Soft Butter Rolls

Easy, simple dinner rolls. Quick to make and lovely to bite into. This is what I was looking forward to when I started into the Soft Butter Rolls, one of the September Breads from the Mellow Bakers challenge. You can find this recipe on page 326 of Jeffrey Hamelman’s book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.

(Yes, this post is late seeing as I’m finishing it up in October. But then, we’re MELLOW bakers for a reason!)

Looking over the recipe, it seemed to be the case. However, looking over the posts other bakers had put up as they were pumping these guys out, it seemed there were a few steps one needed to be wary of. I took these into consideration and went ahead; I’ll point out where one needs to divert from the recipe a little. Nothing major, however.

Let’s start with our Mis en Place. Or actually, let’s not and cover what that is and why you would want to do it first.

What is a “Mis en Place” anyway?

Mis en Place (pronounced “meez awn plass”) is a french term meaning “Put in its place” and refers to the setting out of your required ingredients, all measured and ready, before you start building your bread (or whatever you’re baking or cooking). So you’d go through your recipe, measure and weigh out your flour, water, butter, salt yeast and so forth ahead of time, making sure you aren’t short of anything and everything is right there for you. You’ve seen this on a million cooking shows, the host always has everything ready and pre-measured.

Why do it? To avoid surprises mid-baking and the potential of missing an ingredient if you are in the habit of scooping or spooning out as you go along. Did you add those three teaspoons of butter already? Did you forget to put in your salt? If the salt is still on the counter then it’s easy to see you did not. If the little salt bowl is empty, it’s easy to see you did. If you normally pour it into the bowl from the container, you may not recall.

And yes, that does happen. I’ve had it happen, other big-time bread folks mention it’s happened to them… No one is immune from the “did I or didn’t I?” slip up. A momentary distraction, you lose your flow and now you miss an important ingredient. It may not be until you server your fresh loaf that you suddenly realize that bread with no salt can be incredibly odd tasting.

It also lets you confirm you do in fact have that cup of buttermilk on hand so you don’t go to the fridge and suddenly realize you need to rush to the store when you’re halfway into mixing the dough. All in all, it’s a simple way to be prepared so you can focus on simply putting your dough together.

And here’s the Mis en Place for our rolls:

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Rye with Caraway: Learning when to say when.

I’ve noted here and elsewhere that I will include recipes even when they go wrong so as not to give the impression that I am some expert (so not true) and never have a failed bread.

This would be one of those times when something goes wrong.

MellowBakers.comOh, this is MellowBakers.com’ 19th bread from Hamelman’s book “Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes“. For those who didn’t know, we’re a bunch of crazy breadheads who decided to do all 84 recipes in the book but in a casual, relaxed, dare I say “mellow” fashion. If you’re a bit bread crazy too, join us, jump in at any point and play along. Or just read up on our adventures, lots of talk, lots of photos and links to members’ great blogs too.

Now I’ve done this bread or at least a couple of recipes very close to this bread before and they came out very nicely. The very similar 40% Rye with Caraway based on the Back Home Bakery recipe, for example. This came out so nicely, I’m using photos of that bake as the main graphic for the site.

That looks like I know what I’m doing, doesn’t it?

Let’s put that theory to the test, shall we?

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Baguettes with Poolish

Here we are at bread no. 17 for the Mellow Bakers, Baguettes with Poolish from Hamelman’s amazing book, Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes

“What, baguettes again? Didn’t you just do these last month?” Yes indeed, I did baguettes last month. However, these are different!

This time around, the dough is made with a poolish pre-ferment (equal parts flour and water plus a tiny smidgen of yeast, left to mature for several hours). Last month’s French Bread was a straight dough and came together in about 4 hours.

So what does the poolish accomplish for us? Because it’s allowed to sit for 12 to 16 hours, it’s got time to ferment the flour and in so doing, develops a stronger dough, superior flavour, better keeping quality and actually shortens the time it takes to make the bread, in spite of requiring a long pre-ferment period. By mixing the pre-ferment ahead of time, taking just a couple of minutes, the action of the enzymes on the dough, when mixed together, speed up the bulk and final proofing considerably.

Of all these aspects, the one that will stand out most to those who eat it is the improved flavour.

Let’s move ahead then and see if this is indeed the case.

The night before, I mixed the poolish, 300 g flour + 300 g water + 1/8 teaspoon of instant dry yeast. This is left overnight to ferment. (Imagine I took pictures here.) So next day…

We have bread flour, water, salt & yeast and our now well-developed poolish which is easily twice its original size. Amazing how a teeny amount of yeast can do that.

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80% Rye with Flour Soaker

This post is about rye bread. Not your grocery store Deli Light Rye but hefty, hearty, packed-with-flavour rye bread. The type that you slice really, really thin and it still can hold up to bold flavours like strong cheeses or spicy deli meats.

The kind of rye bread I like best. But that I’ve never made before. So it’s one I was looking forward to getting at in the MellowBakers.com adventure through Hamelman’s book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.

So having never made one of these really hefty ryes, it was a little bit of an experience making what looked more like paste than dough, the small amount of rising the bread did. This isn’t your mom’s normal white bread, oh no. At 80% rye, there’s little gluten to be seen here but a whole smacking load of sticky.

But don’t let any of this deter you from trying it, because aside from being just a tad “unusual” it really isn’t difficult. Just different.

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French Bread times Eight

French bread, one of the most iconic styles of all, especially the baguette style. This was bread no. 15 in our Hamelman series for the Mellow Bakers.

This specific variety is a “straight dough” which means that all ingredients are combined at one without pre-ferments and other secondary steps. Mix it, proof it, shape it, bake it: straight dough.

And simple is certainly what this bread is. Let’s have a look at the Mis en Place and see what’s going in:

Bread flour, yeast, salt and water (70%). Can’t get a whole lot more simpler than this. And off we go…

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