Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bread and Dough #1: Getting Baked

For a RPGing & food blog, I haven't done a lot of food blogging here. Let's change that.

So in addition to doing RPGs as a lifestyle and hobby, I also cook for a living. Finishing school and enjoying the life as a prep cook. At home I've been trying to do more baking as my little side hobby. One of my chefs at school really got me into baking during school and since then, I've been trying to do baking at home. Lately, I've been tweaking and perfecting an enriched white bun roll recipe which can also be made into a big loaf. Removing the milk and egg would make it a really good Italian bread recipe.

Here is my recipe, in measurements of weight.

Bread Flour: 568 grams
Water: 135 grams
Whole Milk: 135 grams
Instant Yeast: 10 grams
Olive Oil: 56 grams
Egg: 56 grams (roughly 1 large egg)
Sugar: 56 grams
Salt: 10 grams

I use grams because it's more granular and I prefer that preciseness when I bake. Also, the water, milk, and oil are heated to 115F to activate the yeast for a bit by mixing the yeast in there. The salt doesn't go in until you're halfway done with kneading, as it will kill the yeast and prevent rising.

Here are some pictures below

Here's the kneaded dough. At this point, I realized it needed some more water. In a bread, you want to have a lot of hydration. It's the percentage of the weight of flour that is water. Generally, you want 60-80% hydration value, which means the weight of water has to be that percentage of the weight of the flour. I generally like 75%, so for a dough with 100 grams of flour, you want 75 grams of water. Or anything watery, like milk and even eggs.

This bread has a lower hydration so I want to add more in the future. Eggs are generally 65% water and butter is generally 20% water. Oil doesn't add hydration since there is no water. So this dough will need more water and milk in it. Hydration makes the bread softer and adds more flavor. You almost want it to be a sticky mess as you knead it.

One thing I do is to set my oven to max for 20 sec, then turn it off. Then I cover the dough with a tea towel and place it in the off oven. it makes a nice warm place for the dough to rise for an hour. Rising will help the yeast ferment and double in size, which is what you are looking for.

Here is the dough doubled. I cut it and shaped it into ten, 3.5 ounce pieces. I find that to be a good size for a decent sized burger, or a medium sized sandwich. They look small now, but after shaping, we let them rest for 20 minutes and shape them some more. When shaping, you want the dough to be tight and the seam to be pinched and missing. Resting helps the gluten to relax and makes it easier to shape. The second picture is after the rest. Sadly I'm no good at shaping.

After that. we let them proof, which is like a secondary rise. You do the same thing as before, setting the oven on the highest heat for 20 seconds, then turning it off. This gives the buns more volume and allow them to be bigger. I also tend to flatten them a bit before the proof so the final product can be wider and hold more stuff. It will still bake to be nice and round.

After the proofing, I did an egg wash and brushed it on all of the dough and set the oven to 350F. Normally, this would have baked at 425F, but because this is an enriched dough with a lot of fat, eggs, sugar, and milk proteins, that would burn the outside a bit. So I cook it lower and longer to get a nice golden brown.

Once you get it to the golden brown crust you like, cover it with aluminum foil to prevent more browning and leave it longer, until the bread makes a hollow noise when you tap it. For these rolls, I got my crust after about 27 minutes, then left it in an extra 8 minutes to make sure the inside was cooked.

For a bigger loaf, like Italian bread or Cuban bread, I'd leave it for a total of 45 minutes. But I always check my bread at the 25 minute mark. That is key. You never want burnt bread. After that, I check every 6 to 7 minutes to see if it's cooked all the way, checking it quickly so that I don't lose a lot of heat. I also have a pizza stone in there to help retain heat, but you can put a sheet tray or a metal pan in their to act like that. A cast iron pan would be incredible for this.

And here you see the final product, but I like my bread to be softer. The milk, eggs, sugar, and oil all contribute to making the bread nice and soft, but it will still have a firm crust. Not crispy like a baguette, but firm. So when the buns are still piping hot, I brush some butter on top. It makes the bread browner and as it cools, the bread absorbs the butter and softens up more. Plus, it adds some really great flavor.

And of course, now I enjoy the meal. This is a bit of a short little window into bread making, and I plan on going more into detail with the kneading process in the future. Till then, enjoy this mushroom and swiss burger I made for myself and my girlfriend. Enjoy!

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