"It IS all about the TASTE"
RSS icon Home icon
  • Bread Dough Hydration (Baker’s Percentage)

    One of the key items in gaining a desired crust and crumb is the level of hydration in the dough. The percent of water to the amount of flour is the hydration level or the “Baker’s Percentage”.

    From Wikipedia:

    Baker’s percentage is a baker’s notation method indicating the flour-relative proportion of an ingredient used when making breads, cakes, muffins, and other pastries. It is also referred to as baker’s math, or otherwise contextually indicated by a phrase such as based on flour weight. It is sometimes called formula percentage, a phrase that refers to the sum of a set of bakers’ percentages. Baker’s percentage expresses each ingredient in parts per hundred as a ratio of the ingredient’s mass to the total flour’s mass

    For example, in a recipe that calls for 10 pounds of flour and 5 pounds of water, the corresponding baker’s percentages are 100% for the flour and 50% for the water. Because these percentages are stated with respect to the mass of flour rather than with respect to the mass of all ingredients, the total sum of these percentages always exceeds 100%.

    Flour-based recipes are more precisely conceived as baker’s percentages, and more accurately measured using mass instead of volume. The uncertainty in using volume measurements follows from the fact that flour settles in storage and therefore does not have a constant density.

    I.E. Use a SCALE!, do nothing by cups / tablespoons / pinches….

    Basing on my standard dough recipe, I.E. 500 grams of bread flour, the following can be assumed:

    Water in ml Hydration Texture Notes
    275 55% Stiff:Very firm, dry and satiny; not tacky dense crumb in breads such as bagels, pretzels
    290-325 58-62 Standard:Tacky but not sticky; supple dense closed crumb, in breads such as sandwich bread, rolls, French and other European breads
    325-400 65-80 Rustic:Wet, sticky airy crumb and large, irregular holes, in breads such as ciabatta, focaccia, pizza

    Stiff Doughs:

    Working a stiff dough requires a large amount of strength and as these are so dry, an incredibly long kneed time. I almost always use a stand mixer for this on very low, as anything else tend to burn on the motor or strip the gears. Great for very dense, chewy breads, bagels, pretzels.

    Regular Doughs:

    This dough is a pleasure to kneed, supple, silky, slightly tacky, gives us a good rise, stand up well to slashing, with a small crumb. Think Baguettes, crusty dinner rolls, loaves for sandwich.

    Wet Doughs:

    Very sticky stuff, can not be kneaded, use a stretch and fold. This will yield some of the most interesting boules, loaves, and rolls. Crispy crust, irregular crumb, greate for ciabatta, focaccia, pizza, and my favorite, crusty yeast rolls.

  • Light / Straight Rye Bread

    It’s cool today, so I’m thinking a hearty beef stew or Carbonnade, and a fresh bread.

    Puttering around the kitchen / lab, I find I have almost enough bread flour, so I’ll need to lengthen it with another flour, while whole wheat jumps the front of my mind, there is a bag of rye sitting in front of it. A quick check shows, I also have a fresh bottle of caraway seeds. Sounds like a light rye loaf to me.

    Classic rye bread has various flour ratios, ranging from 25% rye to 50% rye, I’ll go with a 12.5 % rye to bread flour. (It uses all the bread flour, and i’ll not mess with my hydration ratios) Hence a “LIGHT” rye bread.

    From Wikipedia:

    Rye bread is a type of bread made with various proportions of flour from rye grain. It can be light or dark in color, depending on the type of flour used and the addition of coloring agents, and is typically denser than bread made from wheat flour. It is higher in fiber than white bread and is often darker in color and stronger in flavor.

    Pure rye bread contains only rye flour, without any wheat. German-style pumpernickel, a dark, dense, and close-textured loaf, is made from crushed or ground whole rye grains, usually without wheat flour, baked for long periods at low temperature in a covered tin. Rye and wheat flours are often used to produce a rye bread with a lighter texture, color and flavor than pumpernickel. “Light” or “dark” rye flour can be used to make rye bread; the flour is classified according to the amount of bran left in the flour after milling. Caramel or molasses for coloring and caraway seeds are often added to rye bread. In the United States, breads labeled as “rye” nearly always contain caraway unless explicitly labeled as “unseeded.”

    In Canada (especially Montreal), breads labeled as “rye” often have no seeds, whereas breads labeled as “kimmel” are usually rye with caraway seeds. Some unique rye bread recipes include ground spices such as fennel, coriander, aniseed, cardamom, or citrus peel. In addition to caramel and molasses, ingredients such as coffee, cocoa, or toasted bread crumbs are sometimes used for both color and flavor in very dark breads like pumpernickels. The addition of caraway seeds to rye bread is to counter the bloating that can be caused by the high fiber content of rye. Caraway has well-known anti-flatulence properties; however, the association is so long-standing that the flavor combination is now almost inseparable.

    A simple, all-rye bread can be made using a sourdough starter and rye meal; it will not rise as high as a wheat bread, but will be more moist with a substantially longer keeping time. Such bread is often known as “black bread” (Schwarzbrot in German, chyorniy khleb in Russian) from their darker color than wheat breads (enhanced by long baking times, creating Maillard reactions in the crumb).

    A very similar, but darker, bread, German-style pumpernickel, has an even darker color derived from toasted leftover bread and other agents. Due to the density of the bread, the yeast in the starter is used at least as much for the fermentation character in the bread itself as it is for leavening.

    I’ll cheat and use my basic bread dough / baking recipe here.

  • Irish Toasted Cheese

    As I have been working on my bread, and baking almost every day, I find myself with the issue of too much bread.

    I’ve stuffed loaves of Ciabatta into every backpack that has entered the lair, smuggled baguettes into the backseat of every car, and provided bags of rolls to the neighbors.

    Time to start producing some posts to use that abundance.

    As it is almost St. Patrick’s day, I am sure an Irish themed post would be appropriate. But I DETEST corned beef, and do not say that is caused by my not having a special brisket, or having it prepared a special way… (I’ve corned my own briskets …)

    Sooo, Toasted Cheese, Irish toasted cheese… True comfort food. Then again not just “normal” grilled cheese, I hate “white bread” and loth “spreadable cheeses”. (Yes, I am still having intense nicotine cravings.. So pardon my intense distaste for many things..)

    From Wikipedia:

    Uncooked cheese sandwiches simply require assembly of the cheese slices on the bread, along with any additions and condiments.

    A grilled cheese sandwich is assembled and then heated until the bread crisps and the cheese melts, sometimes combined with an additional ingredient such as peppers, tomatoes or onions. Several different methods of heating the sandwich are used, depending on the region and personal preference. Common methods include being cooked on a griddle, grilled, fried in a pan or made in a panini grill or sandwich toaster (this method is more common in the United Kingdom where the sandwiches are normally called “toasted sandwiches” or “toasties”).

    When making grilled cheese on an open griddle or pan, one side is cooked first, then the sandwich is flipped and cooked on the other side. The sandwich is finished when both sides are toasted and the cheese has melted. Butter, oil, or mayonnaise may first be spread on either the bread or the cooking surface in the case of butter and oil. An alternative technique is to toast or grill each half of the sandwich separately, then combine them.

    When using butter best results are achieved at a medium heat. This prevents the milk solids in butter from burning and allows sufficient time for heat to thoroughly penetrate the sandwich and melt the cheese without burning the bread. A crispy golden-brown crust with a melted cheese center is a commonly preferred level of preparedness. Cooking times can vary depending on pan dimensions, ability to control the intensity of the heat source, bread type, cheese variety and overall thickness of pre-cooked sandwich.

    There is only one pan for this, CAST IRON, if one is good, two are better. For this what is needed is two cast iron griddles, or a heavy cast iron skillet and a griddle. Similar to this:

    One Note: These are great heat “batteries”, so when handling, USE KITCHEN MIT’s or POT HOLDERS.. When hot they are branding irons for the unaware..

  • Ciabatta – Revisited

    My last several forays into breads have been less than satisfactory, a combination of being out of practice, old flour, old yeast, and a starter that was “ok” but not great. And as one of my loyal critics have said the posts lacked that “RogueChef” flair.

    Time to get serious..

    I have some “Pâte Fermentée”, or “old dough” from my last experiment in baguettes, as per wikipedia:

    Old dough (pâte fermentée) may be made with yeast or sourdough cultures, and in essence consists of a piece of dough reserved from a previous batch, with more flour and water added to feed the remaining flora. Because this is a piece of old dough, it has the typical ingredient of salt to distinguish it from other pre-ferments. Once old dough had rested for an additional 10 hours of age, the French named it Levain de Chef.

    I’ll use that, along with a new dough in an attempt to sort out a few Ciabatta loaves. I’ll also incorporate a good percentage of whole wheat flour to add some taste and texture.

    Using Paul Hollywood’s dough formulation, I’ll replace 100g of the strong white flour with a whole wheat flour. (Yes, I dare take liberties with his formula, he may take liberties with any of my recipes he cares to.)

    As the weather has take a turn for the cold and nasty, this will make a great accompaniment for a hearty soup or stew.

  • Sourdough Baguettes

    Just a bit of bread porn to start the morn…

    I’ve become a great fan of “The Great British Baking Show”, and the follow on series, “Masterclass”. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, produce some absolute miracles, but then again they are “Masters”.

    It does inspire me to tackle some of the most fiendish of recipes. We all know the ones, the 5 ingredients, intense technique ones. Like Baguettes…

    One item of of this is to use a square cambro to help shape the dough, how to tell a sourdough has risen, and the patience to let it rise …

    As one makes more and more bread, one will start to see the various stages of doughs, and develop a feel for when a dough is mixed, when it has developed gluten, when it has risen, when it is truly done. In the mean time, flour is cheap, cigarettes are expensive, and it will taste good anyway.

    One will need a couche for this…

    From wikipedia:

    Alternatively, a couche (pronounced koosh) or proofing cloth can be used on which to proof dough. Couches are generally made of linen or other coarse material to which the dough will not readily stick and are left unwashed, so as to let flour collect in them, increasing their non-stick properties. A couche is typically used for longer loaves, such as baguettes. The loaves are laid on top of the couche, and folds are placed in the linen to separate and support the loaves.

  • Why Sourdough Bread

    A comment from an associate sparks this missive. In a simple question of, “What is it about you and sourdough? Next thing you’ll be posting about is Sourdough donuts.”

    Close, but not quite.. I’ll get to the donuts later, but first I’ll answer “What is it about you and sourdough?”.

    Why am I on about sourdough, let me count the ways.

    1. Better Nutrition
      1. During the slow rise / autolyse phases more minerals become available
      2. The gluten breaks down, making it more palatable to the gluten intolerant
      3. The long rise pre-digests starches, making the bread more easily digestible
      4. The starter / rise process also lowers insulin response
    2. The long rise allows me to include whole grains for better taste
    3. Acetic acid–which inhibits the growth of mold, is produced in the making of sourdough. So, sourdough naturally preserves itself.
    4. FLAVOR!!
    5. Sourdough improves the texture of whole-grain and fiber-rich products.
    6. The starter imparts a unique flavor to the bread, based on the wild yeast and bacteria that inhabit the starter.
    7. Sourdough preparation is more lengthy (soaking, rising, etc.) “Less time looking for a cigarette”

    Now all that rise time, kneading and stater, seems to put a few people off. But I find it is well worth the time invested..