The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Hello everyone,
I had some extra starter (wheat, rye, durum) ... and yesterday, saw Susan's post featuring lovely Blueberry Sourdough Scones.
Mixed some up last night and froze them; baked fresh this morning - Yum :^)  
Thanks, Susan, for a delicious recipe and great way to use extra starter! 


These scones are very tangy and tasty. Not too much sugar in the dough - a light sprinkle of cinnamon sugar over the top before baking tasted quite nice!

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

Sending, with gratitude, to Susan @ YeastSpotting

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Hello everyone,

Shepherd’s Bread, from Beth Hensperger’s book Bread for all Seasons, is the May challenge for the Bread Baking Babes baking group.
Thank you to Karen of Bake My Day for hosting the challenge - this bread caught my interest, seeing the beauty of
Karen's loaves and having enjoyed reading Ms. Hensperger’s book :^)

In the introduction to this book’s Springtide chapter (Shepherd’s Bread is included in this chapter as a ‘May’ bread)
the author wrote “On Memorial Day weekend, the Basques…hold their annual picnics. They are descendants of shepherds who came to the United States and settled in the agricultural communities of the California Sierras, Idaho’s Rocky Mountains, and the Nevada foothills...”.

We took a trip once to northern Nevada - I remember reading about Basque culture and the history of sheepherding there. This is a link to an old photo of an actual Basque shepherd in Nevada – the countryside looks bright and snowy, just as it was when we visited.

I imagine it must have been a hard life in that territory, raising and herding animals, and wonder what it would have been like cooking and baking ‘at camp’. Ms. Hensperger notes “Shepherd’s bread is traditionally baked in a cast-iron pan submerged in a small, ember-lined pit covered with dirt.”
This bread was baked in a cast-iron dutch oven and I baked it dark to try and emulate what might happen,
baking with coals :^)
                                                     a close-up of the crust:

Thinking the shepherds might have baked with sourdough, I made this bread with sourdough, following Susan’s (wildyeastblog) Norwich Sourdough formula ( I just saw MC’s wonderful Meet The Baker post profiling Diane Andiel and Diane’s version of Norwich Sourdough – thanks to MC for writing about Diane and her bread, and Susan and Diane for baking it, inspiring this effort!):

The bread has a softness (olive oil having an effect?) and a sweetness; the crust is dark, but not crisp –
very pleased with the flavor and the softness of the crumb:

My husband loved this bread, and said, “Mmm, this is really good brown bread - should be having this with 
some baked beans with molasses”. 
Sounds like good camp food, doesn’t it?

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting :^)

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Hello everyone,
Franko very kindly told me about a baking textbook that was available for sale online: On Baking
(authors Sarah Labensky, Priscilla Martel, Klaus Tenbergen and Eddie Van Damme).

Happily, I purchased the book, and once it arrived, the first thing I made was Turkish Pide Bread,
a round loaf with a pretty, diamond-patterned and sesame-coated crust:  

On the weekend, I saw this pineapple pattern on my friend’s tablecloth -
it reminded me of the Turkish bread’s crust:

Pineapple bread! I thought…and found a formula for Hawaiian Pineapple Sweet Bread in Advanced Bread and Pastry...
and Janie’s recent post about bakers from Mexico got me thinking about Mexican sweets and flavors.
Wanting to make this pineapple bread but being short of time, I made a sponge-based version of the ABAP formula, substituting a small amount of medium rye and whole wheat flour, and adding some fresh pineapple (diced, then caramelized with Mexican piloncillo sugar and unsalted butter, then flavored with small amounts of Mexican canela (cinnamon) and vanilla bean paste. This is how the pineapple turned out (yum!):

Here is the baked bread, kind of lumpy-looking but completely delicious: 
pineapple-brown sugar bread, or pan de piña y piloncillo :^)

To make the diamond pattern, I started by rolling with a thin dowel, but this dough was springy and the marks left by the dowel would not remain. I used a bench scraper to impress the diamond pattern on the dough, and went over the pattern a few times during proofing, and one last time, right before the bread went into the oven. 

The pineapple flavor completely infused throughout the crumb – loved how this tasted!
Here is the crumb:
(ice cream drizzled with some of the caramel sauce was a lovely accompaniment)

This is my adaptation of Mr. Suas' formula (1200 grams, to make 2 pineapple breads):

I enjoyed letting my oven 'travel around the world' for this bake :^)
(borrowing the phrase from this baker’s post)

With thanks to Mr. Suas for another fantastic formula – will have to try the levain version of his Hawaiian Pineapple Sweet Bread!

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

Submitted to Susan for YeastSpotting




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Hello everyone,
When checking out last Friday’s Yeastspotting post, I saw two posts for Granville Island Beer Bread
(both breads looked fantastic!).
Looking at the posts, I saw The Bread Baking Babes selected this bread for the April challenge.
Granville Island Brewing’s beers are available at a nearby store (perfect!) –
I thought it would be fun to pick up some of this beer and participate in this month’s challenge  :^)

Asiago cheese and fresh garden chives (one of the things I just love about April!) are the add-ins for this loaf.  

The dough bubbled up happily during fermentation, and was a joy to shape – no stickiness at all.

The bread has a very delicate flavor with the chives, and the asiago is a very tasty addition to the crust!
The grated cheese didn’t want to stick to the loaf very well, so I didn’t get as much on the outside as I wanted to…
I was so inspired by Natashya’s completely-cheesy-crusted loaf but it didn’t turn out looking as good as hers!

Crust and crumb shots:
... melty-cheese on the crust

 ... crackles

... crumb

Thank you Natashya for hosting the challenge, and to Chuck for the original recipe!

Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting


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Hello, and best wishes to everyone this holiday weekend!

Sylvia just posted about her lemon-currant Panesiglio Aversano. Weren’t they gorgeous?!
Thank you, Sylvia, for baking these and sharing how you made them!
Those lemon-currant rolls were so pretty, and the flavor sounded so fresh and spring-like –
I knew I would have to make some for Easter :^)


These were made according to Sylvia's method in her post, except I scaled the dough so I could use six whole eggs (these really are egg rolls!), and after mixing, fermented 1 hour at room temperature, gave it a stretch and fold, then refrigerated in bulk overnight.  
Before refrigerating, the dough container was filled to 1.5 quarts.
This is what greeted me in the morning (a lovely tub of softly-colored dough):

I soaked the currants overnight in some limoncello :^) and in the morning, kneaded these in along with diced, candied organic lemon peel:

The kneading helped to warm up the dough.  Then I assembled a battery of egg-shaped pans and spent some time shaping :^)

9 dough balls at 1.5-ounces each; pan is about 8” long and 6” wide; before and after proofing

1.25-ounce dough pieces, fitted into oval babas and tart tins, having fun trying to shape ‘mini-batards’! :^)

2-ounce dough pieces, for a mini-egg cake pan, each egg about 3.25” by 2.5”
and some imperfect glazing evident after baking….but they did proof and bake up into ‘eggs’!

Some of the remaining dough was baked in small pans. This was the overall quantity:

Here are some crumb shots:

...served with lemon curd as Sylvia recommended...brilliant!

I love how these rolls included lemon-infused buttermilk and candied lemon peel in the ingredients.
These rolls were light, soft and fluffy, with a delicate lemon flavor and sweetness...they are now high on my list of favorites – thanks again, Sylvia!

Happy baking, and Happy Easter, everyone!
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting, Susan's weekly bread event :^)


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Hello --- and Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone :^)

Borrowing the fun shaping for freerk and Levine’s Speculaas Rolls, to make these ‘Four Leaf Clovers’ for St. Patrick’s Day.
The dough is a very tasty Roasted Potato Bread from Advanced Bread and Pastry; the ‘clovers’ are dusted with Green Pea flour (Bob’s Red Mill).


From SUAS. Advanced Bread and Pastry, 1E. © 2009 Delmar Learning, a part of Cengage Learning, Inc. Reproduced by permission.

The bread has really good flavor and a tender crumb – and so enjoyable to try another wonderful formula from
Advanced Bread and Pastry, with this shaping method, for St. Patrick’s Day!
                                                        ...crumb shot


Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong

Submitted to YeastSpotting, Susan’s weekly bread event :^)

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Hello and Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Breakfast was a real treat today...what a pleasure to discover Irish Soda Bread :^)

I found a recipe for Royal Irish Soda Bread in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book The Bread Bible, and made rolls as Rose suggested. 
The recipe called for whiskey-soaked currants, and provided a second use for the whiskey after it had done its job for the currants: flavoring for whiskey butter, to spread on the rolls (sounded pretty decadent, and oh-so-good to me!).

...enjoying a warm one, with whiskey butter :^)

Reading about soda breads in Elizabeth David’s book, English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Ms. David recommended covering the bread with an inverted tin, to aid the rise a bit, and to help prevent the crust from getting too hard or dry, so I tried doing this for this bake:

After 15 minutes at 375F:
(was hoping for a bit more 'rise')

I wanted to thank Sylvia for writing about her beautiful Irish Soda Bread also; I’ll try using brand-new baking soda and adding cream of tartar like she does and see what effect this has on the rise.

The currants were soaked overnight in whiskey (Canadian whiskey was all I had!),
but made the rolls and the accompanying spread with good, Irish butter...
To make the whiskey butter spread, 118 grams of butter were creamed in the mixer until softened, then  1 Tablespoon sugar and the reserved whiskey (about 3 Tablespoons) from soaking the currants were added and blended in.  Not all of the whiskey wanted to blend in with the butter, so with a spatula I pressed the butter against the side of the mixing bowl – this helped to drain the excess liquid – before putting the butter in a serving dish:

The flours I used 1/3 locally grown, organic soft white spring whole wheat and 2/3 organic all-purpose flour;
the rolls were nice and tender, and had a nice sweetness with the addition of the currants (approx. 50% of the flour weight).

Still warm, and spread with the whiskey butter, these Irish Soda Rolls made for a wonderful breakfast  and start to
St. Patrick’s Day :^)

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong



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Browsing through an old baking text (Professional Baking by Mr. Wayne Gisslen), I was so happy to find a gingerbread formula with a pain d’épices variation – which included 50% rye flour (!).
This bake is for MC, who kindly gave me some beautiful Fairhaven whole rye flour, which I used in this bread :^)

I made some slight flavoring adjustments based on recipes by Flo Braker (adding fresh nutmeg and black pepper) and Martha Stewart (adding fresh ginger); grateful too for these posts, showing different ways to make pain d'épices.

(experimenting with photo borders...)   

With our cool, wet weather, I thought the sunny orange and warm spice in this bread would be a lovely thing to bake,
and I was happy to have this taste of France here at home.
The bread was really good yesterday, and is better today; can’t wait to see how this tastes tomorrow
(the flavors of the spices are developing really nicely).
Honeyed-orange ricotta is a lovely accompaniment (drizzled honey (to taste) over fresh ricotta,
grated some fresh orange rind over, gave it a quick stir – yum!).

(I wanted to try out my new 9x4x4 pullman pan, and estimated the batter weight for the pan. I used the weight of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s pound cake in The Cake Bible (684g) as a guide for the smallest pan, then scaled/rounded up from there. Did a long bake in a reducing oven, hoping to bake the bread through in that large pan, without overbrowning it).

Happy baking everyone,
:^) breadsong

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These are two breads I've wanted to bake, for quite awhile. Really glad now that I have, as both of these breads are so delicious, each in their own way! With thanks to Shiao-Ping and Mr. Leader for their lovely recipes :^)

Shiao-Ping's Banana Pain au Levain <------>Mr. Leader's Whole Wheat Genzano Country Bread

I so enjoyed reading about Pane casareccio di Genzano in Mr. Leader’s book, Local Breads.
This was a really nice post, too, with great photos of that beautiful and dark crust:

This is a try of the whole wheat variation, Pane lariano, with some variations; I reduced the instant yeast to 1 gram, mixed by hand, divided the recipe amount into two loaves (instead of one large loaf),  and retarded the dough overnight (for convenience)…so this is not the bread Mr. Leader intended…but I am very pleased with the resulting flavor (it’s a delicious, delicious crust!).

The loaves were baked in a hot oven, preheated to 500F; then 475F for 15 minutes, 465F convection for 15 minutes, 450F convection for 7 minutes, then left in the oven (turned off/door ajar) for 10 minutes.
The loaves sang and crackled :^)

                                      The bran-flecked crust

  After cutting the end off of one loaf, 
                                                                                                                  I was nervous about the crumb, 
                                                                                                                  but really happy with the crust!

          The crumb, a little further into the loaf

The crust could be darker yet! (yearning for my own WFO :^)  )

The second bake today, Shiao-Ping's Banana Pain au Levain, makes a beautifully moist and fragrant loaf; I used a combination of fresh and frozen (defrosted) banana, ripe and sweet. The sweetness and flavor of the banana really carried through to the baked bread - great flavor!

I tried to score a 'banana' on the top of the loaf; here is the crumb (the gorgeous aroma of banana bread filling the kitchen at the moment this photo was taken!):

What wonderful discoveries these two breads were, today.

Happy baking everyone!
:^) from breadsong

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This bread is from Beth Hensperger’s book, Bread For All Seasons.
Each ‘season’ in the book has a marvelous introduction discussing breads baked to celebrate various holidays
and occasions, in different countries.
Browsing through the book, I found Ciambella Mandorlata, an almond ring bread; it was noted the French call
a ring-shaped bread la baisure, or ‘kissing crust’ – this seemed like a perfectly sweet thing to bake for Valentine’s Day! :^)

Instead of shaping round rings, for each bread, two tapered batards were curved, and joined at the ends, to form each heart (stopped worrying about the less than perfect surface of this dough, remembering the sugared almond topping the bread would be covered with!):

The bread is has about 15% sugar which we didn’t find too sweet, with soft crumb and tasty crust from the roasted almond, caramelized turbinado sugar and cinnamon topping.
This bread was made with approximately 50% bread flour and 50% soft whole wheat flour (that had a bit of spelt mixed in with in when it was milled). 
Here is a crumb shot:

We enjoyed this bread topped with a little bit of good butter, and apricot jelly (so tasty with the almond) –
and a wonderful cup of El Corazón (‘the heart’) coffee!  (so good to have on Valentine's Day - thanks, K! :^)   )

With many thanks to Beth Hensperger for her lovely book (interesting reading and beautiful breads!)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
:^) from breadsong


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