This is another monthly installment about our adventures in baking all our own bread products.
It’s been almost a year and a half since we bought any bread from the grocery or bakery. We’ve baked a lot of different breads since then, and learned a lot too. One thing I’ve learned is that with a little practice, it’s not that hard to bake good bread. And I’ve gained enough confidence with my baking to try and develop more of my own recipes.
Right now I’m working on a seeded whole grain bread recipe. I’m looking for one that is hearty and not too light, but not dense and heavy either. And I want it to be mostly whole grain – somewhere between 60-75%. I’ve got the basic recipe worked out, and now I’m tweaking the details, trying a few subtle variations every time I make it.
I made it twice this month, each time making two loaves baked in a French bread baking pan. I’m hoping to have the recipe nailed down in a month or two. Until then, my wife and I are sure enjoying the taste testing!
I also made two batches of the Pain de Campagne (aka French Farm Bread) this month, using a recipe from the Rustic European Breads From Your Bread Machine book. This bread is made with unbleached bread flour, whole wheat flour and a little whole grain rye flour. I recently bought a couple of woven cane brotforms from Fantes, so it was a good time to try them out. I put the ingredients in the bread machine for the kneading and first ferment, then it spent its final proofing in the brotforms.
I got one 8″ round brotform, and one 8.5″ oval. I thought those sizes would be most useful for the kinds and sizes of breads we normally bake. The brotform really helps to hold a loose, wet dough and keep it from spreading out too much. The brotforms are dusted with flour before the dough goes into them to keep the dough from sticking.
After the final rise, the dough is removed from the brotform before baking. First I put a piece of parchment paper on the wooden pizza peel, and dump the dough out onto it. The dough comes out with a nice impression of the inside of the form. The dough is slashed, then it’s off to a 450F oven (for this recipe) with a well heated baking stone on the middle rack. I slide the parchment paper directly onto the stone. After 8-10 minutes, I remove the parchment paper so the bread can rest directly on the stone for the rest of the baking period and get nicely browned on the bottom. I also use a steam treatment for this bread to give it a nice hard crust.
The result is a great tasting, artisan style bread that costs less than $1 per loaf to make. This would be a great bread to take on a picnic, along with some cheese and deli meat and a jar of really good mustard. I had a mini picnic at home one night, eating the bread with slices of salami.
My wife baked some scones this month for her May garden club meeting. After much fun and testing, she wound up using a King Arthur scone recipe, with some minor changes of course. They were delicious, and I got to help eat the leftovers. I have to say putting chocolate chips in a scone is downright decadently delicious!
I also made another batch of Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns for our Memorial Day burgers. I am nothing if not a creature of habit, and this is my favorite “go to” recipe for buns.
These buns turn out perfect every time I make them. I sprinkled the tops of them with some King Arthur Everything Bread and Bagel Topping before baking. They made a good home for our Memorial Day pesto burgers.
I hope you enjoyed the May update on the baking here at Happy Acres. I don’t know what we’ll be baking next month, but I hope to be back to report on it all.
Wow! Those buns look fantastic! I’ll have to give them a try next time. I also love baking bread although I don’t have a bread machine, and I don’t do as much baking during summer…we try to avoid using the AC as much as possible and it’s just too hot by July to want to turn the oven on!
Thanks for posting pictures of your brotform and of the breads that raised / were baked in them…I have had issues with the more wet / loose doughs spreading or flattening out too much and your brotforms really seem to take care of that problem…I will have to get my hands on one (or two) of them! They sure do make attractive loaves.
Your breads are gorgeous, the scones look lovely, but I just can’t get over those burger buns! Can’t wait to give them a try.
I love to have fresh french bread and cheese too. Maybe with some homemade pickles on the side and some fruit. Yum. Or slices of warm tomato fresh from the vine. Dang I have to stop reading blogs right before dinner.
Your Pain de Campagne looks picture perfect. I’d love to try proofing in a brotform some day.
As for Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns, I second that opinion. They’re fabulous! I finally made them this memorial day to go with our Mediterranean lamb burgers. O.M.G. So easy, a wonderful texture, light, but not ‘fluffy’, and great flavor. I substituted all the sugar for honey, and used white whole wheat flour, but otherwise stuck to the recipe you’d posted previously. Perfect, and I can’t wait for the leftovers with dinner tonight! 😉
We had leftover buns for dinner tonight as well. I’ll have to try the honey sub next time I make them. I’m trying to work honey into as many recipes as possible these days!
Your breads look absolutely wonderful! We have been doing pretty good making our own bread. “The Italian” makes the everyday sandwich bread in the bread machine and all of the pizza dough. I make the rustic no-knead bread. I just showed him your wonderful rolls and now he is going to start making them from your recipe.
So, how are the bees doing??
The bees are doing great. I’m going to inspect the hive tomorrow. I know the queen is laying eggs, so by now they should be storing pollen and honey as well. I have seen them out working!
Nice buns! Between you and Annie’s Granny I am destined to try homemade burger buns eventually.
Don’t your breads look perfectly beautiful! (Love your buns too!) The brotforms are quite the touch for visual texture — love the effect. I may need to try my basket-weaving hands on a round basket for one here.
A slice from your Pain added to the Chevre I now have draining would make a great lunch tomorrow…..Just sayin’…. 😉
Wow, all of those baked goods look absolutely fantastic! We tried doing some of the “artisan bread in 5 minutes” type of recipes a couple of years ago but didn’t stick with it, mostly because we don’t eat all that much bread and because I have an excellent bakery right across the street from my workplace, so spending $3 of the occasional loaf doesn’t seem like too much. I love the idea of making our own burger buns though. Posts like this inspire me 🙂