Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ken Forkish Field Blend #1 (3rd time is a charm)

This weekend I decided to try Ken Forkish Field Blend #1. This recipe calls for the use of rye flour. As Ken warned in the book, the addition of rye flour makes the dough a bit stickier than regular wheat flour. However, the end result is a much more rustic bread than the Pain De Campagne.

This is the 3rd time I baked bread using Ken's recipe, and I have to say I really like it, especially the part that he takes into consideration the schedule of the home (and weekend) baker. Feed the levain in the morning, mix the dough later afternoon and shape at night. Then bake the next day. This fits perfectly with my weekend schedule. I can just feed the levain on Saturday morning, then head out to do my stuffs (hiking, shopping, or whatever), but come home by 3pm to mix the dough. And by the time to go to bed, I already shape the final dough and just put into refrigerator. Also, the dough proof in refrigerator is much easier to handle to put into the hot dutch oven.

Here're the results. Nice crumb structure. Too bad one of the loaf doesn't open (not sure why) since I didn't score the loave per Ken's suggestion. Another loaf opens up perfectly.

We had this dough with pate and head cheese from San Francisco Boccalone, smoke salmon, and brie, for lunch. Nom nom.

First loaf that doesn't seem to open but still has nice crumb structure

2nd loaf - nice crack at the top - I'm sure crumb structure will be more open

2nd loaf - perfect text book like loaf

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast

I haven't been baking for quite some time due to my crazy work schedule (hint, since I moved out of the big company and into startup world) and the disaster I had with my last attempt to bake Chad's bread. However, Ken's new book (well, new for me but this book has been out for some time) inspires me to bake again and I want to share the results. Also I'm hoping I can someday walk Ken's journey (he was at some point in his life in my shoes but he decided to leave his stable job to pursue something he loves).

I'm particularly interested in his levain bread, in other words, his bread recipes that calls for the use of wild yeast. But wait, I no longer have my starter, so I had to spend 15 days to create the starter again. The second time is much easier as now I think I know what I'm doing :) BTW, my starter is actually Chad's recipe though and not Ken's. Ken's starter uses a lot of flour so for home baker you will waste a lot of flour everyday. I found Chad's starter works just fine.

I also bought the 6 qt and 12 qt container just like what Ken suggests in his book as well as the banneton (from Amazon) for proofing the dough.

I chose to go with his Pain De Campagne recipe (Country Bread) because to be honest I'm afraid to bake with pure levain due to my last disaster. I'm very curious to know if this is as good as Chad's recipe. However, I have to say I really like the guided schedule Ken put in his book though as you don't waste the whole day baking bread. In short, you mix and shape the dough starting the afternoon of the day before (after 3pm), and bake the next morning. Most of the time the dough stays in the refrigerator. I love it!!! Also I bought a wood board for kneading and used that instead of Roulpat. I found that I'm able to shape the dough much better due to some friction that the wood is able to create vs none from the silicone. My next one to try Chad's recipe again but with some adjustment from things I learn from Ken's book.

The result is yet another amazing bread that you just can't get with just using commercial yeast (sorry Jim Lahey, I still like your bread). It's the levain that makes the bread taste so complex. This is the second time I bake this bread. First time I baked this bread, I brought it to work and was told by some folks that these are some of the most amazing bread they ever had. Man, that feels good and inspires me to do it again. So, if you are in bread baking like me, check it out. I also want to mention I made some adjustment to Ken's recipe to do bench rest before shaping the final dough as it creates more tension and the dough holds itself much better.

Here are some photos of the Pain De Campagne that just came out of my oven this morning. Nom Nom nom :) We just finished half of the loaf.

Much improved oven spring with the bench rest

The two sisters - both are beautiful

Nice crumb structure with nice aroma that you only get with using levain

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jim Lahey No Knead Bread Again

I made Lahey's no knead bread again just to reassure myself of using this as default recipe (and that the last successful bake was not just a fluke). The bread is really easy to make and does not take much time. Most of the time spent on waiting as the book indicates, but it is well worth the wait. Couple people who tried this bread agreed the flavor is not as complex as Tartine, and also there is not the same aroma Tartine bread has. So, one thing I did as an experiment was to add Tartine's starter to the bulk fermentation, and the result was an improved aroma and crumb color. 

This is dough after the first fermentation, very relax with gluten.

This is my 2nd attempt. Good crumb structure with lot of air pockets.

This is probably the best one. I also added in Tartine Starter which seems to change the aroma and color of the crumb. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jim Lahey No Knead Bread

I picked up Jim Lahey's No Knead bread book. As much as I love making Tartine bread, it is very time consuming. I still keep my Tartine starter which by now is about 8 months old, but I have been too busy to spend a whole day making bread. At first glance, Jim's recipe seems to be much easier to make, and most of the time spent is proofing which can be done overnight, so I thought I give it a shot.

When I first read the recipe, I was quite skeptical. How could the bread develop enough tension to rise without any stretch and fold. Since the bread requires at least 12 hours fermentation time at room temperature of ~70F which is perfect for where I live. I mixed the dough the night before, left it to proof at room temperature and baked the next morning.

One minor change from Jim's recipe was instead of doing the second rise in the folded towel, I did my second rise in the basket (Tartine's method). Jim's suggestion for testing that dough is ready to bake is to do 1/4 inch indentation and see if it holds. Mine took about 1 hour to complete second rise at 80F degree. I took the pre-heated cast iron combo out of the oven, flip the dough into the cast iron combo, put back and wait.

The result? OMG it was awesome!!!! Although the bread does not taste as complex as Tartine's recipe and does not have the same aroma, it is pretty darn good. I would have this bread any time. The bread has good, uneven air pocket. This time I also made sure I did not overproof. It did get pretty good rise. Given the time I spent making it and the quality the bread came out, I have to say this will be preferable over Tartine's recipe for me.

The bread tastes good by itself. It tasted similar to Ciabatta. It is even better brushing with olive oil and toast in the cast iron pan to crisp it up. Half the loaf was gone by lunch time. I keep the other half for next day or may be dinner :-) I encourage anyone who like Tartine's recipe to check this one out.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Last weekend, I decided to make focaccia. I normally used Peter Reinhart's recipe from his American Pie book which made delicious focaccia, but a little too oily.

This time, I used the recipe from his latest book, Artisan bread everyday. This is also a no-knead recipe which is very nice. I also used some of the starter from tartine bread to ferment the bread.

The focaccia is proofed in the refrigerator overnight before baking in the 450F degree oven. This one I had to say is much better than the recipe from American Pie book, it is less oily, and I got nice even air pocket. Yum :-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Country Bread Panini

This post is a follow up from the previous one. Tartine has changed their ordering policy. It used to be we can order bread in the morning for pick up in the same day. Now, due to its popularity, the bread has to be pre-ordered 3 days in advance - crazy huh. After my disastrous baking attempt, we bought Tartine bread and make some really great panini.

- Cured meat like salami or prosciutto 
- Pesto
- Fontina cheese
- Arugula
- Butter

Smear the butter on the outside of the bread. Layer meat, cheese, and smear pesto sauce. Then add the arugula. Bake in the panini maker for about 6-7 minutes at high. The panini came out perfectly - yummy :-)

Hopefully next time I can do this with my own bread.

Original Tartine Bread (now $7 per loaf with 3-day advanced order)

Cured meat with fontina cheese

Add pesto and arugula

Bake on 'high' for 6-7 minutes


Friday, April 15, 2011

Third attempt is a failure

My starter has been living happily in the fridge for the past couple months. My sister is visiting so I want to show off the great country bread, but it was a disaster. I screwed up the first loaf with the oven being off after I removed the combo cooker to put in the bread, and the second loaf came out with minimal oven spring, resulting in a dense loaf with large bubble in the middle :-(

I suspect it was the starter losing strength but still couldn't convince myself that was the case here. After a few researches on, I came to two conclusion.
1) Overproofing - I think this is unlikely because I reduced time for both the bulk rise and the basket rise
2) Not enough tension - I think this is the culprit as I also reduced the number of stretch and fold.

Now, I am looking for a redemption. Hope to try again soon and will post the results.

Leavening passed the float test

After the bulk rise

First shaping

After the bench rest

1st loaf - disaster due to oven malfunction

Second loaf - rise but no ear

Finish loaf looks good

Poor oven spring - what a failure