Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My new best friend - Ankarsrum!

Okay, if you are not an avid bread baker, you will probably find this blog pretty boring. However, if you like to bake bread, read on. Or maybe even if you just like to eat bread, read on.

When I found out quickly that even a Kitchen Aid "Professional" mixer wasn't going to work for me, instead of falling back on my 20 year old Kenwood that was getting a little cranky I looked into getting a mixer that was up to the task at hand.

I don't make enough bread (and my oven will only do six baguettes at a time anyway) to justify getting a big honking mixer, but there had to be something to replace my Kenwood. I knew the Kenwood would only do the dough for six loaves at a time. I tried doing nine, but it really worked hard, and besides, I do 12 loaves for a standard order, so the extra three loaves were meaningless.

While researching mixers for bread dough, I looked at an Ankarsrum, a weird looking Swedish machine. The dough hook stays stationary and the bowl turns. The motor is in the bottom, which means it is more stable while mixing. No sense having a mixer that you have to stand over to keep it from walking off the counter. I well know that! Did it twice with my Kenwood, and the second time I even figured out how to put it together on my own, didn't have to call in Allen to put it together for me. That 20 year old Kenwood is one mighty machine, let me tell you, but as I said, only six loaves at a time, and this walking problem.

I did a lot of research on the Ankarsum - finally learned how to pronounce it. It's "anchor shroom," in case you want to know. I talked to people who had used them. One person said it could do up to 15 pounds of dough, which would be 18 baguettes. I didn't count on that, and it's a good thing I didn't. Its max is the 12 baguettes worth of dough that I was looking for. There is no bowl cover, so there is a little problem with flour flying all over when I start a batch, but I am finding some ways to work around that. Unless you are a bread baker, this is all meaningless, but I start the poolish in the mixer bowl, let it sit for 12 hours right in the bowl, then put in the flour, and then pour in the water over the flour, which helps to keep the flying flour problem down. I wish it would go just a tad slower when starting up. That too would help to reduce flying flour.

I bought the slicer/shredder attachment, and it is fabulous! I slice and dehydrate organic sweet potatoes for one of my trail mixes, and it made short work of the slicing. I also bought the blender. I used it this morning, and it too is fantastic. This means I could sell my Cuisinart food processor, since there is nothing that I was doing with it that I can't do as well (or better!) with the Ankarsrum.

The only attachment I still want is the meat grinder, which has five different sized holes for rough grind to fine, attachments for making spaghetti and linguini, and even a cookie press. I cannot imagine how that works, but it comes with the package. So why not? Here is a picture of the basic machine. It is sitting with the poolish in it for the 12 baguettes I will make for Garden Patch, to be delivered at 10 am on my way to market every Thursday.


Isn't she beautiful?

I have been playing with it now for several months, and I have found that switching to a different kneading attachment after the first 8 minutes of kneading with the big dough hook produces an even finer dough. The big discovery is that the better the kneading, the less yeast I have to use. I am down to using only a teaspoon and a half of yeast for 12 loaves. Before I discovered poolishes and slow cold rises, I was using about a teaspoon per loaf! Since yeast is a very expensive component of a baguette, this is significant. In fact, I am going to try to cut it down just a little more, since I am having trouble with the dough rising too much during the cold rise period in the fridge. I have to knock it down at least twice a day. I do believe the extra effort I am getting from the yeast is from using that second kneading implement instead of just the dough hook. It is working miracles on that bowl of dough!

Well, if I haven't put you to sleep with this blog, stop by the Garden Patch market on Thursdays for a beautiful and tasty true French baguette, or stop by my booth at the South Bend Farmers Market on Saturdays. Every other week, the Farmers Market baguettes are made from ancient grain flour (Einkorn), which my customers who are sensitive to gluten tell me they can eat. Sorry, no dice if you have celiac disease, but if it is just gluten sensitivity, the ancient grains have a genetically different gluten in them, and they are tolerable for many who can't eat bread made with today's hybridized wheat flours.

Fresh baked bread with a nice slab of good cheese or a slice of a meaty French terrine. Mmmmmm! Bon app├ętit.




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