The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm

Anybody in Australia catch A Matter of Loaf and Death last night?  How was it?  


My kids and I are big Wallace & Grommit fans.  That the new one is set in a bakery makes it irresistable.


 

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Floydm

There is a good article in today's Oregonian on challah.  Good timing, since I was thinking about challah and holiday breads in the shower this morning (yes, sadly it is true that some days I think about breads and baking pretty much around the clock). 


I was thinking about holiday breads this morning in the context of updating the home page of TFL to replace the Thanksgiving breads with Christmas breads.  Whenever I update the homepage with holiday breads, I get concerned about the possibility of a perceived geographic or cultural chauvanism here.  I realize that this site has readers and members from countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America; members who celebrate Jewish holidays, Islamic holy days, Christian holidays, Chinese festivals, or a combination of more than one of the above; members who are devotely religious, others who celebrate these festivals in a less religious but no less significant manner, others who celebrate none of the above.  Even secular holidays like Thanksgiving run the risk of alienating readers from elsewhere in the world who either don't celebrate the same holidays or celebrate them on a different date (yeah, that's right, I'm talking to YOU, Canada!).


Bread is significant in so many traditions and celebrations that to ignore the rituals surrounding bread would miss a tremendously important aspect of the history and meaning of bread.  Whenever I've felt like I understand and can share the meaning and history of a ritual bread, I've tried to post about them and share those stories.  Even for non-participants in those traditions, it is enjoyable to learn those stories.


I share the stories and traditions that I feel like I can do justice to, but there are many more stories I do not feel comfortable telling.  The ritual significance of challah is one such example.  Though I've read a great deal about it, as someone outside the Jewish tradition I don't feel like I can do justice to its significance and explain its ritual context appropriately.  The same is true of the breads and baked goods that are baked when breaking fast at the end of Ramadan.  These simply are not rituals I've participated in.


But you may. 


In the next few weeks I'm sure this site will be featuring Christmas breads and trying to explain the background and significance of some of these recipes and traditions.  In the appropriate season, I'd love to see members of other faiths and cultures share their stories and recipes so I and others can learn more about their traditions.  It is great to see photos after a holy day, but it is even better if stories, photos, and recipes can be shared before hand.  The best posts are along the lines of "A week from now people in my part of the world (or of my faith) are going to be celebrating ...  We celebrate this because ...  We'll be baking ... because ... "  I will gladly highlight those on the homepage if they are accessible, well put together, and have photos and recipes to support them.

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Floydm

Despite all the server brou-ha-ha, I've still managed to bake a few times.



A standard Pain Sur Poolish loaf, still more-or-less using this recipe.  Served with a pot of minestrone soup.  My goal is to make one pot of soup a week all winter long and try as many new soup recipes as I can.  Where there's soup, there's bread!


20% whole wheat sourdough


Whole Wheat Sourdough Crumb


This was a 20% Whole Wheat Sourdough I made last night. The batch had 200 grams of moist activated sourdough starter to 1000 grams flour (800 bread flour, 200 whole wheat flour) and around 630 grams water and 20 grams salt. I did an overnight bulk fermentation in our "cold room" (a room that gets down to around 40 degrees on winter nights), then shaped and baked it the next evening.  It has a real nice sour flavor and smell.

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Floydm

The server upgrade this week went very well.  There have been a few little hiccups, but overall it went well, and the site is blisteringly fast now.


There are still a few missing features.  Most noticable, the gallery is gone.  The gallery solution I was using isn't mature enough to run in this version of Drupal.  I'll either reenable that gallery software when it gets stable or find a new gallery.


There also were a few other things I was hoping to add that I did not.  One thing has has been mentioned is a private messaging system, so that site users could send each other their email addresses and discussing things privately.  Again, the PM module isn't mature enough right now, but I will try to add that in soon.  Now that we are on Drupal 6, we have a lot more new modules available to us.


One module that is mature is the book module, so I think we'll try to kick off a "Baker's Handbook" project very soon, like by the start of December.  It has been... a year since we first talked about doing that?  Maybe more?  Anyway, it is definitely time.  Worst case, it doesn't work out.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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Floydm

I did it. I just went and ordered a better server for TFL. It'll be a major step up in every way: twice the RAM, 5 or 6 times the CPU, faster hard drives. It should considerably reduce the double posts and number of times when TFL feels slow.

As well as the move to the new machine, it'll also be an upgrade of OS, database, web server, and content management system. I hope all of these changes will result in improvements for the user experience here, but inevitably there will be some hiccups, new tricks to learn, and new bugs to fix. And so a new adventure begins...

If the new server comes online today I'm hoping to be ready to cut the site over to the new machine Tuesday or Wednesday.

Stay tuned.

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Floydm

I had leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge this weekend. I made a couple of different breads with them. One was the yeasted, eggy, buttery sweet bread from Bernard Clayton's book. The name of the recipe is escaping me now, but it makes great toast.

The other I made was a sourdough.

The best sourdough I've made in months. Amazing how a half a cup of potatoes softens everything up. It was great with a roasted red pepper topping I made I made and a pot of soup.

BTW, the cheapest place to get Roasted Red Peppers in my neighborhood? Dollar Tree. They have good olives too, both imported from Turkey.

* * *

In site news, I'm hoping to upgrade TFL to the latest version of Drupal and upgrade the server to a faster box over Thanksgiving weekend. I've started working on it already. I still have quite a few kinks to work out. Stay tuned.

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Floydm

I too have baked a batch of Norm's Onion Rolls. They are wonderful.

I added 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds to the dough as well as an extra quarter cup or so of rehydrated dried onions. Otherwise, I followed his recipe.

I may have gotten a little too carried away with the poppy seeds and onions, but they were awfully tasty.

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Floydm

I hadn't used my sourdough starter in... months. Maybe once this summer I refreshed it and baked with it. I was sure it was a goner, but for the heck of it I took it out of the fridge last night, poured off the hooch, scooped off the gray slime on the top, and took a spoonful. I refreshed it and left it on the counter overnight. Sure enough, this morning it was bubbly and lively, so I went ahead and tried baking with it. It was a little bit sluggish, kinda like I feel after waking up from a too long nap, but it still did its job. We had a lovely loaf of sourdough with our lasagna tonight.

Powerful stuff.

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Floydm

It is the third week of school and preschool and we are coping with the third cold to sweep through the house in that short time. Here's to hoping they get better about handwashing (or we build up immunities quickly!).

So I'm at home today, drinking lots of clear fluids and watching my preschooler paint the deck with a bucket of water. I just read an article in The Atlantic on the break up of the Sullivan Street Bakery that I suspect many folks here would be interested in. I'm sure that uncredited recipes taken nearly verbatim have been posted on TFL, but the article is a good reminder that we should give credit where credit is due.

Off to get more juice.

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Floydm

Nothing fancy, but at least I'm getting back into the habit of baking again.

french bread

french bread

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