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Archive for the ‘food’ Category


with 10 comments

Chnurzelbrot is a twisted Swiss loaf. It has a lot of crust and an open crumb. The heavy dusting of rye flour adds an intense malty aroma to the crust.


  • 135g strong white flour, US: All-purpose flour
  • 15g whole-wheat flour
  • 3g fresh yeast
  • 150g water

Mix and let stand for 1 hour at room temperature


  • 150g strong white flour, US: All-purpose flour
  • 60g warm water
  • 6g sea salt
  • Poolish

Mix to a smooth dough, let rise covered for 90 minutes and fold once after 45 minutes. Loosely shape into a thick sausage and dust heavily with rye flour. Let rest for 20 minutes, covered. Then shape oblong using lots of rye flour and tiwst. Prove for 45 minutes.

Bake at 250°C for 10 minutes with steam, then reduce heat to 220°C and bake for further 25-30 minutes.


Written by theinversecook

9 October 2010 at 18:40

Rye-Spelt Loaf with Pumpkin Seeds

with 5 comments

Strangely, adding coarsely ground grains makes for a more active dough and a well-aaerated crumb. The dough for this loaf is simply made from rye sourdough (150g, made with whole-rye flour), a spelt-pumpkin-seed soaker (250g in total, using 150g coarsely ground spelt grains) and 250g medium rye flour, salt, yeast and additional water. As with all loaves that include a considerable amount of coarse meals, there is an extra mixing time of about 5-10 minutes at the end of the first rest. Next time will add more grain chunks and perhaps I will have a loaf such as the beauties on the site of Steinofenbäcker – a very good bakery that sells moist and grainy breads and excellent fruit bread as well.

Written by theinversecook

19 September 2010 at 01:32

Brushed up

with 12 comments

My blog hibernation resulted in increased productivity. My baguettes are currently going through changes as I am trying a new technique of steaming. I find this very interesting, bordering on exciting.

In a brave effort to achieve the results of a professional bread oven, I have tried numerous approaches to make better baguettes, the last one being brushing the tops of the loaves with water in the first minutes of the bake. The results were quite flat loaves with a gray, dull and soft crust. The loaves flattening is an indicator for reduced surface tension, so that was something useful, because baguettes tightening up and becoming almost perfectly round is a common problem in domestic ovens.

The latest change made the difference. Apply water along the slashes of the baguettes for about 4-5 times for the first 5-8 minutes of the bake. Overdoing it will result in unattractive crusts, but using a brush that has only touched the surface of water and wetting only the inside of the slashes, i.e. the dough that is rising out of the center of the uncooked dough, turns even slack doughs into fluffy baguettes. I never had success with yeasted poolishes until now, first picture is such a dough.

Well, ideally. there are fine points because nature is not cheap like that and it’s not self-working. I admit this is not pretty nor elegant, either, it’s a trick. But since I found the results so remarkable I had to inform everyone.

Zeb (Joanna) from Zeb Bakes was kind enough to try it, cf. her blog post. Thanks a lot, Zeb.

(Probably going to add to this post over the next days or weeks.)





Written by theinversecook

17 July 2010 at 21:16

German coffee roasters and price rigging

with 7 comments

The German Cartel Office has, again, fined a few of the biggest German coffee roasters to a total of 30,000,000 Euros because of price rigging. Among the fined are

  • Tchibo
  • J.J. Darboven
  • Melitta
  • Kraft Foods
  • Seeberger
  • Westhoff
  • Lavazza, Germany
  • Segafredo Zanetti, Germany

The roaster Dallmayr went without fine because of self-denunciation.

Source: Financial Times Deutschland

…rather gives the term “Frühstückskartell” (“breakfast cartel”, literally) a second meaning.

Background: Firms that agree with each other, either formally or informally, to sell goods to a certain price, consequently undermining the free market are guilty of “price rigging”, an illegal operation in Germany.

Written by theinversecook

9 June 2010 at 16:14

Posted in food

Baker’s math – a handful of practical examples

with 7 comments

A bit of number crunching is a baker’s daily business. Here are a few calculations I feel myself forced to use rather frequently (except the last one, which is more of a very theoretical nature). Note that these calculations do not work for volumes like cups (or handfuls, gills or shovels) but only for weight / mass measures. I like to use g and kg, but if you prefer ounces, stones, atomic mass or any weight unit, fine. Weight reflects the number of molecules of the ingredients that connect with each other. Volume doesn’t.

Straightforward scaling, etc.

1. How do I calculate the hydration of a dough?

Answer: Hydration is given by weight of water to weight of flour (and all other dry mass that will bind water except salt and yeast). Example: The recipe uses 600g of flour and 400g of water. The hydration is 400 / 600 = 2/3 = 0.666… = 67%. Note that liquids in general are not 100% water. Full fat milk for example has about 87% of water. When calculating hydrations, you have to take this into account where large amounts of it are used.

2. I got a recipe from the internet that uses X grams of flour but I want make a loaf using Y grams flour. How to fix this?

Answer: Scale every ingredient with factor X / Y. Example: The recipe calls for 700g of flour, but you want to use 500g of flour. Multiply every weight in the recipe with 500 / 700 = 5 / 7 = 0.71…

3. I made a dough with a hydration of X %. If I use Y lb. of flour, how much dough will I have not taking into account salt, yeast and all other small quantities?

Answer: You will have exactly (1 + X/100)*Y lb. of dough. Example: Hydration is 68% and 1 lb. of flour is used. This will yield 1.68 * 1 lb = 1.68 lb. = 1 lb. 10.9 oz. = 762g of dough.

More hydrations

4. I have a recipe here that uses a hydration of X %. I want to have exactly Y kg of dough, neglecting salt, yeast and other small quantities. How much flour do I need?

Answer: You will need Y / (1 + X/100) of flour. Example: Recipe has hydration of 70% and you want to make 300g of dough. Flour needed is given by 300g / 1.7 = 176.4g.

5. I wanted to make a dough with X % hydration and used Y g of flour. Now I accidentally added Z g of water, which is way too much. Since I can’t take out the water, how much flour do I add now to get the correect hydration?

Answer: You will have to add (Z / X) – Y of flour. Example: 500g of flour is in the bowl and you want 65% hydration. You accidentally added 430g of water, which is too much. Then you must add (430g / 0.65) – 500g = 162g of flour.

Further playful examples

6. During baking dough for a medium-sized loaf of bread will lose 20% of its own weight. I am using a hydration of X % and need the baked loaf to weigh Y g. How much flour do I need for such a loaf?

Answer: You will need (1 / 0.8) * Y / (1 + X/100)) lb. of flour. Example: You want 750g loaves and are using a hydration of 71%. You will need (1 / 0.8) * 750g / 1.71 = 548g of flour.

7. I want to test the effect of a specific ingredient on height of finished loaf of bread baked in a rectangular tin (which then is a measure for dough volume). I have made 8 different loaves using the following quantities of the ingredient: 0%, 2%, 4%, 6%, 8%, 10%, 12% and 14%. I have measured the height and have the feeling the greatest height is somewhere in the middle, but where is it exactly?

Answer: If the greatest height is somewhere in the middle you probably have results like shown in the picture below. Even with such a small amount of samples it is possible to graphically determine the maximum by drawing the resulting curve. In this case the best bread volume would be at around 5% of the ingredient.

Written by theinversecook

28 May 2010 at 18:56