Loaf It or Leave It

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A loaf of bread is a wonderful thing. You can slice it for the simple joys of toast. The easy-going eating quality lends itself to sandwiches. And for those of us raised on store-bought white bread, baking your own is a revelation. Follow the steps for the Country Sourdough up until the Shaping. The shaping for a loaf pan is pretty easy and pretty forgiving, since the loaf pan supports the shape of the dough. To shape a loaf for a loaf pan:

1. On a lightly floured surface, grab the pre-shapen dough and stretch it vertically (north-south) into a long rectangle

2. Fold down the top 1/3 of the dough

3. Fold up the botton 1/3 of the dough

4. Place both hands on the dough, with your pinkies under the dough, pull the it towards you until the dough is tight and resembles a log

5. Roll the dough back and forth on the work surface to close the seam (if you have too much flour on the work surface the seam won’t cose, so just turn the loaf over and pinch the seam closed with your fingers)

Once the dough has been shaped, place in a lightly greased loaf pan and cover. The Country Sourdough recipe will yield two loaves. You can bake the loaves in about two hours or retard them overnight. Follow the directions for the Bake. You will not be able to cover these loaves, but you will need to get some steam into the oven. The best way to do this is to cover a kitchen towel with water in a baking pan, and put this in the oven while it is pre-heating. Keep the pan in the oven for the first 20 minutes of the bake and then remove. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes, turning once to brown evenly. Once the bread is baked, remove them from the loaf pans and cool on a cooling rack.

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Seedy Joint

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You might think that this bread is a bit too “new agey”, but you don’t have to own Birkenstocks or drive a hybrid to enjoy it. Hemp and chia seeds are high in Omega-3 and show off a lovely nutty flavor. I suggest lightly toasting the sesame seeds in a dry skillet to give them a boost as well. The Baker’s Percentage for this bread is as follows:

Total Flour                               1,000 g                             100%

White Flour                                 900 g                               90%

Whole-Wheat Flour                    100 g                               10%

Levain                                         200 g                               20%

Water                                          700 g                               70%

Sesame Seeds,

toasted                                        100 g                               10%

Hemp Seeds                                 50 g                                5%

Chia Seeds                                   50 g                                5%

Salt                                                22 g                              2.2%

Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until light brown. Let cool slightly. Add the sesame, hemp, and chia seeds at the beginning of the Mix and continue on through the Bake.

Tasty enough on its own, but it gets along well with goat cheese, smoked salmon, or anything green. Enjoy!

Country Pumpkin

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Corn in bread is nothing new. It has been used to supplement flour during wheat shortages and is still commonly used to make tortillas. The addition of cornmeal in bread adds a subtle sweetness, golden crumb, and a rustic crust. Along with toasted pumpkin seeds and fresh rosemary, this bread is a farmhouse favorite. The Baker’s Percentage for this bread  is as follows:

Total Flour                                 1,000 g            100%

White Flour                                   900 g              90%

Whole-wheat Flour                       100 g              10%

Levain                                           200 g              20%

Water                                            700 g              70%

Medium-grind Cornmeal               100 g              10%

Pumpkin Seeds, toasted               100 g              10%

Fresh Rosemary, minced                1 Tb

Salt                                                    22 g               2.2%

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until they release their aroma and turn light brown. Let cool slightly. Add the cornmeal, pumpkin seeds, and rosemary at the beginning of the Mix. The cornmeal will absorb some of the water, so splash in some extra if needed. Finish the steps through the Bake.

This bread is very good with whipped feta cheese and roasted red peppers. It also makes superb croutons for a Fall salad.