The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread1965's blog

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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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For whatever reason I have far too many half eaten bags of oats lying around my pantry.  So this week I baked a version of Sarah Owens' honey spelt oat bread - without the spelt.  As has been a theme of late for many of us, Trevor Wilson was the inspiration. Trevor has been posting on Instagram some great fluffy-crumb pastry flour breads. I didn't have any pastry flour to use so I improvised with some all-purpose, whole wheat and bread flours. I thought using an all-purpose flour with it's lower protein content would be a reasonable substitute for pastry flour. 

I used : 140g of flaked oats in an overnight soaker with a 110g mature levain (using AP flour) ; 45g of amber honey (I think next time I'll use maple syrup as "tis the season" in Canada) ; 105g AP flour ; 45 g whole-wheat flour ; 400g hard bread flour ; and 11g salt. Total flour (including the levain) was 605 g (26.4% AP, 7.5% whole-wheat and 66% bread). Total water (including levain and soaker but not the water content in the honey) was 575g.  So the hydration is about 92% - but it wasn't anywhere near as slack a dough as you'd think given that number because the oats were thirsty. I'd increase it to 100% next time just to see how it changed it.

This was a stiff dough. I worked the levain and water into a slurry and it took a while to incorporate the soaker and break down what by the next day became a dense clump of moist oats. Trying to create structure to build an open crumb was near impossible as the dough wasn't very extensible. 

After all was mixed together I gave it three additional stretch and folds (as best was possible) an hour apart while it sat in a warm spot in my kitchen. I then placed it into my oven with the light on for bulk - another four hours. When it had clearly doubled I divided the dough, pre-shaped into boules and gave it a short bench rest before shaping into batards for an overnight fridge retard. Bake was mid-morning at 450 for 20 and 15 in a combo cooker.

They had a great rise and bloomed very well.

The one issue I had with them was that in the morning the dough seam had split open a fair bit on both loaves (they were loaded seam side up in the baskets). I wet them a bit with my hand and then tried to stick them shut just before loading them into the combo cooker. The crumb below is very soft and fluffy - it's very nice and the flavour is very earthy.  The oats really come through. The honey is noticeable but not overwhelming. At the base of the loaves you can see the spot where I tried to wet and then stick the dough together just before loading - it's a 'damp spot'.  This was just a shaping technique mistake - I should have made sure to properly close the seam when I shaped them the night before.

Overall, a great bake and one I'll repeat many times! Bake happy..

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I started building a starter for a weekend bake over the past few days, but on Friday morning got a bit ahead of myself and created a bigger amount of starter than I normally do.. I find feeding 1:4:4 works for my kitchen temp and starter strength when I'm feeding every 12 hours.. but then I came home late Friday night to this..

It was about 500+ grams of starter that by this stage had more than trippled.. I guess on the one hand I should be happy to have a virbrant and active starter!

So I decided to put it to good use but didn't have a formal plan. So I added 800g of unbleached bread flour, 200g of whole wheat flour, 720g of water (autolysed for about an hour), 200g of starter, 20g of fine sea salt. I mixed this well and then thirty minutes later I added 100g of hemp hearts, 100g of brown flax seeds, 100g of oat bran (all three were toasted), 25g of chia seeds and 50g of amber honey. I gave it all a good mix and did so again thirty minutes later. But it was already late and the night's scotch was starting to make me sleepy! I decided to leave it on the counter for the night given the amount of additions.. it looked like this..

By the next morning I woke up to this..

It looked good and obviously rose well. But had little structure as I didn't give it much by way of stretch and folds.  I thought of it as a no-knead experiment.. I poured it  out on my bench and it  deflated a fair amount in the process despite my best gentle efforts. I pre-shaped and then shaped it into a few loaves to proof in baskets. I left them on the counter for almost four hours and they probably rose around 75% or so.. i always find it hard to know for sure..

Loading the proofed loaf into the combo cooker.. as I put it in the basket seam side down I didn't score the loaf.. (probably should have just the same)..

Here they are out of the oven..

Here's the crumb shot..

The aroma while they baked was earthy and great. The crumb is dense but not overly wet or under-cooked. It's just not open and is heavy.  It's very tasty, good and better toasted, but not ideal.

So my question is to ask: is this more about too much additives by weight of dough, or process? Can you make a more open/lighter crumb with this much in additions or did I cross the limit and added too much? Or was this about process, and by not creating structure with stretch and folds and making this an overnight no-knead that the outcome was inevitable?

Thanks in advance.. bread1965!


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Well, this is my sixth attempt at making a more open crumb per Trevor's book. I'm not getting the wide open crumb Trevor does, but I'm enjoying some mighty good breads along the way. This is this weekend's bake.. first the pictures.

This loaf was made with 100g of 100% hydration AP flour starter at peak, 200g water, 285g flour (70% bread flour, 30% whole wheat) and 6g fine sea salt. I gave the flour an hour autolyse before adding the starter and salt. I gave the dough three sets of stretch and folds thirty minutes apart. Aside from the initial mixing of the starter into the flour/water, the three stretch and folds sets were each four simple quarter turn of the bowl stretch and folds. I tried to build structure but keep it gentle.

From adding the starter I let it bulk for a total of almost seven hours to get it to a double of the dough.  I then tried to pour the dough onto the bench as gently as possible, but it deflated somewhat. I gave it a simple and gentle pre-shape and let it rest for ten minutes. I then shaped and loaded it into a basket. But I could also tell that the shaping process deflated the dough as well. I think next time I'm going to dramatically reduce bulk and leave most of the expansion to happen in the basket to reduce touching the dough after most of it's rise. Let's see if that helps. I loaded it in the the fridge for about 10 hours before the bake this morning. Here's the crumb..

The crumb is gently moist, has good body to it and great mouth feel. It's a very nice bread.. I'm getting there..

Bake happy.. bread1965!


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Well, the battle continues as I wage my own personal HOL-E war..

Life has been hectic and I've not been baking as much as I'd like, but I was able to get a bake in this weekend.  Too many things going on so I ended up using my starter a bit past peak (started to fall). Which is amazing considering I fed it 12 hours earlier with just over 1:4:4 and kept it in a mid 70 degree warm cupboard spot above a heating vent for the night..

150g of 100% hydration starter using AP flour

300g water

425 flour (250g bread; 150g whole wheat; 25g buckwheat)

A short autolyse, the regular routine of stretch and folds and a very long bulk. I started around 10am, finished my stretch and folds by noon and at 3pm had to head out so I put it in the fridge (it looked like it had almost doubled at that point) and when I returned around 6pm did a quick shape and retarded overnight. I was trying to push my bulk further than normal. It didn't expand too much more over night - maybe 10/15% more.  it was just a bit more dough than my combo cooker could handle but I stuffed it in there and put the lid on.  I think I'll reduce the dough volume by about 20% to give the dough more space next time.

Overall little to complain about - crumb was good and I'm increasingly getting better at creating a more open crumb per Trevor's open crumb mastery method.. but I'm far from anything resembling mastery! This clearly is moving in the right direction and is the most open crumb I've made using Trevor's method. The longer bulk fermentation made a difference in helping opening up the crumb. The starter could have been used a bit sooner. Getting there..

I'm not sure I'm a buckwheat fan, but I had some flour and used it. I think I'll use that flour for crepes going forward. The battle continues..


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