The Fresh Loaf

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I've been wanting to get into dark rye seeded breads. I didn't have much time this weekend and found this recipe online and gave it a try.  I looked at Stanley's (Rye Baker) recipes but they involved more time than I had available.  The recipe I used called for cocoa powder instead of a dark beer which i wasn't sure about, but without experience thought it might be work. The results are perfectly fine and the bread is nice, but has too much of a cocoa flavour and aroma too it. And if that's your thing, this is a good bread to try - but it's not for me. The recipe gives you the option to use instant yeast or starter, and of course I used starter. My bread also doesn't look as dark as the one posted with the recipe - maybe they used a darker cocoa powder than I did.  Next time I'll try one of Stanley's recipes.


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There's something about oats in bread that I find compelling! Inspired by the community bake I made Maurizio's Oat Porridge bread. I followed the recipe as written other than to add 25 grams of raw honey to the dough (I just made one loaf). I baked it a bit too hot as I pre-heated the oven at 550 and didn't catch it until 10 minutes into the bake. That said, while the crust was a bit darker than I'd like, overall it turned out well. I tried to load it into the basket with seam side down (to bake on the top) but it was a bit too floppy for me to load the basket keeping the dough skin tight.  I baked it after 10 hours as it was pretty ripe when I woke up. The crumb is moist, firm, fluffy and has a creaminess to it. this is a very nice bread! frank!

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I keep making much to much starter and my fridge has been littered with glasses and jars of left over starter. I had one left to use up and this is what came out.  I had 100 grams of starter that hadn't been fed in a week and no plan. It kind of all worked out. I fed it 1:1:1 and then added another 600 g of water and 800g of unbleached bread flour as that's all I have in the house right now. Based on last week's bake and the impact oat bran had on creating a soft crumb I decided to add some steel cut oats to this bread. I added 100 g with 70 g of very hot water to soak while I got everything ready. I then thought about all the posts I see with rice so I thought I'd use some red rice I had and cooked, cooled and then added 125 g of that too.  I was hydrating some old and too try almonds and thought why not - so they were thrown rough chopped and added too at 40 g.  Thinking of Sarah Owen's spelt honey oat bread I've made in the past I decided to also add 50 grams of local raw honey to the bread too.

All in the recipe turned out to be (inclusive of the starter) 100% bread flour, 86% water, 13% cooked red rice, 10.5% steel cut oats, 5% honey, 4.5% hydrated almonds chopped and 2.1% salt.  I started making the final dough around 5pm yesterday afternoon, used a proofer box and didn't get to shape them until about midnight - by then the dough had doubled. Ideally this was a same day bake given the amount of starter, but it was late. Into the cold until this morning - 10 hours later. They were left too long before the bake but didn't fully collapse on me. I baked them in a dutch oven that was a bit small for how much they had expanded by morning.

This was a VERY sticky dough and hard to work with - very slack because of the hydration and I didn't have time to develop much structure.  Next time I'd bake same day, work on creating more structure with folds, I'd double the almonds, reduce the hydration to about 75% and maybe increase the honey to 7.5% given the rice is a bit bitter. That said, this has a very nice firm crumb that has a great resistance when being pulled apart and a nice mouth feel. It's nicely moist, and on the edge of too moist but isn't. I'd play with this idea again at some point. I threw some flax seeds on the bottom of the baskets too.

Considering I used a week old starter without a feed build-up and no plan, I'm happy with it!


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I've commented on this in the past, but it's remarkable how much neglect a starter can go through and still be able to rise well after a few feeds. I fed my starter Friday morning, then Friday night and again Saturday morning. Admittedly I used my proofer box after the Saturday morning feed. It hadn't been fed in a few weeks. I used all the starter from the previous feeds to build up volume and had no discard. My first feed was 1:3:3 and went 12 hours, my second was the same and went for about 14 hours, my third was 1:2:3 and went for about 6 hours to a triple in volume. I ended up with about 330 grams of starter.  

While not what I intended, I ended up making a play on Forkish's FWSY Pain De Campage recipe as it calls for a high starter volume and I wanted to use up what I had made. My plans changed as I had been planing on creating a home brew American Ale beer yesterday AND make some bread and then reality set in. I was chewing off more than I could get done before dinner plans. I had no whole wheat flour in the house which compounded this. I ended up using only bread flour and to make it a bit more interesting found some left over oat bran in the pantry. For the two loaves I added 10 ounces (from a measuring cup - I should have weighted it I know) and 10 ounces (by weight) of very hot water to create a soaker while I did autolyse. I decided on 10 ounces of bran as that's all I had left in the bag. It was clumpy when wet so I it really required a lot of effort to break it down and incorporate into the dough. I did three or four folds, used a proofer at 77 degrees and by the time I was home after dinner the dough had more than doubled. The recipe called for 2 grams of dry yeast which I added to help the rise given the bran.

I baked this morning - so about 12 hours later - and clearly the dough was pushing the envelope of fermentation time. I baked in a combo cooker and achieved only a very slight rise. But this has to be the softest crumb I've ever baked. It's moist, lovely and flavourful. Every time I use anything bran in a recipe I'm more of a fan of it's impact on the crumb! I coated it in dark flax seeds.



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It's been a long last year and my starter - Charlie - has been pretty neglected. I'm finally getting back into baking some nice bread. I didn't have any whole wheat flour in the house, so made a Tartine basic country loaf using unbleached locally milled bread flour.  I used coil folds instead of stretch and folds inspired by Trevor's technique. During bulk the structure really seemed to develop well.  I gave it a fourteen hour cold retard and baked it this morning. It had a beautiful oven spring - it easily doubled. The interior structure still doesn't look as uniform as Trevor's but I'm very happy with it. The dough was nicely moist, soft and the loaf had lots of spring as I cut it.  Being Italian I was, of course, bred on bread since 1965!  My mom inspired my love of bread.  And as it's all fresh and I'm missing her, I'm dedicating this to #mom...


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Hi Everyone..

Life's been complicated the past many months as I've been caring for my mom as she's approaching the end of her life. She's approaching the final runway and talking to the control tower waiting for the all clear. It's been a long journey and most of the joy in life has been zapped out of me for now while we go through this.. so I've not been making much bread and don't recall that last loaf I made at some point in the spring. Reading everyone's bread forum entries has been a good distraction this summer - you're all to be applauded for your enthusiasm and dedication to the craft of bread baking.  I'm posting tonight because I've just pulled one out of the oven a few minutes ago and wanted to share the story behind it..

Long before my mom's health turned for the worse early in the year I committed to becoming a beekeeper to offset the routine of life as a corporate suit with a part time bread passion.. I signed up for a local apprenticeship program and not being one to take it slow decided I may as well get my own hives right out of the gate.. (not exactly the best way to go about this as a novice - but it's been very rewarding and honey bees are good teachers!).

First up.. my two hives after being installed.. they sit on a roof top over-looking a cricket pitch..

The colorful painting of the honey supers (the upper boxes on each hive) was done by my daughter.. This picture was taken just after the hives were installed.

A few months later (about two weeks ago) I pulled a few honey frames out to extract some honey.  Admittedly a bit premature (not all cells were caped in the frames) given it was their first year, but I really wanted to taste early summer honey (lighter colored and more delicate tasting than fall honey). So I only pulled out three frames..

I spun them out at a friends place and they yielded some great tasting honey! Did you know that in it's lifetime, the average honey bee can only produce about a teaspoon of honey?

But here's the thing.. the honey that was spun out gets poured into a food grade white pail from which I filled up my jars. And as I was trying to pour out the last bit of honey int he pail, there still was a thin coating of honey on it that the spatula left behind.  I didn't want to just wash it out - thinking about how hard those bees worked to make this honey. So I spontaneously decided to add a few cups of water to the pale to rinse out and collect that honey which I then poured into a clean mason jar. I put the cap on it and left it by the kitchen window to see if I could get some wild yeast to develop. I've never made raisin water and figured this would be sort-of the same idea. About five days later I had some great smelling hooch!  The honey started fermenting (this is how they make honey wine), some bubbles started forming and it gave off the sweetest smell of peach blended with alcohol. In the picture below I swirled the water a few times so you could see the yeasty bits float around.

At this point I took about 100g of this water and mixed it with 100g of whole wheat flour and left it over night. It definitely started to develop as I had some rise the next morning. I then refreshed this starter and gave it another 50g each of more water and flour and had a triple before noon. And with that I had a peachy, honey, alcohol smelling starter on my hands.. (sorry no pics of it).. I then followed this recipe I found online to make a levain (without the use of raisins of course) and made some bread dough.. I mixed the levain Saturday and made the final bread dough yesterday. Life got in the way again and I had to leave the dough in the fridge overnight for an extended bulk and only earlier tonight did I have a chance to shape it and let it proof at room temp. I didn't get a full double of the dough in the proof basket (maybe about 50%).. so it's a bit over proofed.. but here was the final bread just before I pulled it from the oven..

I don't suspect the crumb will be much to look at, but I'm looking forward to giving it a taste to see if any honey flavor was passed along in the process.. This was a good experiment and proved to me that there's never an excuse for not making bread when you can harvest wild yeast so easily!

Bake happy.. bread1965!



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I'm constantly frustrated by any amount of left over starter. It seems so wasteful. So most of the time I simply place whatever's leftover into the jar with the rest of Charlie - my loyal starter.

This weekend I made a solstice sun twirl bread and had way too much starter left over. I had originally planed to make some other bread but our weekend plans changed and I knew I wouldn't have the time to properly deal with it. So I thought about using the starter as a biga of sorts.

I took 260g of 100% hydration starter that was probably about two or three hours past peak and added 200 grams of unbleached flour, 88 grams of 105 degree water and 5 grams of salt. I gave them all a quick mix and threw it all into the mixer for 15+ minutes to fully come together. It was sticky but seemed fine. I shaped it into a ball and placed it into a clean bowl. I gave it two stretch and folds in the first hour to help with structure and then let it increase 2.5x in size over the next few hours. I gave it a quick shape and placed it into a basket.  About 90 minutes later I placed it into the combo cooker to bake. I probably should have just baked it right away as the finger dent test told me were were just about there - but life got in the way.

There's really no reason why I gave it a fendue shape other than because I could.. and think it looks cool when baked..

I clearly didn't' get any significant oven bloom. I think next time I'd give it a shorter bulk and longer proof. Just getting it out of the bowl took a lot of air out of the dough. By switching to a longer proof, short bulk I could have saved many of the openness (I think). That would have at the least kept more air in the bread. I guess I could have also added (I know this sounds sacrilegious) a pinch of  instant dry yeast in with the flour that morning to help the oven bloom.

It's completely edible basic 'white bread'.. a bit bland and a bit dry, but perfectly fine.  Especially with a few fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil! And a fair attempt at not throwing away starter. Any and all recommendations welcomed.



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Someone somewhere on the site posted the suggestion of a summer solstice bread challenge. This is my answer to that call. It's a sourdough summer solstice sun twirl with Ontario Maple Syrup, Quebec wild blueberry jam, sugared almond slivers and topped with cinnamon sugar. Happy summer to all..


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Life's gotten the better of my time lately and Charlie's been well neglected in the fridge.. but thankfully he doesn't mind.. that said I decided to send him on journey and now part of Charlie is baking up a pizza storm in Virginia Beach with a good friend of mine..


Meanwhile, I finally got around to baking last week and made a Tartine whole wheat loaf and made Danni's version of the Swiss Raisin Muesli bread that I've been trying to replicate. Danni - great recipe..

First the Tartine - standard recipe crusted with oat bran..

By all accounts a great bread and what seems like a fool proof recipe..

And below is the swiss raisin muesli..

It was a good replica of the original but not yet there. I forgot to dig out my bread lame and after I put the loaf on the combo cooker bottom ended up scrambling and grabbed a knife and butchered a score before putting the lid on. Oh well.. regardless the bread spread out more than i thought it would. Not sure why.. I don't think it was from the score, or that I over proofed/retarded it.

The taste was good but more subtle compared to the original. I think I'll double up the raisin water, the honey and the raisins.. and see how that works. I also think I might add a bit more oil. 

Danni - a great recipe, thanks for your efforts! This is the link to her recipe:

Bee well.. bread1965



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All Is (not) Lost.. first let me say that I'm referring to this weekend's bake and the movie by a similar name - All is Lost with Robert Redford (100% rotten tomatoes in my book).

Last week I made a Honey Oat Loaf with all purpose, bread and a tiny amount of whole-wheat flour. This week I decided to use Canadian maple syrup as the sap is flowing in these parts and amp'd up the whole wheat flour and hydration as I always find that loaf a bit dry to handle. I also thought I should increase the hydration given the increased whole wheat flour content.

I prepared the overnight soaker using 70g flaked oats and 140g boiling water.  And fed my very active starter at the same time with 100% hydration using AP flour. I also gave the flour an overnight on the counter autolyse using 115g bread flour, 90g whole wheat and 20g AP flour (total flour 225g) with 165g of warm water (hydrated to 73%).

Including the water in the oats, the dough hydration was about 135%. I'm not sure if you calculate the hydration differently when using a soaker (anyone?).  

The next morning I combined the soaker, with 20g of maple syrup, 6g salt, 55g of levain and the hydrated flour.  It was pretty soft and sticky so I thew it into the mixer for five minutes at medium until I got a windowpane. The dough was very silky to handle. Over the next three hours I gave it about four stretch and folds. I then let it sit for about six hours until it doubled. I tried to be gentle but it mostly deflated as I poured it onto my bench. It was very tacky so my attempts at a good pre-shape were useless. I decided to pour it into a Pyrex loaf pan and threw it into the fridge.

This morning I brought it to room temp and in total it might have doubled again. I baked with the loaf pan on a pizza stone and added about a cup of hot water into a pan to steam the oven a bit. I baked at 450 for about 35 minutes or so to an internal temp of about 205 degrees. It was a bit tricky to get out of the Pyrex loaf pan and used knife to pry it out - is there a trick to getting a non-stick result in a glass loaf pan when baking a high hydration bread? I'd rather not use grease or the like on the pan. We had some for lunch today. Here she is:

Indeed, all was not lost. I'm surprised it turned out edible at all. The crumb is very soft and not too moist. The whole wheat flavor dominates and I don't get a strong sense of the oats and can't perceive the maple syrup. I would definitely dial back the hydration next time and I would probably double the maple syrup.


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