p3: Hoagie Buns

#20, Hoagie Bun

Hoagie-RollsSo this particular installment of the ‘bread battling project’ had an interesting inspiration and twist. Had a plan for a Sunday night dinner+shows evening with sis and friend, to which she shared the idea of this ‘philly cheesesteak lasagna’ recipe beforehand with notes saying how we should make this for our night of fun! So, in figuring out what I could make that would go along with it, and while keeping to one of my project needs, I came along what I still think is a rather brilliant idea. Why not make garlic bread… out of Hoagie Buns/Rolls!? Still have the cheesesteak theme, but it’s also a typical side with lasagna, win-win!

But of course the steaky-cheesy-pasta casserole didn’t get made, apparently it was an idea for ‘some potential weekend’ and not THAT one, so I had leftover hoagie buns that needed to be used before all going stale. Which is fine though, because we made sandwiches with them anyways… some pretty damn good quiznos-style griddled ones too.

It’s always nice playing with simpler bread styles every now and then I find, don’t have to think about making sure that I add in a new ingredient properly, worry over degassing too much in some intense shaping process, or all the hassle of trying to hearth bake perfectly in my home oven setup. Just yeasted water, flour, other stuff, knead it right and make sure I shape it to what it should look like and don’t over bake. Lets you get more used to basic techniques and also see where you REALLY may need work, and where you’re doing well so far.

As for the hoagie recipe itself, there’s not much to say. There are various ones which shift in proportions back and forth, as practically all bread recipes tend to do depending on who’s making them. But what stood out to me was the addition of sugar and butter; nowhere near enough as a fully qualifying ‘enriched dough,’ but still more than other bread can be. The sugar itself really seems to play a role here, with enough to kick that yeast into high gear, definitely a one-day bread designed for the quick and easy requirements needed by sandwich makers everywhere. Also, this particular recipe was listed officially as “Soft and Chewy Hoagie,” which I’m not sure if that’s supposed to distinguish it from OTHER hoagie recipes out there or if that’s simply the natural aspect to the bread. What I CAN say is that it’s basically the same as a white dinner roll… in all the best ways.

1 Tb Dry Yeast
2 Tb Sugar
1 3/8 cups Warm Water
4 cups Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
3 Tb Butter, cubed and soft


  1. Mix Yeast, Sugar, and 3/8 cup Water in stand mixing bowl, leave for about 5-10 minutes to bloom20151018_101206
  2. Once bubbled up noticeably, add in Flour, Salt, and remaining water20151018_101708
  3. Using dough hook, mix on low a few minutes, until everything mostly comes together20151018_102029
  4. Increase speed to medium, whipping and mixing for at least 5 minutes, adding any further butter or water as needed to get a soft, smooth dough, working until it can pass the windowpane test20151018_103649
  5. Add Butter a bit at a time, mixing until it’s fully incorporated and dough comes back together20151018_103938
  6. Transfer to oiled bowl, covering tightly with plastic wrap20151018_104014
  7. Leave to bulk ferment 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size20151018_114303
  8. Remove, kneading or pocking down to de-gas, and divide into 8 pieces, or more/less depending on desired final size20151018_114426
  9. Shape into Batards as described Here20151018_115605
  10. Transfer to sprayed, parchment-lined tray, mist top with spray oil and cover lightly with plastic20151018_145408
  11. Proof for 30-45 minutes, or until about doubled in size
  12. Heat oven to 375F and when ready, uncover buns and move inside, cooking on tray 20-30 minutes, or until browned nicely from end-to-end and sounds hollow when bottom is thumped20151018_160822
  13. Remove, transferring bread to cooling rack, and let sit at least 20 minutes before use [or enjoy like hot rolls from the oven and slice immediately to drown in butter!]
  14. Slice horizontally down the middle and fill with whatever you desire!20151018_193642

What Have I Learned This Time?

Intensive de-gassing after the fermentation period won’t affect how much it proofs, so I should feel more confident in letting myself do this with other future breads in the hope of getting a more ideal structure.

Need to work more on my shaping skills for consistency, wish I knew some proper ‘tricks’ to it… maybe I’ll google it some on my next project. But more realistically, it’s probably going to have to come through repetition and practice. So whenever I start making more than one loaf of bread every week or so.

20151018_193942And finally, that these make the simplest, most satisfying and guilty-pleasure hoagie… spread bread in half, pile with desired meat, veggie, and sauce fillings. Cover it in cheese, making sure BOTH buns get a layer [or at least get butter and garlic on the other bare bread] and broil until… well… you see the picture. Tell me you don’t want to fold that and eat it, I dare you.

Any Thoughts?

Truthfully, I’m rather backed up on blog posts I have to get out, and I’m taking a nine-day-long vacation away from computer-access in a few days, so even if I COULD think of something to say here I’m not sure if I have the time! I swear I’m not trying to brag and sound snotty or anything!!

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

It adores my appreciation to ‘what’s inside’ but still thinks I need a better fashion sense… ie it wants me to shape it better in the future.

p3: White Sandwich/Loaf Bread

#11, White Loaf Bread

64Been craving a simple, big chunk of toasted white loaf bread for a while; well, to be more specific, I think I’m craving Sourdough, but I still need to plan a specific week to set enough prep day time aside for that. But really good white bread works too, and it’s been a while since that Wheat Bread, so I think I’m in the clear to bake some off.

I didn’t realize that this is actually what Milk Bread is (though it also goes by Pullman, Pain de Mie, and other terms), so long as it’s made with milk of course. Which comes to the fact that my book offers three variations, which basically just change out water for milk/buttermilk/etc and butter for margarine/shortening/vegetable oil/etc. White breads can be made with any variation of these ingredients at the same weight and ratio, but there will be obvious stylistic changes to the final product.

For my own interests, I tried Variation number 3, the only one that actually changed the Method as well, adding in an extra ‘Sponge’ stage with the flour and yeast, since I want to try getting as much of that yeasty-developed flavor as I can. The author mentions that this effect is likely minimal, if not seen at all, but no harm in trying right? Besides, it should help the crumb as well with the extra fermentation. I’m also going to use purely milk and butter with this, just cuz I like the idea of making ‘milk bread.’

Finally, I’m testing out the theory today that my Loaf Pan is so big it needs a whole recipe, or at LEAST 2lbs, of bread dough to make a properly shaped final product. Plus this keeps me from needing to cut this in half and deflate the dough even further.

20150713_112901White Milk Bread, Sponge Version
4 1/3 cup/18.75oz Bread Flour
2 tsp/0.22oz Dry Yeast
1¼ cups/12oz Whole Milk, Lukewarm(I don’t think this is accurate, just lean more towards the actual weight)
1½ tsp/0.38oz Salt
3 Tb/1.5oz Sugar
1 large/0.65oz Egg Yolk
¼ cup/2oz Butter
1 Egg beaten w/ 1 tsp Water


  1. Combine 2½ cups of Bread Flour, the Yeast, and Whole milk together into a batter. Cover with plastic and let bloom about an hour, or until doubled in size and more foamy20150713_123936
  2. Transfer to stand mixer with Salt, Sugar, Egg Yolk, an Butter, mixing slowly and thoroughly to bring it all together20150713_124608
  3. Switch to a dough hook, letting the dough beat around at medium speed for around 3-6 minutes, depending, until it completely clears the side of the bowl, just SLIGHTLY sticks to the bottom, and passes the windowpane test20150713_125316
  4. Move to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover top tightly in plastic, and Bulk Ferment 1½ – 2 hours, or until doubled in size20150713_150804
  5. Turn onto a floured, or non, counter, gently shape into a Boule as depicted Here, lightly mist with Spray Oil, and let rest on the counter while covered with plastic or a towl. This can be done as a single big loaf or cut in half beforehand for two 1lb loaves, if using puny, feminine bread pans. That’s right, I laugh at you!20150713_151016
  6. Once rested, shape into a simple loaf roll as described Here and transfer to your loaf pan/s. Mist lightly again with spray oil, cover, and let proof for an additional 1-1½ hours, until doubled in size and just over the lip of the pan20150713_153921
  7. While this is happening, preheat oven to 350F20150713_165858
  8. Make your egg wash, gently an thoroughly brush a light layer of it over the top of the bread. Optionally, you may make a slit down the middle to give that classic sandwich bread crease in the final product20150713_174530
  9. Move to oven and bake 40-50 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the top and sides have developed a deep and even golden brown, and it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom20150713_174730
  10. Take out of pan and let cool on rack, or do the smart thing and slice immediately for heavenly pieces of super soft, tender bread and crunchy crust slathered in butter20150714_101936
  11. Enjoy as desired, like simply toasted for breakfast with even more butter. Butter! It makes the cows smile when you eat it! Don’t ask what expression they make when you go for rump roast…

What Have I Learned This Time?

I need to remember that grilled cheeses made with THICK slices of bread need time in the oven to actually get the cheese nicely melted; and as such, the first side should be flipped a little early so it doesn’t get overly dark and crunchy. But that has nothing to do with making the bread. Because I’m not sure what else new I learned this time.

Well, I guess all the stuff about the different names, and that I can make some easy substitutions to these recipes without RUINING it, just getting a different outcome. Thus a reason to retry this style for the blog; perhaps I can then do a smaller loaf and some sort of buns just to switch things up a bit.

Any Thoughts?

You know what I wanna talk about is the flavor. Besides the whole simple white bread thing, there’s a certain, sorta-subtle taste in here that I’m not usually used to with sandwich bread. And it’s not just simple yeasty; that bread development on its own is easy to pick out after having experienced it in other things. No, if anything, this reminds me mostly of flavors I’d seen in the Portuguese Sweet Bread, just much more toned down. Obviously I think part of that can contribute from the fact they both had an egg wash on the crust, but as for the inside, I’d have to assume that result is due to the combined flavor impacts of the yeast with the enriching ingredients; aka, the egg yolk, the butter, but I think most importantly the milk since it’s the only one with any noted presence. The former two really only had the tiniest amount in there. I find the result intriguing, exciting, and the next time I make this bread I plan on using just Water and Shortening, potentially without the sponge stage, and seeing if it makes an obvious difference, which it should.

But at some point, I also REALLY need to make a bread with buttermilk; I’ve seen it as an option a few times already, and I reeeeeeeeaaaaaallllyyyyyyy want to see what results it gives.

By the way, didn’t mention this earlier, but recipes like these can also be used for Dinner Rolls, Hot Dog Buns, and other such things. Just need to divide smaller, shape differently, and bake at 400F for usually 15 minutes.

Oh, and what the hell, I swear I’ve got better crumb an bigger holes in a damn sandwich bread than I’m getting in my baguettes and ciabattas! What’s up with that!?

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

I’ve convinced the Sandwich Breads to be on my side! Now if only they can help me convince the hearth breads to not be so stuck up…

p3: Ciabatta

ciabatta#2, Ciabatta

I was between Ciabatta and a savory Panettone (brioche-based cake of dried fruits and stuff for dessert), which I won’t name because I plan on doing it NEXT week. My final decision was based on something huge and monumental; someone else idly mentioning they liked ciabatta in a text. A sign! Or, more realistically, an easy excuse for me to make a choice.

Though I am very glad I went for it, been having the urge to do SOMETHING very classic, traditional, and, most importantly, exploring the use of starter-dough and some other fun techniques. Not sure how I feel about tackling baguettes, or similar breads, but ciabatta will act as a fun mediary to practice with early on. But more importantly, I get to try my hands on POOLISH. A pre-ferment along with Biga and Pate Fermentee, these are mixtures of flour, water, and yeast made at least a day in advance of working on the dough in question. The purpose is two-fold; firstly, it provides an element to help start and facilitate your bread’s fermentation process. Secondly, and even better, is flavor development; but simply, as bread ferments, chemical reactions develop flavor that affects the final taste of the bread. It’s not just THAT it ferments either, but HOW, or to be more specifically how fast. To put simply, based on a generally accepted decision by bakers everywhere, the best flavors usually come through long, slower fermentations that usually happen at cooler temperatures. One can apply this to your bread by ‘retarding’ the dough, or letting it sit in the fridge/cold environment during its bulk fermentation and proofing stages, which will extend the time it takes to prepare by many hours, but is also a good way to set it aside for the day/overnight while, even better, improving the flavor drastically. By having a pre-ferment, made the day beforehand and kept in the fridge, you can easily add this step into the final dough. Oh, it probably helps to create that distinctive structure we know about baguettes and ciabatta vs loaves.

Poolish happens to be the simplest of the three main pre-ferments, basically just making a thick yeast-foamy batter. I can’t wait to try it some of the others; speaking of trying other things, I really wanna see the affects of using milk instead of water, which quite a few recipes here give as a substitute. But let’s stick with basic for now, see the results before experimenting.


Poolish (day 1)
2 ½ cups/11.25 oz Bread Flour
1 ½ cups/12 oz Water, Room Temp
¼ tsp/.03 oz Dry Yeast


  1. Mix everything in large bowl/container until combined into a thick batter20150418_215137
  2. Cover with plastic wrap (or lid), sit room temp 3-4 hours, or until notably bubble/foamy20150418_215221
  3. Move to refrigerator until use, suggested next day but can last for 3 days (3 weeks if stored in freezer)20150419_014801
  4. Remove from fridge at least 1 hour before use so as to warm up20150419_091143

20150419_092250Ciabatta (day 2)
3 cups/ 13.5 oz Bread Flour
1 ¾ tsp/0.44 oz Salt
1 ½ tsp/0.17 oz Dry Yeast
6 Tb – ¾ cup Lukewarm Water
Semolina/Cornmeal for Dusting (if desired)

Directions (assuming Electric Mixer, otherwise use large spoon and hands)

  1. Combine Poolish, Flour, Salt, Yeast, and 6Tb of water in mixer bowl with paddle attachment, turning on low to combine into a sticky ball. If there’s any loose flour, add more water until absorbed20150419_093020
  2. Increase speed to medium for a couple minutes; once thick, switch to dough hook and beat for 2 minutes. It is very important to keep it moist; the final result should pull from the sides but still stick to the bottom of the bowl while mixing. Looking for soft and smooth yet sticky result. It should still pass the Windowpane Test20150419_093237
  3. Generously sprinkle counter work area with flour, transfer dough (suggested to use a rubber spatula/scraper briefly dipped in water). Note that from here on out, one should attempt to apply as little excess force and manipulation to the dough as possible20150419_093606
  4. Dust liberally with flour, pat into rectangle, let rest two minutes20150419_094338
  5. Grabbing each end with flour-dusted fingers, lift up, allowing the dough to naturally pull and stretch from gravity to twice its original length. Fold both ends, one over the other, back into a rectangular shape20150419_094432
  6. Mist with spray oil, dust flour, and cover plastic wrap or towel and rest half an hour20150419_122354
  7. Repeat stretching, fold, and covering and let ferment 1½ – 2 hours until notably swollen20150419_122804
  8. Cut into 2-3 (or in my case, 4) equal sections with water-dipped pastry cutter, taking care not to ‘de-gas’ the dough20150419_123121
  9. Generously sprinkle and roll (using pastry scraper) in more flour. Move onto Couche cloth (described below) and fold in part of the left and right sides to form an oblong shape20150419_123424
  10. Bunch cloth between pieces, spray with oil and dust flour one last time before covering with towel to proof 45-60 minutes20150419_123453
  11. Preheat oven, with Baking Stone/s and Metal Pan inside, to 500F and prepare 1 cup Hot Water and Mister/Sprayer (aka preparing Oven for Hearth Baking)20150419_132517
  12. Transfer dough to sheet pan or wooden peel that’s been generously dusted with Semolina/Cornmeal, using pastry scraper to delicately move20150419_132827
  13. Briefly lift dough from each ends, like with previous stretching technique, so it lengthens a couple inches. Pat gently to keep even top and smooth oblong shape20150419_133040
  14. Very quickly slide dough onto baking stone and dump the cup of hot water into the pan, close door20150419_135304
  15. Wait 30 seconds, open, and mist sides of oven with water. Close and repeat this two more times (thus you’ll have misted it 3 times 1½ minutes after having placed bread in oven)20150419_135421
  16. After third and final misting, turn oven down to 450 degrees, bake 15-20 minutes, turning loaves around after 10 minutes if baking is uneven20150419_140535
  17. When an even dark golden brown, crusty, and the inside reaches 205F, remove and transfer to rack for cooling until use20150419_141258
  18. Enjoy

What Have I Learned This Time?

20150419_141252I learned that I did something WRONG making this Ciabatta; not sure what, the bread turned out very good and tasty actually, but the crumb feels too tight (like a baguette, there should be some notably bigger, random air pockets developed). My guess is it had to do with one, if not both, of two factors: unlike my last dough, where I had too much, I don’t think I had ENOUGH water here. If it were another regular dough, the structure would have been perfect for ideal, but my guess is that Ciabatta and similar need the lighter, moister structure to create more give when the air pockets try to expand while cooking (the firmer and less sticky doughs would be denser, heavier, and thus a tighter final crumb). Secondly, I think my hands may have played around and shaped the dough a BIT too much before the final transfer, letting out some of the trapped gas. I barely did anything, but it’s like with Biscuits; you want to mix until everything is combined, and then STOP, because anything after that just gives it more and more of that unwanted gluten. So it is that I know, now, I really need to stop being a clumsy explorative doof and LEAVE MY DOUGH ALONE. No wonder it doesn’t like me.

20150419_122706Found out how to make a Couche! Normally it’s just a heavy-duty linen cloth used to lay bread on, with layers bunched between each loaf, during its final proofing stage. But if you don’t have that kinda cloth, I’m too lazy to go out and find something proper, just take some sort of tablecloth or similar, LARGE cloth that you’re sure isn’t going to be used for anything, and spray down with oil before dusting with a bunch of flour. After a few uses and re-applying, should mold itself into a proper couche cloth for permanent use.

Got my first run at ‘hearth baking” at home, good thing I’ve got those baking stones. Really sucks trying to do it and take pictures at the same time though, so don’t expect me to do any of that in future posts! Simple ‘bread in oven’ views for you from now on. I got an awesome crust from it (gelatinization principle, I’ll maybe explain it another time), but it got just a bit burnt on the bottom (and top), so I need to focus on it more in the future…

20150419_180910Any Thoughts?

Ummm, I reeaaaalllly liked it in a meatball sandwich. Sliced in half, baked with butter, and stuffed with those giant messy orbs… I have to say, despite how thick the bread was, and rather dense and chewy it is, I’m surprised how well it compressed around the large meatballs with pressure. They ate surprisingly well, and of course the bread tasted awesome.

I wish I could make this kind of bread a lot more often so that I could pull back a bit of fermented poolish or dough (forget at which stage you do that) to work into every new batch of poolish, over and over until I’ve developed one of those generation-developed ‘mother’ starters that’s just got so much flavor and personality to it.

Oh! Last thing, this was the first time I ever made a dough that passed the windowpane test by myself! I know it’s really sad, but ‘tis a big deal for me, I’m happy.

Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

It seems to be humoring my efforts but still shows little regard for working together with me perfectly to accomplish my ideal interests. Seems a bit cheeky