Josey Baker whole / wild / wet / slow / bold

The bread nerd club I co-founded, the Los Angeles Bread Bakers, brought Josey Baker down to LA to teach a class. Now you can watch a version that very same class via Youtube for freeeeeee. I’m a huge fan of his method and his book Josey Baker Bread. If you’re interested in making your own bread skip the Netflix tonight and get whole, wild, wet, slow and bold.

Sourdough Baking Class July 9th

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Just dig that beautiful loaf. Want to learn how to bake it yourself? The very talented Dana Morgan is teaching a basic Tartine style baking class on July 9th in Westchester. There’s also a pizza bake taking place the same day at the new community oven.

For more info sign up for the Los Angeles Bread Bakers if you haven’t already, and head to the event listing for this class. Space is limited so sign up soon.

Baking Bread with Specialty Malts

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I used to make my own beer. But after three ruined batches and not wanting to add to a growing middle-aged paunch, I decided to give away the  equipment. One thing I miss is not being able to make bread with the leftover grains.

That is, until I tried a recipe from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s book How to Make Sourdough. Hadjiandreou, a specialist in Northern European breads, taught me that you can skip the beer making and just use malted grains directly in your bread.

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The grains used in making beer are, mostly, barley that has been malted (sprouted) and then either caramelized or roasted. To make beer you soak the grains in warm water to extract the sugars that form in the malting process. Fermenting that sugary malt water creates alcohol. Most of the grain used to make beer is two or six-row malt. You add so-called “specialty” grains (that have been caramelized or roasted) to add flavor. If you skip the beer making and add the specialty malts directly to your dough, more of their flavor makes it into the bread.

Step into a homebrew shop and you’ll find bin after bin of different specialty grains. I decided, with Hadjiandreou’s advice to start with three: a crystal malt (I used a caramel 120), a plain malt (such as Maris Otter) and an American chocolate malt. But you don’t need to use these exact grains. Stick your head in the grain bins and let your nose lead you.

In a 2-pound sourdough rye loaf Hadjiandreou’s recipe calls for 20 grams of chocolate malt and 40 grams each of the other two grains. A lighter hand with the dark malts will reduce the chance of bitter bread.

To soak or not to soak
Usually when I add whole grains or seeds to bread I like to soak them for a few hours in hot water. But when I tried this with the specialty grains I ended up inadvertently starting the beer making process. Much of the syrupy goodness flowed out the grain and was lost when I had to drain it prior to adding it to my dough. Instead, I got better results by starting with a wet dough and letting the grain soften during a very long bulk fermentation and proof. An important last step was to put a bowl over the loaf after it came out of the oven to lock in the moisture. I would never do this with most kinds of bread, but this style of dense German/Scandinavian bread really benefits from a wet post-bake sauna. In addition to further softening the specialty grain it also softens the crust.

While I may no longer make beer, I can still make what I like to call “solid” beer: a.k.a. bread. And with the many varieties of specialty grain, a whole world of flavor awaits.

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Los Angeles Bread Festival This Weekend!

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This Saturday at Grand Central Market, I’ll be doing a free demo on how to starter a sourdough starter as well as a lecture on cats and grain! I’ll also be at the Los Angeles Bread Baker’s booth all weekend. Here’s the 411.

Throughout the weekend, Grand Central Market vendors will provide an eclectic offering of special, one-time only bread menu offerings–special, hearth-baked loaves from Clark Street Bread, cornbread from Horse Thief BBQ, flatbread specials from Madcapra, handmade tortillas from Chiles Secos, “butter flights” from DTLA Cheese, salted caramel bread pudding and fruit bread pudding from Valerie Confections Bakery & Café, cultured butter and Bruce Kalman’s signature giardiniere from Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market and much more.

The festival will also include a pop-up marketplace showcasing local bread bakers and purveyors of jam and nut butters, as well as bread-centric workshops and demonstrations.

Last year was a lot of fun and the festival is freeeeeeeeeeeeee.

086 The Connection Between Cats and Grain

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Why is it that cats come from the same part of the world where people first figured out how to grow and store grain? Would we have bread if we didn’t have cats? In this podcast Kelly and Erik explore the ancient history, famous cats and take a detour into the world of distillery cats and ship’s cats.

Special thanks to Paul Koudounaris, whose lecture inspired this podcast, and the website Purr-n-Fur for information on ship’s and distillery cats.

Many thanks to our Patreon subscribers for making this podcast and blog possible.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.