Monday, August 15, 2011

A Horiatiko Psomi Recipe

Horiatiko Psomi

I make absolutely no claim that my formula is an authentic Greek recipe, handed down by Ya-Ya, my immigrant grandmother from Thessaloniki, upon her deathbed. It's no such thing and my grandmothers came from New Brunswick, Canada and the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. If you do enough internet searches for bread recipes, you'll find that this one is similar to an Italian bread. Admit it, a good baker has to be a good businessperson and they'll bake what their customers want to buy.
I had made breads much like this recipe before I learned that it was very similar to a Greek recipe. That was not inspired creativity on my part, just basic enthusiasm for baking a reasonably simple loaf. Finding that the recipe had a Greek name was bonus because I wanted to enter a bread in the County Fair that I thought would win a category. I haven't spent enough time doing internet searches to find out whether or not there are actual Greek recipes that include whole wheat flour as this formula does. There very well could be such recipes. This formula won the “ethnic bread” category with my variation.
My little twist to individualize the basic formula is to use a soaker of white whole wheat flour. I'm a big fan of soakers because 1. they're easy and 2. they add flavor that is elusive to identify but so very good! Truly, they are a no lose proposition to the home baker, an actual win-win device.
Much of the credit for the recipe goes to Maggie Glezer who included it in her book, “A Blessing of Bread”. I learned about that recipe on The Fresh Loaf website where it was identified and advocated by Dmsnyder, a most excellent home baking enthusiast. While my version is a batard, Ms Glezer used an 8” cake pan and Mr Snyder used a 9” pie pan to bake their loaves. I've used an 8” cake pan and it's the more dramatic looking loaf.
I hope to include instructions for both so bear with me and by the end, you'll either enjoy my efforts or despise me for leading you on and wasting your time. This particular formula or recipe will be in a different, more chatty format so beware of the extended explanations and other literary minefields. My blog is also an opportunity for me to regain some writing muscles that haven't had enough exercise for many years. Time to start the flour flying.

I used a sourdough starter but the possibility of using a yeast preferment is there as well. Simply use the same hydration level to adjust the weight up by 30 g and use a pinch of instant dry yeast or active dry yeast.
30 g seed starter
56 g water at 85F
20 g white whole wheat flour
60 g all purpose flour
In a medium bowl, dissolve or mix the seed starter with the water. Add flour and mix well. Cover and keep at room temperature until starter peaks (6-12 hours dependent on temperature). Save the extra starter to build a new starter for acquaintances, for pate fermentee, or to dry and save as a backup should your seed source fail.
100 g white whole wheat flour
70 g water
In a small bowl, mix flour and water thoroughly, leaving no dry flour in bowl. WWW can be more thirsty than AP so a small amount of extra water may be required. Cover and leave at room temperature for no more than 8 hours. If the starter is slow, simply put the soaker in your refrigerator for a while. Alternatively, you can add a small pinch of salt,< 1 g, at the time of mixing if you want to start your soaker at the same time as your starter. Having used this salt addition suggestion previously, I can say that I noted a little bit extra salt flavor in the crust of the finished loaves. The soaker should be at room temperature when mixing your dough.

150 g starter
all of soaker
300 g bread flour
196 g water at 85F
8 g kosher salt
15 g honey or brown sugar
15 g olive oil, about 1 Tbs
olive oil to coat the pan, optional
  1. Add the water to your mixer bowl. Stir in the starter and mix well. Cut the soaker into small chunks and add to the bowl. Using the paddle blade or dough hook, stir the contents briefly. Add the flour and using the dough hook, mix at first speed to a shaggy mass, about 1 minute. Cover the bowl and autolyse for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the dough and fold in quickly with a spatula. Add honey to the bowl and fold in quickly with a spatula. Add olive oil to the bowl and mix at first speed for three minutes to incorporate all the ingredients. Mix at second speed for 3-4 minutes. The dough should clear the sides but may still be attached to the bottom.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 30 seconds. Shape into a ball and place into a large, oiled bowl for bulk fermentation. Turn the dough ball to coat with oil and then cover the bowl.
  4. In rooms where the temperature is around 70F, stretch and fold at 50 and 100 minutes. At 150 minutes, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead for 30 seconds, and pre-shape into a boule. Cover with your large bowl and let the dough relax for 15-20 minutes while you prepare your 8” pie pan, banneton, or couche. When room temperatures are around 80F, stretch and fold at 45and 90 minutes then preshape at 135 minutes.
  5. Prepare your 8” cake pan by using olive oil to coat the bottom and walls of the pan. Shape your dough into a tight boule and center it in the pan for proofing. Cover the boule with a flour dusted towel and place the pan in a plastic bag for an overnight retarded fermentation in a refrigerator.
  6. About 1 hour before the planned beginning of the bake, do a finger poke test for proofing and leave the pan in the bag on the counter top. Approximately 30 minutes before the start of the bake, preheat the oven to 450F.
  7. Using a centered rack, load your pan without slashing the dough. Lower the oven temperature to 400F and bake for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, turn the pan 180 degrees and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperatue reaches 205-207F.
  8. Cool on a wire rack for 4 hours before serving. 

        As an alternative, you can choose to shape the dough into a batard. If you use a banneton, place a lightly oiled sheet of plastic wrap over the banneton, place in a plastic bag, and place in a refrigerator for an overnight retarded proofing. If using a couche, follow procedures to prevent your dough from drying out. The overnight proofing is preferred but proofing at a moderate room temperature should take about 2-2.5 hours. Preheat your oven with a baking stone in the center at 475F for 1/2 hour. Sesame seeds are an attractive addition to a batard and may be placed by spraying the top of the loaf with water then scattering seeds across the top. Slash the loaf with at least two or three cuts at an angle to the loaf. Load your loaf onto the stone using a peel or parchment paper and lower the temperature of the closed oven to 450F for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 425F and bake for 5 more minutes. Remove the parchment paper, turn the loaf around, and continue baking at 425F for 5 minutes more. Lower the temperature to 400F for the last 18-20 minutes. When the internal temperature is 205-207F, the loaf will be done. Cool on a wire rack for 3-4 hours before serving.

This is what worked for me. I accept that the instructions aren't what could be called professional or at a textbook level. I have fun baking and putting my formulae on the internet for others to read and hopefully, enjoy baking. I hope you have as much fun as I do when baking.

Your comments, editing suggestions, humor, and questions are welcome.

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