Rye - Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Take a bread recipe, make it until you are satisfied with the result and then you can play changing the flour. This is what I am doing with this recipe: I changed the spelt flour with rye flour in my previous recipe. The result may have the same look but there are big changes to the dough and I'll explain why. 
The spelt flour makes the dough very elastic while rye is fermenting faster. Rye flour is also more absorbent (at least mine because it is partially whole rye).
So, the spelt version needed more coil folds to build the structure while rye has already a good structure feeling stiffer. Fermentation time was reduced also.

If the aspect is similar, the taste is slightly changed. Rye flour comes with a more rustic taste while spelt has sweeter influences. Do I like one more than the other... hmmm... difficult to say. They are both sourdough bread and the taste is amazing in both cases. The differences are just a matter of nuances.

Here you can find the recipe:

Spelt - Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

 When you make a dough combining multiple types of flours you should be very careful about the effect each dough has. Usually, if you put a type of flour in a percentage lower than 10%, the influence is minimal in the dough consistency and mild in the taste. When you increase this percentage, the characteristics of this specific flour start to be noticed. 

I made this bread with 3 types of flour: whole wheat, spelt and bread flour. Whole wheat is more absorbent and impedes the gluten network to develop easily. That's why a trick is to hydrate the whole wheat flour the day before so that the bran is softened through better hydration. The spelt flour adds elasticity to the dough. This means that you can stretch it more. The extensibility of the dough then has to be created by adding an extra coil fold. (the 4th one). The bread flour I used, although with 13% protein content was also very extensible and less absorbent than others I normally use. With these characteristics, making this bread is tricky.

First time I tried it I was not very happy with its dough structure and I over fermented it. The bread was perfectly eatable but for sure, was not what I expected it to be.

With the lessons learned from this first failed attempt, I focused on improving 2 things: dough handling and reduced fermentation time while keeping the list and quantity of ingredients exactly the same. To build a better structure, I added a 4th coil fold. For the fermentation, I definitely understood that this combination of flours, had to have a higher ph than 4.15 (as my previous test was). I shaped it then at ph 4.33 and put it in the fridge at 4.25. Only these 2 changes transformed a recipe from zero to hero.

This is a perfect example of improving the method and not changing the ingredients or their quantity. The method matters! There are many methods out there that make fantastic loaves of bread but you need to master yours and know the implications of changing it.

Chocolate festive cake


Chocolate festive cake

This was the cake for my husband's birthday last week. It was also the test cake for my son's birthday cakes. All the 3 followed the same principles, one sponge cake cut into layers with chocolate ganache between them. Similar compositions and tastes but three different looks. You may find the ones of my son in my previous 2 posts. 

Every cake had a different target: this one to look more festive, the "5" cake to be a child's cake and the last one to be easily transported. Which one do I like the best? Difficult to say as I associated them with special occasions. Doing all of them in one week was a marathon but with every challenge like this comes a lot of lessons learned.

The first lesson learned was to master the sponge cake both in cocoa or classic versions. Learning its tricks took me sometime over the years and now I can happily say that I feel comfortable baking them.

A second lesson learned was to play with ganache. This thing is super sensitive to temperature and depending on the purpose you might want a thicker or thinner texture. I found myself putting the bowl sometimes in the microwave to heat it a bit and sometimes in the fridge to cool it. It is however the easiest cake filling that you can do (after the basic whipped cream of course). I like simple things for basic staff and focus more on the artistic part of it.

You may find the complete recipe for this cake below.

Race cake

This was the anniversary birthday cake of my son. It took me a lot of time to prepare it and even more to make all the decorations. do I regret spending so much time on just a cake? Not even a minute. I made it with all my heart and I would do it again if needed.

I divided the making of this cake over 2 days: on the first day, I baked the sponge cakes and prepared the ganache, on the second day I shaped and layered them and prepared all the decorations.

The decorations took me almost a full day and I was helped by the little one, placing the big white and black squares on the side. My daughter participated also in the decoration process so it looked more like a family cake.

But a good cake doesn't only have to look nice it also needs to taste good. The combination of cocoa sponge cake and chocolate ganache is heaven. The guests appreciated the cake to be light, not overly sweet and delicious. The kids invited to the party loved it too, as most of the plates I cleaned up after were empty.

I was very careful with the sugar on this cake. There is a huuuuge (for me at least) amount of sugar paste (~750g) to cover the cake. The sponge cakes have 200g of sugar each, but I used only 1.5 sponge cakes, so I can make a total of 300g. There is also a good quantity of sugar in chocolate and there is no need to add more. Then another 100g for the syrup. If you start counting, the sugar sums up, however, remember that chocolate in its pure state is bitter and children do not love it like that. So a certain amount of sugar in this cake is a must. The trick was to find the right balance and I can happily say it was perfect.

Chocolate coated bundt cake

Last week it was a marathon of cake baking for me. With 2 anniversaries in the family, I managed to bake 4 sponge cakes for 3 finished festive cakes. It was a successful challenge and, as the time was so short, there was no place for tests or failures.
I went with the version of the cake that I master the best: the sponge cakes. The one you see in this post is the last one, made for the anniversary of my son at the school. It might look simple but is not. Basically, it is a sponge cake with the bottom cut in through the centre of the cake to introduce a chocolate filling, then covered back with the removed parts of the cake. The glaze was practically painted with warm chocolate ganache, as it was too thick to reveal the beautiful shape of this bundt. A thinner glaze would have worked better but I had to choose one that hardened to avoid transport issues.
Unfortunately, I do not have a photo with the inside as it was not cut by me but I will repeat this process with a future cake for you to see.

Happy birthday, my little bunny! I do not know when these years have passed since you arrived in this world, but you brought so much happiness and joy into our lives!