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Floydm

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Grain Gathering in Mt Vernon, Washington.

Formerly known as the Kneading Conference West, the Grain Gathering is the preeminent gathering of bakers, millers, farmers, malters, and breeders in the Pacific Northwest.

The Grain Gathering consists of three days of presentations, workshops, meetings, and demonstrations about making the best use of local and heirloom grains.  It is very hands on: there are no shortage of opportunities to get your hands dirty!

Many of the workshops were similar to those taught in previous years, such as Kiko Denzer's workshop on building a cob oven.

And Mark Doxtader of Tastebud Farm again taught about making pizza in a wood-fired oven.

He had a fancy new rig this year. His pizzas were amazing, as always.

Highlights for me included being involved in the production line making the rolls for Saturday evening's dinner.

When I first arrived I started chatting with an older gentleman next to me, who told me "That's my wheat." I assumed that meant he grew or milled the wheat, but it turned out I was speaking to Merrill Lewis, a retired English professor turned amateur wheat breeder who had been developing this new line of wheat for over a decade.

Here we have the farmer, the breeder, and the baker. Tom Hunton of Camas Country Mill, Merrill Lewis, and Juli from Breadfarm.

We baked with Merrill's Edison wheat harvested in both 2013 and 2014 so we could compare the results.  The freshly harvested performed a bit better, but both were delicious. 

Another highlight for me was attending Jeffrey Hamelman's pretzel making workshop.

Aside from the lye bath, which he reserved for himself, the session was entirely hands on.

Finally, the conference ended with a chat with Dan Barber, author of the new book The Third Plate.

I have not had a chance to read The Third Plate yet, but my understanding is that the work of Dr. Steve Jones and the Bread Lab at the WSU Mt Vernon Extension Campus, where this conference was held, feature prominently.  

It goes without saying, but I'll say anyway that if you ever have an opportunity to attend a conference like this, go. The sessions are great, and bread and grain people are without fail really good people.

Also, as in past years I heard lots of kind words about The Fresh Loaf and the community we have here, which I wish to pass on to you all. Many many people who never (or rarely) post here rely on the knowledge and expertise you all share here and appreciate the kindness and civility with which you share it. Thank you all!

Also, be sure to check out MC Farine's blog for a lot more great pictures and stories about The Grain Gathering.

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Floydm

Hi hi...

I baked yesterday for the first time in a looong time.  Had my ripe starter ready to go, only to discover that the battery in my scale had died.  So I completely winged it.

My best guess is that this ended up around 20% rye and a little lower that 70% hydration.

I hope everyone is having a great spring!  Ours has been quite busy with work and a move (same neighborhood, but it still requires packing and unpacking everything).   

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Floydm

Nothing fancy, but I baked a few days ago.  First time in quite a while.  

Overnight poolish, slow rise of the final dough the next day, not a scale or measuring cup in sight. 

Not one of my best efforts but, all things considered, still quite good.

I hope folks here are having a wonderful spring.

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Floydm

Hi all.

It has been some time since I baked or posted. In late January I started a new job. It is wonderful, but it has seriously cut into my baking time. I do log into the site very day, trim spam, help people with their accounts, and so on.

Seen here is cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread and a couple of sourdough loaves I baked on Sunday.  Neither came out perfect, but I can't complain considering how long it has been.  

I hope you all are having a wonderful winter.

Edit: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I just got Tartine Book 3 in the mail. Beautiful, isn't it? I hope I can find some time to dive into it soon. 

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Floydm

10% whole wheat, 10% rye sourdough with a long, cold fermentation outside.

I recently spotted a near-mint condition copy of The Village Baker, which has always been one of my favourite baking books that I've never owned.  I made his cream cheese snails again, which I haven't made in years.

Finally, I found a can of pumpkin puree in the cupboard so I whipped up some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

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Floydm

I've been baking a bit the past few weeks.  Above is a 20% whole wheat sourdough I baked a week or so ago.  The crumb:

For our Christmas dinner I whipped up something like the Buttermilk Cluster:

It was indeed rather tasteless compared to what I usually bake, but it still was quite decorative and more than adequate for mopping up everything else.

What else?  Cinnamon Rolls from a few days ago:

And a 75% hydration sourdough with 10% whole wheat and 10% spelt flour I baked yesterday:

These ones got a real long, slow ferment thanks to the cool weather we've been having.  Nothing like those of you in the Midwest or the East of either the US or Canada have been having, mind you! Still cool enough that the beaches and the forests are frosty...

 ...and the sourdoughs are extra tangy.

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Floydm

I can't believe it has been nearly a month since I've posted.  This time of year things get so busy, don't they?  Our youngest also has a birthday between Thanksgiving in the States and Christmas, so it seems like we have about a month solid of travels, dinners and parties to attend, as well as all the school and community activities.  It certainly keeps you on your toes.

I have been baking though.  Mostly just standards like the white sourdough loaves above or the Struan bread below.

  

Another sourdough I did with about 20% whole wheat.  My starter was really sluggish, perhaps because of the cold, but in the end it really erupted in the oven.

I haven't had a chance to do any holiday baking yet, which is unfortunate because there isn't a lot of time left!

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Floydm

I picked up the little mill attachment for my new mixer and have been experimenting with it my last couple bakes.

My first batch used 40% fresh milled flour (hard red wheat), my second about 25%.  The flavour seems really nice, though I've got a bit of the cold and thus don't have the most nuanced sense of taste right now.

I have much to learn if I decide this is something I want to pursue.  For now I'm just having fun tinkering with a new toy, and the response from everyone who can taste has been quite good.

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Floydm

I spotted a news story yesterday reporting that Dave of Dave's Killer Bread is in a bit of trouble again.

If you are unfamiliar with Dave's Killer Bread, you can check out the profile I did on him a couple of years back.  Since then the company has continued to grow, with distribution all up and down the West Coast.  It is good stuff.

First off, I hope the injured police officers involved are alright, then I hope that Dave and his family are able to take care of whatever it was that set him off this time.  He is a talented guy with his heart in the right place, but clearly he also a few problems that he needs help dealing with.

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Floydm

So yesterday around 11am we decided on a meal that a loaf of fresh bread would be good with.  I didn't have a refreshed starter or preferment going, but I quickly mixed up a cup of AP flour, a cup of luke warm water, and about a third of a teaspoon of yeast and let it sit while I figured out what I wanted to do with it.

About two hours later I took a look.  It wasn't even close to ripe and had just a few bubbles, but it was better than nothing, so I mixed it is with around 600 more grams AP flour, 400 or so grams water, and 15 grams kosher salt.  Oh yeah, and another 2/3 teaspoon yeast.  Mixed it up real well until I could see good gluten development and then let it sit.

Folded an hour or so later, around 2pm, then again around 3pm.  I split and shaped it around 4 and baked it around 5.

It came out really nice.  The crumb is lovely, I think, about as nice as I've ever gotten from a dough without a meaningful preferment and with such a short rise time.  I guess that is the sign of the better gluten development?

The flavour is a bit plain, as one would expect, but not bad at all.  It is also staling slower than I typically expect a straight dough to stale.  I'm not sure what to make of that, but I'll have to try this again.

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