Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Baking Bread with Water Kefir and Milk Kefir

I had a very fruitful day last Thursday. You may remember I started baking bread with water kefir grain starter in June after attending a workshop. I was never really happy with the taste and quality of the bread I baked using this method. Somehow something was off. When BakerzatWorkAcademy offered a one-day class in baking bread with water kefir and milk kefir, I signed up.

The one-day class is not cheap and there is no funding from any government agencies. On the other, although the puff pastry and Danish pastry and croissant class were 90% funded by a government agency, I still coughed up slightly more money than the Bakerzatwork class due to all the hidden costs. (registration fee, materials, exam fee, apron, hat) Potato, po-tah-toe.

Before I signed up for the class, I received a text msg that the government had credited some cash into my bank account(something, something GST voucher). It's almost as if I asked the Universe for some spare cash and it delivered!

The class was from 10am to 4pm. We learnt 3 recipes. The first bread we made was a sweet braided loaf using water kefir starter and milk kefir. Milk kefir is very new to me and I have zero knowledge. The class covered very briefly how to culture milk kefir and water kefir. After listening to the culture segment, I realised I had made a big mistake during my June experiments with water kefir starter. I had used the water kefir to make the starter after fermenting for 48hrs. I need to do it for 72hrs! That's a big difference.

 This is water kefir starter premade for us.

This is milk kefir with whey and buttermilk. I have to confess the fermenting of milk kefir is out of my depth at the very moment. Also premade for us.

There were 8 students and we paired up when it came to mixing the ingredients. We used this huge mixer. The teacher bakes using smell and touch. Well, he uses his eyes as well! We had to feel the dough at specific milestone. This is something I should put in practice instead of following a recipe blindly. I would like to become someone who bakes with her senses.

If I could achieve this kind of stretchy windowpane at home I would be in windowpane heaven!

My braids. These were not easy to make. As you know, my shaping has always been my major weakness. Luckily, the teacher, William Woo is not a bad teacher and able to point out what you're doing wrong right away. After much experience in the past with half-past six teachers, I'm very happy to find a teacher who doesn't run away when you're struggling, give bullshit answers and most importantly doesn't answer your question about why something isn't working with "there are so many factors...". I think I shaped my braid quite well! Yes, of course there's room for improvement one of which is I shouldn't put so much flour on the table.

From the same dough, we made "pretzels". You may not know it just looking at the "pretzels" but they were extremely hard to shape. I kept trying and trying and finally got it really long. There is a trick to it. ;)

I wished I had added more sesame seeds! They added a nice flavour.

My "pretzels" were a little wrinkled due to drying out of the dough. Yep, too much flour on the table!

From 10am to 2:30pm (when we broke for a 1/2 hour lunch), we were kept busy working on one dough or another. We had to stretch and fold our 3 dough according to the schedule. This is my partner whom I'm afraid did most of the dirty work!

The second bread we made was a lot easier mostly because it's a boule and my hands are pretty good at shaping rounds.

I did quite well scoring the first boule but for the second one, I hesitated a lot which is why there are so many jagged edges. Scoring - another weak area of mine. The trick is not to hesitate - easier said than done. Also, I find I dare not go deep enough.

First boule - Does this qualify as an ear?

2nd boule - hesitation is costly.

By the way, when these two dough were proofed, they were not this size. After going into the oven, on the baking stone, the oven spring happened - seeing is believing.

My crumb. This bread was delicious! It tasted even better the next day. However, on the third day, it became harder. Still edible but not as good. This bread seems to be a clear favourite in my home so I will try to replicate it in my home oven.

The last bread - a 2 toned bread was extremely tedious to make. It consists of a white dough and a charcoal dough. These are rolled out, put together, rolled again, sliced and braided. Whew! I think we took far too long to make this bread and there was insufficient time to proof it.

The bread looks interesting but in terms of taste, it wasn't sweet enough. Also, it was a bit underbaked or maybe it was due to insufficient proofing? Even hubs who eats almost anything didn't want to eat it. It would have been better if given an overnight proofing, methinks. (the teacher did suggest we bring the dough home to proof further but I declined! Regrets.)  Now ordinarily I would have ranted and raved (over this bad bake) but I learnt a lot during the class, way more than at BITC Artisan bread. So I'm very forgiving. Honestly, 3 different kinds of dough in one day is a bit too challenging. When I finally left it was close to 8pm. Totally and utterly exhausted. But extremely satisfied. I can't wait to bake the same bread in my kitchen. Poor hubs. Let's give him a break from my bread for a while?


Verna Groger said...

That charcoal bread is intriguing. Do you just put some powdered charcoal in the dough? Does it affect the taste? Is this something normally eaten in Singapore?
I enjoy your blog and have a few of your patterns. Thanks for sharing!

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Verna, yes, we made 2 dough - one white, one with charcoal powder. The dough with charcoal powder is a lot softer and smoother and slightly harder to handle. You can't taste the charcoal at all. Food with charcoal became trendy in Singapore in recent years. There's charcoal toast, charcoal burgers, charcoal buns and probably more I'm unaware of. Since charcoal does not affect the taste of food, I don't really care for it. Visually, it's exciting. Thanks for dropping by my blog.

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