Wheat and Rye Bread

This weekend I decided to “wing it” and make my own bread. I had a basic formula to follow but changed out the flours for White whole wheat and Rye.

I also decided to double the recipe to make four loaves. I accidentally quadrupled the amount of wheat and and rye, and as a result I had to add another 430 grams of water, and then another 50 grams of my sourdough levain. Basically, this left me with enough dough to make a fifth loaf, which I wound up making into two.

Here is the dough after the bulk rise:IMG_1712.JPG

Here is the dough preshaped:

I let them “proof” in my baskets:

IMG_1714.JPGThe plan was to put them in the fridge overnight and then bake. But my fridge was not big enough to fit them all.
So, I baked two of them 2 hours later:

IMG_1715.JPGI gave them away to my inlaws, and one of them sent me a picture of it cut. She said it was delicious.

The following morning, 11 hours later, I baked anther two loaves:

IMG_1734.JPGI gave one to a neighbor. And then I baked the final two loaves at 6pm.


IMG_1769.JPGthis leaves me with some extra bread which I will freeze.

Excellent Pizza

The crust is thin, fairly strong and airy.

The crust is thin, fairly strong and airy.

My pizza-making skills have improved to the point where I am able to consistently make excellent pizza.  I am pretty certain that you can get great pizza by modifying my approach as needed, but I have also included links to the equipment I use, in case you are interested.

I am generally using weight rather than “cups” and “teaspoons” because weights are more easily replicated. As you may know, the amount of flour in a cup may vary significantly, depending on how it is filled. If you don’t own a kitchen scale, consider buying one. They are fairly inexpensive.  Get one that looks easy to clean. If it has raised buttons or grooves that look like they will catch flour, pass in favor of a sleeker model.

Making the dough

My “go to” dough is made with the following formula:

50% Caputo “00” Flour (You can use unbleached all Purpose Flour instead, but may need to add a little more water)
50% White Whole Wheat Flour
65% Water
2.6% Salt
1.3% Olive Oil
0.7% Instant Yeast
169.6% Total %

I find that 260 grams of dough is enough to make one thin 14″ pie.  I make enough for two pies, or 520 grams of dough. For those uncomfortable with baker’s math*, 520 grams of dough, using the above formula, translates to:

153 grams  All Purpose Flour
153 grams  White Whole Wheat Flour
200 grams  Water
8 grams      Salt
4 grams      Oil
2 grams (1/2 tsp)  Instant Yeast

  1. Combine the Flours and Salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small mixing bowl mix the water (room temperature or lukewarm is fine), yeast and oil.
    a. Tip: Fill the small bowl with warm water for dipping your hand.
  3. Pour the small bowl of liquid into the large bowl of flour and mix by hand.  For 3 minutes, knead the dough (stretch a little, fold/press, rotate a quarter turn, stretch a little, fold/press, rotate a quarter turn).  Dip your hand in water as needed to avoid dough sticking to your kneading hand.  Cover the dough with the bowl and let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Knead the rested dough for 3 minutes, then divide it in half (if making two pizzas), shape into balls and stick in the fridge.

I use an inverted 3.5 cup snapware bowl to store my dough, placing the dough on the lid (sprayed with olive oil), the bowl on top of the dough and then snap it closed before putting it in the fridge upside-down.

To get the best flavor for your crust, let the dough ferment and rise in the fridge overnight (I usually use it within 3 days, but you may be able to store it for up to a week and still get great pizza).

About an hour or so before you are ready to shape the pizza, take the dough out of the fridge.  Lightly flour your counter, or if you prefer, a silicon baking mat.  (I like using the mats because my counters are dark and it is easier to make sure my surface is clean if I am using a baking mat. I still flour the mat even though it says it is non-stick, because the dough is easier to handle if it is lightly floured).   Take the dough out of the container and place it on the floured surface, turning it over to make sure both surfaces are lightly floured.

Make sure the “flat” side of the dough is on the counter and use your fingertips to press down around the dough, about 1 inch in from the perimeter, before covering the dough and letting it warm up.  The fingertip dents will be the part of the dough you don’t stretch out, so that you get a puffier rim around the pizza.

The Toppings/Setting up the Oven
While your dough is warming up you can do a few things, one of which is to turn your oven on to as high a temperature as it will go.  Mine goes to 550. Many go to 500 or 525. I don’t own a baking stone, but you can certainly use one if you wish. Instead, I make my pies on a Lodge 14″ cast iron pizza pan.  I put the pan on the highest rack, closest to the broiler.

While the pan and oven are pre-heating, it is time to prepare the toppings.

The Sauce

You’ve gone through the trouble of making your dough from scratch (I actually mill my own whole wheat flour using a Komo grain mill), and you’re absolutely not going to use some crappy pizza sauce that has been sitting on a store shelf since before the great flood.  No way.  Instead, you are going to do one of two things: Either, buy a can of fire roasted tomatoes, or a can of diced tomatoes (if you don’t like fire roasted flavor), drain them in a colander and pour them in to a blender, throw in some garlic, oregano and maybe olive oil before hitting pulse a few times, and you have homemade sauce (no need to cook, it will cook fine on the pizza) OR if you don’t want to use canned tomatoes, take a fresh tomato, cut out the core, cut the tomato up and put it in the blender with some garlic, oregano and a Tbsp of olive oil.  Blend until smooth or smoothish, and use that watery sauce to spread around the pizza.  Probably will need less than half of what is made for one pizza.

The Cheese

I have found that using a rotary cheese grater has given me the best results and allows me to great even fresh mozzarella. Using freshly grated cheese has numerous advantages over slicing the cheese because it lets you use less cheese to cover more area.  This saves money, calories and weight, allowing you to use more toppings (should you wish) and still have your crust hold up.

I don’t like the taste of provolone or parmigiano cheeses separately. But, if I grate a little bit of these cheeses together with the mozzarella, I find that the blend is superbly flavorful.  I have also added a bit of grated cheddar, and this adds a nice flavor as well.  I don’t skimp on the quality of the cheese which means I am probably being ripped off, but if I buy reggiano parmigiano and some other fancy imported cheese for a lot of money, I still wind up spending less than I would on the crappy soggy pizza I would have had delivered.

In addition to cheese(s), you should feel free to add whatever you like to your pizza.  I have used garlic, sliced tomatoes, raw bell peppers, roasted bell peppers, roasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower and roasted brussel sprouts, all of which have given me delicious pizzas. Just cut the pieces up small and you should be good to go.

Shaping the Dough

Now that the toppings are ready to go and the oven is just about up to temperature, it is time to shape the dough.  Uncover the dough, and lightly flour the tops of both hands.  Gently lift the dough and slide one hand and then the other underneath, past the ridge you created with the fingertip denting done 45 minutes to an hour earlier.  Lift the dough up, and let it hang from the backs of your hand, rotating it around and letting gravity as well as your thumbs, stretch the dough.  Place it back down on the counter/mat and let it rest for a few minutes.  Prepare your pizza peel by lightly flouring it.  I use a Super Peel.  Then, pick up the dough again, as you did before and give it another series of stretches along the back of your floured hands and drop it onto the peel.  I know if it fits on my particular peel, it will fit on the pizza pan.

Once the pizza dough is ready and on the peel, I top it with some sauce, the cheese and any toppings.

The last thing I do before the oven comes to temperature is pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a measuring cup and set it by the stove.

When the oven is good and hot, I remove the pizza pan, place it on top of the stove, drizzle the olive oil onto the pan (this lets the crust brown nicely and keeps it from drying out), and slide the topped pizza onto the very hot pan.  Immediately put the pizza back on the top rack and set the timer for 3 minutes (at 525. Or maybe 2-1/2 minutes at 550), at which point you are going to set the broiler on HIGH, and let it broil for another 2-3 minutes.

That’s it. Your pizza is done. It should be brown around the crust, maybe with some charring, and brown on the bottom. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on the stove, being careful not to let it touch anything that will melt. I then use a large metal spatula to transfer the pie to a cutting board and use my Dexter 4″ Pizza Cutter to cut the pie, and eat it right away.  Also, I use these Extra Long Oven Gloves for handling the hot cast iron.  Just be careful not to get them wet or the heat will go right through them.

Pizza with Green Striped Heirloom Tomatoes

Pizza with Green Striped Heirloom Tomatoes

Nice puffy crust.

Nice puffy crust.

*For those interested in the “math”, it goes like this:

Total dough weight / by Total% x Baker’s % for each ingredient = Weight for each ingredient.

520 grams of dough / 169.6% x 50% Flour = 153 grams All Purpose Flour
520 grams of dough / 169.6% x 50% White Whole Wheat Flour = 153 grams White Whole Wheat
and so on.

Want to make enough dough for 5 pies? Then you’d need 1,300 grams of dough (260 grams x 5).

1300 grams of dough /169.6% x 50% AP flour = 383.3 grams AP Flour
1300 /1.696 x .50 White Whole Wheat = 383.3 grams white whole wheat Flour1300 / 1.696 x 65% Water = 498.2 grams water
1300 / 1.696 x 2.6% salt = 19.9 grams salt
1300/1.696 x 1.3% olive oil = 9.9 g olive oil
1300 / 1.696 x 0.7% yeast = 5.4 grams  yeast

Dough is very forgiving and you should feel free to round especially since your scale probably doesn’t measure in tenths of grams.

Baking Sourdough Bread

Until today, I have been letting my bread rise in a towel-lined bowl, which has resulted in excellent bread. However, I have been wanting to try using a basket or “brotform” so that I would get the decorative flour lines and, also, because we do not have enough bowl. Plus, the bowls were not the best, being a bit too steep. Moreover, sometimes, the dough got stuck to the towel (floured with a mix of flour and rice flour), and it made a bit of a mess having to launder towels.

So I bought some baskets. These things are VERY expensive on amazon. Think 20-30 bucks a pop. However, they can be found for much less elsewhere.

I rubbed them with a mix of all purpose flour and rice flour, and made sure to dust my dough with some of the same before putting then in to rise.

I flipped them out onto the peel and if the dough did not fall out I lifted the basket an inch and tapped it down and the dough released quite easily.



And, of course, the loaves look awesome.



Grain Mills

There are two camps when it comes to grinding grains to make your own flour. One camp wants to grind with electrically powered grinders and one camp prefers manual power.

There is loads of information available to see what suits you best. Personally, I hate loud noise and electric grinders are quite loud. This is the primary reason I dislike my Blendtec, which is dislike using five days a week because I love it.

Of course, when the grid goes down, I won’t be able to make our smoothies in the morning. And, lacking any foresight, I have no backup plan for this event.

Lacking an oven that works without electricity, I don’t know what use freshly ground flour will have during a blackout so the need for hand cranked flour during a blackout seems remote at best. This is not to say an outdoor wood burning hearth adjacent to my bomb shelter and a hand powered mill in e shelter does not have its place. I am just not prepared for the apocalypse and to do so, my first priority is weaponry. Until I have that under control, I can’t worry about flour. As someone once said, someone with more firepower will likely steal my mill and enslave me to make the flour when doomsday comes.

So, for me, the question is one of balancing convenience and ease of use, against noise and effort. While I hate the idea of a noisy appliance, if I am to make my own flour, I don’t want to spend 20 minutes doing so, after which I am too tired to make my bread. Kind of wimpy, but less wimpy than driving to the store to buy old flour.

My eye is settling on a KoMo grinder. It is a little pricey but it gets very nice reviews and people seem very happy with it. This is not a review or a recommendation. Just my musings while I debate about a big purchase.

Oh, I have made terrific bread using King Arthur Organic All Purpose and White Whole Wheat flours. Good enough that I now have an aversion to, and no longer buy, Bread. But if I am going to go the mile to bake my own bread, why not go the whole distance and make my own flour?

Sourdough Bread

It has now been months since we have purchased bread. And equally long since we have had a pizza delivered. I would definitely say that I’ve gotten my money’s worth from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread

Last night I started the process to make the two loaves pictured and four pizza doughs which will be wrapped in cling wrap and frozen for future meals.

I sauté some onion in olive oil, add a can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes and then divide the sauce into 4 1/2 pint mason jars. Then, when we want a pizza I just take out a dough in the morning to thaw. Add a jar of sauce and top with some freshly sliced fresh mozzarella and sliced tomato and we have a perfect pizza in 5 minutes bake time.

The bread makes the best grilled cheese and very fine peanut butter sandwiches. And awesome toast!

But this dough is not for the impatient! The process is a long one and seems to take a minimum of 30 hours from start to finish.


Pioneer Pancakes

Many people are happy to make their pancakes from a box. If you go that route, do go the extra mile and read the ingredients — and choose only those mixes that do not have hydrogenated oil and “natural flavors” in them. There are plenty out there.  And if you are an Aunt Jemima fan, read the ingredients on the various options since some are much worse than others (Original and Buttermilk look okay — I would avoid Original Complete and Buttermilk Complete).

But for those who want to try something very different, and happen to have a Blendtec blender, try the following (modified from the Blendtec pioneer pancake recipe):

112 cup Milk
1   cup hard red winter wheat berries (not soaked, just straight from the bulk bin at Whole Foods or, pay a ton for them on Amazon here)
2   tbsp olive oil
2    eggs
2   tbsp sugar (I use Organic Sucanat, an unrefined sugar)
1   tbsp baking powder (I use aluminum free baking powder)
12   tsp kosher salt

Add milk and wheat berries to your blender, press “Speed Up” to Speed 9, and run full cycle.
Add remaining ingredients to jar and secure press “Pulse” 5–7 times to incorporate remaining ingredients (press for only a fraction of a second here)
Allow batter to rest 5 minutes.
Then pour onto a hot griddle like any other pancake.  Turn them as soon as the bubbles form and then remove from the griddle 30 seconds to a minute later.  These come out very light and tasty. This is not the best picture, but it is what I took when I made them.