The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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I love the new bakery I am working at. Everyday I get to work by 2-23oish a.m. and bake till 10 a.m. Five days a week, sometimes six. I experiment with new ideas, new shaping methods and have just so much fun. Though after work I walk down the road and attend school for another 8-9 hours. So I am pretty tired out and never really get the chance to bake at home, so lately my blogs have been lacking and all I can do is comment on the wonderful works I have been seeing on TFL lately.

But I had a moment tonight and wanted to share this with everyone. While David is making Miches, and everyone is going crazy over excellent pastrami sandwiches on rye...I was attending to my cravings and crafting the 'wich I fall back upon time after time. Plus, I wanted to see if I could start a trend or something on TFL, similar to the miches and possibly the  semolina loaves we saw last week ; )




Right? I baked off a tiny sandwich loaf at work and brought it home to my fiance who always says she isn't like me when it comes to being able to eat a whole loaf.

I thought this would be the right size then :) It's about 1 3/4 to 2 inches in height, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Baked in an itty bitty loaf pan at work. Cute isn't it.


Up next...

Micro Monte Cristos


arlo's picture

After nearly two good years at my local Great Harvest, two weeks ago I packed up, called it good and moved to a new venture down the road. It was hard to leave good friends and a great boss, but after talking to my Chef/Professor at college and my fiance, I decided I had hit the wall, learned everything I could at the bakery and because of that, it was time to move on from my current bakery. In order to grow and develop I needed to start working on other skills and making different loaves daily.

Talk about a change! From making 200-300 loaves a day and even more during the holidays to making about 30 loaves a day and being in charge of the the whole bread department (just me mind you : ). My two weeks at Aggie Mae's has really made me appreciate taking time to work out the kinks, experiment and get in touch with my cake making, frosting and pastry skills!

The Great Harvest I worked at was wonderful, unfortunately I have had my mind set on my ACF Certification tests and working towards becoming a Certified Executive Pastry Chef down the line in a few years. I love bread mind you, I love it more than pastries, but I understand where the money is at in my area and how pastries can really help me out in this career, so I gladly took the position as the head baker and then helper with cakes. I am certainly glad I did shift jobs.

The first week I began baking in a hearth oven, making entirely new pizzas (asked on the spot, "Ok Arlo, what are some new pizzas you are going to put out this week?") Talk about pressure, but I came through! I made Prosciutto wrapped asparagus with red peppers and Parmesan pizzas. Blue cheese, pear and walnut pizzas and more. I also worked out a new multi-grain bread recipe which went over well enough today the owner asked me to triple the recipe for the Saturday crowd!

From croissants, to mini fresh fruit tarts, country bread, sourdough seed breads, creme anglaise and more, I have certainly learned a lot this week alone and have worked on some great products.

The only rough side, work starts at 2 am now instead of 3 am.

Such is life though : )


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Though I haven't posted about bread in a while, I have my reasons. No, I am still working at the bakery baking bread daily which hasn't made me bread-sick. I still am studying to complete my degree (end of this fall it looks like!) but I make time for the important things in life (like baking!). But what is keeping me away from bread is that I am working towards my American Culinary Federation Certified Pastry Chef title, which I hope to obtain this year. What that means is I have been baking a lot of genoise cakes, cookies and attempting Bavarian cream. Since those are the required pastries to be made for the practical examination.

Today, after getting off my shift I went ahead and made some molded Bavarian cream which is actually still in the fridge due to other time restrictions and appointments, but also went ahead and changed my game plan when it came to my cookies. I decided against my original molasses and oatmeal raisin cookies and went for the more familiar. Although I am still sticking with my two brownie recipes I decided. It's not that my molasses or oatmeal raisin recipe were bad, it's just I thought I should pay homage to the bakery that has taken me in and taught me so much.

I took a look at some of my aforementioned baking knowledge from working at a bakery that promotes whole grains and decided to make a two cookies using 100% whole wheat flour. They are different than what I make at the bakery by a long shot, but they remain true to using entirely whole grains.



The end result was a deliciously chewy whole wheat oatmeal cookie, and whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip cookie! I made roughly four dozen, two and half went to my fiances work to be shared (they see lots and lots of my pastries from homemade poptarts, cakes to truffles) and the other half will be for her father, who is in the armed forces and is going overseas to the middle east again this month.

I am very pleased with the taste and texture and am glad I went with something I am familiar with. I think it will bring along confidence when it is time to step up to the plate.

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A good bostock turns my day around 180 degrees. From wrong to right, goodbye to hello, ok to fan-freaking-tastic.

Just yesterday happened to be one of those times I needed a bostock to help me out. While my other classmates are out and having fun during spring break, I am still at home baking each morning at  3 a.m. for work (and home!), trying to catch up on arranging our new apartment, and getting an early start with semester end projects. Not really much of a spring break, considering it is still in the thirties outside too!

Enough idle chit-chat though. Bring on the pastries. For the brioche I used the Culinary Institute of America's "advanced brioche" recipe, which is really just a nice 60% butter brioche. I scaled the recipe to make 12-2oz rolls to fit in my muffin tray. Soaked the baked mini-brioches in an orange simple syrup with a bit of Mount Gay rum added to it (wish I had more cointreau), topped with an almond frangipane and one whole almond, baked at 400 for 18 minutes, dusted with powdered sugar and snarfed down asap.


bostock group

bostock close


Fiance asked me after finishing the first one and holding a second one in her hand, "How many did you say we could keep?"

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Before I went and watched my boss's dogs and house while he was away on vacation, I managed to bake a few loaves of bread that I did not get a chance to blog about.

The first loaf was a 100% whole wheat mash bread from Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.

Reinhart 100% Whole Wheat Mash loaf

I was rather curious about this loaf after having made a few rye breads using Hamelman's hot rye soaker technique. What I remembered from those loaves is the mash imparted a slightly sweet taste to the final loaf as if there was a touch of sugar or honey. Bwraith blogged about this bread as well seen here; Whole Wheat Mash Bread. There is no need for me to rewrite the recipe since it is available on Bwraith's blog, which he kindly supplied in his post.

I only made two changes to the loaf. I used a whole wheat starter in place of the biga, as Reinhart provides as an alternative leavening agent. Also I left out the suggested sweetener in the recipe for two reasons; I felt many of Reinhart's recipes from WGB to be far too sweet to begin with, and second because I wanted to see the potential of the mash. To my surprise I found the end loaf to have a full 'whole grain' taste which I desired, a slightly sour taste, but only a slightly sweet taste too. I half-expected the wheat mash to match the rye mashes I have dealt with before, but to my surprise it couldn't compare. Though this loaf was still very tasty. I imagine the sweetness I was looking for has to do with the more ferment-able sugars found in rye.


Reinhart 100% Whole Wheat Mash


The next loaf of bread I baked was from The Culinary Institute of America's Baking and Pastry book.


CIA Whole Wheat Levain Loaf

It was a simple whole wheat sourdough. The end product though after an over night retardation provided a very, very tasty loaf in my opinion that certainly surpassed what I was expecting. The formula and procedure follows;

Whole Wheat levain

Ingredients                         Bakers %              Weight

Bread Flour (Sir galahad)     50%                     5.4 oz

Whole Wheat Flour              50%                     5.4 oz

Water (DDT 76)                  75%                     8.1 fl oz

100% Starter *                   40%                    4.32 oz

Salt (Grey Sea Salt)            2.7%                   .3 oz


*Starter used was a 50/50 of Sir Galahad and Fresh Milled 100% Whole wheat flour. As with the whole wheat flour used in the loaf, it too was fresh milled.



1.  Combine the flours, water, sourdough and mix on low speed for about 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Add the salt and mix 1 minute on low and then 2 minutes on medium. Aim for a improved stage of gluten development. The dough should be slightly soft but elastic.

2.  Bulk ferment the dough until nearly doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Though it took me about 3 hours in a cold apartment. Fold gently and ferment for another hour. Fold again. Ferment for another 20 minutes.

3.  Preshape the dough into a round and let rest for 15 - 20 minutes.

4.  Gently shape the loaf into a batard or round when sufficiently relaxed.

5.  Place in a banneton lightly floured and covered with plastic overnight in the fridge to have a slow final rise.

6.  When the dough has risen, or the next morning, preheat your oven with your dutch oven or cc, or latest crazy steaming method to 470F.

7. When preheated, remove bread from retarder, load into your oven, score and cook covered (or steamed) for twenty minutes. After twenty minutes remove steaming apparatus, bake in a dry oven for 17 minutes, or until loaf registers 200F, sounds hollow when thumped or looks nice and done to you!

8. Cool completely, slice and enjoy.


CIA wholewheat crumbs


CIA wholewheat crumb

Two different loaves, but both very tasty.

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The past few loaves I've baked since I have moved into my new apartment at the start of the new year have been variations on the Tartine Bread whole wheat dough. Out of the five or six whole wheat loaves I have baked, I have been very, very pleased with the results. More often the crumb is remarkably open for such high percentage of whole wheat, the crumb is moist, the tang, though not assertive, lies in the background for an added depth of flavor. All in all, a lovely loaf of bread I am quite proud of and have shared with friends and family with high praise.

I thought about why this recipe makes such tasty loaves time after time for me, and then, like a good culinary student and baker, I asked myself, "What have I acquired and learned from this recipe that I can take and use in my future bakes that I haven't used before?".

I have implemented natural leavening to many doughs before and have been impressed, but I knew it wasn't just that with this recipe. It then struck me, perhaps, it wasn't the ingredients as much as the method/procedure used for the formula that helps create some excellent loaves time after time. So I went back to a book I have cherished in my baking career; Bread, by Mr. Hamelman, and attempted a loaf that has troubled me often; Miche pointe a calliere.

I feel there is no need for me to post the recipe since I am sure it can be found on this site, and if not, let this just be another great reason on why this book should be purchased. But I did alter the recipe slightly to fit my schedule, and to match the Tartine procedure, which I will go into detail now.

I developed a stiff levain before work around 2:15 a.m. using freshly milled (from my work) higher extraction flour by blending freshly ground wheat berries with Sir Galahad flour at a ratio of about 81%. After unsuccessfully having attempted to purchased Type 65 flour from King Arthur and also germ restored flour, since my supplier would have required me to order a pallet, I spoke to Mr. Robert Smith from King Arthur who pointed me toward attempting to create my own type 65 flour (for later use) and high extraction flour through my mill at work. If making this at home, just blend KAF AP and Whole wheat flour together at around 80% whole wheat to all-purpose to end up with similar flour that is needed.

After my shift ended at 11 am, I returned home where my levain was about ripened. I mixed the final dough together by hand holding back the salt at noon with my ripe levain, this does differ from Tartine since I wanted to see how much of the original recipe I could retain without changes. I performed an autolyse of around one hour. I added the salt, mixed by hand by pinching the dough and doing some stretch and folds in the bowl. 

When the salt felt like it was appropriately mixed, I transfered the dough to a 3 quart bucket (double the size of the dough) and let it sit while I set a timer for thirty minutes. Much like Tartine, I preformed four stretch and folds in two hours to the dough every thirty minutes. When 2.5 hours rounded the clock, the dough was adequately strengthened and I let it nearly double in size, taking a total of around 3.75 hours.

I shaped the loaf into two 1.5 lb loaves, saving the extra dough for a pate fermentee in the week, and refridgerated the shaped loaves to be baked when I was to awake.

I finished the loaves off like suggested in Tartine, dutch oven, or combo cooker with 20 minutes of covered time and right around 18 minutes uncovered. The final loaves looked great, though the boule was a bit flat compaired to the batard. Both loaves had a nice crumb, a bit less opened than expected, but to my liking consisted of a rather creamy, soft chew with that nice miche tang I have had with prior Hamelman miche experiences. Most likely amplified by implementing Tartine retardation procedures to the loaves.

I have been eating the boule and I happily took the other loaf to work to be ran through our slicer and shared amoung friends who thought it was rather tasty too.

Pictures can be seen here:

Though this procedure is nothing really new here at TFL, considering lots of fellow bakers have been using S&F over timed intervals to develop strength, I have not been until now. I had been following Hamelman, Reinhart, ect. recipes closely and never gave thought to take other methods into consideration for their formulas. I am thankful I did this time though since it turned out to be a tasty experience.

That's it for now really, I have some Reinhart bagels retarding, puff pastry in the fridge and my culinary program starting up again this week. So until I get time to blog for my benefit and hopefully someone elses, take care!


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The ramping up for the holiday sales started about two weeks ago, but this week was definitely the bulk of it all. Each day started at the crack of the middle of the night, 1 a.m. when I awoke to get ready for the big days of baking starting promptly at 2 a.m. all this week. That meant going to bed at about 5 p.m at night, and focusing on being rested for those 12 hour days of baking.

We (the four bakers) gathered around and tabulated sales from last year to decide what should be made for the day. When that was done, roughly taking thirty minutes, we began the mixing and sponge/poolish prep.

But for me, most of the time it started with the dry mixes for the scones and cookies;

Egg nog scone ready for the mixing, just add your liquids : )

Which an hour or so later led to some rum frosted and finished egg nog scones I was rather proud of!

Then I moved on to some pumpkin batter bread and muffins, the muffins ready to go in the oven;

Then to some Oatmeal Chocolate chip walnut jumbo cookies! Scooped and ready for the oven, made about 400 jumbo sized cookies, a bunch of small ones too!

Into the oven they go! Please don't forget to pin them to prevent burnt cookies : ( No one would want that!

In the mean time, I mix up some batter breads, including a candied rum batter bread, brownie, a few muffins, and did I mention very, very large cinnamon rolls!

While all that is going on, I am helping with the sponge and doughs for the day too, in fact the first dough was a large sweet white bread for swirls;

Which was mixed till shaggy, anyone ready for those stretch and folds? Trust me, it is difficult.

I won't bore you with all the pictures I took, but we did about twelve different doughs; the first seen here;

Those are going to be cinnamon swirl breads which I made about 200 of just today alone. But why did I chose to try and document this on the busiest day of the year? Because when the next dough is ready, it is ready regardless if you are not.

Seen there is the pecan bread being dumped and ready to be shaped, although I still had a good amount of swirls to go. Working in a bakery is about being efficient and effective.

Here are a small chunk of the swirl breads I did, later on during the morning. Sorry these were all taken on my phone.

I also made many rolls of so many kinds it is really hard to imagine. Even if I were to try and put it into prespective, it really can't be concieved unless you saw the amount personally. We would fill up a mixing bowl with dough just for rolls alone, then repeat it again later in the day. Repeat this with about six different doughs over and over again. People just love rolls.

Here are some cheese garlic rolls hitting the oven, it is one of the few breads I can still smell when at the bakery!

Of course with twelve hour days, you wonder, is it any fun? Well...I still manage to have fun with dough out of work and even at work!

I pretty much put my own little touch on the loaves you could say!


But in the end that was just a touch of my busy day today at the bakery. It would have been too hard on the other bakers if I stood around taking pictures of every dough, every kind of loaf and so on. Although I did make, cinnamon bread, cinnamon raisin, cheese, pecan, honey wheat, white, 9-grain, stollen, challah, lots of muffins and cookies and more today, and well everyday I am there! It's a labor of love and I am willing to go to bed at 5 p.m. to be able to work at 2 a.m. each day! Not many people can say that, but I certainly am glad I have found something I love! Next week will be a bit easier, bed time will be adjusted to 6:30 to 7:00 and work will start right around 3-3:00 a.m.

Of course, there is the part of the job no one talks too much about but anyone interested in this profession needs to be aware of, and that is the cleaning and lifting!

Those are easily 55 pound steel mixing bowls that need to be lifted up to a sink and rinsed, scrubbed and dried numerous, and I mean numerous times every single day. Also 50 pound bags of flour and ingredients being hussled left and right every second too.

So it is work, it really is. But I find it enjoyable and never a chore, and that is the secret I believe!


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