more dough. and its sour

I went on a bread baking extravaganza about a week ago. I made a loaf. And another loaf. And some rolls. The loaves were successful. The rolls were not. Furthermore, I managed to break my ceramic muffin pan in the process. But lets back up.

First off, some great news…my roommate has a food scale! That means I can actually scale my ingredients rather then measure and guesstimate. Woohoo! But also, as i read more about sourdough from the book my mom got me, I am realizing that making bread is both an art and a science. Because once you know the role of each ingredient and how it reacts with the other ingredients and why, you can adjust ratios to meet whatever desire you have. For example, the “wetter” the dough, that is, the more water there is in relation to flour (higher hydration level) the final product will have bigger and less uniform bubbles. So even though I have a way to be exact and precise, there is always room for innovation.

Speaking of innovation…I added half a can of pumpkin to one of my loaves. This also meant that a lot more flour went into that loaf and I had mass amounts of dough. This is why I decided to turn some of the dough into rolls, which unfortunately failed, mostly because I burnt them. The pumpkin sourdough bread however, was lovely. It was not a sweetbread, rather sourdough with a pumpkin-y taste and an orange color. The pumpkin lent some density and moistness to the bread. It was not the light and fluffy kind of bread. I liked the dense texture because it was quite filling and satisfying to chew.

failed rolls, successful bread, broken pan

I put the other loaf (standard whole wheat) in the freezer because there was no way to get through all this bread without it going bad. I plan to take it out of the freezer tomorrow, let it defrost, and possibly pop in in the oven for a little bit before eating it. But, it was pretty, so here are some pictures!
my regular dough, pre-proof

whole wheat

pumpkin whole wheat

Sourdough Attempt #3=Success!

My third bread baking attempt and I can finally say it was successful and something that I would share with other people! Other than my starter, I used whole wheat flour for the entire thing. I like the flavor and texture a lot better than the while-ghost looking bread I had before. I was scared that not using bread flour would prevent it from rising and forming properly, but it worked great for an artisan loaf. Finally, I baked it “freeform” instead of in a loaf pan. Therefore, it was a little flatter but it made scoring much easier and it was fun to shape. Oh, and I managed to get a crust! Mind you, it wasn’t “golden brown” but it was definitely there, I could taste it, feel it, and hear it…a nice “thunk”. Below are some photos.

I was pretty happy. It tasted yum. 

Beauty’s Bagel Shop

or is is shoppe?

Anyways, a new place has been discovered! I was skimming through Sunset Magazine and stumbled upon a snippet about good jewish deli food on the west coast, and they highlighted a few places, Beauty’s being one of them. When I saw they were in Oakland only a bike ride away, I had to find out what the brouhaha was all about. And so Breakfast was had there this morning.

Beauty’s boils their bagels in honey water before baking making them “Montreal Style”. Montreal Style bagels are also smaller, denser and slightly sweeter than your typical NY bagel which is puffy and fluffy. Furthermore, they’ve got a real hole in the middle that you can actually see through, its rather big, instead of the remnants of a hole. They bake them in a wood fired oven.

These bagels were delicious. Had I not known what I was in for (that is, had I not known about the different types of bagels) I might have been disappointed to see a smaller than usual bagel. But I was not disappointed. I loved the sweeter flavor and because the bagels are denser, the flavors of the flour really stand out. It was delicious.

I got a wheat bagel with cream cheese, tomato, salt and pepper, along with a giant pickle because who can go do a Jew type deli without getting a massive dill pickle? I also was curious about the “vegetarian pate” on the menu which is made from mushrooms, caramelized onions, and a bunch of spices. I tasted it, and although it was good, the texture was not to my liking…to airy?

They use Sierra Nevada Cream Cheese which is made in Northern California from small scale dairy producers. It is organic, hormone free, and all that good stuff. Furthermore, the Cornucopia Institute has rated them with a “4” (out of 5) which is excellent. The tomatoes on my bagel were the most amazing things ever. Extraordinarily sweet and with a slightly tough skin they tasted like dry harvested tomatoes one would expect mid summer. I wonder where they were from? The S&P on top complimented them quite well.

Breakfast of champions*

My only qualm however, was that the bagel was toasted. In my opinion, toasting freshly baked anything is a terrible thing to do. If something was just made, it needs to be enjoyed and tasted in that form because the flavors are still there and the texture is still chewy, moist, crumbly, or whatever. Toasting is a way to salvage bread that is either a) not delicious or b) a little stale. When I head there next time for a bagel, I will request it not to be toasted. That being said, it is obviously worth paying Beauty’s Bagel Shop another visit

My friends open faced bagel with cream cheese, lox, onions, tomatoes, capers and a pickled carrot.  Apparently it was some of the best lox he has had for a long time, they tasted like ocean and not like fish. There was a giant fish-thing in the display case where I presume they cut the lox from*
*phallic looking photos.