Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cheese Bread

Hamelman's recipe for Cheese Bread produces a lovely, crackly, soft white cheese bread with loads of flavor. This is definitely a keeper.

The first time through I followed the recipe for boules, pretty much, as it was written. I did make one change. In forming the loaf, I first mixed in the grated cheese in the mixer as directed. But then I flatten the dough, placed the cubes on top and rolled the dough up. My goal was to get an even distribution of the chunks and to avoid having exposed cheese. This approach worked quite well. I am very pleased with Hamelman's recipe.

Still, I wanted to see just how versatile (or forgiving) the recipe is. So when I went back to make the recipe a second time, I altered the the recipe is several ways.

First, I decided that to see if the recipe would work with as a transitional loaf so I replaced some of the bread flour (32%) with whole-wheat flour. Next, while I used parmesan as the grated cheese, I used Jarleberg for the chunks, cut roughly 1 inch by 1 inch by 1/4 inch. I folded in the chucks as before. Finally, I made a loaf-bread with the recipe. Since I was baking the bread in a dark (Chicago Metallic) pan, I reduced the temperature. I found the bread did very nicely with 15 minutes at 435 degrees followed by 20 minutes at 400 degrees. As you can see from the picture, if a piece of cheese pokes through, this give a ugly blister, but rolling the dough largely avoids this problem.

Overall, I like the altered recipe even better. I thought the combination of cheeses less biting, I liked the whole-wheat, and, for me at least, loaf bread is generally more useful than boules.

Another great bread!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rye with Walnuts

Yet another rye. This one took two tries, but I was able to produce something that was worth eating—not a favorite, not something I'm likely to make again anytime soon, but something that I didn't try once and immediately discard. That the second loaf, the first quickly went into the trash.

After the first loaf, I was ready to give on on this one. But it seems that is always the case with Hamelman's ryes, at least for me. Yet other folks don't seem to be having these problems, so I felt it was time to go back and try again looking more closely at what I was doing.

In the course of making this bread, I made several changes the second time around. First, I've found the ryes recipes to produce very sticky doughs that wanted to puddle in the bottom of the mixer bowl rather than be kneaded. I've tried to deal with this before, but this time I was very careful. I repeatedly stopped the mixer, massed the dough together, and dusted it with flour to give it a dryer, less sticky exterior. As I kneaded the dough, I stood over the mixer and very lightly dusted the sides of the bowl with flour to insure the dough was not sticking to the bowl. Once the dough had kneaded the full amount of time, I took it out and gave it another couple of quick folds.

The next major changes were the fermentation times. In most of Hamelman's recipes, times have been very accurate. While the conditions in my kitchen weren't changing, when making this rye, I found the times totally unreliable. I had to extend both the bulk and final fermentations, particularly the latter going totally by the feel of the dough.

Admittedly, these are changes that I should have been doing all along. But I haven't needed them with the other recipes, so I was disinclined to try them with the rye recipes. Next time I'll know better.

The second loaf, made with these changes was reasonable. It was still a bit heavy and the rye flavor, despite the walnuts, was still too strong for my taste. But toasted, it worked well with peanut butter or cheese. I'm still not a big fan of rye, but this was a step in the right direction.