The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

dabrownman's blog

dabrownman's picture

Here it is the middle of the week and Lucy is nowhere to be found claiming she semi-retired and only works for the Friday bakes not Tuesday bakes.  I told her I was totally retired and would help her in a pinch and she wanted to know when was the last time I baked her any dog biscuits.


Well, I was left to my own devices for this bake that was requested by my daughter for a couple of friends at the hospital.  Nothing fancy and more on the white side of things since we don’t know what these girls would like when it comes to sourdough bread.

To keep it on the less sour side we didn’t retard the dough or the levain but the 100% hydration bran levain was 11% pre-fermented flour that included all the bran from the 7 whole grains for the first stage and then high extraction 7 grain for the 2nd stage.

We used 15 g of NMNF starter that has been retarded since near the dawn of time though.  We let the levain sit on the counter for 18 hours since it was so very cold in AZ at 68 F.  I eventually got out the heating pad to speed it along and get it to double.

The Minneolas and Navels are finally ripe enough to eat.

We did a 1 hour autolyse for the dough flours and then added the salt and levain, bringing the overall hydration to 75%, before doing 60 slap and folds for the first set and then did 3 sets of 4 stretch and folds all on 45 minute intervals.  We then let the dough rest for an hour.

Killer Instant Pot Squash Soup with butternut, Italian sausage, fresh corn and wild rice with tons of home make stock and sourdough croutons.  My daughter's favorite.

!We then divided the dough in half and did a quick pre-shape.  10 minutes later we did the final shape and placed the dough in rice floured the baskets and then onto plastic shopping bags for the final proof of 2 hours

Instant Pot really killer chili verde, roasted poblano and Hatch chilies with home made stock, chicken thighs  and 3 cheese enchiladas. My favorite and the IP makes it way better than ever!  Making Sunday gravy next in the IP and I bet it will be killer too!

The dough was slashed and slid onto the bottom stone with a parchment covered peel and we tossed 2 C of water onto the 500 F lava stones to make Mega Steam before closing the oven door and turning the oven down to 450 F.  After 16 minutes of steam it was removed and the oven reset for 425 F convection dry heat.

After another 20 minutes, the bread registered 208 F on the inside and it was taken out of the oven to cool on a raised rack. The bread had bloomed and sprang very nicely and it browned up well but not too dark since we didn’t know if a bold bake would be wanted.  The bread really smelled nice as it cooled and crackled.

 My daughter sent the girls some photos and they seemed ecstatically appreciative which put a smile on my face.  Hopefully they will like how it tastes just as much.

dabrownman's picture

I totally freaked out with the new way to upload pictures on the site!  Now it is easy as pie and I could figure it out all by myself with no help from Lucy.  Way to go Floyd!  This is the best improvement in the last 6 years by far!

dabrownman's picture

New Year’s Eve Pizza Tradition

Here it is…another year gone by so fast Lucy nearly missed it entirely.  It was good one to remember though with our daughter getting married and her and her new husband here for the end of year pizza tradition…and this time he got to form the pies while she got to top them!

My SIL get me the instant pot for x-mas and my daughter got me the induction cooktop that I used to make the pizza sauce this time.  Instead of taking 4-5 hours on the cooktop it was done in 2 hours and every bit as good.

This year’s pizza dough was an 8% pre-fermented flour, 100% hydration, poolish made with a pinch of instant yeast. and left to sit for 3 hours.  No whole or sprouted grains this time.  The dough flour was 2/3rds Winco High Gluten and 1/3 Albertson’s bread flour. Overall hydration was 72%.  We like this combination for tough, no holes, elastic yet extensible dough perfect for the extreme thin pizza crust we love.

I smoked the fresh: hot Italian sausage, yellow onions and crimini mushrooms for an hour and half just like my idol Chris Bianco does for his world best pizza at Bianco’s Pizzeria.  The other toppings were red, yellow and orange bell peppers, very thin smoked pepperoni, shredded mozzarella, American Grano Padano parmesan. And fresh basil for garnish.

I forgot that my round stone was broken so the pizzas baked on it got stuck in the broken crack and ended up misshaped after trying to spin them at the 5 minute mark and get them out of the oven and they stuck to the opened crack.  Bit, the taste was just about the best we have ever made and that is saying something.  They crust were perfect - no sagging or soggy allowed!  It has to be crispy, thin and un-foldable.  New Yorkers would maybe prefer their fhicker, soggy,floppy kind and hate our favorite.

Someone stole a crispy pepperoni to show what was underneath..... but it wasn't Lucy.

What makes the crust so good is the fresh rosemary, rehydrated dried tomato and fresh mince garlic added to the dough with a bit of EVOO and then it being retarded for 18 hours in the fridge after the bulk ferment.  The smoked toppings just put it over the top, making for a perfect last meal for the year end ….with a nice Chianti of course.  The 4 of us devoured these two pizzas faster than ramming speed.

There is still some rugelach left ......but not many

Happy New Year to all Fresh Lofians! 


dabrownman's picture

Lucy told me that, in the old days, Jewish bakers in Poland and around Vienna started baking these cookies shaped like a horn or twist several hundred years ago.  The root Yiddish word for Rugelach means little twists or horn and are made from triangles of dough rolled up with a filling inside.

The originals were either ale yeast or sourdough.  Later they were made with yeast and had either sour cream or cream cheese in the dough.  These are not, old school yeast ruglelach.  They have no SD or yeast in them even though Lucy considered it.  These are puff paste rugelach that has both sour cream and cream cheese in the dough to make them seem old school …yet modern, much lighter and airy.

Jewish bakers in Vienna later took out the filling and the cream cheese or sour cream left in the sourdough or yeast and made the first croissants around the mid 1800’s of so, that the French added a French name to later.  These Jewish bakers also made the first Kaiser Rolls but they were originally named Franz Joseph rolls, after the Arch Duke of Austria.  The Germans changed the name later to Kaiser Rolls but that is totally different Lucy tale.

How did that smoked pork butt of Christmas get in there?

I made the dough exactly like this but only made half a batch and added 2 T each of SC and CC cutting the requited ice water as a result to make 24 rugelach.  If you have never made puff paste, I suggest you do and use this easy method that works great every time.  I used half LaFama AP and half WINCO high gluten flour.

We made a nice Holiday Celebration 3 apple, pear, ginger, snockered cranberry and bourbon galette that we have been eating all week. - Delicious!

Half of them had a chocolate chip and pecan filling; 3 oz of chips and 1 oz of pecans, with a bit of cinnamon, sugar and 1 T of softened butter.  The other 12 were; hazelnut, chocolate chip, same ratio as above, 2 T of peanut butter with 1 T of sugar and 1 T of butter.   We think both will be tasty if Lucy doesn’t eat them all!  She looks very hungry!

After the roll up for the non horn variety

Monster Denver Omelette for 3 on Christmas  Day!

Happy New Year to all Fresh Lofians!  And a NY sunset from Arizona

dabrownman's picture

Here we are, nearly at years end, and the time to reflect on the past, present and future.  Lucy doesn’t do any of that of course, being small minded and down right stupid but the rest of should not use her as a guide in anything we do except maybe bread baking once a week.

We should be thoughtful and truthful with ourselves in all things, especially this time of year as we reflect on the past year, experience the current Holiday Season and project ourselves into the future of next year.

We love Bean, Grilled Chicken and Grilled Veggie Cheese Crisps!

We all want to be successful in our life long endeavors . We also need to make sure that we are successful.  The wanting is easy but it isn’t anywhere near enough to guarantee success in anything.  Want can get in the way of doing and the doing is what it takes to be successful in all things…….as long as you are doing the right things in your life.

Especially when they are decked out with the guacamole, Crema and  Pico de Gillo.

The wonderful thing, thank goodness, about doing the right thing is that it is every bit as easy as doing the wrong thing or even doing nothing at all.  It is hard work doing nothing – take it from me!  So we might as well do the right things instead of the wrong thongs, or things if you can type better than Lucy.  The rewards far outweigh the just deserts of being a failure at the end your life.

This years, new and different Christmas cookie is Fresh Guava Bars.  Never seen fresh guavas in the Mexican store before.  Hey they look better when dusted with powdered sugar and not as tart as Lemon Bars.

One of the things it takes to be successful in life is to be financially self-sufficient.  That doesn’t mean you have to be filthy rich but you need to be comfortable when you retire.  Nowhere in the Bible, or the Old Testament’s first 5 books if you are Jewish, does it say that your children are supposed to take care of you in your old age.

1949 SD Fruitcake crumb shot - yummy!  These slices still frozen....

These same scriptures do talk extensively about parents taking care of their children though.  One way to do that is to have a firm financial footing – even though money isn’t everything.  Being rich helps even more and Lucy, who knows nothing,  says it is pretty darn easy to be rich if you are human.   If being rich money wise is what you want - then it is easy as pie.  Oddly, to be rich, non money wise, is pretty darn hard ……no matter how much money you have.

Lucy never forgets the salad and now with the garden producing lettuce and tomatoes.....So much better!

So, let’s stick to the easy stuff .....being rich money wise.  No mater how poor you start out in life, there is no reason you cannot become wealthy…… if you have normal intelligence and health – there are few excuses otherwise.  Let’s get to some easy doing then... instead of worthless talking about it. 

If you want a million dollars cash in hand when you retire at 65 years old and you are 21 years old today making $15 an hour, all you have to do is invest $1.70 a day, every day, into the Vanguard S&P index fund and increase that amount every year by 3% as you gain experience, education and make more money over time.  That’s it.  I think we can agree, that just about everyone can afford that pittance – that really isn’t one at all.

Now, if you want to have a million dollars in today’s money when you retire, you have to invest a $4.06 every day and increase that by 3% every year.  You will have over $2.4 million but in today's dollars that will be $1 million due to estimated inflation over time.  To be very young and using the power of compound interest in your favor just can’t be beat for ease and simplicity.

Since 1928, the S&P has returned an average of 11.5% through thick and thin, good and bad years, if you include the dividends it throws off every year and you reinvest them too.  So what poor, 21 year old person, making $15 an hour can’t afford to invest about 1/4 of 1 hours pay per day to be a real millionaire in today’s money, when they retire?  Ignorant ones…..or ones with poor character.  See, being rich has little to do with who you know or how smart or educated you are - even though they can help.   But, it does have everything to do with knowing things others do not know or appreciate and doing about the easiest things, barely what it takes, to make you rich…… instead of them because few others will and they need a lot of help.

Just remember, the longer you wait to start investing in yourself, the harder it gets.  Eventually it becomes impossible no matter what you do short of winning the lottery.  Now let’s talk about kids.  I didn’t have my first and hopefully only one until I was 39.  Most people have kids when they are much younger than I was.  But ,no matter when you have them, the rule is the same - you have to take care of them.

People do not seem to think about this enough but the one thing, besides love, that you have to have with kids is money - lots of money.  Love can only get you so far.  Kids are not cheap and they get more expensive as they age – way, way more expensive.

The one thing parents forget about totally, after food, clothes, shelter, schools, vacations, summer camp, weddings and whatnot, is that they need to make sure that every kid they have becomes a millionaire, in today’s money, the day each one turns 65.  This too, like all things money, is very, very easy.

The 2 easiest ways to do it is to either put a one time $5,912 into the same S&P 500 mutual index fund on the day they are born and forget about it or, put $1.58 every day into the same index fund for them until they are 65.

You have to live to be pretty old to do the latter but, being 85 for a 65 year old, like me today, is certainly easy enough and very probable.  My Dad is 85 and just had a hip replaced this month!  He says he had at least 10 good years left in him if the surgery didn't kill him.  What ever age you eventually make it to, will seem like a blessing to your kids if you made them a millionaire along the way.  If your kids think you were a blessing …..then you have succeeded in life beyond your wildest dreams - right?

Now for you, your wife and 2 kids if you are poor and 21, a real bad combination, for all 4 of you to be rich in today’s money,when you are 65 ;  costs you a whopping $11.28 a day – every day total or $4,118 a year.  Sadly, I used to smoke more cigarettes a day than that!  If you are lucky enough to work for a company that matches your 401-k retirement contributions. then your personal costs are immediately cut in half.

If the company you work for offers a 401-k Roth – you are double lucky - then the government won’t even get a piece of your personal fortune in taxes.  The only thing worse than taxes is death itself.  I told you being rich was easy.  My dad had 2 kids when he was 21 but said he was too poor to invest any money like this.  We all know now, even though he really believed he was too poor, what he really was - was ignorant.  It is all in the doing – or lack of doing.   He still made it to 85 without any of is killing him too. - another blessing!

What did Yoda say to Luke?  Try Not!  Do or do not, there is no try!  He is by far the wisest of all the mythical creatures that never existed.   It is easy enough to be like Yoda and teach your children to do well for themselves and their family. - so do it.  Now on to the hard stuff - Sourdough Buns.

These are 25%, 6 whole grain enriched buns made with a 12% pre-fermented bran levain at 100% hydration.  The enrichment was 2.5% sugar and 5% butter with 2% PH sea salt at 75% hydration overall.  The levain was retarded for 24 hours but the buns were not retarded.

We did not do an autolyse but mixed everything, except the sugar and butter together, including the levain and let it sit for 30 minutes to hydrate the flour, before adding the sugar and butter and beginning the first of 3 sets of slap and folds or 60, 10 and 4 slaps.  We then did 3 w=sets of stretch and folds of 4 stretches each.  All dough manipulations were done on 30 minute intervals.  We then let the dough bulk ferment for an hour before dividing into 110 g portions and shaping into slim buns.

After 2 hours of proof we fired up the oven to 425 F for 8 minutes of baking after being egg washed and then 15 more minutes at 375 F convection to finish them off. To a light golden brown and 205 F on the inside.  We froze them as soon as they cooled for smoked pulled pork sandwiches Christmas day so we will have to wait for the crumb shot and a tasting.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

dabrownman's picture

Lucy is back to making white bread batards with a small bran levain.  But this one was a bit different in a couple of 3 ways.  First off, the levain was a white one that was retarded for a week after it was built and the bran didn’t go in until the day before the bake as build number 4.

The old levain was taken out of the fridge and fed 14 g of 8 gran bran and 14 g or water.  Lucy let it sit for 4 hours until it doubled.  This one had twice the potato flakes as the last white bread too.  The 20% whole 8 grains were: rye, Kamut, red and white wheat, Einkorn, oat and spelt.

We did not do an autolyze but another thing that was different is that we did a free from batard without basket support to proof this loaf and even though the dough came in at 84% hydration. Overall.  The reason we could do this is because 80% of the flour in the mix was Albertson’s bread flour that was way more thirsty than our normal LaFama AP.

We did our usual 3 sets of slap and folds of 50, 8 and 4 slaps and 2 sets of 4 stretch and folds.  All were done on 30 minute intervals.  After the dough rested for 30 minutes in an oiled SS bowl we retarded it for 12 hours in the fridge.

Once it warmed up for 2 hours we pre-shaped it and then shaped it into a batard and placed it on a parchment covered peel and covered it with a kitchen towel for 2 hours of final proof.  After slashing we slid it on the bottom stone at 500 F and turned the oven down to 450 F after putting 2 C of hot water on the lava rocks to make Mega Steam.

After 16 minutes, the steam came out and we continued baking for 14 more minutes at 425 F convection until it read 208 F on the Instant read thermometer.  It had browned, sprung, blistered and bloomed well enough for a batard.  Can’t wait to see what it looks like on the inside but we have to wait until tomorrow for that.

The crumb isn't as open as we thought it would be but it is soft and most and the taste is very good.  It makes great sandwiches and will be a star when grilled for bruschetta tonight.

dabrownman's picture

On October 12, 2009 you could have bought 55,000 bitcoins for a whopping $55.22 using PayPal from Sirius.  Today you would have $1 Billion - with a B.  Never ,in the history of mankind, has so much wealth been created so fast by doing so little.  This explains why all the naysayers are so horribly wrong about the times we live in today.  Never ever, at any time in the 4.6 billion years that the earth has existed ,has it been so great and wonderful to be alive it is today.

dabrownman's picture

Lucy did finally back to what we would call normal so it was time to get some holiday baking done.  We managed to get a fruitcake baked off and then we did a 25% whole wheat fruit and nut holiday bread to make up for a few weeks of blandish white bread bakes.

We come up with a slightly different version every year.  This one was special because it was whole wheat, what little amount if flour there is in it and the fruits have been snockering away, in bourbon, in the fridge, for more than a year…. so they are very tasty ….almost too tasty for fruitcake.  We used pecans for the nuts this year instead of a mix with walnuts.

We upped the butter a bit, dropped the molasses and upped the brown sugar to compensate.  We upped the spices to a full tablespoon of a mix of: cloves, mace, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cardamom and cinnamon with cinnamon double the amount if the others.  We baked it at 32f for an hour and 5 minutes instead of 300 F for 2 hours.  Here is the recipe

25% Pre-fermented whole wheat, 100% hydration levain made with 10 g of NMNF rye starter

75% Whole wheat dough flour

25% Water

2% Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

65% Eggs

65% Butter

225% Snockered glace and dried fruits

65% Walnuts

65% Brown sugar

65% Chocolate chips

I T of mixed 7 spices.

The holiday bread bake was made for the centerpiece of the table but I forgot to Chacon it so I just dumped it into the flat bottomed, Goodwill 50 cent cloth lined basket, seam side down, hoping it would look nice.  It came out unique enough for sure but, since I still have to bake a Chacon for the challenge holiday bake anyway, I decided to eat this one.

This one had a 10% preferment flour, whole wheat (white and red), 100 % hydration levain.  Overall whole wheat was 25%.  We did 1 set of 50 slap and folds and then 4 sets of stretch and folds – all on 30 minute intervals.  The prune and cranberries were rehydrated with the liquid squeezed out and reserved to make yeast water.  The fruits with the pecans went in during the first set of stretch and folds.

This started out at 80% hydration but the reh-ydrated fruits brought some extra water with them so it was quite a bit wetter than that in reality.  We let it rest for 30 minutes before bulk retarding it for 14 hours.  We let it warm up 2 ½ hours before shaping and basketing seam side down.  It proofed for about 2 more hours before it hit the hot DO for 20 minutes of steam at 450 F and 15 minutes of dry convection air at 425 F

It read 208 F when we took it out of the oven.  It browned nicely due to that extra sugar in the re-hydration water and it opened up in a unique way even for a seam side up baked boule.  We think it should be fair open when we cut into it later.  Here is the formula

10% Pre-fermented flour, red and white whole wheat, 100% hydration levain

15% Red and white wheat dough flour

75% LaFama AP

2% Pink Himalayan sea salt

80% overall hydration

15% each pecans. prunes and cranberries dry weight.

Happy holiday baking to all!

dabrownman's picture

 Lucy is back to work but she isn’t happy – not one little bit. She just started to get back into the swing of things when they announced that 800 million jobs worldwide will be eliminated by robots in the next 12 years.  Lucy thought she did important stuff but she is mostly an esily replicable pet and baking apprentices will be the 2nd to go - after pets.

They say that these people will find jobs fixing robots and programming them but one programmer can program 25,000 robots and your robot will come with a 10 year extended warrantee for free and probably will never break if they make them like robots make cars today.   The thing about technology is that the jobs they replace are lost forever. – they never go somewhere else for anyone.

Then GM announced that they are going to have a huge fleet of driverless cars on the road as taxis by 2019….. in just a year plus.  So all the people that lost their jobs during the last recession and replaced them as Uber drivers will be replaced by a kind of robot car that doesn’t really have a robot in it…..and it will happen very soon.

I’m guessing the last recession will seem like a big holiday at the beach when 800 million people can’t find work to support themselves.  It is going to be worse than the walking dead because these folk will be real ….broke…..and hungry!  It is a good thing we make bread to feed them – at least until robots do it.  On to better times!

We have over 200 flowers on our Sweet 100 Cherry tomato and a crumb shot

This bread has equal amounts of rye, spelt, oat, Kamut, einkorn, red and white wheat whole grains plus 10% potato flake with an overall hydration of 80%.  The levain was 15% pre-fermented flour, all of the whole grains, at 100% hydration.


A Rosemary Christmas tree

The levain was built over 12 hours and retarded for 24 hours when finished.  We autolyzed the dough to 1 hour with the salt sprinkled on top.  Once the levain hit the mix, we did 2 sets of slap and fold of 50 and 8 slaps and 3 sets of stretch and folds – all on 30 minute intervals.  Then the dough rested for a ½ hour in an oiled SS bowl before being retarded for 16 hours.

Thanksgiving Bubbles and Squeak - thanks to the UK for the method to make all the Thanksgiving leftovers great again!

The dough warmed up for 2 hours the next morning before being shaped into a long batard.  It was placed into a towel lined basket for 3 hours of proofing.  Once the dough hit the 500 F bottom stone with Mega Steam it really bloomed and sprang well giving Lucy 3 big smiles with ears.  We baked it bold and took it out at 209.5 F.

Another nice soup and salad

dabrownman's picture

This bread was made for the turkey stuffing mixed half and half with some home made cornbread since Lucy is still on strike it is the same as the last bread posted - 30% 7 whole grain SD.


This year the girls let me make the rolls so I went all out with a take on Parker House Rolls except I made them with SD and poolish. I started as a base with King Arthur’s recipe that used yeast.

Corn bread for the stuffing 

These rolls were a big hit and went so fast I couldn’t get a finished picture of them but they have ti be about the best rolls I have aver made or eaten because they were about the most butter you can stuff in your mouth without eating butter straight!


Here is the formula to make  (8) - 88 g (wet) rolls- I used La Fama AP for the flour and NFDM powder mixed with water to make the milk


20% prefermented flour leavian – 100% hydration made with milk – 75g of flour – 12 hours

11% prefermented flour poolish made with a 1/2 g of instant yeast – 100% hydration made with milk – 40 g of flour – 3 hours


 69% Lafama AP flour – 245g

44.5% milk – 140g

2% salt 7g  PH salt

12% - 44g Butter

11% - 40 g Sugar

14% - 50g Instant potato flakes

14% - 1 egg – about 50 g

Brush on egg wash before baking and use melted butter to brush top before folding over during shaping and to brush when they come out of the oven.  You also need softened butter to generously butter the 8x8 baking dish so they don’t stick.  Bake at 350 F oven 233-25 until golden brown.


This is an easy process.  I just mixed everything in a large SS bowl  and then kneaded by hand the old fashioned way like they did in the mid 19th century at the Parker house hotel in Boston. - about 6 minutes then let rest on the counter under the bowl.  Then do another set of folds and let rest for another hour.  It won’t have puffed up much and certainly not doubled.


Do another set of folds and divide into 8 - 88 g balls.   Let rest 5 minutes.  Flour the bench lightly so the dough doesn't stick when you press it down into a round a bit less than ½ inch thick.  Brush top of round with butter and press the handle of a wooden spoon down in the middle (like a fendu). Fold over, making a half moon, and put into a buttered 8” square baking dish or pan.  Let rise for 3 hours or so till they puff up nicely.  Egg wash the top and bake at 350 F for about 23-25 minutes until golden brown.. A true classic and just wonderful to behold – not to mention yummy as can be.

 If you bake them single on parchment on a stone, there is a good chance they will open up out of the half moon instead of staying folded - so be warned.


Subscribe to RSS - dabrownman's blog