Pain au Levain

April’s breads for MellowBakers.com include three variations on Pain au Levain from Jeffery Hamelman’s book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. Today’s entry is for the first of the three, simple Pain au Levain. This translates to Sourdough Bread.

One thing that Hamelman makes a point of noting is that this bread is not given a long, slow retardation overnight. The subtle flavours for this loaf and it’s two companions, Pain au Levain with Whole Wheat Flour and Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters, are all achieved with relatively short builds, even though the starters themselves do need to be made up the day before.

Once those levain builds are made up, it’s a pretty quick bread, for a sourdough.

If you’d like to give this bread a try, you can find the recipe in Jeffrey Hamelman’s book BREAD on page 158. You can also find an adapted recipe from Wally at TheFreshLoaf.

As always, I set out all the ingredients ahead of time…

Continue reading “Pain au Levain”

Normandy Apple Bread

Trying to catch up on the breads I missed over the last few months while moving across the country, I chose to do the Normandy Apple Bread from our February list over at MellowBakers.com.

Again, this bread took a bit of pre-set up preparation although not as convoluted as yesterday’s Aloo Paratha. The ‘unusual’ aspects of this bread was the need for apple cider and dried apple slices.

Try as I might, I haven’t been able to find apple cider around here, although I’ll use the fact I’m not familiar with all the stores in this area yet as a plausible excuse. Maybe I passed by it several times without noticing. So instead, I found some natural apple juice, the kind that hasn’t been filtered and is slightly cloudy with a little bit of apple sediment at the bottom. It’s pretty tasty as juice so I hoped it would work well as cider substitute.

Continue reading “Normandy Apple Bread”

Aloo Paratha

Coming in at #48 for the MellowBakers.com group, Aloo Paratha is a savoury filled Indian flatbread.

Like all Mellow Baker breads, it was sourced from Hamelman’s book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes (First Edition) and can be found in the Miscellaneous section on page 282.

Note that the NEW edition of BREAD has dropped this recipe, so I’ll give the details here.

DOUGH:

  • 2 3/8 cup (10.6 oz / 300 g) whole wheat flour*
  • Heaping ½ Tsp / 3 g salt
  • ~ 1 cup (7.9 oz / 225 g) water 

FILLING:

  • 1 lb / 453 g potatoes, boiled in their jacket; once cooled, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp cumin seed, toasted
  • 1 tsp coriander seed, toasted & ground
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp finely chopped green chilies
  • .5 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp mustard oil**

.25 cup Ghee for brushing

* Indian whole wheat is typically chapati flour, a finely ground & sifter whole wheat flour. You can approximate this by sifting the coarser North American whole wheat flour through a fine sieve or combining whole wheat and unbleached bread flour in a 2:1 ratio (i.e. 200 g whole wheat + 100 g bread).

** You can make mustard oil by toasting 1 Tbsp black mustard seed in a dry skillet until they pop. Grind in a mortar, put in a small bowl and pour over with 2 Tbsp veg oil.

The ingredient list is rather straight forward, if you have a decently stocked spice shelf. One thing you may not have, however, is ghee which is a clarified butter. It is a wonderfully aromatic fat made by melting butter and removing the milk solids and letting the remaining fat cook slowly for a fairly long time to get a slightly nutty taste. Cool thing: it doesn’t need refrigeration although it has a fairly decent shelf life. And it’s actually pretty simple to make at home if you don’t find it in the local grocer’s. Many grocery stores in America now have a pretty respectable International Foods section so look there for a small jar. A perfectly acceptable substitute in this recipe, if you prefer or want to stay vegan, is your favourite vegetable oil.

Let’s have a look at what goes into these tasty pockets…

Continue reading “Aloo Paratha”

Pain de Mie

Pain de Mie is a very fancy French term for “plain white sandwich bread” – you know, the type you buy in the cello package at the grocery. It’s a close relative to your basic Wonder bread. Translated, it means “Bread of Crumb” which indicates it’s all about the white soft stuff inside and the crust is minimal and soft. For this recipe, we are using enriched ingredients such as butter, sugar and milk powder, all of which help to create the soft crust and creamy taste.

Is it just like “wonder” bread? Oh no, it’s not. It’s miles better.

The other name for this bread is “Pullman Bread” which is a reference to the Pullman Pan it is usually baked in. This is a straight sided, square and lidded pan that produces a square and soft crusted bread:

Because the bread is sealed into the pan on all sides, the crust doesn’t get a chance to get thick or crispy in the oven’s heat. This limited amount of crust, again, put the bread’s focus primarily on the white crumb inside.

Not owning one of these babies myself (they run about $40 – $50, a bit pricey for me) I decided to make do with my normal loaf pans and see how thing would turn out.

This bread was part of the Mellow Baker’s January Breads line up which I missed because we were still living in the trailer, having just moved across the country. Now that we’ve found a house to rent with a pretty nifty kitchen, I can get to some of these missed assignments and do a bit of cath up.

Continue reading “Pain de Mie”

Pane Al Fromaggio

… or more simply Cheese Bread, as it’s actually called in Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes This is bread #21 in the Mellow Baker’s Challenge to get through all 84 recipes in the First Edition book. Yes, we’re now at about the 1/4 mark. If you have the book and want to give it a go, it can be found on page 180 from the Levain section (page 190 of the 2nd Edition).

Those of you following along here and on MellowBakers.com will notice that this is in fact a September bread and I’m posting it in mid-October. The reason for the tardiness is that there’s been a refocus in our household of late that’s been taking all our attention; more on that later.

I chose a good Italian Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as the bread’s final flavour can only improve with the quality of cheese you use. The dry Kraft pre-grated stuff would not be a good choice here. An alternative, to save a bit of money, would be to mix the Parmigiano with some Asiago or whatever grateable “dry” cheese you prefer.

Let’s get started…

Continue reading “Pane Al Fromaggio”