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Archive for the ‘Baking tips’ Category

Sometimes I do feel a bit jealous to the people working with pastry products, like cakes and such – there seems to be an endless amount of decoration possibilities and shapes to choose from. Well, finally I found something super cute for bread baking, too. A new bread pan!

Let’s call it an early birthday present, though it was surprisingly affordable. Actually the package contained three different shapes, so there’s something to show off later, too. And luckily they seem to work. First I was worried, ’cause the ends of the pan (it’s like a tube) are so loose, but now I think it’s good that there’s a way for the dough to expand properly.

Might be posting some more close-up pictures of the actual pan/pans later on, too. I’m really happy with them!

I also printed out a ticket to Finland today! In just one and a half weeks I ought to be there. Hope all the snow melts by then, since I’m already so used to having flowers everywhere..

And sourdough is building well, will be baking baguettes with it next week.

Marika~

 

Wikipedia: seeing definition: inasmuch as —often used with ”’as”’ or ”’that”’.

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I have a thing for making fancy cakes at the moment, and so here’s what I created for Valentine’s Day:

It’s a banana monster! And ’cause I’m a huge fan of foam and gelatine, I made banana mousse filling for this one. The foam tastes a lot like banana yoghurt, but no wonder since it’s made out of banana, quark and whipped cream. And so the taste is ok. Banana is not my favorite-favorite thing on Earth, so I think that once this cake is out of the fridge, I won’t need more bananas for a while.

Made a cookie bottom our of chocolate cookies and for the topping… Well, this cake just needed something red ’cause it was for Valentine’s Day, so I made some kind of glazing from cherry juice and raspberry jam.

It’s interesting to bake here in Germany. Especially when I’m creating my own recipes and then I know exactly what products I’d buy for it in Finland, but here… it’s a bit different. But I must say that all in all the baking selection is very good (though sometimes quite dominated by Dr. Oetker).

And then I made edge for the cake. That was fun, ’cause I tried this new tactic described in some German baking book (I’ve borrowed many from library in order to learn German baking vocabulary). It’s a bit like making a marble cake since one needs both white and chocolate dough. Then you pipe them on an oven tray one after the other. It would look quite pretty as a rolled cake too, a bit like a tiger. Anyway, difficult to explain the process without drawing, but here you can see part of the edge. It looks like that all around the cake, also quite pretty in my opinion (the edge, not the glazing).

Made some bread with bubbles, too. Can’t believe it was the first time during my stay here!

Oh yeah, and happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!

Marika~

 

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I remember when I was dying out to find the best way to bake my breads. I wanted a nice crust, and kept spraying water or having a bowl of water in the oven. I do remember evetually getting so good results that I already wanted to learn to bake bread without a crust again. Well, nowadays I believe the quality of the crust depends on many things – it’s a combination of the right kind of dough, oven temperature, moisture..

I got a baking stone as a present, and I do enjoy it – it does give your bread a nice extra crustiness, but to say – you can make quite a good crust with just the basic oven tray. The thing is with both that you need to put them to heat up at the same time with the oven. That way they won’t cool the oven down, like usually when placing the tray there same time with the bread.

Instead of having a stone, have a spatula. That is quite a handy tool, when placing your bread into the oven. Just cover it well with semolina, especially the part where you wish to place your bread. If you are unsure, whether you have enough semolina, put some more. It’s mean if your bread is stuck to the spatula. After placing the bread on top, swipe of the extra semolina. Then with a nice tuck place it on top of the tray (no need for baking paper).

Having no baking spatula, you can use baking paper. Then just quickly place the paper and the bread on top of the hot tray – either by taking the tray out of the oven for a moment or with the help of another tray. Have lovely results!

Marika~

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I don’t know whether I went and promised you people, that I’d make Sourdough bread this weekend. Well, even if I didn’t go promising that I had a very strong intension to bake no-commercial-yeast-bread – and actually I also did, though everything didn’t go as planned. Oh well, but this was the first time I made all-sourdough Sourdough bread after Italy – mistakes make master.

Bread baking is a lot about patience and well – I guess I ran out of it. I just rushed into baking without reading my recipe beforehand and ended up baking something I wasn’t supposed to make. Here is the story;

So, my recipe for Sourdough bread requires 56,3% hydration leaven – meaning that you have 56,3g water always to match 100g flour. Well, I went and used 100% hydration one (water equals the amount of flour). This caused my dough to be too wet for kneading or anything. As a result I ended up adding some flour to it and had to mix everything well together again and well.. Nothing went quite as planned, but I still got yummy bread out of my oven that tastes like sourdough bread, just the structure is not quite the same. It remained so sticky ’till the end that it got even stuck into my oven spatula, which is why it has so funny drop-like shape.

But so that you won’t repeat my mistakes, here is a chart of how you should feed your leaven to turn it from 100% hydration into 56,3% one. 

You should start this feeding process couple days before the baking-day, and let it rest at least 3 hours between each feeding.

And before starting remember to save some of your 100% hydration leaven in another can!

Marika~

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So, having presented this lovely fluffy bread last time, I shall now give you some different filling options for it. You can tuck almost anything in your focaccia as long as it’s enough small and thus goes deep in the dough. If it pops up, it might burn and give the whole bread a yucky taste. I haven’t tried all the following fillings out yet, but I’m rather convinced they’d work, too.

Salty foccaccias

Crushed garlic soaked in olive oil

Olives – with stone or not

Little cubes of meatballs or ham

Feta cheese cubes – preferably oiled too

Blackpepper, oregano, basilicum… on the top

Sweet focaccias

I love sweet focaccias – and to make them even better it’s important to pour some sugar-syrup on the top. You make this by quickly boiling a random amount of sugar together with random amount of water. After the focaccia is done (and it’s very important that it really is done, since if you put it back into the oven the lovely sugar-syrup will burn on the top), you pour couple big spoons of this transparent liquid on top of the bread. Let the whole thing cool down and mmm, it’s so delicious… …and yes, a bit sticky, too.

Small grapes or cherries (haven’t tried cherries – could work or not)

Pieces of anykind of dark chocolate – the one meant for baking might give the best result though

Baking vanilla sauce

Sugar-vanilla sugar-soft butter mixture, mmm… could be delicious – as long as it doesn’t burn

Coconut in some form

Crushed cardamom, fennel on top or e.g. lemon in the sugar-syrup

Just try everything – focaccia is so big bread that you can fit something in one corner and other stuff in the other, to try out new flavours! Oh, and tell me if you find something fabulous, or if you figure out that something doesn’t work out at all!

Marika~

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The temperature of your dough affects quite a lot to how it acts when baking – if you have warmer hands or warmer weather it’s likely to be more stickier than on a cold day or with cooler hands. Well, it is quite difficult to change your body temperature or turn off the sun so measuring the ingredients with a thermometer is a good way to at least have your dough started at the right heat.

I didn’t before see the need for this exact measuring, but after realizing how I had used way too warm water due to my old thermometer (also my hand), I changed my mind. But I still say – it’s not obligatory.

A good dough temperature varies between 21-25°C. A good rule is to use your common sense – if it is the coldest day of the year, but you know you’ll heat up the room to over 20°C by warming up the fireplace, there is not that much sense of reading the weather and making a warm dough. So yeah – the warmer expected the cooler dough desired.

And then some math! Baking can be quite scientific, too. Here is the formula; desired dough temperature x 2 – flour temperature = desired water temperature. Let’s say you want dough of 21°C, ’cause it’s a hot Finnish summer. Our flour is as warm as 27°C now and then we want to know how cold water we need. So..?

21 x 2 – 27 =15. So that means water should be 15°C. Living so high up here, the coolest water my tap allows me to get at this time of the year is around 17°C, so having some water in the fridge is essential to get it correct. Then you just do some more measuring to get your water to the correct temperature and voilá – we got it!

As said before, this formula can also be seen on the Gallery-page among the pictures of White bread with overnight sponge, it’s the “Schedule” -photo.

Marika~

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Huh – what a busy week it is! I even had to let my breadmachine to bake for a chance, since I can’t find the time myself. Well, luckily next Sunday looks emptier, so I think I might finally have time to show you some sourdough baking with focaccia.

But ok – if you are as impatient as I often am and f you already want to get your sourdough in use, you can try replacing the sponge of the “White bread with overnight sponge” with the equal amount of your bubbly leaven. The result is yummy as well – just the dough is a bit stickier and harder to control. But it’s a good practice!

So, we have a week now before the promised focaccia and well, you can start preparing yourself for this mission. Keep building up your sourdough and check that you have something to match these following equipments;

1. Spatula – needed for mixing when feeding your sourdoughs.

2. Box – mine is pink, but I’d prefer a see-trough-box. This will be used when your focaccia is proofing between the foldings. Pretty much anything enough big with a lid will do fine.

3. Scrapers – to clean the edges of the bowl, baking surface, spatula, your hands etc.

4. Thermometer – to get your dough in the exact temperature. This is not necessary, but rather useful if you like to get it perfect. A small one with a digital-screen would be ideal and actually I’m waiting for mine to arrive with the post. Main thing is that it’s enough fast and also works also with cooler temperatures.

1. Small and smaller bowls – to measure your sourdough, yeast, water and salt.

2. Baking bowl – big and simple plastic one would be the best. Mine is metal with a rubber bottom. The metal tends to scar ’cause of the scraping and the rubber makes it harder to move when kneading – not a good choice for this.

3. Measuring cans – something good to pour water from. Bottles work well too, and actually if the weather is like it is in Finland now (32°C) it’s good to keep some water in the fridge for baking.

4. A tray for folding – I have this aluminium one with some edges and it’s super. Just oil it a bit and folding goes well, so something like this is good. I used to use baking paper on top of an oven tray, but it was quite sticky and moved a lot.

5. Oil can – one doesn’t necessary need this, but I love mine. It makes it easier to pour the oil on top of the bread in the end and well – it is cute.

And of course it’s good to have an oven, running water and electricity. Well, also an oven tray and some kitchen towels wouldn’t be bad to have around. And if you have a baking stone, that is of course lovely too.

Then we wait for the next weekend ! Oh, and  make sure you got about 6 hours time in your calendar before starting your dough!

Marika~

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