Monday, October 12, 2020

Bread Baking in Strange Times (Pain de mic) - Part II

As the pandemic has proceeded, I have continued to bake bread until recently, when Joan and I vacated our apartment to permit some fairly extensive renovations to proceed.

My last post ended with my Tartine/King Arthur Olive bread of June 19. But I have persevered, and present, in excruciating detail probably, my results of the summer.

 On June 25, I made walnut bread, using Tartine's proportions and techniques with King Arthur's sourdough method. A tasty,  beautifully risen loaf.

Tartine/King Arthur walnut loaf

 I repeated this, again to good effect, on July 2.

Tartine/King Arthur walnut loaf

Then I went back to the olive loaf that had been so successful in June. Still delicious.

Tartine/King Arthur olive bread

Next I thought I'd be clever and do a hazelnut bread instead of walnut. It was OK but not a rich or interesting as the walnut, even though I added a tablespoon of hazelnut oil.

Tartine/King Arthur/ Bobby Jay hazelnut bread

Next I discovered the perfect bread: olive walnut bread using Tartine's proportions and technique with King Arthur's easier method. I made this bread twice, on July 27 and August 2. It is salty, olive-y, nutty and rich, all at the same time. As good as any bread I have eaten!

Tartine/King Arthur olive walnut bread July 27, 2020    
Tartine/King Arthur olive walnut bread August 2, 2020

Next, I went back to an old favorite on August 8: sesame bread, again using the Tartine formula and the King Arthur method. A beautiful loaf with lots of sesame taste, almost as good as She-Wolf Bakery's version.

Tartine/King Arthur sesame bread

Then I bought a new book: New World Sourdough, by Bryan Ford. A fun read, with a lot of interesting breads from South America. I decided to make his "toasty seed sour," which contains sesame seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and rolled oats. I used a hybrid of Ford's method and King Arthur's and got a good, but not great, loaf. I found the many seeds not to product distinctive flavors, just a nice seedy mix.

Bryan Ford "toasty seed sour"

Enough experimentation: I determined to bake bread for our cousins, whom we were going to meet in a park in Connecticut, as well as one for Joan and me, so I used the King Arthur method, but made with 1000 grams of flour rather than 600. I went to my tried and true olive walnut bread, and nailed it again on August 28:

Tartine/King Arthur olive walnut loaves

I returned to sesame on September 3, making my best ever version of this bread, again using a hybrid of Tartine's and King Arthur's methods. Light texture with seriously deep sesame taste.

Tartine/King Arthur sesame bread

For what I expected to be my last bread of the summer, I went to my absolute favorite one last time: olvie walnut bread. It did not disappoint.

Tartine/King Arthur olive walnut bread

 It turned out I was wrong, though, and was able to get in another bread before leaving our apartment. So I went with one of my favorite Tartine breads -- semolina with fennel, sesame and poppy seeds -- and tried using the King Arthur method. Oops! This was not a great success, as I did not make the proper adjustments for the trickier semolina flour. The taste was great, the crust was thick and dark, but the bread was too dense, almost like a dense cake.

Tartine/King Arthur semolina bread with 3 seeds

So that's it for my pandemic bread baking, at least until we get back into our apartment, Christmas at the earliest. In the meantime, I content myself with buying the truly superb breads made by Brooklyn's She-Wolf Bakery, which I find at the Sunday open air market surrounding the Museum of Natural History.

Bobby Jay