The Fermentation Diary

A self confessed bread-a-holic I have recently moved to Nottinghamshire to study advanced artisan baking.
When I have finished school I will also be looking for a job, so if you need a good baker don't hesitate to get in touch
Wow, so thats term one at the School of Artisan food finished! It only seems like a couple of weeks ago that I arrived here and met my new flat / class mates for the first time, I cant believe thats been three months already. How ever it does feel like for ever since I last updated this little blog of mine, and thats because it has been. So here is an attempt to update you all on exactly what I have been up to since last I wrote you all…my dear readers. I think I started getting a little lax on the blog front around the time of the Welbeck Christmas market. It was on the weekend of the 26th and 27th of october, and one of the pieces of assed work for the business module on the course was to organise and run a stall at the market. My fellow class mates and I were all split in to teams, four to be exact; two for each day of the market, the team I was on was on the sunday. It was a lot of work in the organization and it wasn’t always fun (not like baking bread) but my fellow team mates (Jill, Mat, Kathrine and Laurie) and I all managed to get through it and come out the other side around £700 better off, so it wasn’t all bad I suppose. We magically transformed ourselves into The Sausage Shack™  and sold the ultimate artisan hotdog, simple and effective, just like me.
Since then I have made a LOT of bread. It has been fantastic being able learn under the watchful eyes and careful tutelage of Emmanuel and Wayne, the combined knowledge and experience of these two is simply staggering. Not only that, they always make if fun and enjoyable, it never seems like a chore to be doing anything in the bakery and every day I feel I have progressed another step forward. My confidence over the last three months has grown astronomically and this I feel shows through very much in the quality of the breads that I and my fellow bakery students have been making, be it a simple white tin loaf of the perfect baguette. The picture above should give you some indication of exactly what we have been getting up to recently, all hand made sourdoughs  by the students last thursday, Baguettes, Pain au Levain, Sicilian Semolina bread, Gruyere Cheese bread, Chocolate chip and raisin bread and some good old fashioned white sourdough bloomers. The shop opens next year. Stay tuned over the coming days and weeks as I hope to be able to get some more detailed up over the christmas break, including step by step croissant instructions and recipe. Until then Happy Christmas and happy bread.

Wow, so thats term one at the School of Artisan food finished! It only seems like a couple of weeks ago that I arrived here and met my new flat / class mates for the first time, I cant believe thats been three months already. How ever it does feel like for ever since I last updated this little blog of mine, and thats because it has been. So here is an attempt to update you all on exactly what I have been up to since last I wrote you all…my dear readers. I think I started getting a little lax on the blog front around the time of the Welbeck Christmas market. It was on the weekend of the 26th and 27th of october, and one of the pieces of assed work for the business module on the course was to organise and run a stall at the market. My fellow class mates and I were all split in to teams, four to be exact; two for each day of the market, the team I was on was on the sunday. It was a lot of work in the organization and it wasn’t always fun (not like baking bread) but my fellow team mates (Jill, Mat, Kathrine and Laurie) and I all managed to get through it and come out the other side around £700 better off, so it wasn’t all bad I suppose. We magically transformed ourselves into The Sausage Shack™ and sold the ultimate artisan hotdog, simple and effective, just like me.

Since then I have made a LOT of bread. It has been fantastic being able learn under the watchful eyes and careful tutelage of Emmanuel and Wayne, the combined knowledge and experience of these two is simply staggering. Not only that, they always make if fun and enjoyable, it never seems like a chore to be doing anything in the bakery and every day I feel I have progressed another step forward. My confidence over the last three months has grown astronomically and this I feel shows through very much in the quality of the breads that I and my fellow bakery students have been making, be it a simple white tin loaf of the perfect baguette. The picture above should give you some indication of exactly what we have been getting up to recently, all hand made sourdoughs by the students last thursday, Baguettes, Pain au Levain, Sicilian Semolina bread, Gruyere Cheese bread, Chocolate chip and raisin bread and some good old fashioned white sourdough bloomers. The shop opens next year. Stay tuned over the coming days and weeks as I hope to be able to get some more detailed up over the christmas break, including step by step croissant instructions and recipe. Until then Happy Christmas and happy bread.

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Gateau Opera

Wow, never thought I could make anything quite this awesome, but todays patisserie class taought me other wise, it simple really all you need is:

For the Joconde sponge

3 eggs

5 egg whites

75g icing sugar

75g ground almonds

25g flour (I actually used Shipton No.4 bread flour)

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside, whisk the egg whites till medium to stiff peaks form, separately whisk the whole eggs until doubled and foamy, Add the eggs to the egg whites and fold together gently, then add half the dry ingredients and fold gently until incorporated and the do the same with the rest of the dry stuff. Line a couple of trays with parchment and spread the batter out evenly over them at a thickness of around 1 – 1.5cm. Bake at 200˚c for around 5 – 10 minutes, when its done it will be slightly bouncy to the touch but not hard.

For the Ganache

85g double cream

140g high quality bitter sweet chocolate in small pieces

16g butter

Heat the cream, just before it hits the boil remove from the heat add the chocolate and butter and stir until dissolved. Cover with cling film that touches the surface of the ganache so it does not skin up and set aside to cool

For the buttercream

3 eggs

300g caster sugar

300g butter at room temperature, in small cubes

120ml water

Put the eggs in your mixer and whisk on hi-speed, while they are whisking add the sugar and water to a pan and bring to the boil. When the syrup reaches the softball stage (117˚C) pour slowly and steadily into the still whisking eggs. Don’t stop the mixer our you will just end up with some very sweet scrambled eggs! Keep whisking as it cools, once it is around body temperature or a little below start adding your butter a little at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed before adding any more. Put in the fridge and leave to cool.

For Stock Syrup 30

Equal amounts of water and sugar

dissolve the sugar in the water

For the Chocolate Glaze

200g water

100g sugar

50g cocoa powder

35g Good quality bitter sweet chocolate in small pieces

Add the sugar and water to a pan, bring to a rolling boil and then add the cocoa and whick in. Bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat add the chocolate and stir until melted. Run the whole lot through a sieve just to be sure you have not got any lumps and put in the fridge to cool.

To Assemble the Gateau

I cut my sponge into three equal pieces, however I baked mine in a large tray that would never fit in a non commercial oven, which is why I have said to use two trays, but it’s kinda hard to make two items into three equal pieces, so either do four equal pieces, or just do three and have a piece of nice fresh sponge to much on while your working hard on your gateau :)

Now you have your 3 (4) equal pieces take the first one and dab it with the stock syrup using a pastry brush. This is to keep the sponge moist, so be careful not to add too much and make it soggy. Now rab your ganache, which should not yet be too cool and put a spoon of it on top of your sponge and spread it out with a pallet knife so it is nice and even, and remember folks this stuff is rich and sweet so you really don’t need a thick layer here. Now place your next piece of sponge on top and gently push down on it so it sticks in place, again dab it with the syrup and this time you will need your butter cream. Grab it out of the fridge divide it into two halves and put in seperate bowls, now take one bowl of it, add a dash of coffee essence and whisk it to combine, voila coffee buttercream. When using this kind of butter cream it is best to use a metal bowl so if it starts to split, put it over the gas for about 1 or 2 seconds and give a good whisk and it will come back together. Now spread a thin layer of coffee buttercream over your second layer, add the third, dab it with syrup and this time a thin layer of plain buttercream, now put it in the fridge to stiffen up a little. When it is a little firmer remove from the fridge and pour a little of your chocolate glaze over the top, and once again spread it to the edges with a pallet knife, don’t worry about how the edges look when adding the syrup or butter creams or anything because you are going to cut them off in a minute, but first put in the fridge for another ten minutes or so. Once your ten minutes is up take a sharp bread knife and trim of all the edges so you have a nice smooth layered finish. Simple and super tasty.

Enjoy

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This week I have mostly been making…

Wet breads. Well we did a whole load of experiments on quantities of salt and water in dough, which was actually quite interesting and I did learn quite a bit. However making twenty odd white tin loaves with slightly different percentages of water or salt is far from exciting, so to make it a bit more interesting we also started getting used to wetter doughs, oh and some tuscan bread, which is traditionally made with out salt. Well, we didn’t actually made the saltless bread, Wayne (Caddy, head of bakery and British Coupe De Monde baker) did, and showed us how he learned to do it in Tuscany, however when we made it the following day we added some salt, and on friday olives too. We also made a selection of focaccia’s and ciabatta’s, grissini, and pain rustique. I am not going to go into details on the experiments as I may just put my report up here some time soon so I thought I would just share some pics with you instead.

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saccharomyces cerevisiae
Mans best friend
Or in a language that more of us will understand, yeast. Yup a true gift from the gods, or from some of them at least. Jehovah on the other hand demanded the death penalty for Jew’s who ate leavened bread at pass over! Serious stuff. I have to say that I find myself being much more of a fan of Demeter, the Greek goddess of the grain and keeper of the seasons. I am here by honouring her with the title, Goddess of yeast.
There are of course many many many kinds of yeast, but the good old saccharomyces cerevisiae is the one that does it for me. Why? Well for a good long time now it has been a couple of amazing things, making bread rise and beer alcoholic, sorry fido, but yeast truly is mans best friend…or do I just not have enough friends?
It was a great week last week in baking school, and it was all about yeast. We had a wealth of information on the subject in to talk, demonstrate and guide us through some of its wonderful capabilities. We started with Claire Monk from the Welbeck brewery, who is not only the brewer extraordinare who donated some of her yeast for our recent brewing here in 11 Creswell mansions (of which I need to post about because the beer was amazing!!!) but is also a rather fab and knowledgable micro-biologist. Not only did claire guide us through all the facts, with the equivalent of the birds and the bee’s talk for yeast, did you know that they can reproduce in a different way when they are stressed, but she also gave us a quiz at the end with the inclusion of such questions as: spell saccharomyces cerevisiae, and I really was doing well up to that point. Come to think of it, we still haven’t heard who won yet, and with beer on offer as a prize, I really should look into that. Claire also very kindly donated some of her beer barm (yeast) for us to have a play with…more on that later.
After this we were very privileged to spend the next day and half in the presence of Luic Ledru of Le Saffre, and Sara Aughton of fermex, who just happens to also be the coach of the english bread world cup, oh we are spoiled. Luic explained yet more information on yeast, which I personally found fascinating, for instance did you know that in the correct conditions .1g of yeast will become forty tons in just ten days, forty tons!
After luic’s talk it was time for action, we quickly made up a dough for some baguettes, knocked up a sourdough culture that comes from a packet, it kind of felt a bit like cheating but given frances strict regulations on what exactly can and can not be called leavin (sourdough) it does seem to answer a need, we made two types of poolish, a half water one and a half flour one (both based on TFW)  for some more baguettes the following day, scaled and shaped our current baguette dough, made two brioche doughs for overnight fermentation in the fridge, one with normal compressed yeast and the other with osmotolerant high sugar yeast (which I didn’t even know existed, but is great for use in doughs with a high sugar content) and then baked off our baguettes, a busy after noon. The baguettes were nothing special, but they were not supposed to be, they were as an example of the differences between a quickly made bread and slowly made one, for which the poolish was proving for the next fifteen hours for. Still they were tasty enough back home twinned with some nice cheese.
When thursday came I really felt the we had finally started the baking course proper, that is to say we made a lot of bread. I can’t remember exactly what order in which we did things but we took our two poolish’s and made them into baguette dough’s, we shaped twenty brioche a tet, and pleated the rest, with our sourdoughs we made some pain de compagne and pain au levain doughs. As one would proof, we would shape one, knock back another, shape another it was great. With the compagne dough we also made some walnut and raisen rolls, and the pain au levain dough we made some hazel nut rolls as well. When it came time for the oven, it was also sadly time to bid farewell to Luic and Sara thanks guys for all your help and vast knowledge. The bread was great, all of it, compagne, levain, baguette and brioche, god I miss france, I spent the summer there and plan to move there some time over the few years. This is about as close as it gets and I was very happy for that.
Friday was another great day, while we did not make quite as much bread as thursday we did make some more great stuff, We firstly made a small brioche by hand as opposed to the spiral mixer. It was good practice as this can be a tricky dough to work with, and also with this one we used organic yeast and did not ferment it overnight, just a couple of hours in the fridge. I have to say that while it was still mighty tasty, the overnight brioche was the slightly better one for my palette. And then we were on the case with some of Clares beer barm. Wow is all I can say, we made different types of barm bread, one was a white, with a higher percentage of barm in it, and the other was a blend of white (shipton mills organic No.4) and heritage (doves frarms) flours with a bit less of the barm. The white did ok, but the excess of barm seemed a bit of a hinderance to be honest, it didn’t move to quickly and didn’t spring that much in the oven. The heritage how ever was a totally different story, easy to work with and with lots of spring. And the taste was truly amazing, a deep rich crust with hoppy over tones and very slightly bitter note, the crumb was great not too open or too closed, nice and moist and again with great flavour. And as I found out the following morning, it was also a fabulous toasting bread – highly recommended. Ill dig out the formula some time if anybody wants it, how ever you will need access to a friendly local brewer for the yeast culture.
Happy Baking

saccharomyces cerevisiae

Mans best friend

Or in a language that more of us will understand, yeast. Yup a true gift from the gods, or from some of them at least. Jehovah on the other hand demanded the death penalty for Jew’s who ate leavened bread at pass over! Serious stuff. I have to say that I find myself being much more of a fan of Demeter, the Greek goddess of the grain and keeper of the seasons. I am here by honouring her with the title, Goddess of yeast.

There are of course many many many kinds of yeast, but the good old saccharomyces cerevisiae is the one that does it for me. Why? Well for a good long time now it has been a couple of amazing things, making bread rise and beer alcoholic, sorry fido, but yeast truly is mans best friend…or do I just not have enough friends?

It was a great week last week in baking school, and it was all about yeast. We had a wealth of information on the subject in to talk, demonstrate and guide us through some of its wonderful capabilities. We started with Claire Monk from the Welbeck brewery, who is not only the brewer extraordinare who donated some of her yeast for our recent brewing here in 11 Creswell mansions (of which I need to post about because the beer was amazing!!!) but is also a rather fab and knowledgable micro-biologist. Not only did claire guide us through all the facts, with the equivalent of the birds and the bee’s talk for yeast, did you know that they can reproduce in a different way when they are stressed, but she also gave us a quiz at the end with the inclusion of such questions as: spell saccharomyces cerevisiae, and I really was doing well up to that point. Come to think of it, we still haven’t heard who won yet, and with beer on offer as a prize, I really should look into that. Claire also very kindly donated some of her beer barm (yeast) for us to have a play with…more on that later.

After this we were very privileged to spend the next day and half in the presence of Luic Ledru of Le Saffre, and Sara Aughton of fermex, who just happens to also be the coach of the english bread world cup, oh we are spoiled. Luic explained yet more information on yeast, which I personally found fascinating, for instance did you know that in the correct conditions .1g of yeast will become forty tons in just ten days, forty tons!

After luic’s talk it was time for action, we quickly made up a dough for some baguettes, knocked up a sourdough culture that comes from a packet, it kind of felt a bit like cheating but given frances strict regulations on what exactly can and can not be called leavin (sourdough) it does seem to answer a need, we made two types of poolish, a half water one and a half flour one (both based on TFW) for some more baguettes the following day, scaled and shaped our current baguette dough, made two brioche doughs for overnight fermentation in the fridge, one with normal compressed yeast and the other with osmotolerant high sugar yeast (which I didn’t even know existed, but is great for use in doughs with a high sugar content) and then baked off our baguettes, a busy after noon. The baguettes were nothing special, but they were not supposed to be, they were as an example of the differences between a quickly made bread and slowly made one, for which the poolish was proving for the next fifteen hours for. Still they were tasty enough back home twinned with some nice cheese.

When thursday came I really felt the we had finally started the baking course proper, that is to say we made a lot of bread. I can’t remember exactly what order in which we did things but we took our two poolish’s and made them into baguette dough’s, we shaped twenty brioche a tet, and pleated the rest, with our sourdoughs we made some pain de compagne and pain au levain doughs. As one would proof, we would shape one, knock back another, shape another it was great. With the compagne dough we also made some walnut and raisen rolls, and the pain au levain dough we made some hazel nut rolls as well. When it came time for the oven, it was also sadly time to bid farewell to Luic and Sara thanks guys for all your help and vast knowledge. The bread was great, all of it, compagne, levain, baguette and brioche, god I miss france, I spent the summer there and plan to move there some time over the few years. This is about as close as it gets and I was very happy for that.

Friday was another great day, while we did not make quite as much bread as thursday we did make some more great stuff, We firstly made a small brioche by hand as opposed to the spiral mixer. It was good practice as this can be a tricky dough to work with, and also with this one we used organic yeast and did not ferment it overnight, just a couple of hours in the fridge. I have to say that while it was still mighty tasty, the overnight brioche was the slightly better one for my palette. And then we were on the case with some of Clares beer barm. Wow is all I can say, we made different types of barm bread, one was a white, with a higher percentage of barm in it, and the other was a blend of white (shipton mills organic No.4) and heritage (doves frarms) flours with a bit less of the barm. The white did ok, but the excess of barm seemed a bit of a hinderance to be honest, it didn’t move to quickly and didn’t spring that much in the oven. The heritage how ever was a totally different story, easy to work with and with lots of spring. And the taste was truly amazing, a deep rich crust with hoppy over tones and very slightly bitter note, the crumb was great not too open or too closed, nice and moist and again with great flavour. And as I found out the following morning, it was also a fabulous toasting bread – highly recommended. Ill dig out the formula some time if anybody wants it, how ever you will need access to a friendly local brewer for the yeast culture.

Happy Baking

Comments
Comments
Bread or brick?
experiments in baking with wheat flours, gluten free flours and pretty much everything in between
Well it was an interesting week at school this week as not only did we have Jethro Marriage from Doves Farm to talk to us about flour, heritage grains and the milling process, but we also did a series of test bakes from all manner of different flours, wheat based and otherwise. I suppose I should preface all this with a brief re-cap of what I got up to last week at school, as I have not been to active on the old blog front of late, too much home brew probably but more of that in another post. Last week, my fellow baking students and I had a very informative talk by and with Andrew Whitley about the past present and future of bread. For those of you who don’t know Andrew Whitley, he is the author of the fascinating and informative book called: Bread Matters. You don’t have to be a foody to enjoy this and I would recommend it to anyone who has ever eaten bread in any form, it is a real eye opener to say the least. Andrew’s talk was a very in-depth discussion on the state of modern bread and his depth of knowledge is rivaled only by his passion to inform, and to make bread of course! Following this day we made two seperate day trips to flour mills, on Thursday we headed to the local mill, Smiths in Worksop, followed on the Friday by Yorkshire Organic Mill. The two mills could not have been any more different if they tried, Smiths, a large (all be it relatively small by the real big boys standard) factory roller mill that can put out around thirteen tons of flour per hour and produces over a hundred different types of flour for purposes as diverse as bread making (of course) and the explosives industry! It was a real eye opener to see this kind of mill in action. I am sure we all have romanticized images in our heads of flourmills and their millers being coated head to toe in white flour dust but that just isn’t the case. While there are plenty of people that work there, the mill itself is run by only three millers who work a shift rotation, the entire operation is computer controlled and can be run remotely with no one on site. Yorkshire Organic stone mill on the other hand is pretty much the complete opposite, a true artisan operation. It is located on a small organic family farm and producing about 100 tonnes a year of grain and all the grain milled there is not only organic, but also from Yorkshire, a tall order to say the least. But the flour is very good indeed, so good in fact that I brought home nearly twenty kilo’s of it, I bought a sack of their 85% extraction white and a couple of small bags of dark rye. It was a great day where we not only got to see the three stone mills, Tom Dick and Harry but we also got to see some of the farm and the first crop of organic rye that had been planted just two weeks previous, we got a fab lunch of local breads from the flour milled there, some amazing cheese’s and top notch soup. Perfect.
So armed with all this flour and milling knowledge It was time to meet Jethro and talk about some heritage grains such as Emmer, Einkorn and kamut (khoransan), and well a little more about flour and milling too. After all this talking and learning about different kinds of flour we figured it was probably time to do a little baking and see what the differences actually were, so a series of test bakes proceeded over the course of the next couple of days to find out what it was all about. We baked with, and I warn you that I am liable to miss few here as we did do a lot, a selection of organic and non-organic bread flours white and brown, some available from your local supermarkets and some not, cake flour, Einkorn, Kamut, White Spelt, Wholemeal Spelt, Light Rye, Dark Ryes, Cracked Rye, Semolina, Barley, Coarse Oatmeal, Medium Oatmeal, Rice flour, Maize flour, Buckwheat flour, Polenta, Gram Flour, and Teff! 
So what were they like, well varied to say the least, of the supermarket flours most were ok, how ever we did notice that pretty much all the white breads made from the supermarket flours did seem to taste quite salty.  I would probably recommend knocking at least half a percent (if not more) of salt off your formulas if you are using such flours. I think the Tesco’s organic whole meal and the Doves Farms Heritage were the favorites, but I really liked the Einkorn bread made from Doves farm flour, which I think is available from Sainsbury’s. For the wheat free flours there were some interesting results, the bread made from 100% cracked rye, was incredibly tasty and moist, but because there basically wasn’t any flour in it it didn’t really hold together so I think with the addition of some rye flour (and some sour) this could be a winner…watch this space for Volkornbrot. The whole spelt and the barley were also good, but the one made from medium oatmeal was really incredible, it was like porridge bread. I realize that this probably wont appeal to all but I loved it, it is really hearty and would go great with a soup or some strong cheese, and I would image toasted for breakfast with lashing of nuttella and chopped bananas. Now the real eye opener of all test bakes was the gluten free flours. Bearing in mind that these tests were not about making perfect bread but more about gaining a more fundamental understanding of how different flours react and work in the bread making process, how they bake and most importantly…how they taste. And I can tell you quite categorically, the 100% maize flour makes the most horrible and bitter tasting bread that you have ever tasted, which is in stark contrast to the polenta, which is really quite tasty, it’s taste, surprisingly enough, was very much like polenta. I would suggest that with the addition of a few herbs and some garlic you could have a really tasty gluten free loaf. The rice flour loaf looked really good and tasted ok at first but had a fairly astringent after taste. The buckwheat was nice but quite intense, buckwheat is something you have to have a taste for in the first place, which I do, I’m quite partial to buckwheat pancakes, but I still found it a little difficult to deal with that much flavour. The teff, which is a grain very new to me was again really quite good but I feel a bit of an acquired taste. And finally (I think) the gram flour bread. I love chickpeas and anything to do with them, in fact my favourite breakfast off all time is channa massala and maybe a couple of samosa’s too, so I was expecting to like this very much. And it was good, but not quite what I was expecting, there was a definite taste of chic peas but it had a very drying effect in the mouth and would really benefit from some extra moisture and again some more flavours. 
The result of all these test bakes has really intrigued and inspired me, especially so with the gluten free one. While I am not gluten free myself, I can only imagine how much it would affect me, a self confessed bread–a-holic to find out that I could no longer eat traditional bread and feel that there really should be more done to satisfy the appetites of the increasing numbers celiac’s diagnosed each year. And with the understanding gained of the taste and textures offered by these gluten free flours I really feel quite empowered do start making so more diverse and interesting gluten free breads, the first that comes to mind for me is curry bread! Any takers?

Bread or brick?

experiments in baking with wheat flours, gluten free flours and pretty much everything in between

Well it was an interesting week at school this week as not only did we have Jethro Marriage from Doves Farm to talk to us about flour, heritage grains and the milling process, but we also did a series of test bakes from all manner of different flours, wheat based and otherwise. I suppose I should preface all this with a brief re-cap of what I got up to last week at school, as I have not been to active on the old blog front of late, too much home brew probably but more of that in another post. Last week, my fellow baking students and I had a very informative talk by and with Andrew Whitley about the past present and future of bread. For those of you who don’t know Andrew Whitley, he is the author of the fascinating and informative book called: Bread Matters. You don’t have to be a foody to enjoy this and I would recommend it to anyone who has ever eaten bread in any form, it is a real eye opener to say the least. Andrew’s talk was a very in-depth discussion on the state of modern bread and his depth of knowledge is rivaled only by his passion to inform, and to make bread of course! Following this day we made two seperate day trips to flour mills, on Thursday we headed to the local mill, Smiths in Worksop, followed on the Friday by Yorkshire Organic Mill. The two mills could not have been any more different if they tried, Smiths, a large (all be it relatively small by the real big boys standard) factory roller mill that can put out around thirteen tons of flour per hour and produces over a hundred different types of flour for purposes as diverse as bread making (of course) and the explosives industry! It was a real eye opener to see this kind of mill in action. I am sure we all have romanticized images in our heads of flourmills and their millers being coated head to toe in white flour dust but that just isn’t the case. While there are plenty of people that work there, the mill itself is run by only three millers who work a shift rotation, the entire operation is computer controlled and can be run remotely with no one on site. Yorkshire Organic stone mill on the other hand is pretty much the complete opposite, a true artisan operation. It is located on a small organic family farm and producing about 100 tonnes a year of grain and all the grain milled there is not only organic, but also from Yorkshire, a tall order to say the least. But the flour is very good indeed, so good in fact that I brought home nearly twenty kilo’s of it, I bought a sack of their 85% extraction white and a couple of small bags of dark rye. It was a great day where we not only got to see the three stone mills, Tom Dick and Harry but we also got to see some of the farm and the first crop of organic rye that had been planted just two weeks previous, we got a fab lunch of local breads from the flour milled there, some amazing cheese’s and top notch soup. Perfect.

So armed with all this flour and milling knowledge It was time to meet Jethro and talk about some heritage grains such as Emmer, Einkorn and kamut (khoransan), and well a little more about flour and milling too. After all this talking and learning about different kinds of flour we figured it was probably time to do a little baking and see what the differences actually were, so a series of test bakes proceeded over the course of the next couple of days to find out what it was all about. We baked with, and I warn you that I am liable to miss few here as we did do a lot, a selection of organic and non-organic bread flours white and brown, some available from your local supermarkets and some not, cake flour, Einkorn, Kamut, White Spelt, Wholemeal Spelt, Light Rye, Dark Ryes, Cracked Rye, Semolina, Barley, Coarse Oatmeal, Medium Oatmeal, Rice flour, Maize flour, Buckwheat flour, Polenta, Gram Flour, and Teff!

So what were they like, well varied to say the least, of the supermarket flours most were ok, how ever we did notice that pretty much all the white breads made from the supermarket flours did seem to taste quite salty.  I would probably recommend knocking at least half a percent (if not more) of salt off your formulas if you are using such flours. I think the Tesco’s organic whole meal and the Doves Farms Heritage were the favorites, but I really liked the Einkorn bread made from Doves farm flour, which I think is available from Sainsbury’s. For the wheat free flours there were some interesting results, the bread made from 100% cracked rye, was incredibly tasty and moist, but because there basically wasn’t any flour in it it didn’t really hold together so I think with the addition of some rye flour (and some sour) this could be a winner…watch this space for Volkornbrot. The whole spelt and the barley were also good, but the one made from medium oatmeal was really incredible, it was like porridge bread. I realize that this probably wont appeal to all but I loved it, it is really hearty and would go great with a soup or some strong cheese, and I would image toasted for breakfast with lashing of nuttella and chopped bananas. Now the real eye opener of all test bakes was the gluten free flours. Bearing in mind that these tests were not about making perfect bread but more about gaining a more fundamental understanding of how different flours react and work in the bread making process, how they bake and most importantly…how they taste. And I can tell you quite categorically, the 100% maize flour makes the most horrible and bitter tasting bread that you have ever tasted, which is in stark contrast to the polenta, which is really quite tasty, it’s taste, surprisingly enough, was very much like polenta. I would suggest that with the addition of a few herbs and some garlic you could have a really tasty gluten free loaf. The rice flour loaf looked really good and tasted ok at first but had a fairly astringent after taste. The buckwheat was nice but quite intense, buckwheat is something you have to have a taste for in the first place, which I do, I’m quite partial to buckwheat pancakes, but I still found it a little difficult to deal with that much flavour. The teff, which is a grain very new to me was again really quite good but I feel a bit of an acquired taste. And finally (I think) the gram flour bread. I love chickpeas and anything to do with them, in fact my favourite breakfast off all time is channa massala and maybe a couple of samosa’s too, so I was expecting to like this very much. And it was good, but not quite what I was expecting, there was a definite taste of chic peas but it had a very drying effect in the mouth and would really benefit from some extra moisture and again some more flavours.

The result of all these test bakes has really intrigued and inspired me, especially so with the gluten free one. While I am not gluten free myself, I can only imagine how much it would affect me, a self confessed bread–a-holic to find out that I could no longer eat traditional bread and feel that there really should be more done to satisfy the appetites of the increasing numbers celiac’s diagnosed each year. And with the understanding gained of the taste and textures offered by these gluten free flours I really feel quite empowered do start making so more diverse and interesting gluten free breads, the first that comes to mind for me is curry bread! Any takers?

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a plethora wheat, non-wheat and gluten free loaves

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Yorkshire Organic Mill

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It’s all about the butter!
 
As it says at the top of my blog, I am a serious bread-a-holic, there are few things in the world quite as nice as a fresh hand made loaf or three, be they sourdough, white, wholemeal, rye, what ever it is that you prefer. But once you have a couple of nice thick slices of your favorite bread in front of you then everything changes, it becomes… all about the butter! Butter is another one of those things. In essence its very simple; it’s just a lump of fat, perhaps that’s why so many of us have a love / hate relationship with it. In reality though it is so much more, that lovely golden creaminess that transforms anything it touches into so much more, as you can probably tell I have a love / love relationship with butter, and while that is perhaps not the best for my waist line, life is about enjoying yourself and doing what makes you feel good, so why fight it? 
Now I have always wanted to make my own butter, I never believed that it was a particularly difficult thing to make but I did always think that it took at least one or two pieces of specialist equipment, like a churn for instance. Well I suppose that I should have researched it a bit as the other day I was shown something that changed my world! It was a little under two weeks ago as I was having an Introduction to Dairying with the amazing “First Lady of Cheese” Val Bines, at the School Of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire. While she was giving a talk on the basic’s of all things cheese and dairy related, she was also giving a demonstration of just how simple it is to make yourself some nice fresh butter with only two things; a plastic tub and some whipping cream. Yup, that’s all folks, just a simple plastic tub and some cream, just remember that the tub you use has to have a sealable lid or you will end up with cream all over the place! In her demonstration Val used whipping cream, and the few times I have done it since I have used double cream, you can use either but the important thing is to make sure you use un-homogenized cream, as the homogenization process does some nasty work to the fat modules in the cream that makes them unbutterable, what a great new word! Now if I had been paying more attention at the time I would be able to tell you exactly what it is that the homogenizing process does to make the cream unbutterable, however I lost my focus a little as I was busy visualizing myself making my own butter! But as promised in an earlier post, this is how you do it…
 
 
Step 1
Take a sealable tub of some form, I used a plastic clip lidded tub (but a jam jar will work too) that cost me just a couple of quid at the enemy… whoops did I say that? I meant to say the supermarket! Put some cream in it, now the cream is going to expand during the process so be sure not to over fill it, no more than one-third full maximum.
Step 2
Shake! That’s all you have to do. I used one hundred a fifty grams of cream this morning and it took me all of ten minutes, you don’t even need to be that vigorous. First the cream will become thick, like nicely whipped cream, this will take probably 5 – 6 minutes, and then after that the fat globules will split and release the butter milk and all of a sudden if you look inside your tub you will have something with an uncanny resembelance to scrambled egg.
Step 3
Once you reach this stage, turn your tub out into a sieve to separate the butter milk from the butter, and I also give my butter a little squeeze at this point to release some more of the buttermilk. Just be gentle and quick as the butter is very soft at this stage and will melt very quickly from the heat of your hands and you will loose that precious butter through your sieve. Now put your butter back into your tub and add some cold water and shake gently for about thirty to forty seconds to rinse the butter and release more buttermilk and drain. Do this three of four times until the water is relatively clean after rinsing, now get a glass full of ice water and a couple of wooden spoons ready because I am guessing that, like me, you don’t own any scotch hands. Put your butter on a plate, add some salt (I use around a quarter of a teaspoon per 100g of butter) and work it in quickly with your fingers then take the wooden spoons out of the ice water, give them a little shake to rid them of any excess water and use them to start squeezing the butter. The goal here is to release as much more of the buttermilk as possible from the butter, as it is the buttermilk that can go off and make your butter rancid. So squeeze and drain as much of it out of the butter as you can, but you don’t need to worry too much if you cant get it all out as it has a perfectly nice flavor and doesn’t go rancid all that quickly so as long as you don’t make more than you need for a week or two all will be fine. Now all you have to do is shape it how you like it, wrap it up in a bit of parchment/greaseproof paper and put in the fridge to chill out for a bit. Nice!
Economy matters: so I figured out that it cost’s me around 56.666p to make one hundred grams of butter, which is cheaper than the higher quality butters but a little more costly than the big supermarket value brands. But hey the butter is definitely better than the own brands, you can also salt it to your own taste, which is an advantage, and most importantly its great fun and better for the environment so go on and get yourself buttery!

It’s all about the butter!

 

As it says at the top of my blog, I am a serious bread-a-holic, there are few things in the world quite as nice as a fresh hand made loaf or three, be they sourdough, white, wholemeal, rye, what ever it is that you prefer. But once you have a couple of nice thick slices of your favorite bread in front of you then everything changes, it becomes… all about the butter! Butter is another one of those things. In essence its very simple; it’s just a lump of fat, perhaps that’s why so many of us have a love / hate relationship with it. In reality though it is so much more, that lovely golden creaminess that transforms anything it touches into so much more, as you can probably tell I have a love / love relationship with butter, and while that is perhaps not the best for my waist line, life is about enjoying yourself and doing what makes you feel good, so why fight it?

Now I have always wanted to make my own butter, I never believed that it was a particularly difficult thing to make but I did always think that it took at least one or two pieces of specialist equipment, like a churn for instance. Well I suppose that I should have researched it a bit as the other day I was shown something that changed my world! It was a little under two weeks ago as I was having an Introduction to Dairying with the amazing “First Lady of Cheese” Val Bines, at the School Of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire. While she was giving a talk on the basic’s of all things cheese and dairy related, she was also giving a demonstration of just how simple it is to make yourself some nice fresh butter with only two things; a plastic tub and some whipping cream. Yup, that’s all folks, just a simple plastic tub and some cream, just remember that the tub you use has to have a sealable lid or you will end up with cream all over the place! In her demonstration Val used whipping cream, and the few times I have done it since I have used double cream, you can use either but the important thing is to make sure you use un-homogenized cream, as the homogenization process does some nasty work to the fat modules in the cream that makes them unbutterable, what a great new word! Now if I had been paying more attention at the time I would be able to tell you exactly what it is that the homogenizing process does to make the cream unbutterable, however I lost my focus a little as I was busy visualizing myself making my own butter! But as promised in an earlier post, this is how you do it…

 

 

Step 1

Take a sealable tub of some form, I used a plastic clip lidded tub (but a jam jar will work too) that cost me just a couple of quid at the enemy… whoops did I say that? I meant to say the supermarket! Put some cream in it, now the cream is going to expand during the process so be sure not to over fill it, no more than one-third full maximum.

Step 2

Shake! That’s all you have to do. I used one hundred a fifty grams of cream this morning and it took me all of ten minutes, you don’t even need to be that vigorous. First the cream will become thick, like nicely whipped cream, this will take probably 5 – 6 minutes, and then after that the fat globules will split and release the butter milk and all of a sudden if you look inside your tub you will have something with an uncanny resembelance to scrambled egg.

Step 3

Once you reach this stage, turn your tub out into a sieve to separate the butter milk from the butter, and I also give my butter a little squeeze at this point to release some more of the buttermilk. Just be gentle and quick as the butter is very soft at this stage and will melt very quickly from the heat of your hands and you will loose that precious butter through your sieve. Now put your butter back into your tub and add some cold water and shake gently for about thirty to forty seconds to rinse the butter and release more buttermilk and drain. Do this three of four times until the water is relatively clean after rinsing, now get a glass full of ice water and a couple of wooden spoons ready because I am guessing that, like me, you don’t own any scotch hands. Put your butter on a plate, add some salt (I use around a quarter of a teaspoon per 100g of butter) and work it in quickly with your fingers then take the wooden spoons out of the ice water, give them a little shake to rid them of any excess water and use them to start squeezing the butter. The goal here is to release as much more of the buttermilk as possible from the butter, as it is the buttermilk that can go off and make your butter rancid. So squeeze and drain as much of it out of the butter as you can, but you don’t need to worry too much if you cant get it all out as it has a perfectly nice flavor and doesn’t go rancid all that quickly so as long as you don’t make more than you need for a week or two all will be fine. Now all you have to do is shape it how you like it, wrap it up in a bit of parchment/greaseproof paper and put in the fridge to chill out for a bit. Nice!

Economy matters: so I figured out that it cost’s me around 56.666p to make one hundred grams of butter, which is cheaper than the higher quality butters but a little more costly than the big supermarket value brands. But hey the butter is definitely better than the own brands, you can also salt it to your own taste, which is an advantage, and most importantly its great fun and better for the environment so go on and get yourself buttery!

Comments
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