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Archive for August 2009

Eric Kayser’s book and the best crust ever

with 24 comments

‘Pretentious crap’, wrote the one and only reviewer at of Eric Kayser’s book ‘Rund ums Brot’ (hardcover, 2008). This is the German edition of the French original ‘Autour des pains’ (paperback, 2007). The book is about creating sandwiches, desserts and small dishes from breads and doughs. The sort of playful stuff chefs do when they get bored with the plain loaf of bread a baker gives to them. I take it, you have seen these kinds of books that are just a little bit too colorful and radiate maybe just a little bit too much of glamour and not so much technical or culinary wisdom. Books that leave you with the uneasy feeling they were dreamed up in an armchair and written with a golden pen instead of scribbled down in the kitchen on a piece of paper (after the cook or baker has found a recipe to be very good).

Thumbing through the book, I find it hard to believe that Eric Kayser really listed ingredients such as ‘a baguette Monge’, ‘buckwheat dough’, ‘curcuma dough’, ‘4 small honey-olive-oil breads’, sometimes annotated by the friendly piece of advice ‘Ask your baker’. In other words breads or doughs from La Mayson Kayser that have made his boulangeries famous all over the world. Now, most of these breads can be baked using the formulars from the excellent² ‘100% pain’, but many recipes here are bound to inflict frustration upon the well-meaning reader, who might be standing in the kitchen, armed with cheeses, meats and vegetables coming to the ultimately anti-climatic realization that something is missing, namely:

Nut bread dough (ask your baker)

Ask my baker? At 8 pm? The guests should be here any minute. Zut alors, j’ai besoin de canapés. (Cheap dramatization so the following punch line is one)

Now that criticism is fine and well, and Eric Kayser should have included more bread recipes or referred to his other book, but there was a ‘wtf-moment’ gained from ‘Rund ums Brot’ anyhow.

It’s the little sentence in the opening chapter about making bread.

Step 4. Prior to heating the oven, place a small heat-resistent bowl filled with water on the bottom of the oven.

Been there done that? Doesn’t work? I wasn’t sure. Hadn’t I abandoned this method earlier because it would not work? Most books tell you to place the bowl of water in the oven the same time you’d load it with the bread dough. And that cannot work, because there is not enough time to create the sought-after steam, that might turn very good bread into very very good bread. (Naturally, when I read ‘Do this’, my brain says bye-bye and I repeat to myself ‘MUST FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS’ in a robot voice. So I proceeded.)

When the oven had reached 230°C the water was bubbling and I felt the steamy heat when I opened the door. Also, the kitchen smelled differently. A piece of baking paper I had forgotten to take from the baking stone was beginning to smell badly, which is what German baking paper does when it is moistened and exposed to heat. So there really was humidity trapped inside the oven. Some of the water steam slowly left through all sorts of openings, but more was coming from my bowl of water. Didn’t expect that at all. I loaded the oven with dough that had sat in the fridge for 2 days, and it was almost impossible to score. Everything looked rather sluggish and unhappy. The dough kept rising….and kept rising…and steam was coming from the small openings under the door handle. Hot steam, good steam.

TBH the bread had the best crust ever. Crispy on the outside, a flexible middle part and underneath large aeration. I am not so deluded as to think this is anything new. But it worked for me the first time and since I found the results so remarkable I had to annoy you with details.


This was the recipe I’ve used, for completeness’s sake:

Rustic baguettes (2)

  • 270g flour, Type 550 (90%)
  • 30g whole-wheat flour (10%)
  • 225g cold water (75%)
  • 6g sea salt (2%)
  • 3g fresh yeast (1%)

Mix the flour with 210g of the water to a shaggy mass and let stand for 30 minutes. Add the salt, yeast and the remaining water and mix on slow speed for about 6 minutes. Put the dough into an oiled container and put in the fridge for 2 days. Fold twice: after one and after six hours.

Take the dough out of the fridge. It should show clear signs of fermentation and have risen by about one half of its original size. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pour onto a liberally floured workspace. Either shape into baguettes (the dough will still be cold and not as sticky as a warm dough) or just cut off random pieces. Place on baking paper and let rise for 60-90 minutes.

30 minutes before baking, place a container with about 50ml water on the bottom of the oven floor. A wide one is better than a tall one because the bigger surface allows for more steam to be created. Heat oven to 250°C. The water should be simmering. Slash loaves, put into oven and quickly close door. Wait 10 minutes, remove bowl of water and bake for further 20-25 minutes at 230°C.


Written by theinversecook

27 August 2009 at 13:03


with 12 comments

That sounded like a marvellous idea. Why not add vegetable juice to a 5-grain dough? *shrug shrug* I mean, there is carrot bread and all. Took a recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman’s “Bread”, the five-grain bread with rye sourdough, and replaced water with vegetable juice. Because it was salted, I also reduced the additional salt for the dough.

If beer is liquid bread, this bread is solid soup. It really tastes like a cheap instant soup.


Written by theinversecook

17 August 2009 at 21:13


with 10 comments


CatherineM, on my Flickr page, asked about a picture I had made of a twisted pastry that I like to make, usually around the weekend. I have known this as ‘Kopenhagener’. It’s easy…once you have the croissant or Danish dough. It is impossible to buy fresh croissant dough here in Germany. And the ‘Plunderteilchen’ (German version of Danish pastries) and croissants from the bakery? Sure, if made with butter, they would actually be good, but often a tasteless hard fat (Palmin?) is laminated into the dough. I know of only one bakery, member of ‘SlowBaking e.V.’, that makes a few pastries with butter. By the rules of ‘slow baking’ they have to. Good thing too.


  • 1 recipe of croissant dough or 1/3 recipe of Danish dough. The latter will make a richer Kopenhagener.
  • 150g custard for baking. Sometimes, I make one with an instant custard mix. Or use real proper custard.
  • 100g raisins
  • 1egg, beaten
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp boiling water

Roll out dough to a long rectangle measuring about 45cm x 15cm, brush edges with beaten egg, then spread some custard on top and sprinkle raisins over it. Cut in half yielding two shorter rectangles measuring about 23cm x 15cm. Put the one half on top of the other and twist together, then shape into a ring. Proof for 1-2 hours, brush with egg and bake at 200°C for about 30 minutes.

Make the sugar glaze by adding a few drops of boiling water to the icing sugar and add more until you have a loose mixture. Dribble over the baked ring of raising-custard dough.

Written by theinversecook

16 August 2009 at 15:57

Bread with 60% of very coarse rye meal

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The message of this post: When adding coarsely ground grains to a bread dough, add a lot.

Inclusion of about only 10% of it makes no sense imo, it barely has any positive effect other than yielding a speckled crumb. But it’s important to soak the meal before adding it to the final dough, either with or without sourdough starter, i.e. plain soaker or sourdough-meal build.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by theinversecook

12 August 2009 at 15:40

Posted in Bao, Bread, Brot, food, pain, pane, Recipe