The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

AnnieT's blog

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AnnieT

How frustrating! I spent most of the afternoon figuring out how to get the pictures into the computer but now I can't manage to send them! Zounds! What is the saying about not teaching an old dog new tricks? The instruction book doesn't tell me how either. Is anyone able to give me some guidance, please? A

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AnnieT

After a few disappointing efforts I have to report that yesterday the dough fairies were on duty. I really like the firm starter PR calls for, and as I dropped the pieces into my mixing bowl the flour flew! Next time I will be more careful. I mixed all together and left it alone for 45 minutes and then did a Mike Avery fold and left it again. The dough was already feeling good and I attempted a French fold which went pretty well. Not sure whether it is allowed to mix methods like that? Then I went out and planted some new perennials and watered eveything - MiniOven did tell me to do something else, and I now know that I haven't been letting things ferment long enough. After lunch I shaped the dough and used the TT rolled towel and parchment couche, and again went off and let things take care of themselves. Baked the loaves on my stone with steam and got terrific oven spring. Need to work on the scoring - I thought I had cut deep enough but didn't get any ears. Baked the loaves until good and dark and 205*, but the crust didn't stay crisp. I was so tickled I had to share all of this - the family get the glazed eye look when I rave on, so I thought the bread fanatics would understand. Thanks for listening, A

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AnnieT

I wrote recently about being disappointed with my loaves and several kind people suggested overproofing was the problem. Katie urged me to keep trying, so today was the day - I used my starter instead of barm and spiked the final dough with instant yeast as suggested by PR. My firm starter rose nicely and stayed over night in the frig and this morning I chopped it up and left it to warm up. I think I added too much water as the final dough was a little softer than I expected - PR says you can adjust that with flour for kneading but I was planning on using Dan Lepard's method, oil on the counter and no flour. I ended up doing the stretch and fold 3 times and the dough was "abundant", really springy and beginning to rise. It had doubled in just over 60 minutes in my cool kitchen. I shaped one half into a boule and the other into a long batard. The boule went into the rice flour coated banneton and the long loaf onto parchment paper on a baking sheet. Just for fun I baked it from cold, up to 450*, and it rose beautifully - and I used my brand new instant read thermometer to be sure it was cooked properly. The boule had a nice firm skin which was easy to slash, and that went into the heated oven (both with steam) and the oven spring was terrific. Both loaves had nice holey crumb, and I took pictures in case I ever learn how to post them. So thank you all for telling me to persist! I can't believe how much my bread has improved since I have been absorbing so much good information from this wonderful site, A

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AnnieT

Not a great success, which is frustrating as I did everything by the book - kept dashing back to check at each step. As I mentioned, the dough was great to work with and I had great hopes, but in the end there was practically no oven spring. The bread tasted good and the crust had the pretty "freckles", but there weren't many holes. My only thought is that I overproofed the loaves - I let them sit for 4 hours after coming out of the frig because that is what PR suggested. I had made batards and they rose nicely and didn't collapse when I slashed them. I would REALLY appreciate any comments from you more experienced bakers. By the way, I just checked out the Breadtopia site and Eric offers a spelt no knead recipe. Something else to try - no wonder my poor old brain is mithering, A

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AnnieT

Hi Katie, my dough was great so I guess I didn't goof too much with the amount of starter. It had doubled in 2 1/2 hours and was so nice to work with. I decided to leave the loaves in the frig overnight and there they sit, snugly held in place with parchment and rolled towels. It will be REALLY hard for me to let them sit for 4 hours before baking but I will try to be patient. I am so thrilled with my near-disaster bread too - it keeps fresh, and I seem to remember reading somewhere that using a preferment is the reason. I'm hooked! Can I mention the Brummie words? My mom was fond of saying that someone "had a bob on themselves" which meant they throught they were hot stuff. She was so determined that we wouldn't get big headed and she said that "all my grandmother's geese were swans" meaning that Nana thought her family could do no wrong. So we were never praised, rather sad. Oh well, many years ago, but it is fun to look up some of the sayings. I will TRY to take pictures if the bread turns out as well as I hope, A

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AnnieT

Katie, I was so anxious to try using my starter instead of the barm - and already I have a question. My 4oz. of starter was less than 2/3cups. Do you think it was because my starter was revved up and more liquid? I sorta kinda split the difference and went ahead anyway - I'll let you know what happens. I am also fretting a bit about "firm French bread dough" because I have never made French bread and don't really know how firm it should be. I see PR says tacky but not sticky. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Thanks for your help, A

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AnnieT

Weavershouse, you've blown my cover! I was born in a small place outside "Brummagam" and had no idea anyone over here would know about Brummie slang. My mother used to do what we called bread and scrape - she would spread butter VERY THINLY on the cut end of the loaf before slicing it. Guess that came from the butter being rationed during the war. Of course I had to Google the site you mentioned and sat here laughing out loud to the amazement of Boo the one eyed pug. Now she thinks I'm over the edge too like my son in Paso Robles, CA. I was relating the tale of the almost disaster to him and he pointed out that it is only bread. He is the one I sent some of my sourdough starter to, and whenever we talk I ask if he has fed it recently. He has had some success but seems to think he has to adopt a tough attitude about it - probably doesn't want to end up as obsessed as his mama. Off to take the recycling, no time to read all of the Brummie sayings. A

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AnnieT

Last night I lay tossing and turning, doing what my late father-in-law would call "mithering" - thinking about the bread I was going to bake today, (Floyd's Daily Bread), the basic sourdough from the BBA, and wondering whether anyone has tried making ciabatta dough using a food processor. Lots of things to make my brain spin. So I was late getting going this morning and it was probably 10am when I started on the bread. I had checked on the poolish several times and it looked fine, but when I tipped it onto the flour and water after the autolyse I found to my horror that it had separated and now I had a bowl of stiffish flour and water paste plus lots of liquid. Panic stations! I squished it all together between my fingers - what a mess. Of course I hadn't read all of the comments about the bread to know that it was meant to be wet. I added 1/2 a cup of flour and stirred with my trusty dough hook until there were strands forming, and then I did two quick folds. Believe me, I folded the heck out of it and each time it was a little easier to handle. Folded and went to Curves. Came home, folded it and ran into town to buy a birthday card - you get the picture. Finally after lunch it was time to shape the loaves. By now the dough was risen and full of bubbles, so I cut it very gently and made two strangely shaped loaves using TT's towel supported couche, thank you TT. I really worked on my slashing this time as I figured they weren't going to look great anyway. Baked them on the hot stone with steam and to my utter amazement they were beautiful! The slightly square ends rounded out nicely, the cuts bloomed - and the crumb was full of lovely holes. I pulled the parchment paper out when I turned them. Wish I had baked them for a few more minutes because the crust softened as they cooled. So what I thought was going to be a total disater turned out to be some of the best bread I have made yet. Many thanks for the recipe, Floyd, and for this fine site. Is there a 12 step program for this addiction? A

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AnnieT

Beautiful bread, kjknits! It hadn't occurred to me to use my own sourdough starter instead of the barm, and now I can't wait to try it. I have the poolish sitting on the counter for Floyd's Daily Bread, and now this! I am getting panicky about running out of flour, and my freezer is getting full - not sure I want the family to know I am baking so much. Luckily my neighbors are always happy to take a loaf off my hands. I don't have a mixer so maybe won't get the great results you did, but I'm going to try, A

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AnnieT

I hope you didn't think I was being rude when I asked for some help clarifying your instructions - and didn't direct the question to you because I wasn't sure whether you were available. I found your recipe and pictures and would like to try it, but I wasn't sure whether you refreshed your starter and left it on the counter overnight or put it in the refrigerator? I just split my starter, which seemed rather thick, and 1/2 is on the counter and 1/2 in the frig. In containers, LOL. So now I have two starters on the go. I'll need a bigger frig at this rate, what with the bags of exotic stuff in the freezer - spelt, wheat germ, durum flour... Hope you had a good vacation, A

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