The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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emkay

I've been baking mostly boules at home since the cast iron combo cooker has been my method for generating steam. Sometimes I just feel like having a loaf pan-shaped bread, but I still want to have all those hearth bread qualities.

My favorite naturally leavened loaf pan breads in the city are from Outerlands and Josey Baker. Outerlands sells only one kind of bread since it's a restaurant not a bakery. You can see his levain bread in this Tartine video http://vimeo.com/14354661 at around 2:30. The other bread is the "wonder bread" from Josey Baker which is the opposite of that supermarket  fluff bread of the same name. It's tangy, chewy and moist with a crispy, crackly crust. Perfect for PB&J (or, if you prefer something fancy, almond butter sprinkled with Maldon sea salt and drizzled with rooftop honey).

For this week's bake I decided to make a naturally leavened bread in a loaf pan just like the ones I mentioned. I used Ken Forkish's overnight country blonde formula. This was my first time using this fomula so I prepared myself by reading TFL posts from others who have already tried it. The "overnight" bulk fermentation at room temperature seemed to be where people had some problems. I mixed my dough late at night so that I would be awake in the morning to catch the dough before it would triple. It's fairly cool in my house (68F/20C) so my 11 hour bulk fermentation seemed to be in line with Forkish's 12-15 hour timeline. My dough didn't have as many bubbles along the sides of the container as I would have liked, but the dough was already 2.5 times the original size so I decided to proceed with shaping.


ocbl_loaf_1b

Dough proofed at room temp for 4 hours then I baked it at 425F on a stone covered with a stainless steel bowl for 20 minutes and uncovered for another 20 minutes. Then I removed the bread from the loaf pan and baked it directly on the stone for 5 minutes.
ocbl_loaf_1c

ocbl_loaf_1d

The crumb was moist and chewy. The crust was crispy for a few hours out of the oven, but softened by the next day. It was quite sour just the way I like it!
ocbl_loaf_1e

My results were very close to what I get at Outerlands and Josey Baker, so overall I was quite pleased.
outerlands

JBBwonderbread

I also baked some bourbon pecan pie chocolate brownies.
pecan_pie_brownie_2

pecan_pie_brownie_3

pecan_pie_brownie_1

Happy Mother's Day to all!

:) Mary

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emkay

I'm having a good time baking my way through "Bread" by Jeffrey Hamelman. Here are three Hamelman formulas I tried recently.

This beer bread used two starters - a liquid levain and a rye sourdough. According to Hamelman, each starter contributes different flavor characteristics to create a nice, full-flavored bread. I baked the loaf on a baking stone. Instead of a cast iron combo cooker or "magic" SS bowl, I decided to try Sylvia's hot towel method for generating steam. The oven spring was not very impressive and I didn't get "ears", but I'm not sure if that was because I didn't create enough steam or if I didn't develop and/or shape the dough properly.


beerbread_1a

beerbread_1b

When eaten plain, I found the bitterness from the beer too strong, but other eaters quite liked the taste. Although, when eaten with some pastrami, I hardly detected any bitterness. The crumb was wonderful. It was moist and slighty chewy. And it had that nice sheen from the gelatinized starch.


beerbread_1d

Even though it's springtime, I was dying to make the harvest bread which is a walnut loaf with golden raisins and dried cranberries. As you can see my bread turned out very dense and slightly gummy. Slices tasted okay after toasting, so it wasn't a complete loss. I should have extended my fermentation since I did not add the optional instant dry yeast. I was a bit absent minded that day since I was suffering from a terrible migraine. I read somewhere that a baker's feelings are present in the product they bake. I don't know if that's true or not, but my head was definitely feeling dense and gummy that day.


harvestbread

My mom is a huge fan of pain de mie so I made her a pullman loaf. I prefermented 17% of the flour and also added about 10% discarded starter with the hope of extending the shelf life. I've had a 13x4x4-inch pullman pan for years now and I normally use it (without the lid) for baking tea cakes. This is the first time I've used the pan for bread. I've never noticed until now that my pan is not completely square! The pan is 3/8-inch wider at the top than the bottom which gave me a trapezoidal shaped loaf.


pullman_1a

And now a non-Hamelman loaf. I'm still practicing my Tartine basic country bread. 


tartine050314a

tartine050314b

:) Mary

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emkay

The Chinese steamed bun is the bread of my childhood. The dough can be used for many different applications. The most well known would be char siu bao (steamed BBQ pork bun). The dough can also be filled with other savory things like chicken or vegetables. There are sweet bean paste and custard filled ones too. My mom likes to roll up a piece of Chinese sausage (lop cheong) to make a Chinese version of 'pig-in-a-blanket'. And they can be plain when meant to be served with Peking duck or pork belly.

Plain bao (before steaming):
mantou_1a

Plain bao (after steaming):
mantou_1c

Filled with braised pork belly and quick pickled cucumbers:
porkbellybun2

With a smear of hoisin and sriracha:
porkbellybun3

Mary

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emkay

A couple months ago I took a Viennoserie class at the San Francisco Baking Institute (SFBI). The students were mostly home baking hobbyists like me, but there were a few professionals too. Most of the 40 hours were spent hands-on in the pastry kitchen. The high quality of instruction combined with the excellent equipment and facilities were totally worth the tuition. The curriculum was designed with a professional production environment in mind so each batch of dough was in the 5-6 kg range and were mixed in large stand mixers. All the lamination was done using a dough sheeter. It was a bit exhausting handling such large pieces of dough and carrying fully loaded sheet trays around the kitchen, but I got used to the physical nature of the work fairly quickly. I learned so much in that one week and had so much fun doing it.

The SFBI also offers a few classes that are only 2 days long with a focus on baking at home. The quantities of dough are smaller and the mixing is done by hand. Although the baking is still done in their professional ovens, they demonstrate how to bake the items in a home oven too.

Last weekend I took the "sourdough at home" class. The students were mostly home bakers. Thanks to TFL and "Bread" by Jeffrey Hamelman, I already knew a lot of the information covered during class, but it's always good to hear it repeated again. It's the only way I'll remember. :)  The most important thing I learned was how to shape free formed loaves. Having the instructor correct my hand motions while shaping was the best part. I've watched a lot of shaping videos, but nothing beats the hands-on instruction I received in class. 

We made 6 different formulas in class. Each student came home with thirty 500g loaves and a little bit of SFBI liquid starter.

1. Sourdough with liquid levain


sd_liq_1

sd_liq_crumb

2. Sourdough with stiff levain


sd_stifflevain

sd_stifflevain_crumb

3. Multigrain (flax, sunflower and sesame seed soaker)


multigrain

multigrain_crumb

4. Sour rye


rye

5. Olive


olive

6.Semolina sesame


semolina_sesame

olive_SS_crumb

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emkay

Now that my baby starter is quite active and I've had a few successful naturally leavened loaves, I wanted to try making some Tartine bread. I dined at Bar Tartine recently and the idea of baking my own oat porridge bread was stuck in my head. I used breaducation's formula for the Tartine oat porridge bread.

Let's just say mine turned out nothing like breaducation's beautiful bread. My dough was very wet and sticky and I had trouble handling it. You can see that my loaf hardly rose at all.


tartine_oat_porridge_0402a

tartine_oat_porridge_0402d

Even though it was more pancake than bread, the flavor was very good. In fact, the flavor was very close to the porridge bread they sell at the bakery. I could taste the oatmeal and it had that sourness I've been trying to achieve in my breads.

Thinking that the oat porridge may have been too ambitious, I tried the Tartine basic country bread recipe instead. This did not go so well either. I think I see the Batmobile parked in there.


tbcb_fail_1

tbcb_fail_3

After searching for clues on TFL, gluten underdevelopment was the most likely culprit. Even though I bulk fermented at room temp (70F) for 3.5 hours with 5 stretch-n-folds during the first 2.5 hours, I was making the newbie mistake of watching the clock instead of watching the dough.

I vowed to be patient during my next attempt at the Tartine basic country. I bulk fermented until the dough volume had increased by at least 30%, the top of the dough was slightly domed not flat, and I could see bubbles along the sides of my container. This took 5 hours at 70F.


tbcb_apr9_bulk_ferm

My patience really paid off!


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I even made pizza with some of the dough.


tbcb_apr9_pizza_a

tbcb_apr9_pizza_f

I hoped that my success wasn't just a fluke. I made another batch of dough the next day.


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This time the crumb was even better than in the previous bake.


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tbcb_apr10_crumb_a-2

tbcb_apr10_crumb_c

The take away message is "Watch the dough, not the clock".

:) Mary

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emkay

I baked two loaves of the Tartine basic country bread today. Both loaves were from the same batch of dough and were proof retarded in the refrigerator. The loaf on the left was baked on a baking stone with a stainless steel bowl as its "cover". The loaf on the right was baked in an enameled cast iron combo cooker.


Tartine basic country heights

The loaf on the left was proofed in a bowl lined with cloth. The loaf on the right was proofed in the brotform. Both loaves looked identical going into the oven. I scored both the same way. The baking stone/SS bowl loaf (retarded for 24 hours) was baked first and was followed by the combo cooker loaf (retarded for 25 hours). It would have been nice to bake them both at the same time, but my oven is not big enough.

The scoring on the baking stone loaf didn't really open up at all and the difference in height was pretty surprising. I didn't think using a combo cooker would make such a big difference.

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emkay

Glenn mentioned that the San Francisco country sourdough formula was a variation on a variation of Hamelman's Vermont sourdough. So of course I had to try it. Although, since I am in SF I guess this makes my VT Sourdough a SF sourdough. The husband and I both agreed with Hamleman's assessment that this is an excellent everyday bread.

I proof retarded for 18 hours. Instead of using a cast iron combo cooker like I have been doing, I baked on a pizza stone using a large stainless steel bowl as my "cover". I baked the boule seam side up with scoring. (Hmm, my scoring needs work. It's totally off centered.) I removed the SS bowl after 15 minutes.


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I also used some of the VT sourdough to make a mini loaf in a pan. I didn't retard this one.


vtsd_loafpan_0331

 

Some freshly milled rye flour from Josey Baker that went straight into Hamelman's sourdough rye with walnuts. I added 1.5% yeast per Hamelman's instructions, but I think I will leave it out next time.


rye

sd_rye_walnuts_0326

 

And my weekly croissants. I used Hamelman's recipe as published in Fine Cooking.
croissant_0326d

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emkay

I think my 17-day old starter is ready for prime time. I baked this San Francisco Country Sourdough using Glenn's formula.


sfsd_0324c

  • Everything was done at room temperature (approximately 73F). No retarding.
  • Autolysed for 45 minutes, then I pinched in the salt and 50 g reserved water.
  • Bulk fermented for 4 hours (S&F every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours and then untouched for 1 hour).
  • Preshaped and bench rested for 30 minutes.
  • Proofed seam side down in brotform for 2.5 hours.
  • Baked with seam side up (no scoring) in a preheated cast iron combo cooker.
  • 450F for 20 minutes with the lid on and 25 minutes with the lid off. 


sfsd_0324b

sfsd_0324d

It's the best naturally leavened bread I have baked to date. Well, that's not really saying much since this is only my 4th time baking bread using a starter. But I think it's a good start!


sfsd_0324a

 

:) Mary

 

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emkay

I made zolablue's (Dan Leader's) semolina sandwich loaf. It definitely had some rising power!

Proofing for only 30 minutes

semolina_loaf_30min_proof

Baking in the oven


semolina_loaf_oven

Monster loaf


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semolina_loaf_height

Crumb shot (sadly with a huge air pocket)


semolina_loaf_crumb

I also baked rye bread using Michael Ruhlman's recipe .


rye-ruhlman

And I'm always practicing my croissants. I was quite pleased with the honeycomb structure in these chocolate ones.


croissant_0318a

croissant_0318b

Starter update:

My starter is now 15 days old. Around day 11, it started smelling like acetone. I've spent the past 4 days trying to get rid of the acetone smell. With all the great advice in various past TFL posts, I was able to remedy the situation. And if all goes well for another couple days, I can move it from the kitchen countertop (with daily feedings) to the refrigerator (for less frequent feedings).

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emkay

Drinking, eh, I mean, baking for Saint Patrick's Day...
spd

Guinness chocolate cupcakes
choc_stout_cc_baked

Cored and ready to be filled
choc_stout_cc_cored

With a chocolate truffle ganache made with Jameson Irish Whiskey
choc_stout_cc_filled

And frosted with Baileys Irish Cream Swiss buttercream
choc_stout_cc_frosted

Eat
choc_stout_cc_inside

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