Friday, 29 November 2013

Gluten-Free Buckwheat-Quinoa Loaf

I’ve been working on this Gluten-Free Buckwheat-Quinoa Loaf all month. This is the fifth rendition, and I believe it’s finally ready for primetime.


I have a relative who recently went gluten-free. She hosted Thanksgiving Dinner for our extended family last weekend. I worked all month to get this recipe down so I could bring her some gluten-free bread.

My relative is not wheat intolerant so I prepared the bread in my kitchen. However, I used separate bowls and utensils and instead of grinding the grains (for the final loaf) in the grain mill I use for wheat grains, I used store-bought buckwheat and quinoa flour. 

I learned about this method for making gluten-free artisan Buckwheat bread in the November issue of Bread Magazine. I was so excited when I saw it because it actually looked like bread.

The first time I made it, I was not impressed. It tasted rather blah.  I thought maybe I had forgotten the salt.

Chris Stafferton, the creator of this bread, calls it honest gluten-free bread. I remember thinking, it may be honest, but isn’t it supposed to be edible too.

I decided to make a couple of changes to see if I could keep the bread honest, and give it a bit of flavor at the same time. Keeping in mind that I don’t know very much about making gluten-free breads. I made it several different times and each time was a little bit different. I’ve outlined each attempt below.


1st try 11/2/13 – Buckwheat Loaf

This version was made with buckwheat flour and an overnight sponge of buckwheat flour, water and a pinch of yeast. For this experiment, I used buckwheat flour that I had milled in my grain mill from hulled buckwheat. I wasn’t planning on giving this loaf to anyone so it didn’t matter if it came in contact with any wheat residue left in the mill.

I was so excited when I took the loaf out of the oven and saw the oven spring. I did a little jig and scared my dog. Charlie was helping in the kitchen but decided he was done after that and he asked to go out. This was before I tasted the loaf.

artisan-buckwheat-loaf_410 artisan-buckwheat-loaf_521

After the loaf cooled, I sliced it and tasted a bite. It looked and tasted like a sponge. It was time to go back to the baking board.


2nd try 11/5/2013 – Buckwheat/Quinoa Loaf

For the second attempt, I did things a little bit differently. Instead of making the sponge with buckwheat flour, I used quinoa flour. I incorporated the home-milled buckwheat flour again in the dough, but I added more salt and a little bit of honey. I also reduced the water a little bit. I was pleased with the results, but it had a bit of an aftertaste. I wanted to get rid of that, if possible, so I moved on to the next experiment.

artisan-quinoa-buckwheat-loaf_130 artisan-quinoa-buckwheat-loaf_142


3rd try 11/9/2013 – Buckwheat Loaf

Since the Buckwheat/Quinoa Loaf had an aftertaste, I went back to the source; the original recipe. I decided that part of the problem with the first attempt was my timing was off.

I paid close attention to the timing this time. I made the sponge and the final dough with home-milled buckwheat flour and added more salt and some honey like I did with the second loaf.  I also reduced the amount of water. It was definitely an improvement, but still not quite what I wanted.

artisan-buckwheat-loaf5_20 artisan-buckwheat-loaf6_39


4th try 11/15/2013: Quinoa/Buckwheat Loaf

For the next attempt, I used 50 percent buckwheat flour and 50 percent quinoa flour in the sponge and in the final dough. I incorporated the same amount of salt as in versions two and three, but this time I added agave nectar instead of honey. I also used less water. I forgot to take a photo of the crumb, but the texture was similar to the second loaf. I didn’t like this version very much so I let the birds have this loaf.



5th try 11/22/2013: Buckwheat-Quinoa Loaf

I was starting to wonder if I would ever get the right combination, but I decided to try again. This time, I incorporated less quinoa flour. The quinoa flour label indicated you could add up to 50 percent, but in my opinion that was too much – at least for this bread.

I had run out of home-milled buckwheat flour so I used buckwheat flour that I had ordered online. This buckwheat flour was milled from unhulled buckwheat which I believe made the difference. I used hulled buckwheat in the previous attempts.

Using less quinoa flour helped to eliminate the bitter aftertaste (I think) and the flour milled from unhulled buckwheat added more flavor. I didn’t reduce the water because this buckwheat flour soaked up more water. However, I did increase the salt (as before) and added some honey. This version proved to be the winning combination. It had good flavor and nice oven spring.

buckwheat-quinoa-loaf_218 buckwheat-quinoa-loaf_415


Now I suppose you’d like to know how I made it, right? 

Here you go…


Gluten-Free Buckwheat Quinoa Loaf

Makes: 1 Loaf

Adapted from: Gluten-Free Buckwheat Artisan Bread by Chris Stafferton


  • 108 g Buckwheat flour (made from unhulled buckwheat)
  • 42 g Quinoa flour
  • 150 g warm water
  • .5 g (a pinch) instant yeast


Final Dough:

  • 150 g Buckwheat flour
  • 50 g Quinoa flour
  • 15 g chia seeds
  • 15 g psyllium husk
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 195 g water
  • 2 tsp honey
  • All of the poolish


Prepare the overnight poolish:

Combine 150 g of warm water and a pinch (or 2) of instant yeast and let it rest for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Mix in the buckwheat and quinoa flours to form a wet paste. This mixture reminds me more of the texture of clay rather than a poolish. It also looks like clay.


Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to ferment at room temperature for about eight hours.

The poolish seems to work better at a cooler room temperature (64 to 68 degrees F.) than I normally use for wheat bread (70 to 75 degrees F.)  It also performs better if you only let it ferment for about 10 hours max. The first time I made this bread, I let the poolish and the final dough ferment longer due to my schedule and the texture was more like a sponge than bread.


Mix the final dough:

Grind the CHIA seeds in a coffee grinder.  If you don’t have a coffee grinder, feel free to soak the CHIA seeds in water until softened. Just be sure to reduce the amount of water used in the final dough.

Here are the dry ingredients. The CHIA seeds are in the small green bowl on the left. The milled CHIA is in the small white bowl.  The psyllium husk is in the 2nd green bowl (from the left) and the salt is in the last green bowl on the right.



Mix the dry ingredients together gently with a wire whisk to ensure there are no clumps of milled seeds.



Add the remaining water to the poolish and the dry ingredients. Mix well using a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk.  The dough will be stiff, but workable. You may not need all 195 g of the water. I held back about 50 g of the water initially and then added it in gradually.  For this final version, I used all of the water; however, on some of the previous attempts, I only used about 150 g of the water.



Bulk fermentation:

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for one hour in a warm place. I placed the dough in a proofing box at 75 degrees F. You can also place it in the oven with the light turned on.



Shaping the loaf:

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it for a few minutes. You may need a little extra flour for dusting.

I shaped the dough into a batard shape. It seemed to do really well in this shape.  To form the batard, flatten the dough out on the counter or board and form into a rough round. Bring the bottom of the round to the center and and gently press down using the outside edge of you hand. Fold the top of the round down and slightly overlap the bottom of the loaf. Gently pinch the seams together using the outside of your hand and your fingertips if necessary.

Place the loaf seamside down on a baking sheet or parchment paper sprinkled with buckwheat flour. This dough is pretty easy to work with so you can adjust the shape and make the ends more pointed if you like.


Final Proof:

Cover the loaf and let it rise in a warm place, draft-free place for about 2 hours. I put the loaf in the proofing box at 75 degrees F.

Prepare the loaf for baking:

Preheat the oven to 450* degrees F. for 30 to 45 minutes with a baking stone on the bottom rack and a steam pan underneath or a cast iron skillet on the very top rack. You can also bake this loaf directly on a baking sheet if you prefer, but you will still need to bake it at a moderately high temperature.

* I baked this loaf at different temperatures and found that it did best when I preheated the oven to 450 and then reduced it to 425 degrees F. after spritzing it with water. You may need to experiment with the oven temperature to find what works best for you.

Score the top of the loaf before placing it in the oven.  This will allow the loaf to expand and minimize the tearing of the crust. I used a lame to score this loaf, but you can also use the tip of a sharp knife.


Bake the loaf:

Slide the loaf (on the parchment paper) onto the baking stone.  Add 3 or 4 ice cubes to the cast iron skillet or steam pan, if using, and close the oven door. Open the door and spritz the oven walls with water. Immediately close the door. Repeat the spritzing a couple more times in 30-second intervals, then turn the oven down to 425 degrees F. Bake the loaf for 30 to 35 minutes or until browned and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. The internal temperature of the loaf should be 206 degrees F. when it is ready.


Cooling and slicing the loaf:

Remove the loaf from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.



So after all that, I took this loaf to the family party, but no one wanted to try it. I should say none of the gluten-eaters would try it, except my oldest sister and she only took a bite.  Everyone else just looked at me like “Who me! I’m not going to try it, you eat it!”  Remember that commercial where they always say “Give it to Mikey he’ll eat it?” That’s about what happened.  Lol. 

My gluten-free relative did try it. She said it reminded her of rye bread.  It’s a bit dense so I can see that.

This loaf isn’t a fluffy and light roll, but if you’re looking for honest and edible gluten-free bread, then this just might fit the bill. 

Happy Baking!


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Making Sourdough Pumpkin Crescent Rolls & Being Thankful

My extended family got together this past weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving.

My family enjoys pumpkin crescent rolls, but I wanted to bring something different this year. Not wanting to rock the apple cart too much, I decided to bring something different, yet the same.

I took my pumpkin crescent roll recipe, converted it to baker’s percentage and then converted it to sourdough. I created a new family favorite.  It’s my Thanksgiving sourdough surprise. These beauties are made completely by hand.



During the Thanksgiving Season in the U.S., we take the opportunity to reflect on all the blessings in our lives. I try to be thankful all year round, but I don’t always hit the mark so during the Holidays, it’s time to get grounded again and cultivate an attitude of thankfulness.

I’m thankful for a lot of things; my creator, my family, my friends, my community and my life. I’m also thankful for all of the visitors to this blog. I appreciate you and your encouraging words.

I’m also thankful for my bread-baking buddies and for finally learning how to use baker’s percentages. I had a mental block or something, but now I’m loving these percentages.

What are you thankful for?



These rolls taste best warm. They reheat really well. Just wrap them in foil and heat in the oven for about 10 minutes or so.

Sourdough Pumpkin Crescent Rolls

Makes: 16 Rolls, depending on how you slice them.

Ingredient: Weight: Volume:
Sourdough Starter, 100% hydration 225 g 1 cup
All purpose flour 400 g 3 cups
Brown sugar, packed 45 g 1/4 cup
Salt 7 g 1 tsp
Pumpkin Pie Spice 6 g 2 1/2 tsp
Water* 60 g 1/4 cup
Pumpkin puree 100 g 1/2 cup
Egg 45 g 1 large
Butter, cold, cut into small pieces 56 g 4 T
Butter, melted 14 1 T

* I didn’t use any water. I had a couple of tablespoons of roasted pumpkin puree left in the container so I used that instead of adding any additional water. The only water I used was what was in the sourdough starter.



In a large bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Add the pumpkin puree and egg to the flour mixture. Mix with a Danish dough whisk or wooden spoon until the flour is thoroughly incorporated.


Mix in the sourdough using a Danish dough whisk. You’ll probably have to use your hands once the dough gets to thick for the whisk to handle.

Add in 4 tablespoons butter a little at a time and thoroughly incorporate it into the dough by squishing it between your fingers. This takes a little while, but it’s fun.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few minutes until it is smooth and springy.



Place dough in large bowl greased with oil, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight. I made the dough before work on Friday and let it sit all day (about 10 hours) at room temperature (about 65 degrees F.), on my kitchen counter then I baked the rolls that evening.

Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead a few times. Shape dough into a ball, then flatten.

Roll the dough out into 15-inch circle. Spread with remaining 1 tablespoon butter.



Cut into 16 wedges. Roll up each wedge, starting at wide end.



On ungreased cookie sheet, place rolls with points underneath and curve slightly.

Cover and let rise in warm place 30 minutes to an hour or until double in size.

Baking Tip: At this point, you can let the rolls rise, and bake them right away, or if you want to bake them the next day, place the shaped rolls in the refrigerator overnight, and let them warm up to room temperature before baking.



Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake uncovered 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the rolls from the oven to a wire rack and brush with melted butter. Serve immediately or save them for later like I did.



Preparing these rolls is a two day process, but the timing worked out well.  I baked them Friday night and then warmed them up on Saturday at the get together. 

The family gathering wasn’t at my house so I didn’t want to transport the unbaked rolls on a baking sheet in my car. I’ve tried that before and if I don’t have someone to hold the baking sheet, the rolls have a tendency to slide off the baking sheet and onto the floor. Not this time! I learned my lesson on that one.

I’m sharing these loaves with:

BYOB - Il Cestino del Pane



Happy Baking!


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Online classes from Craftsy– FREE mini-class

Have you heard of Craftsy?

Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a patterns marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes.

I love making crafts and with over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone.  The categories range from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.

What initially captured my attention was the artisan bread-making class taught by Peter Reinhart, one of my favorite teachers. Craftsy has added several other artisan classes since then.  Homebakers and food enthusiasts now have the opportunity to learn how to make artisan breads, croissants, cheese, and jam all from the comfort of their own home.

Craftsy Logo

Behind the Scenes: The Making of a Craftsy Class

Hours and hours are spent determining what content will be covered in each class, and how to best teach specific techniques to the camera. Instructors work with an instructional designer to create an in-depth outline of each lesson, and decide how to best prepare props or “step-outs” that show what your project should like at different steps. Instead of a scripted class, instructors follow their outlines on camera to create an authentic and engaging teaching experience.

Most Craftsy classes are filmed in one of five Craftsy studios in Denver, CO, assuring that every part of the production process goes off without a hitch. They fly in instructors from all over the world to spend several days filming, then spend several weeks turning hours of footage into a two to three hour class experience that has been watched, rewatched, and reviewed by industry experts. The final result is an HD-quality video that takes you in-depth into specific topics in any given craft category- from cooking and fine art to sewing and knitting.

What IS the Craftsy experience?

Craftsy classes are designed to have all the benefits of an in-person class, with none of the drawbacks. Available online and on-demand, you always have world-class instructors at the tip of your fingers. You can retake the class as many times as you want, and the 30-second repeat feature allows you to watch the same section over and over again until you get every technique just right.

Watching a Craftsy class is like having a first-row seat with some of the best instructors in the world. Even better, classes have a 100% money-back guarantee.

Want to learn a new skill?

Try online learning today with a free mini-class from Craftsy! Choose from 23 Free Craftsy Classes ranging from drawing and painting to sewing and quilting, from knitting to cake decorating and more.


This post was brought to you by Craftsy.

Happy Baking & Crafting!


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Mill your own flour using the WonderMill Grain Mill –Giveaway from Bread Experience

I enjoy milling my own grains into flour. There’s something really satisfying about being the miller and the baker.

When you mill your own flour, what you get is nutritious whole wheat flour where nothing has been removed. The flour retains the complete endosperm, meaning the bran and germ have not been sifted out as with white flour.


I incorporate home-milled flour into breads as much as possible. I especially enjoy milling whole wheat flour from hard red or white wheat berries and other whole grains, such as Einkorn, Spelt, Khorasan, and rye, to name a few.

My grain mill of choice for the past several years has been the WonderMill Electric Grain Mill. I like it so much that I became an authorized dealer a couple of years ago and this year, I’m delighted to be giving one away. The link to enter the giveaway is located at the bottom of this post.



Why I like the WonderMill Electric Grain Mill

I like this grain mill because it’s so easy to use and it’s really fast. It can handle a small batch of flour or several pounds. It’s a great tool for homebakers. The price is very affordable. I bought my mill several years ago. I’ve been following the manufacturers instructions for using and maintaining it, and I haven’t had any problems. It still works wonderfully well.

The WonderMill Grain Mill can grind over 100 pounds of flour in an hour. You don't have to worry about overloading the WonderMill because of it's large 1 3/4 hp motor. Not only does it grind wheat, rice and other small grains, but will also grind legumes and garbanzo beans. You can create super fine flour or coarse flour at temperatures that preserve nutrients, ensuring that you will always have the perfect flour for your food.

Grinding wheat in my grain mill

Here is my grain mill. As you can see from the photo below, it has a prominent place on my kitchen counter. In this photo, I’m grinding hard red winter berries into whole wheat flour. The grain mill has three settings: pastry, bread and coarse.  I like to use the pastry setting for crackers and pastries and the coarse setting for rye flour, but for this whole wheat flour, I used the bread setting.



A few months ago, Golden Wheat Farms sent me a sample of the wheat they grow on their farm in Kansas. I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to grind it into flour and use in bread. I decided now was the time. I’ll be posting about that bread soon. For this post, I wanted to show the grains before and after milling.

wondermill-electric-grain-mill_102 wondermill-electric-grain-mill_113

The good thing about wheat berries is that they can be stored for a long time. Once you grind them into flour, you need to use the flour fairly soon because it doesn’t have any preservatives in it and will go rancid, but the whole wheat berries will keep for years if stored correctly. 

Would you like to grind your own grains into flour for bread baking?

Here’s your chance!

The Bread Experience is giving away an Electric Grain Mill!

The Bread Experience, in partnership with Mother Earth News, is pleased to announce that we are giving away a WonderMill Electric Grain Mill along with assorted baking tools used to make beautiful artisan breads. The total package is worth $500.00.

To participate in the sweepstakes, go to the Mother Earth News site and enter to win.

Good luck and Happy Milling!


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Pumpkin ‘n Spice Chocolate Babka

Pumpkin 'n Spice Chocolate Babka

I just love this time of year and baking with seasonal favorites like pumpkin, apples, and spices galore. I haven’t gotten my fill of pumpkin bread yet so when I found out we were making Spice Breads for the Twelve Loaves baking challenge, I knew I wanted to make something with pumpkin and spice.

In another virtual room, the Artisan Bread Bakers have been making Chocolate Babka. I’ve made Chocolate Cinnamon Babka previously so I thought about skipping the BOM this month. However, I was on call this past weekend for a project implementation and I was craving something sweet to keep me motivated. I usually try to take a little time to bake even when I’m working on the weekend, if possible. I decided that treating myself to some Babka sounded like the perfect incentive to get through the system deployment.

Since I had already made chocolate cinnamon babka before and I wanted to make something with pumpkin, the logical transition was to combine the flavors.

I looked for inspiration for pumpkin babka on Pinterest. I found a few references but none of them really grabbed my attention so I decided to create my own bread.

Pumpkin 'n Spice Chocolate Babka Loaves


I started with the Chocolate Cinnamon Babka recipe from Peter Reinhart's book Artisan Breads Every Day.  This recipe makes one very large freeform loaf and I wanted two loaves that could be baked in loaf pans so I converted the recipe to baker’s percentages, added some pumpkin and spices, then increased the amounts of the other ingredients accordingly. It was a fun and tasty project.


Pumpkin ‘n Spice Chocolate Babka

Makes: Two Medium Loaves



  • 2 T instant yeast
  • 130 g (~2/3 cup) lukewarm milk (any kind; at about 95 degrees F.)
  • 105 g (7 T) unsalted butter, melted or at room temperature
  • 105 g (7 T) sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks 
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 g (scant 1/2 cup) pumpkin puree
  • 525 g  (~4 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour, more for dusting
  • 8 g (1 1/2 tsp) sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves


  • 255 g (1 1/2 cups) semisweet and dark chocolate chunks
  • 56.5 g (1/4 cup) cold unsalted butter

Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg white, whisked with a little sugar until frothy
  • raw sugar for sprinkling on top



1) Mixing and Kneading the Dough:

Whisk together the yeast and lukewarm milk until dissolved, then let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cream the butter and sugar until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes at medium speed on the mixture, using the paddle attachment.

Add the vanilla to the egg yolks and whisk them gently. Add the yolk mixture to the creamed butter and sugar mixture and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes at medium speed. Add the pumpkin puree. Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during the mixing cycle.

Stop the mixer and combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and spices and add to the mixer bowl. Pour in the milk/yeast mixture. Begin mixing again at low speed, using the dough hook, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes to make a soft, supple, tacky dough.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead it by hand for about 2 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to make the dough pliable. The dough will be a beautiful golden color and will feel soft and supple. 



2) Bulk Fermentation

Form the dough into a round ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough ferment for 2 to 3 hours.



3) Prepare the Filling:

While the dough is rising, grind the chocolate in a food processor until nearly powdered. Cut the butter into small chunks, add to the food processor, and pulse until the butter is evenly dispersed into the chocolate mixture.



4) Divide and Roll out the Dough

When the dough has risen, divide it into two equal balls using a sharp knife or pastry scraper.


Roll each piece into a 15 by 15-inch square on a lightly floured surface.  You may need to lift the dough frequently (using the metal pastry scraper) and add more flour underneath to prevent it from sticking to the counter.

Sprinkle the chocolate/butter mixture over each rolled out piece of dough and break up any large clumps.  Cover the surface of the dough, leaving a border.



5) Shape the Loaves

Roll each piece of dough up jelly-roll style and place seam down on the counter.  Rock the log it back and forth to extend the length to about 18 to 24 inches long.  I forgot to do the lengthening part.



Grease two 8 1/2” x 4” loaf pans. Carefully twist the log from both ends being careful not to tear it.  Twist it just enough to accentuate the spiral. Coil the twisted log into a circular snail shape. 



Stand the coil on its end.  It should be perpendicular to the counter and not laying flat. Press down on the coil to compress it and place it in the prepared loaf loaf pan. Repeat with the other loaf.



6) Proof the Loaves

Cover the loaf pans loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 2 to 3 hours at a warm room temperature. 


I placed mine in a 70 degrees proofing box. During this time, the babka should fill the pan and increase by about 1 1/2 times its original size.



7) Bake the Loaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Using a toothpick, poke a few holes in the top of the loaves. This will help eliminate potential air pockets between the layers of the chocolate and the dough.  It definitely helped, but I think I missed a few places when I was poking with the toothpick because I still ended up with a pocket.

While the oven is preheating, prepare the egg wash. Brush the top of each loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake the loaves for 20 to 30 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake until the tops are a deep rich dark brown. The sides should be a rich golden brown in color and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped lightly on the bottom. The total baking time will be around 50 to 60 minutes.

You may need to tent the loaves if the top starts browning too much due to the egg wash. I thought my loaves were burning so I tented them. Even the darkest places weren’t burnt. The bread will be crispy on the outside when you remove it from the oven, but it will soften as it cools.


Cool the loaves for at least 90 minutes before slicing and serving. This bread tastes best once the chocolate has had time to set. I waited until the next day to try mine.  It was divine.

I’m glad I made this bread on Saturday. I was busy with the deployment Sunday afternoon and it sure was nice to enjoy a slice of this bread after I was finished.



I enjoyed one loaf, but gave the other one to a friend in exchange for some work he did for me. I didn’t want to keep all of this yumminess to myself. Bread is an excellent bartering tool. If you haven’t tried it, you should.


I’m sharing these loaves with:

BYOB - Il Cestino del Pane



Happy Baking!




Thursday, 7 November 2013

Country Brown Bread in Cloche vs. Dutch Oven


I did some extra baking a few weeks ago when my sons were in town. I already posted about the Braided Pumpkin Brioche and Rolls, but the month got away from me before I could get the other bread posted. I started writing about this Overnight Country Brown Bread in mid-October, but I’m just now getting around to finishing it.  I think it’s worth the wait.

I made enough dough for two loaves so I decided to do a comparison and bake one loaf in a cloche and the other loaf in a Dutch oven. The Cloche is ceramic stoneware and the Dutch oven is cast iron so it wasn’t an exact comparison, but it was an interesting experiment nonetheless.

I had just fed my rye starter so I used some of it in the levain instead of using my apple starter, which is made with white bread flour. I also utilized a different method for feeding and incorporating the levain than the one Ken Forkish outlines in the book.




Overnight Country Brown Bread

Adapted from: Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish

Makes: Two Loaves


Ingredient Quantity
White bread flour 100 g
Water 100 g, 85-95 degrees F.
Rye starter, active 1 tablespoon


Final Dough:

Ingredient Final Dough Mix Quantity
White bread flour 604 g
Whole wheat flour 276 g
Water 684 g, 90-95 degrees F.
Fine sea salt 22 g
Levain 200 g



1) Prepare the Levain:

Prepare the levain the night before you plan to bake the bread, and after your most recent feeding of your starter. Break up the starter in the warm water and mix in the flour. Mix by hand or with a wooden spoon until it is thoroughly blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature (65 to 70 degrees F.) for 7 to 9 hours before mixing the final dough.


2) Autolyse:

After the levain has rested for 7 to 9 hours (or overnight), mix the bread flour and the whole wheat flour in a large bowl or tub and add the warm water. Mix using your hands, or a Danish dough whisk, just until there are no dry bits of flour. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes.



3) Mix the final dough:

Sprinkle the 22 grams of salt evenly over the top of the dough. Transfer the levain to the bowl and mix by hand, using wet hands so the dough doesn’t stick to you.



Grab the dough between your thumb and fingers to stretch it up. Fold it several times to incorporate all of the ingredients. Refer to my post on making Tartine Country Bread to learn the folding method. The dough should be around 77 - 78 degrees F. at the end of the mix.



4) Overnight Fermentation

This dough needs to ferment for 12 –15 hours. During that time, it give it three or four folds. You can do the folds before you go to bed, then let it ferment at room temperature overnight. Fold the dough two or three times during the first hour and the final fold before you retire for the evening.

Once the dough is nearly tripled in size, about 12-15 hours after mixing, proceed to dividing and shaping.


5) Dividing the Dough

Gently remove the dough to a floured work surface. Pick it back up using floured hands and form it into a somewhat uniform shape.  Dust the top of the dough with flour and then cut it into 2 equal pieces using a sharp knife or a bench knife.



6) Shaping the Loaves

Dust 2 banneton baskets (proofing baskets) with a combination of all-purpose/white rice flour. I used my lined baskets for this bread, but you can use unlined baskets as well if you want the decorative floured rings to appear on the loaves.

Shape the loaves into tight rounds and place them seam-side up in the proofing baskets.



7) Proofing the Loaves

Cover the baskets with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap (or both) and let them proof for about 4 hours, at room temperature of 70 degrees F.  Perform the finger-dent test to determine when they are proofed sufficiently. When you press a finger into the dough, the imprint will remain when it is ready to be baked.



8) Preparing the Oven for Baking

The Dutch oven had to be preheated but the cloche didn’t so I started the baking process with the Dutch oven.

At least 45 minutes prior to baking the loaf, place the Dutch oven (with the lid on) on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

If you are only baking one loaf at a time, like I did, place the 2nd loaf in the refrigerator while the 1st loaf is baking. Let the Dutch oven reheat for about 5 minutes before baking the 2nd loaf.


9) Baking the loaf in a Dutch Oven

During this process, please be careful not to touch the Dutch oven with your hands, fingers or forearms. The preheated pot will be very hot.

Remove the preheated Dutch oven from the conventional oven using heavy oven mitts. Carefully invert the loaf, seam-side down into the Dutch oven. Remember, the top of the loaf was the side that was facing down in the proofing basket.

Cover the pot with the lid and return it to the oven. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is medium dark brown.

While the 1st loaf is baking, remove the 2nd loaf from the refrigerator.

Remove the Dutch oven from the conventional oven using heavy oven mitts and tilt the pot to turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool. Let the loaf cool for 20 minutes before slicing and eating.

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10) Baking the Loaf in a Cloche

This is the first bread I’ve baked in my new Emile Henry Bread Cloche


The cloche didn’t need to be preheated.  I just sprinkled the bottom of the cloche lightly with cornmeal. However, that turned out to be a mistake so next time, I’ll cover it liberally with corn flour.  I learned the corn flour tip from the Baking By Hand book.

Carefully invert the loaf from the proofing basket onto the base of the cloche. It should be seam-side down now.

Score the loaf in the pattern of your choice using a serrated knife or bread scoring lame.  I chose the tic-tac-toe pattern because I like the way the scores open up during baking.

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Put the lid on the cloche and carefully place it on the bottom rack of the preheated oven.  Turn the oven down to 450 degrees F.  Bake the loaf for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is a beautiful medium brown color.

I think my 2nd loaf was a bit over proofed because it stuck to one side of the cloche (see photo below) and the bottom. When I removed it from the base of the cloche to let it cool on the wire rack, the bottom stayed in the pan.  Yikes!



11) Cooling and Slicing (or tearing) the Loaf

I need some more practice using this cloche because as I mentioned previously, I didn’t sprinkle enough flour on the bottom. I used corn flour for the Cornmeal Pumpkin Hearth Loaf (which I made after this loaf) so I’m going to try that next time.

As you’ll notice, the loaf doesn’t have a bottom in these photos because it’s still in the pan. That didn’t stop us from enjoying it. We just pulled the loaf apart and savored it that way.  My oldest son really liked it so I sent the rest home with him.



We enjoyed both of these loaves. Both baking methods produced excellent flavor and texture. The loaf baked in the cloche was a prettier loaf due to the scoring, except the part about the missing bottom.

I really thought the loaf in the Dutch oven would crack on top since I hadn’t scored it, but it didn’t.  It was a lovely round loaf and was equally as chewy and tasty as the loaf baked in the cloche. 

I think for presentation purposes (and the fact that you don’t have to preheat the cloche, and it’s not as heavy as my cast iron Dutch oven), I prefer the cloche, but it’s fun to bake in both of them.  I don’t have a ceramic Dutch oven so that probably makes a difference. 

The best part of this experiment, besides enjoying the bread, is that I was actually able to lift the cast iron pot without wincing in pain.  This means my tennis elbow is getting better.  Yea!

Happy Baking!