The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Floydm's blog

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm sure you've noticed that bread baking has been a popular way for people to keep themselves busy while in quarantine. Sourdough, in particular, has been incredibly popular and driven a ton of new visitors to The Fresh Loaf, many of whom have joined our community. But there has been another bread related trend that has also been driving traffic to the site: frog bread.

As recent articles on Vice and Delish have explained, a month or two back someone on social media discovered a post I made back in 2005 about baking frog bread for my two year old son a few weeks after my daughter was born. People started recreating and sharing frog bread on Tik Tok, in Facebook frog groups like Frogspotting, and on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #frogbread. Both of my now nearly adult kids spotted frog bread on social media before I noticed it and had a quite laugh. 

It's great. I love that one of the sillier recipes on this site got popular and is encouraging people to bake for the sake of having a good time and not to worry about whether the end result comes out beautiful and Instagrammable or rather ridiculous. There are so many fantastic bakers on this site who turn out the most amazing looking breads now, but you don't have bake like that -- I don't -- to find joy and pleasure baking bread on your own from time to time.

So in honour of all the new frog bread bakers, today we baked frog bread again.

I used a slightly different dough this time, basically the dough I used for my Red Bean Buns with one egg and a bit of sugar in it. It worked great, though I lowered the temperature to 325 after 15 minutes because it was browning a bit faster than I wanted. But it came out great.

 After making the dough, I placed it in a covered bowl and let it rise for an hour, until it had doubled in size.

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Egg wash came after 30 minutes of rising. I then gave it another 20 minutes before putting it in the oven.

Frog Bread

Total baking time was about 50 minutes, with the first 15 at 375 and the rest at 325. 

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Sweet froggy success. :)

Frog Bread

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Like everyone else, I'm baking sourdough breads, but among the things my kids mentioned missing during the quarantine were Red Bean Buns. I haven't baked them in years, but it is a relatively easy one to make -- assuming you have access to red bean paste (If you don't have access to red bean paste, pineapple buns are also reasonably simple to make). I recalled a recipe that was posted on this site years ago and have made them a couple of times in the past couple of weeks. They've been really good.

Baked Red Bean Buns (焗豆沙飽)

 Any simple sweet milk bread dough can be used for the wrapper. I've tried a dough using tang zhang, which turned out fine but didn't seem worth the extra effort. Today I used one with a little more fat and included an egg. They turned out fantastic. My dough was basically:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup of warm milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 egg

a dash of salt (slightly more if using unsalted butter)

a bit of warm water, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency. I added about 1 tablespoon.

Combine the ingredients in a mixer or mixing bowl and mix/knead well until the dough is well developed. I mixed mine in a mixer for about 10 minutes.

Shape into a ball, cover, and set aside until doubled in size. Mine took about an hour.

On a floured surface, divide the dough into smaller pieces. I divided it into 8 pieces today but you could divide them into 12 if you preferred smaller buns.

Red Bean Buns

Shape each piece into a ball and them roll them out thin and flat.

Red Bean Bun dough

Place a dollop of red bean paste in the center of each bun, then fold the dough up to wrap the red bean paste (more pictures of this process here). Flip the buns over.

You can stop there if you want round buns, but If you'd like to shape them like I did, use the cap from a small jar or container -- I think mine was from a tin of toothpicks -- and press a circle into the center of the bun. Then use a knife or dough cutter to slice slits into the dough.

Red Bean Bun shaping

Gently cover and allow the buns to rise for 20 minutes.

Red Bean Buns

After 20 minutes, start preheating the oven to 350 degrees and egg wash the buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or black sesame seeds, if you have them.

https://thefreshloaf.com/up/IMG_20200426_150048.jpg

After 30 to 45 minutes the buns should look a bit puffy and have risen some. Bake them on a cookie sheet for approximately 20 minutes. Be careful about not over baking and burning the bottoms of the buns.

Red Bean Buns

Red Bean Buns

 Enjoy!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I fed my starter last night, but this morning it wasn't looking as lively as I was hoping for. But I didn't want to toss my starter out, so I decided to make Sourdough English Muffins.

Rather than combining the starter, milk, and flour the evening before as the recipe recommends, I combined my ripe starter (closer to a cup than a half cup) with warm milk, then mixed all the ingredients together and allowed it to ferment on the counter for two hours. After that, I rolled the dough out and cut out the rounds using a jam jar lid. I let them rise for one hour before cooking them in a hot skillet.

I'm quite happy with how they turned out.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I've been baking sourdoughs for many years but I am admittedly imprecise and quite neglectful. It usually turns out "good enough" but rarely are my loaves great.

These ones were.

I mixed up AP flour and water at about 68% hydration, then added my ripe starter (which I have no idea what the hydration is). I ran the mixer a bit longer than usual and gave the dough a longer than average rise on the counter, approximately 6 hours. I shaped two rounds and rather than putting them in bannetons, let them rise on parchment and wrapped them with tea towels to prevent them from spreading. 

The one other thing I did differently was bake them directly on my baking stones with inverted enamel pots over them for the first 25 minutes. That gave me both the benefit of a hot stone and allowed them to steam themselves. The crust was probably the thinnest and crackliest I've ever made at home.

Definitely one I will try to reproduce again soon!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I don't share my own baking often because I tend to stick to the same formulas. Also, admittedly, the level of baking exhibited on this site now far surpasses my skills. But a couple of weeks ago I experimented with simple dinner rolls that came out really good that I want to share. It's nothing fancy or complex, but it is really good. Good enough that I made them for our Thanksgiving (Canadian) dinner and they were a big hit.

The first time I made these I discovered the battery in my scale had died, so I just winged it. I still haven't gotten a new battery, but the second time I took the time to measure and make a note of my ingredients (approximately).

Sunflower Rolls

Makes approximately 3 dozen rolls

DRY INGREDIENTS

1 cup spelt flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

5 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup sunflower seeds

WET INGREDIENTS

2 cups buttermilk, warmed in the microwave for two minutes to take the chill off

1 cup room temperature water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

 

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet in another, them combine them. Use a wooden spoon and your hands to get them well combined and shaggy, then let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes. If it is too dry to mix and not all the flour is hydrated, add more water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.

After the rest, knead the dough by hand or in a stand mixer for 5-10 minutes.

Depending on how warm your kitchen is and how warm the buttermilk was, these can rise really quickly. I gave it about 1 hour for the bulk fermentation, then folded and degassed them and gave it one more hour. After that I cut and shaped them, then let the rolls rise for about 40 minutes before putting them into a 385 preheated oven.

 I baked the rolls for about 25 minutes (45-55 minutes if instead you choose to shape them into a loaf). 

 
Floydm's picture
Floydm

Since my previous post I've taken a number of steps to clean up the site and reduce the amount of personal information stored here. Most notably, just by removing accounts that never activated or activated but never posted and haven't logged in in years, I was able to shrink the user database by over 75% (!). That is a change that you won't really notice, of course, because those accounts were by definition ones that hadn't made an impact, but it makes me feel much better about the amount of personal information I have stored here.

Other changes, changes you will (or may) notice:

  • I've updated the privacy page to more accurately reflect the current state of affairs and technologies used here.
  • I've added a "I accept the terms of use" screen that you'll see the next time you sign in or when you first sign up. It is meant to comply with the GDPR requirement that explicit opt-in be recorded and is generally considered the right thing to do. I probably should have added it sooner.
  • I've granted all users the ability to delete their accounts.
  • I've removed the ad display code from a number of screens where it seems inappropriate such as the user login, user register, user account edit, and content creation screens.
  • I've configured Google Analytics, which is used to measure traffic here, to anonymize IP addresses and purge traffic information at the shortest interval allowed, 14 months.

I'm still figuring out how best to deal with accounts that have been idle for a long time that posted content of value to the community. I may try to contact them to get an explicit opt-in. Or I could remove their email addresses from the accounts, which I believe are the only personal information I have about them. Or I could close the accounts and associate their content with the "Anonymous baker" user. I'm not sure what makes the most sense yet, just that I want to respect people's privacy and honour current regulations regarding people's personal information while not losing the tremendous public resource we've built collectively over the years here.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

You might have noticed you've been getting a ton of emails recently from companies that "care about your privacy". That is because there are new data privacy regulations coming into effect in less than a month that impact anyone doing business with EU citizens. I'm still getting a handle on what they mean and whether what TFL does constitutes "doing business" with anyone, but at the least it is a good time for some housecleaning here.

Today I started purging old accounts that never activated. There is no reason to retain anything about any of those accounts. 

After that I'll purge old accounts that haven't been active in a long time. 

Next it sounds like it makes sense for me to add a new Terms & Conditions screen that folks will need to acknowledge when they sign up or sign in. The GDPR states that site owners need to have a record of such a thing. And the T&C language needs to be understandable rather than in legelese, which is good. So I am working on putting that together.

After the T&C has been up and active site members have had a chance to opt-in, I can remove accounts that don't opt in. I don't want to retain anyone's info who isn't consciously OK with sharing it here.

I think I can also give people the permission to delete their own accounts and information, which is also part of the GDPR.

To be clear, I never sell, rent, share, or do anything with anyone's email address or any other personal information that is held here (and I wonder: does the kind of mixer or thermometer you use count as personally identifiable information?). Email addresses are used, at sign up, to verify that there is a human at the other end of the line and thus to cut down on the number of spam accounts that get created. After that, email is used for private messages between site members or to receive comment notifications, both of which you can opt out of. A handful of times a year I look up a user's email address and contact them directly, typically either because a site member asks me to get in touch with them and doesn't want to use the PM system or I have a concern about their conduct or content of a post. Your info here is not being shared or used for marketing purposes, and I put a great deal of effort to keep the site and server secure so it can't be accessed or misused.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Almost everything in my garden plot died over the winter. The one exception is the sage. So I wanted to bake something that used sage, and recalled seeing Lazy Loafer's Sage & Onion Levain.

I used 50% bread flour and 50% AP flour because that is what I had handy.  It is extremely tasty.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Nothing fancy but I baked a couple white sourdough loaves this evening. Around 73% hydration, 65% AP flour, 35% bread flour.

It was sunny and beautiful but still cool today, so they rose too slowly to have them ready for suppertime. I'm looking forward to trying one of them in the morning.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Ever since trying Skibum's pulla this summer I've been meaning to bake one.  

I used jarkkolaine's recipe as the basis since it had metric weights.  The one notable difference is that I used a tangzhong to try to get a fluffier crumb. Did it help? Mmmm... I'm not sure it did, but I may not have nailed the timing quite right.

I did a five strand braid, which might not have been the best choice but that is the way the dough divided.

Like Skibum I eggwashed and sprinkled some almond slices on top.

Overall a success and one I'm likely to do again soon.

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