Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bread for communion by intinction part II, now with more bread math!

Here is the post where I tell you how I came up with the recipe for my "look pretty" loaf for my church's communion by intinction tomorrow!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, click here.

In the last post, I gave you the recipe for the challah, which I cut up and used to fill the bread bowl.  The challah is the part that people will actually eat.  It's the "be tasty" loaf.

The "look pretty" loaf is the one that sits on the table in the front of the sanctuary, and which the pastor holds up and tears in half while telling the story of the Last Supper.  Its entire job is to look nice and be tear-able.

How do you make a loaf that tears easily?  Well, you need to add some sort of fat to enrich it.  I'm no food scientist, but I know that fat tenderizes the dough, making it easier to tear.  Fats can include milk, butter, oil, or eggs.

However, you can't just throw these into a dough and call it a day.  They contribute to the overall hydration of the dough in indirect ways that need to be compensated for.

This is a job for.... bread math!

I decided I was going to add milk and an egg to soften my usual simplified 1-2-3 dough.  Here is how I did it:

My 1-2-3 loaf uses 375g of flour and 250g of water.  So the milk and egg would need to be a part of the 250g of water.

First, I figured out that milk is considered 82% hydration and an egg is 75% hydration.  That means they are 82% and 75% water respectively, and the rest is fat (or protein).

So in order to keep my 60% hydration level, I would have to measure the milk and egg by weight and calculate 82% of the milk and 75% of the egg and add them together along with some more water to equal 250g.

Here is my equation (if you can't see in the above photo):

(milk * .82) + (egg * .75) + (water) = 250g

The egg was 57g, so 75% of the egg's weight would be 42.75g.

I measured out some milk and it was 125g, so 82% was about 100g.

Now the equation looked like this:

(100) + (43) + (water) = 250g

So I needed 106g of water to reach 250g!

Along with the 375g of flour and 250g of water (and egg and milk) you should add about 7g of salt and 7g of yeast.  Salt and yeast don't change the hydration; only flour and water do.

All mixed up, it looked like this:

I covered it with plastic wrap and gave it a few stretch and folds once an hour or so, making sure the gluten was developing correctly.  It took about five hours to fully rise.  Here it is looking all smooth once the dough had time to rest and then the gluten strands started to form.

After the first rise, transfer to a piece of parchment paper and let rise another hour while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  I've found that enriched breads do better at lower temperatures than in the screaming hot temperatures that lean doughs seem to love.  Oh, and throw your dutch oven into the oven as well.

The dough was really sticky still so I covered it with flour.

When the dough is ready, score the top with a sharp knife and put it in the dutch oven with the lid on.  Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped.

Yay!  Pretty bread is pretty!

When your bread has cooled down, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in your bag along with the bread bowl and your cut up challah pieces to bring over to the church.

Stay tuned for the third and final segment in this series on making bread for communion by intinction: making the bread bowl!

Thanksgiving and preparing bread for communion by intinction

As most of my readers know, this week we celebrated Thanksgiving.  With my parents living far away, our Thanksgiving crew included my siblings, in-laws, an aunt and her family who live in Baltimore, and some friends who have become family.  We cooked up a storm and ate tons of delicious food.  Then on Friday Little Bread Toddler allowed us to sleep in and we had a lazy day: running simple errands, window shopping for houses, and going to the playground.  Oh, and preparing communion bread for the first Sunday of December.

Those of you who don't know the history of why I make bread for my church, click here.

This week is special because we are observing communion by intinction.  Catholics are familiar with the practice- it's the dipping of the bread into the wine during communion.  As Baptists we don't do it very often- usually the bread is passed around and eaten, then the wine (grape juice) is passed around and consumed.  But sometimes we do intinction when we are feeling particularly like communing with each other.

I've prepared the bread for intinction a couple of times now.  When my pastor first asked me to make it, I thought it would be no big deal.  I just made two loaves like I always do, and people could tear off a piece of the loaf and dip it.

Then the complaints started.

People did not like having to touch and eat bread that had been touched by other people, even though those other people were congregants and had been worshiping side by side with them for years.

Even though the whole point of intinction was a sense of community.

The irony was strong with this one.

But the people had spoken.  So the pastor and I cooked up a solution: I would hollow out a loaf of bread in the style of a bread bowl, cut the inside (the "crumb" in baker speak) into small chunks and put it back in the bread bowl so people could pluck a piece out instead of having to tear it.

Unfortunately, that plan didn't work out so well.  The pieces I was able to hollow out were misshapen and didn't result in enough pieces.  I ended up making three loaves: one to look pretty, one to be tasty, and one for the bread bowl.

Now that I've made bread for intinction a few times, I have it down to a science.  But it took a few tries to get it right.

I started out by making my "look pretty" and "bread bowl" loaves using my simplified 1-2-3 recipe and the "be pretty" loaf using Ina Garten's Honey White Bread recipe.  But I've since stopped using the 1-2-3 recipe for communion bread.

The thing is, the 1-2-3 bread is crusty due to its lack of fat, and the first time I saw the pastor manhandling my "look pretty" loaf to get it to tear in half, I was mortified.  It requires a softer, more tear-able dough, which I will detail in a subsequent post.  I still use 1-2-3 for the bread bowl, but I've learned to double the recipe to hold all the pieces.  I freeze the hollowed-out part for bread crumbs.

For the "be tasty" loaf, I switch back and forth between Ina Garten's Honey White and the Joy of Cooking's challah.  I find challah holds up better during intinction because the gluten really gets a chance to develop so it doesn't fall apart in the cup when it gets soaked with wine.  So that's what I've learned in a year of making communion bread.

Here's a picture of all the loaves rising on the counter.

And here's one with the towels taken off.

Bread Maiden's Challah (adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1997)

You will need:
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup AP flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1. Mix together the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Let it get bubbly, about five minutes.

2. Add the AP flour, vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, egg yolks and salt and mix until combined.

3. Add the bread flour a little at a time.  When it's all in, switch to the bread hook and knead for another 8-10 minutes until it's soft but not sticky.

4. Oil a bowl and move the dough to the bowl, flipping the dough to coat it all over with oil.  Cover and let rest for a few hours.

5. Grease a bread pan with butter.  Punch down the challah down, roll up into a long roll and cinch the end.  Transfer to the bread pan, cover and let rest another hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 375. Because you are going to be cutting up the loaf into little pieces, feel free to skip an egg wash.  Bake  until golden and delicious, about half an hour.  Once it's cool, cut into tiny pieces (if you are preparing to use for communion.  If not, slice and eat!)

I was able to slice about 160 or so pieces from one loaf.  Your mileage may vary.  Cut down to size, this bread is chewy but still sweet.  It will be perfect for communion tomorrow.  Please stay tuned for my next posts about the recipe I made up for my "be pretty" communion loaf and the 1-2-3 double size bread bowl loaf!