I have finished the Sourdough section of Bread Baker’s Apprentice and I am heartily glad to be done. The last two in the section are Pumpernickel and Sunflower Seed Rye. I also went back and did Panettone, which I had skipped way back in December because I hadn’t turned my firm starter into a liquid “barm” yet.
The pumpernickel bread suffered from a problem I have run into before with this book: it was strangely sized. I followed the instructions and ended up with two one-pound loaves, but these seemed miserably undersized. I would have preferred to have one two-pound bread than two tiny ones.
I don’t think I can blame all of my problems with this bread on the recipe, though. This is the first bread that I really tried to accommodate to my schedule, by keeping the starter and the dough refrigerated longer than it says in the recipe. And I don’t think it turned out so well.
I didn’t really care for the taste of this bread, either, and I love Pumpernickel. So this was another disappointment from the Sourdough section.
Next up was Sunflower Seed Rye bread, which sounded promising. My problems with this bread was in shaping it. I don’t think I put enough of a hole in my couronne so the finished product ended up looking like a giant bagel.
The book recommends that you make the indentations with a dowel rod or thin rolling pin, neither of which I had. I just pressed into the dough with the blunt side of a butter knife, but that didn’t work out so well. I probably should have just slashed it with a lame.
When I took the lid off of the pumpernickel flour soaker the next day (after leaving it out at room temperature as instructed), I thought, “Oh no. I am going to hate this bread,” because the soaker smelled unpleasantly sour and bitter. In the end, I thought the taste of the bread wasn’t that bad, however. It definitely wasn’t one of my very favorites, but compared to some of the other sourdoughs, it was pretty tasty.
I have commented many a time on my indifference towards fruit and nut breads, so going back to make Panettone was not something I was looking forward to, especially since this week I have its close cousin Stollen to make. I didn’t have golden raisins, so I used plain. For the candied fruit blend, I used King Arthur Flour’s Dried Fruit Blend (and I apologize for the bad lighting in this photo):
For the flavorings, I used rum, lemon oil, and Fiori di Sicilia, and contrary to my sometime practice, I did add the almonds. This bread looked and smelled terrific.
I had a little problem when it came to shaping it. I wasn’t going to buy special panettone papers, since I don’t really like fruit and nut breads. But I didn’t have the sizes of pan that Peter Reinhart recommends otherwise. So I just used assorted shapes of smaller cake pans, and followed his muffin tin suggestion of filling them halfway. I didn’t even really shape them all that much, and they turned out fine, for the most part.
These are two 5-inch cake pans, two 4-inch cake pans, two 3-inch cake pans, and four “babycake” silicone molds.
I am hoping to give most of these away, so I wrapped them in foil and froze them before taking any photos. Luckily I left out some of the babycakes to photograph and eat.
To tell you the truth, these weren’t as sweet or as buttery as I was hoping they would be. I have never had panettone before, so maybe that is how they are supposed to be.