Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bread Baking Babes

One of my favorite bloggers, Ilva of Lucullian delights, inspired me to bake this month BBB's choice, a five-grain bread with walnuts. As a professional baker, I know how important it is to be part of a community of bakers to learn from one another, and I consider myself very lucky to belong to the Bay Area's Baker's Dozen group. I decided that the BBB would be a nice group to to be part of as well (I like the parallel with Ilva too, she lives in Italy but is from the Sweden, I live in the States but am Italian). With this in mind I considered a sign that I own a copy of The Italian Baker by Carol Field, and when I went to measure the ingredients I saw another sign when I realized that I had exactly 300 grams of walnuts like the recipe asks for. I am not sure how I should have interpreted the sign of a ruined recipe by spilled coffee while I was taking pictures, maybe as a hint against sloppiness?

Tanna is the kitchen of the month, and chose the bread, an interesting five-grain bread with walnuts.

Without farther ado, here is my Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Noci story.

Since the coffee spill ruined Tanna's instruction I decided to use the book's version following it step by step, or close (see below). Since I realized I had barely enough dry active yeast for only half the recipe I scaled it down. My yeast had been in the fridge but it was past its expiration date so I made a sponge with 1/8 cup of water, 1 1/2 tsp of dry active yeast, a pinch of sugar and 1/4 cup of the flour mixture to get it going. I let the sponge activate nicely for half an hour and made more coffee. When the sponge showed signs of life I added the rest of the water, the flour-nut mixture and mixed everything in my kitchen aid mixer. After one minute I realized that the dough looked scarily wet so I checked the recipe again and discovered that I had forgotten the a/p flour and I quickly blamed the lack of caffeine (see above). I added the missing flour and let me mixer do its job. I had to add a little bit more flour, just enough to get the dough to gather around the hook.

I then used a method I was taught by my bread mentor to develop more gluten in the dough, the stretch method. I let the dough rest 5 minutes then I stretched and folded it like a letter. I did this once more and then let the dough double in size, which it did very nicely, but it took more than an hour, close to two.

I shaped 600 grams of the dough into two mini loaves and the rest was shaped in min-rolls.

I kind of rushed the raising because I needed to get out of the house and that was a mistake, the bread wasn't ready when I baked it.

In all it was a nice recipe and it tasted very good, especially with some freshly made blood orange marmalade. It is a dense bread with a nice flavor. I would add more salt to the dough, make it wetter next time, and try to let it raise more. What surprised me was the color of the crust, it looks rather dull, not much caramelization. It a keeper.

Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Noci
Five-Grain Bread with Walnuts
adapted from Carol Field

Makes 2 9 X 5-inch loaves
1 1/4cups (300 grams) walnut pieces
3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 1/2 small cakes (27 grams) fresh
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups water, room temperature
3 3/4 cups (500 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) oat flour or finely ground rolled oats
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) rye flour
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (125 grams) whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup (125 grams) brown rice flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 grams) salt

Toast the walnuts for 10 minutes in a 400° F oven; then chop in a food processor fitted with the steel blade or with a sharp knife to the size of a fat rice kernel. Do not grind them finely.
Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water. Mix the walnuts, flours, and salt and stir 2 cups at a time into the dissolved yeast, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The dough should come together easily. Knead on a floured surface, sprinkling with additional all-purpose flour as needed, until firm, elastic, and no longer sticky, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir the yeast into the warm water in a mixer bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cups water. Stir in the flours, walnuts, and salt with the paddle. Mix until the dough comes together. Change to the dough hook and knead for 3 to 4 minutes at medium speed until firm and elastic but still slightly sticky. Finish kneading briefly by hand on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.
Make sure your food processor can handle the volume of this dough. Even when done in 2 batches, there will be 4 cups flour to be processed. Stir the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Place the flours and salt in a food processor fitted with the dough blade and process with several pulses to sift. With the machine running, pour the dissolved yeast and 3 cups cold water through the feed tube as quickly as the flours can absorb it; process until the dough gathers into a ball. Process 40 seconds longer to knead. Knead in the walnuts by hand on a surface floured with all-purpose flour.

First Rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Shaping and Second Rise. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. The dough should be moist, firm, and noticeably elastic, if slightly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into an oval loaf to fit a loaf pan. Place the loaves in the oiled pans (preferably glass), cover with a heavy towel, and let rise until truly doubled and fully above the tops of the pans, 1 to 1 ¼ hours.
Baking. Heat oven to 400° F. Slash a pattern in the top of the loaves. One baker in Milan cuts the shape of a stalk of grain on the top; elsewhere bakers make 3 parallel slashes. Bake 40 to 45 minutes; bake the last 5 to 10 minutes out of the pans on a baking stone or baking sheet to brown the bottoms and sides. Cool completely on a rack.



MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ahh Laura you are a baker after my own heart: make bread and fit it in my schedule. The crust didn't show much caramelization, was that no sugar? The oven temp & time seemed adequate. It seems to me that this seems like a simple recipe on the surface with hidden challenges.

Thanks so much for baking with us! I'll be sending you a buddy badge shortly.

Lien said...

Wonderful loaves Laura! Yeah sometimes you get that you have to leave and the bread ain't ready. I sometimes shove the loaves in plastic in the fridge if I'm not away too long. But your loaves look good anyway! Thanks for baking with us.

Laura said...

Hi Lien, after reading your profile I realized how much we have in common! Age, children of the same age and love in music (I am a big Zucchero's fan!). I should have put the bread in the fridge to slow the raising, next time.


Natashya said...

I love the cute little rolls!
Definitely all signs point to the fact that you should be baking this bread. Perhaps they universe was telling you that coffee might taste good in this bread, something to try for next time!
Thanks for baking with us this month.

Baking Soda said...

Hi Laura, welcome to the club!
Not sure why the crust wouldn't brown as much, it happens to me sometimes and I still haven't figured it out.
Your bread sure looks yummy!

Jude said...

I did the stretch method, too. Works like a charm for this type of grainy bread :)


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