Saturday, November 21, 2009


Another attempt at Dan's Foccacia. Since type 00 flour is not easily available, I was interested in finding a flour available locally that will do the job. It seems that just about any lower protein flour will make pretty good versions of the bread.

I was making this bread again as it was well received. My mother loved it and because it was so soft, my father had no trouble eating it. I was able to get a very good flavorful, open crumb. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Storing flour in the tropics.

I was told by a friend about the dangers of storing flours at room temperature in tropical Singapore. I remembered reading about this a couple of weeks ago. In the article, 1g of plain flour left out in the open can have as many as 1750 dust mites crawling in it. The problem is that even when dead, the mites can cause serious problems among asthmatics. This is because the bodies of these mites can still trigger asthma attacks even when the food is cooked at high temperatures.

For me, the preferred storage area for my flour is the freezer. The freezer is great, especially for wholemeal flours. At room temperature, the oils in the germ can turn rancid rapidly. However, this is greatly inhibited at freezer temperatures. I use up flour quite rapidly also as I bake very regularly and in larger quantities than most homebakers.

The following is a link to that article that appeared in the Straits Times.

Foccacia with Type 00 flour

After many rounds of the foccacia, I finally got to do the foccacia using the type of flour used in Dan Lepard's demo. The friend who gave it to me told me that it was the last bag at Culina. This was the reason why I couldn't just squander it. It had to take 3 practice bakes before I would contemplate using it. The dough smelled fragrant during the mix and now, I am wondering if it really was the flour that gave the bread that wonderful aroma.

I am really glad to have learnt first hand from Dan how this bread is made. It is a bread that will be welcomed in any party. Given the Singaporean preference for soft bread, it will surely be preferred to the other types of bread that I make.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dan Lepard Black Pepper Rye
I have been thinking of doing this bread ever since a friend in a bread forum posted his attempt. The recipe is from Dan Lepard's column in The Guardian. This bread is unusual in many aspects. Using coffee as the liquid is unusual in itself. Using it to boil part of the rye with the spices is another touch of brilliance. 

I used fennel as that was the only spice I had on hand. The resulting bread had a very interesting flavor. I believe it will go well with the toppings suggested in the column.

Update: We had it for breakfast this morning and everyone in the family gave it the thumbs up.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Foccacia again.
Today's attempt is my third attempt at Dan's foccacia. I have been thinking about how I can improve on the previous 2 bakes. I was sure that it will work well this time. This time round, I followed the recipe to the letter. True enough, the bread turned out very well and I was able to bring it to another friend who was with me for coffee the other evening. I did not give him the sourdough version as it was really terrible. I mentioned that I will bring him a loaf the next time I baked so since I baked today, I had to make good my word.

The result was very encouraging indeed as the flavor was quite good. It was light and fluffy with very good crust texture. It even passed the severe home critics at home. I am sure the flavor will be more enhanced with a little more retardation.

Sourdough foccacia
I was one of the participants at Dan Lepard's demo and I was glad to have had the opportunity to learn from him. He demonstrated a foccacia served at Locatelli in London. It included malt and a levain.  The flavor took me by surprise after I took bite of it. 

I would never have imagined a bread made within that short period of time can have such a deep penetrating aroma. Needless to say, I left the demonstration very inspired. I was sure that the flavor did not come from the levain brought by me. It was a source of embarrassment for me as it was not its usual self. I thought that if the bread had turned out bad, I would have done Dan a great disservice. Surprisingly, the bread made by Dan had such a superb aroma that everybody who sampled it expressed their approval with uums, and other expressions of delight. 

For the demonstration, Dan used a Type 00 flour, malt and my levain. However, for this bake, I omitted the yeast just to see the difference the yeast made. It was made using my usual sourdough process.

The outcome: The bread was flavorful but the texture was pathetic. Unfortunately, I promised a friend that I would bring him a loaf of bread for our meeting. After seeing the way the bread turned out, I hesitated in bringing it. However, as I have already given my word, I had to bring it for him. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Dan Lepard Foccacia

This bake was a just dry run of the real thing for reasons best known to myself.  It included malt which I had made myself. Unfortunately, that batch of malt was not optimum so for my next attempt at this bread, I have resolved to make a better batch of the malt. This time round, I am going to watch the process more carefully and not let my schedule wreck it.

It also included a levain which was not at its optimum. I am still trying to figure what happened exactly and I experienced Murphy's law at it's worst. I thought I was going to embarrass an important guest and in turn embarrass myself even more but thank God, I was spared that. On the contrary, everything turned out very well.

Since this bake was done without the correct ingredients, I did not expect it to taste like the real deal but it was acceptable. Talking about the real deal, the flavor was beyond my expectation. After eating it, I wondered if it was really possible for me to recreate it without using the same kind of ingredients.

After the bake, I realised that I had forgotten to scatter some salt on top before the bake. Well, at least I did not forget the Rosemary.

Poilane Miche

Anybody who loves bread will dream of visiting Poilane in Paris.  Their bread is exported to many parts of the world and even to Singapore.  I had the chance to eat the last slice available  at a cafe once but I was rather disappointed because it tasted like cardboard. The entire miche retailed for $50 at that time, possibly making it the most expensive loaf of bread in Singapore.

Recently I received a call from from my friend asking me pick up a couple of slices of the miche. It was not at its freshest but at least it was better than my first experience with it. Having eaten it, I was inspired to make one in the near future. The recent gift of Bacheldre Mill flour should come in handy.