Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Name that baker

Joan and I held an impromptu focus group about the selling phase of these pots with Ellen, Libby, Robbie, and Zach. We talked about the name? Do you have the perfect name in your mind? What should these be named? Branded as? Any thoughts? Some like Motzpots, some find it silly sounding or unprofessional.
Earth-Hand-Grain? Bread Bearer? Hand Made Bread Baker?
Talk among yourselves. New pots are nearly ready for sale.

At long last bread ( a long post)

Although I baked the NoKnead bread recipe immediately after it appeared in the Times I soon left it behind in favor of kneaded breads and other baking adventures. When Judy offered me this chance though I happily volunteered. I was in the 2nd wave of pots and had various family and work stuff that slowed me down but I finally post.

Even before I received my pot I did some practice rounds. It had been a while. (Did I remember how "shaggy" the dough really was?) My first try was with some French SAS yeast that was still good by date but clearly had lost it's lift. I don't have a photo of that mess.

New yeast . I used an old Copco enameled pot that I thought I had used previously. I got a pretty bread with a perfect crust . Not as "holey" an interior as I would love but yummy.

Richard then delivered this beauty to me. Oh my goodness, just lovely. Seeing pictures in previous posts I was thinking a lot about handles and lids but these looked beautiful and functional. Hooray.My only concern was that it looked small.

I baked a loaf. I followed the original NYT recipe with 1/4 t yeast because I used all white flour in these test bakings. The loaf looked good, but seemed to not be browning well. I took it out after 55 min total and it was just not quite done enough and had not risen as high as I had hoped . The very center was a little mushy but I didn't think I could have baked it longer.
It came out of the pan easily.
I baked a second loaf and it had a beautiful crust. It was also not as round and high as I hoped
and it too had a mushy core, not really raw but different than the crumb surrounding. I don't think it was undertimed and I got to thinking about volume.

The original NYT article says to put the loaf in a 6-8qt casserole/cast iron pot. Other articles said that the size didn't matter too much but when I measured out my beauty it only held 2 qts.

That makes it only 25% or 33% of the ideal. I am thinking that the air space around the covered loaf must have some effect on the outcome.
I spoke with Judy and decided to try a side by side from one double recipe to limit the variables.

I used a big red cast iron that hold 7 quarts and my Judypot. (which I think looks like a bird,maybe Breadbirds for a name.

I switched oven position during both the covered and uncovered bakings.

My bread from the larger pot clearly was bigger . My little pot still had that tiny soft core. I think the energy that is expanded while covered in the space must be turned inward in the little pot. This might not be as useful a characteristic in breads as it is people. I will next try the judypot with a 1/2 or 2/3 recipe to give it more space.
I havn't been part of the comments yet but here are some of my thoughts:
I look at too many school supply catalogs to think Motzpots is a worthy name of these bakers.
Something more elegant. I added the BreadBird thought after I wrote this but I still like it.

I was going to link to the hydration article in the NYT but you have done that for me. All this thinking about volume and hydration is liking taking a class.
As much as bakers buying for themselves I see the pots as a lovely gift. In light of my volume problem I would be looking for some consistency in the volume versus the recipe. Bread baking is an art but there is also chemistry and many people may want to bake without a great deal of experimenting.
My white pot has some beautiful signs of use, it is aging well.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Brick clay baker journey

I brought a baker with me on my recent circle of visiting dear friends. This pot is made from the red sculpture clay that looks like brick. I love the color, though the sandy, groggy clay has worn off my fingernails. The shape of this pot is nice, taller, more volume. The lid fit is a little rocky though serviceable. I decided dear Katya, with her avid baking and thorough posting, deserves something beautiful, with safe handles, instead of the original ugly second class one she got when she visited the cape house. So I brought it with me to Northampton from whence it will go to Brooklyn.

First, however, it traveled to Bristol, Vermont. I arrived at my friend Beth's store, Almost Home Market, with a rye bread dough that had been rising in the car. We put the baker in the commercial Blodgett Oven and cranked it up, set the dough out to rise in the lovely kitchen while Beth and Larry finished up the evening work and soon had a bread out of the oven. Here we are learning how to use Beth's iphone while it is in the oven.
Yummy taste of new york corn rye! Beth took pics on her phone.The next day we did a back country ski on heavenly Bolton Mountain. That Beth is tough, she does this several times a week, for me, once in a lifetime opportunity
Next day off to Northampton where this pot got its third baking in the kitchen of Joan and Stan.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another rye ...

Yummmmm the smell of fresh bread is filling my house.
i tried putting cornmeal all over the bread this time to help with the difficulty getting the baked loaf out.

i actually made two loaves ... on in the Bread Pot and one in a dutch oven. i do love our little rounded loaves!!

i will post in a little while about:
1) ease of getting it out of the pot
2) cleaning the pot

We KNOW it will taste divine!! LOL

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Going on the radio - will talk about the Bread Pot

Judy - do you want to sell pots yet? On April 25 i am being featured on a public radio station where i am featuring my Grandma Peggy's Chicken Soup AND i am going to bake a seeded rye and bring in the Bread Pot! i'll bet people will be very interested.
Let's figure out the best place to send people. This blog maybe?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweet Soft Sandwich Bread

One of my favorite commercial sliced breads is a Pepperidge Farm brand called 'Oat-Nut.' Sounds healthy, but it's really a soft squishy sweet bread with bits of nutty things, that I could eat straight from the bag, toppings optional. I've tried a few times to reproduce it in a home version, and I think I've finally gotten pretty close. The following is an adaptation from a recipe for 'Toast Bread' from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread.
I made one loaf in a loaf pan, and one in the baker, and they were pretty much exactly the same in crumb, crust, and consistancy. The difference in texture on the tops of the two loaves was largely because I dusted the pot loaf with wheat germ to keep it from sticking. I could eat it all day, toppings optional.
2 lbs flour (about 7 and 1/4 cups) - I used mostly All-Purpose with about 1/4 cup of whole wheat)
2 and 5/8 cups water
2 tsp sugar  (I used maple syrup, bet honey would be good)
1 Tblsp soft butter (or hard butter cut in tiny pieces)
Malt powder or syrup (optional) 3/8 tsp
1 Tblsp salt
1.5 tsp Yeast

Nutty things--flaxseeds, wheat berries, nuts, etc...whatever...

Knead all ingredients, ferment for 2 hours, folding once in the middle, shape, proof for 1 - 1.5 hours, bake at 430 degrees, 30-45 minutes (making allowances for large or small loaves).

More beautiful bread

What I like is the beauty of the rounded loaf - no matter what I dump into the hot pot, it comes out reliably adorable. I find the wetter doughs make a higher loaf and I like that better. I am liking the size a lot (compared to my original posts wondering if the pot was too small.) I made yet another bread with the original rye recipe and it was good. I baked it in a pot/oven heated to 500 degrees for 1/2 hour and then, when I took off the lid for 10 -15 minutes, I lowered the heat to 450. I don't think I am going to post any more breads with pictures after this because they are so reliable.
I love my little bread baker.

Still at it.....

We've been baking up a storm, the challah recipe is wonderful, and the deli rye is, too! I am currently without a digital camera, so I have no pictures, but our bread looks a lot like everyone elses!
Also, Judy, I added a comment to the question about pricing. (I'm anonymous, apparently.)
Our pot is holding up beautifully, no cracks, no problems.
I wanted to inquire if anyone washes their pot? If so, how? I have not washed mine at all, but this morning Thiago asked if he could wash it.
happy baking, and thank you for all the great recipes!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rye Bread

my dough is in the final 2 hour resting stage. It is VERY sticky. i just realized that i made no adjustments in any of my breads for high altitude (i'm at 7500 ft!)
i will send pictures and a review in a few hours.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New batch of bakers coming out well...

So, now that we have been using the bakers for a while and I have some new ones done, I am looking for input about what the price should be. At what price would you jump at a chance to have this? At what price would you think twice? Buy for a friend who bakes? At what price would you say, "forget it, who needs a handmade clay baker anyway"? Please comment.

Friday Night Challah

I wanted to make a challah last night, but didn't have time for my traditional braided one. So, I opted to use the Baker and am pleased to report that it was successful. I apologize for not having taken a picture, but the bread was consumed before I could get to it. This is the recipe that I used:
3 cups white flour
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. yeast
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
barely 1/4 cup oil
Water to bring the wet ingredients to 1 1/2 cups

The resulting bread was quite good and sliced better than any of the others have. This morning I could slice the remnant very thin. I'm glad that I tried this.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Deli Onion Rye

Another side-by-side test in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Continuum, this time a sourdough 'deli' rye, with onions. I won't put in a full formula, because it was many steps, but the basic idea was a rye sourdough starter, with sauteed onions, that fermented in the pot at room temperature for a few hours, then for about 24 hours in the refrigerator.
The final formula added yeast, AP flour and more rye, along with a little bit of sugar, molasses, oil, and caraway seeds. Baked at 400 for about 40 minutes. Both the inside and the outside loaf seemed to do well, although the outside would have been prettier if I'd egg washed it and scored it as directed, but it was late and I was falling asleep between rises.
Taste is outstanding, so if anyone actually wants the full formula, comment and I'll add it. Crumb is soft and gently dense, in a non-pejorative sense. It is as advertised, just a very good deli rye. The onions don't add a discernible onion taste, just a bit of depth. Maybe it's the Jew in me, but rye is just the star of the bread baking universe, it makes everything better. But I used to eat peanut butter and jelly on this kind of deli rye, so I may be an odd judge.

You asked for it, you got it. Here's the formula:

New York Deli Rye
Adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart 

1 cup sourdough starter/levain (any kind would probably do, mine is a stiffish rye mix)
1 cup white rye flour (I used whole rye)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 medium onions, diced
2 Tblsp vegetable oil

Saute onions in oil, cool. Stir all ingredients together and let ferment at room temp until sponge is bubbly (3-4 hours--I left it about 6). Refrigerate overnight, or for 24 hours.

Final dough:
3.5 cups bread flour (used AP)
1 cup white rye flour (I used whole again)
2 Tblsp brown sugar (I used white and added a bit of molasses)
2.5 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 Tblsp vegetable oil (I used one)
1 cup buttermilk or milk (I used buttermilk)
1/4-1/2 cup water, as needed

Mix everything together, knead for a short time, adding flour as needed. Dough won't be as elastic as a wheat dough...don't knead too long or it will get gummy. It should be tacky but not sticky. (I kneaded only lightly, and then did a fold about 40 minutes in). Let rise 1.5-2 hours. Shape as you please and proof for 1.5 hours. Reinhart suggests brushing with egg white, which I didn't do. It'll make it shiny.
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, then rotate loaves or remove the cover, bake about 20 minutes longer until golden brown.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Unimpressive Sourdough

I make sourdough nearly weekly at home, and ten to fifteen loaves of it at the bakery, so you'd think I could do a good job with it. And usually I do, but this time around my starter seems to have been a bit sluggish, or I didn't wait for it long enough. This little pot-loaf looks lovely and crusty on the outside, but it was dense and wet, with a few large tunnels but a largely sticky crumb.
In fact, it looks a lot like some of the early loaves I made at the bakery, which didn't rise or spring properly for whatever reason. In this case, I'd put the blame on sluggish sourdough, and possibly too short a proof. It's edible, but could have been much better.
This one was baked for about 20 minutes at 450 in the pot, and then another 10 minutes with lid off. Probably would have benefited from a slightly longer bake, but it wouldn't have done much for the crumb. Amazing how the baker can make even lame bread look so good, though, isn't it? This one had flaxseeds and sesame seeds in it as well. Hopefully now that I've woken up the home starter a little bit things will get back on track. I have a 25-lb bag of wholesale flour to get on with.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Conversation with Ejo

Ejo: At any rate, I did a second baking using my wheat recipe. I followed your measurements for flour, but still had too much dough. I cooked it about 15 minutes less to see if the bottom would not be almost burnt. The bottom was not burnt, but the inside was slightly under done. It was interesting to compare the taste of the bread cooked in your pot vs the bread I completed the day I started it. The no knead bread had a slightly more sour taste than my sandwich bread. The bread cells in the no knead bread were slightly larger than the sandwich bread. All in all, I enjoyed the flavor and texture of the bread. I would cook it longer next time. I will tweak my measurements and include those next time (as long as they are correct). ejo

Judy: At what temperature are you baking? I was baking at 500, but now find that 450 is better for less burning and more even baking.

You are the only one whose pot does not seem big enough. Can you measure the lid diameter and the height from the bottom inside to the lid flange?

I wonder if you are using a better yeast, hi gluten flour, or just have a warm place to rise, something we do not have this time of year.

I am making more pots with the leftover sculpture clay I used for your baker. Any problems with the clay? I find it uncomfortably groggy to work with, so I won't end up using it. It crumbles in the drying so I have lost a few.

Pane Pugliese, Better Out

This bread, Pane Pugliese, was the first time that the side by side test was won handily by the open oven, which version surpassed the pot version (right) in looks and texture. This may not have all been the fault of the pot, though, as I had to bake the pot loaf under a large sheet of parchment paper that stuck to it after proofing, hence the flattened shape. 

Pane Pugliese is often described as ciabatta dough baked in a larger loaf. It is soft and (ideally) full of large holes. I stirred but didn't knead it, instead alternating 20 minute rests with 'French' folds with a dough scraper. I don't think I quite nailed this one, but would definitely try it again-it was soft and engaging, and Matt liked it.  The formula, adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice:

10.8 oz (approx 2 cups) Biga (similar to Pate Fermentee)
10 oz (approx 2.25 cups) Flour (AP flour and a small amount of semolina)
.38 oz (1.5 tsp) kosher salt
approx 1.5 Tblsp potato starch (in lieu of the mashed potatoes Reinhart recommends
8-9 oz (1-1.125 cups) water

I mixed the very wet dough throughly and turned it out onto the counter. Over the course of about two hours, it went through several folds, in and out of the bowl. After about 2 hours, I lightly shaped the loaves and proofed them on parchment for a little over an hour. Heated oven, pot and baking stone to 500, baked at 450 with steam. Pot loaf was covered for 25 minutes, uncovered (parchment removed) and cooked for about 15 more. 

Monday, February 1, 2010


My little baker daughter was visiting this weekend and I already had this dough rising. The ingredients were 2c. white flour (bread), 1/2 c. rolled oats, 1/2 c. whole wheat berries, 1.5 tsp salt. the usual H2O, double the usual yeast...
This time, the bread came out very good tasting, a bit wet inside and the crust not so crusty. Here are pictures.
Sorry to say that the bread stuck to the sides again and was not so easy to remove. It seems that unless I really powder it up (with something flour-y) on the outside, the bread sticks. I wonder if there was some way I could have proofed the pot??