Beer bread

I’ve read many times about beer bread, but I never tried that. I love beer, in particular the dark/brown ones. In this smoking hot summer my fridge is always full of beer, IPA, Belgian, Weissbier and so on. I picked up a Chimay blue, I love the flavour.

The bread came out of the oven with an incredible flavour and colour. We definitely loved it. Next step is to replace water completely (even for the poolish) and to test different beers (Guinness is the next in my list).

The recipe is basically my usual one, I simply replaced water with beer. Not completely though, for the poolish I used water.

Ingredients (make one loaf)

For the poolish

  • 120 gr flour
  • 120 ml water
  • 60 gr rye sourdough starter

For the dough

  • 170 gr high protein bread flour
  • 170 gr first clear flour (Organic “tipo2” flour milled by Mulino Tre Ponti, Polverigi, Ancona – Italy)
  • 6 grams barley malt flour
  • 50 gr rye sourdough starter
  • 180 ml Chimay blue beer
  • 8 gr salt

The poolish is a batter made by a small amount of sourdough starter, in this case a rye flour starter, water and flour; it is prepared the day before because it needs 10-12 hours to ferment. Put in a bowl the rye sourdough, the water and the flour. Mix with a spoon and cover with cling film. Store it overnight in a warm place. I keep it in the oven.

The morning after you need to add the remaining flour, the rye starter and the beer.

Chimay blue

Mix in the stand mixer with the dough hook, for 1-2 minutes at speed 1. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and then mix for another 4 minutes, at speed 1. Cover the bowl with the cling film and let the dough rest for 45 minutes (autolyse).

At this point you can add the salt and mix the dough by hand inside the bowl.

Lightly flour the working surface and stretch and fold your dough (stretch the dough and then fold it left over right, right over left, bottom over top, top over bottom). After the stretch and fold let the dough rest for 15 minutes and then stretch and fold it again for a total of 3 times.

Put the dough in a bowl, cover it with the cling film and put it in the oven (with the oven light on, to keep the oven lightly warm) for 4 hours. This is the fermentation phase. The dough will rise (about 1.5 times the original volume).

After the fermentation, put the dough on a floured working surface. Stretch and fold the dough and put it in a floured (use rice flour) proofing basket (banneton). Cover with cling film. Keep it in a warm place for 2 hours.

Put the cast iron pot in the oven and pre-heat the oven for 30-45 minutes at 250°C. Put the dough into the pot, cut the top of the loaf with a bread scoring tool, put the lid on and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue cooking at a lower temperature, 220-230°C, for 25-30 minutes.

When the bread is ready, let it cool completely on a wire cooling rack (1.5 hrs). Enjoy!

Beer sourdough
Beer bread

 

Raisins, cranberries and almonds sourdough bread

Sometimes you get tired of the routine, you have to try something new. This applies to baking as well. After dozens of loaves, almost the same ingredients, only small changes in the type of flours, I decided to change. The idea was a bread, not really a sweet one (like Panettone) but something that could be good for breakfast and also interesting with some kind of cheese, Gorgonzola was the one I had in mind.

So far I can tell that it’s very very good with butter and apricot jam. I haven’t tried it with cheese yet.

Ingredients (make one loaf)

For the poolish

115 gr whole wheat flour (Tipo 2 Mulino Tre Ponti, Polverigi, ITALY)
115 ml water
50 gr rye sourdough starter

For the dough

170 gr high protein bread flour (Molino Rossetto W400)
170 gr whole wheat flour (Tipo 2 Mulino Tre Ponti, Polverigi, ITALY)
100 gr cane sugar
35 gr cranberries
35 gr raisins
50 gr minced walnuts
180 ml water (warm)
8 gr salt

The process

The poolish is a batter made by a small amount of sourdough starter, in this case a rye flour starter, water and flour; it is prepared the day before because it needs 10-12 hours to ferment. Put in a bowl the rye sourdough, the water and the flour. Mix with a spoon and cover with cling film. Store it overnight in a warm place. I keep it in the oven.

The morning after you need to add the remaining flours, sugar, the soaked raisins and cranberries, the minced almonds and the water. Mix in the stand mixer with the dough hook, for 3-4 minutes at speed 1. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and then mix for another 3-4 minutes, at speed 1. Cover the bowl with the cling film and let the dough rest for 45 minutes (autolyse).

At this point you can add the salt and mix the dough by hand inside the bowl.

Lightly flour the working surface and stretch and fold your dough (stretch the dough and then fold it left over right, right over left, bottom over top, top over bottom). After the stretch and fold let the dough rest for 15 minutes and then stretch and fold it again for a total of 3 times.

Put the dough in a bowl, cover it with the cling film and put it in the oven (with the oven light on, to keep the oven lightly warm) for 4 hours. This is the fermentation phase. The dough will rise (about 1.5 times the original volume).

After the fermentation, put the dough on a floured working surface. Stretch and fold the dough and put it in a floured (I use rice flour) proofing basket (banneton). Cover with cling film. Keep it in a warm place for 2 hours.

Put the cast iron pot in the oven and pre-heat the oven for 30-45 minutes at 250°C. Put the dough into the pot, cut the top of the loaf with a bread scoring tool, put the lid on and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue cooking at a lower temperature, 220-230°C, for 25-30 minutes.

When the bread is ready, let it cool completely on a wire cooling rack (1.5 hrs). Enjoy!

Raisins, cranberries, almonds bread

 

The crumb is soft and creamy

Hemp* flour cookies

I’ve been in Italy for a long weekend recently. I spent a couple of days near Ancona, Marche region. Simply beautiful!

Marche

During my stay I visited a stone mill (Mulino Tre Ponti, Polverigi – Ancona) with my Italian friends. Very interesting visit, the owner has been very friendly and explained us all the process, from the wheat harvesting to the flours. I purchased 11 Kg of different flours, spelt, whole wheat, oats and also 1 Kg of hemp flour. I was curious about this one, since I tried a hemp flour pizza lately and I found it amazing. The mill’s owner recommended to use about 5% of this flour in all my products, bread, pizza, cookies, etc.

Mulino Tre Ponti – Stone Mill

So I prepared a batch of cookies using my usual recipe, simply adding 5% of hemp flour.To recap, 50% is rice flour, 45% is oats flour and the remaining 5% is hemp flour.

Mulino Tre Ponti – Flours

Ingredients

  • 250 gr rice flour
  • 225 gr oats flour
  • 25 gr hemp flour
  • 200 gr raw cane sugar (I use Muscovado sugar from Philippines)
  • 180 gr softened high quality butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 7 gr baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 60 grams of chocolate muesli
  • 60 grams of ground Bronte pistachio
Hemp Cookies – Ingredients

Using a tilt-head stand mixer with the wire whip, mix the softened butter and the sugar until the mix gets fluffy and smooth.

Then add the 2 eggs and keep mixing for 2 minutes at speed 2. Add the vanilla paste that you have extracted from the vanilla bean using a sharp knife.

Mix in a bowl the three flours, the baking soda and a pinch of salt. Replace the wire whip with the flat beater and start mixing at low speed while adding the flour.

When all the flour has been added to the dough, add the ground pistachio and chocolate muesli and mix for one minute.

Shape the dough like a small “brick” and wrap it with the cling film. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Flatten the dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of 7-8 mm. Cut the dough with a cookie cutter and bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes in a preheated oven (180°C).

Hemp flour cookies

* Important note:

Hemp is a species of Cannabis sativa BUT hemp is not the same as marijuana.

Hemp foods contain less than 0.003% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and will NOT cause a psychoactive effect or a false-positive drug test.

Focaccia alla genovese – fügassa

Focaccia is a flat bread, very common in all Italian regions. In Genoa, a coastal city in North Western Italy, focaccia is particularly soft and high and it is called “fügassa”. Let’s see how to bake a great “focaccia alla genovese”.

Ingredients

  • 600 gr bread flour (high protein flour, 12% or higher)
  • 400 ml warm water
  • 25 gr natural brewer’s yeast (8 grams if dehydrated brewer’s yeast)
  • 40 ml olive oil (140 ml in total)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 10 gr of salt

Topping

Onion rings, olives, rosemary, etc.

Process

Dissolve yeast in warm water add 1 teaspoon of sugar (sugar improves yeast activity) and then pour it into the mixer bowl. Add 40 ml of olive oil. Add flour and salt then mix using the dough hook (see picture), until the dough is smooth and all the flour has been mixed correctly.

Dough Hook

Pour 50 ml of olive oil on the baking tray and then put the dough on it. Use part of the oil to grease the top of the dough. Put the baking tray in the oven with only the oven light on (to generate some heat) and let it rise for 1.5 hours. The dough should double its volume.

Now using your hands gently press the dough and shape it to fill the baking tray. Check that the dough surface is well oiled. Let it rise for another 30 minutes in the oven (light on).

At this point use your fingers to create “holes” in the dough (see the picture below).

Pour all over the dough the remaining 50 ml of olive oil. Add some ground sea salt. At this point you can add a “topping”, sliced tomatoes, rosemary, onion rings and so on. Let the dough rise for another 30 minutes in the oven (with the light on).

Remove the baking tray from the oven and heat it to 220-230 °C. When the oven reaches the temperature, spray some vaporized water on the dough (you can use a water sprayer). This will help the rise of your focaccia.

Put the baking tray in the hot oven and cook for 15 minutes. Keep an eye on the focaccia, every oven is different and you must check it.

Whole wheat flour French Croissants and Pain au Chocolat

I bake French Croissants at least twice per month. The recipe is the same old one and the results are predictable and consistent. Delicious of course, but a little boring. Baking is also exploring new paths. I decided then to replace the white sugar with raw cane sugar and to use about 16% of whole wheat flour. The outcome was good but far from being perfect. Most likely the whole wheat flour is limiting the rise of the dough so the Croissants and the Pains au Chocolat were not as “big” as usual. The raw cane sugar is giving a nice flavour to the croissants but the sweetening power is lower if compared to the white sugar. All in all a good result, but for sure the recipe needs to be tweaked. Stay tuned then!

The ingredients

  • 420 gr all purpose flour
  • 80 gr whole wheat flour
  • 140 ml cold water
  • 140 ml cold milk
  • 60 gr raw cane sugar
  • 40 gr softened high quality butter
  • 20 gr fresh yeast
  • 10 gr salt
  • 275 gr high quality butter (cold) for the butter “brick”

The process is described in the French Croissants recipe.

 

Walnuts sourdough bread

I love walnuts and I love bread, but what I love the most is walnuts bread. This week in my pantry I had 3 different type of flours and I decided to bake a walnuts bread using all of them. The first one is a high protein bread flour, the second one is a first clear flour and the third is an ancient grains flour. See the flour classification table. The starter is my old friend Mr. Rye.

Ingredients (make one loaf)

For the poolish

  • 115 gr flour
  • 115 ml water
  • 50 gr rye sourdough starter

For the dough

The poolish is a batter made by a small amount of sourdough starter, in this case a rye flour starter, water and flour; it is prepared the day before because it needs 10-12 hours to ferment. Put in a bowl the rye sourdough, the water and the flour. Mix with a spoon and cover with cling film. Store it overnight in a warm place. I keep it in the oven.

The morning after you need to add the remaining flour, the water (warm water, the temperature is related to the kitchen temperature, if it is winter and the temperature is 18-19 °C, you might need to heat water at 40-45°C). Mix in the stand mixer with the dough hook, for 1-2 minutes at speed 1. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and then mix for another 4 minutes, at speed 1. Cover the bowl with the cling film and let the dough rest for 45 minutes (autolyse).

At this point you can add the salt and mix the dough by hand inside the bowl. Add also the minced walnuts.

Lightly flour the working surface and stretch and fold your dough (stretch the dough and then fold it left over right, right over left, bottom over top, top over bottom). After the stretch and fold let the dough rest for 15 minutes and then stretch and fold it again for a total of 3 times.

Put the dough in a bowl, cover it with the cling film and put it in the oven (with the oven light on, to keep the oven lightly warm) for 4 hours. This is the fermentation phase. The dough will rise (about 1.5 times the original volume).

Walnuts bread dough

After the fermentation, put the dough on a floured working surface. Stretch and fold the dough and put it in a floured (use rice flour) proofing basket (banneton). Cover with cling film. Keep it in a warm place for 2 hours.

The dough before final shaping
Banneton

Put the cast iron pot in the oven and pre-heat the oven for 30-45 minutes at 250°C. Put the dough into the pot, cut the top of the loaf with a bread scoring tool, put the lid on and cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue cooking at a lower temperature, 220-230°C, for 25-30 minutes.

When the bread is ready, let it cool completely on a wire cooling rack (1.5 hrs). Enjoy!

Sourdogh pancakes

Working with a sourdough starter implies that you often have to discard part of it to keep your starter active and “strong”. The “excess” can be used for many recipes and today I tried one of them. The sourdough pancakes. Instead of using a all purpose flour, I used a type 2 flour (type 2 – Italy, T110 – France, or first clear flour – USA).

Ingredients

200 gr of your sourdough starter
200 ml of milk
180 gr type 2 flour (see flour types here)
45 gr of sugar
45 gr of lightly salted butter (melted)
2 eggs
6 gr baking powder
6 grams baking soda

Process

Mix the sourdough starter with milk and eggs. In another bowl mix flour, sugar, baking soda and the baking powder. Add the flour to the batter and then add the melted butter. Mix until smooth. If your sourdough starter is too thick, add more milk to obtain a smooth batter.
Let the batter rest 20-30 minutes.

Lightly grease a hot cast iron griddle. Drop the batter onto the griddle and cook until the pancake is light brown and bubbly. You can then flip it to cook the other side.

Serve hot with maple syrup, jam, fresh fruit or whatever your fantasy suggests. Enjoy!

Sourdough pancakes

An interesting baking weekend

I tend to plan my baking weekend good in advance, to be sure I have all the ingredients, the rye starter is active and my family schedule is compatible with baking.

I bought on Amazon about 10 kg of flour, different types, high protein white flour, Manitoba flour (Manitoba and W330 flour – Molino Rossetto) and malted flour (farina magica Manitoba – Lo Conte). I also bought at Eataly Store in Florence 500 gr of high quality butter (Beppino Occelli).

I started on Friday preparing the dough for a batch of french croissants and pain au chocolat (see the recipe here), then on the day after I prepared the dough for 2 loaves of sourdough white bread (95% Manitoba and 5% of spelt flour). See the recipe for the sourdough bread here. I changed the percentage of spelt flour (there it is 25%) and I have opted for a long (16 hours) proofing in the fridge.

Here it is the outcome:

Sourdough bread
The crumb
French Croissants
Pain au Chocolat

Rye starter maintenance

I bake mainly during the weekend, so I store the rye starter in the fridge during the week. To start baking on Saturday evening, I take it out from the fridge on Thursday morning, I leave it on the counter to warm up a bit (for an hour or so) and then I feed it. I feed it in the morning and again in the evening. I often use 50% of rye flour and 50% of protein rich white flour. I noticed that is the perfect mix to get e very active starter.

You will notice that after feeding it, the starter will grow and become bubbly and in a while it will gradually go back to his previous level. This cycle is an indicator of the activity of the (good) bacteria colonising your starter. The more you feed them, the more the starter becomes active and bubbly. You should use your starter when it has reached its highest level. On the other hand, you should feed it when he reaches his lowest level.

High hydration sourdough bread (~85%)

I usually bake bread only during the weekend, this is what my working schedule allows me. Of course, as any sourdough addicted person, during the week I keep thinking about my baking weekend. The plan for this weekend was to bake my usual loaf of white and spelt flour (80%-20%) and also to try a new recipe with high hydration dough and cold overnight proofing.

As in my previous recipe, I have prepared a poolish.

Ingredients

Poolish

35 gr rye starter
35 gr stoneground whole wheat flour
35 gr bread flour (T80)
70 ml water (room temperature)

Dough

400 gr bread flour (T80)
40 gr stoneground whole wheat flour
360 ml water (35°C)
10 gr salt
75 gr rye starter

The schedule

SATURDAY

Prepare the poolish (22:30) mixing water (room temperature), flour and the rye starter. Cover with cling film and store in the oven (with the light on) for 12 hours.

SUNDAY

10:30 – Mixing

Mix by hand flour and water, then add the poolish, and the remaining rye starter. After mixing, give the dough 30 minutes’ rest (autolyse). Add salt and mix the dough by hand for a couple of minutes.

11:00 – Fermentation

4 hours of fermentation with multiples stretch and fold sets (keeping the dough inside the bowl). Three s&f sets at 15 minutes interval, then other 3 sets at 30 minutes interval. The remaining time is bulk fermentation (1.45hrs)

Each set consists of 4 s&f, top, bottom, left and right. Using your wet hands stretch the dough up so that you can fold it over to the other side of the dough (top). Rotate the bowl and do the other side (bottom). Complete the other two sides (left and right).

11:15 first s&e

11:30 second s&e

11:45 third s&e

12:15 fourth s&e

12:45 fifth s&e

13:15 sixth s&e

15:15 end of fermentation

During the fermentation phase the dough temperature should be 25-26°C (I keep the dough in the oven with the light on).

15:30 – Shaping and long, cold proofing

Put the dough on the working surface covered with the inverted bowl and let it rest for 20 minutes. Then shape it using the stretch and fold technique. Then put the dough in the banneton (floured with rice flour), cover the banneton with a plastic bag, leaving air inside to avoid the bag to stick to the dough. Store in the fridge for 16 hours.

MONDAY

7:30 Pre-heat the oven at 250°C for 1 hour, then bake the dough using a cast iron pot. Bake for 20 minutes at 250°C with the lid on then remove the lid and bake at 230°C for 25 minutes.

Sourdough bread – high hydration