Category Archives: Mellow Bakers

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…

Continue reading

Bialys: Little pockets of Yum!

Bread number 16 in the Mellow Bakers‘ roster of recipes from Jeffrey Hamelman’s amazing book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes are Bialys, the plural form of Bialy and pronounced “bee-Al-ees” – yes, I had to look it up. It’s a small yeast roll that originated from Jewish bakers in Bialystok, Poland. It looks somewhat like a bagel but without the hole. Instead, the center is an indentation and the dough is stretched to a thin membrane. In this little pocket is placed, typically, a tasty onion mixture.

The other aspects that make it not like a bagel is that this bread is not boiled and is ridiculously quick to make. Start to finish (minus cooling) took me about 4½ hours. And this was my first time at it. In fact, I’d never heard of these until I saw them in the book.

And do they compare to bagels? Let me show you…

First thing I did was prepare the onion filling since it had to sort of sit and “meld” for a couple of hours and that also happens to be how long the bulk fermentation takes. How handy!

I took half a large-ish sweet onion (the book says a medium onion will be fine) and chopped it up quite fine. I added a little bread crumbs – supposed to be 10% of the weight of the onion but I didn’t weigh, I just eyeballed. This is then stirred and set aside. Alternatives suggested are using garlic instead or as well as onion, using poppy seed. I changed my mind after I took these pictures and added a half teaspoon of chopped garlic. I pondered adding some parsley flake for a little more colour but decided to not go too far off the recipe on my first try.

With the onion mix ready and set aside, i got all the ingredients together for the dough.

Continue reading

The Vermont Sourdough Trilogy

One of the breads that came up in the June list for MellowBakers.com was the Hamelman Vermont Sourdough, a bread I’ve made before a number of times and posted about here several tries on the blog.

The cool thing, however, is that because we’re group baking through all 85 recipes in Hamelman’s awesome book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, we are amalgamating variations on a recipe so in this case we had not only the standard Vermont Sourdough but also the Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat and the Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole grain.

[easyazon-image-link asin="0471168572" alt="Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51OV5EvTM6L._SL160_.jpg" align="right" width="130" height="160"]Since we’re supposed to be “Mellow” bakers, we can choose which, if any, of the three varieties we will make. I decided: all three. Since I’ve done the straight up VS already, I wanted to give the other two types a go and see how they compared.

This still leaves two other breads for June: Pizza and Beer bread. I’ll try to get to those in the next few weeks. But let’s have a look at the Vermont Trilogy for now.

Continue reading

Grissini with a Twist

Here we are in mid-May and this is already the third and last of the May Challenge breads to do in the MellowBakers group bake. And this one is way easy! With just a mix and knead of the dough then a one hour proofing the biggest concern here is: what to put IN the bread.

Grissini, as noted in a previous post Mambo Italiano, is the Italian term for bread sticks. Yep, plain ol’ bread sticks. Except not like the stuff you get in a box from the grocery store. Oh no. These are wonderful little invitations for creativity. Sure, you could make them just plain or with a little salt and sesame seed. But you’ve got your whole spice cupboard – and more – to toss into the mix here so why not get creative?

Now unlike other blog entries here, I sort of did this one very much on the spur of the moment so we’re going to miss the first couple of steps but you’ll probably not miss them this time around. Because these are SO EASY TO MAKE!

Continue reading

Official Errata from Jeffrey Hamelman

Just a fast note for anyone who bakes from the wonderful book Bread:  A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman: Mr Hamelman has very kindly sent me a copy of his most up to date Errata for the First Edition of the book and has asked that I share it with everyone.

This is a 6 page .doc  file with many fixes for typos, correcting formulas and even making several changes in the more technical discussions at the beginning of the book.

If you have this book, you want these corrections.

The file is available HERE at MellowBakers and you simply need to download it. It does need a program that can read Microsoft Word (.doc) files.

I’ve also created a .pdf version for those who prefer that forma which is also available at that link.

This will make an astounding book even more… uhhh… astoundinger? Sure, let’s go with that!

And if you don’t already have the book, yes you really should still get it!

Where to get it? Click the book to get to a local Amazon:

Or your local bookstore, of course. Just get it.

UPDATE: There is, as noted, a new, 2nd edition of the book which is available here as well:

 

Corn Bread

When a lot of people think of “corn bread”, they picture the soda-risen American style quickbread that’s a staple in American culture with endless personalized recipes handed down from grandmothers. Well made, it’s delicious and relatively fast to produce.

This isn’t that. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

This is a yeasted bread made with corn. And it’s made with a pre-ferment so that a lot of flavour is drawn out of the wheat flour. Unlike it’s quickbread counterpart, the crumb is … well, I won’t give too much away quite yet, we have a whole process to get through before we get into the final results. There’s a sneak peek of it in the header pic but let’s see how we got there, shall we?

Oh, and this is a Mellow Bakers bread, one of three selected for may 2010 from Jeffrey Hamelman’s great book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. If you want to join us as we bake our way through the entire book, don’t hesitate to jump in at any point.

Continue reading

Non-Miche Miche

Miche Poilâne in the Poilâne bakery, Paris

When is a Miche not a Miche? Or perhaps more to the point what is a Miche?

“Miche” basically, is the French term for a very large loaf of bread, somewhat rustic and typically shaped round and flat.

Probably one of the most famous miches around at this time is the Miche Poilâne which comes from the Poilâne bakery in Paris, the loaf weighing in at 2 kg or about 4.4 pounds. Although the bread is a long-keeping one (www.Poilane.fr says their miche lasts 5 days after baking, then suggest toasting thereafter) and the flavour improves over a few days, I knew pretty much immediately that this huge a loaf would not be feasible for our household of 1.5 bread eaters. So when this miche showed up on the MellowBakers.com list of May Breads, I had to decide how to make it.

This recipe is the Mixed-Flour Miche on page 166 and it  makes a 3 lb. 10 oz. (about 1.64 kg.) loaf, smaller than Poilâne’s but still too huge, it would have gone stale long before I got to the end. I therefore chose to simply make two boules so about 820 grams each. I think some lucky friend or neighbour is about to get the spare loaf of bread, however because I still want to make other breads this month! The Corn Bread and Grissini on the bread list both look interesting.

NOTE: I had previously said this bread was (and happily thought I had made) the Miche Pointe-à-Callière on page 164 of the book. That was incorrect. While making the levain build, I had inadvertently flipped to the next page in the book and made the Mixed Flour Miche instead. So this is in fact the Mixed Flour Miche made from start to finish. I’ll do the PaC version at some other point.

So will this miche no longer be a miche? Are these half-miches? Still plenty big but at least would fit in my new round banetons and would give me an opportunity to get fancy with some decorative slashing. Maybe; as I write this, the loaves are doing their final proof and I haven’t got to the slashing part yet so we’ll see how that works out when we get to it below.

So let’s start this slightly unnervingly large bread.

Continue reading