Monday, May 23, 2011


Rounding out the recipes for may is a pissaladieère, a French pizza. This is something I made before and am quite fond of. The crust is quite thin, so it has both an initial crispiness, but is also chewy around the edges or cornicione.

Hamelman's recipe works quite well. He doesn't give cooking times, perhaps because he recommends setting ovens as high as they will go and that introduces too much variability. I cooked mine at 550 degrees for about 8 minutes. But I didn't stretch my dough out as much as he recommended. Rather than 12 x 16 my pies were closer to 10 x 15.

Anchovies I can take or leave, but I generally prefer to leave them.
So for this recipe, I diced my anchovies rather than leaving them whole (and left them off part of the pie altogether). Dicing is in the spirit of things but keeps you from getting too much of an anchovy at once.

Finally, I found that the recipe really only made enough caramelized onions for one pie, not two. I would definitely make more next time.

Traditionally, this is made with caramelized onions, olives, and anchovies, just as Hamelman's recipe calls for. However, like pizza, it can be made with other toppings. For my second pie, I used a recipe for a tomato topping from Anissa Helou's Savory Baking from the Mediterranean. Another good choice would be caramelized onions, blue cheese and walnuts.

Bottom line, this is a great crust recipe and well worth going back to.

Roasted Hazelnut and Prune Bread

As I recently said, I'm not a fan of hazelnuts in bread. Pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, yes. Hazelnuts not. And to this list of likes and dislikes, I need to add prunes to the dislike column. Sot this puts the loaf at a considerable disadvantage.

Still the bread itself was quite, quite good, as long as you avoided the nuts and fruit. This would certainly be a loaf worth revisiting if made with pecans and dried cherries.

A loaf with an unrealized potential.

Five-Grain Bread with Pâte Fermentée

For the challenge, this is the second loaf of a five-grain breads. There are four different loaves to found in Hamelman. The previous loaf was a straight-dough. To compare the loaves, I remade the original as I made the new loaf. The new loaf is the one on the left. The original is the one on the right. (Yes, I'm starting to play with decorations. It is unclear whether this will be a formal part of the challenge, but I don't want to let it slip by.)

As a lighter (less whole grains) bread, I preferred the new loaf to the original. But both were quite pleasant loaves and breads that I'd be willing to make again.
Still, the new loaf will be my first choice.

Hazelnut and Fig Bread with Fennel Seeds and Rosemary

This is one of a couple fruit and nut breads found in Hamelman. It is a pleasant enough bread but I'm not really taken with hazelnut in bread. I love hazelnuts in other things including ice cream, jut not bread. For the fruit, you could probably substitute any number of things. I was actually out of figs, so I used dates. I realize this is a bit of a stretch, but dates seemed to work fine.

There really isn't much to say about it other than it was an okay bread.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flaxseed Bread

In the interest of full disclosure, this bread had two strikes against it before I even began. First, it is a rye bread. If you have been reading my previous postings, you will know that I don't generally care for rye breads. Worst yet, it has flax seed. I realize that flax is wonderfully healthy, but it always seems to have a grassy taste that I don't care for. It is true that baking considerably lessens this problems, but it rarely eliminates it. Still, it was one of the recipes in the book, so I made it, ... but not with a great deal of enthusiasm.

Wwhen all is said and done, it really isn't a bad loaf. Not great, but not bad. But not something I'll be in a hurry to make again. Recipe completed. Time to move on.

Pain au Levain

Next in the Hamelman Challenge were there Pain au Levains or sourdough breads: Pain au Levain, Pain au Levain with Whole-Wheat Flour, and Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters. The first is a straight forward sourdough bread with a stiff preferment (60% hydration). The second adds 20% whole-wheat and 5% rye flour but is otherwise quite similar. The latter used two starters, a liquid levain (125% hydration) and a stiffer rye flour starter. (The final hydration is about the same for all the breads.)

In each case I followed the recipe closely except that I used cloche rather than a steam pan, baked at a slightly lower temperature for slightly less time, and proofed the loaves slightly longer. These are all pretty standard adaptations I'm making with most of Hamelman's recipes these days.

Overall, all three breads were quite similar. They are shown above (in reverse order in both pictures). All were quite good and well worth making again. Of the three I had a slight preference for the first, but I doubt I could tell the difference if I weren't tasting them side-by-side. Another set of winners.

Aloo Paratha

Aloo paratha is an unlevened whole-wheat flat bread (paratha) with a potato filling (aloo). This bread was of particular interest to me because I like Indian food and have made several Indian breads before including Julie Sahni's version of paratha (found in Classic Indian Cooking). Paratha is a bread that can be made in a relatively short amount of time, and there are a variety of fillings than can be used. Or it can be made without a filling.

For the bread part of the recipe, a blend of whole-wheat and bread flours, salt, and water, are kneaded together. Then the dough rests for a half hour or so, is shaped, and is then cooked on a griddle. For the filled bread, you can prepare the filling while the dough rests. Filling the dough is simply a matter of putting some of the filling in the middle of a rolled out disk of dough, then sealing the disk, and then rolling it out into another disk. The dough may, as shown above, puff up while grilling. The dough is basted with oil or ghee when done. If unfilled, you may want to brush the top before cooking, and fold it over on itself to form layers brushing between layers.

Shown here is a round of aloo paratha cut in half along side a serving of hard cooked eggs marsala.

If you turn to Indian cookbooks, you'll discover that there are many other fillings that can be used. In The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi, there are a half-dozen or so additional recipes for fillings along with directions for a plan paratha and a version of paratha made with chickpea flour. For the plan paratha, Devi has the cook fold and spread ghee over the bread. Filling may be made from peas, cauliflower. radishes, etc. In the third picture, the triangular pieces are plan paratha while the round is mooli paratha, a paratha that has a filling made with shredded radishes. (You'll just have to take my word on the fillings.)

Initially I followed Hamelman's recipe. For this last batch, I tried a straight whole-wheat flour. These, quite heavy and dense, were not nearly as good as Hamelman. Neither of the filling I tried overwhelmed me, but both were acceptable. Overall, this is a pleasant but not outstanding recipe. But in the future, I'll probably stick with naan.