Sometimes You Just Need a Hoagie Roll Recipe

I have been baking bread for years, and the whole variability of this process is what tweaks my interest.

If you make a dough batch and split it, rise one half at room temperature it won’t taste the same as the other half that was risen in the refrigerator over night.  The longer rise will give you a more complex flavor which is great if that is what you want.

Brush the roll with egg wash and it will be shiny.  Leave it unbrushed and you get what I have here.

And if you’re making them at home and want the same results every time, you may want to just let that go to the professionals.  Part of the art of baking is the understanding that next time most likely will be different.

For example, in Philadelphia there is a company that makes The Definitive Hoagie Roll.  Amoroso’s Baking Company has made them for decades, and we all say it’s what makes the cheesesteak.  However it has a limited distribution.  And while you can get that same taste of an Authentic Philadelphia Italian Hoagie at Wawa, trust me,  it gets difficult to find those same rolls “in the wild”.

Now that I am in South Florida, I’m truly in The Wild.

I am not saying that this recipe is identical, I will say that it does have approximately the same texture and taste, but on a quick rise in the oven, the flavor is good but can be “muted”.

So if you want an Amoroso’s Roll your best bet is to go find them.

However these are a good start.    It is a really good base recipe to explore your own talents.

The next time I make this recipe, I will do a long, overnight rise in my 37F/2C refrigerator and see where I am at.  That would strengthen the flavor which is what you want in a Pizza Dough.

After all being a baker means a constant feedback and refinement of your process and your recipies.

And some people just want a commercial white bread that tastes just like it did when it came out of the white plastic bag with primary colored blobs on it in the 1950s and ever since.

Ick.

This recipe may not be a sainted clone from the old sod, but it is a damn good recipe and I will be using it for a while.   It is a Challenge.

Some notes:

This recipe as written has a vigorous rise if risen at room temperature.   It requires you to look after it, and if you blink it goes from “doubled in size” to this weird giant blob that deflates when the cookie sheet gets tapped.  After one hour rising at room temp, I watched over this batch and checked in on it every 15 minutes.  On a rainy day it took 1 hour 40 minutes to rise to what you see on the results.

This recipe was made as dough in the bread machine, through first rise.  It had a slow first rise.  Be patient, they will rise.

When making this recipe, add the oil to the bucket of the bread machine once the dough has come together to allow more gluten to form.  It improves the texture and unless you are one of the punishingly small number of people with celiac disease, it will be worth the effort.

Finally, place a metal oven safe bowl in the bottom of the oven when cooking these rolls.  It provides humidity that will make the crust a bit more soft.

If that is your thing, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp Yeast
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups water at 80-105F 30-40C
  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour or Bread Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil – to be added separately from above

Process:

  1. To your bucket of the bread machine or the mixer add Yeast, Sugar, Salt. and Water.
  2. Mix your wet ingredients and then allow it to rest until it has begun to foam, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the flour to the bucket of the bread machine and start on Dough Cycle.
  4. When the dough has taken up the majority of the flour, add the two tablespoons of olive oil.
  5. Allow the dough to come together and knead.
  6. The bread machine will run through its cycle and do first rise for you.
  7. If not using a bread machine, allow your dough to double in size for first rise.
  8. Form your rolls on a lined cookie sheet.  Mine were 90 Grams each.
  9. Place the dough in a room temperature oven with the light on to rise.
  10. Check the dough every 20 minutes, however my experience is that the dough doubles in 1 hour and 40 minutes in an oven with the light on on a room temperature rise.
  11. When Ready, remove the dough from the oven, and Preheat oven to 400F.
  12. Bake Rolls for 10 minutes and check for Golden Brown color.
  13. Mine were finished in 14 minutes.

Variation:

  • Use an egg wash or olive oil wash to the outside of the rolls for a more polished appearance.
  • Dust some rolls with Sesame Seeds, Parmesan, or spices.
  • For a cold rise, the rise time will be longer when they are formed and out of the refrigerator but the taste will be more complex.  Put the dough into the refrigerator overnight, and then bring it out to shape and rise in the morning.
  • Don’t forget to watch over your bread.  Every 20 minutes of rise time or so.

Dinner Rolls, Burger Buns, Or Hot Dog Buns, This Is Your Recipe

Yes, I’m back on the whole bread baking thing.  I needed Hot Dog rolls for some Sweet Italian Sausage I had grilled the night before, so I decided to make my own.  They look a bit dark here, but they were pretty much perfect when I had them for lunch.

Relax, the recipe is a bit time consuming since you want to give this time to rise.  All the liquids together needed time to allow the yeast to activate before joining it with the flour, so you may mix them when you begin to see the bubbles.  They call this a Poolish, but you can call it whatever you wish.

The recipe below was 993 Grams, about 2 1/4 pounds.  The pictures made 11 rolls, 90g each.  Hey, I needed Hot Dog Rolls, and three round rolls per request.

Once separated, I allowed them to rise in an oven with the light on for an extra Two Hours before baking.

I made the recipe on the dough cycle in the bread machine and it turned out amazingly well.

The Process was simple:

  1. Mix Milk, Sugar, Beaten Egg, Butter, and Salt in a Microwave safe bowl.
  2. Warm the liquids until they are at the right temperature for yeast to process, 80-105F, 30-40C in the MIcrowave.
  3. Add the Yeast and stir until all of those ingredients are blended.
  4. Allow the Liquids to sit long enough for your yeast to begin to work 5-15 minutes.
  5. Add the Bread Flour to the bucket of a bread machine or your stand mixer.
  6. Add the Liquids to the Flour and mix well.
  7. Select Dough Cycle on the bread machine to get a silky smooth dough.
  8. When Dough is finished being mixed, place in bowl and allow to rise until double in size.
  9. Divide and Shape Dough into 10 parts in order to make Burger or Hot Dog Buns or smaller for dinner rolls, as needed.
  10. Place on Baking Sheet with Foil or Parchment and brush with egg wash or butter.
  11. Bake at 450F or 230C for 8 minutes and check every two minutes for golden brown.

The Ingredients are:

  • 3 3/4 Cups Bread Flour
  • 1 1/4 Cups (280mL) Milk (I actually used Powdered or Non Fat Dry)
  • 1/4 Cup (56g) White Sugar
  • 1 Beaten Egg
  • 2 Tablespoons (28g) Butter
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons (16g) Active Dry Yeast
  • 3/4 Teaspoon (14g) Salt

Two Ingredient Beer Bread or I Need To Eat Some Of This Stuff Now

I needed bread and I needed an easy recipe.

How much easier do you want?

Two ingredients.

It was pretty good too.  Not too sweet, and this recipe is one that I will stick with since I still have the beer and want something “bread” and not “muffin-like”.

Sugar in these breads seem to be added to counter the taste of baking powder.  I personally tend to omit, but you can try it like this and adjust later like I will.

The ingredients are easy:

  • 1 bottle of Beer.  12 OZ/340mL.  I used Corona Extra Longneck because we’re in Quarantine.
  • 3 cups SIFTED of Self Rising Flour. 680g according to DuckDuckGo.com
  • 3 Tablespoons of Sugar – TO TASTE, I used none because I forgot.  Standard measure is 15g per tablespoon or 45g total.

(see below if you want to make the S.R. Flour yourself)

Process:

  • Grease your Bread Pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • SIFT 3 Cups Self Rising Flour into a mixing bowl.
  • Add Sugar to Taste – Or Don’t because I forgot it.
  • Pour your 12 ounce beer into the mixing bowl and mix until it “Comes Together”
  • Mix the batter and pour into greased bread pan.
  • Bake for 40 plus “minutes” – until properly golden brown.

If you don’t have Self Rising Flour:

For Each Cup:

  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking POWDER
  • 1/2  teaspoon Salt

Sift or mix together.

Beer Bread Recipe So Good That Even Wrong It Was Tasty

I am still trying different bread recipes here at home, well, because we’re bored here.

However, it’s getting eaten.

This is a beer bread.  Yes, I used a bottle of Corona to make it.  Not a bad beer, frankly, for an American Style Lager.  I get a case before every hurricane season, and since I drink beer slowly, I’m down to 8 bottles since December.  About one per week.

This beer bread is made with all purpose flour, instead of Self Rising flour.   I made a mistake.  I used Baking SODA instead of Baking POWDER.  Don’t make that mistake, however I ended up with a bread that was like a muffin or a cake.

That odd piece on the side?  I had that about an hour ago and am trying to stop myself from “Spoiling My Dinner”.

Since the result was interesting enough, and we all liked it, the recipe is here. Just make my mistake and you end up with a very soft bread.

If you don’t have Self Rising Flour:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking POWDER
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

No, you don’t need that for this recipe here.
Oh well, it will work with PB&J or with French Toast this way.

This beer bread is a bit on the sweet side, so feel free to reduce the amount of sugar.

It also was quite buttery, and very soft.  If you tossed some fruit into this it would make some interesting Muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour SIFTED.  (It makes it lighter)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Sugar (Yes, it can be reduced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking POWDER
  • 1/2 cup Butter, Melted
  • 1 12 ounce bottle of beer.

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F
  2. Grease a bread loaf pan and set aside.
  3. Sift 3 cups of flour
  4. Add salt, sugar, and baking POWDER to the flour and stir to mix
  5. Add butter to the mix and stir it in until it is roughly even
  6. Pour the bottle of beer over top of the ingredents and mix until you have a batter
  7. The batter will be rather wet.
  8. Pour the batter into the greased bread loaf pan.
  9. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes and check the loaf for doneness.
  10. I went 50 minutes to get a soft and brown loaf

Irish Soda Bread Or Searching for a Better Recipe

The short story is I’m trying out recipes because we all have the time.

The long story is I haven’t found a recipe that passes for my daily bread and just may end up going on a different tangent.  I will keep trying.

I remember the Irish Soda Bread my sister made when I was a kid.

She made a batter, flattened it in a skillet that somehow I have managed to keep to this day.

Then warmed up the oven and before tossing it in the oven, skillet and all, she poked a hole in the middle with her finger.

The bread was salty, warm, and very tasty.

I have been trying to find that recipe ever since.

This one I have here is an amalgamation of a couple recipes, none of which ended up as good as that recipe of my sister’s.

This is a pretty good recipe, and has a good flavor to it, so if you want to experiment go for it.

Irish Soda Bread goes from ingredients to oven quickly because there is no rising.

The thing about Irish Soda Bread is that the crumb is usually quite dense, and salty.  If that isn’t your thing then you might not care for what I have here today.

Even if it was tasty!

Ingredients:

For Buttermilk:

  • 285mL/10 ounces Milk.
  • 30mL/2 Tablespoons/1 Ounce Vinegar or Lemon Juice.  I used Wine Vinegar because I spotted it at random, and I have used other kinds of Vinegar.

For the Dough:

 

  • 500g/17.5 ounces Bread Flour
  • 30g/1 ounce/2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted or softened.
  • 10g/1 Teaspoon Salt.
  • 10g/1 Teaspoon Baking Soda. For extra rise, use a little more.
  • 1 Egg.

Process:

Buttermilk:

  • Pour out 10 ounces of Milk to a measuring cup.
  • Add 2 Tablespoons of Vinegar/Lemon Juice to the Milk.
  • Stir that a few times and allow 10 minutes for the Buttermilk to “brew”.

Dough (It’s Easier than it looks):

  • Preheat oven to 220C/425F.
  • Lay out cookie sheet and place Aluminum Foil or Baking Parchment on top.
  • Add your Flours to the mixing bowl.
  • Add Butter, Salt, and Baking Soda to the bowl and mix the dry ingredients together.
  • Whisk the Egg and Buttermilk together.
  • Add the Buttermilk and Egg mixture to the dry ingredients.
  • Knead the dough until it becomes an even mixture.
  • Make a well in the middle of the flour to accept the other ingredients.
  • The dough should form a soft, wet “Play Doh” Modeling Compound consistency.
  • Shape your dough into one loaf.
  • Score the top of your dough with a knife or fork to allow the center to cook fully.
  • Bread is done when tested to at least 165F in the thickest part of the Bread Loaf.
  • (Or by eye, these loaves were cooked to 180F)

Baking:

 

For one loaf, baked at 425F for 35 minutes.

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!

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!

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!

Sourdough Starter – FINALLY!

Sourdough was my own private Holy Grail.

I seek the Grail!  I have never found the Grail!  Do you know of the Grail?  Can you help me find the Grail?

Ok, so channeling Monty Python and the Holy Grail aside, I think I finally found it.

No, my light is not Grail Shaped, evil Zoot.

I have been reading the Breadit subReddit on Reddit.com lately to try to get insight to this odd thing.  After weeks of reading, I finally thought that I had enough of that and just threw my hands into the air to try to make a Sourdough starter.

Sourdough is a special bacteria that grows wild in a Starter and is named after San Francisco in California but not limited to that area.  From what I can tell, while I have re-created the taste, I have the bacillis in my area.  My own commercial yeast “went wild” over the generations of breeding that happened in that not so very pretty white bowl, but it did not jump species and become that specific species of yeast that they may use in San Francisco, but the lactobacillis seems to be here.

Any kitchen where you bake bread will have wild yeast.  I would wager that any kitchen that you do NOT bake bread in has wild yeast as well, but that’s just my scientific background coming to the surface.

The story goes that you start a commercial yeast in a mix of flour and water and perhaps a little sugar.  Make sure that the glass or plastic bowl is “sterile clean”.  Allow the right conditions of not too hot nor to cold to exist for the little creatures.  Leave the thing alone for 2 to 5 days.  That’s right, practically a week.  All you do to it over that time is to stir it.

The resulting mix will have the consistency of Pancake Batter or Wallpaper Paste.  It should be runny per the recipe.

If it doesn’t get infected or spoil, you will go through some specific phases.

In the first couple hours, the commercial yeast will bloom and the mix will rise.  In my case it grew to push the towel up in the air.  I had to remove the towel and clean it off, replacing it with a cookie sheet that was placed so there was an opening at the top of the bowl for air to circulate.  The next time I try this, I will leave the towel off until the first bloom is complete and the yeast settles down a bit.

The next five days it will settle down and beneficial yeasts and beneficial bacteria will populate the mix.  The mix will settle literally and there will be some changes of smell and color.  It went from being a wallpaper paste looking mass to what you see in the picture – a layer of amber liquid on top. 

It smelled first like beer.  Then it started to smell like what I remember Sourdough smelling like.  It was a sharp smell but not unpleasant.

I vowed to allow it to go five days, only stirring the mass once or twice a day.  I did not feed it any extra flour, yeast, or sugar.  It merely sat on the counter looking strange and perfuming the house with that brewing smell of funk.  

Finally when I decided to try it out, I got proper Sourdough Rolls, Torpedo Rolls, Pizza, and a Boule loaf.

I had success!

The recipe was this link on King Arthur Flour but I will reproduce it here for brevity.   You already have the process above.  If it sounds less precise than usual, it was.

The remnants of what I made were “fed” with another half cup of flour and placed in a semi-sealed ball jar in the refrigerator.  It is still alive, although mostly dormant and growing slowly.   I will add another half cup of flour and water each week and give it a stir from time to time to make sure it is still alive and happy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups warm water 
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey (optional) 
  • 1 tablespoon or packet active dry yeast
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Process:

  • To Glass, Plastic or Ceramic bowl add 2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey, 1 tablespoon or packet of yeast.
  • Slowly add the 2 cups of flour while stirring it in to incorporate it to a smooth consistency.
  • Allow the yeast to bloom.
  • When the yeast settles down in a couple hours, cover the starter with a towel allowing it to breathe.
  • Stir it occasionally over the next 2 to 5 days.


Feeding and care:

  • Move the remaining starter to a smaller jar with a loose lid. 
  • Place starter in the refrigerator.
  • Feed every couple of days but no longer than once a week with 1/2 cup flour and water to retain consistency and “vigor”.
  • Yes it was vague to me as well but I added flour and water in equal parts. 
  • This “extra” water will need to be accounted for in a Sourdough Bread recipe.


Or you could visit the King Arthur Flour website for additional insight on how they make their starter.