The Zen of Japanese Cottony Milk Bread Final Frontier

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Fellow blogger Hsiaohui posted that he makes this bread with a special Japanese flour called Casarine. He wrote that in Asia it also was called the " tearful flours" as anyone who eats the bread made with this flour would be tearful for tasting such delicious bread. It has a 11.7% protein (Note from Rose: which is 0.3% lower than my combination of bread flour and cake flour) and is made by extracting the very heart of a wheat. I lost no time in ordering it from bakingwarehouse in Hong Kong and it arrived two weeks later. The very next day I whipped up (or should I say kneaded up) a batch of dough, shaping it into a single loaf because we have been so enjoying it for ham sandwiches and as toast rather than buns. The resulting bread was a more beautiful white color than the combination of bread and cake flour. The loaf was the exact same height and shape and the crumb equally soft and chewy. And the flavor was not noticeably different enough to justify shipping flour across the Pacific and the US. But if I were living in Hong Kong this is the flour I would use for this bread.

Babka Rescue!

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Have you ever heard me say YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS?! Well I do say this often to Woody as it seems to happen on a regular basis. Even when we've perfected a recipe, there is often a surprise thought or occurrence that turns out to be a silver lining of improvement. But this is the first time I've said this on a posting. Here's what happened to prompt it and here's a case for weighing ingredients: I was distracted because I was making two recipes at the same time, each using different amounts of lightly beaten egg. When adding the egg to the babka dough, by mistake I added 25 grams instead of 75 grams. After the dough was kneaded for 7 minutes it just about cleaned the sides of the bowl instead of what I had written which was that it wouldn't and that it would be very sticky. I said to Woody that I would have to make the change on the recipe and he responded with: "Maybe you mis-measured something." Since I always weigh the finished dough there was the answer: 50 grams short. How to add that egg into an already smoothly developed dough? First I tried continuing with the dough hook and the dough just sloshed around with the egg as if to say you are not welcome in here. I tried squishing it in with my fingers to no avail. So in an act of determined desperation, I dumped it all into a food processor and processed it for about 15 seconds, after which the egg had integrated perfectly into the dough and was even easier than usual to scrape into the rising container. The finished babka was perfect. We joked about how this could become a new technique. But the thinking behind the desperate act was that many bread doughs mix very well in a food processor, however, I've never had to try adding egg after the dough was already developed. I wanted to share this with all of you should this ever happen!

The Zen of Japanese Cottony Milk Bread Revisited

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Here are the results of my final experiment using an expandable pan so that it would be 6-1/2 cups (between the standard 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch and the 9 x 5 inch pans). First, in response to a question about the pan, the one I purchased in London is the eifa brand. the instructions are in Italian, German, French, and English so I don't know which country it comes from but it also says a product of MEWA. Maybe eifa refers to its ability to extend length-wise. It seemed to be just the right size as there was room between each dough log to expand a little sideways to keep the center logs from pressing up against the two end logs, which makes them narrower. Since I was experimenting, I made one log a little larger so it rose more. When I am testing recipes I always try to think about what I might not have thought of and here it is: The problem with the expandable pan, is that when unmolding, although the paper clamps kept it from expanding lengthwise, they didn't keep it from collapsing so it squished in the hot squishy bread (see the lower right side of the baked bread). Woody offered to make a series of holes that we could bolt in place but I declined. I'm going back to my non-stick USA 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch 6 cup pan.

The Zen of Japanese Cottony Milk Bread

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It's been 30 years since I first experienced it on a visit to Japan--the softest and most unusual bread. I never hoped to recreate in my own country and kitchen but then it appeared on the web. Of course I had to try it. And it became an obsession. In one week, I produced 7 different loaves and now finally my ultimate version. It is soft, slightly chewy, and captures the exact flavor of the aroma of bread baking in the oven. When toasted it becomes amazingly light and only a little chewy. This soft white bread flies in the face of artisan breads having no whole grain, no long rise, and the addition of sugar. If only I had a picture of a young boy named Oliver, tasting this bread for the first time, closing his eyes in rhapsody, and hugging his mother to thank her for telling me that he loves white bread. Marissa tells me that by the time we came back from dinner, Oliver and his sister Cate had managed to polish off all but 2 inches of the bread. When I saw a picture of this bread on line, I noticed immediately that the crumb was similar to the one of my memory. And there is a delightful video. The voice of this Vietnamese baker, Linh Trang, is nothing short of enchanting. And her instructions couldn't be more explicit and easy to follow. The recipe on her blog RicenFlour is given only in grams, which is the way I bake as well, and ensures successful replication. I have made a few modifications. Because the exact size of the loaf pan is not readily available, I prefer a 8-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch 6 cup loaf pan. It offers the best height for the loaf but the 9 by 5 inch 7 cup loaf pan offers more support to the risen loaf giving it a better shape on the outside.

BAKED IN AN 8-1/2 BY 4-1/2 INCH LOAF PAN

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BAKED IN AN 9 BY 5 INCH LOAF PAN

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I used King Arthur Bread flour which is 12.7% protein, whereas the original used 12% protein flour. So for one loaf, I decreased the amount of bread flour to 238 grams and increased the cake flour to 62 grams. This made it whiter in color and more delicious in flavor as bleached cake flour has a floral quality. I increased the yeast to 9 grams, so that it would rise within the parameter of about 1 hour for the first rise and shaped rise. A larger amount of yeast is needed than for most breads due to the addition of the sugar. When shaping the logs, I only rolled them out one time as it was difficult to keep the shape well even when rested between two rollings. I found it had no effect on the texture of the bread. Before dividing the bread into 4 pieces, instead of kneading it, I pressed it down to eliminate air bubbles. I found that kneading it made it harder to shape into even logs. In the 6 cup loaf pan, the dough rose to 3/4 inch from the top of the pan at its highest point when ready to bake. (The baked loaf was 4 inches high at its highest point.) Instead of an egg wash, which together with the sugar in the recipe caused it to brown too much, I sprayed the risen loaf with water and added ice cubes to a preheated cast iron pan on the floor of the oven, after placing the bread on the lower rack. I also tried using 100% unbleached all-purpose flour and shaped it as a single loaf. You can see from this photo that the texture is quite different and less fluffy than the one with bread + cake flour shaped into 4 separate sections. The flavor was not nearly as delicious using all-purpose flour.

ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR ON THE LEFT, BREAD FLOUR + CAKE FLOUR ON THE RIGHT

I love Linh's technique of brushing the baked loaf with heavy cream instead of the usual butter. And I love how she describes it as giving a glow to the crust. It also softens the crust, which perfectly complements the soft interior. I am offering all these details because I want you to succeed in making this extraordinary loaf. I'll be making it on a regular basis, after I deplete the large supply now in my freezer. Please also see The Zen of Japanese Cottony Milk Bread Revisited. and for a single loaf please see The Zen of Japanese Cottony Milk Bread Final Frontier.

A Grind Above

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It's really quite amazing now-a-days how home bakers can turn out extraordinary loaves of bread often equal and sometimes even superior to those found in bakeries. This is due, in good part, to the availability of high quality flour that is fairly standardized so that if following a good recipe, and weighing or measuring carefully, the amount of liquid does not need to vary. I have recently discovered something pretty mind blowing, however, about artisan bread and why the complexity of flavor can far exceed the loaves I've been baking. My much esteemed bread baking colleague, Peter Reinhart, told me about a very special flour from Anson Mills that he said was able to absorb more water than the usual flours. I lost no time in contacting Anson Mills and was thrilled when Glenn Roberts offered to send me samples. When I asked him about the percentage of protein his guess was 12-13%. He explained that the flour is hand scrubbed so that the germ is still present and referred to as "green flour." To keep the germ alive he advised me to put the flour in the freezer as soon as it arrived and that it would keep for 6 months. When the flour arrived, I was amazed by the aroma and almost clay-like color. I baked both my standard hearth bread boule and the ubiquitous "no knead bread." It was impressive how, when mixing the dough, the flour quickly and evenly absorbed the water. Both loaves had beautiful crumb and structure though they were significantly lower in height than usual. The basic hearth bread, which is normally 7-1/2 by 4" high was 9" by 3". The crumb was darker. And the flavor fantastic. The most impressive result was that the no knead bread, which so many people including me complain about having a pasty crumb and somewhat one dimensional flavor, was moist but not at all pasty and absolutely delicious. i never want to make it again without this flour! Here is some fascinating information of a more technical nature that Glenn Roberts shared: We occasionally develop wild yeast and inoculate liquid levain prep within a mature ready to harvest landrace wheat field by pre-misting the whole wheat plants with water in a small area then setting the levain prep in the center of the misted plants since the populations/ratios of these yeast strains are nearly extinct here in the USA due to pervasive modern wheat that supports a different yeast population spectrum. The baking results are extraordinary but the process is not yet reliable. We've lost much in this sphere over the last century. Our current field and bread lab research at our own research farm in Hopkins, SC, Clemson University Organic Research Farm in Charleston and at the WSU Bread Lab in Mt. Vernon, WA, involves Polycrop Flours where we grow many classes of plants interspersed with wheat plants in the ancient ways of the Fertile Crescent using native fertility. We harvest these together, thresh them together, then mill them together. These flours are very aromatic and flavorful and, because they contain cereals, legumes, oil seeds and more, very intriguing with regard to baking characteristics and flavor profile in finished breads. If you are interested in trying out some of the Anson Mills fresh cold milled organic heirloom flours, they offer 2# and 10# retail bags on their site. The one that I used was the French Mediterranean White Bread Flour. I also love their cornmeal. For bulk wholesale orders click on this link and click on the wholesale tab.

How I Became a Bread Baker

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THE FIRST OLIVE BREAD MADE WITH THE BAGULEY STARTER

It was many years ago, on a visit to San Francisco, that my dear friend Flo Braker invited me to lunch at Scalla's in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, to meet pastry chef and bread baker Kurtis Baguley. His signature dessert, the Bostini (which I featured in Rose's Heavenly Cakes) was based on my chiffon cake from The Cake Bible so Flo thought it would be fun for us to meet. We started with the bread basket, laden with so many fabulous breads I don't even remember what was for lunch. My favorite of the breads was the olive bread. Not only did Kurtis give me the recipe, he also gave me some starter to take home. It was so active it burst through the zipseal bag in the airplane. I didn't understand starters in those days, so though I fed it with flour and water occasionally, it was not enough. Eventually I realized that although it wasn't moldy, it was no longer viable to raise bread. It was Kurtis's olive bread that made me determined to delve into the mysteries of bread baking. And the recipe was included in The Bread Bible, using a biga as the starter so that everyone, even without having a sour dough starter, could enjoy experiencing this bread. (A biga is an easy to make mixture of flour, water, and a minute amount of yeast that is allowed to sit for about three days to develop flavor.) Over the years I have kept in touch with chef Baguley and was delighted to discover, a few weeks ago, that he has finally opened his dream bakery, Pane D Or, in Groveland, Florida. He also sells his breads in farmers markets in the area. Even if you don't live in Florida, I encourage you to check out the beautiful breads and information about bread baking on his site. Note:The above photo has been in my kitchen since I made the bread. It was way before digital technology so I had to photo the photo to post it here!

Interesting Article on Bread

If you speak Spanish you will enjoy the original of this piece for which I was interviewed recently in the original Spanish publication El Pais Semanal.If, like me, you require a translation, here it is thanks to google translate--imperfect but still of value. But click on the Spanish version first to see a gorgeous photo of my "Stud Muffin" bread. It is available in Internet forums, is passed between coworkers, there are even who makes home this matrix of yeast and bacteria. Sourdough traffic grows in Spain and makes the heat of an atavistic practice today charged new meanings : artisanal bread making . A rising phenomenon that originated in the engine and amateur world, although the industry has also sought to take advantage of baker jerk . Ibán Yarza , referent and pioneer of this mixer community knows its evolution: "Four years ago you were a geek . If you wore a braid to a dinner at a friend's house I looked like a fool for having it ferment for 24 hours when you could have bought in China below. Now has prestige . It has grown from a hobby to a fashion like cupcakes , but other grounds . Which is good and evil at the same time . " Yarza argues , without false modesty , that the chapters of most watched cooking show Robin Food ( ETB) in which it participates are dedicated to bread. But the proof that there is great interest and market is that publishers catalogs start filling meal . In 2010, Yarza translated Handmade ( Editorial El Universal Reader ) , Dan Lepard teacher , and in 2013 , Bread ( Books with Miga ) , by Jeffrey Hamelman . That same year the Basque published his own volume , Homemade bread ( Larousse ), which has already sold 30,000 copies . Now RBA launches Spanish La Bible bread, encyclopedic cookbook Rose Levy that "it is invaluable for both amateur and professional ," according to Goodreads , the community of the world 's largest readers. Javier Brand started making loaves at home seven years ago " like someone throws a pie to cook ." From the first slice was surprised " by the taste of bread that had that bread" and opened four months ago in Madrid artisan oven Panic. Besides selling offers courses to non-professional : from housewives willing to improve their technique to chemical engineers fascinated by the metabolic process . No single demographic profile , but a universal pattern : who engages test . Social networks have functioned as a kind of digital dining yeast accelerating this trend and learning their fans What does that have no bread , for example , lentils or emperor ? Rose Levy believes that appeals to the most primitive in man : humility media , hands in direct contact with the mixture during mixing and, above all , " the magical dimension " of yeast. "We work with a living organism in a latent state that can awaken and nourish so grow and expand to provide flavor and texture. Therein lies its great appeal , "said the cook. Yarza ensures that even the most experimental chefs are mesmerized . " The bread requires technical , but it has something that no kitchen . Fry an onion and undergoes a transformation but a metamorphosis. Fermentation is a real spectacle vital , "explains Yarza . Levy goes a step further and even talk of his creational symbolism. In ancient Egypt , for example , the word used to describe the bread meant life . "It seems no coincidence that at the wine - another staple that precisely this process arises from chemical - represent the body and blood of Christ in the Catholic liturgy." In Judaism the matzo - unleavened bread used - to commemorate the exodus , and the Puritans represent the divine purity by the so-called white bread of God. American author collected in The Bread Bible the story of a French diplomat that underpins this theory. During his years of confinement in a Nazi concentration camp , he and his companions evoked with great detail the magnificent feasts and typical of their respective hometowns dishes to keep your spirits. The harder the situation became more simple recipes that were needed to invoke recite happy times , until the end of their captivity, and to ward off despair, a unique food starred his conversations : the bread "and its sublime aroma, crumbs or even the snap of its bark . " But aside from anthropological concerns , the rise of homemade bread in Spain responds to more prosaic reasons. The first is that , in these times of cuts , an alternative economic , recreational practice that generates immediate gratification. To make a baguette , for example, only needs a furnace , water, yeast , a pinch of salt, about 40 cents of flour and the secret ingredient, as Brand: the chair. " Waiting is fundamental. The slower the process more flavors develop , "says Baker . Yarza was devoted to the bakery after becoming unemployed and occasionally teaches unemployed . " Some have three weeks without leaving home because they have to make a paste and cool plan , suddenly the hollow bread covers them they did not expect ." Furthermore, according to the expert , thanks to online communities and social networks the learning curve of new panófilos " has exploded as a space rocket ." The author acknowledges feel some envy. " People hang pictures of her fifth pan -stopping and I remember that even my 200th bar got do something respectable . But in 2005 who was going to talk about how long you had to have the dough in the fridge , "he jokes . From bread forum , created in 2010 to the Facebook page Friends of homemade bread, with more than 5,000 followers , through groups of Instagram or pages Webosfritos , the Network has functioned as a sort of digital yeast expanding this gastronomic trend by Spain . Fans are exchanged tricks , answer questions, and delivered to endless discussions about whether the longevity of the sourdough determines its quality. "It's like people , why be older 're better or smarter ? Well, not always , " Brand sentence . Levy For this return to artisanal bread is part of a much wider power : the growing concern about the quality and sustainability of food in developed countries. Increasingly consumers want authentic products so tired of prefabricated and packaged food . In this context , home baked connects with local shops and seasonal cuisine. The preparation of homemade bread is part of a wider current: one that seeks sustainable , quality food "In an increasingly homogeneous world , bread is still a great way to express individuality " delves U.S. . Front and standard bar mold , that the same can be found in a table that bar Chicago Albacete , many panarras themselves - as the native - looking claim while researching recipes from around the world . Although Mark Levy and warn about the thin line between pretentious ambition . "Just that once happened with gin and tonics , breads now check them all : nuts, carrot , pistachio . It's the easiest way to hide that you do not know anything , "says Baker . Collateral damage have gone from " raruna hobby " to fashion Speed 2.0 . Yarza fears that something as simple and accessible instrument be a snob . "I worry that the same thing happen that happened with wine . An elite that says ' we are the ones who know who you are and you buy the muffin in the Mercadona " arises. The benefits of becoming a trend : the bread universe long ninguneado , best values , and the emergence of the erotic ( new) baker. " Yes , pretty binds " says laughs. Making bread with hands also represents a paradigm shift in the consumer society. According Yarza , many people are discovering that spend Sunday with friends in the kitchen and preparing your own food is quality of life: "There is a return to the simple pleasures in them and eating is very important." four keys sourdough "It is a term that refers to the masses of boot created from wild yeast (Saccharomyces exiguus ) . Can be kept alive for long periods of time, even centuries , and its ingredients are organic rye flour or whole wheat flour and pandera mineral water " , says Rose Levy in The Bread Bible (RBA ) . Getting Started The range of courses and classes is vast and varied . Since the six-week cycles of Babette 's Kitchen ( www.lacocinadebabette.com ) in Madrid , to informative workshops on marriage or decoration Turris and Xavier Barriga ( www.xavierbarriga.com ) in Barcelona , passing days With Galician moita crumb ( conmoitamiga.org ) . A hand or machine Kneading is the process that arouses more curiosity and respect among beginners . That's why many opt for bakery use . Rose Levy For both options have pros and cons. " With the manual method is very easy to go with the meal , but the machines tend to heat the mass increasing faster than desired volume ." myths The Iban Yarza specialist ensures that the bread made with sourdough is not necessarily better than the classical containing yeast. "It depends on the recipe and the result that we pursue . The only good bread is dense and acid. A Burgos cheese may be delicious but much softer than afuega'l pitu . Quality is doing things right .

Freakishly Good Bread

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This is a 'no knead' bread but it is not by any stretch a 'no stretch' bread and therein lies the difference. This impressive loaf is the "Overnight White Bread" from Ken Forkish's book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. It boasts a crunchy/chewy crust, full flavor, and open crumb without the pastiness of the no knead bread and yet it's proportion of ingredients is nearly identical, the only difference being half the yeast. Analyzing why two breads with the same hydration and ingredients would be so different I concluded that it had to be the way in which the Overnight White Bread is manipulated. Whereas the No Knead Bread is mixed by hand and then left to rise until shaping, the Overnight White Bread is stretched and folded several times. This technique enables the bread to maintain its gas bubbles by strengthening it's structure and changes the way in which the bread ferments. One would think that half the yeast would result in a slower rise but, in fact, the suggested rising time is 10 to 12 hours compared to the 18 hours of the no knead bread. The informational and instructional writing in this book is a brilliant model of clarity. I was so deeply impressed I looked forward to the day when I might meet the author. The opportunity arose at the International Association of Culinary Professional's awards ceremony in San Francisco where Forkish won the best baking book. In a room filled with people, by some miracle I found him. He smiled, reached out his hand, and although it pained me to do so, in good conscience I explained that I had a very bad cold and didn't want him to catch it. His eyes widened in horror and he physically recoiled as I tried to tell him how much I admired his work.

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The following month, fully recovered, I once again encountered Forkish at the Beard Awards Chef's night. I went over to congratulate him hand extended but though he looked happy (he had won best baking book at the ceremony the night before) he also looked spooked. I joked that I no longer had a cold but he actually backed away running to the bar and saying: "I need a drink." I felt torn between hurt and disappointment and then I remembered Ayn Rand's book Atlas Shrugged, in which one of the central characters stated that he never wanted to meet the artist of a work he admired, as it was always a disappointment. In my personal experience that has never been the case until now. But it won't stop me from baking his bread and it shouldn't stop you from buying his wonderful book. Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and PizzaNote re the Emile Henri Bread Cloche: I actually prefer this ceramic bread baker to the cast iron Dutch oven for baking this bread as the dough can be inverted or lifted easily onto the preheated base and the preheated dome set on top. Instead of having to unmold it by inverting a heavy hot pot the dome can simply be lifted off. Emile Henry Red Bread ClocheNote re hand shaking: This tradition is possibly the worst possible custom of any culture. While bowing may be damaging to a bad back, nothing beats hand to hand contact for contagion, plus thoughtlessly strong hand shakers can near cripple a smaller and especially an arthritic hand. The gentlest and most beautiful salutation I know of is the Indian custom of putting ones hands together palm to palm, fingers pointing straight up, while saying Namaste (I salute the God within you.)

Baking Bread in Heat Waves

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Tomorrow's August and if it's as hot or hotter than July has been how are you going to feel justified heating up the whole house in order to have home-made bread for your height of the season tomato sandwiches or BLT's? I've been meaning to try this technique for years and this current intense heat-wave finally spurred me into action. I was stunned and delighted by how easy it was to transition from indoor oven to outdoor gas grill. I have a Weber Summit with 4 burners which makes it possible to turn off the two center burners to avoid blackening the bottom of the bread. I'm reasonably sure that this method can be adapted to any 4 burner gas grill but have my doubts about the charcoal grill as it's close to impossible to get hot enough to make this bread effectively. Here's the basic method using my adaptation of the "No Knead Bread" Here's the link to the recipe if you haven't already printed or saved it. Use heavy duty pot holders, preferably mitten-type that protect your lower arms. Place the covered cast iron Dutch oven on the grill racks and preheat it along with the grill for 20 minutes. The grill will be about 550˚F/285˚C after 10 minutes but the Dutch oven requires an additional 10 minutes. Set a trivet or heavy duty rack alongside the grill. Remove the pot lid (I set it back on the grill). Transfer the Dutch oven to the trivet and close the grill. Allow the Dutch oven to sit for about 1 minute to cool slightly. (I checked with my infra-red thermometer and it was 475˚F/245˚C.) Transfer the bread to the Dutch oven, cover with the lid, and set it back on the grill racks in the center of the grill. Work quickly so the heat does not escape or dissipate. Turn off the two center burners. Bake as usual for 20 minutes. (My grill with center burners off maintained 450˚F/230˚C during this 20 minute period.) Remove the pot lid and continue baking for 10 minutes. (The grill was now 440˚F/225˚C.) Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and set it directly onto the grill racks in the center of the grill. Continue baking for 10 minutes. Turn off the burners and allow the bread to sit in the covered grill for 10 minutes. This basic technique will probably work with a charcoal grill for breads that require lower temperatures. If you've already tried baking bread in your grill do report back!

The Holiest Bread Ever

One of my greatest bread challenges in bread baking was achieving the wonderful open-holed crumb of artisan bread such as it appears on Maggie Glezer’s magnificent bread book “Artisan Baking Across America.” I tried everything until in desperation I decided to call Maggie herself. It was a ‘cold call’ as we had never met and I felt mighty shy about it, so when Maggie answered and said she’d call me right back I feared she was just being polite and didn’t have time to talk to me. Wrong! As wrong as I could paranoidically have been. The adorable Maggie called back in moments to tell me that she just had to tell her mother that I had called! I couldn’t stop giggling with relief and amusement. Essentially Maggie explained the importance of hydration (high water content), keeping the dough very sticky, and maintaining the bubbles through gentle handling when shaping. I went on to make many of Maggie’s wonderful recipes from the book and did succeed in achieving those elusive holes. Recently fellow blogger Beth Glixon reported making and enjoying the Ciabatta from Maggie’s book so I had to try it. When I cut into it I was astonished by the size and shape of the numerous holes which were coated with the slight shine indicative of well-fermented artisan bread. I ran right into the bedroom to show my husband. His hopeful response: “Oh! is that the no knead bread?” But these holes are even more magnificent and the crumb lacks that slight pastiness of the no knead bread.

Granted it’s a little more work but not much. Here are my testing notes: When making the biga for the pre-ferment, stir with the water/yeast mixture before measuring out the ½ teaspoon as most of the yeast settles to the bottom. After 14 hours of no activity in the biga I added another ½ teaspoon which I had saved from the bottom and it worked perfectly. Also, I found it had started to receded after increasing in volume by 2 ½ times rather than 3. In the spirit of full disclosure, I did use 100% Better for Bread flour instead of the mixture of Bread Flour/all purpose so it might have been slightly weaker (all the better for the holes though). When the shaped dough is rising on the couche the bottom of the floured cloth pulls moisture from it, causing a fine but brittle crust on the bottom. This makes it risky to pull when it is transferred to the parchment and before dimpling it. If this happens to you it is probably best to just allow it to take its own free form shape which is somewhat rectangular. When dimpling the dough, if you have fingernails that extend past your fingertips, be sure to use a blunt tool such as the rounded end of a wooden spoon handle instead of your fingers. I used my fingers and you’ll see the little dented designs in the top crust. We’re talking perfection here as it didn’t affect the crumb. If you’re dying to make this bread, I’ve already given Maggie’s Fillone recipe on this blog (with permission from Maggie of course) so you’re just going to have to buy the book. But you won’t regret it! By the way, the hard cover edition is very expensive but if you follow the link and scroll down to the bottom you'll see the paperback version which is highly affordable. Artisan Baking Across America: The Breads, The Bakers, The Best Recipes on Amazon.

EUREKA!!!

I have to write about this so I can stop eating it! several months ago I mentioned a fantastic bread I ate in Sweden a few years ago and that it was in an award winning Swedish cookbook in Swedish. A kind blogger from Sweden translated it for me and after spending several hours working it out in a user friendly manner for the semi-professional home baker I finally got to try it. And it is a winner! The challenge to working it out is that, for starters, it requires not only one starter but two--a white wheat starter and a rye starter. Many people don't have any starter so when I post the recipe I'm going to add how to add old bread dough in its place. And for those who do have a starter, I've combined the white and rye starter into one, i.e. equal weight but adding the rye flour to the dough. Also, I'm using my usual old and stiff sourdough starter and instant yeast. It's going to take me a few weeks to post this so it gives you time to purchase some pumpernickel flour (aka coarse rye) or medium rye and maybe get a starter going? It will be worth it.

Tips from Hector on Nurturing Your Sourdough Starter

I've developed my starter at a 75 to 85 oF kitchen, in Hawaii. And as some people experience, the process looks different from how it is described.A warmer environment accelerates the process. I would recommend in this warm case, to follow the instructions for the first week, then do your feeding at shorter time intervals. Ideally, you want to feed when the starter is at its peak activity (the most bubbles, higher, before it deflates). Seems like your starter is now on its peak, so actually, feeding it sooner as you say will be ok, but just in case, I like to let the starter "over activate" during the first week, to get the most yeast growth possible. I've read somewhere that when the ideal temperatures are not possible, the starter will behave differently. I was getting a lot of smell and bubble activity. After 4 weeks, I've kept feeding daily, a few times I will forget and let 2 days pass by which turned my started "really dirty and stinku looking." I am glad I did not give up since the first time I made bread it proved the starter was alive! It is really easier than what we think, and definitely don't get discouraged if things don't look as expected. Having your own birth starter becomes beloved.