The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Faith in Virginia's blog

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia


Well  it's Sunday 12-8-13 and we have freezing rain. My world is cold and covered with ice...except the wood fired oven that is nice and hot.

What a better time to do some baking. Work has been bogging me down so baking was forced on the side lines.  With the onset of winter I should have more time for baking :-)

My bread stores are low so I figured I would bake some of my regulars. This is a Deli Rye bread with  20% preferment.  I got the formula from King Arthur Flour when I took the rye class with Jeffery Hamelman.

I have more bread in the proofer, (4) VT sourdough's  and (6) cheesy breads I like to make.  So more pictures later with some crumb shots.

Happy baking!!!


Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

This is my first go with Vollkornbrot.  I have no reference on how this bread should be.  So those of you familiar with vollkornbrot if you could give me your honest opinion of what you see and if I need to make any improvements.

The bread tasted great with a tough crust...difficult to slice but the crumb was moist and had a nice bite.  It was amazing how the bread improved with age.

Thanks Faith



Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Well here I go again with a winter project.  Buy an old piece of bakery equipment (cheap) then clean and fix it up.

This is a Dutchess Model RR-36 Combination Roll Divider/Rounder I'm thinking about 25 years old.  This picture makes it look small-ish in fact this is the picture he sent me to show me the machine.   SO NOT TRUE!!!  It is nothing but heavy cast iron and lots of steel.  After I bought it I discovered it's estimated weight is 900 lbs.  ( good thing I own heavy equipment to move it)

It has been sitting in my kitchen for a number of months and life only allowed a quick glance at it now and then.

Today I decided to start this thing. It was cold, snowy, wind blowing outside so what's better then a nice indoor project.

I decided to start with the head and dismantle it then clean and put back together.  This is the part that squishes the dough to spread it out in the ring then the cutters chomp down and cut the dough into equal portions.  Then flip a switch and it makes the cut portions round.  So this part gets quite intimate with the dough.

Now this was being used by a bagel shop when I bought it.  They sold the bagels to the public (you and me) this is what I found when I removed the center pressing section.

Very old crusty dough and mouse droppings.  This is just from one small section the rest was just as bad.

Just what I want hidden in my food...Yuck

This looks like a fun but heavy project  Everything is mechanically sound so this is a dismantle and clean, paint project and I expect not to need any parts to make it operational.

Things I do for fun.  Feel free to call me crazy.


Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

This is my go at the basic croissant from the  Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michel Suas and baked in my wood fired oven.  The only changes to the formula was a change in yeast type.  The formula called for osmotolerant yeast and all that I have is active dry so I made the conversion even though it felt like a heap of yeast.   The book also did not call for any egg wash.  I don't know if that was because it was an advanced book and the egg wash was expected without mention or an egg wash was not required.  None the less I liked the end results.

Think I will work through his other croissant formulas.

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Well I was goofing around in the kitchen again.  The above picture is the same bread just formed differently and the one on the right has been egg washed.  After the post a while back about how to slash a loaf to get a specific look I gave it a try on this loaf (on the left).  I altered the recipe and raised the hydration to about 67% so the loaf flattened out a bit,  then the long slash did not help the sprawling of the loaf.  None the less it is still such a tasty loaf.   With some tweaking I think it could become more visually appealing.

This is the original recipe (lazy way out of typing) it also has items of interpretation.  Large pinch of saffron?   One onion, how big how much?  I hope you can read this if you want some clarity let me know.

The dough is quite beautiful.

More pictures then words today.  This is such a tasty bread I thought I would share. It is something you can adjust to fit your preferences.  Enjoy

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

I have always been a tool kind of person,  a female version of "Tim the Tool Man".  So I got it in my head that I wanted a sheeter.  Now keep in mind I did not say I needed a sheeter just wanted one.   I started to shop for sheeters and was stunned by the pricing. I could buy a new car for the price they want for a simple sheeter.  Used sheeters were not cheep either.  Used and abused sheeters run around three to four THOUSAND dollars.  That's price of a good used car.   So much for that idea.

Well one day I was on E-bay and stumbled on a sheeter that was no reserve and $200 an ACME 8.  This thing was ugly.  Looked like he was making mud pies with this machine.  Even as ugly as it was it still sparked my interest.  I started to do some research and found a complete parts list, operating instructions and places to purchase replacement parts.  I started to think, okay this could be good deal.  

The sheeter was located in Utah and I'm in Virginia.  That is only 2,000 miles away.  Shipping quotes were running from $800 to $1,200 then someone else bid on the sheeter and now I need $300 to win the bid.  Great, now this good deal was being trashed by shipping costs.  Fine,  I'll just drive to Utah, pick it, up drive back ,and...4,000 miles later and $1,200 or more in fuel...Yikes that dosen't work either.  Now what?

How in the world am I going to get this sheeter from Utah to Virginia and not spend a fortune?

Well...I found some very nice people that lived in Sacramento, CA.  They were having the same shipping issues that I was having.  They needed to ship a Dodge pickup truck from Sacramento to South Carolina.  I offered to fly to California and drive the truck to South Carolina for the cost of air fair and fuel.  I explained the stop in Utah and asked for permission to pick up the sheeter.  We made the deal and it was win, win for both of us.  I could now get this sheeter for $3oo and the only cost for shipping was some driving time.

Deal done and now I have this sheeter sitting in my kitchen.  Now the work begins.

I can't believe someone was using this to make food that was sold to the public.  I assume the mouse droppings were from the storage unit but the old crusted dough on everything was nasty.

This is the rollers.

This is the roller scrapers.  This was so gross.  Not long ago this machine was being used to make whole sale bread for a MAJOR national food store. Yes that's mold.   I'll never eat out again!!!

So with more time on my hands  I dismantled this machine down to "parade rest". The only parts that were not disassembled were the ones welded together.  I scrubbed and disinfected everything piece by piece.  I replaced parts that needed replacing and a few more just for good measure.  I replaced all the roller bearings, drive chain, drive belt and conveyor belt.  I used after market parts so that kept the cost down.  Then I put it all back together.

Now the kitchen table has shifted once again for this big hunk of stainless steel.   I need a bigger kitchen!

The picture at the top of the page is my first attempt at croissants using the sheeter and the first time using "Classic croissants by Jeffrey Hamelman" and first time baking them in my wood fired oven.  So I have a lot of tweaking to do.

Looking back I would do it all again for my $300 sheeter.  It also makes me think how many other people would have taken this adventure?   To what ends would you go for something you wanted but didn't need?



Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

This is my first Blog so I figured I would start it out with something that looks good enough to eat.  This morning was one of those rainy dreary days that just screamed take a nap.  But instead I headed to the kitchen to fend off the rainy day blues.  I'm well stocked on sourdough breads, English muffins, challah, and croissants so I decided to play with something new, Phyllo.  Today was all about the dough and I had no great plan for what to do with the phyllo once it was made, so I made dough.

I went on line and searched for recipes and decided on this one

I followed the recipe with the exception that I used olive oil and not vegetable oil and high gluten flour not all purpose flour

Recipe from Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

  • 2 2/3 cups (270 g/13 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 1/2 g) table salt
  • 1 cup less 2 tablespoons water (210 ml), plus more if needed
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (60 ml), plus additional for coating the dough
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cider vinegar

(Hope I used the proper credits here just a copy and paste from the website above.)

As far as the mixing goes I put it all in the KA with the dough hook mixed on low speed until it was mixed then 2ed speed for 10 minutes with the occasional scraping down the hook.  The dough was quite soft and supple and reminded me of a sourdough after the final bulk fermentation.  I let the dough rest for 2 hours oiled and covered with plastic wrap.

I cut off small pieces a bit larger then a golf ball.  You can see the other items on the counter to give a reference as to the size.

Top of the picture you can see I hit them first with the rolling pin.  The lower of the picture is after hand stretching.  I used the same technique as a pizza dough.  I did try other ways.  Just the rolling pin did not get the dough very thin.  There is another way using a dowel (stick) I guess it takes practice but I kept throwing the dough across the counter slinging it around a stick. 

One thing to keep in mind this required a bunch of bench flour.  But the dough was so nice it did not tend to dry out as you were working it.  But lots of flour keeps it from sticking to itself. 

I also did them in stages giving the dough a chance to rest between stretches.

More hand stretching and using the light over the counter to see what needs more stretching. (at this point this would be one thin crust pizza.) I was really surprised by the stretch this dough has.

Then more stretching while on the counter. I used the counter edges to hook the dough so I could stretch it easier. More flour dusting to keep it from sticking to another sheet when stacked. The outside edges were a bit thicker. I could have stretch the edges more but I just cut them with the pizza wheel cutter so that the dough was quite equal in thickness.

This gives you an idea on how thin this dough can stretch. In this picture I put my recipe for pizza sauce under the stretched dough. I know you can read the recipe so the credit is

I cut, dusted, and stacked all the phyllo dough.  I must say it was huge fun but also took some real time so I would not try this on a tight schedule.  For the time involved I wondered if it was worth the effort when you can just buy it frozen in a box.  NO!!! Sorry I just can't do the frozen box thing.  It was totally worth it.

So now I have a pile of phyllo dough. After all that work I needed some kind of reward for my efforts so I decided on easy turnovers.

Nothing fancy here and standard phyllo practice.  Lay down a sheet, paint with melted butter.  I did take a mix of  1 cup graham cracker crumbs and 1/3 cup brown sugar and dusted in between the layers. Then lay down another sheet butter and crumb mix. I think I did about 8 layers. Trim and cut the dough into squares I put the edge scraps into the square pieces. In a pinch I used a can of pie filling that was taking up space in the cabinet for way too long.  Fold them into triangles butter the top and use the rest of the crumbs on top.  375 degree for about 18 to 20 minutes.

Great cure for the rainy day blues.

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