Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brotform Fascination

Yesterday I finally purchased a brotform. I've been wanting one for a while but couldn't justify the expense. So why buy now?

In cleaning out my office I discovered a Sur la Table gift certificate, partly used. I thought that there was only $5 left on it but discovered otherwise. Then on Monday I received a card in the mail from Sur la Table with a $10 off coupon. It looked like I might have enough for the brotform and perhaps a few other things. Once I got to the checkout I found out that I even had enough to purchase a French type rolling pin, another kitchen tool that will come in handy fairly often. I ended up paying less than $1 from my own funds...what a treat! Here's what it looks like:

Naturally now that I own a brotform I had to bake some bread in it today. Such is the fascination of brotform ownership.

It's a fairly simple bread...flours, water, sourdough starter, a little yeast and a little salt. Of course I used some King Arthur Flour Ancient grains flour and some whole wheat flour and both bread and all-purpose unbleached flour so that added a little complexity. Sourdough almost by its nature adds more complexity. For the loaf that didn't rise in the brotform, I also kneaded in sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, and flax seeds right before the shaping and last rise. Baked that up in a loaf pan.

Unfortunately I forgot to slash the brotform loaf with the natural result that one side lifted up due to oven spring. Sort of looks like it's smiling.

Even though I slashed the pan loaf fairly deeply in three places, it, too, blew out on one side.

Next time I'll slash all the way over to the side of the pan!

In case you are wondering what a brotform is, it's a reed basket used to form bread dough in its final rise. The reed is a continuous spiral and you apply flour generously to keep the dough from sticking to the form, but the flour also makes a nice pattern on the risen loaf. Now you are going to want one too!

This bread is delicious (well, the seedy one is...haven't tried the brotform one yet) and has a nice, tight crumb. Since I want to use it for sandwiches I added just a bit more flour than I would if I wanted a bread with more holes. It has a nice sourdough tang and crustiness and I'll bet it tastes great toasted.

Sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for the weekly Yeastspotting event. If you've been reading my most recent posts you know that I'm a big fan of Yeastspotting. If you love bread and the fragrance of yeast you will too.

By the way, there is almost a full week to go for becoming a Bread Baking Babe Buddy. Guys can be Buddies, too, if you are a guy reading this. Then you will be in the company of real Babes. Sound like fun? This really was a delightful a Buddy, OK?

Sourdough with Ancient Grains and Whole Wheat
makes 2 loaves

3 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour or a combination
1 1/2 cups ancient grains flour (or use more bread flour)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup sourdough starter (fed with a mixture of 1 cup flour and 1 cup water and let sit on counter 2 hours)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

In a large bowl mix together the flours, yeast and salt. Have about 1/2 cup more all-purpose flour handy in case the dough needs a little more.

In the bowl of an electric mixer if using, or in a large bowl, mix together the sourdough starter and water. With the dough hook attached and mixer on low speed , add flour about a cup at a time at first, then about 1/4 cup at a time until the dough comes together, climbs the hook and, eventually, cleans the side of the bowl. At the end you may need to add flour a tablespoon at a time, and may need to use a little of the extra flour.

If you are not using an electric mixer, put all but 1 cup of the flour, yeast, and salt, mixed, in a large bowl or on a work surface, make a well in the center. To the well add the sourdough starter and the water then use your hand or a wooden spoon to work the wet ingredients into the dry until a shaggy dough forms. Start to knead, working in additional flour mixture as needed until dough is satiny, smooth and just tacky.

If using electric mixer and dough hook, knead 8 - 10 minutes until dough is smooth, satiny and just tacky.

Place dough into an oiled rising bowl or container, turning dough to coat all sides with oil. Cover and let rise in a draft free warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Punch down, turn dough over, cover and let rise again until doubled, about another 2 hours.

Turn dough out on lightly floured work surface. Cut dough in half and return half to the rising container.

Take the half of the dough on the work surface and flatten it to release excess gas. Form into a boule (ball) by pulling the edges under until a nice ball forms. If using a brotform, liberally flour it, then set the ball, smooth side down in the form, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

If not using a form, set on a piece of parchment, cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. If you prefer a loaf, once you have flattened the dough (Making sure it is about 2 inches wider than your pan lengthwise), roll dough up jelly-roll fashion along the long part of the rectangle. Tuck the ends under (that's why you made it longer than the pan) and place, seam side down, in an oiled bread pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. If you have a bread stone heat it too. When oven is hot and bread has risen, turn bread out of brotform if using, slash bread and put into oven. You can turn the loaf out of the brotform onto parchment paper and slide the parchment paper onto the baking stone if you have one. Otherwise, turn loaf out of brotform onto a parchment lined baking sheet, then put sheet into oven. DON"T bake the loaf in the's only for shaping, not baking.

Bake until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped, about 50-55 minutes. Check at about 35-40 minutes and turn loaves if oven has hot spots. This allows you to estimate when the bread is going to be done, too.

Let bread cool almost completely before cutting.

To make Seedy Sourdough Loaf: Follow recipe above until time for final shaping. Flatten a dough half as described above, then sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon flax seeds, 1-2 teaspoons poppy seeds, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (or whatever seed mixture you like), then roll up like a jelly roll and turn ends up and over seam. Flatten again and sprinkle again with the seeds. Roll up again, fold in ends again, then knead a few turns to make sure seeds are distributed well. Flatten one more time, roll up, turn ends under this time and place in loaf pan as in recipe above. Continue on as recipe is written.


  1. Smiling breads are good! Yours looking so pretty. Have fun with your brotform!

  2. I've wanted a brotform for years, too. I'm so glad you got one, and at such a savings, too! I like the smiling bread. It looks like a bread clam to me.