Baker Lutz Geißler has put up a challenge worthy of the phrase, "give 10 bakers a recipe and you'll get ten different breads!" Well, I've plotzed! I tried some yeasted poolish version, which was by no means slow bread...it was huge, but taste albeit softic for my penchant for crust.
My second attempt was with backferment, which was pretty, but leaden and unedible, with a crumb dense and unevenly riddled with mouse holes!
Third bread was really hydrated, and still had a nice crumb but was impossible to shape and or get oven spring for a good loaf. I have till the 17th of April, feels like I may just may make the deadline!
Bread blogger Barbara Elisi, a Roman baker living in Sweden, recently explored the meaning of companatico. From Latin "cum panis" (with bread) she explained that it comes from the same ethymology as compagno; friend. As in friend with whom to share bread - compagno or cum panis.
In keeping with that idea, I decided to give her formula that incorporated barley, spelt and wheat flours a go. She gave me some ideas of parameters and percents. With Breadstorm as my guide, I popped this formula out between shifts at work. Hectic baking! What came out of the oven was something I'd definitely share with a friend. Grazie Barbara!
Recently I had the good fortune to meet Ruth Alegria, a former restaurant owner who now leads culinary tours to Mexico. When she posted a Facebook message recently about an event City Grit was hosting (to support chef Fanny Gerson who lost her Red Hook shop during Hurricane Sandy) I bought tickets. Fanny was cooking at City Grit, "a culinary salon" tucked away in a classic looking building that had once been a school, across from St. Patrick "Old" cathedral in Nolita.
Chef Gerson, petit and truly attached to Mexico, recounted a story about her Mexican nanny's shawl and the way it was held against her heart. It was this relationship, she believes, that first inspired her love for Mexican food and culture.
After a tough week at my full time job, I came home wondering what to bake in my micro bakery, and suddenly was waxing nostalgic for something from my days in the army; Streusel Coffee Cake! Whipping out the old army recipe cards, I decided nostalgia is fine and good. But sometimes an ancient recipe from a military kitchen may only go so far.
To cut to the chase, I went to Deb Perlman's Smitten kitchen. And there I found her own adaption of another's recipe, her's from the New York Times. She used rhubarb. I enjoy mine more dry and crumbly, though I did think about maybe adding mango next time. What do you think?
Recently I met Johanna Kindvall, a baker, blogger, cook and illustrator. We had been following each other's work. Then she contacted me about doing a co-blog on her site kokblog, and I decided to interview her.
Creating linear and minamalist illustrations, her blog uses illustration and diagrams to create wonderful food stories. At times explaining the cuts from the anatomy of animals, she includes a section exclusively exploring herring, a favorite of mine in life and on her blog. Johanna's frequently surprising approach to explaining recipes, and sharing her love of food is smart and fun. We had a chance to talk to her.
I've fiddled with a technique of adding old bread into new dough, which is known by its German name, Altus. The man who inspired my recent attempts has the great literary name "Pip," the hero of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.
Pip is from Oz. Check out his amazing breads on The Fresh Loaf. Whether it's his impressive milling grains, use of biodynamic flours, or the array of different flawless breads on the site, he's terrific. Well, like another character from Dickens' novel (Mrs. Havisham) I almost put myself in flames, catching fire while tasting this "grain" loaf of his. Dickens' references aside...make this loaf, as you won't be dissapointed!
Lately I have people asking questions about sourdough, specifically maintaining methods, flours, hydrations etc. But my own experience in baking success or failure is about the starter. It's both sort of simple and sort of complicated. Beyond that, let's say that I'm not great at explaining all the finer points of what the hell gets me through the bake, but I can pass on advice through those who have inspired me.
Take Mick Hartley of Bethesda baking fame, one of my former partners on Dan Lepard's forum. Mick's advice really helped my own baking efforts, and even school wasn't as clear as his way to explain things, especially to a lazy baker like me. Well, Mick just sent me his new book. It's terrific, a great source containing simple methods for budding bakers. Check it out, as it will be your gain!
Susan of Wild Yeast has always made great bread and is a wealth of information on her blog. She's helped me a lot. I even had the opportunity once to co-blog on a challenging bread from another great source, Wolfgang Süpke. Once in a while I will pass out proven formulas, hoping anyone reading this blog, whether professional or novice, can make sense of my spreadsheets and percentages I spew from this screen. Anyway, thinking of Mick and Susan and Wolfgang and Dan today... led me to one thought... Go bake bread!
I first heard about Agustín Oliet through his collaboration with Javier Marca and Ibán Yarza. I wanted to know more about this quiet team member of the Spanish bread blog, Madrid Tiene Miga. From what I could tell, he's a home-baker with passion. His moniker is Gusete. Recently I had an opportunity to interview him. He speaks with wisdom and brought real pleasure to be able to find new friends in this exciting baking revival happening in Spain.
Jeremy: How did you get interested in baking bread?
Agustín: Since I was a little boy, I have enjoyed seeing stuff growing in the oven. I use to think that it’s better than a 1950’s sci-fi movie. Discovering bread baking, so simple apparently and however so difficult, it was almost a personal need.
Jeremy: What does bread mean for you?
Agustín: Peace. Patience. Home.
Jeremy: If you could change your career would you become a baker?
Agustín: For sure!
Jeremy: Is there bread you most prefer to make?
Agustín: The newest discovered recipe is always the one I am dying to try, but I also repeat many breads because of my vanity. I love the applause of my family and friends.
Jeremy: Thinking of bread, what’s your favorite sandwich?
Agustín: Two thick slices of rustic white bread rubbed with tomato, olive oil and Iberian ham.
Jeremy: Is there a typical bread you like in your region?
Agustín: I grew up in Madrid where there is no longer a bread culture. The market is dominated by large companies of mass production of precooked bread. It’s almost impossible to find good bread. However, in the south of Spain (Andalusia) where I have spent most of my holidays there are some good types of breads. The Mollete de Antequera, an Arabic influenced bread, is one of them. Recently I got a very acceptable version, which I published in Madrid Tiene Miga.
Jeremy: How did you get involved with Madrid tiene miga?
Agustín: By chance! Some of us met after making a common online order of bannetons and the idea of having a blog came out. That was 3 years ago and we are still together!
Jeremy: Can you describe the rise of home baking in Spain?
Agustín: It is curious and beautiful thing. Home bakers in Spain have different ages, different backgrounds and different reasons for baking bread, but the common passion is intense ending up with us together in an spontaneous, osmotic way. In a common bread recipe published by Javier Marca and I in MTM, we talked about how exciting is to put the bread in the oven and many people commented that they also loved this moment. At the end, I think that what is happening is that we simply miss the real bread.
Jeremy: Who influences you in the baking forums, books, bakers?
Jeremy: When choosing formulas where do you find your sources of information primarily?
Agustín: Usually I bake in the weekends, and I can remember a recipe that caught my attention on a visit to a blog or a forum during the week, but sometimes the bread dough is just formed in my head, and then I go to ground books to find confirmation for that idea, or to tweak the hydration...
Jeremy: Sourdough or commercial yeast, which do you prefer?
Agustín: I think it should not be any debate about yeast or sourdough, because we talk about two entirely different things. It seems that the home baker should be a purist, and only use sourdough because yeast is a professional sin, but I think this is near-sightedness. I recently listened to Dan Lepard summarize very well this idea, saying something like, "When I was younger I was so arrogant that I thought that only sourdogh bread was good, and I've learned with age to use sourdough or yeast depending on the bread that I became interested in each time "
Jeremy: Do you buy bread in bakeries or do you prefer making it yourself?
Agustín: Sometimes I buy things that are sold in bakeries under the name of bread, but I'm trying to quit ...
Jeremy: Is baking addictive?
Agustín: Just behind sex.
Jeremy: Does your family understand why you bake bread?
Agustín: Yes, in essence. Perhaps not the more intimate reasons, these ones that make baking a need, but nor do I.
Jeremy: …And do they like tasting your bread?
Below is a translation of the interview in Spanish.
Me enteré de Agustín Oliet a través de su colaboración con Javier Marca y Yarza Iban ... yo quería saber quién era este miembro del equipo de la tranquilidad de la tríada español por detrás de Madrid TIENE Miga. Él es un panadero en casa con la pasión, el hombre tranquilo detrás del blog, su apodo es Gusete, comprobar hacia fuera, él habla mucho de la sabiduría y se está llenando el círculo de mis nuevos amigos que se encuentran en el renacimiento español para hornear!
Jeremy:¿Cómo te interesaste en hacer pan?
Agustín:Desde que era pequeño me encanta ver cosas creciendo en el horno, es más intrigante que una vieja película de CF de serie B de los años 50. Descubrir el pan, su aparente simplicidad y, sin embargo, su dificultad, era casi una necesidad.
Jeremy ¿Qué significa para usted el pan?
Agustín:Sosiego. Paciencia. Hogar.
Jeremy: Si pudieras cambiar tu carrera te conviertirías en panadero?
Jeremy: ¿Hay una receta de pan que prefieres hacer?
Agustín: La nueva receta recien descubierta siempre es la que más me apetece, aunque muchos los repito por vanidad (quiero decir, por recibir los aplausos de la familia o los amigos)
Jeremy: ¿Cual es tu bocadillo favorito?
Agustín:Pan de payés con tomate, aceite de olive y jamón ibérico.
Jeremy: ¿Hay algún pan típico de tu región que te guste?
Agustín: He crecido en Madrid, donde la cultura del pan se ha perdido. El mercado está dominado por las grandes empresas de producción masiva de pan precocido, es difícil encontrar buen pan… Sin embargo, en el sur (Andalucía) donde he pasado la mayoría de mis vacaciones, hay algunos buenos panes. El Mollete de Antequera, un pan de clara influencia árabe, es uno de ellos (hace poco conseguí una versión bastante aceptable, que publiqué en Madrid Tiene Miga).
Jeremy: ¿Cómo te involucraste con Madrid Tiene Miga?
Agustín: De casualidad! De un encargo de bannetons por internet que hicimos entre varios surgió la idea, y ya llevamos casi tres años juntos!
Jeremy: ¿Puedes describir el auge de la panadería casera en España?
Agustín:Es una cosa curiosa y bonita. Los panaderos caseros en España tienen distintas edades, distintos orígenes, distintas razones para hacer pan, pero la pasión común es igual de intensa, y eso ha hecho que acabemos por reunirnos de forma casi espontánea. En un pan que publicamos en común Javier Marca y yo en MTM bromeamos sobre el momento en que metes el pan en el horno, sobre compartirlo abrazados y emocionados… Mucha gente comentó “A mi también me encanta”. Creo que lo que pasa es, simplemente, que echamos de menos el pan auténtico.
Jeremy:¿Quién te influye más a la hora de hacer pan, los foros, los libros, los panaderos?
Agustín:Todos ellos. El trabajo de Dan Lepard, Iban Yarza y Javier Marca es importantísimo, tanto que creo que sin ellos no podría decir que se hacer pan. Pero muchos de mis conocimientos provienen de libros americanos (Reinhart, Hamelman, Buehler), o de horas y horas leyendo cosas en The Fresh Loaf, Wild Yeast, Ye olde bread blogge, Au Levain…
Jeremy: Al elegir las fórmulas, ¿Cuáles son tus fuentes de información más frecuentes?
Agustín: Quizá recuerde alguna receta que me llamó la atención en alguna visita a un blog o un foro durante la semana, pero a veces la idea para el pan se forma en mi cabeza, y entonces suelo acudir a los libros a buscar confirmación a esa idea, o a retocar su hidratación…
Jeremy:Masa madre o levadura comercial, que te gusta más?
Agustín: No debería haber debate sobre esto, son dos cosas completamente distintas. Parece que el panadero casero debe ser purista, y usar solo Sourdough, porque la levadura es un pecado de profesionales, pero yo creo que esta es una visión corta. Hace poco escuché a Dan Lepard resumir muy bien esta idea, decía algo así como que “cuando era más joven era tan arrogante que pensaba que solo el pan de sourdogh era bueno, y con la edad he aprendido a usar sourdough o levadura dependiendo del pan que me interese en cada momento”
Jeremy: ¿Compras el pan en las panaderías o prefieres hacerlo tú?
Agustín:A veces compro lo que venden en las panaderías con el nombre de pan, pero estoy intentando dejarlo…
Jeremy:¿Es adictivo hornear pan?
Agustín:Yo diría que solo por detrás del sexo J
Jeremy: ¿Tu familia entiende por qué haces pan?
Agustín: En esencia, si. Quizá las razones más íntimas, las que lo convierten en una necesidad, no las entiendo ni yo mismo…
Using Chad Robertson's book, Tartine bread, I tried again for a fourth time to make an honest Tartine bread. This time though I followed my friend MC's latest adaption, using both a hot and cold oven, and with exceptional results!
Rather then just white flour, I went for the whole-wheat version of the basic country loaf, but included some add-ins; soy bean and flax seed, borrowed from the Bourke Street bakery book. As well, I used a 100% hydrated levain and calculated the numbers on a spreadsheet calculator. Instead of adding in the final 50 extra grams of water, I left it out. The dough felt just right and I just used my own intuition on this part of the bake.
I made the dough with the 40 minute autolyse process, and mixed it in my Kitchen Aid, put in my salt and add-ins last. I let the loaf rise for about 40 minutes, gave it a fold and went out for a quick dinner. On my return, I gave it another fold and let it go for about one more hour, even though it was really rising quite fast, even with the cooler temperatures we have been having here. The dough was split in to two loaves, pre-shaped, left to rest about 25 minutes, given a final shape, and then retarded overnight.
Next day I baked two loafs, one in my Cusisinart oven, the other using my mainstay stove. Put the second loaf into a cold oven, placed it into a creuset pot with the temperature set at 470 F degrees, and let it bake about 45 minutes. Then I removed the lid, giving it another 20 minutes to get some color.
All in all this latest by far is the best I made from all of my Tartine loaves, and I am sure I will revisit this books fine recipes again. And why not, if not just for a tweak and peek!