yuletide celebrations. Panattone is an enriched, fruit-laden bread almost cake-like in texture and taste.

 

Panattone

 

2 ½ tsp active dry yeast

1 cup (8 oz) lukewarm milk

2 ¾ cups (12.38 oz) all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

8 tbls (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

2 egg yolks

1/3 cup (2.7 oz) sugar

3 tbls candied citrus peel, chopped

½ cup packed cup golden raisins

Pinch grated nutmeg

Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

Egg glaze made with 1 egg yolk beater with 1 tbls water

Confectioners’ sugar

 

Sprinkle the yeast into the milk. Stir to dissolve. Let stand for five minutes until frothy. In a large mixing bowl mix the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the dissolved yeast. Draw enough flour into the yeast to form a soft paste. Cover and let the sponge develop, about 20 minutes.

 

Mix in the flour from the sides of the well to form a stiff dough. Turn the dough out and knead until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes.

 

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Punch down, rest for ten minutes.

 

Lightly grease a round mold, a deep cake pan, or a small saucepan about eight inches across and six inches deep, with softened butter. Line the base and sides of the mold with buttered baking parchment so that it extends 5 inches above the top.

 

Knead seven tablespoons softened butter, the egg yolks, sugar, citrus, rains, nutmeg, zests and vanilla extract into the dough until thoroughly combined, about five minutes. Shape the dough into a round loaf, put it in the prepared mold, and cut an “X” across the top. Cover and set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk, about two hours.

 

Preheat the oven to 350F.

 

Brush the top of the dough with the egg glaze. Bake for 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the mold and cool in the baking parchment on a wire rack. Dust the top with confectioners sugar.

 

There are at least as many filled savory breads as sweet ones. Many of them, like focaccia, are more or less flat breads. Among my favorites is Fougasse, a bread from Provence typically eaten on Christmas eve. After Midnight Mass, people from the region celebrate with a tradition of 12 sweets (symbolizing the 12 Apostles), surrounding a Fougasse centerpiece.

 

Fougasse translates as ladder bread. Originally it was shaped into an oblong, with a series of slightly diagonal slashes made through the dough and opened. When baked, this resembles a ladder. While that shape is still used, there are many variations. I like flattening the dough into an oval, and making two rows of chevrons, leaving a center strip. I’ve even seen them cut to resemble a Christmas tree.

 

Every family has its favorite version. Very often the bread is made plain, as a foil for the 12 sweets. But it’s often filled, as well, with savory items. This version uses cheese and nuts for one ladder, anchovies for another.

 

Fougasse

 

1 Pain de Campagne dough (see recipes above)

1/3 cup Roquefort cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tbls drained anchovy fillets, soaked in milk, drained again, and chopped

Olive oil for brushing.

 

Prepare a Pain de Campagne dough through the first rising.

 

Punch down the dough, divide in half, and set one half aside. Flatten the first half into a rectangle. Sprinkle on the cheese and walnuts. Tri-fold the dough over on itself. Repeat with the second half, sprinkling with the anchovies.

 

Shape each piece into a batard. Flatten the dough into a long, thin oval, for traditional ladder bread, or into a wide one if using a different pattern for the cuts. Make the cuts, opening them slightly.

 

Transfer the Fougasse to prepared baking sheets, cover, and set in a draft-free location until doubled in bulk, about 30-45 minutes.

 

Preheat the oven to 425F.

 

Brush both loaves with a little olive oil and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Couronnes, or crowns, are often used for festive occasions. Simply put, a crown is a ring of dough that looks as if it were baked in a savarin mold. Creative bakers take it a step further. For instance, Peter Reinhart uses a dowel rod to crease the four quadrants of the circle. This makes it more squarish than round, and provides a textural break.

 

Perhaps the ultimate in manipulating couronnes is to turn them into filled twists. The fillings used for this can be savory or sweet. This one happens to be savory. Caution: This is the most complex bread I’ve presented. Be sure to read---and understand---the instructions before proceeding. And before to have the mise en place ready for the filling.

 

Danish Savory Crown

 

For the dough:

2 cups (9 oz) unbleached bread flour

1 tsp salt

Generous ¾ cup (6 oz)  butter, softened

2 tsp active dry yeast

Scant cup (8 oz) mixed lukewarm milk and water

1 egg, lightly beaten

 

For the filling:

2 tbls sunflower oil

2 onions, finely chopped

¾ cup fresh bread crumbs

¼ cup ground almonds

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and black pepper to taste

 

For the topping:

1 tbls sesame seeds

1 tbls fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

 

Prepare a baking sheet.

 

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Rub in 3 tablespoons of the butter. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the milk & water, let it proof until frothy, about five minutes. Add the yeast to the flour, along with the egg, and mix into a soft dough.

 

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead ten minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a draft-free locations until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

 

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into an oblong about ½-inch thick.

 

Dot half the remaining butter over the top two-thirds of the dough. Fold the bottom third up and the top third down and seal the edges. Turn 90 degrees and repeat with the remaining butter. Fold and seal as before. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

 

Turn the dough 90 degrees. Roll and fold again, without butter. Repeat once more. Wrap in lightly oiled plastic film and let rest in the refrigerator 30 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, heat the oil for the filling. Add the onions and cook for ten minutes until soft and golden. Remove from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, almonds, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Add half the beaten egg to the mixture and bind together.

 

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring 22 x 9 inches, with the long sides left & right. Spread the filling evenly on the dough, leaving a ¾ inch border on the sides and a 1-inch border at the top. Roll the dough tightly from the bottom, like a jelly roll.*

 

Using a very sharp knife cut the roll lengthwise (I find this works best if you follow the seam). Keeping the cut sides upwards, braid the two halves together. Shape into a ring, weaving and pinching the cut ends to assure they seal.

 

Transfer the ring to the baking pan, cover, and let rise in a draft-free location, 30 minutes.

 

Preheat the oven to 400F.

 

Brush the remaining beaten egg over the dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and Parmesan cheese and bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

This is an exception to the general rule, in that it can be served still warm from the oven if desired.

 

*To make rolling easier, transfer the dough rectangle to a kitchen towel. Spread the filling. Then use the towel to life and turn the dough over on itself---sort of like using a sushi mat.

 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2013 at 07:31
Thanks, Rod.
 
One point that should be made is that naan made at home can never equal the traditional stuff, because home ovens do not get hot enough.
 
Naan is made in a tandori oven, a roughly conical shaped one whose temperatures can well exceed 1,200F. Tandori cooking is the opposite of low & slow.
 
The shaped naans are slaped onto the inner walls of the oven, and, literally, take only a few seconds to bake. The slight char flavor on the exposed surface contributes to making naan what they are.
 
But don't let that stop you from trying Rod's recipes. Naan is one of the great flatbreads of the world.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 January 2013 at 11:25
Many have heard of Naan. That wonderful flat bread encountered in India and in Indian restaurants. This bread is leavened and has other additions, so takes Roti to another level. Great with any soup or stew and of course most Indian meals or just by itself with a little more Ghee. This is normally made in a tandoor. A big conical wood fired clay oven that reaches well over 800F. I don't have one of those. So, the following includes adjustments for the American home kitchen and cook. I think you'll find the results quite satisfactory. I did.

I've made this several times too.

2 Cups all purpose flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
A good 3 finger pinch of baking soda
2 Tbsp Ghee
2 1/2 Tbsp plain yogurt
3/4 Cup lukewarm water

Dissolve the yeast in the water and allow to set for 10 minutes.
In a bowl mix the flour, salt, baking soda and sugar.
Add the ghee and yogurt and mix to make a crumbly dough.
Add the water/yeast mixture and mix and knead till dough is smooth and soft.
Cover and keep in a warm place till it doubles in volume. Maybe 3 or 4 hours.
Place oven rack on one step higher than the middle.
Heat oven to 500F with a pizza stone or all your cast iron pans inside for 30 minutes past reaching temperature.
Switch from oven temp to broiler heat.
Knead the raised dough for 3 minutes and divide into 6 equal pieces.
Dust a counter top with flour and roll the dough out into 8" or so oval shapes.
Open the oven door and wet your hands and flip flop a Naan between the palms of your hands a few times then onto the stone or into a pan. Close the door.
Continue wetting hands, flopping Naans and putting in oven till space in the oven is filled, close the door and wait just 2 or 3 minutes.
The Naan should be brown on top and it's done. It cooks quickly so keep an eye on them.
Remove from oven and immediately brush lightly with ghee and place Naans where they will stay warm while you wait a few minutes for the oven to get hot again so you can cook the rest on your breads.

This stuff will puff up considerable in the oven, but not like Roti.

Now you folks know everything I know about bread.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 January 2013 at 06:21
Thanks Brook. I might have overstated the difficulty a little. The process as outlined does keep one focused. There just won't be much spare time to do anything else. So when you're making roti, you're making roti. It's really not difficult, just busy if that makes sense.  A rhythm develops. .

Anyway, The roti are all but cooked when they hit the burner. They're thin anyway. The pan cooking produced a sealed outer skin and some browning in spots, not unlike what you would see on a commercially produced flour tortilla. So what's happening on the flame is the addition of concentrated intense heat to flash the moisture inside into steam, inflating the roti. There will be some very localized burning, but being quick and watchful prevents any serious problems. You can burn a hole and let the steam out before they inflate if you aren't careful. In essence, you're looking for trouble when you're looking at the bottom of the roti. You're preventing trouble when you rotate the roti.



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Part 13:

 

I’m going to continue our discussion about flatbreads, specifically to demonstrate why the tendency to call any flatbread with toppings a pizza drives me a bit crazy. Case in point: Lamejun.

 

Lamejun is a Turkish/Armenian dish in which spiced lamb or beef is combined with onions. This is used to top a flatbread, and the whole thing is baked. The toppings actually cook into the bread.

 

Traditionally, Lamejun is made using Lavash; a super-thin flatbread baked into either a hard cracker, or with a softer, tortilla-like consistency. The soft version is used for Lamejun. If you’re very good with a rolling pin you can make your own Lavash. I’ve never done so---among my many failings is a total inability to use a rolling pin with any level of skill.

 

Lavash is also readily available in some supermarkets (Wal-Mart carries it). An alternative is to use Manaaeesh, a Lebanese flatbread that’s a bit easier to work with. Manaaeesh is normally baked in large rectangles, resembling a very thin Focaccia.

 

We’ll look at the traditional Manaaeesh first, then see how it’s adapted to making Lamejun.

 

I’m indebted to Ana Sortun, owner and head chef of Oleana, in Boston, for these recipes.

 

Both recipes use za’atar, which is a common spice mix of the Mid-East. It consists of sumac, ground sesame seeds, and either thyme, oregano, or Syrian hyssop. Za’atar and sumac are available in specialty shops or from spice suppliers such as Penzey’s. If you live in an area with Staghorn Sumac grows, you can gather the red berries in the fall. Grind them as you need them, when sumac is called for, or combine them with equal quantities of ground sesame seed and oregano or thyme to make your own za’atar.

 

And,  just as an addition to your font of useless trivia, the plant called za’atar---which gives its name to the spice mix---is the hyssop mentioned in the bible.

 

Manaaeesh

 

2 tsp active dry yeast

¾ cup (6 oz) warm water

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups (9 oz) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

4 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

4 tbls za’atar

 

Whisk the yeast into the water in a large bowl and let the mixture bloom until the surface is covered with a gentle foam. Whisk in the ¾ cup olive oil, and mix in the flour and salt. Mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough, 8-15 minutes. It will still be sticky but hold together in one piece.

 

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let sit in a draft-free location two hours, or overnight in the fridge. It should be doubled in bulk.

 

About two hours before baking, punch down the dough and place it with two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil on a heavy baking sheet. Cover and set in a draft-free location and let it rise at room temperature 1 ½ hours.

 

Preheat the oven to 375F.

 

Press the dough onto a baking sheet, using your hands to stretch and pull it into the corners, forming a flat 10 x 12-inch rectangle. Make dimples in the dough with your fingertips and brush the dough with the remaining extra virgin olive oil.

 

Sprinkle the za’atar evenly over the dough, and then sprinkle the whole bread with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.

 

Let the dough rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes, uncovered, at room temperature.

 

Bake for 15 minutes, until golden on the edges and cooked all the way through in the center.

 

Serve warm.

 

Chicken Lamejun with Roasted Red Peppers, Pistachio, and Sumac

 

If you’re looking for a traditional Lamejun recipe, this isn’t it. In Turkey and Armenia, Lamejun is always made with either lamb or beef. Using chicken is Ana Sortun’s adaptation. But it’s just as good tasting, and a lot less expensive to make.

 

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 small Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 scallions, root end trimmed and finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, minced

1 ½ tsp sumac

¾ tsp za’atar

1 tsp salt

1 egg white

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 cup lightly toasted, finely ground pistachios

½ recipe Manaaeesh dough

 

1 tbls olive oil

2 roasted red bell peppers, peeled and cut in strips

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup Greek yogurt for garnish.

 

Remove all fat and connective tissue from the chicken breasts. Cut into two-inch chunks.

 

Use a food processor fitted with a metal blade to grind the chicken to a paste until it comes together in a ball and becomes smooth and thick. The mixture must get smooth enough or it will crack and break up as it cooks into the dough.

 

Using the pulse button on the food processor, incorporate the onion, scallions, red pepper, sumac, za’atar, salt and egg white until the vegetables and spices are thoroughly mixed into the paste. Transfer to a small mixing bowl, stir in the cream and pistachios, and set aside.

 

Preheat the oven to 375F.

 

Divide the Manaaeesch dough into four equally sized pieces. Form them into balls and roll them out, dusting lightly with flour as you go, into thin rounds, no more than ¼-inch thick.

 

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high and par cook the reads for three minutes per side. Alternatively, bake them in a preheated 425F oven for four to five minutes on a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone.

 

Top each Manaaeesch bread with 2/3 cup of the chicken mixture, spreading it evenly, and coating the bread completely. Place the lamejuns on a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone and bake them for about 12 minutes until they are crisp and the chicken mixture cooked through.

 

Top each lamejun with a few slices of the roasted peppers and a dollop of yogurt. Serve hot.

 

See what I mean? Lamejun is a lot of good things. But it is definitely not pizza!

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 January 2013 at 05:43
Thanks for the great addition, Rod. That's the sort of thing I was hoping for when I started this series. I'm particularly pleased because the Roti requires special techniques. Teaching them is what a primer is all about.
 
Now some questions:
 
When you check the roti on the flame, what are you looking for to indicate doneness? Do they get chared? Just dried looking?
 
Also, would it make things any easier to set up an assemly line? At a minimum, couldn't you shape the balls all at once? Or, it seems to me, you could roll out a number of the roti at one time, perhaps covering them with a damp towel, then feed to the griddle, to the flame to the bowl?
 
All supposition on my part, as I've never made them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 January 2013 at 20:13
Chapati or roti. These are small unleavened flat breads about 5 or 6 inches in diameter and maybe a little more than 1/8" thick that are completely hollow inside. When cooking they expand into almost round spheres, after which they collapse into flat breads. These things are made all throughout Asia. It's a very old way of making bread. I wonder how many trillions of these little breads have been made over the last several thousand years.

I've made these a number of times. I'm good at it. They're simple things but interesting to make. Interesting in that to make a bunch of them you gotta move quickly. And it helps to have one special tool. I took a small pair of ice cube tongs and filed the teeth off and smoothed things well and flattened the ends a little so to create a tool to gently manipulate the rotis. You could do it with your fingers, but you gotta be fast and tough.

Anyway, here goes:

One rounded cup of whole wheat flour.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
Ghee

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add water to form a soft dough and knead for 5 minutes. Allow to rest for 1/2 hour. Knead again for 5 minutes.

At this point you can refrigerate it for several days.

When ready to make the Roti set up your work area. The stove should have enough clear space to allow a heavy flat pan (I use a cast iron griddle pan) to set over the burner and room for it to be slid off to the side. A clear area of counter space should exist right next to the stove top with room to roll out rotis and more room to have a flat plate with flour in it and more room for a covered dish to keep the cooked roti in.

Heat the flat pan till water sizzles off it quickly.

Take a deep breath because here we go.

Take a portion of dough and form into a smooth ball. Using some of the flour from the plate, in mid air, using your hands, form the ball of dough into a flat disk. Flour the rolling surface and roll the flattened disk of dough into a perfect circle of even thickness. Flip flop the formed roti between the palms of both hands to knock all the excess flour off, them flop it onto the hot pan.

Immediately begin to make a second roti and while you're doing that flip the roti that is already in the pan. Finish making the second roti.

Pull the pan off to the side and take the cooking roti out of the pan and throw it right on the burner flame. Put the second roti in the pan.

Using the tongs lift the roti that is on the flames by just the edges and look under it and rotate it several times (don't flip it over) till it's cooked. Then flip the roti that is on the flames over and repeat the lifting, rotating motions till the roti is completely puffed out and cooked. Remove the inflated roti to the warming dish.

Immediately slide the pan with the second roti back over the heat and flip the roti on the pan. Smear a bit of ghee on the finished roti and cover the dish to keep it warm.

Form another roti to replace the one finishing up in the pan, and keep going till you run out of dough.

Not working? Work faster.
Hungry
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Part 12

 

It should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of flatbreads. All kinds, from all over the world.

 

Apparently, I’m not alone in this. Flatbreads have taken the country by storm. Everywhere you go, from casual dining to four star restaurants you find them on the menu. And celebrity chefs present them, seemingly, on every episode of their shows.

 

For a while there was an unfortunate trend to call any flatbread with toppings a pizza. Many of the---shall we say---strange toppings resulted. While that syndrome still applies, many of the celebrity chefs have stopped doing that. They now refer to the base merely as flatbread, or use the actual name of the particular bread.

 

Worldwide there are probably as many forms of flatbread as there are risen loafs. Although I can’t document it, my gut feeling is that the two most popular flatbreads in America are pizza and pita, with focaccia, perhaps, coming in a distant third.

 

I am not going to give you a recipe nor instructions for pizza. There are several reasons for this, but the most cogent one is that I can’t make pizza. At least not in any form you’d recognize. I’ve tried many doughs, listened to instructions ad nauseum, and spent countless hours watching pizza pros do their thing. But when it comes to actually handling the dough, and shaping it, there’s something in my make-up that rebels.

 

So, if somebody wants to pick up the slack, and add a chapter on pizza making, please do so.

 

Ironically, I don’t have the same problem with pita, which is a much more difficult bread to pull off successfully. I’ve tried numerous recipes and methods, and have settled on the one used in Flatbreads & Flavors as my most favored.

 

Ideally, pita is baked quickly, in a hot oven, on pre-heated quarry tiles. A baking sheet will work almost as well. But it has to be scorching hot. I put the pans in the oven when I turn it on to preheat to assure this.

 

You can also “bake” pita on a hot griddle, on top of the stove. I’ve never had consistent results with that method, but others have. It might be worth giving it a go.

 

Caution: If your idea of pita is those plastic-wrapped disks from the supermarket, don’t make this recipe. It will spoil you, and you’ll never be satisfied again with commercially produced ones.

 

Pita

 

2 tsp active dry yeast

2 ½ cups (20 oz) lukewarm water

3 cups (13.5 oz)unbleached bread flour

3 cups (13.5 oz) whole wheat bread flour

1 tbls salt

1 tbls olive oil

 

Combine the flours.

 

In a large bowl sprinkle the yeast over the water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, then stir 100 times, about a minute, stirring in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes or as long as 2 hours.

 

Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a ckup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Urn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead eight to 10 minutes. Rinse the bowl, dry and oil it lightly. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.

 

Place unglazed quarry tiles, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the tiles or pans and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F.

 

Punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into eight equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle, eight to nine inches in diameter and less than ¼ inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack them.

 

Place two breads (or more if your oven is large enough---I generally do four at a time) on the tiles or pans, and bake two to three inutes, or until each bread has gone into a full “balloon.” If there are seams or dry bits of dough, or for a variety of other reasons---e.g. your baking surface isn’t preheated enough---the breads may not balloon properly. But don’t worry, they will still taste great. As you bake pita more often you’ll develop tricks and techniques to assure even ballooning.

 

Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

 

Ksra, the ubiquitous flatbread of Morocco, is one of my favorites. It’s also a lot easier to make than Pita.

 

As is true with so many household breads of the world, there are numerous versions; thick and thin, large and small, flavorings added or left out. Almost universally, though, its hallmark is the surface decorations made with the tines of a fork

 

I’ve already posted one version, flavored with anise, which you can find at http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/moroccan-anise-bread_topic2000.html

 

Although Pita is the most well known flatbread of the eastern Mediterranean there are many others. One I’ve only recently started making is Barbari---Persian Sesame Bread.

 

This is undoubtedly the favorite breakfast bread in Iran, where they often top it with crumbled white cheese and sprinkled with fresh herbs. It’s also made in a spicy seeded version, which we’ll look at as well.

 

Barbari

 

1 tsp honey

1 ¼ cups (10 oz) water

2 tsp active dry yeast

3 ¼ cups (14.63 oz) unbleached bread flour

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tbls olive oil plus extra to glaze

2 tsp sesame seeds

 

Stir the honey into 2/3 cup of the water in a bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand five minutes, stirring to dissolve. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and our in the dissolved yeast.

 

Draw enough of the flour into the yeast to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl and sponge until frothy and risen, about 20 minutes.

 

Pour about half the remaining water and the olive oil into the well. Mix in the rest of the flour. Stir in the reserved water, as needed, to form a firm, moist dough.

 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth, shiny, and elastic, about ten minutes.

 

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½-2 hours. Punch down, then let rest ten minutes.

 

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round five inches across and one inch thick. Cover and proof until doubled in bulk, about 30-45 minutes.

 

Preheat oven to 425F. At the same time, preheat two baking sheets in the oven until very hot.  

 

Meanwhile, use your fingertips to gently press into the surface of the dough to form nine dimples, about ¾ inch deep, across the top of each round. Brush each with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

 

Dust the baking sheets with cornmeal or semolina. Place the shaped dough on the hot baking sheets and bake 20 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

 

To make the spicy version: Mix one teaspoon paprika and ¼ teaspoon cayenne into the flour before combining with the yeast. After brushing the shaped rounds with olive oil sprinkle each with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and cumin seeds evenly over the tops. Then bake as above.

 

If you share my fascination with flatbreads, I recommend you get a copy of Flatbreads and Flavors. It is, imo, the definitive work on the subject.

 

 

 

 

 

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Part 11:

 

I promised, earlier, to provide the complete procedure for making Bavarian style soft pretzels. So here goes.

 

This whole thing is taken from Eric Kastlel’s Artisan Breads at Home. In general, I am not a fan of the  at Home series. The CIA (Culinary Institute of America) started with good intentions; to convert their professional training literature into teaching at-home cooks. They just didn’t pull it off very well, and, in fact, the first five of them were published without testing recipes on home equipment.

 

A case could be made that up to its 2010 publication date, Artisan Breads was the worst of the series. Indeed, I did make that case when I reviewed it. It suffers  all the faults of the others, plus a whole passel of its own. I tell you this to explain why you didn’t find it on my list of preferred books last time.

 

But as I stressed then, even a bad book often has information you can use. And so it is with this one. Among the few things from it that have become a part of my repertory is Kastel’s pretzel recipe. The dough is certainly the best such that I’ve tried---and I’ve gone through a bunch of pretzel recipes. More to the point: Although most soft-pretzel recipes talk about using a lye bath to create the signature crust, Kastel is one of the few that actually walks you through the process. And that alone is worthwhile.

 

Kastel uses a slightly different Pate Fermentee than Reinhart. So we’ll start with that. One note: As befits somebody whose professional experience is as a production manager of large commercial bakeries, Kastel only uses power equipment for mixing and kneading. If you want to do things by hand, you should have no trouble by now.

 

Kastel is also a big believer in malt syrup in his doughs. Malt does have certain effects on a final dough. But the fact is you probably won’t notice much difference if you leave it out. I do.

 

Pate Fermentee (Kastel)

 

¼ cup (2.4 oz) warm water

¾ cup (3.5 oz) flour

Pinch instant yeast

Pinch salt

 

Make the pate fermentee the day before you want to mix the dough. Put the water in the bowl of a mixer, combine the flour with the yeast and salt, and add the flour mixture to the bowl. Place on a mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix for 4 minutes on low speed or until homogenous. Place in a lightly oiled bowl large enough for it to double in size. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Allow the pate fermentee to ferment at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 18 hours or up to 3 days.

 

Pretzels

 

For the final dough:

 

1 Pate Fermentee recipe

1 ¼ cups (9.9 oz) water

¼ cup (.4 oz) malt syrup

3 ¾ cup (19.3 oz) high-gluten flour (or sub unbleached bread flour)

2 ½ tsp (.3 oz) instant yeast

2 tsp (.4 oz) salt

2 tbls (1 oz) butter at room temperature

Coarse salt for garnish

 

For the lye solution:

 

3 cups (24 oz) boiling water

3 tbls (1.25 oz) food grade lye

1 cup (8 oz) cold water

 

Make the pate fermentee two days before you intend baking the pretzels.

 

Put the water, pate fermentee and malt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for 1 minute on low speed to break up the pate fermentee. You can also first break the pate fermentee up with a scraper. Combine the flour and yeast and add to the pate fermentee, then add the salt and butter.  Mix for 10 minutes on low speed, making sure to scrape down and flip the dough over in the bowl 3 times. The dough should be very strong and stiff.

 

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide it into six 5-ounce pieces. Preshape the pieces tightly into 5 oblongs. Place the pieces on the work surface, seam side up, and cover. Allow the dough to rest for five minutes.

 

Put a piece of dough on a clean, dry surface with no flour and flatten it. Fold the dough over in thirds, making sure to tighten well. Roll each piece out to 30 inches. If the dough becomes too elastic to roll to the full length, stop rolling to allow the dough to rest and shape the other portions part of the way, then go back to the first one you started to roll and finish them all in consecutive order. Put a 30-inch rope on a work surface and form it into an upside-down U. Take each end piece and cross them over in the middle twice. Then take each end and bring it to the top inside of the U. Make sure to press the ends in well; if needed you can moisten the ends with water. Place the shaped pretzel on a baking tray lined with parchment paper that is sprayed with oil. Finish shaping all the pieces and place on the tray.

 

Refrigerate the pretzels, uncovered, overnight (a minimum of 8 hours) so they form a skin.

 

To bake the pretzels, preheat the oven to 475F. Remove the pretzels from the refrigerator 15 minutes before baking. Line a baking tray with oiled parchment paper.

 

Prepare the lye solution. Cover your work surface with newspapers. Pour the boiling water into a stainless steel bowl on your work surface. Wearing gloves, measure the lye into another stainless steel bowl. Add to the bowl of water, then stir with a metal whist until the lye is dissolved. Add the cold water and stir. Let this sit for ten minutes. Wearing gloves, dip 2 pretzels in the solution for 15 seconds, then take each one out with both hands, let the solution drip off, and place the pretzels on the prepared tray. Repeat this process with the rest of the pretzels. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

 

(Note: I have never been able to do this two at a time. If you can only handle one at a time, that’s just fine)

 

Put the tray in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 450F. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the pretzels are dark brown.

 

Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the pretzels from the tray to a cooling rack.

 

Note: To make different shapes, scale and shape the dough accordingly. Follow dipping and baking instructions as above: For rolls, 2 ounces each. For stuffed sticks, 4 ounces each (5 inches long). For subs, 5 ounces each (5 inches long)

 


 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 January 2013 at 13:54
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Sure, I remember Dan. And if I were able to help, well, isn't that the point of these forums?
 
Why don't you share some of your bread-baking experiences with the group? I'm sure that will help fill in any blanks, or provide other ways of achieving the goal.



   I'm still firmly in the apprenticeship phase.  I'll speak up if I come across anything as I read it.

   again...thanks!

  Dan
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 January 2013 at 10:43
Brook,
 
I was wondering if you would be planning a chapter on STUFFED BREADS, for example; ethnic stuffed breads to be exact; those gorgeous breads filled with olives, sausage, ham, hard boiled egg and even --- sweet tooth fillings, RAISIN BREAD FOR EXAMPLE ...
 
Look forward to hearing from other members too ...
 
Thanks in advance.
Margi.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 January 2013 at 20:51
Sure, I remember Dan. And if I were able to help, well, isn't that the point of these forums?
 
Why don't you share some of your bread-baking experiences with the group? I'm sure that will help fill in any blanks, or provide other ways of achieving the goal.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 January 2013 at 18:25
   Oh my word, Brook! 

  I had missed this post until today.  I have only finished part one so far, I just wanted to take some time to tell you thank you for posting this.  You're far too humble a man...this is really quite good instruction...very nicely written too.  I don't know if you remember, but you are primarily responsible for my deeper adventures in bread making.  I plan to read the rest of your installments giving each time to digest.

   Thanks again!

 Dan
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 January 2013 at 15:56
Brook,
 
Firstly, thanks so much for all the labor taken to create such a Bread Encyclopedia for all of here at FOTW ...
 
I truly have enjoyed following the chapters ...
 
Kindest regards,
Marge.
 
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