Category Archives: Bread

Pissaladière

DSCF1048This onion tart originated in Nice in the south of France where it is often served as an appetizer at room temperature. The name is thought to be derived from Ligorian for “salt fish,” referring to the anchovies that are an integral part of the dish. Recipes vary: some call for pie dough, some for pizza-like bread; some have goat cheese, others do not; some include potatoes, or not. They only mandatory ingredients are caramelized onions, black olives, and anchovies. I have reimagined pissaladière as a deep-dish pizza. The ingredients I used were what I had on hand. In place of the aged provolone and mozzarella one could use chèvre or feta. I included tomatoes because I had some that needed to used up. The olives in my version are Moroccan oil-cured but any tasty black olives would do.  Just do not scrimp on the anchovies. After all, they are what the tart is named for. You will notice that the ingredient list is a bit vague. That is deliberate. Make this dish your own.

Ingredients

One medium russet potato

Two medium to large onions

Olive oil

One half 14½ can diced tomatoes, preferably unsalted

Fresh chopped or dried thyme

Fresh chopped or dried basil

Dough for 12” to 14” pizza

Shredded aged provolone

Shredded mozzarella

A dozen or so pitted and halved black olives

A dozen or more anchovies

Salt and pepper

Method

Peel the potato and boil it until done, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool a bit then slice thinly.

Thinly slice the onions. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and cook the onions slowly until nicely browned. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Set aside to cool.

Add a bit more oil to the skillet and cook the tomatoes until most of the water has evaporated. Season with salt, pepper, and basil.

Preheat the oven to 400°F and set a rack near the bottom.

Roll out the pizza dough and put it into a 12” preferably cast-iron skillet that have been lubricated with olive oil. Spread out the dough, forming a rim around the edges.

Line the dough lightly with provolone then spread the caramelized onions on top of the cheese. Spread the tomatoes on top of the onions. Top with a bit more provolone and some mozzarella. Distribute the olives over the cheese and arrange the anchovies.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the cheese and the crust have browned. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Bagels

DSCF1023According to Wikipedia, the first written reference to bagels dates to 1610 in Kraków, Poland. Jewish immigrants brought bagels to the new world where slightly different versions became established in New York and Montréal. Today they are as American as apple pie but have suffered somewhat in the assimilation. As one gets more remote from the traditional Jewish communities on the East Coast they tend to lose their essential character. By the time you get to California what is passed off as a bagel is little more than a soft, puffy roll with a hole in it.

Funny story: some years ago, I was on a consulting assignment in Blacksburg, Virginia. When I mentioned that I had eaten a bagel for breakfast I was met with confused looks. As it happens, in the Appalachian mountain accent of the area a bay-gel is a dog you hunt with; the round bread with a hole in it is a bī-gel with a long “i.”

This recipe is for New York-style bagels using a hybrid of the traditional old-world sourdough sponge and the modern one using commercial yeast. If your sourdough starter is fairly lively and you have the time to let the sponge develop for 12 to 18 hours, you can leave out the yeast. If you don’t have a sourdough starter you can use 500 grams each of water and flour but increase the yeast to 3 grams (¾ teaspoon). Traditionally the dough is sweetened with malt syrup which usually available in the health food section of any large supermarket. At the risk of being charged with blasphemy you can use molasses. No one who is not from the Bronx will likely know the difference.

A note on units and measures: To get consistent results when making any bread you simply must use gravimetric units, i.e. weight. The amount of flour in a cup can vary by more than 10% depending on how you scoop it or whether the container has been shaken. Today, digital kitchen scales are inexpensive and every serious cook should have one. I prefer to use metric units because the math is easier—try dividing by 16 in your head. You really do not have to be familiar with the metric system to follow the recipe. Just set the scale to metric and read off the numbers..   

Yield: 12 to 15 bagels depending on how large you make them

The sponge

The first step to making bagels is to make a sponge which is basically the same as a French poolish or an Italian biga. In the days before commercial yeast was available, these pre-fermentations were used to produce enough yeast to leaven the bread. At the end of this step, a portion of the sponge would be set aside to start the next batch.

Ingredients:

200 grams 100% hydration sourdough starter

400 grams water

400 grams bread flour

2 grams (½ teaspoon) instant dry yeast

Method:

Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment or a spoon mix to combine but not enough to develop the gluten in the flour. Place a lightly-oiled piece of plastic wrap directly on the sponge and cover the bowl with a towel. Set aside at cool room temperature for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight.

The Bagel Dough

Ingredients:

18 grams kosher salt

36 molasses (about 2 Tablespoons)

446 grams flour/16 ounces/ 3 cups

Method:

Add salt, molasses, and flour to the sponge in that order. Attach dough hook to your mixer and knead at the recommended speed for 8 to 10 minutes.  The dough is quite stiff, so keep an eye on the mixer lest it walk across the counter and fall to the floor.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cover with a cloth. Rest for about 10 minutes.

At this point I like to weigh the dough then either divide by 12 to get the weight of an individual bagel or divide by the weight I want each bagel to be, adjusting to get an integral for each. Typically, this recipe will yield a dozen large, 125 gram bagels, or 15 smaller, 100 gram ones.

Divide the dough into however many bagels you are making. I portion them on my scale so they are all the same. Form each piece into a ball and set on the counter, covered by a cloth, to rest for another 10 minutes or so.

Making the Bagels

Ingredients:

Water as needed

Baking soda, see method

Toppings, e.g. sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried minced onions, sea salt, etc.

Method:

Prepare sheet pans by lining them with parchment paper. I find that a half-sheet pan can accommodate about six bagels, eight if you crowd them a bit.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (425°F for convection).

Take a ball of dough and flatten it into a disc about two inches in diameter. Make a hole in the disc with your thumb then spin the bagel a couple of time around your index and middle fingers to enlarge the hole. Set of the counter. Repeat with each ball. Cover the bagels with a cloth and allow to rise for 10 to 15 minutes.

Flip each bagel over and allow to rise for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Measure water into wide pan to a depth of at least three inches. Add 4 grams (½ Tablespoon) baking soda for every 2 liters (½ gallon) of water. Bring to a boil then turn down to a slow simmer.

Put the toppings onto a plate and set next to the stove where the water is boiling.

Drop the bagels3 or 4 at a time into the simmering water making sure they are not overcrowded. After about a minute, flip them over with a large wooden spoon and let them boil on the other side.

Remove one bagel with a skimmer or slotted spoon and place onto the toppings. Using your fingers, quickly move each one around to coat and put, coated side up, onto the sheet pan. Repeat with the rest of the batch. Repeat until all the bagels are done.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. I like to swap the pans from one rack to the other about halfway through to make sure they bake evenly.

Cool then store in a paper bag for a couple days or freeze for later use.

Skillet Cornbread

This Cajun-style cornbread is easily made without wheat flour and so is perfect for those avoiding gluten. I like to use a mixture of yellow cornmeal and masa harina. Some might insist that it be made with solid shortening but I get great results with half lard and half oil. Just oil will work as well. Of course if you happen to have some bacon drippings they would go very well.  This cornbread is perfect for cornbread and Andouille stuffing. I adapted the recipe from Emeril Lagasse’s Louisiana Real and Rustic (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1996).

Ingredients

 

Yellow cornmeal

150 grams

About 1 cup

Masa harina

150 grams

About 1 cup

Salt

5 grams

¾ teaspoon

Sugar

15 grams

1 Tablespoon

Baking powder

4 grams

1 teaspoon

Chili powder

1 milliliter

¼ teaspoon

Milk (I use nonfat)

About 380 grams

About 1½ cups

Egg

1 large

1 large

Finely chopped onion

50 grams

⅓ cup

Frozen corn kernels

50 grams

½ cup

Oil and/or lard

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl lightly beat the egg and milk together. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the dry and mix well. Add a bit of water or milk if the batter is too thick. Fold in the onion and corn.

Heat the oil in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the fat is just beginning to smoke pour in the batter. Cook on top of the stove for 3 or 4 minutes until the edges are beginning to brown. Place in the hot oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Sourdough Toasting Bread

Sourdough English Muffin Bread-2For me, breakfast is not breakfast without toast. But it can be difficult to find a bread that toasts well. Most commercial loaves are too soft making rather gummy toast. I have experimented with several recipes to get what I consider just the right density. Using sourdough starter gives the bread a slight tartness that works very well with jam.

This recipe makes four 500-gram (1.1 pound loaves) in standard medium loaf pans. I wrap three of the loaves in heavy duty aluminum foil and freeze them.

A note on measurements: it is nearly impossible to achieve consistent results baking bread by volume—only gravimetric measures are accurate enough. (The weight of a cup of flour can vary by 10% or more.) Digital kitchen scales are very inexpensive today and every serious cook should own one. For making bread I much prefer to use metric units because they are more precise. Even those not familiar with the metric system can use it by simple setting the scale accordingly. 

Ingredients

100% hydration sourdough starter

350 grams

Warm water (45°C, 100°F)

483 milliliters (grams)

Sugar

23 grams

Dry milk powder

47 grams

Unbleached white bread flour

800 grams

Whole wheat flour

200 grams

Oil or butter at room temperature

58 grams

Salt

24 grams

Instant dry yeast

10 grams

Method

I make bread using a heavy-duty stand mixer. If you do not have one simply use a large bowl to mix the dough then knead by hand on a well-floured surface.

Place the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer onto the scale and zero it. Weigh in each of the ingredients, zeroing the scale between each addition. Mount the bowl on the mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer for five minutes after the dough comes together.

At this point I like to weigh the dough to make dividing it later more accurate.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Form the dough into a large ball, place it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dough and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature. Note that a long rising at a lower temperature yields a more finely-textured bread.

At the end of proofing, preheat oven to 190°C (375°F), punch down the dough, and divide it into four equal portions. (I use the scale to get them exactly equal.) Form the loaves and place them in lightly-oiled pans dusted with the cornmeal or semolina. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is about 1 cm (½ inch) above the sides of the pan. Bake for about 35 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).

Buttermilk White Bread

First published in 1973, Beard on Bread by James A. Beard is a classic that got many of us of a certain age interested in the art of baking bread. The fact that the book was still in print in 2008 when I bought my 1995 paperback edition attests to its popularity. It does, however, share a major shortcoming with nearly every other American cookbook: all the measurements are by volume in Imperial units. This makes the recipes needlessly difficult to reproduce accurately and almost impossible to scale successfully.  So, I have taken to adapting—reverse engineering, if you will—my favorite recipes from this book into baker’s percentages and gravimetric metric units. You need not become completely fluent in the metric system to use these recipes; just buy a digital scale that reads in metric units. In fact, you can even buy a baker’s scale that lets you work directly from baker’s percentages.

The first step in converting the recipe is to change the volumetric units to metric weights.

 

Ingredient

Recipe amount

Metric weight

Active dry yeast

2 packages

14 grams

Granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon

12 grams

Warm water

½ cup

113 grams

Unbleached bread flour

4 cups

508 grams

Salt*

1 Tablespoon

17 grams

Unsalted butter

3 Tablespoons

42 grams

Buttermilk

1 to 1½ cups

240 to 360 grams

* assumes table salt, kosher salt has a somewhat different density.

 

Now one can calculate the baker’s percentages of the ingredients. I chose to use the lower amount of buttermilk which results in a hydration ratio of 69%, which is about right for this sort of bread. Also, I converted the buttermilk to equivalent amounts of water and dry buttermilk powder. I rearranged the order of the ingredients to make the baker’s percentages clearer.

 

Ingredient

Metric weight

Percentage

Unbleached bread flour

508 grams

100%

Warm water

353 grams

69%

Buttermilk powder

30 grams

6%

Granulated sugar

12 grams

2.3%

Active dry yeast

14 grams

2.7%

Salt

17 grams

3.3%

Unsalted butter

42 grams

8%

 

Since I want to scale up the recipe, I need to calculate the total percentages. They come to 191.3%. To make four 500-gram loaves, then, I need 1045 grams of flour (2000g/1.913). The baker’s percentages let me easily calculate the needed weight of each of the remaining ingredients. And I rearranged the ingredients again, this time into the order they are used. Note my usual caveat: the Imperial units are roughly equivalent to the metric ones but the two are not interchangeable.

Ingredients

 

Water

721 grams

3¼ cups

Granulated sugar

24 grams

2 Tablespoons

Dry yeast

28 grams

4 packages

Unsalted butter, melted

84 grams

5½ Tablespoons

Unbleached bread flour

1045 grams

8 cups

Buttermilk powder

63 grams

½ cup

Salt

34 grams

1¾ Tablespoons

Method

Weight the first four ingredients into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients and knead with the dough hook for about 10 minutes on the recommended power setting. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface—it will be rather sticky—and with floured hands form into a ball.  

Pour enough oil into a large earthenware or glass bowl to just cover the bottom. Add the dough and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap set directly on the dough and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing, punch down the dough and divide it into four equal parts. Form the loaves and place them in lightly-oiled pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is just above the sides of the pan.

Bake in a preheated 190°C (375°F) for about 40 minutes. (I use the convect pastry setting on my convection oven). The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 95°C (200°F) and 100°C (212°F).

Sandwich Bread

Before I acquired a Kindle, I was a great aficionado of bookstore remainder tables. Sometime in the late 1990s in the Maryland Book Exchange near the University of Maryland campus, I came upon a stack of On Cooking: Techniques from Expert Chefs(1)at less than half of its $49.95 cover price. A cross between a text book and a cookbook, it is perhaps the most valuable piece in my culinary library. (It is still available, by the way, in a 2003 third edition.) I adapted—reverse engineered, if you will—this recipe from one on pages 796 and 797 of that book.

Since I bake bread in different size batches on different occasions, I have taken to converting my recipes to baker’s percentages which make them easy to scale. I also change them to metric gravimetric units that are both more accurate and easier to work with that conventional American volumetric units. You do not need to become completely fluent in the metric system to use these recipes; just buy a digital scale that reads in metric units.

This cookbook lists ingredients in both US common and metric units so I only need to determine the baker’s their baker’s percentages. The eggs complicate the process a bit as I will explain. The basic recipe is:

Water

340 grams

Dry milk powder

35 grams

Sugar

30 grams

Salt

10 ml

Active dry yeast

15 grams

Bread flour

680 grams

Unsalted butter

20 grams

Eggs

2

Before I can convert those ingredients to baker’s percentages I have to allocate the constituents of the eggs. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a standard large egg weighs 50 grams and contains 38 grams of water, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and 1 gram of carbohydrate. For the purposes of this recipe we are only concerned with allocating the first two. You can either carry the remainder as “other,” as I have to make my formula mass work exactly, or just ignore it. I also convert the volume of salt to mass, assuming regular table salt. (Kosher salt has a different density so a milliliter of it is not the same weight as a milliliter of table salt.) And, because I use instant dry yeast, also called bread machine yeast instead of active dry yeast I reduce the amount of yeast by a third. So, the recipe with baker’s percentages becomes (with rounding):

Water

416 grams

61%

Dry milk powder

35 grams

5%

Sugar

30 grams

4%

Salt

12 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

10 grams

1%

Bread flour

680 grams

100%

Fat

30 grams

4%

Egg “other”

14 grams

2%

Formula percentage

179%

Today I want to make four 500-grams loaves, so my formula mass is 2000g. Dividing that by the formula percentage, 179%, gives the amount of flour I will need: 1117 grams. Applying the baker’s percentages, I figure out how much of the other ingredients I need:

Water

61%

681 grams

Dry milk powder

5%

56 grams

Sugar

4%

45 grams

Salt

2%

22 grams

Instant dry yeast

1%

11 grams

Bread flour

100%

1117 grams

Fat

4%

45 grams

Egg “other”

2%

22 grams

Since I know that each egg contains 7 grams of “other,” this tells me that I need three eggs. Those eggs contribute 114 grams of water and 15 grams of fat so I have to adjust the amount of water and butter accordingly. I also like to use about 15% whole wheat flour. And my final recipe is (with Imperial equivalents):

Ingredients

 

Water

567 grams

20 ounces

Dry milk powder

56 grams

½ cup

Sugar

45 grams

¼ cup

Salt

22 grams

1 Tablespoon + ½ teaspoon

Instant dry yeast

11 grams

4 teaspoons

Whole wheat flour

167 grams

1⅓ cups

Bread flour

950 grams

7½ cups

Unsalted butter, melted

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Eggs

3 large

3 large

Method

Weight each ingredient into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Knead for about 10 minutes on the recommended power setting. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface—it will be rather sticky—and with floured hands form into a ball.  

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the dough into the bowl and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap set directly on the dough and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing, punch down the dough and divide it into four equal parts. Form the loaves and place them in lightly-oiled pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is just above the sides of the pan.

Bake in a preheated 200°C (390°F) oven to 400°F (205°C) for about 35 minutes. (I use the convect pastry setting on my convection oven). The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 95°C (200°F) and 100°C (212°F).


[1]Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause, On Cooking: Techniques from Expert Chefs (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall: 1995).

Onion/Dill Rye Bread

A reader pointed out that this recipe had an error. This is the corrected version.

The other day I had the thought of making bread with yogurt. Most of the recipes I found on the Internet seemed to over-compensate for the tartness of the yogurt with massive amounts of sweetener—one called for a quarter cup of honey in a one and a half pound loaf. I adapted this recipe from one calling for sour cream, onion, and dill. I added some rye flour because that seemed to me to be a good match for the dill. The result was a somewhat dense but very tasty bread that toasts nicely. The recipe here is a work in progress so let me know how yours works out.

Note: the metric and imperial units are internally consistent but not necessarily interchangeable. 

Yield: two medium loaves

Ingredients

 

Rye flour

100 grams

3½ ounces (about 1cup)

Bread flour

400 grams

13 ounces (about 3 cups)

Yogurt

150 grams

½ cup

Warm water

200 milliliters

Generous ¾ cup

Sugar

15 grams

1 Tablespoon

Salt

10 grams

2 teaspoons

Active dry yeast*

15 grams

½ ounce (2 envelopes)

Canola oil or melted unsalted butter

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Dried minced onion

15 grams

2 Tablespoons

Dried dill leaves

2 grams (15 milliliters)

1 Tablespoon

* or 10 grams (1 Tablespoon) instant dry yeast

Method

Weigh the flours into a bowl. In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer combine the yogurt and warm water using the paddle beater. Add the sugar, yeast, salt, onion, dill, and about a quarter of the flour. Beat gently until smooth.

Replace the paddle beater with the dough hook. Add the remaining flour to the bowl. Knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer. After about five minutes the dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, add more flour a bit at a time until it does or, if the dough does not come together, add a bit of water. Knead for a further five minutes.

At this point I like to weigh the dough to make dividing it later more accurate.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Form the dough into a large ball, place it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature. At the end of proofing, punch down the dough and divide it into whatever size loaves you prefer. Form the loaves and place them into lightly-oiled pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is just above the sides of the pan.

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C) for small loaves or 375°F (190°C) for large ones (I use the convect pastry setting on my convection oven at 375°). Bake for 35 minutes for small loaves to 50 minutes for large ones. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 200°F and 210°F (93°C and 99°C).

Sourdough Hamburger Buns

This is an example of how to reverse engineer a recipe and convert it to sourdough. I started with the recipe for beautiful burger buns on the King Arthur Flour Web site. That recipe calls for:

¾ to 1 cup lukewarm water

2 tablespoons butter

1 large egg

3½  cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

¼ cup sugar

1¼ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

 

The King Arthur Flour Web site conveniently converts this to grams, more or less:

170 to 227g lukewarm water

28g butter

1 large egg

418g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

50g sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

 

I split the difference with the water and, considering the water in the egg, came up with a hydration ratio of 57%. The amount of sugar seemed excessive so I cut it in half. The basic recipe with baker’s percentages, then, is:

Flour

418 grams

100%

Water

239 grams

57%

Egg

39 grams

9%

Water

200 grams

48%

Sugar

25 grams

6%

Salt

9 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

9 grams

2%

 

The total recipe mass of 711 grams yields eight 3⅛ ounce buns. I decided to make mine a bit bigger, 100 grams (3½ ounces), so I had to scale the recipe. Dividing my desired recipe mass of 800 grams by the sum of the baker’s percentages, 167%, gave me the amount of flour I needed, 479 grams, which I rounded up and from which I calculated my new recipe quantities:

Flour

480 grams

100%

Water

273 grams

57%

Egg

39 grams

8%

Water

234 grams

49%

Sugar

29 grams

6%

Salt

10 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

10 grams

2%

Converting the recipe to sourdough is simply a matter of replacing part of the flour and water with sourdough starter and reducing the amount yeast—or, if you are a purist and are patient enough to let the dough rise overnight, eliminating it altogether; I cut the amount in half. I chose, rather arbitrarily, to use 300 grams of freshly-fed 100% hydration starter which contributed 150 grams each of flour and water. The final recipe is thus—with the usual caveat that the Imperial unit equivalents are inexact:

Ingredients

 

Sourdough starter

300 grams

Generous cup

Water

84 grams

⅓ cup

Egg, lightly beaten

1 large

1 large

Bread flour

330 grams

2¾ cups

Sugar

29 grams

7 teaspoons

Salt

10 grams

4 teaspoons

Instant dry yeast

5 grams

2 teaspoons

Method

Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer in the order presented. Knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer for about five minutes after the dough comes together. Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, knead lightly and form into a ball. It will be quite sticky.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the ball of dough it in the bowl and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Put a piece of plastic wrap loosely directly on the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one and a half to two hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing, punch down the dough and divide it into eight equal portions. Roll each into a ball, then flatten with your hand into a disk about 9 cm (3¼”) in diameter. Place onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the buns are nearly 2 cm (1 inch) thick.

Bake in a 190°C (375°F) oven to for about 15 to 18 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the buns should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).

Light Honey-Wheat Bread

This simple yeast bread is excellent for toasting. It makes good sandwiches, too, if you like them slightly sweet. I present the recipe first in baker’s percentages for those who wish to scale it easily. The quantities make four 500-gram loaves—my usual batch. As usual, I use gravimetric metric units when baking. Use the volumetric English measures at your peril—I cannot vouch for their absolute accuracy.  

Basic Recipe

Flour

100%

White bread flour

82%

Whole wheat flour

18%

Water

62%

Non-fat dry milk

5%

Honey

5%

Oil

3%

Salt

2%

Instant dry yeast

1%

Ingredients

 

Warm water

700 grams

3 cups + 2 Tablespoons

Dry milk powder

56 grams

Scant ½ cup

Honey

56 grams

2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons

Salt

23 grams

4 teaspoons

Instant dry or rapid rise yeast

11 grams

2 envelopes

Canola oil or melted unsalted butter

34 grams

2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon

Whole wheat flour

200 grams

1⅔ cups

Unbleached white bread flour

929 grams

7¼ cups

Method

Put all the ingredients except the flour into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Stir to combine. Add the flours and knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer for five to seven minutes. Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, knead lightly and form into a ball.

I like to weigh the dough at this point to make dividing into loaves easier. It should be close to 2000 grams.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the ball of dough it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Put a piece of plastic wrap loosely directly on the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing punch down the dough and divide it into four equal portions. Form the loaves and place them in the bread pans, lightly oiled unless non-stick. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is about 2 cm (1 inch) above the sides of the pan.

Bake in a 190°C (375°F) oven to for about 35 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).

Sourdough Multigrain Toasting Bread

For a while now I have been experimenting with multigrain sourdough bread. I started with a recipe from the King Arthur Flour Web Site that I tweaked and scaled up with varying degrees of success.  Finally I decided to reverse-engineer the recipe and build my own version from scratch. Using the metric unit option on the web site and converting volumetric units to weight gave me this basic list of ingredients:

Sourdough starter

156 grams

Water

152 grams

Oil

14 grams

Sugar

14 grams

Salt

7 grams

All-purpose flour

163 to 177 grams

Potato flour

43 grams

Whole wheat flour

57 grams

Instant dry yeast

6 grams

 

Averaging out the weight of all-purpose flour and assuming 100% hydration sourdough starter containing all-purpose flour I came up with the following baker’s percentages:

Flour

348 grams

100%

All-purpose flour

248 grams

71%

Potato flour

43 grams

12%

Whole wheat flour

57 grams

17%

Water

230 grams

67%

Oil

14 grams

4%

Sugar

14 grams

4%

Salt

7 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

6 grams

1.7%

 

That showed me that the formula mass fraction is 1.78. So, to make four 500 grams loaves, as is my wont, I would need to start with 1123 grams of flour (2000/1.78).

In designing my own recipe I began, somewhat arbitrarily, with 250 grams of sourdough started and I used a somewhat different mix of flours. I reduced the amount of sugar and yeast a bit. I also added a couple eggs, adjusting the amount of water and oil accordingly. (Eggs are 76% water and 9.5% fat.) Also, the formula mass changed a bit so I had to increase the amount of flour to compensate. I confess that I did not weigh out each type of flour individually. I simply zeroed the scale under my mixing bowl then added ⅓-cup scoops of each flour—two for the whole wheat—and poured in bread flour until I had a total of 1136 grams.

As usual, note that the metric and English measures are roughly equivalent but not identical. Use one or the other but do not mix them up. I use metric quantities so those are the ones I can vouch for.

Ingredients

 

Sourdough starter

250 grams

1 cup

Warm water (45°C, 100°F)

550 milliliters

2¼ cups

Sugar

34 grams

3 Tablespoons

Salt

23 grams

5 teaspoons

Vegetable oil

35 grams

2½ Tablespoons

Eggs

2 large

2 large

Instant dry yeast

11 grams

1 Tablespoon

Oatmeal

50 grams

⅓ cup

Rye flour

50 grams

⅓ cup

Millet flour

50 grams

⅓ cup

Potato flour

50 grams

⅓ cup

Buckwheat flour

50 grams

⅓ cup

Whole wheat flour

100 grams

⅔ cup

Unbleached white bread flour

786 grams

6 cups

Method

Optional: put the oatmeal in a food processor and process to a coarse powder.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the flat paddle, combine the sourdough starter, warm water, sugar, salt, oil, and eggs on medium speed. Sprinkle on the yeast and stir in with a fork. Change to the dough hook. Add the flours bowl and knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl then five minutes more. The dough will be quite sticky. Scoop it onto a floured surface and, with floured hands, knead lightly and form into a ball.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the ball of dough it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Put a piece of plastic wrap loosely directly on the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing punch down the dough and divide it into four equal portions. Form the loaves and place them in the bread pans, lightly oiled unless non-stick. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is about 2 cm (1 inch) above the sides of the pan.

Bake in a 190°C (375°F) oven to for about 35 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).