The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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beenjamming

So for the first time this week, I got together some people would had expressed interest in starting up a bread baking club and we crowded into my tiny kitchen and baked a dozen baguettes! I had originally intended to have a side by side comparison of baguettes with/without poolish, but just getting introduced to the bread making process was plenty for round one. We used Leader's parisian daily bread recipe for half ver batim, and substituted about 250g of poolish in for the other half of the breads. Everyone took note that the dough with a preferement was far more extenisble and sweeter tasting than then dough without, but that was all we took time to discuss. I did my best to let everyone there make bread with minimal guidance, and stuck mostly to explaining what was happening chemically during fermentation and baking. Overall, it was a really big success. No one had ever made baguettes before except for myself, and I hardly touched the dough, and the bread turned out great. I think a few people's interest were really piqued and a rich baking community with hopefully develop out of this. These are some pictures during the day:

A cross section o f our very first baguette:

we didn't wait till everything was done baking before we started feasting:

about half the gang:

I've since loaned out most of my bread books to interested folks and have been asked to write an article about challah for Cornell Hillel's magazine (I'm not jewish, but I read everything Glezer's had to say about challah). We're kind of rogue baking club at this point, no real ties to the university and no nice kitchen to bake in, but that may change in coming weeks. Steve Kaplan, a cornell prof, just published a book "Good Bread is Back" and had a raucous spot on conan o'brien (who was kind of an ass, in my opinion). I'll hopefully be in touch with him this week and see if he'd be the faculty advisor of our group and then we could get some of that over abundant cornell money and maybe even some kitchen space.

Meanwhile, I've been doing some baking myself-and not blogging about it. Last week, I made a levain couronne to take to a pasta feast down the block. It was loosely based on the Tornato from artisan baking.

It was pretty giant (the peel is 14" wide):

and also pretty awesome inside:

I have not been so proud of a loaf since the first time I made bread. Incredibly complex flavor, super moist crumb and a deeply caramelized crust. I served it with herb-oil and some asiago cheese; it was well received! Last week I also made 2 loaves of blue cheese and walnut levain based on pearl's walnut levain, which were tasty too.

 

I've learned to bake around my homeworks pretty well, and hopefully won't have to slow down too much as the semester gets going. I'd like to still make my own weekly bread all year. That said the problem sets and programming assignments have started to roll in, so we'll see if I have any time to bake outside of Better Bread Better World. Even still, that would be okay with me- getting my friends hooked was very exciting!

-Ben

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beenjamming

So for the second time this summer, I moved this past weekend. I decided to given my oven a test run just to get a feel for it. First, I baked a bunch of 75% hydration rustic loaves with ~20% whole wheat. The dough was built on a 12 hr poolish. I usually don't use such a high percent of whole wheat flour and as a result the bread tasted a bit earthier than mine usual pain sur poolish. Oven performed well; it only got up to 450F, which was just enough.

 

I also baked a potato pizza,inspired by the Sullivan St potato pizza in Artisan baking, with some friends tonight. On top are some red creamer tots(salted, drained) sauteed with red onions in rosemary olive oil, roasted garlic and some montasio cheese. I got the crust exactly how I wanted it, but the topping combination could use a little work. I think I need to add either more potatoes or something creamy; with a hard cheese it tasted a bit too dry. It was still tasty enough for me to eat!

and the underside:

 

This weekend is looking pretty exciting as well. I have gotten some folks together here at Cornell to create an artisan baking club: Better Bread, Better World. A few of us know how to bake decently well, and a few are new to the game, but I'm very excited to get things off the ground.This weekend everyone is in town and we're going to get together and bake, eat and talk about our plan for this year. Hopefully by the spring we will have a stand at the Ithaca Farmer's Market to sell bread and donate the profits some where in Thompkins county. Have any of you taught others how to bake? I've shown a few curious friends how to make bread, and I like to start with challah because it can be made pretty easy and looks and tastes great, then start with a basic hearth loaf and move on. As kind of the leader of this club I think it's going to mostly on my shoulders to come up with things to do and if any ideas come to mind, please do share them!

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beenjamming

Yesterday, I gave my back from the dead starter a workout and made some of the Pearl's walnut levain from Artisan Baking. I turned out really well and is mostly gone already! The dough was pretty stiff, but really easy to handle as a result. I was surprised that i didn't end up with any char walnuts poking out, but luckily the dough proof around any nuts near the skin.

the crust was thick and chewy and the crumb was tight for levain, but still resonably open. I'm still in love with the purple streaks from the walnuts' oil. Purple is one of those colors that doesn't appear naturally all to often in food, especially baked goods, that it always catches my attention.

The insides:

And last thursday, I made some portguese sweet bread from BBA to take with me to Lake Placid last weekend. The bread was a hit and make some seriously incredible toast. I was expecting to be pretty apathetic to this bread, but it really surprised me. Its super light and fluffy, pleasantly sweet and the extracts make it smell amazing.

I didn't thoroughly degas, and ended up getting these really cool looking gluten stalagmites by the crust. Pretty cool, eh?

I liked how the Pearls walnut levain turned out so well that today i'm making their Pane Coi Santi and maybe I'll even get to blog about it quick enough to enter bread baking day 2. time will tell and the dough will dictate!

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beenjamming

So I have been a busy little beaver this past week and fate has been mostly kind. Even though i was hobbled by last week's unfortunate encounter with a slow cooker box, I wasn't really slowed down too much in the kitchen. First up this week was a garlic and asiago cheese ciabatta built on a poolish.

Outside:

and inside:

the picture is a bit washed out but it had a nice open crumb laced with asiago and chunks of garlic. crust was thin, toasty and plenty chewy. I'd to get it a little thicker in future attemps which I think will happen if I use my starter instead of commericial yeast (lower the ph) and bake it a little longer.

 

The following day, I hit up the restaurant supply store and went on a bit of a shopping spree. A metal peel, two bannetons and an oven thermometer (finally) later, I returned, anxious to bake. I whipped up some jalapeno and cheddar bread with some levain from the day before. It looked great going in the oven, but then mr thermocouple died awfully dead and left me with a slowly cooling oven and these half-cooked loaves:

and the marvelous crumb that would have been:

The next day that old clunker of an oven was one part younger and back in action, but it was a bit too late for me. I had taken off for NJ/NYC with my grilfriend for the weekend. We found ourselve in pasticceria bruno which, despite the prominently displayed copy of Artisan Baking, took me all of a half hour to realize that this was the bakery Glezer featured in her book along side Biago's pandoro recipe. I ordered four seasons pizza and a cup of dulce de leche gelato. The food was delicious. The pizza crust was a bit soft for my liking, but the out of this world creamy fresh mozz more than compensated.

I also got a loaf of sourdough bread to take home. From the looks of the camera-shy crumb, it was about 70% hydration and have a small percentage of whole wheat flour. We ate it the following day with some herbed olive oil. The bread was subtley sour and its hearty crust and airy crumb were very well balanced. I hope to make some progress towards achieving this kind of balance in the coming months. Here's the loaf:

We got back last night and this evening I started baking for my trip on the 27th to lake placid. I'm staying in a house with 20 bread lovers so I'm planning to bring about 5 loaves with me. I made two boules to take and a baguette for myself. The dough is built on pate fermentee, 65% hydration, and had a small percentage of whole grain rye and wheat germ added. Tastes slightly sweet and nutty, with a very light crumb.

The outside, all washed out with that pesky flash:

and the crumb, which refused to stand still for its close-up. Please, forgive the blurriness:


phew. well, once school starts again i'll have something to keep me from baking non-stop, but until then I've got another month to blow paychecks on flour. This week i'm working on returning my starter to glory, and might bake one more batch of bread to take up to lake placid. I'm thinking about making some pizza with some friends on wednesday night too... we'll see.

benji

 

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beenjamming

So for a while I've been meaning to start documenting my baking a little better, and contribute a bit more to this wonderful site, and today! today is the day.

This weekend I had three buddies from Rochester come down to ithaca to visit for the weekend, and I had some more friends over and I pounded out half a dozen pizzas. I had some serious doubts that my apartments rickety half-size oven was up to the task. Turns out the bugger gets up to a solid 550F and is fantastic for pizza (though it heats kinda unevenly, but nothing a mid-bake spin can't fix). My camera batteries were dead or i'd share some pictures but for fun, here's the lineup: 2 Margherita, 2 Chicken Wing(fried chicken tossed in franks red hot, sharp cheddar, low moisture mozz, danish blue and a few dots of roasted garlic), 1 roasted tri-color pepper pesto pie and 1 sauted mushroom and roasted garlic pie. Those last couple had healthy dollops of herbed riccota, fresh cow's milk mozz, parmigiano and all the pie were on top of Reinhart's neo-neopolitan dough with an extra tablespoon of honey. Far as i'm concerned, that's about the easiest to handle and best tasting pizza dough i've ever had. Here's a pic of an older pie, white pizza with tomatoes:

white with tomatoes

This afternoon I also put my young starter to the test and mixed up a batch of thom leonard's kalamata olive bread from Glezer's "Artisan Baking".

tlkob

I took a few liberties, which is to say I didn't listen to ms maggie when she told me to mail order olives, and I used a smalled percentage of ripe oil-cured olives to replace the softer kalamatas she calls for. Loaves turned out pretty well...the crumb is a bit dense and the loaves sourness isn't terribly pronounced. I've been having some issues keeping my starter sour. It was very sour initially, but one miserably hot week later its sweeter and much less potent. I've been feeding it with ice water (lowering the temp to promote acetic acid, not sure if it's working) and trying to catch and feed it before it smells even faintly alcoholic in order to bring back it's potency (it's smelling less sweet and has got a little tang back). Any suggestions on this front would be really appreciated.

crumb

 

As for the crumb issues, I think i could have let the dough proof a little longer and i also forgot to fold it until the 2nd hour of fermentation. I rushed the proofing a bit in a frustrated fit after I tripped over my still unpacked slow cooker in my bedroom floor and broke my pinky toe. It had been a bit to long since a mid-baking injury occured. i suppose i was due, haha.

I was pleased with how everything turned out and have to say that buying glezer's book was probably the best decision i've made since getting bba. Absolutley gorgeous pictures and warming baker profiles. I highly recommend it to any fellow intermediate baker. This following weekend I'll be in NJ, but there'll be plenty more bread on the way this week (i'm planning a roasted garlic/asiago cheese ciabatta, a saranac b&t loaf with caraway and onions, and maybe some pane siliciano). take it easy everyone!

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