The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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AnnieT

After reading so much about Artisan Baking Across America I decided I had to take a look and ordered it through my wonderful local library. To my amazement I recognized it - I must have borrowed it from another library way back when, before I made "real" bread. I particularly remembered the pandoro, and thinking that the baker must be out of his mind. Has anyone here attempted to make it? So now at least I know what you are talking about when you mention Thom Leonard's country French bread, Tom Cat's semolina filone and Essential's Columbia, and I think I know how to convert my starter to a firm one if I so desire. A very interesting book but way too big to read with a cat on my lap and a pug on the arm of my chair! A.

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AnnieT

The loaf I baked today was the best yet, great crumb and a crisp crust that "sang" as it cooled. Plus it rose like crazy, and I'm not sure whether it was my yogurt starter or the fact that I now know that I haven't been letting the starter work its magic. I can't remember whether it was Bill or one of the other great mentors who said to let the starter do the work. I kept reading that soudough was slow but somehow it didn't sink in, so now I make sure to busy myself with something else so that I'm not rushing the dough. Slow learner? I cut the huge loaf as soon as I dared so that I could share it with neighbors who suffered through some of my earlier efforts. Then I ate some with soup for supper! A.

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AnnieT

Susan, I baked "our" bread today and got the best looking loaf so far - I used my stone and huge ss mixing bowl because the dough stuck to the smaller bowl a couple of times. I also realized that I have been too impatient with the dough and found the perfect cure - sew a quilt at the same time! No pacing back and forth watching the timer, no stretching it before the 30 minutes was up. I let it sit on the little propane heating stove to warm up this morning as the pilot light gives a gentle heat. I was so thrilled with the loaf and had it sitting on the bread board covered with a cloth when the family arrived for supper. They all duly admired it and my son started to cut it for all to try. As he got to the center there were two huge holes, and you can imagine how I got teased. They weren't at the crust like the lazy baker ones but they were big enough for the girls to pretend they were spectacles. However, the flavor was wonderful and there is only one measly slice left for me, plus the crust stayed crisp. They polished off the pasta too - time was when there would have been another meal for Nana. I have been thinking about the exciting times you have had lately, first the tunnel fire when you were in Cambria and now the wild fires - are you ready to retire to the soggy northwest yet? A.

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AnnieT

I found this recipe in my notebook and assume it is from one of TFL bakers - but I didn't make a note of the name. I have to say it is the prettiest loaf I have ever baked and the crust "sang" to me when it came out of the oven. The recipe starts with 1 cup of starter and 1 cup of water and 1 tspn yeast - I used a little less instant yeast. So if you recognize this recipe, many thanks. Oh how I wish I could post a picture! I haven't cut it yet so hope the crumb is as good as the crust, A.

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AnnieT

Some time ago I remember reading that someone used just the scrapings from the starter jar and it was enough to refresh ( or whatever the technical term would be). I was very sceptical, but today I found out that it is true! I decided to make Bill's sourdough pagnotta but didn't notice that it needs 400g of starter. That just about cleaned out my SourdoLady's starter plus some of my less vigorous yogurt one. Both of them bounded back quickly, and I'm a believer. I had made a note that the amount of water was too much, but of course that didn't stop me from adding nearly the full 650g. The dough was like oatmeal and took numerous foldings, including a French fold at the beginning. Never did get it to the manageable state but it made 4 loaves, 2 batards and 2 of what I tried to make into stirata. I baked the batards first and stretched and dimpled the other 2 on a cornmeal coated "peel", actually a piece of heavy cardboard. I thought for sure they would be overproofed but in fact they ended up like slightly oddly shaped baguettes. Lots of oven spring, nice holey crumb and good flavor. That's the oddities, the batards will be given away ( with fingers crossed.) A.

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AnnieT

Susan, I can't remember where you posted this recipe - and I have scrolled back without success trying to find it. You were suggesting someone give it a try and of course I had to jump right in as well. I have to say the dough didn't look very promising and it was rock hard after a night in the frig. However, after sitting on my little propane stove for 2 1/2 hours it had finally warmed slightly and I decided to bake. It really didn't look like much, but I went ahead and slashed it and covered it with the ss mixing bowl as directed. I have to tell you I was totally gobsmacked when I removed the bowl! Fantastic oven spring and when I took it out (205*) the crust was shiny and crisp with lots of lovely "freckles". I have to keep going into the kitchen to check it out. I have a question: why couldn't I use my stone instead of the cookie sheet? I'm not complaining, just curious. Can't wait to check out the crumb, thanks again, A.

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AnnieT

I had to babysit tonight and was invited to eat supper with the family - I work cheap. There was a very nice little loaf on the cutting board, crisp crust and holey tender crumb. Imagine my surprise when my d-i-l told me it was one I had baked and she had retrieved from the freezer! I didn't recognize it and I'm still not sure which bread it was. Could have been Will Wraith's baguette, judging by the crumb. Also heard from my friends who received their loaf today in the mail. It was the whole grain sourdough from Breadtopia and got rave reviews. Pretty spendy to mail it so it will only be a special treat once in a while, A.

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AnnieT

Today I baked the sourdough wholegrain bread from Breadtopia, and this time I used my ss dutch oven. I treated the dough like the NK bread and proofed it in a parchment lined banneton so I was able to score it before lowering it into the pan. No scorched bottom crust and in fact the loaf looks great. This is the one I am going to mail to San Diego, and the frustrating thing is that I won't know what the crumb looks like. Maybe my friends will send a picture - I have my fingers crossed that it is as good as it looks, A

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AnnieT

Not sure where to post this, but you know you are a baker when you sweep the kitchen floor and all you find is toasted cornmeal which fell out of the oven when you pulled the parchment paper, A

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AnnieT

Since the unfortunate demise of my starter and the jar of leftovers I have been busy making new ones. SourdoLady's pineapple juice one and the yogurt one I started out with originally. SourdoLady, the pineapple one started out well but hasn't done much of anything since I changed to ap flour and water. I have stirred like crazy, added a spoonful of rye, even tried the apple cider vinegar. I am now to day 11 and there are bubbles on the surface but no sign of rising. What do you think - should I keep on repeating day 4 or toss it and start again? I really want it to work. On the other hand, the yogurt one is pounding his chest and pawing the ground and today I made some of the best sourdough bread so far, using Susan's recipe with the overnight sponge. Could it be sibling rivalry? Should I sit them side by side to encourage the timid one? If you think I should continue I will, but I still have more pineapple juice so I could try again. Thanks in advance for any suggestions, A

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