Friday, November 5, 2010

BBA Challenge #42: Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes

Every Saturday morning, Amy and I make a survey of whatever vegetables we have left in the house, grab our Oma Porsche (shopping trolley), and roll on out of there into the midst of a huge Turkish Market at Crelleplatz near our house.

The market itself is nothing special. Half the stalls are clothing, trinkets, and other low-priced wares. The thing that disturbs me the most is a singing doll, very likely made in China who says "I love you!" before launching into the most horrible rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I've sworn on not less than one occasion that one day that very annoying doll will make me reach my breaking point.

The market is not divided in any way between wares and vegetables, and the stalls are pretty much hit or miss. We have the stall where we always buy carrots, if they have them, the one stall which always has bundles of fresh herbs for an Euro, the stall where we never buy anything because they seem to rip us off and have very bad fruit and vegetables, and then there's the stall where the guy screams with so much projection, that you can hear him halfway down the market shouting "Lecker! Lecker! Lecker!"

The bad thing is that most of the produce has recognizable supermarket stickers. That is, they come in bags or plastic baskets, and look exactly like the kind you would get in a supermarket. The weird thing is that some of it can go bad rather quickly, so you have to be quite selective, and get there early in the morning before the afternoon rush. The rush, of course, is amplified by the vendors dropping their prices and offering you flats of produce for an Euro or two. We once got a flat of avocados for an Euro right before closing.

None of this is that extraordinary for Berlin, though. What is rather extraordinary is the potato vendor at the very fringe of the market, in the least traveled section right by the 2€ slippers and the stall where I was once yelled at for picking up a basket of cherry tomatoes to take a closer look. You see, the potato vendor is not Turkish. He's German. So, it's especially puzzling to see him chilling (and sometimes his friends) and selling potatoes that haven't travelled that far. His four kinds of potatoes, and two kinds of onions come from the Lüneberger Heide, just outside of Hamburg. Also strange, especially for this market is his old balance scale, with weights on one side, and a basket for the potatoes on the other.

Usually, I tell him what I'm making, and he'll tell me which potatoes are best. This time, however, I was a bit afraid to tell him that I'd be putting the potatoes in bread.

The penultimate bread in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes. I'm this close from finishing the challenge, and in truth, it's probably taken me twice as long as it should have, partly because I was dragging my feet, and partly because Asiago is near impossible to find in Germany.

Germany has sometimes proven to be a bit of a challenge for me, especially with food. The German tastes in cheese range from Quark to Frischkäse to mild Goudas. I find it surprising that their pre-shredded Pizza Cheese is made of Gouda instead of aged mozzarella, of which there seems to be none. Fresh mozzarella in its brine, however, can be found in little plastic bags in every grocery store in the city.

So, whenever I see Cheddar, I usually snap it up. Cathedral City is the most common one here, and while their 16 month old cheese is tasty, you sort of long for the variety (cough, Cabot) you can get in the States, or in the UK. In an odd twist of the cheese knife, this cheese claims "Cheddar- England's-Nummer1". Um, right.

The bread was supposed to be sliced, but, with when aged, this is the way cheddar crumbles.

The mise en place with both sourdough and fresh yeast. Another weird thing about Germany is that you can get fresh yeast at every supermarket in the country for about 15 cents. I love it, but I usually forget that I have it, and it ends up going bad.

The dough is mixed and the potatoes are thrown in there to be mashed into the dough. 

I know that many people out there own Kitchen-Aid mixers, but for making bread, I love my Electrolux mixer. the bowl is wide and open so you can throw more ingredients in while it is running, and you can even scrape down the bowl quite easily (when it's not running, of course). Also, I regularly mix about 2 kilos of dough in the machine, and it doesn't even get warm. How's that for a recommendation?

I love and hate using fresh yeast- the dough rises quicker than expected, so sometimes something like this happens. While it's good to know that the bread has at least doubled, it's also a sign that the gluten has become overstretched, so the structure of the final bread won't be as great as it could have been. 

And speaking of as great as it could have been- I sort of skimmed that part of the recipe where you add the chives to the dough. By the time I got to that part, I was already shaping the bread.

So I just kind of threw it all into the layer, knowing that the chives would be concentrated with the cheese, instead of dispersing their flavory goodness into the dough itself.

In all the bread talk I hear and read, everyone mentions dough scrapers and bench knives and metal scrapers, but no one mentions brushes. I ordered this one from MORA in Paris, and I use it every time I make bread. Sometimes to brush flour off the counter, other times to brush it off loaves going in or coming out of the oven. The biggest use, though? Brushing flour off my camera whenever I take photos of the process.

I'm not going to say that the loaves came out pretty, because they didn't, despite all the support gave them in the final rise, and the careful sliding onto the baking stone.

Because the dough was so slack- probably from letting the dough overrise, I put the dough in an improvised couche made of parchment paper, knowing I would never get them out if I put them in a regular linen couche.

Of course, I was on a miche kick back when I made the bread for the Challenge, so I also made a miche at the same time. Because of the scoring, and the way the bread expanded, it looks like it has a third eye and is smiling about it.

One of the things that I always kick myself about is that I never take notes. I would love to be the person who takes notes of everything. Rather, I rely on memory, which eventually fails once I make the next bread. Still, it can't be all that bad if I'm pulling loaves like this out of the oven.

Here's a close up of the mouth.

And the crumb structure right out of the oven. I think I hit a perfect mix of flours, water and time, but I'll never know what it was. I should, however, note that I really should have scored the bread down the middle. Check out how the holes all tend to go toward the left, where the mouth, the weakest point, was. But chalk it up to creative scoring, and a thousand little variables, no?

But the bread of this post (remember that one?) came out relatively flat.

 Nevertheless, you can still see the cheddar peeking through the slashes in the bread.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good spiral in the middle. It was sort of like it just decided to form random pockets of cheese and chives in the middle.

But that certainly didn't stop us from eating all of it in one go. It was fabulous, but next time, I'll be sure to add the chives in for all of their flavory goodness.

Just one more bread to go!

Other bakers who have torpedoed their way to this part of the Challenge are:

Sarah at My Runchey Life

Cindy at Salt and Serenity

Paul at Yumarama

Cathy at Bread Experience

Phyl at Of Cabbages and King Cakes

Sally at Bewitching Kitchen

Janice at Round The Table

Anne Marie at Rosemary and Garlic

ap269 at Family and Food

TXfarmer at her blog (in Chinese)

Natashya from Living In The Kitchen With Puppies


  1. The miche looks wonderful.

    I didn't get a good spiral on the cheese either. It was OK in the middle of the bread, but the ends were just potato chive bread. It was still delicious though, and I'll probably make it again. I think the bread begs to be paired with tomato soup.

    Thanks for the shout out!

  2. Mmmm...looks delicious. Just reminds me how very much I loved this one (it's one of my top 5 remakes). Can't wait to hear about bread #45!

  3. Daniel, I think that you should have been honest and said that you were off drinking beer instead of baking!

    Asiago is such a unique flavor. Hope you find some.

    That miche is beautiful.

  4. Huge congrats on getting this far!!! Can't wait to see the grand finale! Makes me eager to get to this bread and give it a try!

  5. I thought this bread was fine, but it definitely needs MORE chives! Can't wait to read your Asiago Miche post!

  6. Oh, I find it surprising what you say about Germans and cheese: I've always thought we had a big variety... At least my supermarket (Kaufland) has: all kinds of German, French, Swiss, Italian, English etc. cheeses, and even pre-shredded Mozarella pizza cheese!

  7. All kinds of new vocabulary I kind of get the gist of but am probably going to look up later.
    My two all time favourite Cheddars in the UK are Keen's Cheddar and of course Montgomery's
    You will never make fun of cheddar again if you taste those two!
    Not that you were - but people do!

  8. Your potato seller sounds wonderful. David is obsessed with the Lüneberger Heide and we keep intending to spend a weekend there...

  9. I just love your really nice step-by-step procedure. Charming photos and great tips. Whenever I bake bread I always want it to look good. Your bread looks perfect! I have to try this. Cheers!

  10. Oh cheddar, be still my beating heart. Every time I'M in the UK I bring back as much as I can - I can't get it here. There IS good cheese but cheddar, well, cheddar is cheddar and in my eyes at least, tastier than bergkaese. That looks like some mighty fine bread! ^_^

  11. Hey, can you post a link to the Electrolux mixer you use? I'm thinking of dipping a toe into the stand mixer waters... Thank you!

  12. Oops! Just saw your profile. Never mind, sorry! :)

  13. I totally feel your cheese pain. I really miss a good bit of Cheddar! Cathedral City is what I buy too. It's tasty but it certainly gets boring after a while!

    Love the sound of this bread! It's right up my street!