October 28, 2014

Flat bread

Sometimes we just love stealing some dough from the batch we prepared for our weekly bread baking, turn it into a flat round, throw a few toppings on top of it – here: tomato sauce, artichokes, radicchio, cheese – and bake it on the hot stone. In this case we ended up with a whole-wheat-sourdough-crust pizza, and it was pretty awesome indeed! The bread turned out okay, too.

For the dough:

100 g water
100 g whole wheat flour
tsp of sourdough culture

200 g water
100 g whole wheat flour
100 g cracked rye

Final dough
Starter and Soaker
360 g water
550 g flour (whole wheat and all purpose – 50/50)
18 g salt

March 10, 2013

Quick and Dirty

I was in a bit of a dilemma not long ago. I had to bake something as a treat for my colleagues at work, but didn't really have the time to babysit a loaf for a couple of days (which is how long one of our loaves usually takes from mixing to baked loaf).

We all know that when one is in a bit of a tight spot, one can always rely on IKEA to have an answer for everything and a solution for all our problems. Let me explain: There is a multigrain bread mix (the aptly named Brödmix Flerkorn) that every IKEA store carries in their Food Market section; you just have to add water to it, wait for about 45 minutes, then bake it for one hour, et voilà! you end up with a fresh loaf of awesome Swedish bread.

Well, more or less ...

I've tried this mix once in the past and, while I haven't been too excited about the results, I would agree that it is a lot better than almost any bread commercially available in North America.

Somehow though, for the purpose of my baking this treat for work, the IKEA bread mix came to mind. Maybe the fact that I drive past an IKEA store on my way to work every day has something to do with it. In any event, I decided to give it another try, but I also wanted to improve on it a little bit. The mix itself, as indicated on the tetra-pack box, contains wheat flour, wheat flakes, rye flakes, coarse rye flour, sunflower kernels, flax seed, malt, and a few other yummy things that are good for you. I decided to add some (actually it ended up being lots of) dried fruit into the mix to make a nice, dark fruit loaf, that would go really well with some nice butter.

I figured I would need to add a bit more water than the 600 ml the original instructions call for, as well as a little amount of white flour, to help keep it all together. This is what I came up with:
1 IKEA bread mix (700 g)
100 g white flour
700 g water
570 g dried fruit (I just happened to have in the house):
200 g raisins
230 g chopped dates
140 g currants
I mixed everything just to incorporation, poured it in an oiled pan (it's a very liquidy affair), let it rise for about 45 minutes, and baked it at 400F for an hour and a half.

A few notes on baking and storing/consuming:
  1. Lately we have discovered that if you bake in a pan it's a good idea to cover your pan with another (identical) pan and bake it that way half way through. It makes for really nice crust, because the top pan preserves all the moisture inside during the crucial first part of the baking process. Furthermore, the top part of the loaf stays moist and elastic during the oven spring stage to a degree where one doesn't need to score the loaf at all.
  2. With this type of loaves, very heavy, rich in rye flour, and short fermentation/proofing times, it's possible to place the loaf into a cold oven and then crank the oven up to the desired temperature. This makes for a period of "forced" proofing just before the actual baking begins.
  3. I have baked this loaf on a Sunday and cut into it the next Friday. This has allowed for proper aging. With this kind of heavy, rich loaves it is very beneficial to the overall flavour profile.
And a final note to all the IKEA bigwigs: If you're sitting in a corporate boardroom right now wondering how come the IKEA multigrain bread mix sales have taken such a sharp upturn, this is where you should send your cheques.


December 21, 2012


After trying my hand at baking Stollen earlier this season, I found myself hooked on baking traditional holiday breads, and 'Tis, the Season justifies pretty much anything...

Second Set: Panettone. The baking of this sweet Italian bread is extra thrilling and exciting, because the original recipe calls for a natural starter (or wild yeast). It is quite the process, producing the loaves, and it requires time; lots of it. You'll pretty much have to dedicate two whole days to this, but it's definitely worth it. As is usually the case with baking, you will have plenty of time to go about your daily business, and only once in a while you will need to take short breaks and come back to play with your beautiful dough.

The recipe I followed I got off of the Wild Yeast blog; and I am very grateful to Susan for sharing this superb formula and the detailed steps involved in the process. I made quite a few people happy by sharing some of my special bread. So, thank you, Susan! I found her post very helpful, and the pictures she took of her loaves and her crumb made me even more eager to attempt it myself. I had been trying for a while now to find a recipe that incorporated a sourdough starter, but found that probably as many as 90 percent of the recipes out there are using commercial yeast exclusively.

I would have loved my Panettones to have risen about an extra inch or so, and at first, when I took them out of the hot oven, I was almost a little bit disappointed with their oven spring. And to make matters worse, I managed to drop one while I was hanging them upside down to let them cool overnight. But the delicate and heavenly smell made it all better... Well, and all was forgiven and forgotten the next morning, when I cut into one of the loaves: The structure of the crumb was very beautiful, they smelled incredible and where melting in my mouth. The three loaves of Panettone I got out of this bake were probably the most rewarding thing I have ever baked so far. 

I wouldn't be able to describe the process better than Susan already did in her post, so I won't give you the formula, but rather will include the link to her page, as well as to her more recent (revised) Panettone notes. These were published just after I had baked my very first batch, last weekend, but since I am planning on baking a second batch this coming weekend (just in time for Christmas), I am very excited to improve my results by following Susan's notes.

Oh, and by the way, while I am writing this post, I'm sitting in my kitchen candying some fresh orange and lemon peel, that will go straight into my Panettone. Mmmmm... I'm already looking forward to next year's Christmas.

Submitted to YeastSpotting.