Monday, November 26, 2007

Daring Bakers Challenge # 2

This month's challenge recipe is Tender Potato Bread from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Our gracious host Tanna from My Kitchen in Half-Cups has posted the recipe.
All of my Daring Bakers Challenges are compiled here.
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Upon seeing this month's challenge, I cringed that I would have to deal with my old foe, yeast. Memories all my failed struggles came rushing back: The over-risen doughs, the leaden hunks of complex carbohydrates, and oh, how can I forget the panettone that overflowed while baking and had me spending Christmas Eve cleaning the oven. I decided, "in Vancouver, good bread is so easy to buy!"

My pants on fire, I wrote a quick thank you note to this month's host, Tanna from My Kitchen in Half-Cups, saying how much I looked forward to completing her challenge. Well, I must apologize for doubting our host, especially because the outcome is just delicious:


Few of the good breads I've bought in my fair city comes close to this bread. It is tender, and my Yukon Golds really come through not only in taste but especially in the deep colour the crumb acquires. And the smell, the aroma of the yeasted dough as it bakes - is all at once exhilarating and comforting.

It is fascinating to deconstruct what happens during bread-making. Kneading of flour and water results in the formation of gluten strands. One can feel the dough change in texture - it becomes more pliant - and temperature under one's hand. Just as amazing is the fact that the yeast eats the carbohydrates and ferments, releasing carbon dioxide. This gas is then trapped by the developed gluten fibers. After the dough is baked, the gas is gone but the structure remains.



For all my exultant paeans now, I must admit that making this bread was not all love. Particularly, this dough is incredibly sticky. A requirement of this challenge was to knead by hand. The dough was so tacky, however, it felt as though it was kneading my hand. I tried to maintain a mantra "push, fold, turn" while kneading, to no avail. I suppose it would have been easier if I added more flour. However, I knew that my likely pitfall would be to add too much flour and produce a heavy bread, so I decided to take the extreme opposite by trying to not add much flour while kneading.


In the future, when I am unfettered from the hands-on requirement of this month's challenge, I know that I will be able to recruit my trusty Kitchen Aid. However, the dough would still need to be shaped and panned and the prospect of dealing with the incredibly sticky mass still loomed so I was not keen on keeping this recipe. Then I had a flash of insight. About exactly a year ago, the blogging world was caught in a no-knead bread frenzy that was sparked by an article written by Mark Bittman in the NY Times. Writing about this phenomenon a year later, Nick Fox of the NY Times states:

"The response to Mr. Bittman’s article was so fervid you would have thought he’d revealed a foolproof way to pick winning lottery numbers. It was a sign of how desperately people want to bake at home, and how painfully aware they are of their limitations."

Next time, I will knead the still knead the dough - its water to flour proportion is not high enough allow gluten development to spontaneously occur in 12 hours as is the case with no-knead doughs - but use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and then adopt the shaping and baking method used in the article, which is demonstrated in this video:




To test this baking method, I took some dough left over from the first rise and placed it onto parchment scattered with plenty of cornmeal. I then coaxed this dough into a rough log by lifting the edges of the parchment and left it to rise a second time while pre-heating a two-quart Pyrex casserole dish and its lid in the oven. Later, I slid the dough into the pot and baked it covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15. The result is shown in the next picture.


This loaf has the homey appeal of artisan bread and has the kind of crust that shatters under one's bite and a crumb that is chewy and moist. This is rather serendipitous! When I make this recipe on my time, I will use my Kitchen Aid for the initial kneading and again aiming for a slack and tacky dough, then adopt the handling and baking style shown in the NY Times video.


Please check out all the other Daring Bakers' tender potato bread. There are truly remarkable renditions of different loafs, focaccias, and buns.




Notes:

  • Doneness can be tricky to judge. An instant-read thermometer is probably the surest way: insert into the middle of the loaf and a reading of 190°F to 210°F is desired.
  • A cracking crust - a desired but elusive quality in breads - can be achieved when moisture is introduced into the baking bread. Professionals employ steam-injection ovens. Home-users can set up a water bath, or drop ice cubes onto a pre-heated baking sheet placed on a lower oven shelf, or spray water on the bread with a spritzer.
  • One mistake I made - and this might be visible in the third photo on this page - is I cut into the loaf before it has cooled completely. This results in a damp crumb (even mushy if the loaf is cut very early).
  • Baking 911 continues to be an indispensable website for me, especially during this challenge.
  • Rose Levy Beranbaum was also intrigued by the no-knead technique and has expanded on the recipe in her blog for more flavour - which may potentially address David Lebovitz' criticism of the method.
  • Addendum (November 27, 2007). I used the minimum amounts of flour in the recipe and I kneaded the mass accordingly. Of this, 2/3 went in the pan then baked in the usual way and 1/3 was used in my free-form experiment. The dough was slack, sticky, and soft (really similar to the dough in the video). Parchment paper and cornmeal helped a lot in shaping it (by lifting sides of the paper). I let it rise a second time, covered in parchment. The oven, pot and lid were pre-heated to 450°F. I dropped the dough into the pot, covered it for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15. The internal temperature of the bread was 200°F.

83 comments:

Megan said...

Your loafs look really great! I just want to lick my screen.

glamah16 said...

Well done Julius.

skrockodile said...

I love the way your crust looks - it has a beautiful color and looks very crunchy and wonderful!

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

I lovethe way your loaves look!

Purl's Gurl said...

Fantastic job Julius! I too will use my kitchenaid in the future! :P

CB said...

Amazing crust! Your loaves are beautiful.

Barbara said...

That is the best looking crust I've seen today. I'm going on a diet for a few weeks too.

cookworm said...

Hee, your words about the "old foe" made me giggle. But certainly not much of a foe to create such pretty loaves! I seriously want to take a bite out of that crust. :)

Jennywenny said...

Love the good colour that you got on your crust. I'm guessing you maybe used lots of butter?

DawnsRecipes said...

Those look great! I love the crust. Thanks so much for sharing the tips!

Lisa Kendrick said...

I'm with you on the use of a Kitchen Aid...or even better, my bread machine!

Brilynn said...

That reminds me I should make the no knead bread again, it's fantastic! Well done!

Annemarie said...

I love your blog Julius - your pictures are so lovely and your posts completely do the pictures justice. Beautiful looking breads and nice bit of story around yeasts and bread making.

Gabi said...

Lovely crusty loaves, Julius!
I'll try that no-knead bread on your recommendation :)
xoxo

chou said...

I just recently came face to face with a no knead bread made according to Bittman's method. Very intriguing . . . This is a great application! You can also decrease the amount of kneading you need to do by mixing everything together just until it's barely mixed, cover it and let it sit for 20 minutes and then mix for another two to three minutes. There's a wonderful professional term for it, but in my afternoon-nap induced state, I can't remember! (Sigh) BTW, great pictures.

chronicler said...

very nice post! your last picture has me wishing I lived nearby! Great job!

kitten said...

Your bread looks gorgeous and your blog is very informative. I love your idea of trying this recipe the no knead way for a more artisanal loaf ! Great job.

Mandy said...

well done Julius, your breads are beautiful. And your post is so informative!

breadchick said...

Perfect job on your challenge breads this month and great information in your post! Great job this month!!

marye said...

apparently you have made friends with the yeast...nice job!

Maryann said...

Wow Julius, you really did a great job on this recipe. Your post is fab :)

Madeleine said...

Great Job!!!

The no-knead bread looks home-maid..

SweetDesigns said...

Those look delicious!!!

Lisa said...

Your bread looks delicious!

eatme_delicious said...

Looks great, especially that last loaf!

Dharm said...

Nicely done Julius! It looks great!

Gigi said...

Amazing looking crust! Great job!

Mike said...

Looks like I still have a way to go in my baking. Your berad is amazing!

Kevin said...

Your potato bread looks really good. The crust looks nice and golden brown and crispy.

Rachel said...

Thanks for dropping by at my blog!

The loaves have a soft brown hue to it..Love it..

Jigginjessica said...

Your bread looks beautiful!

Eva said...

Your bread looks lovely! I especially like the rustic, twisted shape!

Simona said...

Great job! And thanks for the precious notes.

Elle said...

Enjoyed your take on shaping like with the NY Times bread phenomenon. Thank you also for commenting on Yukon Gols potatoes. I think I'll try them next time for that golden crumb. Beautiful artesinal bread!

Mansi Desai said...

wow Julius, this looks really good! I've always wanted to be a part of DB, but just couldn't commit myself to making all challenges:) thanks for your kind comment on my blog!

your bread looks lovely..soft and really fluffy!

-Mansi
http://funnfud.blogspot.com

Miss Ifi said...

it just looks sooo pretty!!
Congratulations on your beautiful and yummy bread!

Princess of the kitchen said...

Your bread looks great Julius! Thanks for looking at my entry too. As a newbie to daring bakers i was thrilled to have my first comments.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, your loaves look gorgeous! I love their wonderfully golden and crispy crust!

Cheers,

Rosa

Anne said...

It's simply perfect...the crust is so lovely...and your photos are awesome!

kellypea said...

Ahh...to add more flour or not. That is the question. And use the Kitchen Aid? No matter. The bread turned out so lovely, didn't it? I, too am a fan of my machine, but enjoyed this challenge without it. And I recently read about the no-rise method, so will be looking at that as well. Your loves are great, and the writing even better.

I(dot)J said...

I love, love, love your bread. I actually love all that you bake. You always do such a wonderful job. The same is true for this creation.

Peabody said...

Yes, dealing with the sticky dough was not all love for me either!
Great looking bread!

Cherry said...

Your bread looks absolutely gorgeous! I love the colour and texture.
Thanks for the tips and advice!

Foodie Froggy said...

Your loaf and your rolls (I love them) look fantastic ! You are a professional baker or what ???

70% cocoa said...

The light in those photographs is incredible - it looks like you might have been having a religious experience whilst baking - you know, like a visitation from some passing angels?

The crust looks just amazing - although I did wonder whether a beautiful butterfly might emerge after two weeks? (ref; The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - just in case you think I've gone koo koo)

Kim said...

Your loaves look sensational! (Don't you just want to somehow incorporate that into your day to day life - Hi, your loaves look lovely!)

BC said...

Congratulations on overcoming the yeast foe. After a while, it grows on you!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Wow your loaves really do look beautiful!That crust is quite amazing too! Great job!

Sheltie Girl said...

Jules - You did a wonderful job on your bread. I love the rustic loaf you made.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Love it! I covet your crust! Thanks for the video too.

marias23 said...

Lovely breads and thank you for sharing your notes at the end of your post :) It's very helpful not only for this recipe but also for other bread recipes.

Katia said...

The loaves look amazing- the crust really looks wonderful, they look very rustic.

Veron said...

Those are great looking loaves. I love rose levy beranbaum blog, she has been very helpful with my pie crust questions.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Julius I loved that no knead crust.
Both of your loaves look wonderful here. So glad you "stuck" it out and baked with us.

Christina said...

Julius, you have no idea what you did... I want to bake more bread! Your pictures are incredible and I love your free-form loaf.

My first attempt ended in a gluey disaster, a result of being afraid of adding too much flour, but my second attempt worked because I just added the full amount. But your first attempt, however, proved to be edible whereas mine was not, and the face I made was ---> >.< !

About your panettone disaster, the first and best panettone I have ever made (it totally beat out the panettone I bought last year from an Italian bakery) was from The Bread Book. If I recall correctly, Mary (Breadchick) really likes this book, as well.

And to conclude my rather long comment, after seeing your Bûche de Noël post... I want to make it!

LizG said...

Your loaves look fantastick, Julius. I'm also intrigued about the no kneading technique in that video. I'll have to try that. Good job on this challenge!

Culinarily Obsessed said...

Your bread looks great! Sounds like this challenge has more than made up for those struggles you've had in the past.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Come back again anytime!

Jaay

Kourtney said...

Your loaves are beautiful! So is the picture in the title of your blog!

Ivonne said...

Julius,

You have no reason to fear yeast! Your bread is beautiful. I'd buy it any day!

Dhivya Karthik said...

wow! urs luks absolute delish for a person who has apprehensions abt yeast :)

Its luks all crusty outside..

joey said...

Both loaves are beautiful! And I love your free-form one :) I will try that method next time as well (baking in a casserole). I have yet to try the famous no-knead as well!

Looking at both your loaves we would have no clue that yeast was an "old foe" :)

the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

Great crumb! and the loaves are beautifully done!
This is the second DB challenge for me too! wheee!

Sara said...

Your pictures are wonderful!!!! I especially love that twisty loaf.

Dhanggit said...

just discover you blog..and i must admit i am totally smitten..love those bread!! i love baking but just like you ..yeast are my mortal enemies..dont know how many times i baked and dumped, nobody was willing to eat my work of art huh??..anyways will definitely add you up in my blogroll of fave food blog..you need to share me your mantra techniques too to improve my baking skills :-)

abby said...

your breads look great julius. and you're right, it is the crunchy crust , contrasting with the soft moist insides, which really make it so good.

April said...

Your loaves look great!! well done!

April said...

Your loaves look great!! well done!

Tempered Woman said...

Well you have already heard about it- but love the fun you had with the shape of your bread. It really is gorgeous. Great job!

Tartelette said...

Fabulous Julius! Be proud of the DB adge! Totally deserved! The breads all look wonderful!

Liska said...

Julius, your breads are fabulous!

Baking Soda said...

Teehee, Love the crust on these! Very well done!

countrygirlcityliving said...

I loved the artisanal approach! Your bread looks lovely and the description of it made my mouth water. A future in food writing?!?!?!

Jen Yu said...

Great job on your bread! Looks beautiful :) I love the crispy outside and tender inside too!!

-jen at use real butter

Half Baked said...

Really nice crust on your bread! It looks great!

iCook2live said...

Great bread. I thought I was reading Alton Brown for a minute. Very informative!!

Butta Buns said...

"...the kind of crust that shatters under one's bite.."
I love how you describe this! Your writing is so neat and succinct, I hope that you write baking book some day. You certainly have the eye for detail and know how to get your descriptions across.

Julie said...

Beautiful, Julius! I just want to cuddle the free-form loaf like a baby! It's such a beautiful color, it looks like candy.

Deborah said...

A wonderful post!! I love the free-form loaf - I would have loved to experience that crust!

Nora B. said...

Hi Julius,
Thanks for dropping by my blog. This was a delicious & sticky adventure. I too loked the contrast in texture of the crust and crumb.

sher said...

Wonderful job Julius!!! Your loaves are absolutely beautiful. (It sure was sticky dough.)

Julie said...

Also, Julius, I didn't think you'd done the food bloggers' meme that's going around, so I selected you through my blog to do it. Participate if you like, but there's no pressure to do so! =)

maybahay said...

so rustic looking. i love the shape, very sexy bread!

Dolores said...

Wow Julius... if I just looked at the pictures, I would never have guessed you had a yeast phobia. You certainly conquered it here!

I'm so glad you decided to join the ranks of the Daring Bakers... I learn so much from reading your posts.