Saturday, September 26, 2009

Article by Tan Hsueh Yun. Straits Times Urban supplement. Click on the article to read.

Durum Double Raisin Bread with Pumpkin seeds

I was in the Aljunied area and decided to check out the an organic products outlet. They carry a wide range of organic products, including flours such as rye and spelt. I love their products, which I feel is good value for money. I have been using their Himalayan Pink rock salt since I started baking. I gave a bottle to a food writer friend once who subsequently featured it in the Straits Times Urban supplement. Another product that I love is their organic Demerara sugar. Since I love good coffee, I couldn't possibly just use any sugar. So whenever I was at the supermarket at Fairprice Finest, I will load up with a dozen of the salt and sugar. This never fails to earn some stares from the people in the queue. 

While I was at the outlet, I chatted with the salesperson there. She let me sample the three types of organic raisins sold there. They were huge and tasted fantastic. Most of the raisins out there are soaked in oil which imparts a taste but the oil in these raisins was minimal and the natural taste of the raisins was more pronounced. Needless to say, I left the shop with 3 bags of goodies for my bread making. I have to add here that I am not paid to endorse their products nor am I related to anyone in the company.

I got some Durum flour from Phoon Huat store at Sims Place on my way back. This was different from the gritty semolina sold by Prima. Durum flour is used in Sicilian bread but Amy Scherber has a Semolina Fennel Raisin bread which I used to make. It is one of my favorite. Since I had all these ingredients on hand, I wanted to make a special Double Raisin Durum Fennel bread. I was looking high and low for my pack of Fennel but alas, it had been thrown out by my wife because it was past its expiry date. Fortunately, I had a pack of German bread spice given to me by a friend. The spice mix consisted of Fennel, Cumin and Coriander.

For the bake, the Durum flour was one-third of the flour used. The hydration was 70% and included 5% olive oil. I used both Black and Green Raisins with the pumpkin seeds. The bread was delicious. My only regret was that I did not add in enough raisins. However, the main reason why I did not overload on the raisin was because I was afraid that the kids would not touch the bread. My wife also dislikes the burnt raisin sticking to the crust. Fortunately for this bake, my daughter actually complimented me for the bread. What more can I ask for?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Flour Test - German Ciabatta premix

I am very happy to have received a gift of flours from some friends recently. The 4 bags included a Ciabatta premix, Volkonbrot mix, Spelt and Rye flour. I started with the Ciabatta premix because it was a bread that I was familiar with. Moreover, I did not have the time to translate the German instructions for the rest of the flours. 

Thanks to the internet, language is no longer a barrier. I was able to figure out the contents of the package with minimal effort. The premix contained sugar which is one ingredient I seldom use. As a result, the bread turn out a little darker than usual. I tweaked the hydration up to 70% as the specified 65% was dryer than the Ciabatta dough that I was used to handling. Even so, I felt that the bread might have been better if I had adjusted it up to 75%. I did not follow the instructions on the package as I preferred my own method. Besides, it was a working day and I only had 30 minutes to make the dough.

The verdict? The flavor was good considering the fact that it was just a 12 hour bread made without preferment. The bread was a little more salty that what I was used to making so it would be better to go with unsalted butter. The crust was a little different from bread made with my regular flour. It was crunchy and was easier to bite off, exactly the quality of crust that I had been looking for. I wonder how I can tweak my regular flour to get this kind of crust.