The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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bread

I'm really excited about this crusty loaf that I had formed into a ring. The bread turned out fabulously. I used a relatively new way of shaping that I learned from watching this YouTube video and then left the shaped bread in the fridge overnight and baked it the next morning. The crust is even more caramelized and crispy and the crumb has a wonderful nutty flavour.


We served this bread for a recent festive dinner with an appetizer of Moules Marinière (mussels poached in white wine, butter, onions, garlic and parsley)



We loved the Mussels so much that we think we'll serve them (with more of this bread) for Christmas Eve dinner. And maybe again on New Year's Even dinner too....


-Elizabeth


**************************************************

Please take a look at my annual Advent calendar (but don’t even THINK about peeking ahead).



 


(edit: ooops, I forgot to sign my name)


 

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(revised: 23, 24 April to add FreshLoaf recipes; 19 April 2009 to separate FreshLoaf recipes from offsite recipes; )


Favourite and "Must Try" Recipes and Techniques
Fresh Loaf recipes . Fresh Loaf techniques . Offsite recipes . Offsite techniques


Fresh Loaf


Commercial, Wild and Semi-Wild Yeast



Challah, Festive rolls and braids



Quick Breads



Other



Techniques



There are more links to The Fresh Loaf bread recipes and techniques here: dmsnyder Recipe Index




Offsite


Commercial, Wild and Semi-Wild Yeast



Egg Breads (Challah, Festive rolls and braids)



Quick Breads



Other



Techniques



There are more bread recipes here:


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A while back, Julie J was asking for advice on how best to crush cardamom for her Finnish cardamom buns. As soon as I saw the recipe, I knew I had to try it! And finally, this week, I got the chance.


pulla

I'm not sure if this is how the buns are supposed to look. I pretty much guessed about how much of an indentation to make for the butter. And as I was inserting butter into the thumb holes, I completely forgot about sprinkling extra sugar on top as per Julie's instructions. But I did think of using some inferior apricot jam on two of the buns. It turns out that this is a great way to use and improve apricot jam! I decided to make a 3-strand braided loaf as well. And then when I was placing the buns on the tray and worried that they were too close together, I shaped 4 of the rounds into snakes and braided them together into a smallish 4-strand round loaf.


pulla

Did I take my advice to use the coffee grinder to crush the cardamom? Ha! That would have been too easy. I used the mortar and pestle. Remind me to use our big sharp knife next time. The mortar and pestle is way too labour intensive and leaves rather large chunks of cardamom behind. Or perhaps I will follow my own Fresh Loaf advice to use our coffee spice grinder. Luckily, large chunks of cardamom taste good and are soft enough that we aren’t risking getting broken teeth... and the crumb is beautifully soft and moist. Absolutely delicious with or without extra butter! (The extra butter is really unnecessary! But oh so good!)



-Elizabeth


pulla

 


edit: link to JulieJ's pulla recipe fixed.

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Rose Levy Beranbaum has put together a step-by-step guide to making bread, plus essential equipment and ingredients and 8 classic recipes for Epicurious. The primer looks good. Except for one part. I would revise the list of "essential equipment" for bread baking by including only the following:


Absolutely Essential:



  • Measuring Cups and Spoons

  • Large Wooden Spoon

  • Bench Scraper

  • Large Mixing Bowl with lid (doubles as a Dough-Rising Container)

  • Cooling Rack

  • Cookie Sheet

  • Parchment Paper


essential equipmentcooling racks

Optional but Nice:



  • Scales (Spring and/or Digital)

  • Proofing Boxes (oven with only the light turned on works well)

  • Banneton (any old basket or colander lined with a tea towel works)

  • Baking Stone

  • Loaf Pans (including a Cast-Iron Pan)

  • Long Bladed Serrated Knife

  • Baking Peel

  • Broiling Pan

  • Pump Spray Bottle (for water)

  • Thermometer

  • Timer


Completely Unnecessary:



  • Stand Mixer, Bread Machine, or Food Processor


Hand mixing is very easy to do, especially if you have a nice large wooden spoon or paddle. Hand kneading is equally easy, especially with the help of a bench scraper. And now, of course, there are many "no-knead" bread recipes that completely eliminate the need (no pun intended) for putting dough onto the board at all.


Other gadgets (scales, bread stones, thermometers, etc. etc.) are nice to have but are definitely not necessary. I gather that electric mixers are very nice as well. But I can't really say as I don't have one; nor do I have any desire for one. (No counter space.) All bread bakers, even novices, can produce wonderful bread in their kitchens with just these few items.


One More Absolutely Essential Item:
Oh yes, and one more thing that is absolutely required for baking bread:



  • a heat source....


An oven or barbecue will do the trick. :-)


-Elizabeth


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a partial mirror of a post on my blog that covers all aspects of food. Read the full post here:



And here is the link to Beranbaum's Bread Primer:


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caraway rye bread

The last time I made caraway rye bread, I used the recipe in The Joy of Cooking. We really like it. But as I was leafing through The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, I noticed her recipe for rye bread. A recipe that looked too good.


Whenever my father had an excuse to return to the Bronx, he'd never come back without a freshly baked loaf from his favourite bakery. I liked the rye bread, studded with constellations of caraway seeds, best. My grandmother, who lived with us, would serve it to me spread thickly with unsalted btutter, the top paved with rounds of sliced red radishes. - Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Bread Bible, page 324

How could I not try this bread?


As it turns out, this is the best rye bread we've had. Thank you, Rose Levy Beranbaum!!



caraway rye bread

I would love to have tried the bread with butter and sliced radishes. But we didn't have any radishes.... Initially, I had thought we would be making Reuben sandwiches with it. But my husband was so thrilled with how light it was that we decided to serve it with goulash and steamed broccoli. It was brilliant!


-Elizabeth

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I mentioned earlier that 6 strand braiding is easy and attempted to show my technique with text and drawings. But I could never have managed this without watching the linked videos on that post.

So we took it upon ourselves to make a video of my two-hand braiding technique as a supplement to our text/drawing instructions.

  1. Take the 2nd from left strand in your right hand and the 1st from the left strand in your left hand. Your right hand goes all the way over all the strands to the right (keep hold of that strand); your left hand goes over two strands to the center.
  2. Take the 2nd from right strand in your left hand your right hand is still holding the strand that is now 1st from the right strand (just a moment ago, this strand was the 2nd from the left...). Your left hand goes all the way over all the strands to the left; your right hand goes over two strands to the center.
  3. repeat 'til finished. Tuck ends under.

braiding

The bread recipe and more braiding photos are here:

Happy Braiding!

-Elizabeth

(edited to put video at the top of the post so it's more easily seen)

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braiding

When I made challah earlier this year, I thought I did a 6 strand braid to wrap around the 6 strand woven ball. But it wasn't until I made festive bread this Christmas that I realized how to do 6 strand braiding correctly.

Braiding bread dough is really pretty easy. Even 6 strand braiding, once you get the hang of it, is pretty easy. But you don't have to tell anyone, if you don't want to. The final result is SO impressive!

The main reason that it's easy is that dough strands stay exactly where they are placed. This is a good thing. I highly recommend that you skip the step of practicing with ribbons or chords and go directly to bread dough. What does it matter if the braid is wrong the first time? The bread will taste just as good. And chances are, the braid will be JUST right!

6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
6 strand braid © ejm December 2008
  1. Take the 2nd from left strand in your right hand and the 1st from the left strand in your left hand. You right hand goes all the way over all the strands to the right; your left hand goes over two strands to the center.
  2. Take the 2nd from right strand in your left hand and the 1st from the right strand (just a moment ago, this strand was the 2nd from the left...) in your right hand. You left hand goes all the way over all the strands to the left; your right hand goes over two strands to the center.
  3. repeat 'til finished. Tuck ends under.

braidingbraiding
braiding

This is what the finished braid looks like. Beautiful, isn't it? Note how the ends have been tucked under.

braiding

The bread recipe and more braiding photos are here:

I could never have managed this without looking at the following several times:

-Elizabeth

edit: I made a video of 6 strand braiding!

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Happy New Year!!

festive bread

In past years, I've made sweet saffron buns for Christmas. But after tasting the recently made semi-wild challah, we both agreed that while the saffron adds a lovely colour and flavour, it doesn't add quite enough flavour to merit the expense of using the saffron. We decided to forego the saffron and make plain sweet bread (we used the saffron in our shrimp for New Year's Eve dinner instead).

Saffron-less bread is delicious!! (Saffron shrimp is equally delicious!)

And I must say that I'm awfully pleased with myself for managing to do the six strand braid correctly - after reading, rereading, testing with string, reading, rereading the braiding section in Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer.

I had planned on putting together a little photo essay of the six strand braiding but right now, I think I neeeeeed to head down to begin New Year's Day celebrations. Hmmm, shall we start with Festive bread?

-Elizabeth

braiding festive bread

If you can't wait, please look here:

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Glezer bread

For a recent dinner featuring shrimps in Pernod, there was special request for the bread to be made WITHOUT using my wild yeast. So I fell back on one of our favourites from Maggie Glezer's book Artisan Baking Across America: Acme's Rustic Baguettes. On first reading, the recipe seems a little complicated with its double preferment but it is almost fool proof. And it's NOT sour. Not even remotely.

The bread was so successful and so good and so free of any sour taste that it is the primary reason for the fit of pique when I threw our wild yeast starter down the drain.

I feel so free!

Even though the shape isn't quite right, everything else about the bread was great. Some day I might actually shape the bread in baguettes but boules are SO much easier. The only thing that I haven't managed to get right is to keep the loaves from growing into each other as they rise.

Glezer bread

To learn more about our feast, please read here.

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multigrain buns

The multigrain bread dough I made yesterday was turning out wonderfully. It was just the right consistency. It had risen to just the right level when it was time to shape it. I decided to make it into two loaves and four buns shaped like tabatières.

Tabatières?? I didn't know what those were either before reading Steve's (Bread cetera) post about making diadèmes (tiaras) by pushing tabatières (tobacco pouches) into a circular shape. Steve made videos, one of which clearly shows how to shape tabatières. Do take a look. In fact, take a look at his whole site! He makes the most wonderful bread!

The buns were delicious for breakfast!

To find out what happened with the loaves, read here.

Here is the recipe I used:


  • multigrain bread (This time, I added 2 Tbsp buckwheat flour and omitted the sunflower seeds.)

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