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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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bshuval

A little over a year ago, I read on this site (here) about PiPs' wonderful find of a Raadvad Danish bread slicer. I saw that post and was filled with envy. Of course, I immediately searched online for one. A few were available on some auction sites, but for very high prices (and most won't ship internationally, either). 

At work, most people know that I enjoy baking. Of course they know that my favorite thing to bake is bread. I often bring bakes to work. There also happen to be several other hobbyist bakers there, and I often supply them with recipes. After all, I have a rather substantial library of bread books. One guy at work was telling me how he missed good old Russian Rye breads. The next day, I gave him a little bit of sourdough and a recipe. He followed the recipe, made successful bread, and was ecstatic with the result. 

Fast forward a few months, and he mentioned that his wife found a Danish bread slicer at an antique dealer. Boy was I envious! I told him that I had been wanting one, and that he is very lucky. This was maybe three or four months ago. 

This morning he came to the office carrying a Raadvad Danish bread slicer, in great condition (not as pristine as the one PiPs had bought, but in very good condition, and in perfect working order). His wife had found one, and got it for me! I was elated. I took it home, cleaned it, and sharpened the blade. I now have a loaf of Russian rye bread (Andrew Whitley's version, with a little added salt) baking in the oven. Tomorrow, after it had had time to settle, I will try out my bread slicer. 

I don't know how old it is, or any of its history. There were some leftover dried grains stuck between the plates of wood that I had cleaned. Here are some pictures: 

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bshuval

Hi all,

I just had to throw away my two rather expensive wooden bannetons, and I had to share my story.

As many of you know, you are never, ever, supposed to wash bannetons. You let the dough rise, and then you just tap out the excess flour. In San Diego I've had them for two years, and they were fine. Now I am in Israel, where the climate is different. The summer is much hotter and much more humid, which makes a difference, insect wise. I was going to use the bannetons tonight, after not having touched them for a few months. To my horror, they were full with little tan dots. These are either insect eggs or yeast spores (the dots did look a lot like granular yeast), but I am going with insect eggs as the more likely suspects. I am just glad I caught them at this stage, before all the insects were born (although I have the exterminators coming this Thursday).

At first I tried to wash the bannetons. This not only did not help much (there were eggs between the crevices of the wood), but also taught me why bannetons should never touch water. The wood is very soft, and the water made it expand and splinter. To the bin they go (not that I could have ever brought myself to use them after having seen them infested with insect eggs). I do this with a heavy heart but with no regrets.  

The most annoying thing about this is that it wasn't easy to get the bannetons. I had to specially mail order them. I made sure to get the wooden, highest-quality, ones. And now they're gone. Poor me. The next set of bannetons I buy will be plastic. At least those can be easily cleaned.

Boaz.

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bshuval

After preparing for it all of last week, feeding my sourdough daily with mash to make it a Monica Spiller-type barm, I finally made "Whole Wheat Barm Bread 2008", from the recipe that Monica Spiller recently published.

The resulting bread is excellent, one of the best whole-wheat breads I've tasted. I will definitely make it again. I heartily recommend it. You can read more about my making of it here

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bshuval

Hi all,

The third meeting of bread baking enthusiasts in San Diego took place today. 

It was a great meeting, with 7 of us in attendance. I took pictures of all the breads we brought, and wrote about the meeting. You can find it all here:

http://foldingpain.blogspot.com/2008/03/third-san-diego-bread-lovers-meeting.html

Our next meeting will probably be on April 19, with the subject of rye breads. If you are in the area, please come! 

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bshuval

Hi all,

Today I had the pleasure (together with Susan, Sue, and Kurt) to attend a class given by Peter Reinhart in San Diego. It was a great class in which we learnt how to make some breads from Peter's new book.

Since I have Peter's new book, I already knew a lot of what he was presenting. Still, I got to taste and see some breads I would not have otherwise made; I got to meet Peter Reinhart; and I got to taste some properly made breads.

We all had a great time, and I strongly recommend this workshop. In case you cannot attend, or are undecided, or simply curious, I wrote a lengthy description of the class on my blog with many pictures. I wrote it quickly, so it may not be very elaborately written, and probably has typos and grammatical mistakes studded all over, so I apologize about those in advance. I hope you enjoy my detailed description (and please feel free to ask some questions lest I haven't answered something).

Boaz

My blog: http://foldingpain.blogspot.com

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bshuval

I baked the Pain De Camapgne from Daniel Leader's amazing book, Local Breads. I added walnuts and raisins to it. It came out delicious. Here's yet another recommendation for this book.

Anyhow, here are some pics:

Raisin Walnut Sourdough BreadRaisin Walnut Sourdough Bread

 

For some reason I cannot upload a picture of the crumb. A picture, and more info, in my blog: http://foldingpain.blogspot.com/

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bshuval

Hi all,

A friend of mine is originally from Ferghana, and he told me about a bread they used to eat there when he was a kid, called "Lipioshka". I understand it is a rather traditional Uzbek bread. It is a little like a large bialy in shape: a round disc, thick around the edges and very thin in the center. The center is stamped with a special tool (or simply pricked with a fork) to prevent rising. Traditionally, it is baked in a Tandr, an Uzbek oven not unlike a Tandoor. 

I attempted to make it from a similar sounding recipe in Maggie Glezer's "A Blessing of Bread". I've written about it extensively here: http://foldingpain.blogspot.com/2008/02/lipioshka.html

However, I am interested to know if you had heard of it, or of similar breads. Do you have recipes you can share? This is a fascinating bread to me, and I am surprised at how little information I was able to find about it.

LipioshkaLipioshka

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bshuval

This weekend I decided to bake a couronne. I used my sourdough for it. I am not entirely happy with the shape, but the crumb and taste were great. I've written about it at length here.

For now, here's a picture of the finished couronne:

And here's a picture of the crumb:

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bshuval

I've been doing quite a bit of baking this weekend. In addition to the Grape Harvest Focaccia I've blogged about yesterday, today I made the potato pizza from Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking". The recipe calls for a very wet dough -- more water than flour, actually. You knead the dough using the paddle on your stand mixer for 20 whole minutes. In the process it miraculously transforms from this:

Kneading the dough

To this:

It really is a quite unbelievable transformation. However did anyone figure it out? This dough, albeit wet and sticky, passes the windowpane test:

 I liberally oiled (although, in retrospect, not liberally enough, as a bit of pizza stuck to the pan) a half-sheet pan, and shaped the wet dough onto it, carefully as to not burst any bubbles. I had to let the dough rest several times in order to stretch the dough to fit the entire pan. Each time, using some more olive oil. I added the potato-onion-rosemary topping (the potatoes were thinly sliced using a mandoline, and then salted and squeezed from the liquid before mixing with the onion and rosemary). I added some more olive oil on top of the topping. 

I put the pizza into a preheated oven for 40 minutes. Shortly after the pizza began baking, the house filled with a wonderful aroma of onions and potatoes. It really got those gut juices going! Halfway through the baking I took a peek to rotate the dough, so I used that occassion to take a picture of the partially baked pizza:

40 minutes later, the pizza was ready:

 The pizza is done

I removed it from the pan (as I said above, I didn't oil the pan well enough, so it stuck in a couple of places.) The crust rose nicely; here is a side view:

This was a fun baking project!  

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bshuval

Today I decided to bake the Grape Harvest Focaccia from Daniel Leader's new book, Local Breads.

Since I prefer my doughs to be lean where possible, I decided to make it without the 1/3 cup of olive oil in the dough that the recipe calls for. I only used about half a tablespoon of olive oil for spreading over the dough before baking. I also increased the amount of red grapes. The amount called for in the recipe didn't seem to be enough. 

I was very happy with the result. I don't miss the oil at all, and the focaccia is moist and flavorful. The rosemary gives a delightful taste (and fragrance) to the bread. This bread is recommended. 

I am including three pictures:

The whole focaccia, just out of the oven:

  Grape Harvest Focaccia, whole

 Here is a close-up of the focaccia:

Close-up of Grape Harvest Focaccia

And here it is, sliced: 

Grape Harvest Focaccia, sliced

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