Home Bread-Bakers v104.n008.10

Re: Cheap bannetons, and 100% whole wheat flour breads and

"Brown, Diane" <Brown_D@kids.wustl.edu>
Sun, 1 Feb 2004 17:47:17 -0600
 (and praise for Rose's Bread Bible)

For cheap bannetons, nothing beats 99 cent plastic colanders, lined with a 
flour-dusted dishcloth.  If you look around, especially at bargain dollar 
stores and the like, you'll find quite a variety of shapes & sizes, from 
those suitable to make a dinner loaf for two, to a 2-3 pound loaf size.

I read Rose's comment about whole wheat breads in the latest digest with 
amusement, particularly the timing of it.  You see, I'd picked up Rose's 
book in a bookstore to check it out a month or two back, and glanced at the 
recipes long enough to see not much done with whole wheat flours, and 
checked out the discussion of flours, and put the book back on the 
shelf.  I am utterly dedicated to baking with fresh-ground whole grain 
flours from my KitchenMill.  I got the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which 
came out just when I was getting serious about baking bread, and bought my 
mill with my first paycheck from my part-time job when I was in 
college-waiting a few months to get the KitchenAid, just so you understand 
my priorities.

Not long after I got my mill, when I was working as kitchen manager for my 
co-op at Berkeley, I noticed durum wheat berries were listed as available 
from our wholesaler.  I knew durum was used for semolina because of the 
high gluten content, so ordered a 50# sack and split it among family & 
friends who had access to a mill.  At first I just tried it for pasta 
(delicious, but a little tricky to work with), then I tried it in 
bread.  The flavor was great, although I liked the texture better when I 
cut it about 50:50 with soft white wheat (I didn't find out until much 
later that the durum gluten is not quite the same as the gluten in standard 
high-protein wheat berries, and doesn't work quite as well in bread).  But 
I liked the flavor so much I kept using this combination in preference to 
the hard red wheat berries (no trivial exercise, as anyone who's tried to 
find durum berries will understand), until I discovered hard white wheat, 
and fell in love with that.  There is a definitely a bitterness in the red 
wheat that is missing in the durum (which is a golden color inside & out) 
and in soft or hard white wheat berries.  So I absolutely agree with Rose 
that the white wheat makes a tastier bread.

But here's where the timing comes in:  I had put myself on the waiting list 
to get Rose's Bread Bible from the library-my favorite way to preview a 
cookbook to see if I want to shell out the bucks and shelf space to keep 
it-because my father kept raving about it, comparing it to Peter Reinhart's 
work with the artisan breads (yes, we worship all his books), and because 
I've been baking successfully from her Cake Bible for years (with my 
fresh-ground soft wheat flours, usually with fresh whole spices milled 
along with the flours, yum!).  I finally got to the top of the long waiting 
list and brought the Bread Bible home two days ago.

Yesterday I started browsing in it, and instead of reading about flours, 
where I knew we disagreed, I checked out her recipe for pretzels.  I am a 
dedicated pretzel fiend, and though I can make my own breads, crackers, 
cakes, cookies, & pasties that are entirely satisfying, I've never figured 
out how to make a satisfying pretzel, nor found a whole-wheat commercial 
brand that I like.  Years ago I remember the wife of a colleague at work 
telling me that she'd found she needed to use a strong lye solution to get 
the right tasty shiny finish on pretzels, because no amount of baking soda 
would work.  I was never brave enough to try this on my own at home; I 
certainly worked with plenty of strong sodium hydroxide solutions at work, 
but didn't know how to get pure lye for home use, or how to use it for the 
pretzels.  So there in Rose's book is a discussion of this complete with 
brand names (Red Devil lye), quantities, detailed instructions for how to 
do the lye dip.  Ok, I was convinced.  So I returned the library copy, and 
bought one at the bookstore before stopping at the grocery store for some lye.

How funny to see, the very next day, her comments in the Bread Digest about 
whole wheat breads!

And thanks, Rose, for the pretzel recipe.  I hope to try it out in the next 
week, using fresh-ground hard white wheat flour, of course!

diane brown in st. louis