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I just took a challah out of the oven, the first I've ever made using bread flour. All these years, I've had the notion that bread flour would produce a heartier, heavier bread than I like, and I've

Best loaf yet!

Close your eyes and think of Tuscany. 

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I just activated a dried one I got from a friend five years ago. Will probably use for the first time today or tomorrow.

And my social distancing gift to self just arrived — new bread book. Recipes and tips from the German national bread baking team. I don’t have a mixer so this project will do double duty as an exercise regimen...

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Passover starts in 3 weeks, I have a little over 5 pounds of bread flour and yeast that need to be finished before the holiday. Some bread making is called for. Hoping my little sous chef will help me make some challah tomorrow between his classes and my conference calls.

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My first attempt at sourdough rye did not go well. I misread the recipe and started with the maximum amount of water. The pre-dough was completely unworkable. Rather than risk wasting more flour, I decided to start over. For the next attempt I went for a wheat/rye mix (Weizenmischbrot). But as backup I also prepared poolish for Peter Reinhardt's ciabatta. The wheat bread worked extremely well, and now I have way too much bread.

I have to say after living in Germany for 11 years I understand what expats say when they mean the main thing they miss is proper bread. Bread here is simply different: it is almost always based on some part sourdough, includes almost always some proportion of rye, and is almost always started in a hot oven which is then turned down for a longer bake, resulting in a thick crust that protects the crumb from drying out and adds a crazy amount fo flavour. The wheat recipe was really good.

My proofing baskets were a little too big so the loaves were flatter than they should be, but that crust!

Just ordered myself my first stand mixer (Ankersrum) and will try the rye again. Also with a proper machine I can make proper bagels.

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Couple of things - the first time I tried to make a 100% rye bread I think I tore my rotator cuff trying to knead the thing - it was after I took a rye bread class from Simo Kuusisto, he of Finnish "ruis" fame. 

 

How about bringing that internal temp up top 200℉ and see if that helps?

 

I'm super impressed with everyone and your sourdough attempts, successes, etc.

 

As we move on into the unknown, I plan on doing some baking too...I just think I'm gonna stick with yeast risen stuff, and work with bigas and poolishes. I get much more consistent results that way!

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I don't know the Reinhart recipe, but in the German book I'm using for a whole grain loaf they start the bread in a 250° C oven for 10 minutes then turn the heat down to 220° (bread still in oven) and bake for an additional 50 minutes. 

 

Interesting fact regarding mostly rye breads. My book says these are only ever made with sourdough, as the acid helps to reduce the effect of enzymes in rye that otherwise prevent a stable structure from forming during the rise. 

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While I recognize it isn't Germany, I remember the first time I went to Switzerland the thing I most couldn't believe was how good all the bread was.

 

The German-speaking Alpine regions have similar style bread. It's really regional, e.g. it'd hard to find the Bavarian "Bauernbrot" styles in North Germany, and conversely I still haven't found a decent "Schwarzbrot" here in the South. 

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