The Fresh Loaf

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This week I followed David and baked this beautiful bread. It uses buttermilk in place of water other than for the levain. I made the levain two days before using it. This bread has a super soft crumb and notwithstanding the dark colour (from the buttermilk) the crust is delicate. The tang from the rye sour, buttermilk and long ferment make this (for me) an instant classic. It's truly a beautiful bread and worth trying. I followed the recipe found here:  Thank you David!




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This morning I baked Sarah Owen's Buttermilk Rye. This is a nice bread! It's interesting in that it uses banana in the starter as a Japanese influence. Otherwise it's (for rye I think) a relatively straight forward bread. Personally I'm after making a seeded rye bread that I can use as a "go to" loaf. But I read this recipe in her book "Toast and Jam" and thought to give it a try. It is so good!! I"m actually not a huge rye bread guy. And I find it so strange to work with dough that feels like I'm a stone mason handling concrete! But this is fun and tasty! I'll definitely make this again!




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I've decided to work on dense seeded rye breads this winter. This is my first attempt. The recipe is fairly straight forward - it's a blend of high extraction (I used whole) spelt and whole rye flours with a large number of sprouted rye berries. It includes sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds. It calls for un-hulled sesame seeds which I didn't have so I used hulled. For liquids it uses buttermilk, dark malt and dark beer (I used Guinness) and water of course.

Here are the results:

I ended up having a bit more dough than could fill my two pans. I should have made a third smaller pan as they proofed beyond the pan's capacity.

In the last 15 minutes of baking I felt the top was too pale so I put the oven onto convection mode and it browned up the top well. I'll do that again in the future - and probably a bit earlier in the bake.

After baking I let them come to room temperature and wrapped them in cling wrap for 24 hours (thanks Mini!). I opened the first a few hours ago. The crust is still dry and the inside has a moist wet sheen to it. Not too much, but noticeable and I wouldn't want more moisture in it.

Aroma, taste, mouthfeel, etc. All good. This is a good loaf thin cut, toasted and buttered. When not toasted it's a just a bit more wet in the chew than I'd like but still pleasant. In fact, good. But I'd like it a tiny bit drier.

What I'd like to know is how to make this a bit drier? Should I reduce the water or perhaps the large quantity of flax seeds?  My experience with flax is that when wet they create a bit of a viscous "goop" if you know what I mean. Maybe they've caused the bread to retain more water during the baking process given their volume? There's 27% whole flax and 13% course ground.  I'd appreciate any feedback.

This last picture may give you a sense of the moisture in the loaf:

Thanks - frank!

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After an absence from bread baking I often come back to this bread to get myself back in the groove. It's Sara Owens' Honeyed Oat Spelt Sourdough bread. This picture is right after taking the lid off the combo cooker.


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I'm getting back into baking after a busy summer.

I made this tonight and continue to be a fan of Sara Owens' recipes. Everything I've made from her books I've really enjoyed. This cake has only 30 grams of brown sugar and only uses whole wheat flour. It has five ripe bananas in it - which are placed in the oven with the brown sugar and a bit of rum to roast for 15 minutes before you make the batter. It uses ripe starter but I don't even think it's necessary given baking powder and soda powder are used in the recipe.

I literally took it out of the oven about half an hour ago and we couldn't resist so some is missing from the pic below!   Her recipe calls for a ganache to accompany it but we used Nutella instead! :)  I'll definitely be making this again! It's so good!


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I've been experimenting lately with left over starter. I'm creating a stiff Pate Fermentee with it and a few days later adhoc a recipe. The breads are fine but nothing wow yet. This was my recent attempt. I'm posting this for recording keeping more than anything else.

Pate Fementee was 1 part ripe starter, 2.5 part water and 4.5 part AP flour - or 60, 132 and 270 respectively. I left it out for an hour and then put it in the fridge.

Final dough was made two days later:

- 150g pate fermente

- 125g whole wheat flour

- 375g all purpose flour

-12g salt

- 2g diastatic malt

- 2g gluten flour

- seeds: 35g pumpkin; 15g flax, 10g sesame; 40g hemp hearts

Autolyse was 30 minutes without salt, malt or gluten flour. I then added them and used the mixer for 7 minutes. I let rest for about 40 minutes and then did a letter fold during which I added the seeds. I then did two sets of coil folds 45 minutes apart.

Timing - autolyse around 11am and baked around 6:30pm.

Soft crumb and crust. Nice mild taste - but a bit bland. Would use more whole wheat next time but ran out. I used 20% seeds but could have added more. Loaf was large, so it could have been made into two batards instead. I preshaped but then left it as the dough was stiff. I could have upped the hydration another 10% too.

I have more pate fermentee in the fridge for one more bake. Any suggestions on a next loaf with recipe would be appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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I decided to venture into enriched breads this week and make Pain de Mie from The Perfect Loaf: 

It's a great bread with a lovely buttery smell and taste. One loaf's already gone. Tomorrow we'll use the second for french toast! I suspect it was only slightly over fermented given the larger crumb holes just under the top crust - but just. The loaf with the dull crust colour was a bit smaller than the other and probably shoudl have come out of the oven a few minutes earlier.


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With clearly too much time on my hands I'm constantly thinking of what to add to bread. This was a 30% whole wheat loaf with 10% cashew nut pieces and 5% flax seeds. I used 10% starter and retarded over night in the fridge for about 12 hours. It's on the very edge of being over fermented but otherwise is a great loaf. I don't really get a lot of nut flavor from it, but the crumb is super soft and toasted I got more of the earthy nutty flavour from the nuts. Nice loaf. I think next time I'd only use 5% starter and blitz the nuts in the blender with the water to create a cashew nut milk as a better idea. Hydration was about 75% - it was a bit stiff, I'd increase it towards 80%.

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I've lost track of how many iterations of this I've made. But it's definitely getting dialed in. I didn't have all the right seeds this time round but wanted to make it this weekend and took some liberties taking it into a new direction - using a soaked oat porridge. It's a great bread but could have used a bit more sweetness. It took longer to proof with all the oats and lost some of it's sweetness as a result. I've found baking same day typically works best for sweetness of this bread. In this case I started the dough around 1:30pm and baked by 9:30pm. I suspect the high percentage of oats are what delayed everything. I'm also using AP supermarket flour as I'm using what I can get and not my locally  milled flour.

400g flour - 80% all purpose 20% whole wheat

400g water - 100% hydration split between the flour and oat porridge

80g levain - 100% hydration

8g fine sea salt - 2%

40g raw honey - 10%

10g poppy seeds - 2.5%

10g sesame seeds - 2.5%

20g flax seeds - 5%

100g raisins - 25% - not soaked

110g rolled oats soaked with 160g boiling water (from total above) left to cool

Missing - sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Mixed water not used for oats with rest of cooled oats to break them apart, then added starter to incorporate well.  Then added starter and let rest. Half an hour later added salt and mixed for 7 minutes on medium. Let rest for half an hour and added salt and honey, mixed for a few minutes. Fifteen minutes later added seeds and raisins. Let rest for half an hour. Tried to mix to get window pain but wasn't possible. The dough never really came together in a proper sense but did hold shape eventually with coil folds. The starter was active at the start but proof at 74 degrees was very slow. It took closer to 6 hours to get a good rise out of the dough (at which point I shaped) and towards the end cranked up the proofer to 78 degrees. I think I had far too much oats and would next time use half the amount. Again, the flour used was a commercial AP flour which I think is impacting some recent bakes.  I had to push hydration to 100% because the dough was dry at first. The oats took up a lot more water than I realized.

Overall good, but not great. I cooked it a bit too hot. Crumb was nicely tender.

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A few months ago Hotbake posted this bread: It looked amazing and it's been bookmarked since. I had some chickpeas and thought to give it a try this week. I didn't have enough chickpeas so I scaled the recipe down a bit and think I used much less water than the original post.

For my records I used : 146g overnight soaked chickpeas, 20g starter and 221g water. I also only have AP flour given quarantine and the run on flours so I tried to make up my own whole wheat flour. I read that whole wheat flour has 14.5% bran, 2.5% germ and 83% endosperm. Lucky for me I had some bran and germ in the freezer so I made up my own whole wheat. So no whole spelt nor dark rye per the original. So I used 328.4g ap flour, 9.2g germ and 26.4g bran to make up a 1/2 AP and 1/2 whole wheat blend total of 365g flour. I added 79g water in addition to the soaker water. 24 hours after the soaker was made (5pm) I made the dough, bulked for 4 hours at 74 and then shaped it into a basket. Into the fridge and baked the next morning about 12 hours later. I think I could have pushed hydration as this was a stiffer dough.

But this turned out to probably be one of the most moist crumbs I've ever made - in a good way, not gummy at all. And very very soft. The crust was nice with a bite but also soft as well. The bread wasn't as aromatic as I was hoping and I felt I could have increased the chickpea content. I think having the rye and spelt with proper bread flour will really dial this in. When life eventually gets back to normal and I can get the right flour I'm definitely making this again. Very nice bread! If you've read this far you really need to give this a try!


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