Tag Archives: Bread

Baker’s Percentage

One of the most confusing concepts in my bread making journey has been the “Baker’s Percentage”. It took me quite a while to get my head around it properly. It was difficult because I was figuring it out by myself. However, when the penny did drop, baking bread has become an even greater pleasure and joy! Once I understood this concept, I discovered that I did not need a “bread recipe”. What is more important to understand are the “proportions” required for different ingredients when making bread. The Baker’s Percentage also allows you to scale your bread to the quantities of dough you require for a given batch of dough ingredients. Scaling is not about doubling or tripling or halving a recipe necessarily. Here’s the thing, if you are like me, where mental maths is not a forte, then a calculator is your best friend when making & baking bread and using the Baker’s Percentage. Most of us carry one in our back pocket these days – you know, that thing we like to call a smart phone.

So how does a Baker’s Percentage really work?

Continue reading Baker’s Percentage

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BREAD – A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman

BREAD by Jeffrey Hamelman sits on my bookshelf full of scribbles and is very heavily underlined in places. It continues to be one of my favourite bread books that I keep returning to when I need clarification. I wish I’d had the book when I first started my bread journey – hah, better late than never!

It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an experienced bread maker/baker, the book is packed with valuable information and insights. The foreword to the book by Raymond Calvel is testament to this.

Now, before I continue on, in the interest of transparency and full disclosure the book links are affiliate links to my book review. You do not have to use them if you don’t wish to do so. However, if you like what I write and share here about the book, by clicking on the affiliate link you will help me potentially acquire more books in my subject area to review here in future and in return hopefully help you decide whether it is a book you wish to acquire too. I have chosen Book Depository because they offer free shipping worldwide.

The reason I am starting to review books is because as I share my bread making experience I’m also asked what books would be useful in the pursuit of further knowledge in this field, so here goes, for better or worse.

Who is Jeffrey Hamelman? In brief, he is the director of King Arthur Flour, which he joined in 1999 to teach and open their bakery. He is a Certified Master Baker in the USA and recipient of the Golden Baguette Award from the Bread Baker’s Guild and author of the book I’m reviewing here, which is now in its second edition. Here is a link to read more on Jeffrey Hamelman’s: Thought’s On Bread from a post in BREAD Magazine which also published an in depth interview with Jeffrey Hamelman in issue 19 – July 2016  you might like to read.

Jeffrey Hamelman’s book on BREAD is divided into two parts:

Part One walks you through the processes in bread making; the types of ingredients used and how these will affect your bread making; concluding with the different kinds of shaping techniques to be found in making bread. The latter being what truly accentuates bread making as an artisan craft.

Part Two introduces you to the actual making and baking of breads. Understanding how yeasted pre-ferments work and how bread making benefits from this. Then there is the question of breads and their formulas. Bakers prefer to work in formulas because it is a clear way of understanding the proportions used in the baking process.

My only critique in Hamelman’s book is his explanation of the Baker’s Percentage, which you will find in the appendix. Why? Because, the percentages are dealt in pounds. In order to understand baker’s maths you are way better off doing your calculations in metric. The use of pounds is way too convoluted and is probably a reason why many people find it so difficult to get their head around it, specially if they are trying to figure it out in pounds. Nevertheless, understanding baker’s percentages is great because it enables any baker to compute quantities and to scale them accordingly with this method. It is the universal recipe language between bakers – bakers don’t bother writing a recipe, they simply convey the percentages they have used in their bread formula. I’m not going to go into it here though as it is not in the context of this book review. Thankfully all the recipes in the second edition have both the pounds and metric amounts configured, plus even volumetric cups (which I never recommend as no cup volume of flour or salt is ever accurate). Working out the percentages on the given metric amounts isn’t really rocket science although a calculator does come in handy and anyone with a cell phone these days has one at their finger tips (curiously J.H. does not have a cell phone if he can help it).

Until I read Jeffrey Hamelman’s BREAD book I’d never really liked linseeds in my bread. They were hard and nasty bits that got stuck in between my teeth. It was pretty much an AHA moment when I discovered that it is best to soak them the night before and even add some of the salt, if not all of it because this would help inhibit enzymatic activity. It is thanks to this that I have been able to develop my popular “Sun n’ Seed” loaf which I teach in my Grains & Soakers Class.Sun N' Seed Loaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned earlier, there are two editions of this book and it is best to get the revised 2nd later edition because as I understand the first edition has limitations on the metric information and some indexing issues as well. All the recipes have step by step instructions and what I love best in the book are the blue inserts that explain more in detail stuff that will affect your baking. For example, explanations how: “Steam” in the oven contributes to your bread baking results; “Benefits of Pre-ferments” and more. They are a treasure trove of information nuggets spread through out the book. If you are keen on understanding the different nuances in baking and not just having recipes, this book is a little encyclopedia of bread information. This book stands as a firm staple in my stable of bread books. Hope you found this useful! If you have any questions happy to answer them in the comments section.

Happy Flour Power! 

Tia

P.S. I actually was fortunate enough to meet Jeffrey Hamelman when he came over to Adelaide for Tasting Australia’s Loaves & Fishes evening. He is a lovely, soft spoken man who truly loves this baking craft. Here a link to a great photo of him I found on the web by Nani Gutierrez. I also found a fascinating interview of him where he discusses his sense of life, and did you know that amongst other things he has been an avid bee keeper since 1982?

JEFFREY HAMELMAN: BREAD - A BAKER'S BOOK OF TECHNIQUES AND RECIPES  [AFFILIATE LINK]

 

Why do we need steam when we bake bread?

Back in November I had a question regarding steam and the Maillard reaction in baking via the BREAD Magazine Newsletter Jarkko Laine (Editor of BREAD Magazine) and I produce every week – it’s free, so do subscribe to it. As you may or may not know, professional bakers inject steam into the oven during the baking process. Those who are aware of this often think they cannot accomplish a professional baker’s bread because they cannot replicate this process. Well, this isn’t exactly true, steam can be created in a domestic oven – the only thing you cannot replicate in a domestic oven are the bread volumes professional bakers bake in theirs.

Back to the initial question: “Why do we need steam when we bake bread?”

Continue reading Why do we need steam when we bake bread?

“S”spells Spelt

I like baking with spelt which is an ancient grain increasing in popularity around the world. Contrary to some popular belief, spelt is not “gluten free”, it simply has a different genetic makeup to normal wheat. However, it does appears to be a lot kinder to the gut. This is true especially when it is allowed to go through a proper long fermentation process using natural levain. It has a lovely nutty flavour when baked, the crust gets nicely caramelized with a chocolaty colour. So what else is there to know about spelt… Continue reading “S”spells Spelt

Four things you need to know about baking bread

Grandma could never stress the following 4 things enough when baking bread.

It really helps to know and understand the following:

Continue reading Four things you need to know about baking bread

In search of sustainable artisan bread

Happy New Year everyone! One of my New Year Bread Resolutions is to make & bake bread as sustainably as possible. So the article: “In search of a sustainable approach to artisanal bread” in the latest issue of Bread Magazine immediately caught my attention. This made me think: what is the true value in the artisan approach of baking bread?

YES, the latest issue of Bread Magazine published for this Christmas is hot off the digital press and the publisher has promised me a special discount coupon code for anyone who subscribes before January 31st, 2017. Just click here to obtain your special DISCOUNT CODE by dropping me a line I will personally email it to you.

The notion of artisan Continue reading In search of sustainable artisan bread

Do you celebrate Mother’s Day with baked goods?

Mother’s Day: An annual event either the 2nd Sunday in May but also 4th Sunday in Lent

Mothers have been honoured since ancient times traditional. However, it is a relatively recent phenomenon that there is a specific day assigned to Mother’s Day annually now. This was thanks to a campaign initiated by Continue reading Do you celebrate Mother’s Day with baked goods?

GRAINS: “T” IS FOR TRITICALE

Although a hybrid developed by man, Triticale (Tricosecate) has been around for well over a century. It was first bred around 1845 in the northern hemisphere both in Sweden and Scotland. Basically it is a cross between wheat & rye giving it a combination Continue reading GRAINS: “T” IS FOR TRITICALE

Baking ruminations from Barcelona – Josep Pascual

Last month I had the fortunate opportunity and privilege to be able to attend the first International Artisan Baking Course hosted by the Gremi de Flequers Barcelona (Barcelona Guild of Bakers) which is situated on Pau Claris in the heart of Barcelona.

The course was spread over 4 days and it was extremely “intensive” with a fabulous line up of 7 international bakers – the Magnificent 7 – as I like to think of them. Their knowledge and handling of all baking guns was better than a wild west film.

The fist day kicked off with Josep Pascual, a charismatic Catalan baker passionately dedicated to artisan baking and sharing his knowledge with his growing tribe of followers through such courses as the one I attended. He is renowned for his “Metodo Pascual” (Pascual Method)  of baking bread. His signature breads are beautifully designed breads with intricate motifs stencilled on them. Butterfly Bread

His opening of the course immediately set a very high bar to the standard that was to follow.

 

 

You can follow the Bakery School of Barcelona on their Facebook page if you like.

Now that I’m back home again, if you are interested in finding out more about these sublime ways of making bread, don’t hesitate to drop me a line via my contact page and I will email you my Newsletter and discuss either BreadCoaching or supply of handmade artisan bread designed to your needs.

Cheers, Tia – your Bread Coach

Designing bread is my passion, empowering you to do the same is my mission!

In the meantime, keep following the bread crumbs!

I say Damper Oven you say Dutch Oven, they say Cloche and more…

I believe one of the most successful ways of getting great results when baking bread in a domestic oven is by using what in lay terms can only be described as

“baking in an oven which is within an oven”

Curiously, this technique isn’t unique to any particular nation/culture, such ovens have been used for a very long time all around the world, they are just referred to by many different names. For example:

Continue reading I say Damper Oven you say Dutch Oven, they say Cloche and more…