Water Roux Or How Wallpaper Paste Can Help Your Bread Baking

This really is a very easy process.

Since I am not doing a video here, but text, I am going into deep detail.  I’m probably overdoing it, and once you do this once, you will remember it forever.

Besides, I’m a perfectionist when it comes to video and a bit camera shy so lets dive into text!

Perhaps it’s a bit silly to call the result of this “wallpaper paste” but it’s the result of an Asian technique for pre-baking some of your flour to get it to retain water.

Flour and Water in the right proportion can stick paper to the wall, make papier mache, and will make your breads and pastries wonderful!

There are various names for the process:  Water Roux, Tangzhong, and others.  The process locks up extra water in the dough, gelatinizes it, and gives extra lift to the breads.

When that is used in baking, it allows your breads to rise taller, last longer, and the resulting loaves are softer and more tender.  I did not notice a difference in the taste however the texture was definitely changed.   Until you get the hang of this, you are going to be more hands on and manual than usual.

Intrigued?  I was, and I tried it.  The best hint I can give you about this is to take your time while mixing.

I can’t say about the longer life because the rolls I made today were the first using this process.  Allow things to “come together” on their own until you get used to the new proportions.

I can say that they were interesting and I certainly will do this again.  Obviously there are times where this process is inappropriate.  For Bagels this would be wrong because you want them to be chewy.  The resulting dough from this process is soft and pliable so it’s best for sandwich rolls and I can see it in pastries as well.  Burger Rolls definitely will be improved by this.

I am using this recipe for the bread dough, Pat’s Pizza Dough.  I have been using it for years, decades really.  I know what the rolls and dough should be like so I was able to tell right off that this technique has its place.

First, that specific recipe uses 10 ounces water, 3 cups of flour.  Since you are going to pre-cook part of that, keep those numbers in mind as you will adjust your normal recipe downward for this process.

Second, of those three cups of flour, you will want to reserve a quarter cup of it.  The Water Roux process absolutely changes the texture of your dough.  Since the dough is changing, you will have to add in either more water at the end.

If you overshoot and end up with a dough that isn’t smooth and silky, adjust as needed.

Third, to make the paste:

  • In a small mixing bowl, I took all 10 ounces of the water from the recipe and added in 2 ounces of flour.
  • I then whisked the flour into the water for 5 minutes by hand.
  • Then warm the flour to 140F/60C (in the microwave) in bursts.
  • Whisk that mixture again until smooth.  You will notice a thicker “gel” forming in the bottom of your mixing bowl.
  • Allow the mixture to cool to 105F/40C or cooler before making your dough.  After all, you want to give your Yeast a chance to thrive!

Fourth, Make your dough.  Add your salt, sugar, yeast, oil.  Mix the roux into the flour slowly, watching how the dough comes together.

Overview: What you just did was to release the proteins in the two ounces of flour.  Those proteins bound to the water in the mix.  Now you really don’t have 10 ounces of water any longer since some of it is bound up, you now have to add back an appropriate amount.

What is appropriate?

For the Pat’s Pizza Dough Recipe, I added in an extra ounce of water to a total of 11 ounces.  For our Metric Audience, each ounce is two tablespoons or 28.3 mL.  283 mL originally plus another 28 mL or so.

Its an adjustment not a whole re-do of things.

The dough is in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook, and it was now too “wet”.  Adding in one tablespoon of the reserved flour “tightened” the mix back up to where I could make rolls and allow it to rise and bake.

The dough was silky smooth and very easy to work with.  The usual recipe tends to be on the sticky side and a bit rubbery due to my all purpose flour.

You will want to take your time with this process.

What happens is that while baking some of that “extra” water gets released in the form of steam and your dough gets taller.  It acts as Leavening to make for a lighter and more fluffy roll.

At least that was what I found.  Those rolls were sliced open, and had with some tuna salad.  Quite good!

Baking or Soap Making it could be Engineering Tolerances that are causing you problems

I was an electronics geek back when I was a teen.

Everything in Electronics had a percentage of tolerance engineered in.  Any particular theoretical Resistor may have been intended to be 220K, but in reality it had a 10 % tolerance built in and could have been as much as  22K off.  Say 200 Ohm to 242K ohm.

And since everything else had a 10% tolerance it just may work!  After all, analog electronics always had a trimming capacitor or potentiometer somewhere to tune the circuit to make it all work.

I have a habit of scaling recipes.  That Engineering Tolerance can get in the way.

It makes too much, cut the recipe down.  If it doesn’t make enough, double it.

In fact, my favorite bread recipe, Pat’s Pizza Dough works great in thirds.  I can take that third and make a rather nice sized pizza for two or a couple rolls for sandwiches and it works well.

My preferred way to make a pizza crust is to toss the ingredients into a bag, add an extra teaspoon or tablespoon to texture, and squish it around until it is properly mixed and kneaded.

What if I want one single roll?

No, seriously, just one.  After all you’re not eating two rolls at a time, right?  It may not turn out just right.

After all, you took a recipe that you cut down from 3 cups to 1 cup, and it worked out right, but what about going smaller.

Metric measurements may help.

But here is the rub.  Many recipes were converted from very old measurements and work well in one specific climate, but move them they don’t work.  Others were converted into Metric measurements and are rounded up or down.

I have seen conversion factors varying between 28 and 30 grams to the ounce where the official measurement is 28.35 (by my search) grams to the ounce.

28 and lets-call-it-a-third grams to the ounce.

(See what I did there?  Added an Engineering Tolerance?)

Have you ever accurately measured one gram in a kitchen?   – No.

How about 1/3 of a gram.  – No.

Does it matter? – Maybe.

“Cooking” may not be effected.  Your measurements can be a little off when you’re making a roast from Grandma’s recipe but “it’s the way we like it” would be the answer.

Baking, well that can be finicky.  I’m just not going to try to figure out 9.45 Grams of anything.  My scale is not THAT accurate, and frankly that’s only the 1/3 ounce.  A single roll needs 1/9th of a teaspoon of salt and of sugar.

Settle down, if you go up or down slightly, it should still work but you probably have a freezer that would take the other two rolls if you went to the 1/3rd recipe.

My point is that it is a rare kitchen that can measure in tiny fractions of a gram.  If it is. it is probably cooking something that you would see in Breaking Bad.

After all, I remember my high school chemistry very well and used to get ridiculously accurate measurements in a true Laboratory with balance scales and graduated cylinders and Scientific House weights and measures, and MY kitchen is not equipped!

Since my High School Chem teacher was a stoner, learning Chemistry well was self-preservation around all those possibly toxic ingredients.

The one gram weight was, by the way, a small square of brass that was about the size of a quarter of a common postage stamp.  Now cut that down to a third.

Just stop right there.  My point is with food, it just might not be a problem and you can always have leftovers since that oven isn’t exactly free to run.

But soap?  Don’t try this at home kiddies!

The size reduction… Soap Making is easy but take your time with measurements.

You see, making larger batches of soap seem to be fine.  Bread Loaf sized batches mean that you can do your measurements in ounces and your kitchen scale will be happy to oblige.  Use Grams if you like and be more precise.   Anything over 500 Grams or a Pound (you choose) and the numbers get nice and round.

Since you are using less than 100% of the Lye you need in the recipe to leave things nice and moisturized after washing  your hide with it, coming in a wee bit low makes things happy.

My first batch was at 96%.  That soap was so good that my skin problem cleared up.  Add to it that I only ever use Human Food Grade Ingredients for making soap and you can really see why.

Then I got “creative”.  “Lets make One Single Bar Of Soap.” I said, in earnest!  “After all, how difficult can it be?”

Hah!  You jest.

You see, the measurement came in wanting a fraction of a gram of lye. 8.45 grams, to be specific.

No.  Just no.

Since different oils have different properties, I fiddled with the soap calculator web page and came up with a combination that ended up being exactly 8.00 grams of Lye, even round numbered gram amounts of oils, and 17 1/2 grams of water.

Why such small amounts?  I wanted One Single Bar of Soap that was going to be 3 ounces.

Actually I wanted two of them but one had scent and the other did not.

When I was through, the same measurements gave me two bars through two separate preparations of ingredients.

Bar one was 86 Grams.

Bar two was 79 Grams.

From the same measurements.

Bar one was fine and made the house smell like peppermint, and that was intentional.

Bar two had no scent and a sheen of “something” clear on top.  I don’t know if it was oil or water but it all “digested” into the bar and was (semi) solid the next day.

Don’t ask, I have no idea why.

They are both curing until they are ready to use.  Bar One will probably be too strongly scented and Bar Two might be harsh.  I won’t know until I use them.

So if you’re wondering why it does not work out when you do all that weird calculations and get different results, well, you made a measuring mistake and it happens.

Go with larger batches next time.  I will.  My mold will make six bars of soap, each 3 ounces.  I will calculate 21 ounces and see what I get.  I’ll let you know how that worked out.

Rye Beer Bread Recipe

I needed bread in the house.

I wanted something different.

I was actually thinking about the Rye bagels I used to get as a kid in Cherry Hill, NJ.

If you couldn’t get a good, proper, and Kosher bagel in Cherry Hill, you couldn’t get it.

Say what you will about NJ, but South Jersey was different, and you could get great Kosher there.  I would go to the Bagel Place on Chapel and Kings Highway and talk to Mrs H there, and she would get my bagels.

Mrs H is long gone, I moved away, and I understand there’s still “A” Bagel Place there, although I am not sure if it is still using her recipes so maybe it isn’t or maybe it really “Is” THE Bagel Place.  I’ll leave it to someone up there in Jersey to find out for me.

Another quirk about South Jersey was that you could get excellent Ethnic food there.  Being that close to Philly, I think it was a requirement.

But that Rye Bread.  I knew I would never make a proper Jewish Rye bread, because there’s just a certain something about a loaf of bread with that little sticker on the side.

This was close.

It was good.  Had a proper chewy body to it.  Everyone who had some of this loaf commented about it, long and loud.

I will certainly make it again.

Oh – and it was one of those “why not” moments.

I was a cup down on the flour and simply poured in as an add-in a cup of Rye Flour.

The recipe below… Substitute 1 cup Rye Flour (or more to taste) to get this awesome loaf of bread.

Ingredients:

For “Sponge” or “Poolish”:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water – 100 degrees F or 40 degrees C
  • you may need a few drops more water depending on conditions

For the rest of the bread:

  • 4 Cups All Purpose Flour – Substitute 1 cup Rye for Rye Bread
  • 12 ounce bottle of ROOM TEMPERATURE Beer, your choice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • you may need extra water depending on your conditions

For Dusting:

  • Cornmeal for dusting the pan and Parchment Paper
  • Flour for dusting the loaf

Process:
I used a stand mixer and it’s bowl to prepare this recipe, Poolish and Dough, but you may choose to use a large mixing bowl and your hands.  This dough will be sticky and result in a silky smooth dough – so enjoy the texture.  I did finish this out on the counter by hand.

Poolish/Sponge

 

  • To your mixing bowl add yeast, flour, and warm water.
  • Mix the ingredients with fork or whisk.
  • The resulting mix will be like a pancake batter, it should stir easily.
  • Add an extra tablespoon of water if needed.
  • Allow your Poolish to brew in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  • My own warm place is inside a cold oven with the light on.

Making the dough

  • To your mixing bowl and the Poolish add the Beer, Flour, and Salt one by one.
  • Mix the dough by hand or with a dough hook until it is even and pulls away from the walls of the bowl.
  • The dough will be sticky and thick.
  • Cover the dough with a wet towel, and place back in your warm place for two hours or until it is at least doubled in size.

Forming the Loaf

  • Scrape your dough out of the bowl with your hands or spatula.
  • Place the dough onto the floured board and dust well with more flour.
  • Roll the dough out into a loaf shape.
  • The dough should be silky and a little sticky.
  • You may divide the dough into two loaves for convenience.
  • Move each loaf onto a baking sheet that is generously dusted with cornmeal.
  • Dust the top of the loaves with more flour,
  • Return your loaves to the warm place for another half hour or more.

Baking your loaf

  • Preheat the oven to 425F with a pan of water for humidity.
  • Slash some slits in the top of the loaf to allow growth.
  • Bake each loaf for 30 minutes or until they sound hollow when thumped.
  • Allow your bread to cool before serving.

Or don’t allow your bread to cool.  I couldn’t wait, this stuff was amazing!

 

Have you ever stuck a fork into some food and said that you wished you had the recipe?

I did when I had this cake the second time.  It is THAT good!

Oh, and as a bonus for those who care, the cake itself … it’s actually Vegan!  Yeah, no milk, no eggs.

The icing is vegetarian since it requires butter and milk.  If you want to try making it Vegan, go ahead I won’t judge…

But this cake is excellent as is.  One of the best Chocolate Cakes I have had in memory.

It is a chocolate cake recipe from the Great Depression Era, when they had to be thrifty and scrimp on every corner they could.

But… whoever came up with this recipe came up with an amazing cake.

I find it every time I look for a chocolate cake recipe, and it haunted me until I took the time to make it.

You will find recipes like this one every time you search.  Some add things to it that are unnecessary and added fluff.   You can have it plain, without icing, and just a bit of confectioner’s sugar on top.  I opted for a rather simple buttercream icing and am really glad I did.

The trimmings I had of the cake to make it round the first time out tasted almost as rich as a brownie.  It stayed moist in the refrigerator longer than I expected, which is a big bonus.  My regular recipe is good, but this is better.

The process of making this is simple:

  • Add to a large mixing bowl (I recommend a stand mixer, but that is for speed) all your ingredients saving the vinegar for last.
  • Mix until smooth (See, that stand mixer would help)
  • Pour into floured and buttered 8 by 8 inch pan.
  • Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean when tested.

 

To make a more modern sized cake, I doubled the ingredients and got a two layer 9 inch cake.

Yes, Double the ingredients.  I did say Depression era and 8 by 8 one layer was the original size.

I also Doubled the icing for a 2 layer, 9 inch cake.

8 by 8 inch is a 20cm square.

9 inch round would be 23 cm.

Or so.

 

Ingredients:

 

For the cake (Each Layer):

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Cider or White vinegar

For the Icing (Each Layer):

  • 2 Tablespoons butter (room temp or melted)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bread Dough in Five Minutes In A Plastic Bag

I guess the title says it all, if you’re looking for the short description.

There’s always a back story with me so hold on for the ride.

I wanted a Pizza, but really this can be used to make most basic breads.  I did not want to fuss around with a “full batch” of dough and make a cookie sheet full of rolls and … well you get the picture.

I will say that this will scale up to a larger batch and should be limited by how strong your own hands are.  You see, it’s all about your grip strength.  If you’ve got arthritis or some other limitation, use the machine.

On the other hand, this dough flew together so fast that it’s a great way to make fresh dough for small batches like one pizza dough ball or a couple of rolls.

Basically, I have a “Standard Recipe” for bread.  It’s “Pat’s Pizza Dough” recipe.   It makes 10 sandwich rolls, or about 8 torpedo rolls.  It also will make three pizza dough balls.  The original recipe is at the link – or you can even see my original note written 20 years ago in the picture.

The idea was cut the recipe down to one third of normal, then make it in a bag.

I added to a clean and food safe plastic bag the following ingredients.

  • 3 ounces of water
  • 2 teaspoons of oil
  • 1 cup of bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon of bread yeast
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt (I used a well rounded 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/3 teaspoon of sugar (I used a well rounded 1/4 teaspoon)

The process was simple.

 

  • Squeeze most of the air out of the bag and wind the top up to close it.
  • Grip the mix at the bottom of the bag and squeeze it repeatedly.
  • The mix will eventually form a dough ball through repeated kneading.

 

You may have to adjust the water content to fit your needs.  Bread dough is effected by the weather and conditions in your house and kitchen just as you would expect.  Wet climate will make stickier dough, dry climate you may need to add more water.

For Pizza Dough, you need a dough ball that is more dry than tacky or sticky.  Similar to Play-doh or similar modeling clay compound.

For Bread Dough, you need a dough ball that will be a bit tacky and it may want to stick gently to your hands or the side of the bag – but you will be able to remove it from the bag.

Basically that’s about it.  I’ll use this again because it’s saving me a lot of time in preparation and clean up work.

But… it took me just five minutes to get this dough done.  Add to it rolling time and rising time as normal.

Three Ingredient Cake Recipe that actually tastes moist

This really shouldn’t be called a recipe.  It should be called a Hack.

It is so ridiculously easy to make that I laugh at it.

 

It is so popular that the recipe is just about everywhere including on the sites for the companies that make the mixes.

 

 

I tried it with a bulk white cake mix, but the recipe I keep seeing everywhere calls for a “Box Of Cake Mix”.  They are not specifying flavor.   Use your favorite.

The cake mix can’t be one of those “Just Add Water”.

You need a cake mix that wants you to add an egg.

I used White,  but a Yellow Cake mix would be fine.  Choose a flavor that is complementary to the Pie filling you are adding.

I wanted Cherry this time, but I have done it before with other flavors.  I have blueberry and lemon pie filling waiting in the wings for when I want to do it again.

 

 

Why do I have six cupcakes?  I have a small Bundt pan and I didn’t want to risk a mess.

The recipe calls for either two layers, or a Bundt Pan.  It was not very specific.  I would say two 9 inch layers or even perhaps 3 8 inches, but I suspect that may be a bit thin.

Butter and flour your pans.

Bake at 350F / 180C for 35 minutes (or whatever metric equivalent you need to have your toothpick come out clean).

I mean that really is it.  It is laughably simple.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box or 15 ounces of cake mix
  • 1 can of pie filling – 20 ounces or 590 ML
  • 3 large eggs

Process:

  • Butter and flour your pan.
  • Keep cupcake liner and pans aside for any extra cake batter.
  • Preheat oven to 350F or 180C.
  • To a large mixing bowl add 1 box/15 ounces cake mix, 1 can (20 ounces) of pie filling, and 3 eggs.
  • Mix the batter until smooth.
  • Add batter to pans taking care not to overfill.
  • Bake for approximately 35 minutes and test with a toothpick.
  • Make sure toothpick comes out clean

 

Optional:
Icing or not.  I have been putting Honey on top and I really do like that instead.

Personal preference!

Serve and enjoy

Does Water Matter That Much? The Story of Importing Water 1200 Miles From Philadelphia to Make Bread

Once upon a time, in the woods, up on top of a hill, there was a farm house.

It was a beautiful neighborhood, a wonderful home.  There was a large kitchen hung off the back of the house, 20 feet by 25.  It had a fire place that was a welcome addition in the winter.  Bright windows and skylights and plenty of room.  It was an amazing place to cook.

This was my house for only thirteen years, in Philadelphia.

I was fortunate.  I got the idea that I could try my hand at baking bread when the bread machines came out back in the 1990s.  They were easy and I got great results.  I quickly moved to use the bread machine as a mixer and proofer for bread dough.  The results were much better since the oven would caramelize the crusts in a traditional way.  I ended up having “artisan” quality loaves of bread for about $.50.

Yep, 50 cents a loaf.

That translated into a Seven Cent Roll.  Crispy crunchy crusts.  Italian Bread.  Sweet Breads.  Amazing Pizza Cracker Crusts that had flavor and cracked when you bit down.

 

Inside the crusts, I would have soft as a cloud and chewy bread.  It was easy in Philadelphia to make bread in that kitchen.  Everything “just worked”.  The chemistry of the water was not pleasant to drink.  Philadelphia’s water from the tap is described as “Schuylkill Punch”.  It had a strange color, taste, and smell.   Philadelphians would laugh about it and say “Yeah, it’s da wudder here” and change the subject.

But it made great bread.

2006 happened.  We moved from Philly to South Florida.   When I turned on the tap here, the water wasn’t better.  It was different.  It looks vaguely brown and has an unpleasant taste.  Fort Lauderdale is processing it and since this is a “semi-tropical” area just about 10 miles below the Freeze Line in Boca Raton, there’s a high amount of Chlorine to kill off the nasties that live in the pipes.

You don’t want nasties in the pipes.

But it made bad bread.

You have to expect that.  All that chlorine would kill off your yeasts or simply retard their growth.  After all, Yeast is a Living Thing.

We went through “steps”.  I have tried various water to make bread here.  I am using the same recipe as I always have, “Pat’s Pizza Dough” recipe.  The flour is the same, although I do switch in various kinds of flour from time to time.

I get an adequate result when I use tap water.  The crusts are very thin and soft.  Better than what I would get in the supermarket, it just wasn’t what I was used to.

I was playing around with water for a while.  Take it from the filter on the refrigerator, warm it to 105F or 40C.  Use the same recipe.  Better.  The crust would be a little thicker, a little crisper, but not quite that Artisan quality.  Bottled water had similar results.

One day I was driving through downtown Fort Lauderdale and we passed by one of those bagel places that promises to make their products from what can only be described as reconstituted New York Water.   The only explanation that I have is that they’re adding salts and minerals to local water to get the balance of water that is approximately what comes from the tap in Brooklyn.

My Aunt’s Mother in Law had an apartment in Brooklyn.  I remember as a small child turning on the water tap and getting something that looked like milk out of the tap from all of the suspended gasses that were precipitating out.  I don’t know that Brooklyn Water was what I wanted.

So the conversation went like this:

“Yeah but you’re going to Philadelphia in July.  Can you bring me back some water?  A quart would be fine, a gallon would be amazing!”

We decided that we would go to a sporting goods store and get the first jug we could find that would be suitable that was more than a gallon.  More than that and I felt it would go funny from storage.  Less than that and I would be frustrated.

We ended up with a seven gallon blue plastic cube.  It got trucked to Glen Mills, PA in the back of my friend’s SUV where he filled it with about three gallons of water.  Right from the tap.

Coming home, I got a text that read:  “Slosh, Slosh, Slosh”.  As he drove down US 1 to the Maryland Line, the motion of the car was making the water splash around in the cube.  I was glad it was semi-rigid and larger than we needed.

When he got here to Florida, I got chapter and verse about how it was in the car making a racket in the back sloshing around for 400 or so miles until he got onto the Auto Train, then from Sanford, FL to here.

But we had PA Water!  Now to make bread rolls and pizza.

Just as they went into the oven, the power cut out and I ended up finishing everything off in the Barbecue Grill.

Strangely enough, it didn’t harm the rolls.  They were some of the best I have ever had since we moved.  The crust was crispy like a cracker, and the rolls had flavor.

 

Clearly there was something to this!

So while we laughed at Philly Wudder tasting like Schuylkill Punch, it made good bread.

I still am not certain what it was all about.

It is possible that it is that the water is better for baking.

It is possible that all the sloshing helped to de-gas the water of all the Chlorine and Fluorine in it.

It is possible that since it has been out of the tap for a couple weeks at the time of baking it was at its peak.

I just don’t know.

What I do know is that the crust was crispy, the “crumb” inside was soft but full of pockets of “air” that you would expect from a high quality bread.

There is now one question left to answer.  Was it the water from Philly, or can I recreate the results using local water that was either filtered or distilled, and left to “de-gas” on the counter.

All I know is I finally have a loaf of bread that I made in Florida that tastes like I remember it in Philly.

Yes, there is something to all of this.  The actual taste of the bread has changed subtly. The crumb is definitely better and the crust is wonderful.

All of this from a big blue cube that is taking up space in my kitchen.

So in six months when a return trip happens… yep, you guessed it.  Someone will have a big blue cube riding North to Glen Mills.

 

Here’s hoping that the water doesn’t freeze overnight!