Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Birds, Bees, and Yeasty Beasts!

The following is from a short post on The Loom, by Carl Zimmer.

You want a little Science with your bread musings?  How about an assertion that the little beasties that make your bread rise are making a choice?   Really.  This is some amazing stuff, kind of fun to wrap your head around!   :hmm:

"[Yeast]  This single-celled fungus–for which we should give thanks for bread, beer, and wine–can reproduce in several ways. Most of the time, it produces buds that eventually split off as free-living cells of their own. Its daughters are identical to itself, carrying the same two sets of chromosomes. Sometimes, however, life get rough for yeast, and they respond by making spores, each with only one set of chromosomes. Later, when times get better, the spores can germinate. In some cases the yeast cells that emerge just grow and divide. But they can also have sex. One yeast cell merges with another one, combining their DNA to produce a new yeast cell with two sets of chromosomes.

What makes yeast sex especially interesting is that the cells communicate with each other first. A yeast cell produces a pheromone that can cause another cell to stop dividing and start crawling towards the source of the signal. These pheromones divide yeasts into two groups. Yeast cells carry one of two genes for making pheromones and will only mate with yeast cells that produce the opposite type.

But if you surround a yeast cell with a ring of pheromone producers, the yeast will not just pick a partner at random. It will exercise a choice. The cell will measure the pheromones coming from each suitor, and it will creep its way to the strongest source....


... the scientists compared how much pheromones each kind of yeast produced. They found that yeast of higher quality churned out more pheromones than yeast of lower quality. So a yeast that chooses to mate with a strong pheromone producer will be endowing its offspring with good genes.

Smith and Grieg’s experiment makes me think about the yeast in a glass of wine in a different way: I now imagine an ocean of love songs. But it also makes me appreciate just how far-reaching Darwin’s ideas about the evolution of sex have turned out to be. The same rules apply–to bird, frog, and fungus alike."

Friday, July 16, 2010

80 per cent with Soaker

This is one of Hamelman's Bread recipes that calls for a soaker.  

Rye flour is covered with boiling water, giving it a chance to become gelatinous and sweet.  This bread was (is) a big experiment for me.

First, the chance to use my newly inherited la cloche.

Here's my starter Gladass worming her way into the picture. 

This is a sourdough, after all...

The clay was filled to about 2 cm or 3/4 inch from the top.  Even after reading about how little oven spring there was with a sourdough rye, caution was still used.  Good thing, too.

The lid was soaking upside down in the sink, full of water.

After oiling and filling the la cloche, the dough was patted smooth with a small spatula dipped in water every few strokes.  This was some seriously sticky dough.

There was plenty of dough left over for a boule.  We had seen a lady baking on an old Julia Child show, and she kneaded the dough with a vengeance.  Time to try it the old fashioned way.  After working up a good sweat, the dough was hung in a dish towel from a cupboard.  It made for a really nice shape, but the whole old fashioned kneading is not gonna happen again very soon.

Anyway, after the final rise, both loaves were sent to the oven for some intense heat.

After 15 minutes, the lid was supposed to be removed from the cloche.  It was firmly stuck on the side, but eventually it gave way.
So much for no 'oven spring' with Rye bread.

Those little edges were really tasty.  Oh, yes I did!

After the rest of the bake, the loaves came out.

You can see how much oven spring was there in this picture:

Here you can see the edges missing.
 And here, the special design on the bottom of the loaf:

 (no, not a special design)

Anyway, you are not supposed to cut the loaf for at least a day.  I cut the boule, and regret it.  Here is a shot of it before cutting, though.

Once it has cooled for a day we will see if there is any crumb.

 For now, I am off to Mellow Bakers to post this.

OK, this is the reason why you should not cut too early:

It just gums up and rolls the crumb, which is sticky enough on this bread anyway.  See how the dough rolls?

Here is is the next day.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More than one kind of Bialises- Bialysi?

Well, I had to try it.  Like usual, I shot my mouth off before I really thought things through.  'Use Gouda cheese!',  I said.  Well, this time I got lucky.  It really worked.  Also, Kitchenoperas, a fellow baker over at Mellow Bakers suggested that we try whole wheat.  Well, I thought of it too late, but I did make it 50/50 whole wheat and flour.  Not content with those tweaks, I added a couple Tablespoons of Walnut Oil to the batter.  (Oops!  Sorry about that.  I added about an ounce!)

It all went into the Kitchenaid Mixer that the Darling Bride got me for Xmas a few years ago.  I like the Battleship Gray.  It is a manly mixer, I tell myself; then I noticed that sister Demeter's KA mixer is even bigger.  Oh well.  She has always been my little sister, but waaay out there in front of me as far as baking and cooking and all manner of things. 

Sometime, let me tell you a story about Demeter trapping coon and hunting bear!  But that is for another time.

As usual, you can see Gladass in the background, now in a brand new cottage cheese container.  I think she is glad to be rid of the old one.  It was getting weak around the seal.

So, with customary lack of planning I decided that tonight was the night.   I diced a nice onion, and proceeded to caramelize it while the dough was rising.

I also grabbed a nice chunk of gouda cheese and cubed it up for filling.  I did say I was going to try it, but right at that moment it seemed pretty odd. 

It always seems like magic, using yeast.  (Sorry Gladass)  I had gotten so used to everything being sourdough that yeast breads just seem to explode.

Next up,  it was time to form the Bialys.  I had seen enough pictures from the more intrepid bakers that I knew they would likely lose most of the holes.  So, I oversized the holes a bit, really flattened them, and pricked them with a fork.  All of which did nothing.

Not knowing how many this doubled recipe would make, I broke the dough off into what looked like the right size chunk for a last proof.  They seemed to be ready in about a half hour, so I proceeded to place them on a pan, sprinkled with yellow corn meal.  Just before putting in the onion or cheese, I smashed the middles out again.  That seemed to help as much as anything, since they went right into Old Luke, set for 450 degrees F.  The recipe called for 480, but my oven runs hot.

'Rats', I thought, when I heard a distinctive "whump".  I have one pan that springs up on two corners when it gets warm.  No harm, this time, as these Bialys don't seem to have minded the ride.

In the picture from the oven, if you look close you can see the upper right corner is oddly up in the air.

So, by doubling the size of the recipe, I had to use two pans and two shelves on the stove.  That meant a lot of shelf exchanging, since I did not have any idea how they would brown.

Well, they came out terrific!  Light, with just a hint of crunch from the cornmeal on the pan.  The onion was OK, but the gouda was phenomenal.  It did not hurt that I sprinkled just a little Kosher salt on there, either!

The cheese was nearly melted.  The onions sizzled in the little bit of butter they brought with them.  The house smelled great!

I am looking forward to the Darling Bride's homecoming tomorrow even more now.  A new treat to offer her!

These little buns are really good.  Quick and easy to make, they are something really different for the next time we visit our friends at the lake.  I am really happy with this treat.

But I will let you know how bad the blood sugars are tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

French Bread, Sorta Like Mom Made...

This has been an exceptionally rainy two weeks around here.  My Darling Bride loves this, since she is out of town and knows that someone only has to water the plants that are in the rain shadow of the house.   Who could forget that easy task?

For July, one of the Mellow Bakers  breads was 'good old French Bread'.  The essence of simple home made white bread.  Crusty outside, doughy inside, with few ingredients.  Someone's favorite.

Possibly the best right-out-of-the-oven bread there is; just add butter.  Maybe a little bit of Demeter's currant jelly.  Man!  Would you say someone is an 'addict'?

But it is not very good for anyone overweight or diabetic, as it tends to end up right around your middle.  Plus, it tends to make someone's blood sugars skyrocket.  Since someone has no discipline when it comes to eating, this would be only a half-batch.

But French Bread is quick and easy, and it fit into a holiday schedule.  The version in Hamelman's book "Bread" was the quickest of the Mellow Baker's choices for the month, and with the warm, humid weather, it was pretty certain that this dough would rise even more quickly than claimed in the book. 

The flour and water were mixed, left to sit for a few minutes, and then the salt and yeast were added.  The well-hydrated dough was supposed to go through three 'stretch and folds' at precisely 50 minutes apart.  

Well, it didn't...

It got two folds, and it got them when time allowed.  This did not seem to discourage the dough at all, as like many yeast recipes in warm weather, it rose wildly.

This is one of those doughs that just feels good in your hands.  It is incredibly soft and pliable, and although this recipe was a little wetter than my old stand-by, it was easy and fun to work with.

After the second fold, it was shaped into the kind of loaf that my Darling Bride likes; similar sized slices throughout the loaf.  Instead of Kosher salt, the dough was sprayed with water and then some sesame was added for a little more flavor.

And into the oven it went, where it was promptly forgotten.  Forgot the egg timers, the microwave timer; someone did not even look at the clock.

But soon the wonderful aroma came wafting down the stairs, and this is how it came out:

                                (click on the pic to enlarge)
After a quick glance out the window, a neighbor with his garage door open was selected as the day's bread recipient.  Just as quickly as possible, the loaf was wrapped in parchment paper and trotted over to the neighbor's house.  

Let the twins have at it!  Those boys are still young, quite slender, and so full of energy that it will not cause them any harm.  With luck, they will eat it all before their Dad gets a chance.  In any event, it was out of my view, and no longer my problem.

Get thee behind me, French Bread!

(And I do not mean on my backside.)

But the house sure smells good!

Now someone is hungry for bread, and looking forward to the heavy rye breads.  Someone better go water those flowers!