Friday, March 27, 2009

One more attempt

Ever since I embarked on a baguette quest, I have been telling myself to get a flip board. At first, I thought that my baguette peels could do the job but unfortunately, they have their limitations.  A friend mentioned using the planks from wine cases but since that is difficult for me to get, I thought of using Balsa wood from Art Friend. However, since this is definitely not food grade,  I settled for one made of Aluminum. I walked over to the metal workshop near my work place and asked the boss for a scrap piece. The kind gentleman charged me a mere $2 for a 70x10cm plank. It was put to good use for this morning's bake. It made the transfer so much easier.

For this second attempt at Le Grenier baguette, I used a 75% hydration dough. I realised that my previous bake was a little over-proofed. This time round, I resolved to do it right and was rewarded with a better grigne. I couldn't wait to see the crumb and as soon as it was sufficiently cooled, I sliced open one of them and found the crumb to be very holey despite the fact that it was baked without a baking stone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

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Le Grenier a Pain baguettes- First replication attempt

It's my first attempt at recreating the baguette which I had bought last Sunday. It was supposed to be the most authentic Parisian baguette to hit our shores. If that is true, it will be the second time that I have eaten authentic French bread. The first time was a Poilane miche which retails for $50 a loaf here in Singapore. I must confess to being terribly disappointed when the staff at the cafe told me that there were no more loaves available but they still had slices of it which they serve for lunch. I had an over toasted slice there for lunch. It did not leave an impression, probably because it was pass its prime.

Now that Michel Galloyer has open a boulangerie here in Singapore, it was a good chance for me to taste some real French bread. Unfortunately, although I could see him in the shop, I did not have a chance to talk to him. I was wondering if the bread was parbaked in France and airflown here or did they have a bakery somewhere else. If so, was it local flour that they were using or were they using French flour. So many questions and no answers.

Anyway, after eating the baguette, I was really inspired to replicate it. I can only guess that the hydration was slightly higher than the ones I bake typically. Although the hydration was relatively high, the results were not too bad when they came out of the oven. The baguettes at Le Grenier were matt and they were definitely baked on a stone. Personally, I prefer a redder hue with a shine as I think that is more attractive. Anyway, that was not the characteristic that I was trying to replicate. It was the crumb that I was after and I'd have to know that only tomorrow morning.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A visit to Le Grenier A Pain

Last Thursday,  I had lunch with a couple of ex-colleagues at the new Sembawang shopping center and was surprised to find a French bakery with an assortment of nice looking French bread. There was a bundle of baguettes there which caught my eye. One of the loaves was sliced in half showing a very holey crumb. 

After I had finished my weekly kriya session on Sunday morning, I popped in to have a better look and the baker himself was in the shop. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to talk to him as he was in some sort of conference with the shop owner. I picked up a baguette for afternoon tea. It looks like a fun baguette to replicate and I'd probably be back to baguettes in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hazel nut fruit loaf

This is an encore of the bread I made 2 days ago. It tasted so good that I couldn't get enough of it. The first 2 loaves were made with 40% Shipton mills whole-wheat flour which has been sitting in my freezer. This was made into a preferment. The rest of the flour was made with AP flour. This time round, only 25% of the Shipton WW was used. I hope to have a lighter loaf with less WW. The fruit and nut was around 30% of the total flour weight. I had to restrain myself this time round as I had been too greedy in my first bake. As a result, I had a case of fruit overload. 

The fruits consisted of candied orange peel, currents, sultanas and cherries. The nuts were freshly toasted hazelnuts which is my favorite. I avoid chelory made from colored papaya. I think this is a monstrosity.

It has been a fruitful day off for me and I finally got down to tesingt out a theory involving the making of kaya, another sinful favorite of mine. I really have to be more careful with all these calorie and fat laden favorites of mine.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Flour Test-Everest Chakki Atta

I paid a visit to Mustafa on my day off and spotted some Atta flour that had spilled onto the shelf. It was a nice creamy color and that made me pick up a pack to try out. Chakki Atta is 100% stoneground wheat flour. It is probably made from a soft wheat. I was quite happy with the results as the crumb was relatively open for a 100% whole-wheat bread. The flavor was very good and tasted fantastic with butter.

I decided to use the entire pack as I did not want to leave any lying around. There is just too many packets of leftover flour from our kitchen exploits. Sometimes I wish I can just dump everything into a mixing bowl and come up with something nice but alas, I know only too well that the end result are usually monstrosities.

For this 100% whole-wheat bread, I decided on a hydration of 80%. The poolish was made the night before and this morning, it was incorporated into the main dough. It has been some time since I had made a 100% whole-wheat loaf but this time round, I felt a level of maturity as a baker. When I was mucking around with 100% whole-wheat bread over a year ago, I was still experimenting with techniques and I could never be certain if I was doing it right. However, it was all those years of experimenting that was the most fruitful.

Bread is certainly a big subject and as I look back at my experiments in making malt, culturing wild yeasts, dabbling in homemade natural bread improvers, testing wheat and other exotic flours, playing with wood fired ovens, not to forget making homemade baking implements such as peels and proving rattan baskets, I realize that there are still many more challenges out there. 

The next few projects to try out will be the Tang Zhong method and making Poh Piah skins. I am really inspired by my  baking buddy whose talent and passion for the culinary arts is unmatched. Maybe I should do one more project since I am at it and that is to learn to make roti prata from scratch. The flipping should be fun to do.