The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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AnnieT

I have been meaning to report a new (to me) technique I have been using, although technique is a rather fancy name for it. After the dough has sat for 30 minutes autolyse I wet the counter and my right hand and do a sort of modified Bertinet method. I pick the dough up and slap it down hard and repeat several times. Just one hand and really slam it down, and in no time the dough is shiny and ready to ferment. Makes the trivets fall face down and the neighbors probably wonder what I am up to, but it is very satisfying and the bread is good. Still my favorite loaf, but gaaarp's 5 Grain Sourdough sounds tempting... A.

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AnnieT

While I was waiting for the quilt store to open this morning I wandered into the local thrift store and found yet another baking book: "The Neighborhood Bakeshop" by Jill Van Cleeve. It has "recipes and reminiscences of America's favorite bakery treats" and has a little write-up of each bakery along with the featured recipe. Looks like a good read even if I don't bake from it, A.

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AnnieT

I know very well not to place 2 loaves close to each other or they will "burst" on the adjacent sides. So why in the world did I line up 4 pans of discard bread across the oven shelf? They were almost touching, and yup, each one burst open. I had 4 cups of starter and made the dough a little softer than usual - and the crumb is light and tender. I also decided to bake them from cold and the bottom crusts are very dark  Hopefully the neighbors won't be too critical. My only excuse is a rotten cough and cold which must have affected my thinking, A.

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AnnieT

I just got my used copy of this book which I had thought of sending to my son in Paso Robles as he is talking of building a clay oven. I thought maybe the brick oven would interest him, but having started to read it I may keep it. Fascinating book with lots of information, but I found one point that confuses me. The author claims that the internal temperature of a loaf should be at least 195*, though 200* is ideal. Then he goes on to say that bread baked to a higher temperature does not keep as well. Here I have been carefully baking to at least 205*! Who should I believe? I searched and found that several members have the book and like it - did anyone else notice the comment? A.

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AnnieT

When I was searching through a file of recipes I came across this one, written on a sheet of lined paper goodness knows how many years ago. I don't remember ever baking it but wonder if anyone here knows the bread and maybe tried it. I won't give the entire recipe but basically it calls for potatoes which are boiled and mashed, and when they are cool enough sugar salt and yeast are added. This mixture is kneaded and formed into a ball which is covered and put to rise. Half of the potato ball is added to milk, sugar, butter, salt and ap flour and the other half is saved for another baking. Makes pan loaves or 36 rolls. Does this sound familiar? Any comments, success or otherwise? Has all the ingredients for tender bread, and I wish I could remember where I found it, A.

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AnnieT

I found this interesting book in the library recently, The Italian Baker by Carol Field. It covers not only bread but cakes, pastries and cookies and gives both weights and volume. It also gives methods in three ways, by hand, by mixer and by processor but they are quite well separated and easy to follow. The author lists many sayings and proverbs that express the Italians' way of expressing their sentiments, using bread as their common metaphor. A couple of my favorites: "Riuscire meglio a pane che a farina" To succeed more with the bread than with the flour ( to have more success than expected.) "Chiurugo come il pane, medico come il vino" Look for a surgeon like bread (young) and a doctor like wine (well aged.) Does anyone own this book? Any opinions on the recipes? A.

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AnnieT

I had some cooked red potato chunks and some fresh sourdough starter discard and decided to combine them in a bread. I grated the potato "innards" and mixed them with the starter, about a cup of each, and added salt, water, bread flour and 1/2tspn instant yeast. Left the mixture to autolyse for 30 minutes and found it was pretty sloppy when I checked. I added a little more flour and did a french fold, then three stretch and folds over the next 2 hours. When the dough had doubled I cut it into three and made small boules. When they were ready I baked them on a hot cookie sheet under my roaster for 15 minutes, then another 15 minutes uncovered at 450*. They were up to 205* and I gave them another 5 minutes with the oven turned off, but when they were cool I cut one and found that the crumb was almost gummy. The good news is it made a great chicken and lettuce sandwich - the crust was crunchy and the soft crumb really went well with the filling. There were flecks of potato on the crust but no potato flavor in the crumb. I imagine it will keep well and make good toast, A.

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AnnieT

Today I found a dear little foil pan, called a Deep Roasting pan. It measures 11 3/4"x9 5/16" and is 4" deep. Perfect for baking Susan's loaf on a heavy cookie sheet - which I just did. I was concerned because it isn't as deep as my ss bowl - which won't fit on the cookie sheet - but it worked just fine. I also noticed that my store sells 5# bags of rye flour from Hodgson Mill for $4.19, and all of the KA flours were $5.99. A.

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AnnieT

Today I had time to "play" and an excess of discarded sourdough starter so I decided to see what I could come up with. I took a cup of starter, a cup of warm water a "dollop" of oil, two teaspoons of kosher salt, four cups of flour (half ap, half bread flour) and a scant 1/2 tspn of instant yeast. Mixed this in the Bosch until the dough came away from the sides, then let it double in an oiled bowl. Shaped it into two short baguettes which proofed for about 40 minutes, then I baked them on a heated sheet pan under the base of an oblong roaster which I removed after 15 minutes. Then I rotated the pan and baked them for another 15 minutes, to 205*. The loaves rose well and the crust was quite crisp. The crumb was very soft and none-holey, and it would make perfect sandwich rolls ( hero?) I live in a retirement community and I think this will be my "gift" bread from now on - that way I won't have to worry about people coping with crusty bread. I did take pictures and hopefully will figure out how to share them one day, A.

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AnnieT

Have to start out by saying that I haven't made any type of sweet rolls for many years, so I am hoping that someone with lots of experience will be able to help me. I have been wanting to make several recipes from Beatrice Ojakangas' "The Great Scandinavian Baking Book" and this evening I picked the Cinnamon Ears. I had bought the cardamom some time ago and have to justify the price! My worry is with the dough - the instructions say to mix the yeast, melted butter, sugar, eggs, salt and cardamom and 4 1/2cups ap flour until the dough is smooth. No kneading? I used my dough whisk and then did a modified kneading in the bowl to reach the smooth dough. It seems awfully soft, but it gets to sit in the refrigerator overnight and Beatrice claims the chilled dough is easy to handle. Am I trying to "overthink" this? Any help will be much appreciated, A.

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