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More on Poppy Seeds (and Bread)

by Mihl

After my family gave me a grain mill and some bags of grain for my birthday, I got more bags of grain and some fantastic bread baking books for Christmas. I already have some other books filled with recipes for yeast breads and rolls, but they are not very good. They have a lot of nice recipes, but they don’t provide their readers with information about the science behind bread baking. When my first yeasted breads came out like bricks, were too moist in the centre or fell apart after taking them out of their pans, these books didn’t explain what had gone wrong. In my opinion this is exactly why so many people try baking with yeast and then give up again. Their bread doesn’t rise, the bread sinks, or it comes out like a brick and they don’t know what to do.

For a good yeast or sourdough bread all you need is a little practice. I learned a lot about bread baking by trial and error and by reading up a lot on the internet. Many of the internet ressources I consulted, recommended the same books over and over because they seemed to be a good source of bread baking knowledge. One of those books was The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.

For Christmas I got that book together with Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads and the German Version of Dough by Richard Bertinet.

Both the Bread Baker’s Apprentice and Whole Grain Breads are good guides to bread baking. Reinhart explains how bread baking works, he shares his experience and gives a whole tutorial on what he considers to be the most important things when it comes to bread making. If you have never ever baked a yeast bread, you can learn all you need right from the beginning with these books. They will be your experience if you haven’t got any. You won’t start with bricks, but with really good and flavourful breads because Reinhart will provide you with everything you need to know.

If you have experiece with bread baking, these books are also a great help. I spent several days reading and learning much from them. And the recipes are really fantastic, too. Not all of them are vegan, but they are easy to veganize. The first thing I made from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice was a cinnamon bun recipe that called for two eggs. I simply left them out and the buns came out so great that I had to make them again and give the recipe to my father:

When I made them for the second time, I divided the dough into two parts. I made cinnamon rolls with one half  and filled the second half with marzipan and poppy seeds:

While The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is a great book, I like Whole Grain Breads even better. Firstly, I hardly ever bake bread from white flour and secondly, in this book Reinhart explains all the theory behind baking even better. I’ve already made several breads from the book, for example this flavourful Transitional Rye Hearth Meteil:

Transitional means that this bread is not a 100% whole grain bread. I still used 100% whole grain flours. This bread is made from both rye and wheat flour and Reinhart uses both yeast and sourdough as leavening. The sourdough and the rye make the bread keep fresh and flavourful for a long time. It’s really an amazing bread and tastes as good as if it was purchased from your favourite bakery.

The next bread I tried was a German Style Many Seed Bread. I tried it because a. it said “German” in the title and b. because there’s a huge amount of toasted seeds in this bread, which I love. The Many Seed Bread is really aromatic and the seeds add a lot of flavour to this bread, but for my taste there’s way too much sugar in the recipe. Without the sugar I’d definitely make this again, though. I think for a “German” bread, this was  too sweet. In my opinion the Rye Hearth Meteil is a much better example of German bread baking.

Another good recipe is the Transitional Multigrain Hearth Bread. I made this for a friend who loves flaxseeds in her bread, so I added some extra seeds to this recipe. Unfortunately the high amount of white flour lets the bread dry out pretty fast. But maybe you won’t have that problem at all if you ever make this bread. It is so tasty that I was tempted to eat the whole loaf at once.

I’ve only tried one recipe from Richard Bertinet’s book so far (pain de mie), but I’ll definitely get back to it soon. Many recipes in that book are not vegan, but most of them are easy to veganize, too. The author provides five basic doughs (white, olive oil, brown, rye, sweet) and all the recipes are variations from this dough. I’ve already marked some for future baking so stay tuned…

Now I have to come back to the most amazing Celine of have cake, will travel. As you already know from her blog, Celine’s ideas for great yeast breads and rolls never end. For her and Joni’s cookbook, she’ll also be providing quite an amount of awesome yeasted breads and rolls. Like these Poppy Lemon Bread Scrolls. These were the best rolls ever. Only slightly sweet and full of my favourite seeds and with a refreshing hint of lemon. So good with jam:


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Bethany February 4, 2009 - 01:07

what an amazing amount of bread you have made. the marzipan rolls are calling me :)

I recently took a bread baking class taught by the owner of a great bread bakery in Seattle. He taught us about baker’s math where you weigh out the ingredients and you take note on the ratios to the amount of flour you use. After time, you will figure out the ratios that you like best. it was the first class that put some real science behind the art of bread. He also cooks on a thick stone in the oven and steams up the oven to get a nice crust.

Melisser February 4, 2009 - 00:35

Oh my word, everything is so gorgeous!!

Jodye February 3, 2009 - 03:56

Your breads look so good. I’m jealous, I really need to work on my break baking skills!

gail February 3, 2009 - 00:27

These photos could have been taken in a bakery – everything looks so pretty and perfect! I have bread envy :-D

tofuparty February 2, 2009 - 19:51

I wish you lived in my neighbourhood, than I could beg you to start a bakery and I would be able to eat some of these good looking breads and buns every day.

Hase February 2, 2009 - 19:33

Hey, another beautiful vegan blog with yummy recipes, how great…!! I’m happy for every new vegan blog I discover.
And thanks for your comment in our blog! :D

Frollein Holle February 2, 2009 - 18:17

What a dirty trick! Normally I am far too lazy to read english blogs, because my english is not that good to understand everything so I always have to put a dictionary in front of me…but now…now….the pictures look SO yummy and delicious, that I HAVE to read and translate the text, I am so curious about the recipes and the describings. What a dirty, dirty, dirty trick! :))

t February 2, 2009 - 02:37

Those loaves look delicious! My favorite bread-making tip has been to test-drive the yeast first… that has saved many a baked good and pizza crust.

Monika K January 31, 2009 - 23:19

You’ll seriously be running your own bakery in no time!

BitterSweet January 31, 2009 - 21:57

You truly make some of the most impressive breads… Those spirals are stunning!

lisa (show me vegan) January 31, 2009 - 16:35

your baked goods look so professional! Especially the buns look fluffy and irresistible.

Kala January 30, 2009 - 23:06

Mmm, fresh bread, it all looks so good!

Vaishali January 30, 2009 - 22:41

You are amazing: making bread from scratch, and even grinding up your own flour!
Each of these breads and the buns look sensational and delicious. Lovely, lovely job, Mihl. I’m in awe.

Sara January 29, 2009 - 20:44

I love “Bread Baker’s Apprentice!” It was my first bread book ages and ages ago! I love the look of your cinnamon buns – and it’s surprising that the omission of the eggs without substituting anything didn’t totally demolish the result! It makes me want to try that in recipes that have failed with egg-subs! Thanks Mihl!!

tahinitoo January 29, 2009 - 20:14

Mihl! Your breads are beautiful!!!!!! Wow!!!

Alice (in Veganland) January 29, 2009 - 18:03

The cinnamon buns look PERFECT. I wish I could get my hand through the monitor and take one!

Celine January 29, 2009 - 17:39

random fact: there’s an Aussie actress with the first name of Poppy, and I envy her. Poppy. (although I always misspell it and go for “Poopy” instead. that could make being named Poppy just a touch less attractive…)

Carrie January 29, 2009 - 16:30

All of that bread looks great!! I got Bread Baker’s Apprentice for Christmas and I adore it.

melody January 29, 2009 - 15:26

Every one of those loaves is gorgeous! I am especially drawn to the rye.

I adore baking bread, but don’t do it because I will eat way too much of it. Seriously. I have no self control.

Coppe January 29, 2009 - 13:59

Wow, those breads look amazing.

How do you get the tops of those multigrain breads to look so perfect (like they’ve just been cracked open)?

River (Wing-It Vegan) January 29, 2009 - 04:43

Gosh, Milh everything looks like it just came out of a fancy specialty bakery! Gorgeous baked goods!

Vegetation January 29, 2009 - 02:29

Oh! Yum! I’m the biggest bread lover! I’m coming over ;)

Seriously though, that Transitional Rye Bread looks fabulous and so do all those scrolls!

denny January 29, 2009 - 01:22

wow. your bread looks like they belong in a fancy hotel bakery!

good job you!

Amey January 28, 2009 - 21:48

nice post, Mihl!
I just got the Whole Grain Breads from my boyfriend for Christmas… and haven’t had a chance to bake from it yet. I love the look of that rye loaf… mmm! I chose that book over the Apprentice, because I also really prefer whole grain bread. Now your post has me really excited to get cooking!

Tami January 28, 2009 - 20:29

Oh, Mihl! This post is so inspirational! I have the Bread Bakers’ Apprentice and am still a little intimidated by it…..but look at you!

shellyfish January 28, 2009 - 19:11

Oh yes, the lemon scrolls! Apprentice is one of the most amazing books ever! I love it. I still need to blog about it…I made those cinnamon rolls too, and I used energ instead of the egg – they were amazing!

Bianca- Vegan Crunk January 28, 2009 - 18:59

My breads almost always turn out too moist in the center. Last night, I made beer bread and had to cook it 20 minutes longer than the recipe suggested because of that. I wish I had the patience to read up on the science.

Jes January 28, 2009 - 18:43

They all look amazing! I’ve been wanting to buy Whole Grain Bread for awhile, and now I think you’ve given me another good reason. I agree, most cookbooks need more info on the science end behind baking and cooking. After taking almost a month off from bread baking, I’m back in the game, and this post has definitely given me some inspiration!

helloveggie January 28, 2009 - 18:33

I can’t believe I’ve just NOW found your blog. It is beautiful!

Vegan_Noodle January 28, 2009 - 17:59

You are a master bread baker Mihl! You should come out with your own book on the subject. I’ve heard alot of the bread baker’s apprentice and may have to invest in that sometime because my yeasted breads often end up like a brick. Oh how I wish you could come show me your secrets!

VeggieGirl January 28, 2009 - 17:47

Sensational, Mihl!!

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