Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BBA Challenge #16: Kaiser Rolls

Here in Germany, Kaiser Rolls do not exist. Well, sort of not. Kaiserbrötchen are usually found in southern Germany, extending down to Switzerland. But that does not mean that the ordinary person has ever heard of them. Most people in the north have also never heard of O'batzda either, even though is one of my favorite German foods.

So, to most Germans, they do not exist. But they still have Semmel, Weckle, Rundstück, Kipfle, Bömmel, and my favorite, the Schrippe. Okay, okay, so those are all regional names for the same plain white roll. In Berlin, the Schrippe is the ubiquitous roll, and costs about 0,19€ at almost every place.

Because they do not exist, I was not too excited about making the Kaiser Rolls. In truth, however, it was more the case that we have been having a streak of white breads with the English, French and Italian breads, that I just thought, "No, not another white bread". Funny how Peter Reinhart somehow, conveniently, put all the enriched breads in the front, then all the white breads. I bet you he would have switched Ciabatta to a later place in the book if it had any other name.

Reading through other people's blogs, it seems that you only use about half of the pâte fermentée for this bread. All I can say is oops! I guess I've been bad at reading directions. Also, because I made the pâte fermentée about four days before making the actual bread, I sort of forgot to pay attention to the directions and just forged ahead.

Here's the liquids mixing. Note the yellow color after the egg has been mixed in.

The flour as well as all of the pâte fermentée is mixed in. Remember that I added a whole batch of it, which is about double of what is normally needed.

Add a little bit more to make it come together, and let it knead until windowpane. Peter Reinhart recommends using the pâte fermentée within three days because after that the gluten will start to break down. But I actually didn't notice any of that in my mixing.

Okay, here is where I have to come clean. If Mags from The Other Side of Fifty can do it, so can I: The pâte fermentée was started on a Saturday, the dough itself on a Wednesday, and the rolls on a Sunday. So it was a week-long bread, start to finish. More on that later.

So here I am, on a Sunday morning, trying to be quiet to let our jet-lagged visitor sleep some. I divided the rolls into twelve equal pieces.

Because I didn't feel like buying a Kaiser Roll stamp, I went the knot route. I think it made better looking rolls, though.

Here are the ropes for the Kaiser Roll knots. Unfortunately the dough was a bit sticky and squishy, probably from having been in the fridge for so long. I would have preferred a stiffer dough. Oh, wait, maybe it was because I used the entire batch of pâte fermentée.

Nevertheless, I loved the shape these made. I must make rolls this way again. basically, you make an overhand knot and then tuck the ends in. It looks like a lot of effort for basically none.

The crust was pretty much soft, not crispy like on the brötchen you get here.

But to compare Kaiser rolls to Kaiserbrötchen is probably like comparing Fujis to Granny Smiths. They come from different places, no?

The crumb was light just like the brötchen you get here.

Someone also mentioned using an apple corer as a stamp, but that didn't turn out so good, as I found out. I wasn't sure how much pressure to use, and since the rolls get an upside-down rise immediately after stamping, the stamp came out sort of- well- odd. I did sprinkle them with poppyseeds, though.

I'm going to be fully honest here and say that this was probably the least favorite of the breads we have made, ranking for me, below the Anadama Bread, which is not bad, but compared to some of the breads we have made like the Casatiello and the Cranberry Walnut Celebration bread, this one just left me wanting more. Maybe I'm too spoiled, but after that awesome Italian Bread re-do, this one could hold the mayo, but just couldn't cut the mustard.

If you, unlike me, liked my rolls, you will definitely enjoy these:

Chris from Eating Is The Hard Part
Janice from Round The Table
Mags from The Other Side of 50
Carolyn from Two Skinny Jenkins

Again, thanks to Nicole from Pinch My Salt for leading our brave effort through The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rosemary Tisane

The summer before eight grade, my mother and sisters and I spent a summer in Juanchorrey, Mexico. It's a small town near Tepetongo, which, in turn, is near Jerez, which is near Zacatecas in the state of Zacatecas. If you're guessing it was in the middle of nothing, you would probably be right.

I remember many things about that summer, particularly the heat, as well as swimming in the rivers there. Most of all, though, I remember all of the pigs. In certain parts of Mexico, there are stray dogs that just, well, run free, as strays do. In Juanchorrey, however, it wasn't dogs that we were worried about, it was pigs.

From what I can remember, there were more pigs than dogs, and even though I can hardly believe that they were stray, they were just running all over the place.

The one thing, however, that has stuck with me, is my mom making us Te de Salvia, and how she just went outside, picked the sage leaves off the plants and just boiled them in water. I remember it tasting so good, even though I have no recollection of how exactly it tasted.

Oddly enough, herbal teas have been like a red thread through my life. My favorite tea before I left for college was Te de Manzanilla. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't find it anywhere. It would take two years before I looked in an English-Spanish Dictionary and discovered that it was called Chamomille. I looked it up before I left for Berlin. It's called Kamillentee here.

Now, I've had a lot of experience with drinking Sage Tea, which I do every now and again, even though it's really not my thing anymore. And I have the occasional Chamomille tea. Lately, though, my tastes have been drifting toward Peppermint, though.


Amy and I went to Paris in mid-August. We were armed with Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris and were cross-referencing with the small mapbook Paris Pratique, a must for any visitor to the city. L'Indispensable, indeed.

We ended up at La Ferme Opera, which was about a ten minute walk from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Deciding on a menu was easy, but looking at the drinks, it was either water or...

I had never encountered the word Romarin before, though I know Rosmarin, Romero, and Rosemary. I snatched it up and enjoyed it with my veggie tart.

The day after we got home, I went to the Galeries Lafayette here in Berlin to see if I could find some of the things we had eaten in Paris, and there I found another bottle of Romarin Tisane. However, my excitement was soon smothered by the price: 2,50€. For a small bottle.

Of course, this was not going to be a regular drink for me. Or was it? For some reason, many ingredients in the EU have their ingredients listed on the side with percentages given for some ingredients. In this case, we had water, rosemary, raspberry juice, and lemon juice. Oh, hold on, that's 8 percent raspberry juice to be exact.

Armed with this knowledge, I raced to the nearest Bio-laden to get 100% pure raspberry juice. Unfortunately, none was to be had, so I had to make do with second best. Pure blueberry juice, which was very pricey, a mixture of fruit juices with honey, and red grape juice, which was not so pricey.

I began by steeping about 30g fresh Rosemary leaves in about a liter of just boiled hot water. The Erlenmeyer Flask is just for show. Rather, I have it around for making beer, so you don't have to run out and buy one for making this. A four cup or even a two cup Pyrex glass will also do the trick. Important is that you can pour it out.

Let it steep for about an hour. The rosemary flavor will actually increase the longer you steep it, and I have done it overnight for a big rosemary punch. Then again, I love leaving teabags in my cup in order to have very strong tea.

I used a cheesecloth held to the flask with a rubber band in order to strain the cooled tea into another container such as a clean water bottle.

Next, measure out 8% of juice in relation to the final amount of tea. That is, if you want a liter of tea, you will add 80mL of juice. If you want a liter and a half, which is what I did, you add 120mL of juice. Last, add a squirt of lemon juice. Just enough that you can taste a bit of sourness, but not enough that it overwhelms the tea. Perhaps about 1% to offset the Rosemary.

The results? The original Romarin Tisane is on the left. The juice and honey mix yielded a light color and tasted only so-so. The next one with the grape was a bit closer to the color, but the one with the Blueberry juice was too dark. Still, it was the best tasting, with the tartness contrasting with the strong Rosemary flavor.

Chill well before serving. It tastes awesome at room temperature, but even better chilled.

These days, however, I use a mix of half grape juice and half blueberry juice. Alas, I still cannot find 100% raspberry juice, but have been eyeing the Pomegranates that are just coming into season. Perhaps a new mix is in order?

Here's a recipe for those of you who want to follow one down to the last milliliter:

Rosemary Tisane
Yield: 1 Liter

20g fresh Rosemary
80mL slightly tart 100% juice such as Raspberry or Pomegranate (not cranberry, though- you have been warned!)
5mL lemon Juice
1L Water, plus a bit more to top up at the end.

Take about 30g fresh Rosemary and steep in a full liter of hot, nearly boiling water. After 4 hours, strain the tea into a liter pitcher or container. Add the Raspberry and lemon juices and mix well. Add enough water to yield exactly 1L. Serve Chilled.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BBA Challenge #15: Italian Bread; On Scoring, and Rosemary Potato Bread

So, I have to confess something.

I made this recipe in the same week as the French Bread when we got back from Paris. And it was. Well. I don't know how to say it. I sort of goofed.

Now, we all have our moments when we are distracted or doing other stuff or just plum waiting for the bread to rise and bake so we can leave the house and do other things.

These are not the times to bake. Baking requires patience. And knowing how to let go of something you are creating. For a few half-hours, that is. One of the reasons I love to bake is that I am creating something that grows on its own. I don't need to tend to it like I would a Risotto, nor do I need to check on it every two minutes while I am preparing another dish and attempting to get them both to the table at the same time.

Bread. Is nothing like that. It is slow. It is calm. It just sits on the counter and waits. Bread baking is not about following directions, but, rather, following a process. You can follow directions and make competent bread, but you can learn how to bake and make excellent bread just by using a bread formula as a guide.

This is why I love to bake. I can do other things while the bread waits. While the bread bakes. The bread waits in the kitchen like an old friend, ready for you to help transform it into something beyond the sum of its contents.

Sometimes, though. You forget about your old friend. Or you are doing something else while your friend waits in the kitchen.

I goofed. I did it wrong. This time.

Perhaps the most influential factor in my distraction was this. There are three pre-ferments here. Two for two different miches, and one biga for the Italian Bread. You'll have to have a little patience on the miches. I'll get to them.

Despite the ridiculous number of different ingredients, I got the mise en place right. I even put everything in a separate bowl. I used Type 812 flour, as I do whenever the recipe calls for Bread Flour. I get this flour at a specialty flour store a couple minutes away by bike.

I actually hadn't done much bread by hand ever since I bought my mixer. But in this installment, the mixer was busy with the miches. Yes, the distraction.

Here are all the ingredients save some of the flour. I scraped the bowl down and dumped it on a floured board. Then added some more flour for dramatic effect and that is how I got the opening photo.

I actually had not kneaded in quite a while, so I had forgotten how the dough begins all runny and sticky and ends up silky and smooth. I did get a windowpane on this one, but I haven't figured out how to do windowpane shots and not drop everything. Perhaps if I had two more hands?

After the bulk rise, I cut the bread into one big loaf and rolls. I was going to bring the rolls into work for Monday morning breakfast, but...

Here's the shaping on the nifty perforated pan I bought a while ago. I use it because the sheet pans here fit the oven perfectly. That is, they leave hardly any room for air circulation. This is the smallest one I could find, and it almost takes up the entire oven area. I still have to put it on a rack, though, as it is about 1cm short.

From the photos it is fairly evident that I forgot. That I didn't check on the bread after a half hour just to see how it was doing all alone in the kitchen. I was probably catching up on reading my favorite blogs, though.

This is what came out. No oven spring. And I overbaked it. Too dark. I could say I blamed the malt powder, but, really, I only have myself to blame.

The thing that really irked me was the oven spring/scoring thing. Nothing happened. I expected the bread to blossom, particularly after reading this great post by Kelly from Something Shiny.

So, ever since reading about it on The Fresh Loaf, I had wanted to try the razor-blade-and-wooden-coffee-stirrer-as-lame trick. I have to tell you, it works wonderfully, but I have discovered that you really need to keep these things in mind.

1) The loaf cannot be overproofed. If you look at the three pictures above you will see what I mean. This is why all the directions say to bake the loaf when it is 1 1/2 times the size, and not doubled. You get nice oven spring, and the loaf will burst out where you cut.

2) You have to have good surface tension on the bread. Which means you have to shape it well when you shape it.

3) Most importantly, you have to do it with the full strength of your convictions. In the book, Reinhart mentions that he sometimes tells his students to say the word "slit" as they are cutting their slits into the bread. I have to say that this has helped me quite a bit, as I am concentrating on the blade and the slits, and not on the dragging that sometimes occurs when surface tension is not right, or when I am not doing it with feeling.

Of course, if the slit is not deep enough, you can take your lame and slice again. Just try to slit it in the same place so that no one will be able to tell.

Okay. So Italian Bread didn't work out. But are you ready for this?

You are allowed re-dos. With bread you can eat the evidence. In the above case, the bread was rock hard after a day, so we didn't eat it after that, though. But you can say. Okay, I made the bread. It didn't work out. Let's do it again!

I re-did the French Bread, but that will get its own post. I'm combining the Italian Bread and its re-do because I took like zero pictures of the Italian Bread process. I was making some Rosemary Potato Bread along with Italian Bread #2, because we had made potatoes. Yeah. Any excuse to bake.

Here's the second bake of Italian Bread.

I baked them on my incredible blue steel pans from Matfer that I scored at Mora in Paris. I waited until they were about 1 1/2 times their pre-shaping size then scored them.

This was the classic Italian Bread cut. One single long cut down the length of the bread.

I saw them expanding in the oven during the first few minutes and knew I had done everything right. I didn't need the stars and planets to align, just a little bit of care and carefulness.

Even the bottom was golden and gorgeous!

I did sideway slashes for the second loaf, but I think I must have shaped it funny because it was lumpy and thin in the middle.

We used this loaf to make Veggie Sloppy Joes out of a failed Chorizo attempt of mine. We were too busy stuffing our faces to take photos.

This is the crust shot of the larger loaf. I actually made the biga seven days prior, on a Saturday. I had planned to make the bread during the week, but had no time due to work, cooking and movies. Because of this, the bread had a slight tang, and our friend that was over thought it tasted like sourdough. The flavor was through the roof! Of course, after three days, the gluten starts breaking down, but in this case, it still worked. Just look at those holes.

I sliced it up to photograph it, but it was just an excuse to pop the slices into my mouth. Very yummy.

On the same day, I had also made a triple batch of Rosemary Potato Bread. Becuase we were swimming in bread, I called one of my colleagues who lives a few blocks over. I gave her a loaf of the Potato Bread as well as half of the larger Italian Bread loaf. She said, as many have said prior, that I should totally open a bakery.

I laughed. I do get that quite a bit, but I think it is just because they have not had really good bread. Oh, wait, Germany is full of really good bread. I mean really good bread that has no rye in it!

If you have made it this far, I'm going to give you a little eye-candy. I experimented with scoring on the Potato Bread.

This was the first loaf. Proofed just enough, scored. Into the oven.

Because the oven is rather small, I can only bake one bread at a time, so this one had an additional 40 min proofing time. It was already well risen, so it didn't expand as much.

I actually forgot to score this one, but it was the size of the first one, so it probably wasn't going to expand any more.

So you may ask when I have the time to make all this bread. The truth is, I don't actually, but I usually can carve out some time on the weekend to do a whirlwind marathon baking session, or just time our visits to the market with the initial rise of the bread.

Again, a shout out to Nicole from Pinch My Salt for coming up with the Challenge.

I'm very behind in blogging, but I've got tons of breads coming up! See you soon!