Sunday, June 28, 2009

Butter wie aus einem Alchemielehrbuch

Ehrlich gesagt, hätte jemand mir gesagt dass ich- ich- Butter machen könnte, würde ich nur lachen. Butter ist etwas das man bei allen Läden kaufen kann. Überall.

Also, ich hatte einmal versehentlich Butter gemacht. Ich wollte Sahne schlagen, aber ich hatte es zu lange geschlagen und die wurde zu Butter geworden. Naturlich war ich sauer, aber, naja, was kann man tun. Das war eigentlich vor fast vier Jahren, und daran hatte ich nicht gedacht.

Bis vor zwei Wochen. Auf Twitter hat Bodacious Girl geschrieben dass sie ihre eigene Butter machte. Dann habe ich mich erinnert an damals.

Es ist ganz einfach, hat sie gesagt und dann hat sie eine Anleitung geschrieben. Man findet die hier. Aber, ich war davon so bezaubert dass ich mein eigenes Post darüber schreiben wollte. Wie ihr lest, Deutsch ist nicht meine Muttersprache, aber ich kann üben. Eine kleine Entschuldigung wenn ich irgendetwas falsch schreibe.

Erstmals muss man Sahne haben. Ich fand bei Lidl nur Schlagsahne mit mindestens 30% Fettanteil. Besser wäre etwas mit mindestens 35%, aber in Deutschland springt Sahne von 30% bis 40% bei Creme Double.

Wir fangen hier mit 400g Schlagsahne an. Die hat mindestens 30% fett. Wir werden hoffentlich 200g Butter und 200g Molke herstellen.

Ich habe eine Küchenmaschine mit Schlagwerk verwendet, aber ihr könnt einen normalen Handrührer oder Ruhrgerät benutzen.

Erst, die Sahne schlagen wie normal.

Nach einer Minute wird es ein bisschen fest.

Und dann richtig fest. So wie Sahne.

Wenn wir Schlagsahne machen würden, dann wären wir am Ende, aber wir wollen Butter. Wir machen keinen Kuchen.

Da ich hatte nicht viel geduld hatte ich meine Küchenmaschine 2/3 von voller Kraft eingestellt.

Und dann, endlich ist es zerteilt. Mann kann sehen wie es trennt.

Und nach einigen Minuten... Butter. Wie aus dem Supermarkt. Insgesamt hat es ungefähr fünf Minuten gedauert. Nicht so schlecht für den ersten Versuch.

Dann schließlich von der Molke abtropfen lassen. Dann spülen mit ein bisschen Wasser und die Butter zusammenpressen.

Am Ende ein kleines Wasserbad, um zu sichern dass die Molke weg ist.

Aber wartet mal! Ihr könnt die Molke trinken oder in einem Küchen verwenden! Nicht wegschmeißen! Das wäre ja eine Frechheit! Die Butter soll im Kühlschrank eine Woche dauern. Aber kann sein dass es kurzer wird. Ich weiß es nicht. Ich habe die sofort in Zimtschnecken benutzt!

Im Endeffekt ist es kein großes Ding, Butter herzustellen. Man braucht nur ein bisschen Geduld und ein Mischgerät.

Hoffentlich ist eure Butter auch so schön!

BBA Challenge #6: Challah

I made Challah last weekend. Having lived in New York a hundred years ago, I have had good and bad Challah, but strangely enough, never homemade Challah. Unless it was at a restaurant, but even if the restaurant advertised it as homemade Challah, it really is more like "restaurant made".

I do have to note that the Challah at B&H Dairy on Second Avenue in New York was spectacular and really stands out in my head, even though it wasn't braided. But with their veggie lasagna. Oh, man, it really takes me back.

In any case, I made the Challah and prepared the Ciabatta (BBA #7) on the same day.

Here I am weighing the ingredients in two stages. I conveniently forgot about mise en place for this one and sort of winged it to no ill effect. In this pic I am measuring the flour in two bowls for the two stages of adding. There's my trusty old orange Escali Primo, brought over from the States.

Here's all the wet ingredients.

You can see by the order of the photographs that it was all a bit haphazard. One of the great things about living in Germany is the refrigerators. Okay, not really because most people have really small ones. Even for families, it is quite common to have a small fridge. However, if you have a large one, the freezer is always on the bottom. I never understood why it was to that he freezer had to be on the top in the States, particularly as it is opened less frequently than the fridge part.

Here you see the lower-most drawer of the freezer, which is on the bottom. Yeah, I said drawer. On this one we have three drawers and a fourth, smaller one for ice, which we never use. Well, we have trays in there, but the water usually sublimates because we rarely use ice. In this drawer you can see Bagels from BBA Challenge #3, Fermipan instant yeast in the bottom middle, and hops for brewing on the right. In that particular bag, Fuggles and East Kent Goldings.

Salt and yeast. Best of Friends. Für immer.

If people actually asked me, then I could say "People often ask me how the Electrolux DLX works." But, alas, I've not been asked. I often tell people how it works. The wet ingredients go in first, then the dry, and you adjust the dough based on the dry. It is actually very difficult to add in water afterwards, as it does not get mixed in at all.

So you actually have to have a light hand with the flour, as you can easily add too much. My best advice with the machine is to watch the dough the first few times to see how the dough transforms from wet mess to "ball o' dough".

I have to admit here that the recipes often take me longer than what Peter Reinhart writes in the book. I made the Challah on a Friday, and by the time I took this picture, it was pushing 23:00, so I decided to stick it in the fridge and make it the next morning.

Some of the pictures look inconsistent because I had just gotten all the equipment I needed to use my flash. Lightstand, flash bracket, and umbrella, so I was testing the different settings. This one and the one below were taken with daylight.

Here's the boules ready to be formed into ropes. Reminiscent of the bagels.

I decided to make two loaves, as we had planned on giving one away. Unfortunately, I realized only too late that I had made the strands too long, and that the loaves were long and thin instead of fat in the middle like I remember from Brooklyn.

Still, I could not believe I had braided the bread successfully. I have only braided Amy's hair, but it wasn't very long, and I went by intuition.

After 20 minutes I was supposed to turn it 180 degrees to cook, but the loaves were already brown! I made a tent and left them in there for another five minutes before I took the thermometer out and measured their internal temperature. 195 already.

It was dark, but not golden.

This one had a light sprinkle of poppy seeds. I had them left over from, again, the bagels.

And the plain one.

Hardly anyone photographs the underside of the loaves. Perhaps it's not so interesting, but I love the great patterns on the bottom of some of the breads.

And finally, the crumb shot. The bread was light and nice, though not buttery like the brioche. My favorite part was the crust, all dark with the egg wash and overall flavorful. Well, the bread itself had a great flavor, but there was just something about the crust of this Challah.

I made the poolish for the BBA Challenge #7: Ciabatta on the same day as this one, and baked it the day after, so I still have the write up for that one. Today, the day I am blogging about this bread, I made the BBA Challenge #8: Cinnamon Rolls, so I am actually two breads behind.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I can get caught up soon.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.

So here we are once again.

I just want to plug Nicole's Site: Pinch My Salt, which was the origin of this Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge as I am trying to remember how I came to join the challenge.

It all started with a quest for good pizza. I checked out Jeff Varasano's Pizza page, which led me to the Electrolux Assistent DLX/N26/AKM4110W. From there, I got interested in making bread, which led me to The Fresh Loaf. I saw on the side that they had The Bread Baker's Apprentice as a featured book, so I asked my girlfriend to bring it back from the States during her visit. At the same time, I discovered three blogs out of the haze of food blogs out there: Smitten Kitchen, Flour Girl, and Pinch My Salt.

I started reading The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, and had just gotten to the recipe when the challenge was announced. I thought about it, but then went back to reading the book. It wasn't until a post on The Fresh Loaf that brought the challenge back to my attention. I thought seriously about it. This would be a huge time committment.

But then I joined on impulse. About 40 weeks of breads.

And here we are.

BBA Challenge #5: Casatiello

I know, I know. I'm late. You see, I had a vacation last week, and even though I was home the entire time, I did almost nothing relaxing. I did set aside some time to make the Casatiello last Tuesday, about nine days ago, but had no time (cough, cough) to blog about it.

Okay, okay. I just got lazy. I did want to blog about it and even had a "I am going to sit down now and blog the Casatiello" but did other things instead.

On Tuesday morning I went to my favorite specialty flour store, Der Mehlstübchen, and bought 10 kilos of flour. I didn't really realize it, but that's what, like 22 pounds? I got 2 kilo bags of Whole Wheat, 4 bags of 1050, and 4 of 812. Here they are in the awesome IKEA containers I got on Monday morning.

812 has become my normal bread flour, and 550 will serve as my all-purpose flour, since I find 405 to be way too fine for bread. I actually made the mistake of baking bread with this flour when I first came to Germany, and the bread was unspectacular. You can read more about the numbers here.

For the Casatiello I decided to use some smoked Scamorza, which is delicious in real life.

All I had was 131 grams and I needed just a bit more, so I used a bit from my favorite IKEA cheese. Now, I usually buy the black version whenever I go, but to tell the truth, I can never tell a difference. I just like the black packaging because it reminds me of Cabot Sharp Cheddar, which I used to buy in 2 pound blocks when I lived in Rhode Island.

For the sausage, I used a Spanish-style Veggie Chorizo. This differs from Mexican Chorizo, or Soyrizo, which is yum, by the way. The Spanish version is much drier and thicker, so you can really cut it into cubes.

Also of note this time was the first official use of my new spoon scale. I actually saw this on the Brouwland website, but couldn't really justify it if I was just measuring out hops. After a bit of frustration with the small measurements given in the Bread Baker's Apprentice, I decided to buy this. I got it for only 17,98 € on Here is is with roughly 9,4 grams of instant yeast. Yes, I do love my kitchen toys!

I have to say that I really paid no mind to Peter Reinhart's mise en place stuff until I read Phyl's post about it. I am not going to say that it was any easier, but it was nice to be able to photograph everything together. It all looked so professional lined up like that.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I decided to use the dough hook for this bread. I have to say that I pretty much hated using it, and will probably use the roller unless I have to do a huge quantity of bread. The dough kept climbing the hook, and eventually I had to remove the dough, remove the scraper and throw the dough back in there without the scraper. Still, it was not as exciting as I thought it would be.

Here it is as a wee bitty ball.

I used a smaller round ceramic casserole dish for this one, because I wanted it to be a bit higher like a panettone. I made a collar out of parchment that went up and up in order to encase the bread and so that it would not spill out the sides. What I didn't expect was the high rise and the oven spring.

It came out nice. Almost like a huge muffin. The Veggie Chorizo looked beautiful on the crust, mottling it.

I even loved the way the bottom looked. Unfortunately, by inverting it, I sort of, how do you say, smashed in the nice round top? Yes it had a dent, but it was so perfect before.

Still, the bread was dangerously delicious. Oh, man. It was so delicious I had to give more than half away. I could have eaten the entire thing. It was amazing because I am usually a sweet guy. Even my girlfriend says so, and she's a savory woman.

I had left the bread cooling on the rack because I had to run to a breadmaking class at the flour store. When my girlfriend got home she said the apartment smelled amazing and that she nearly tore into the bread right there. I don't know how it was still whole when I got home, but she did the decent thing and waited.

Part of the reason was that she didn't know if I had already photographed the bread! I was just missing the crumb shot, and I took the above two shots in the living room minutes before we each shoved a huge piece into our mouths. I love how my 50mm f1,8 lens blurs the background so that no one knows how messy our apartment really is. I guess you will never know unless you visit Berlin!

Oh, and check out my mad long bread knife. The thing is like 45cm long or something. It is a pleasure cutting bread with this long monster.

I have to point out Flour Girl's post on the bread, which mirrored my love for this bread.

The next bread is Challah which I hope to make on Saturday. And, even though no one who is not already in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is reading this post, I have to give a shout out to Nicole from Pinch My Salt who coordinated the challenge. It is a pleasure to take part in this awesome collective bread education. Though I may have to take that back when I eat a whole pan of Cinnamon Buns in two weeks!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

BBA Challenge #4: Brioche

One of the strangest things about working in Metric is that you come across the strangest things. Butter in Germany is sold in 250g packages (two sticks in the States, plus a tablespoon, about). Milk is sold in liters. Flour and sugar kilogram packages. Although, yes, that is a bit of packaging, it sure beats lugging home 5lb. bags of flour. Then again, when you are lugging 4,5kg of flour, it doesn't really matter.

Eggs are the strangest thing I have encountered here because they are not sold by the dozen, what with the Metric system and all.

That's ten, count 'em, ten eggs! Oddly enough, the small package contains six eggs instead of five, so go figure.

In any case, I made the Middle-Class Brioche because I didn't want to add large amounts of butter to the bread. While I am a huge fan of butter as an ingredient, I rarely spread it on bread, and I didn't want the bread to be too buttery.

I weighed five medium eggs with the shell. Jumbo and large eggs are hard to come by, maybe because the production is different. Medium seems to be the standard size. I got Bodenhaltung Eier, which means the hens were allowed to run around. There are four types of eggs in the EU, and almost all eggs are stamped with their origin details. The other three types are: Organic, Free-Range, Free-Run and Caged. In this case, they were marked 2-NL- and then the code for the place they came from. 2 for Free-run and NL for The Netherlands.

For the Brioche, I used my standard bread flour: Weizenmehl Type 812. Most flour sold here is Type 405, which corresponds to bleached all-purpose flour. It's best for cakes, but I've never had success with it for bread. I actually bought a kilo of Type 550 organic flour, in case I didn't have enough, but luckily, I had enough, with 50 grams left over. This flour is also from the Mehlstübchen, a specialty flour store near the house.

I started the Brioche last Wednesday, after work. Here's the sponge with the yeast, flour and milk. The sponge was done at 20:00, so I marked it for my reference. Somehow, I forgot to buy whole milk, so I ended up using 0,1% milk. That's right. Zero comma one percent. I guess it has to do with some legal thing that milk cannot be sold as fat-free if there is even the slight possibility that it will have fat in it, so they label it with the maximum minimum.

And here it is forty-five minutes later. The bad lighting is because of the position of the lamp in relation to the height of the bowl. Or something.

I added the sponge, eggs, flour and sugar to the DLX.

The real test would be if the butter would incorporate well, as I had heard horror stories of cold butter clumping in the machine. Apparently a Kitchen-Aid is better for cold butter, so I made sure the butter was at room temperature.

There's a pocket of air in that bowl, so it looks like more butter than it is. This was 227 grams. One thing about technique here. I cut the cold butter into chunks and smeared it along the sides of the bowl. I do this to increase the surface area of the butter that needs to be softened so that the butter loses its coldness quicker.

Even though Peter Reinhart recommends adding the butter a quarter at a time and waiting until it is completely assimilated before adding the next quarter, I really could have added it all at once. The butter disappeared within seconds and was fully incorporated within a minute or two.

The other great thing about the Electrolux Assistent DLX/N26/AKM4110W is that it has a scraper built in. There was a recommendation to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and the machine did this beautifully. I did stick in a rubber spatula to get a clean scrape, but this seemed like a mere formality. I cannot recommend sticking in spatulas, tools, or even your whole hand into the mixer for legal reasons, however.

Because I do not yet have any sheet pans, I figured a pizza pan would be the best next thing. And since the dough would be shaped, I didn't see why I couldn't just make a circle instead of the rectangle recommended in the book.

I put the dough in the fridge and decided to bake it the next evening. However, I had to work late, and by the time we were done with dinner, it was 21:00. I didn't want to be up late baking so I decided to wait a bit longer and get up at 6:00 the next morning.

The next morning I woke up at fifteen to six and took the dough out of the fridge. Much to my surprise it had risen about 50 percent.

I got out the brioche pans and set to work.

The dough was actually a bit sticky and very cold, so it was not much fun shaping the two loaves into the pans. I got these pans at Coledampf's CulturCentrum in Wilmersdorf.

I also made two small brioches to sample, as I had already planned to give the loaves away, and I didn't want to bake without having at least eaten some.

Unfortunately, the mini brioches came out lopsided, but looked like little chicks. I thought it was a bit cute, but was a bit disappointed that they didn't come out like the larger ones.

The loaves themselves were majestic.

Because the oven overbrowns and because I had no foil to make a tent and because it seems like the oven is perenially hotter up top than at the bottom, I lowered the rack to the bottom. Final temperapure of the loaves was 190F.

The egg wash turned out beautiful. There was some splitting, and it looked beautiful peeking out. The crumb was also lovely.

I must say that I am not a huge fan of brioche, but it was definitely delicious.

Next is Casatiello! I will be making it with veggie sausage and hopefully smoked Scamorza cheese.