The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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AnnieT

This week I borrowed "From a Baker's Kitchen" from the library. The author is Gail Sher who was the first head baker of Tassajara Bread bakery, and it was first published in 1984. In the ingredients section she mentions bread flour and goes on to describe Spring wheat and Winter wheat and their different features. Then lower down she talks about Bread Flour introduced in 1982, a combination of high gluten flour and barley malt flour with potassium bromate added (a dough conditioner.) She states "This new product causes the dough to rise overly fast so that the true texture and flavor of the wheat do not have sufficient opportunity to develop. Therefore it is not recommended." I'm curious - is she referring to what we now mostly use for bread? Was it such a radical invention? Also, to hark back to my other post about low temperature baking, it seems that most of her breads are baked at 350*. Some, like the fougasse, are started at 400* for 10 minutes then lowered to 350*. Was this the old way, and how and when did we start using the high temperatures to create what I for one consider to be much superior bread? A.

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AnnieT

Today I baked a sourdough bread from another book from the library, Prairie Home Breads. It was published in 2001 and has some intersting recipes. The one I chose is called Hit-the-trail sourdough and begins with an overnight sponge. By this morning it was well risen and I added the rest of the flour and the salt. 2 hours later it was ready to shape and instead of 2 boules I used half to make breadsticks. My question is about the suggested baking temperature which was 375*. I did increase it to 400* and I used the stone and stainless steel bowl method. The loaf rose beautifully but is a pale golden color (with freckles) and it did sing when it tested at 204*. As I was daring enough to bake it "my way" does anyone have an opinion on starting at 500* as I usually do? Was the lower temp. an older method? I can't see that the ingredients are different from many of the other breads I have tried. I'm anxious to cut it to see how the crumb looks. Judging by the taste of the breadsticks it could use more salt - I use kosher salt and didn't increase it sufficiently. Next time... A.

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AnnieT

I just ordered this book (along with Crust and Crumb) and wonder whether anyone has any comments or has tried any of the recipes? One of the many bed and breakfast owners on the island expressed interest in having me bake bread for her visitors and I figured she would want more breakfast type breads and rolls than plain old sourdough. I found the book in the library and like the sound of many of the breads - so of course I had to add it to my baking shelf. (Any excuse, right?) I would like to hear any comments, good or bad. I would also like to put in a plug for a book I re-read for the umpteenth time, This House of Sky by Ivan Doig, a really good read.

Floyd, I know this is a bit late but is there any way to help TFL to benefit from Amazon orders? A.

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AnnieT

I decided to try the Pain a l'Ancienne from the BBA after reading all the latest success stories with this recipe. My Cuisinart isn't big enough for the full amount so I halved it and all was well. I was so scared of overmixing that I probably could have let it go longer but the dough seemed fine and went into the refrigerator overnight. I was totally amazed to find it had more than doubled by this morning - so now what to do? PR says to let it sit out for 2-3 hours to warm up and continue fermenting. I gave it over an hour while the oven heated, and maybe I should have believed Peter. No problems cutting and stretching the dough, and got a fantastic amount of steam from the cast iron skillet I had decided to sacrifice to the cause. The baguettes have a crispy crust and taste good but the crumb isn't very holey, or not as open as I had hoped. Oh well, I'll just have to try again.

On the other hand, the loaf of Almost No Knead bread was really sloppy and hard to shape into a boule. I let it rise for 2 hours and was convinced I would find a pancake when I removed the ss mixing bowl after 30 minutes. In fact it was well risen and had "bloomed" where I had snipped with scissors. Gave it another 20 minutes with the cover off, then 5 more with the door ajar. It "sang" so loundly I could hear it in the next room! I suppose it would be better to be sure of the results each time but I rather like the unexpected, especially when they are good. Now I have to work on my roast spuds, my part of the Easter dinner with the family, along with baguettes and the happy loaf, A.

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AnnieT

I walked over to a local thrift store while my car was in for an oil change and was thrilled to find a copy of The Village Baker by Joe Ortiz - for $2! I was able to do a quick scan while waiting for my car and it looks like a keeper. Does anyone have this book? Any comments, favorite recipes, errors? Now if I could only find a used (slightly) DLX mixer... A.

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AnnieT

I have been trying to locate the pancake recipe that I copied down recently and used this morning. My grandaughters were here overnight and now expect pancakes as part of the deal. I set the starter, flour and water on the counter overnight, then discarded 1/2 cup and added the rest of the ingredients.I ended up with crepe batter! It started out thick enough but by the time everything was mixed in it was way too liquid. The girls didn't seem to mind and ate a goodly quantity ( and they are both petite, no fair!) but I wonder what went wrong? Wish I could remember who posted the recipe so that I could ask for help. The good news is that the Almost No Knead bread was a hit for supper along with Bangers and Mash. Of course the fact that Nana lets them spread the butter more thickly than the parents do might have helped, A.

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AnnieT

My son gave me a couple of bottles of light ale, some that had been brought to a party and he wouldn't drink, so I decided to try the Almost No Knead bread. I used 1/3c of my starter instead of the vinegar, a tip I got from Marie at Breadbasket. Mixed all the ingredients at 9pm last night and by 10am this morning it was pushing up the cover. What a nice dough! Kneaded it just 15 times and put the shaped boule in a parchment lined banneton for 2 hours where it rose beautifully. I baked it in my ss Dutch oven but next time I will use my stone and big mixing bowl. Good oven spring and the crust is still crackly, but the crumb isn't as open as I had hoped. Very light and tastes great, but no big holes. I just checked back on Marie's site and her crumb wasn't very holey either, so maybe it is supposed to be this way. Speaking of holey, I took a loaf to my son's house when I went for dinner recently, and as usual I was anxious to see what the crumb was like. When I said I was happy with the holey crumb my seven year old grandaughter said "Perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches!" I remember somebody talking about grilled cheese sandwiches where the cheese drips through and "toasts" - and he was right. Delicious, A.

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AnnieT

I just took what might be my best loaf ever from the oven - and it sang to me for several minutes! The recipe (from my notebook) calls it Susan and JMonkey's Sourdough, and I had written "excellent" at the top of the page. It is the recipe that ferments 100g starter, 450g bread flour, 310g water and 10g salt overnight. Stretch and fold 3 times, shape boule and place in parchment lined banneton, spray with oil and refrigerate overnight. I preheated my stone to 500* and used the stainless steel bowl method. The amazing thing is that I used my discarded starter straight from the 'frig - I had saved it thinking maybe English muffins so it wasn't recently refreshed. I was also very surprised to see that the dough rose in the 'frig. I took a picture of the loaf and can't wait to check the crumb, and by golly I hope to post the pictures, A.

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AnnieT

I spent a goodly amount of last evening reading all about Bosch and DLX mixers, all the while knowing that I can't afford to buy either unless I win the lottery. Probably would have to buy a ticket to make that happen. However, I do have a nearly new Cusinart food processor which makes the world's best pastry - so why not bread? I searched my notebook of recipes copied from TFL members looking for one with a small enough amount of flour since I know my machine is too small for a multi loaf recipe. The one I chose was the Semolina Sandwich Loaf, many thanks to Zolablue. It took all of the semolina flour I had on hand, and the dough was very slack and I probably should have added some bread flour. The machine made very short work of the kneading and I detected a slight "overheated" smell at the time I decided it was ready. I did a fabulous French fold and have to say the semolina flour is very easy to clean up compared to white flour. The dough was still too soft to do much shaping after it had risen but it rose quite well in the pan. Unfortunately my fear of overproofing led me to bake it too soon and it blew out one side. The recipe didn't call for slashing so I didn't; maybe that would have prevented it? So the loaf isn't pretty, but the crumb is wonderful and the flavor is great. On the whole I think I will wait until I can buy one of the "proper" mixers, but it was fun to experiment. A.

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AnnieT

Today was the appointed day so I packed up two loaves, my bread board and knife, a tub of soft butter and napkins, along with a jar of starter. Unfortunately Mrs. T had forgotten she had a meeting and there was a substitute in charge, so things got a little confused. I never did get round to my spiel on sourdough starters, but I left the jar on the desk for them to watch it grow. Sliced the first loaf and the gannets descended!. I cut the loaf in half and then stood it on the cut side and sliced "half" pieces. After a while the sub. started buttering and that went much faster. I heard a few of the kids say they didn't like crusts but all that was left were crumbs! Apart from my grandaughter I got the impression that none of them had ever had home baked bread. Some of the girls were interested but the boys just wanted to eat, and eat they did. Maybe they didn't get much breakfast? Then it was cleanup time and back to work, A.

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