Archive for August 2008
Friday night I watched a small bit about the Pizza world championships on TV. The current world champion (I forgot his name) shared his dough recipe. Only thing I didn’t get was the amount of water, but the dough looked stiff. The world champion lets his dough rise for two days in the fridge.
I made it and was pleased with the results. The dough was crispy but not cracker-like hard and it had a nice elasticity to it after letting the pizza cool for about 5 minutes. I could easily roll the pizza pieces into little cylinders like I have seen in Italy.
Also mentioned in the report was a new trend in Italy: Sprinkle a little saffron onto the stretched out dough before adding the other ingredients. I omitted that step.
Impasto per pizza
(percentages are for weight quantities)
- 100% white bread flour, preferably ‘Tipo 00’ (I used German Type 550)
- 60% water
- 0.4 – 0.8% yeast, depending on how warm it is and how hot the oven will be. The hotter the oven the less yeast is used.
- 3% salt
- 3% olive oil, extra vergine
1. Mix and knead the dough. Mix water and flour to a smooth and elastic dough. Add the yeast, knead for 5 minutes, then add the salt. Knead again for about 5 minutes. Incorporate the olive oil. The dough will break up during this last step but after some kneading will come together again into a silky ball of dough.
2. Ferment the dough. Put the dough into a large plastic bag and put it into the fridge for 1 or two days. The dough should rise to about 1.5 x its original size.
3. Prepare the dough for baking. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up a little for about 45 minutes. Divide the dough into 150g-200g pieces, shape them into little balls, cover and let rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature.
5. Bake the dough. Bake the pizze in a pizza oven or very hot home oven. I used my UFO-shaped pizza oven mentioned here.
Steam-injection is proabably the most sought-after feature in a bread oven. The ability to get a lot of water steam into the oven separates a professional oven from a home oven. The presence of water steam at the beginning of the baking process keeps the crust soft while it is undergoing its most dramatic changes. There are more things happening at the molecular level when water is sprayed onto the dough, that I cannot go into because of lack of knowledge, of course. So far, I have sprayed water into the oven using a bottle. I believe the days of doing that may have come to an end.
Why not use the dough’s moisture instead and trap it for a while, I was thinking on a slow Saturday afternoon. The idea of baking inside a closed bag, pot or pan is nothing new, so I have tweaked this approach a little and attempted an impromptu solution:
“That looks like a piece of tin foil”, you say. Why, yes, it does. Because it is a piece of tin foil.
Instructions on how to use the Steam Module Vers. 0.1 Beta: When your doughling is ready to be baked, cover it completely but loosely with the tin foil. Put everything into the oven, preferably onto a baking stone. Wait 1-2 minutes or more. Professional recipes will tell you when to open the steam vent, this is where you take the foil off. Behold the changes.
Heuristics: The foil shields the hot wind coming from the oven fan (if a fan oven is used) and traps the moisture that is coming from the heated dough for a while. Bread volume is increased, crust quality is potentially improved. Further test runs are called for.
Self-Steamed “40 Percent Caraway Rye” (without caraway) showing a nice crust.
Update. I’ve made a couple of rolls with this and another quick white loaf. Two things seem to be true: 1. Underproved breads do not seem to suffer from irregular crust bursts as much as before. This is because the crust stays supple longer. 2. Breads do not burn anymore. This (probably) is due to the additional water on / in the crust.
For a very soft crust, e.g. for sweet rolls, spray the dough with water, put the foil on top and leave it on for 5 minutes or longer.
The formula for this bread is similar to the preceeding fast rising sourdough bread (link to blog entry), except with about 25% of strong white flour instead of whole-wheat flour. It was baked as free standing loaf and the seeds were left out. I also used a thick coating of fine rye flour. Bulk fermentation was around 50 minutes, final fermentation 45 minutes at room temperature.
- 40% rye meal
- 35% whole-wheat flour
- 25% strong white flour
These are tips to improve the quality of home-baked bread, I hope.
I have found these tips to be true for breads made with at least 70% wheat flour. Rye is a different story. So is spelt.
1. Baking loaves of bread at 240°C in a conventional fan oven is usually too hot. The wind of hot air dries out the crumb quickly and irregularly. Starting at 220°C is not only sufficient, but helpful, then lowering it to about 190°C halfway into the total baking time, sounds like a good idea to me.
2. Good aeration of bread has not so much to do with chemistry, but with physics. Improving the aeration of bread has not so much to do with using starters, but with the manual conditioning of the dough.
3. Inclusion of yeasted starters tend to result in a more uniform but very light crumb. Inclusion of sourdough starters results in large irregularly sized holes in an otherwise tight crumb, should the water content of the dough not be excessively high.
4. For rolls, baguettes, ciabatta-style breads or, generally, smaller pieces of dough, I find that letting them rise on a towel dusted with rye flour and then turning them over before the bake gives them a superior crust which does not look pale. Toasted rye flour also tastes better than toasted wheat flour.
5. For white rolls, a small amount of fat and / or milk seems to hasten fermentation, improve crust color and give an aroma commonly associated with rolls, which is slightly sweet.
6. For unsweetened rolls without fat, if a thin and crackling crust is desired, bake at an initial temperature of 250°C or as high as the oven goes. Turn down the oven after 5 minutes or so to 200°C. Try to get as much steam into the oven as possible. I spray the oven also during the baking of rolls until the bitter end. (Probably useless as general rule, cf. a thread in the forum at www.danlepard.com).
7. Extending the final rise with the dough almost on the brink of collapse is a trade-off between less vigorous oven spring and very good crust color and flavor.
8. A leaven that is kept at 7°C needs to be refreshed only once a week, if at least half of it is replaced during the refreshment. I keep only a small amount of leaven (300g) and the day before baking make an overnight starter by taking 1 tsp of leaven and add 100g flour and 100g water to get a starter of about 200g.
9. So called “retarded” rise of dough in the fridge overnight gives a tough but flexible crust. It might be described as “leathery”. The bread takes on color in the oven quicker too.
10. It seems that baguettes are a good reference for judging a baker’s skill.
DISCLAIMER: “Who are you to tell us about bread making?”, you ask. It’s what I, and I only for now, have found. It is not based on academic knowledge either.