Monday, March 5, 2012

Sauvignon Blanc Loaves - Drunk Grain

I do admit I have a lot of cooking books. I should have kept some statistics about how many recipes we made from each book. This would easily show what the good books are and the books we bought - well maybe because of their shiny pictures? Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Italy" and the two River Cafe cook books would be on top of the "most used" list it wouldn't be for the superstars of my cooking books: bread making books. I have never made so many recipes from books as I have made breads from my baking books. I might put up another book review post sometime later.

The Handmade Loaf But meanwhile, here is another one I made: Based on Dan Lepard's "Alsace loaf with rye" in his book "The handmade loaf" (I am still waiting for my own copy,!!! I still use the local library's one). I call it Sauvignon Blanc loaf because of the lack of Alsatian white wine here in New Zealand.

For the grains
200g whole rye grains
Water to cover
200g New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (Buy a bottle, you will find something else to do with the remainder)

For the dough
100% Flour made up of:

  • 350 g strong white flour (70%)
  • 100g wholemeal flour (20%)
  • 50 g rye flour (10%)

325 g water (65%)
3/4 tsp fresh yeast or 7 g active instant yeast (1%)
25 g honey (5%)
150 g sourdough starter - rye (30%)
15 g salt (3%)
25 g melted butter (5%) or oil

The day before baking:
Put the rye grains into a small pot and cover with water. Let boil and turn down the heat to simmer for 45 minutes. You need to keep an eye on it because the grain soaks up the water. Refill every now and then with boiling water from your kettle to maintain the grain being covered with water.
After 45 minutes, drain the water from the grain (keep the water and use it for the dough) and let the grain cool. Once cool,cover the grain with Sauvignon Blanc and put in the fridge overnight.

Baking day:
Take the grains out of the fridge and give them time to warm up to room temperature. Try some,they are delicious. But don't eat too many!

Dan Lepard's recipes do not use a lot of kneading. It is an interesting deviation from your usual "knead and knock the shit out of it" technique. I quite like it and the results so far are very good. So here we go...

Mix the flours together in a bowl. In another bowl mix the water (use the water from the grains), the honey and your yest and leave for 10 minutes. Add the sourdough and the grains and mix well. Add this to your flour and mix with your fingers until all is combined. Leave for 10 minutes covered with a cloth. Out of any draft as usual.

Melt the butter and prepare the salt.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and spread it our a bit and pour the butter over it and add the salt. Knead. But not for longer than 10 - 15 seconds. Return to the bowl.

Leave for 30 minutes

Knead again for 10 - 15 seconds.

Leave for 30 minutes then fold. Meaning,put your dough onto a lightly floured surface, stretch it very gently (don't knock out the bubbles) to a slightly oval shape, fold the long edge opposite you in 1/3 and fold the edge nearest to you over the fold. Now do the same with the left and right edge of the dough. So you get layers of dough. Form gently (that's where yo need a feel. Treat the dough like your girl/boyfriend. Gosh I hope you are not one of these rough S&M people. Anyway, gently,soft, smooth, with feelings - these are the words which you should keep in mind when handling dough) - where was I? Ahh yes! - form the dough gently into a ball and put back into your bowl. By the way, good bakers clean the bowl between steps to avoid that dried dough will get into your loaf which will later show as hard floury parts in your bread. Not good!

Leave for another 30 minutes. And fold again.

Leave another 30 minutes.

Prepare a kitchen towel and flour it very well. Rub the flour into the towel. This will be used as a baker's couche (see the top picture on If you are good you can convince the person who does the laundry that a baker's couche aka "the tea towel" you use will NOT be washed. Then your bread doesn't taste like the latest creation of fabric softener.

Divide the dough into 250 g pieces using a dough cutter/scraper. Use a scale! I still have trouble to estimate dough weight when I cut it into pieces. I guess you need to do baking for 10 or so year to be able to do it without a scale. If you don't use a scale you will risk that some loaves are bigger and some are smaller. The smaller ones will be baked faster than the bigger ones.

I shaped the pieces like I would shape small baguette rolls. I shaped a ball, flattened it, folded in the long edges and then fold it together and press the ends together. Place the loaves seam side up into the folds of your couche. Cover with another cloth and let rest for 60 minutes. Which is about 1 hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 210 deg Celsius. I use a peel for most of my oven loading. You can also use a cutting board. Sprinkle the board with semolina, upturn one or more of the loaves onto the peel and score (cut/slash) the loaves diagonally about5 mm deep. Load them into the oven. And here comes one of my secrets. Well it isn't a secret,, many of you will do this or similar all the time. The secret to a nice crust is - steam! Lots of it but not too long. What does it do? It slows down the caramelizing process on the outside of the bread. The crust forms slower and becomes - well more crusty! So I load my oven and on the bottom of it I have a flat oven tray sitting. I filled this tray with those lava stones you use in your BBQ. They do increase the surface a lot. This is in my oven when I switch it on. SO the tray and the stones are hot. Before I load the oven I prepare a teapot with boiling water. Once all the loaves are in the oven, I fill the tray with the stone with boiling water. You need to work quick here to avoid losing too much heat while the door is open. I almost never spray using a pump bottle as recommended in many of my baking books. I think I lose too much heat if I open and spray and as some recommend after 30 seconds I open the oven again and spray. But a couple of warnings: Steam is hot! Yeah who would have thought, eh? Still, be careful. And another one: Water on a hot glass door is not a good idea. Same with water on a hot baking stone! This is why I boil my water when I use it. Honestly, I can be as careful as much as I want I almost always get some water either onto the glass door or onto my stone. It always scares the shit out of me. I cracked a coupe of stones (but I use cheap granite slabs from the stone masons)but I don't want to destroy the oven door glass.

Back to the fun.  Bake for 30 minutes and then let cool on a rack (Do I have to repeat that the cooling process IS PART OF THE BAKING!!!!!!!!!!! So take your fingers off those hot buns, my friend!)

The loaves came out very nice. The rye grains are a bit crunchy but I found the next day they have softened. I also found the sweet winy taste came more through the next morning (I made the loaves in the evening). Overall a nice chewy moist bun/loaf with some sweetness in it. I had them this morning with cream cheese and homemade strawberry jam. They should also go well with smoked salmon or any other fish.

Just got an idea, what if .... I would soak the rye in beer? Hmmmmm.

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