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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ehanner

On another thread the matter of how things show up on others monitors came up and I thought I would shed some light on the subject for those who care about the way things look.


In general all operating systems (MS-Apple-Unix) are made to display a jpeg image to a standard. The OS has a calibration capability that is used by artists and those who care about rendering exact colors on various media like paper, film and a wide range of monitors. As a rule, so long as the image is of natural colors and not the super saturated bright ranges, they display accurately enough to not draw attention. Our brain is able to pick out an un natural flesh tone quickly. We accept a known flesh tone and white and black as a basis for true color. Everything else is assumed to be good if the white is white. Think about a photo of a bride in a white dress that rendered as light green while her face was a normal flesh tone. This is the daily battle for a wedding photographer. Multiple light sources, bright colored carpets and wall colors all effect the light as it bounces around the room. If you want to reproduce accurate colors, you must control the primary light. In the case of the wedding photog, the bride needs to be bathed in soft white light from a powerful flash, softened by a diffuser to eliminate sharp shadows. Our eyes will tell us instantly if the white fabric has an off tint, especially in the shadow areas. The flash needs to overpower the ceiling lights and bounce from the red carpet.


Shooting breads, we have a much wider range of acceptable tones since the only known true colors are whites and black. Look at the right side bar titled "Also On The Fresh Loaf". All the breads look pretty good but the top image of Peter Reinhart looks a little green to me. You see, it's much harder to get a flesh tone right.


Lighting and the settings on a digital camera play a large part in starting down the path of rendering an off color. For example, all cameras today have an auto white balance setting. The sensor measures the light source and adjusts the color saturation of certain colors depending on what it sees. Many cameras also have alternate white balance settings like "incandescent or tungsten and florescent". When you change to the florescent setting, the camera adjusts to eliminate the green hue that florescent bulbs give off and warm the image. Using incandescent settings in daylight would produce a warmer image.


The problem gets difficult when we have multiple light sources. For example, I have a florescent kitchen light fixture with daylight bulbs but I usually use the on camera flash for better rendering of the colors. It's a compromise I sometimes have to adjust for later in Photoshop. Daylight images with the sun out are the easiest because the colors are perfect with the daylight settings.


In the end, all you have control over is your own environment. You must adjust the lighting and camera settings to look right on YOUR monitor. If you think the image looks a little orange, try taking the picture using the incandescent white balance setting. If it looks a little cool(blue or green) try using the florescent setting. Idealy the best image is natural lighting in sun. But I know last night when I finished baking it was 2 AM lol.


I hope those who are interested in this sort of thing find this useful. If anyone has questions about all things photographic, please fire away and I'll try to help.


Eric


ADDED BY EDIT: I noticed that the images in the right side bar chage with every refreshment. So if you want to see the image of PR, frefresh a few times and I think it will rotate back.


 

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ehanner

I've never had really good Greek bread. But, I have heard enough about how great it is that I've been interested in working on it for some time. When dsnyder and I were discussing the formula a while back, he let on he has a daughter-in-law from Greece and maybe she would help tune this up to a respectable loaf.


Here is Davids posting of the improved version, after experimenting with his DIL.


I followed Davids suggestions except for the mixing and folding. I mixed in my DLX after a 30 minute rest, for a total of 3 minutes, using the roller. Then I folded it 3 times in a bowl over the next 3 hours as it fermented. It was a silky smooth dough, very nice to handle. After dividing in two and pre shaping, I tightened the boules and placed them in linen lined baskets for proofing. It took 1-1/2 hours for the proof and the dough temp was 74F.


I also added a few drops of toasted sesame oil to the dough, hoping to get some of that great aroma and boost the lightly toasted seeds on the surface. I'm afraid I would say the desired effect of the oil was not realized. There is a definate sesame aroma but I think it's from the seeds.


After reading Davids comments about his oven temperature and the brown color he got, I thought I would start with 430F and reduce to 410 when I rotated the loaves. The crust color isn't as dark as it appears. I like the color but I also think it could be a little more golden and less orange/brown. A lower and slower bake perhaps.


There is a little bitterness in the taste I'm not sure about. I don't have a lot of experience with Durum flour. Does anyone know if that is normal with Durum?  My daughter was bugging me to cut it so after 20 minutes I relented and had her carve it up. There isn't a hint of sweetness, with 2 T of honey, I'm a little surprised.


Eric






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When I saw Shiao-Ping's post of Chocolate Sourdough, I knew I had to try it. Her beautiful images drew me into the project and made me drool for a rich dark decadent desert bread. I thought it might pair with cranberry's well and tried a couple different liquors to soak them for extra flavor. I had some great morning oatmeal for a couple days but in the end I decided to let the cranberry's be cranberry's.


I followed SP's time line nearly exactly except I let the dough proof in plastic bannetons at room temp until they were 50% larger. On bake day, I held my breath and slashed the rather dense dough after dusting and loaded the first 2 in the oven. The cut marks didn't open even a little when I made the slash and I was worried these were going to be black doorstops.


To my delight and surprise after the 10 minute steam timer went off, I checked and found the oven spring was happening.


One interesting thing to report. Just as I was loading on a stone, I saw some chocolate chips on the surface and wondered how much of a mess I would have after baking. To my surprise, the chips don't seem to run out. In fact the ones on the exterior were firm to the touch when I unloaded the oven. I don't know much of anything about chocolate in the kitchen so maybe someone with pastry experience will jump in on this.


As Shiao-Ping said the flavor is Moorish. To me that means I need more for lunch. This is a delicious gift bread that takes a couple days including the SD elaboration and well worth the effort. Thank you Shiao-Ping for your lovely inspiration.


Here is the recipe as posted by Shiao-Ping, goddess of chocolate!


Eric





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ehanner

This story is a confession of humility. Something happened to me a few days ago that is just to good not to share with my friends.


I was mixing a batch of a simple white bread I make all the time. As I looked out the kitchen window at the fall leaves, mixing my dough with a plastic scraper, I was thinking how a couple years ago I would of been thinking "this dough is to dry" and been tempted to add additional water. Then as I continued to push and knead it started to come together better. I was pleased with myself for having had the confidence in my judgment to keep going and not fall prey to the dry dough dilemma. Just about that time as I was feeling good about the knowledge I have gained, I looked across the counter to see the small bowl of 100% poolish that I had forgotten to add into the final dough mix. Ughhh what a moment of humble pie. No wonder it was so dry.


I thought I would share this moment with you all. I have learned a lot about baking while here at the Fresh Loaf. How ironic that the first time I am gloating internally about how well tuned my powers of observation are, the rug is yanked from beneath me. I guess I had it coming. Now I go forward having learned to think about my process and the steps. I'll try to not fall into a complacent confidence that allows me to work mindlessly.


That's my story and I'm sticking with it.


Eric

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ehanner

As I begin to work my way through Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf, there is a bread pictured on the inside cover that got me wondering. It looks like a boule with an appendage twisted with pointed tips and makes me think of a handle to hold while carrying or cutting. Dan didn't identify the bread by name and I haven't seen anything like it before so until I hear otherwise from Dan or someone who knows the real name, I'm calling it Medieval Bread. I used the first recipe for White Leaven Bread as the mix and tried to shape the dough as pictured.Waiting until after proofing to shape the twist was a mistake I suspect. If you have the book, you will be amused at my rookie attempt to replicate the image.


I have made Dan's Black Pepper Rye and the White Thyme bread which were delicious but I think I should progress in an order that will let me understand Lepards thinking. After looking at nearly every bread in the book, I see the ratios of leaven and timing are different than I have been accustomed to using. There are also a few specialized techniques that I haven't used and ingredients while common at home are unfamiliar to me in baking. Pickle Juice would be a good example. It would be easy for me to get distracted by the many wonderful new recipes and ignore the common sourdough white loaf. As I discovered, that would be a mistake.


I made the White Leaven bread by the book except I substituted 30 grams of sifted rye into the 500g white bread flour. Dan suggests using fresh yeast and as soon as I find a local source for 1 pound bricks I intend to make the change from Instant Dry (IDY). Most of the brick fresh yeast sold in the US is made just a few miles from here so it's just a matter of finding a distributor.


The method of developing the gluten in all of the recipes in this book are most easily done with your hands or a plastic scraper. Dan is insistent on minimal kneading, waiting 10 minutes and again just a few seconds of kneading and wait 10 minutes. After a few cycles of this you begin to see the dough come together well and become smooth and silky. Following the initial development comes a schedule of stretch and fold, waiting between folding sessions. All very gentle and effortless steps. The result is a perfectly incorporated and developed dough with just the right amount of aeration.


Remembering that these same four ingredients can be mixed and handled in many ways to arrive at vastly different ends, I am very pleased to have followed the procedure exactly. The bread is wonderful. For me a perfect outcome is a bread that looks wonderful and has a full flavor with a long lasting after taste. The crust has been baked to a dark brown and has a deeper caramelized flavor that contrasts the crumb. When I manage to bake a bread that has this contrast and tastes this good, I'm really pleased.


I know there are many bread books out there to choose from. Many are very similar and will produce great breads. If you are serious about making breads that are not merely great but outstanding, "The Handmade Loaf" or the US version "The Art of Handmade Bread"  is available from our link for $12. At this point it's the best value in my library and I'm delighted with the best breads I have made. Lepard has traveled Europe and befriended some of the old time bakers in far off the beaten path corners of the world. Developing these recipes for modern use is a gift to those of us who strive to bake these old style hearty breads.


No snickering at my attempt to make the twisted boule now!


Eric   



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ehanner

This is the first recipe I baked from my new copy of Dan Lepard's "The Handmade Loaf". The book is beautifully illustrated and has breads from all over Europe that are unique and well described. The official name of this bread doesn't do justice to the ingredients list. Lurking in the list are 100g of olives and olive oil that help make the dough smooth and delicious. I thought the final dough was a touch dry, so I added a couple Tablespoons additional water. In the end I might have added a little to much but it was quite a nice dough by the time I got to the stretch and fold part.  The method calls for final shaping on a baking sheet coated with oil. I used parchment with a small amount of oil rubbed in. Dan calls for semolina or corn meal to be sprinkled on the top. That gives the bread a nice texture on the surface.


I baked this at 420F for 30 minutes and then lowered the heat to 390F when I turned the loaf for color. It was browning nicely at that point. My finished bread is quite a bit darker than the one in the book and the profile isn't as flat as shown. I did dimple the top with my fingers just before loading but I was taking care not to deflate the dough. Still, you can see by the pre-bake image, it did spring nicely.


The flavor is delicious. I would say the predominate taste is from the olives but I can taste the Thyme in the background. The Thyme may improve with time if it lasts that long. This is a keeper and I know will be a hit with the family.


This is the second bread from Mr. Lepard I have baked that tastes unique and better than the ingredients would lead you to expect. I think I am going to enjoy exploring here.


Eric






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A recent discussion of Dan Lepard's Black Pepper Rye got me interested in this bread. There are enough interesting aspects of this mix and method I had to try it. I followed the steps outlined in Dan's blog and carefully examined the detailed photos he provided. The process calls for boiling coffee with half the rye, pepper and the seeds. I watched carefully as bubbles started to erupt off the bottom of the pan. I thought surely it isn't actually boiling, I'll let it go just a little longer. Be forewarned, when the bubbles start to surface, stop whisking and pour the rye mix into a waiting bowl for cooling. I waited and ended up having to add an additional 1/4 C of water. Next time I'll be quicker. If you click on the link below, it will take you to the recipe page and more important the method with images that will be all you need to make this terrific bread.


As you can see the crust is loaded with Poppy Seeds and it smells wonderful coming out of the oven.


The crumb is somewhat dense as expected with a 30% rye. It is moist and has a nice pepper and fennel flavor. It's a very full flavor, I would say exotic wholesome. My wife and teen daughter are ecstatic about the flavor. The after taste stays with you like nothing I have ever tasted. This is a keeper. There are lots of variations I can think of that might be fun exploring with the base concept. This is the first loaf I have made in a long while that makes you want to keep eating it. Really, what a flavor!


I don't own any of Dan Lepards books yet but, after baking this bread and seeing how hands on he is with his blog, helping his followers, I'm ordering a copy of "The Handmade Loaf"  today. Thanks Dan!


Eric





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Black Pepper and Thyme Gourgéres is a wonderful light and airy appetizer I love to make. I was in the mood today for a savory quick and easy bread product to go along with a soup mix I had in the pantry. I think the soup was the motivation for the cheese puff but it could of been the other way around.


I got the recipe for the Gourgéres from the very excellent foodwishes.com website. Chef John is a very accomplished Chef and his short videos are terrific. If you want other recipe there is a search feature at the top. This basically a cheese puff made with the same process as a eclair or cream puff. Water salt, butter, whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes. Whisk in a couple eggs, add the spice and cheese and scoop out the balls to bake. They come out hollow usually or very airy unless you go overboard on the cheese, which I usually do.


While the puffs are baking, I decide to take a stab at a package of soup I got from my Brother-In-Law, who travels to Finland frequently. I can't read a word on the package but fortunately there some pictures for us dummy's who don't read Norwegian. I'm hoping hansjoakim will help me out here to tell me this was great mushroom soup and not reindeer testicles. Either way it was delicious! I guessed at 2 cups water, simmer 5 minutes and add 2/3 cup of light cream.


So I had a great lunch and was going to share a photo of my Pomeranian, "Archie" enjoying his Gourgéres. He snapped it up and was gone before the focus locked, so no photo of Archie practicing his French.


Give these a try, they are delicious!


Eric






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ehanner

The Simple Sourdough bread posted below is such a beautiful loaf and the perfect size for dinner. Susan has been making this loaf as her daily bread for a long time, has perfected the process and shared it with us. This is a bread any of us who bake with a natural levain (SD) should be able to bake. Or, if you are not currently feeding a sourdough pet, this is a good reason to start.


I think it might be fun to take the challenge and try to duplicate Susan's handiwork. If nothing else it will be a good exercise in the building blocks of basic sourdough. From the looks of her efforts I can stand to pay attention to the details. On occasion I get a loaf that has the qualities of hers but I would really like to be able to make this bread on any day.


In the next few days I plan to give this my best shot and work on the technique until I understand all the subtle check points to arrive at a perfect loaf. Anyone care to join me on this?


Eric

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ehanner


The dough didn't spring all that much in the oven.




This is a light and easy to chew bread with good flavor



Slashed deeply and ready to proof



After 1 hour proof time, ready to bake


MommaT asked about a recipe for a Greek Bread that she had just had while in the Mediterranean on vacation. A common bread sold everywhere and wonderful to the nose and mouth senses. I suspect the view of the beautiful Greek villages with their white stucco buildings and red tile roofs, not to mention the sea air and fine wine might have an impact on the experience of eating a piece of artisan bread dipped in the most fragrant  Greek Olive oil. Ahhh, it takes me back.  So---


When DSnyder suggested a possible recipe after connfering with his Greek DIL, well I hopped right on it. I converted the recipe to weights for the most part, at least where it counts. I used 135g per cup for the flour weight and KA AP flour. My hydration came in at 73% counting the milk and oil as liquids.


I thought the dough to be a bit firm but the recipe does call it a stiff dough. I mixed it as per  suggested but I let it rest for 20 minutes and then folded and kneaded a bit. It was starting to become smooth but not fully delevoped when I shaped it into a round and covered it. About an hour passed annd the dough had doubled nicely and felt like a puff ball. I shaped it into a tight oval, brushed an egg wash over the top and sprinkled a generous topping of toasted sesame seeds over the loaf. I don't usually slash the loaf prior to proofing but that's what was called for so I made a deep slash down the top center as you can see. I covered the loaf with plastic, dusted the plastic with spray oil and flipped the plastic wrap over so as to avoid a mess after proofing.


I had pre heated the oven to 400F and heated a 1/2 C of water for steam. The bread was loaded, in with the water and after 15 minutes lowered the heat to 350F for another 15 minutes. Actually I didn't quite go to the full 30 minutes baking time. I thought I was done enough for the first try at 27 minutes. The bread feels very light and is soft enough on the crust it is just a little hard to slice. Perhaps just just a little more oven time to dry it out.


The aroma is wonderful. Toasting the sesame seeds is always worth while. My daughter approves, saying "this is really good" , that is a pretty tall hurdle. She is a tough critic.


I don't know if this looks or tastes like what MommaT was talking about or even what David's daughter in law Stephanie intended. Perhaps she will see this and comment. Thank you Stephanie and David for your interest in creating this bread. Please let me know what you think.


Here is my contribution to the recipe.


Greek Bread with Sesame Seeds


Luke warm water (80F) 1/2 Cup (118g)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (30g)
5 Tablespoons warm milk (74g)
1 envelope ID Yeast (6g (2-teaspoons))
2-1/4 Cups AP Flour (304g)
1/2 teaspoon Salt (sea salt, fine grind)

1 egg and 2 T milk for washing before seeds are applied
2-4 T Sesame Seeds, toasted


Hydration 73%


Method as called for in Davids post here
Mix, autolyse, knead and ferment till double. Punch down, shape, slash and wash with egg wash, seeds and proof for 45-60 minutes.
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, reduce temp to 350 for and additional 15 mins.,steam as normal


Eric


 

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