Friday Finds

I get all the feels when I walk on the street deep in thought and suddenly smell fresh bread. I love bakeries so much! And would you just look at these… Lutz is originally a geologist, who started baking bread as a hobby and now has this amazing website Plötzblog. You’ll find the recipes for all of these beaties there (in German, but google is at your service).

Rustic Baguette Rolls:

baguette brötchen

Potato and Splet Rolls:

kartoffel dinkelboetchen

Spelt Baguettes:

dinkelbaguettes

Whole Wheat Baguettes:

vollkornstangen

Overnight Spelt Rolls:

dinkelbroetchen

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

A Short Introduction to Sourdough and Pre-ferments

bread dough

Artisanal sourdough breads are all the hype, and rightly so. In fact, it might seem like if you’re even a wee bit serious about your bread, sourdough is the only way to go.

Utilizing sourdough starters and preferments will no doubt take your game to the next level: the complexity, the depth of flavor, the better texture a starter gives your bread simply can not be compared with anything else. Even the shelf life will be increased!

Starters do require time and commitment though. They are the challenge to top all challenges, and therefore can be a little intimidating at first. I am quite new to the art myself, but I thought it would be a good idea to share the basics in a not-too-scientific way to help you decide whether baking bread with starters is for you.

Let’s talk about yeast first!

Before commercial baker’s yeast was developed in Vienna, Austria in the 19th century (with Hungarian high milled grains, no less!), bakers had been using old-dough leavens to bake bread.

These are based on propagating wild yeast. Wild yeast refers to the natural yeasts and bacteria found in our surroundings: they float in the air and stick to the surface of objects. Basically when making a sourdough starter, you provide an environment sufficient for cultivating wild yeast. (The sour taste is the result of acetic and lactic acids produced by fermenting sugar.)

Believe me, this is completely achievable!  All that is required is flour, water and time, the yeast is already there around you, wherever you live.

Mix 50% bread flour and 50% water into a batter in a non-reactive, see-through container (note that the volume will double), place in a cool environment with no direct sunlight.

24 to 72 hours later your sourdough should be bubbling due to CO2 gas produced. At this point, the yeast population is still small and weak, not really ready for baking. From now on, every day (preferably at the same time) you’ll need to take out half of the starter and discard, then replace the pulled out amount with 1:1 fresh flour and water. This is called ‘feeding’ the sourdough.

In 7 to 10 days, you’ll have a batch that’s strong enough and ready to bake with. If you’re not sure about the strength of your sourdough, the float test will help: put a small amount in water; if it floats, you’re good to go.

As I said, it’s a commitment with constant monitoring and maintenance, but you’ll get the most out of a loaf. And you only really have to do this once, after the first 7-day period, one feeding is enough weekly to maintain the sourdough.

Still not sure if you’re ready to take on the challenge? That’s totally fine! The next best thing is using preferments. This also needs some forethought, but it’s ready in 12-16 hours at room temperature without the feeding process, and the bread will still have a wonderful aroma to it.

Preferments are flour, water and yeast mixtures, allowed an initial fermentation. Commercial yeasts (used when making wine, beer and bread) are quicker acting, take shorter to propagate, and leaven your bread quicker compared to wild yeast.

There are three main types of preferments. When mixing equal parts flour and water with 0,2 to 1% yeast, you’ll get a 100% hydration poolish-style starter.

The old dough method is more convenient when baking the same recipe on a regular basis: about 1/3 of the bread dough is reserved to levin the next batch. This old dough can be stored 8-12 hours at room temperature, or up to 3 days refrigerated. It can also be frozen for up to 6 months, in which case it will need to thaw fully before using.

Last but not least, the method that makes for results closest to sourdough: a stiff, bread dough like, low hydration biga. This Italian-style starter is more stable, contains more acid, and takes 16-24 hours to ferment. Made of flour, 60% water, and 2% yeast, once it has expanded by about double its original volume, biga can be incorporated into your bread dough. It stays fresh in the fridge for 3-5 days, and can be frozen as well (again, it needs to thaw completely to be active).

Biga is what I use mostly. I make batches with 500 g bread flour, 300 ml water and 10 g fresh yeast. When it’s ready, I divide the dough into 200 g portions, put them in ziplock bags and freeze. This amount makes enough starter for 4 loaves.

Ready to dive headlong into sourdough, or play it safe with biga? I’d love to hear your opinion! Also, share any experiences you have with starters!

Love,

Fruzsi

Photo by Sanda Vuckovic Pagaimo

Friday Finds

I was averse to beetroot until recently because I’ve only experienced them pickled. I had no idea you could prepare beets in so many delicious ways! Today I brought you some of my new fav beet dishes.

Sweets & Beets with Thyme-Scented Pink Salt by Gretchen of Kumquat:

beet chips

Ricotta and Sage Filled Beet Ravioli by Karen of Sunday Suppers:

beet ravioli

Ricotta Fritters with Beetroot Relish and Crème Fraîche by Angelica of Table Twenty Eight:

fritters with beet relish

Beetroot Risotto via Mowielicious:

beet risotto

Beetroot, Honey and Walnut Whole Wheat Bread by Preeti of Jopreetskitchen:

beetroot bread

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Baking Bread Is Giving Me All The Feels

Happy 2017 everyone! Hope you had a blessed and peaceful holiday. After eating and drinking myself to nearly comatose, I’m back in the game. And while I don’t really do resolutions, this time last year along the usual “getting in the best shape of my life” mantra, I’ve decided to make an attempt at more baking. A lot more. I plan on continuing that!

There is something about baking that is so intensely satisfying. I’ve realized recently I am equally motivated by the result and the process itself. In short, I love the baking part of baking, not just the eating, so baking for me is more than a simple means to an end.

This is especially true when it comes to baking bread. It triggers such powerful, positive emotional responses! I get tons of nostalgic feelings along the way. Working with the dough is very nurturing, it has a homely mood to it that gives me a wholesome feel.

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🍞❤️💪#bake #bread #homebaker #proud

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And if you get to think about it… because of course! Bread, the most important food of humanity. We’ve been eating grains for 20,000 yrs and being able to turn the crops into food was essential knowledge for survival. These days however, the loss of food know-how from one generation to the next is very real.

With modernity, flour and bread became commodities and in the age of industrial bakeries, the impetus to make a loaf for your family is mostly forgotten. Baking your own bread, along with lots of other once-fundamental abilities, is now considered rural knowledge, and the truth is, those things can best be learnt through experience and apprenticeship.

Luckily, more and more people born in Gen X and beyond feel they are missing something and are therefore interested in acquiring the skills that weren’t passed down to them due to the change of our lifestyles (or for any other reason, for that matter). I am proud to be part of that movement!

We, strange as it may sound to some, have an inner drive, the need, the instinct to turn flour, water, yeast and salt into the most basic of meals. And I’m telling you, homemade bread is simply not comparable with what you buy in the supermarket. It’s so much healthier and better tasting, it’s sui generis.

And you know what? It’s not even difficult. A little time-intensive, yes, but some things (e.g. proper proofing) just can’t be rushed. No special ingredients or equipment is required, but one component is absolutely necessary: love!

Did you know there might also be a therapeutic value to baking that is beneficial to your mental health? According to the BBC, psychologists have noted that the aroma of freshly baked bread evokes happy childhood memories, comfort, and tender feelings of being loved. Baking could very well be helpful in relieving the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Do you need any more convincing? Go and make your house smell of joy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and Autumn was awakened.

Raquel Franco

Rosehips (photo © C. Schultheis):

rosehips

Sometimes less is just more. (floral watercolor by Celeste Clark)

simpler is sweeter floral watercolor

Loving this fall centerpiece by Lucy of Craftberry Brush:

fall centerpiece with seltzer bottles and velvet pumpkins

This patchwork parquet is giving me serious cabin fever (Raphael Navot, Vedes Rénovation):

patchwork parquet

I can almost smell this (miracle no knead bread by Lindsay of Pinch of Yum):

no knead bread

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Friday Finds Is Here

A round of applause for Friday, everyone! To make the first week of spring special, I am introducing the blog’s new regular feature, Friday Finds. From now on you’ll get your weekly dose of inspiration in the form of a five-piece roundup. I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I love gathering it for you. Time to swing into that weekend mood!

Below, the latest visual wonders worth drooling over:

It’s tulip season! Photo by Mari Crea.

#1 Friday Finds tulips

Motivation for life:

#1 Friday Finds motivation

Dreamy candles from the set of a Paris wedding (photo by Le Secret d’Audrey):

#1 Friday Finds candles

Neutrals for spring on copper hangers:

#1 Friday Finds sweaters

I could eat the whole loaf with butter right now (recipe in German at A. Vogel Blog):

#1 Friday Finds bread

Happy Weekend!

Fruzsi