The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Today I made a second batch of the Multi fold, no knead bread Shiao-Ping as been working on and posting. I decided to make a few changes in concept to suit my style.I started with her SFSD post HERE and except for the yeast and flours and baking temp, followed that method.


First, instead of using yeast to rise the dough and sourdough starter to flavor it, I used a scant 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and relied on my robust starter to provide leavening. So it was a true sourdough loaf. Next time I'll skip the yeast totally.


Second, I added 5% rye flour to the dough mix. In the past I have found that even a small amount of rye helps the depth of flavor greatly. In this case I added 25g of whole rye.


Third, I found I needed an extra 30 minutes ferment time for the dough to feel right, so call it 4.75 hours ferment time total at 73 degrees F. That was also the dough temperature.


Forth, I gave the proof time 40 minutes. I'm not certain that I didn't over do that by a few minutes. The crust expanded well but the cuts got all weird like a cat fight happened on top. As usual scoring is my Achilles heel and the first thing to go.


Lastly, I wasn't happy with the chewiness of the crust yesterday baking for an hour  at 350F. Today I used 450F for 10 minutes, steamed and lowered the temp to 430 for another 20 minutes. The crust would have been more crisp had I left it in the oven for 5-10 minutes to dry. I may get a tattoo reminding me to stay on checklist. I like the crust much better today.


Overall, the flavor of the sourdough is mild and the overall taste is great. It is remarkable how creamy yellow the crumb is and how well the dough feels using only a plastic scraper to fold a few times. I think it is a safe statement that our mixers are oxygenating the dough and do nothing for flavor. Simple hand mixing and gently folding will develop gluten and deliver to your hands a very luxurious and satiny dough. I didn't pull a window pane but I assure you that this dough is the essence of gluten development.


I like the schedule of this bread. I started it at 8 AM and I'm eating it at 4 PM. My other Sourdough breads I usually start in the evening after dinner and get them in the oven around 10 AM. -12 PM. That's OK but I like the one day aspect. When I have time, I know I can make a good loaf on the day I think of it.


That's it. One day SF SD. Not the best bread I've ever made but pretty darn good for a one day project. No Mixer needed!


Eric

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I was interested in this one day bread that is reported to be a flavorful and beautiful direct ferment dough. I followed Shiao-Ping's formula precisely, even to the point of obtaining a bag of King Arthur flour. I figured if she can spring for it in Brisbane, I'll dig deep here where it's only 3 times the cost of my usual bread flour.


I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the dough felt as it proceeded through the folding stages. It was a thing of beauty by the last stage. All of the times and temps were right on. I planned for a 72F dough temp and it stayed there all through the ferment. At 4-1/2 hours I shaped and let it rest on the counter as advised. I wanted to skip the banneton, the gluten was well developed and I think it would have stayed in shape for 45 minutes. Surprising for an 80% hydration dough.


Anyway I watched the proofing progress as advised and at 40 minutes it was right according to my floured digit. After a sloppy pineapple slash into the oven it went. Yes, a scant 1/4 Cup of water in the steam pan.


I have never baked a white flour loaf for an hour and was hoping it would look right. I read Shiao-Ping's note about how the author suggested up to 70 minutes but I wasn't that brave. 60 minutes of oven time, the last 50 being at 350F was my plan.


You can see the crust is nicely browned and not overly thick all around. I got a nice oven spring and the shape is about what I would expect. The crumb is reasonably open and has a nice chew.


For a short 4.5 hours of floor time this is a nice bread. It isn't the best direct bread I have eaten but it's very good considering the time it took to make it. I did think the crust was more chewy than crispy. Perhaps the additional 10 minutes in the oven would fix that.


I plan to make this again or rather the Sourdough/yeast  version tomorrow. I'll probably add a little rye in the flour mix just to try to maximize the flavors. If the dough feels as good as it did today, I'll do a free style bake and proof in a couch cloth. I might split the dough and make a baguette also.


We are going to a dinner party Sunday with some friends who like to think they are well traveled. I want to take some baguettes that will make them beg for the source and then tease them with the name of a fictitious new bakery. It will drive them nuts for a while trying to find it. Lol I was planning on doing the Anis method but this is in the running.


So that's it. Thank you Shaio-Ping for your inspiration to try this formula and method.


Eric

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A few weeks ago I saw a post with a reference to a Honey Lemon Whole Wheat loaf. As I recall a couple posters had commented that this bread was high on the best breads list for them. A fellow I have high regard for (PMcCool), suggested I would like it, so I decided to give it a spin.


The original recipe is from Bernard Clayton. One of the things Clayton does in this and other recipes I have made is to use very warm water for the mix along with a short primary ferment time and then an overnight chilled proof. Since the dough starts off life warm, it does rise fully while in the refrigerator. I suspect this also helps develop a better flavor. Another component of the flavor being the grated lemon rind, I suspect is enhanced by the warm water helping release the oils of the fruit.


The crumb is about what you would expect from a 40% Whole Wheat mix. The dough and later the bread has a very unusual and surprising aroma with the Lemon. This is an aromatic bread of the highest order. Paul said he liked the way the lemon plays off the WW and I think that's a good description of what I sence. So grab a copy of Claytons book and give this a try.


Eric



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For months I have been trying to decide on buying a good quality grain mill and grinding my own fresh grains. I really don't want to buy what I can purchase easily locally, but we live in a rural area and it's a drive to a decent store that carries Organic. Jmonkey, Bill Wraith, Proth5 and many others have raved about how much better their fresh ground organic flours are. Today I baked up my first batch of Organic  Fresh Ground 100% WW bread. I used Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads Master recipe.


I'm still a little cynical about all this Organic and fresh ground stuff so yesterday I made a batch of the same recipe using Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground WW, which has been my usual WW flour. I was able to save half the loaf to compare with todays results. The bread was delicious on its own.


Today I used the flour I received from Country Creations mail order flour service. The price is right and due to a regional shipper I got the flour on my door step in 2 days for less than I would pay at TJ or Whole Foods. Rhonda took my order and ground the 2 bags I bought that day. The product is slightly grainy instead of the silky smooth KA brands but I think is fine for my use. I got good gluten development in the short mixing time and a nice rise during my over proofing :>(.


My family was asking what is in the oven since the aroma was stronger than my usual breads. The house filled with a rich wholesome aroma I have not experienced prior. When the loaves came out of the oven I was really surprised at the wonderful smell. I have always expected this kind of aroma but never experienced it. Knowing how much of our taste comes from sense of smell, I have high expectations.


Finally the taste test. My wife had been gone and so she was able to objectively try both versions and pass judgement. The overwhelming consensus is that the fresh ground is way better tasting and smelling.


So, I'm sold. Country Creations has a wide variety of the products I like to use and their prices are more than fair. To me it's a bonus that her farm is Certified Organic and also the taste test winner. It's a win win situation for us.


On another thread several members are discussing the changing flour situation and how hard it is to get a straight answer from TJ's. The Whole Foods is a huge place but they don't move that much product so I question how fresh it is, plus it is priced at double what I paid through these folks. I can't think of a reason not to support the small farmer/mill. Hey, it's Earth Day right? I'm taking a stand!


Eric



I was distracted and this got over proofed, sorry.



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Digital Photography, Tips and Methods for the Baker

One of the wonderful things about the digital cameras we all have today is that we can share the look of the wonderful things we bake. It’s one thing to write a recipe and describe how things should be but as someone once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.



The scope of this blog will be limited to product photography and how to achieve the best results from commonly available equipment. I will try to avoid complex explanations that are better suited for advanced or professional photographers. The beginning baker need not take a magazine quality image to show for the purpose of asking for help. However, all of us want to show our work in the best possible light. We all are proud of our achievements and progress in this hobby of bread making and I am sure all of us want our pictures to reflect the beauty of our success.


NOTE: If you want to stay apprised to the updates to this blog you can subscribe below. Please feel free to post questions and I will try to be as helpful as possible.



The camera:
The myth that you need a 10.2 mega pixel camera to take good pictures has become accepted by the public as put forward by the camera makers. The simple truth is that an inexpensive camera with a good lens from 10 years ago will do just fine. Our computer monitors display images at a resolution of 72 or 96 dots per inch. All digital cameras record images at the size or resolution set in the camera settings. That means that the image saved by your camera is a whopping 3872x2592 pixels if you are using a 10 megapixel camera set on Large. That is a 10 Mb file that will display as 42X27 inches on your monitor. Displayed full size, you would only see a small portion on your screen.  The file size of an image saved at any resolution is way way larger than you need for uploading to the forum or emailing. As a general rule if you can re size your image to 4X6 inches at 72 dpi or there about, the file size will be small enough you can email it quickly and it will be uploaded easily to the image editor at the forum.
If you are thinking about buying a new camera, my advice is to purchase the best quality lens you can afford in your budget. Nikon has some very nice SLR’s in the range of $400 with wonderful optics that are  good general use lenses. Canon I am sure also has a competitive line with similar pricing. Remember that your image first has to pass through the optics on the camera. Everything that follows the lens is electronics. Mass production of plastic lenses has gotten um better, but a good glass lens will deliver sharp images on the collector plate. Yes, there are good quality smallish size cameras with plastic lenses. If size isn’t a consideration, an SLR that allows you to change lenses is my choice.

Basic Camera Operation:
First, learn how to control the on camera flash. This is important for every image you take from the kids standing on the beach to the loaf of bread just out of the oven. Even if you use the Auto setting on your point and shoot camera you can improve your results dramatically by understanding how to manipulate the flash. In outdoor settings in direct sunlight, the Sun casts a harsh shadow on the dark side all objects. The moon is the best example. When we see a crescent shaped moon, it is the shadow of the Sunlight that creates the contrast that looks like the moon has changed shape. In fact the moon is still there as always, just not illuminated so we can see the details. The same thing happens to a lesser degree when we take a photo in direct sunlight of a person wearing a hat. The camera will adjust for the overall amount of light on this bright sunny day and the face of the individual will be in shadow. If you force the camera to always fire the flash, especially on sunny days, you can eliminate the face being in shadow. The opposite is also true. If you prevent the flash from firing when in indoors but still decent light, your images will not suffer from being driven by over flash and the bounce back that occurs from camera mounted flash. Using daylight streaming in from outside gives the most natural colors for faces or bakery products. If you can use Sun light to illuminate your food products, there won’t be any need to adjust color tones later. Also, your lighting won’t be coming from the direction of the camera so there will be more interesting shadow detail in view.
Natural lighting usually results in lower light levels which increases the need for a steady hand or a tripod. Squeeze don't punch the shutter for a still camera and sharp image.



The most true colors and most natural looking images will always be the result of using the Sun to illuminate your images.  Having said that.

Flash photography is a reality that we all have to deal with. Most of my breads seem to come out of the oven at night or on gray cloudy days. I end up taking snap shots of the  breads I want to upload on a pan on the stove top with a florescent light fixture above. I put daylight tubes in the fixture and that helps reduce the green shade that florescent tubes usually cast. The on camera flash provides the majority of light and the result is a well exposed and color balanced image. The closer you are with the camera, the more prominent the light from the flash is. This is especially true with less expensive point and shoot cameras that don’t automatically adjust the flash down to prevent over exposure or burnout. In general you will get better results if you position the camera in the mid range of the flash. For example if your flash has an effective range of 12 feet, don’t get closer than 5 or 6 feet.


Setting the ISO:
The ISO setting allows you the ability to make the image plate more sensitive to lower light ranges. This is an area where I could easily get side tracked in a discussion of capabilities that while interesting, would be better saved for an advanced user discussion. I suggest using an ISO setting between 600 and 800. Image quality will remain high and at 800 the range of available light is wide enough to capture all of the details we need. Use higher numbers for lower light levels.

Natural Light Photography:
Our eye sees things as they are normally lit, with a combination of light sources and shadows. Flash lighting from a camera mounted strobe is harsh and unflattering in most cases. It’s OK for a quick snap shot but if you really want an image to show your work, a little thought about the lighting will dramatically improve your results.
Try to think about light as a liquid. It flows around sharp corners and bounces off of shapes it encounters, changing quality and color as it travels. Like the stream from a garden hose, it is most harsh and powerful closest to the source, falling in intensity as it travels away.
The most dramatic images have a wide range of depth of color and intensity. Some very dark places and some very light or white places . The focus point is sharp and well focused. The lighting establishes the mood. Long soft shadows from rear lighting with filling light on the sides make this image of a soft pretzel very interesting. Shadows creeping in from the side bring depth to any image.  The images Mark Sinclair and his wife are using of his bakery products are a good example of thoughtful natural lighting. Take a look at how they have sculpted the breads with perfect control of the light. No trickery here, just thoughtful lighting you can do at home.
www.thebackhomebakery.com




All of the images above are good examples of natural off camera lighting. Thanks to Mark, Susan, and Pamela and also Stephmo for the Pretzels shot.


This will be a work in progress and added to as I get time. If you have questions, fire away and I'll do the best I can. This is a big subject that could get very specialized.


Eric

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4 Pound Onion Rye
4 Pound Onion Rye

The image doesn't give the scale of this loaf justice. This was the last batch I baked today and I wanted to make a statement. I mixed 8 Pounds of Sour Rye starting with 1000 grams of rye sour that had 5% WW included. I stayed with the rye percentage of my usual loaf. Staying with my theme of onion rye breads with various seed combinations, onion and garlic chips. I made 2 2lb loaves in bannetons and one 4Lb loaf free form. Managing the slack dough from counter to pan was a trick let me tell you. Once it's down on the parchment, that's it, you don't get a second chance to adjust it.

This might be a little dark for some people but I'm shooting for a crispy crunchy hearty loaf that's loaded with after taste. I haven't cut into it yet but it smells really good.

I also baked 2 loaves of SD with Onions today similarly topped with abundant seeds and what not. That was just my daily bread with the dough made up with onion water and a handful of re hydrated onions in the dough. My daughter who says she doesn't like onions is drooling over her 3rd piece. Here's a close up.
SD-Onion close
SD-Onion close

So it was a fun day of baking. That re hydrated onion trick I learned from Norm is a real winner!
Thanks Norm !

Eric 

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I have been considering milling my own grain, especially Rye and WW recently. After looking at the details of the process, I have come to the conclusion that if you want to produce tasteful high quality flour, sifting is necessary. The whisper mill type impact mills shatter the grain and make sifting impractical. Essentially all of the grain is included in the flour since it is processed so finely.

On the other hand the age old milling process using adjustable stone, ceramic stone or stainless burrs allows for grinding to certain sizes and grades. Sifting can then be employed to arrive at the grade desired. I'm thinking about Medium Rye and White Rye in particular. Both of those products seem to be hard to locate in many markets and they also seem to be sensitive to spoiling in a short time.

After talking with Bill Wraith, who is a long time contributer here and is a trustworthy source of intelligent discussions in many areas, I'm confident that I can produce great flour that will help me bake the best tasting rye breads.

Proth5. I'm hoping you are reading this and are seeing a comrade in arms in the march to better home milling.

Suggestions and comments are welcome. 

 

 Eric

 

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Suas Baguette
Suas Baguette

I thought I would try the formula and method pointed out by SteveB last week for Michel Suas's Baguette. You can see the original post from Steve here. The images of how to shape a baguette were I thought unusual since it requires degassing, flattening and rolling out for the length. Not the gentle handling I strive for.

The crust was slightly thicker than I usually get and the crumb was less airy than I like. The key elements of this method seem to be developing good flavor by slowing down the ferment with ice water. They tasted OK but it's my first try using this mix. Also I used a Harvest King flour which is higher gluten than the flour he recommends.

It's worth a try and not bad with red sauce!

 Eric

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Early (really early)this morning I mixed up a big batch of Susan's SD. I planned to bake this 3 pound batch as a single boule under cover with steam which is what I do when I know Susan will be grading how I did on her recipe.

This turned out wonderfully IMHO. The oven spring is about all I could expect and the color is perfect for my tastes. It took 33 minutes at 450F (I lowered the heat to 400F at 28 minutes). At the end I followed my friend David's advice and left the bread in the oven with the oven off and the door cracked, to crisp up the crust. And, I added 1% diastatic malt (8g) to the final dough in hopes of enhancing the color just a bit.

The crumb isn't as open as Davids but then I didn't give it any retarded ferment time. The flavor is a mild sour and a great wholesome flavor. I wouldn't say that I can taste the malt but this is the best sourdough I have made-ever. That's saying something considering the many varieties I have tried. We like a mild sour and I like it a little more so but some people cringe when you get a full sour that turns your toes up. I have no doubt this would be really sour with an overnight retarded ferment .

I get the sense that there is something going on with the total mass of the loaf. This might not make any logical sense but all of the aspects of tastes I look at and can judge seem better in a larger loaf. It is just dawning on me that maybe this is a SD Miche. Any thoughts on that?

Eric 

Susans Giant Boule
Susan's Giant Boule

Giant Boule-Crumb
Giant Boule-Crumb

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PR Italian
PR Italian

Italian Bruchetta & White Bean Soup
Italian Bruchetta & White Bean Soup

Last night I made a double batch of Peter Reinhart's Italian Bread with Biga. I think I did a review of this bread a short time ago so I won't bother with the formula now.  My daughter told me I had to make this bread every day from now on. She was quite emphatic so I'll have to put it on the short list. This Italian has such a nice flavor it takes you by surprise. I must say the after taste is my favorite in this style.

So what does one do with 4 loaves of delicious Italian bread? Make Bruchetta!! The tomatoes are ripe and plentiful now and all the herbs are in full swing so the time is right for a big batch. I discovered a new (for me) Balsamic vinegar made from figs the other day. I decided to try that instead of the usual dark and heavy variety I otherwise use. The result was a slightly sweet yet tart dressing that we all loved.

A few Months ago JMonkey turned me on to a great soup cookbook by Sally Sampson called Souped Up. He said at the time he thought it was the best in the genre and I have to agree. The White Bean with Basil above was delicious as has been everything I have tried in the book. I have tried maybe a dozen out of 100 very nice recipes. It's on Amazon and inexpensive. I have given 4 copies away so far to family members.

I baked these on a sheet pan without a stone from just barely up to temp. I forgot to turn the heat down for a while so the tops got a little too brown first but they are still fine.

Eric 

 

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