Raspberry mousse cake


I have been challenged by my daughter to make a cake that she would really like. I've baked many types of cakes but she is very selective with all of them: one has too much chocolate, another one has a cream she doesn't like and so on. After a conversation with her, she told me she would prefer much more a cake without a sponge. I said fine, let me come up with a mouse sort of cake that she can put a verdict on.
I knew she is very fond of meringues so I had in mind to put them on top. She likes also raspberries as well, and the pink color of the cake is her favourite.
With all these set up, the occasion to make a cake came almost flying: my birthday!

This cake is actually quite simple but requires some time for the layers to set in place. One layer of biscuit, one layer of raspberry mousse and one top glazing layer of raspberry syrup. On top, I went for fresh raspberries and little meringues.

I made it when she was not at home to surprise her. In the evening, the whole family got together to sing me the famous Happy Birthday! The little ones blew the candles and I was the one cutting a slice for each member of the family. At the end of this little family event, all plates where empty. I was satisfied to see that they liked my cake.
Part of the cake I froze and just recently I got it out. Exactly like then, I cut a slice for each member of the family and all plates where empty except one that had left the mousse and the glaze layer. Of course it was the plate of my daughter :). Well, with her I'll try my luck again next time or just accept that festive cakes are not her favourites.
Regardless my daughter picky taste, I'll tell you how I found this cake. It is a very light and low sugar cake.
Easy to eat with a strong raspberry flavour.  I personally liked it very much, especially also for the little time that I had to invest in it to make it. 
What about you? How would you like this cake?

43% Durum Sourdough Bread

I have been challenged by some awesome bakers from The Fresh Loaf to make in the Community Bake of this month a durum sourdough bread.
The idea came perfectly as I had some durum flour left at the bottom of a bag. I do not know since when I have that flour but the only thing I remember is that last time I tried it was a complete failure. I do not even remember what went wrong back then but the feeling of not touching that flour again stayed with me. Well, a challenge is a challenge, so I prepared myself psychologically to bake something with that flour.
With my first test, I wanted to play on safe ground and went for a 65% hydration. But in my hands, the dough was extremely stiff. Did I forget that durum flour is very absorbent? I certainly did. So the next test (which is this one) I raised the hydration to 70%. I recognise that I felt that there was room for even more hydration but as I liked the result I stopped the tests here. For sure, one day I'll try to push the limits even more.
This particular bread has really something special in it. It has a sweet flavour, a more yellowish colour.

Its particularity comes from the durum wheat. Durum wheat is a spring hard wheat. Its name comes from "durum" that in Latin means hard. 
Durum wheat is coarsely ground into semolina. Semolina is generally used for pasta or couscous. Further, when semolina is re-milled, it becomes durum flour (semola rimacinata) which is more appropriate for bread baking. 
This flour is high in proteins (~12%) but with a weak and less extensible gluten. Its yellowish colour is due to extra carotenoid pigments.

With this second bake, I emptied the bag of durum flour. If initially I just wanted to get rid of it, now I feel that I need to purchase more. I have in mind to try even more types of bread with durum flour in the future. It is just irresistible.
But for the moment, let's enjoy these ones:

Pane incamiciato

 Pane incamiciato means literally bread in a shirt. It is a dressed bread or a wrapped bread. It has a beautiful design and in the oven, it opens up like a flower. Ideas about how to score and decorate this bread are unlimited. 
The bread follows the classic approach but the dough of each loaf is split in 2: one (~30%) is the wrap and the rest is the main dough. The separation between the layers has to be done using oil and seeds to ensure that they do not stick together.
The scoring has to be very carefully done, only on the wrap layer without cutting the main dough.

The bake is made at 230ºC and no more as the oil on the top will darken very quickly in the oven. For a whiter crust, you can even reduce the temperature to 220ºC but check that the centre of the bread has well reached 90ºC. The petals will dry out in the oven and will detach from the main boule.
The crumb instead is soft and simply melts into your mouth. 
The taste is also a special one. The dough being brushed with oil, makes me think of focaccia. The roasted seeds give the extra flavour of this amazing bread. All in one, it is an impressive bread from many points of view.

It is not probably the first bread you want to try if you are a beginner baker but it is definitely a bread with an outstanding look. 
The most difficult part of this bread is to cut it. It is like a beauty that you cannot touch. Well, bread is not made just to be admired but is made to be eaten. Luckily, my children love cracking the petal so they help me with the difficult task of cutting such a beautiful piece of bread.

Whey Sourdough Bread

If you think you can replace water with another liquid in making sourdough bread, think twice. 

I do yoghurt at home and sometimes it makes whey. As this is such a great ingredient with high protein content, I wanted to use it for bread.

Yoghurt whey (also known as sour whey) is much more acidic then cheese whey (sweet whey).
The general recommendation is not to go over 20-30% the quantity of whey in the total liquid for sourdough bread. But I am using 44% liquid coming from sour whey for this recipe. 

The acidic environment of whey and its foreign protein affected the dough of this bread and some extra effort was needed to rescue this dough.

This is an interesting experience to bake bread. More than following a recipe, it is very important to read the dough. When I noticed that things were not OK, I had to adjust my steps and my techniques to correct the dough.

The adventure in making this bread is recorded here:

What I like the most with bread experiences is that you get a lot of lessons learned out of them. For example, this is what I learned by making this bread:

1. Sour whey does affect the dough by weakening the gluten development.

2. More sour whey in bread liquid requires extra handling and may lead to inconsistent baking.

3. You may keep higher whey quantities but use sweet whey, that is less acidic.

4.  For an easier bread, reduce the hydration in this recipe by lowering the whey quantity (with 50g, let's say).

Although tricky, I am happy with these loaves: crunchy crust, soft crumb and what a flavour ...

100% Whole Grain Rye Sourdough Bread

Rye flour is clearly different than wheat flour. It has weak gluten that is not capable to form a gluten network and when mixed in a dough develops almost no elasticity. It looks like a viscous paste and is breaking quickly at an attempt to stretch it. Rye flour does not benefit from autolyse either, so forget this technique when baking bread with a high percentage of rye flour.

Kneading a rye dough has no effect because the gluten in rye is not capable to form an elastic dough. Rye dough relies on pentosans to be formed. If you do not like to knead the dough, then this bread is for you.

When baked in a loaf, it gives to the bread a dark crumb and a lower volume should be expected. The crumb is denser, you won't get big alveoli but rather smaller holes. Expect then a loaf with a dense crumb with small holes.

Instead, rye bread is more nutritious than wheat bread because it contains more bran. When ground, it is more difficult to separate the bran from the flour, so the content of bran is much higher in rye flour. But if you use whole grain (dark) rye flour you'll get the entire bran as it was not sifted out. 

Here is the video with the recipe and description for this special rye bread:

Compared to wheat flour, rye flour absorbs much more water and makes the bread last longer.

Rye bread tastes better 24 hours after baking and actually improves with age. It will stay moist inside for a week.

Rye bread is known for its specific aroma and taste and is very popular in North European countries.

A slice of 100% whole grain rye sourdough bread is a perfect match for cheese, pâté, salmon, eggs and I let you discover other ones.

So, are you ready to bake and taste this bread?