Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Spent grain bread, sourdough onion rolls, cornbread, bread to go, and starting a starter

This past week, I made spent grain bread successfully, a relief after last time's weirdly low loaf. I also cooked a couple of great cornbreads, made sourdough onion buns again, brought bread on a family trip, and started making a starter.


Why do I need a third starter? I don't, so I converted my white starter (50-50, by volume). But why convert it? I'm beta testing an app, Bread Boss, which guides you through a variety of sourdough bread recipes. Now's the perfect time to test, since I'm staycationing the two final weeks of the year.

Spent grain bread

I used the same ingredients for my spent grain bread as last time (and almost the same as the time before). The only differences were in the prep:
  • I put in the salt, olive oil, and honey first, with the water and spent grain.
  • The spent grain was frozen, so I nuked it with the water until it was warm (but not as hot as last time).
  • I took out the bread as soon as it was done.
  • I didn't use the delay timer.
This loaf wasn't as tall as the first one, but it had great taste and texture. It was a bit lopsided, which is common when baking in the bread machine, but hadn't happened the two times before.

The outside

This recipe, especially with the spent grain from North English brown ale, is a winner.

The inside


I used The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook recipe for Southern Skillet Bread (p. 496), and the results were so good I made the cornbread again just a few days later. Here's what was different from the recipe:
  • Instead of 3/4 cup buttermilk, use 3T buttermilk powder and 3/4 cup water.
  • Instead of bacon drippings, use 2t roasted peanut oil and 2t vegetable oil (safflower, I think).
  • The usual sodium reduction measures:
    • No salt
    • Sodium free baking powder and baking soda
I'd used all peanut oil before, which I rather liked, but it seemed to taste too peanutty for our guests. Half the amount seemed perfect.

I used Quaker Oats yellow cornmeal, which worked just fine. Before I'd used Bob's Red Mill medium grind cornmeal, which I liked, but sometimes it had hard bits of grain that would hurt my teeth. If I happen to find Bob's fine grind, I'll try that.

This bread tasted fine the next day, but it had lost its wonderful crunch. Also, it's best warm.

Sourdough onion rolls

I've made these before, with success, but it's been a long time since I made any sourdough bread, so it felt new.

We had only one, smallish onion, so I chopped it, cooked it, and put all of it (2/3-3/4 cup) into the dough. I added it during the final stretch-and-fold, which turned into a dough mangling session.

I wanted to bake the rolls the next day, so I immediately put the dough in the refrigerator.

Dough, the next morning
The next day I took it out, let it warm up (partly in the oven on proof mode), and divided it into 8 parts. I shaped 6 buns and left the other 2 until later.

6 buns ready to rise

I cooked a little more onion and put it on top of a couple of buns, but I think the bread without the onion topping was just as good.

The buns at the bottom left have additional onion on top.
These buns probably would higher if my niece didn't pat them.

I cooked the buns at 450 degrees for 20 minutes with a cover over the pan, and then about 15 more minutes uncovered.

After cooking

These buns are amazing within the first hour or two out of the oven, when the onions are warm and the crust is still crunchy. After a few hours, they're probably best toasted, to bring out the onion flavor and make the crust crisper.

The next day I took the remaining two roll portions and shaped them into balls. After letting them rise a bit, I cooked them at 475, covered, for 15 minutes, and then uncovered for about 15 more minutes.

Mini boule

Bread to go

So I'd have food to eat with 10 of my closest family members, I baked a couple of loaves of bread: Bohemian black bread (BBB) and spent grain bread.

The BBB was much better looking than last time, thanks to using black cocoa.

Dark and out of focus, just the way I like it

The spent grain bread was the same recipe I made the last couple of times. I checked the dough a few minutes into its first rise and noticed that it was very soft and was almost non-existent on the left side of the bread pan. I picked the dough up, as best as I could, and put it back down in a more symmetric shape.

It worked! The loaf was high and symmetric.

Spent grain bread

For future reference, here's the ingredient list, in pan-addition order:
  • Scant 1 cup water, mixed (and, if the grain is cold or tough, microwaved 2 minutes) with 3/4 cup spent grain, firmly packed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T honey
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 2-1/4 c bread flour
  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 t bread machine yeast
It's best to check the dough's shape when it begins rising, so you can fix the shaping (making it symmetric) if necessary.

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