A Word to the No Kneaders!

i experimented with dough rising temperature to give more leway for baking schedule this past week. after mixing the dough for the no knead bread i set it in the wine cellar which is about 60 degrees F/15 centigrade and left it for 24 hours. the bread actually rose 1/2 inch more than usual.my father was so impressed by this bread he said it would be the first he would try on his return to upstate n.y. but i encouraged him to do the basic hearth bread on the back of the harvest king flour bag first as i could just picture him with the wet sticky no knead dough clinging to his hands! it looks so easy and it is--but not for a beginning bread baker. and i think i understand why now that i've seen my father touch the dough, so i want to share this advice. when working with a super sticky dough, use a light quick touch. (it's just the opposite of nettle where the advice is to grasp it firmly or it stings you. touch the dough firmly and it will stick with a vengeance!) if it still sticks to your fingers use a little flour on the dough or on your hands or both, each time it threatens to stick. alternatively, dip your fingers in water as wet dough will not stick to wet fingers. but you'll need to do this every time you touch the dough.

An Artisan Baker Who Loves the Bread Machine

Me! Yes—I know I know—people are always shocked when I defend bread machines but here’s the full story behind it.When I started writing about bread, many years ago, I wouldn’t even consider using anything but my hands. I remember writing something along the lines of “not for me a bread machine that would rob me of the pleasure of touching the bread.” But several years later, when I started working on “The Bread Bible,” I realized how limited my thinking had been. For one thing, when trying to create a bread such as ciabatta, with large holes, the dough needs to be so sticky it clings to your fingers. My temptation was always to add too much flour which closed up those large holes.

It was my friend Brinna Sands of King Arthur Flour, who encouraged me to try a mixer or bread machine, especially for these sticky doughs. She explained that the advantage of the bread machine over the stand mixer is that the gentle mixing action is most similar to that of the commercial spiral mixer preferred by artisan bread bakers. This is because it incorporates less oxygen into the dough, maintaining more flavor and keeping the dough more golden in color. She also shared the invaluable advice that she often uses the bread machine to raise the dough as well. For making single loaves or bread, the bread machine quickly became my first choice, but it is only recently that I have had the pleasure of using a Zojirushi bread machine. I’ve ridden in a Rolls Royce on several occasions, but my dough never has—that is until now. The Zo, as it’s so fondly nicknamed (partly because people seem to find the full name a tongue twister—it’s pronounced: zo-juh-roo-sh) is often referred to as the Rolls Royce of bread machines. And now I know why. The slow, even whirling action of the two dough blades mixes the dough so gently during the first three minutes that nothing jumps out. After the first three minutes, the speed of the blades increases for kneading, alternating from clockwise to counter clockwise with such perfect motion, scraping the corners and sides becomes all but obsolete. And after kneading, the interior heats and maintains an even 83 to 84 ºF./28 to 29ºC. ideal for raising the bread. The Zo is easily programmable, with three “homemade” settings making it possible to do an automatic degassing (stirring down of the raised bread) followed by a second rise after which I prefer to shape the bread by hand, the artisan way, letting it rise, and then baking it in a conventional oven. However, if I need some plain white bread for my meatballs, I’d sooner mix knead and bake in my new Zo on the quick setting, and have good tasting bread in 45 minutes than to run out to the supermarket and buy an inferior product in almost the same time! Here’s how I program my personal settings for my soft white bread: On Homemade setting 1, I program only a 3 minute knead. After mixing, I allow the dough to rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes. Then I switch to Homemade setting 2 which I’ve programmed for a 13 minute knead, a first rise of 1 1/2 hours, and a second rise of 1 hour. Of course you can adjust this based on which recipe you choose to bake. Simply watch the rise the first time you bake a new bread and if it seems to be ready early reduce the time or if it seems to need more time increase it. Zo that’s the story!

Note re Burger Buns in the Washington Post Today

if you go on line www.washingtonpost.com you will find a great article on hamburgers with my recipe for the buns.most of you know this, but i just want to emphasize the importance of using unbleached flour when making bread. bleaching destroys protein which means less gluten development. the bread made with bleached flour will spread sideways and have less height and inferior crumb structure. this info is in the link called "tips to bake like an expert." also be sure to click on the link "best buns aren't in a bag" hope you all try these for your memorial day barbecue!

Cardboard Pizza Discovery!

my recipe for pizza in the bread bible is, in fact, a no knead bread. i'm simply stir it just until the flour is moistened and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping OR let it sit for 30 minutes and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. it has always been the lightest, most crispy and tender crust i've ever experienced. that is until i decided to try the slow 18 hour room temperature rise with just 1/16 teaspoon of yeast. cardboard crust.i tried it twice and each time noticed that on shaping it had more elasticity.then i tried it with the usual quicker rise and it was exquisitely back to normal. i'm reporting this to you bread bakers out there because it is something that is surprising and interesting--that a long room temperature rise develops more gluten. (no wonder no knead!) useful info!

Baby Hot Pot Bread Revisited

Charmed as I was by the stellar performance of my little Lodge cast-iron 2 quart Dutch oven, I set out to see how it would work with my basic sourdough bread (a 500 gram Dough). I made it exactly as I always do (it's in the Bread Bible) and the finished size of 6 by 3 1/2 inches was exactly the same as before although the shape seemed more perfectly smooth and rounded like a pebble.

After eleven no knead breads the beautifully complex and tangy flavor of this one was a relief from the ordinary. Curious to see if I could arrive at the same lovely open crumb texture of the no knead bread with a sourdough bread I increased the hydration to 80% for my next trial. My husband dubbed the bread an anomaly, which I found to be the perfect descriptor. On shaped rising, it puddled from 6 inches to 8 inches and stuck mercilessly to the heavily floured Silpat while transferring it into the hot pot. The baked bread was pasty on the inside with streaks of flour in the middle where some of the upper crust landed while trying to get it into the pan.

I seem to remember that I may have tried making a sourdough with higher hydration several years ago because it seems very familiar. Some lessons we have to learn more than once. So what I learned from the first experiment is that the hot pot technique works wonderfully with the rustic breads other than the no knead (as I suspected). And that the best way to transfer sour dough bread into the hot pot, after it has risen in the banneton, is to sift flour lightly on the top of the dough, invert it onto the removable bottom of a tart pan with a nonstick surface, or coated with baking spray. It will spread out to about 7 inches, but don't worry. Simply slide it into the hot pot. During baking it will draw in and rise up perfectly. Here's proof of its survival!

Ratio vs. Percentage

Bake Bread Instead!i was browsing the internet yesterday and came across a lively discussion/dispute as to whether the "dough percentage" in my book was a percentage or a ratio. technically, a percentage is based on the total, for example if the total weight of the dough were 100 grams and water used to make it were 40 grams the water would be 40% of the total. but NOT with the traditional baker's percentage in which the percentage of the water (or any other ingredient) is based on the flour whose value is given as 100%. this makes it easier for bakers to scale the ingredients up and down and to create new formulas (recipes). so in this bread which weighs 100 grams (for clarity let's leave out the small weight of yeast and salt) if the water weighs 40 grams and the flour 60 grams, to get the baker's % you divide the weight of the water by the flour and get 66.6% in my listing of the percentage of water i also included residual water, for ex. if i added banana or honey i included the amount of water contained in this ingredient. this information is not necessary to the success of the recipe. it is there to give a sense of what to expect from the texture of the bread. a bread of 66% hydration is average. 72% hydration will have a crumb with larger more open holes, etc. etc. NOW: enough of this nonsense and BAKE THE ___BREAD!!!

Cabbage Leaf Bread

 

I tried the Madeira inspired bread wrapped in cabbage leaves posted on the blog. i decided to use the pugliese from my book. the cabbage leaves started to burn after about 20 minutes so at that point i removed them. they had already made their lovely imprint on the crust which turned a beautiful golden brown. the bread was 2-1/2 inches high rather than the usual 3 inches and had smaller holes due to the absence of steam ( i decided to rely entirely on the moisture of the cabbage leaves). but it was worth the change in texture for the lovely flavor and here's what i did with the bread: i cut the middle section into 4 slices and froze them. i made a pocket in each end and stuffed it with ham and swiss cheese and grilled it in my cuisinarts "griddler"panini maker. WHAT A DINNER!!! the crust was thin and crisp, the crumb spongy and flavorful. have i ever had a better sandwich!!! the basic technique with the cabbage leaves is to use the outer leaves and place them in the oven to soften and become flexible for 3-4 minutes. then use one or two large leaves on which to set the shaped risen bread dough and another one or two on top--be sure to spray the leaves with cooking spray to keep them from sticking to the bread. check the baking bread after 20 minutes and if the cabbage leaves are getting very dark remove them and continue baking the bread until done.

It Was Worth It!!!

The Cubanos were out of this world! What had been less than moist but flavorful 5 day old pork shoulder came alive with a gilding of mayo, the bread and butter pickles from the farmer's market--less sweet than the usual. The slice of ham was a perfect addition and the melted Swiss cheese bound it all together. But it was the bread that was the star--crisp crust, soft flavorful crumb!

The recipe for the bread is in the Bread Bible and all you have to do to make these great rolls is divide it in 6 (5 ounces/144 grams each) and shape them into 6 inch long batons. They only takes 20 minutes to bake. Cool and split in half horizontally. Heaven! For the Cubano, it took 10 minutes on medium high in a panini maker and in a 350 oven wrapped in foil, and weighted between two baking sheets with an oven-proof skillet on top it will take about 20 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Zito's Lard Bread in the Bread Bible

i've been waiting to post this exciting news until the new gold medal harvest king flour launched but now that any day it will be on the shelves i can restrain myself no longer!i was never entirely happy with the recipe as it appeared in the bread bible and finally got to the bottom of it. zito's never actually made this bread--it was made by parisi bakery and they told me the secret. instead of 3 ounces of prosciutto they use a combination of 6 ounces of prosciutto, pepperoni, and spicy hot sopresseta. They also add about 2 tablespoons of lard to the dough. NO WONDER!!! for extra intensity, they wait til the end of the day when all the meats have had a chance to dry more and use the hard dried ends. the reason i was waiting for the terrific new harvest king flour to become available is that it is the perfect protein content for this bread. if it isn't in your market yet and you just can't wait, use half bread flour half unbleached all-purpose. Here's a preview of the new headnote that will appear in the fourth printing of the bread bible, but if you have the book all you need to do is omit the bacon fat brushed on top, add the lard to the dough together with the water, and use the delicious meat combination (cut into pieces 1/4 to 1/2 inch in size).

sadly zito’s is now closed, but the bread can still be purchased at parisi bakery on mott street. they call it by its original name: lard bread. parisi shared another important secret with me that makes all the difference: In addition to the prosciutto, they also add pepperoni and spicy hot sopresseta. they use the dried ends of these sausages for extra flavor intensity. And they also add a little lard to the dough both for flavor and a crisper crust.

Do you have a recipe for 100% whole wheat bread?

I find regular whole wheat flour to be to dense when used as the sole flour for a bread. White whole wheat flour, however, produces a delicously wheaty, crunchy, fine-textured bread. It's especially fragrant when you grind the flour yourself shortly before mixing the dough. Simply replace all the flour in the "Basic Hearth Bread" on page 305 with equal weight white whole wheat flour. The first rise will take about 2 hours intead of 1. (I especially like the "Prairie Gold"hard white spring wheat berries or flour from Wheat Montana: www.wheatmt.com, 877-535-2798.)

Challah

NANCY QUESTION: I followed the traditional challah recipe exactly and caught the mistake to add the 1 tsp yeast to the sponge. After many hours in a very warm environment, the dough hardly rose. I tried it several times with no luck and even switched yeast which is very much alive. There is definitely something wrong with the proportion of ing. I'm an advanced baker and it's gotta be a problem with the recipe. also after making the sponge, do i immediately add the flour blanket or let the sponge sit for an hour first? When the flour blanket is added, can i refrigerate it that way? If so do i taked it out to come to room temp and then mix? I searched the book for answers and was more confused. Please help. I know once its right it will be sooo delicious like so many of the recipes i've made from the cake bible. I'm a diehard baker and have learned more from your books than any other. Thank you.

ROSE REPLY: bread that is rich in egg, butter, and sugar or honey, is very slow to rise. You can speed rising by putting it in a warm environment with hot water in a container, such as an oven without a pilot light but with just the light bulb on. You don't want the temperature to be above 85°. If this doesn't work, it has to be the yeast. I'm sure as an experienced Baker you'll are not killing the yeast with excessive heat. you could also try increasing the yeast. But the recipe as I wrote it works for me. When making a sponge, I always like to put the flour blanket on it as soon as possible. Then I cover the bowl with plastic wrap to keep any part of the sponge that bubbles through the surface of the flour blanket from drying, and refrigerate it.

I do mention in the book temperature the dough should be depending on the different methods of mixing it, for example, if you are using a stand mixer, you want it to be colder when you start mixing then if you're using a bread machine, because the friction of the beater raises the heat of the dough. When using a food processor, I have everything as cold as possible because the movement of the blades creates the most heat.

Please look through the book, exact temperatures are given for all methods. In the coming weeks, I will be offering my new recipe for challah, that incorporates old sourdough starter. It makes braiding dough much easier because of the extra elasticity, and I think the resulting bread is even more delicious. I can't wait to post this recipe -- the picture is so stunning! But I wanted to answer everybody's questions before I posted any new things.

Raisin Pecan Bread

ADAM QUESTION: What am I doing wrong? I have attempted to make your raisin pecan bread at least 4 times. Each time the bread appears to process correctly except the final product does not rise enough making a very heavy bread.

ROSE REPLY: when you say it doesn't rise enough do you mean that it doesn't reach the height of 3 inches listed on the recipe? this is a dense bread but tender due to the ground pecans replacing some of the flour. coincidentall, i just made this bread today. it's one of my favorites. i now add 75 grams of old starter and 1/16th teaspoon more salt and make the dough a day ahead which gives extra flavor. i also bake it on a cushionair baking sheet (you can also use two baking sheets one-on-top of the other--the keep the dough and raisins that rise to the surface from over-browning. if a bread isn't pictured, it is very hard to imagine the texture which is why i gave the finished height. and this is why i'm so thrilled that my next book will have the cakes photographed so everyone can see exactly what they're supposed to look like!

More on Sour Dough Starters

DAVID QUESTION: i'm getting frustrated with the stiff sourdough. its a hit or miss struggle to get it to double consistently after feedings. i had much better luck with the liquid starter. i may throw in the towel and reconvert it back to a liquid one. is there anything wrong with doing this?? and do you have a quick recipe for switching it back to a liquid starter?

ROSE REPLY: it's fine to put the starter back into the liquid state. please follow the directions in the book. if you want it to go faster, since you know the consistency of the liquid starter, you can just add water to reach that consistency.

Sourdough Starters

DAVID QUESTION AND COMMENTS: hi rose, since i wrote the last email i switched over from a liquid starter to a stiff one. the liquid one was going great and when i added the flour to make it a stiff one it looked like that one was expanding like crazy too. but then i threw out all but the 1/4 cup of starter and fed it with the 50g flour/25g water and it just kind of went flat again. i threw out all but 1/4 cup and fed it again the same way and it didn't rise that time either. the next day instead of throwing any out i just added the fresh flour and water and it woke back up! since then i have started by only throwing out half and then a little more than that each feeding so it keeps some strength. That seems to work out ok as i scale down the amount of starter gradually. For fun, i tried expanding the 2 tablespoons of starter you need for the bread and when i leave it at room temp for 6 hours it does rise quite well. does it sound like i am i putting it into the fridge too soon? and has anyone you talked too had this problem when switching from the liquid to stiff starter? sourdough seems to be a struggle of trial and error and its amazing i haven't killed it yet. it's more resilient than most people.

ROSE REPLY: no--haven't heard anyone discuss problems switching over from liquid starter but you happened upon something i think is true--yeast often does better in large quantities of starter. also, as you noticed, it's a live thing and affected by room temp. etc. so if it works for you to leave it out longer bf refrigerating it that's the thing to do!

A Good-Looking Loaf of Bread

DENNY QUESTIONI have been trying to make bread for the last couple weeks and the problem i am having is on the second rise it barely rises out of the bread pan. I use warm water (110 degrees) and set the bread in a warm place to rise. what can i do differant to get it to rise 3-4 inches out of the pan as i recall it doing when my mother made it. thanks denny ROSE REPLY If the bread dough is rising successfully, i.e. doubling in volume, on the first rise, it sounds like the problem is not with the dough but with the amount until you are using. In order to get it to rise three to 4 inches out of the pan after baking, you need the dough to fill the pan about a half-inch from the top.

Popovers Not Popping

RICHARD QUESTIONRose, I have tried your Butter Popover (page 178 of The Bread Bible) recipe three times and for the life of me I cannot get the popovers to rise. They are tasty, for sure, but puffy? No. Your directions have been followed to the letter (including using Wondra), but to no avail. Thanks for any insight you can offer. ROSE REPLY It seems like a physical impossibility that the popovers aren't rising. Could your oven be off? is the fat in the pan getting really hot before pouring in the batter? Try switching to the all-purpose bleached flour suggested on page 180. the popovers will be less tender but they are sure to pop.

Sourdough Starter

PHIL QUESTION: Rose (I feel as though I know you since reading your book since Christmas), In making our own starter we followed the directions day by day, my wife and I are both engineers so lists and organized plans are VERY helpful. The starter didn't appear to follow the double a day that you mentioned. This may have happened while we weren't looking and then deflated. At the 5 day point, we decided to keep with the daily routine. At the 10th day, the starter does look a bit more energetic. Do we need to mature the starter by feeding it every 3 days at room temperature or should it be in the fridge? How much should we be feeding, 60g of flour and water without removing any while it is matured? Should we remove a cup before we start expanding it? We would both appreciate even a quick response. The description that starts at the end of page 429 "for example ......" confuses us when we follow the instructions in the last paragraph of page 433. Thank you in advance for the help.

ROSE REPLY: because sour dough is an alive entity it is not something the you can nail down hundred percent. The last paragraph on page 429 of my book referred to an already established starter. The last paragraph on page 433 is referring to one that is not yet mature.if you have an active starter as I mentioned at the bottom of page 433 if you don't plan to use it for several days feed it to double it, let it sit one hour, and then refrigerate it. as I wrote, for the first two weeks feed it at least three times a week.if you are not feeding it every day you need to refrigerate it between feedings. I wrote that during maturing you need to keep a minimum of 1 cup. In answer to your question how much to feed it, I wrote that you need to at least double it, so this depends on how much you keep. You can do it by a eye, or as I prefer, by weight.

By way of encouragement, everyone who has written to me about problems starting a sourdough starter has, with patience, arrived at a successful one. What follows is one person's very helpful suggestion which I have not tried myself but suspect will work brilliantly: "... i had a asked for advice earlier about a sourdough culture that was going flat and not responding to the feeding after 2 days. the trick i had about using a 50/50 mix of organic rye and bread flour during the next feeding to reintroduce more wild yeast into the sourdough did the trick of waking it back up. it responded right away and i just went back to normal bread flour feedings. i haven't had any troubles since in case anyone in the future has this problem"

Increasing Yeast for a Larger Bread Recipe

(Rose on Rising)A prior posting addressed the question of whether the yeast in a bread recipe should be increased proportionately to the other ingredients or if less should be used. since this is such an often asked question and various cookbook authors seem to have differing opinions, i decided to consult with two bread experts whom i greatly respect: bill weekley of SAF yeast (lesaffre yeast corp.) and hans welker of fci (the french culinary institute in new york). bill reinforced that environment can play a significant role in yeast quantity, for example in alaska where the kitchen is probably colder, a lot more yeast may be used than say in phoenix arizona, where kitchens tend to be so much warmer. and as i quoted him in “the bread bible,” at high altitude less yeast is required due to the decrease in air pressure. bill also mentioned that if using volume rather than weight, larger formulae tend to be more inconsistent. here’s his advice: for batches of bread dough using up to 10 pounds of flour increase the yeast proportionately to the other ingredients. hans agrees that since home bakers are not working in huge quantities of dough, it is fine to increase the yeast proportionately. he agreed with my supposition that in large volume the yeast would grow faster, but he said, very practically i might add, that if the baker can keep up with production there’s no need to decrease the yeast! i suspect that what is happening in really large batches of dough is that the fermentation of the yeast produces more heat thus speeding the rate of the rise.