after action report: Chad loaf

I tried, I swear I tried. Same Tartine percentages compared to the flour in the recipe (20% leaven, 2% salt, 75% water). Docked it in the fridge for 11 hours; the dough came out cold but developed. I pre-shaped, bench rested then performed a final shaping and let it bench proof for 2 1/2 hours before baking. Post-bake weight was 90%…another fucking paver.

So, I’m upping my leaven to 33% and leaving it on the countertop overnight.


after action report: the one

Well, perhaps not The One, but The One That Isn’t Wet. When I pull a Chad Loaf from the oven, I know before cutting into the loaf how gelatinized shiny-crumbed wet the loaf will be from holding it in my hands (with oven mitts on, natch). This time, I popped the loaf out of the pan (I had no time to give it a proper chill, so I panned it) and I KNEW.

To confirm, I added up my ingredient weights, subtracted 2% for estimated pre-panning dough loss, then used the result as the divisor for my final loaf weight. 288g / ( 363g – 7g ) = 80% of pre-bake weight. 68g of weight lost, which was entirely water and translates to 43% of the total water in the dough lost as steam. A very good bake, indeed, considering I am rarely able to bake 10% of the dough weight out of a Chad Loaf.

So, it’s not the high-hydration dough. It’s not my leaven. It’s not the fermentation conditions. It’s not the bake conditions (I’ve done the same bake time/temp with Chad Loaves). It’s gotta be the bulk fermentation time – I could probably put together a Chad Loaf tonight, dock it in the fridge for 12 hours (without turns), then take it out tomorrow morning, knead it slightly, shape it and bake it.

country bread, nerd style: alton revisited

Having shat upon Chad Robertson’s wet Country Loaf elsewhere in the blog, I began to feel as though I should add balance to this scatological equation. I am no stranger to high-hydration doughs, nor to no-knead doughs. Before reading Tartine Bread, my preferred bread recipe was simply to take Chad-esque ratios of ingredients (with active dry yeast rather than a natural starter); mix them together in a large bowl; let the dough rest, covered, for 12-18 hours on the countertop; then shape and bake the boule. See me go home to my cooking roots and thumb my nose at artisan bread after the jump.

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le pain perdu and braided brioche

Diva Oven won Round 1 yesterday: 25 minutes of shielded baking at 450 was perfect; 15 minutes unshielded baking at 450 was…not. The brioche came out slightly burnt deeply caramelized. It mattered little: that loaf is now resting within the tummies of my children, in the form of toast, le pain perdu and plain slices off the loaf. This morning, I won Round 2, this time trying the braid I spoke of previously. Given that the braid was longer than my loaf pan, I baked it (shielded) on a pizza pan for 20 minutes at 450, then unshielded at 350 for 10 minutes. Musings and a foolproof custard for French toast after the jump.
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brioche: the champion of bread

Wet country loaf and Karmic Cockpunch notwithstanding, I still bow down at the altar (fuck you, AutoCorrect; I spelled it right the first time) of bread built by Chad Robertson. I didn’t understand bread as a fundamental science until I read Tartine Bread. Sure, Alton Brown has an entire chapter devoted to bread in I’m Just Here For More Food, and he gives a good book knowledge of the process. With Chad, though, you are given an awareness of your environment, your ingredients and your cooking appliance that will have far more influence on the edibility of your bread than the recipe you start from. Actual talk about brioche after the jump.

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after action report: maple bacon cronuts

Check-in Weight: 146.8; I had a full-on, carby eat-fest yesterday. On the menu today is hot tea, veggie stir-fry at midday and Beef Wellington and Lawry’s The Prime Rib recipe for creamed spinach for Christmas dinner. (I do this daily check in as one of the recommendations of Dr. Beverly Berkeley’s Refuse to Regain blog.)

I felt compelled to eat one of my maple-bacony creations, because I had zero faith in frying these in oil then offering it to other people to eat without any idea how they would taste. They are a work in progress. When the British Fellows at Sorted Food say leave lots of large lumps of butter, they fucking mean it. I was afraid my batch would be soggy, greasy, tasteless lumps of standard doughnut-shop frosted cake shite.

But, amazingly, they are pretty good. I got separation of layers – not as many as if I’d left more large lumps of butter in the dough. Despite the frying, the interior was light and tasted like a baked croissant. The entire doughnut was light, actually, despite the maple icing (50g powdered sugar, 12g milk, 3g maple syrup since I had no extract – in that case, use 1/4t maple extract) and crumbled bacon on top. I finished the cronut and didn’t feel like I just choked down a lead weight. In fact, I could have easily grabbed another cronut – which is the finest recommendation I could have for a sweet treat of any sort.

crème pâtissiére: oo la la!

The cronut dough is resting in the fridge, waiting for tomorrow’s gluttonous fry-fest. In the meantime, I pondered whether to take my cronuts full Monty, and fill them with the prescribed pastry cream. Since I won’t be eating these little parcels of diabetic deliciousness, I voted a hearty “Aye!” – which then posed a problem. There is no recipe given for pastry cream, which means (a) try to find some in a store or (b) make some at home. This is a food blog, not a grocery store blog; you know what I chose. Lovely vanilla custard and anal-retentive scaling notes after the jump.

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