The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Floydm's blog

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Floydm

A right sidebar! We have a right sidebar! Whoo hoo!

Ok, if you aren't a geek you probably don't care, but I think it is neat. If you are running at 1024x768 or less you won't see it, but that is ok because it isn't critical information. If you are running at a high resolution, it is an added bonus.

Of course it looks perfect in Safari and Firefox but a bit funky in IE. If you are still browsing in IE, I beseech you to download Firefox. Even non-techies find it a much nicer browser than IE.

The right sidebar gives me a good are to show off many of the beautiful things people have baked and posted to the site over the years. I'll be digging through the archives and adding more thumbnails into the rotation in the next few days. Not tomorrow though: jury duty.

I baked a miche tonight. Probably the prettiest I've baked yet. I'll try to get photos in the morning.

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Floydm

I made a few changes to the layout over the weekend. The logo has changed and is now dynamic, I've reduced the padding between some of the elements, and, most significantly, I've fixed the width of the body.

Non-nerds may not care about this, but whether web pages should have a fixed width so they look the same on all machines or a flexible width so that they can take full advantage of large monitors is one of these debates that web designers discuss endlessly. I've always been in the flexible width camp, but of late I've begun to move into the fixed width camp.

For me, the big advantage of fixed width isn't the design consistency, it is the readability. When text flows over 1000 pixels before wrapping, it becomes very difficult to not lose your place. Think about newspapers for a minute: if they printed copy all the way across the page rather than in columns it would be much more difficult to read. A consensus is emerging that as the web is becoming more and more of a reader's medium, designers should do whatever they can to improve readability. So with that, I'm sold on fixed width.

The screen resolution stats on people who visit this site are interesting:

The vast majority of us have large, high resolution monitors now. So with that I'm making sure 1024x768 is well supported. I may add perks for folks with even larger monitors, like a rail to the right of the content that could include links to favorite stories or something. We'll see.

Any issues with the new layout, please let me know.

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Floydm

burnt waffle

Hm. Yes, must remember to remove the waffle from the oven before stepping into the shower. Does not bode well for this weekend's baking.

miche

Last week's miche turned out quite well though. And I have a couple of loaves rising right now that I'm optimistic about.

In site news: I just swapped out the Drupal search with a customized Google search. It is hard to beat Google's search algorithm, so I think people will prefer this. Let me know what you think.

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Floydm

Amazingly nice weather here today. Supposed to be rainy all week, but today was definitely a day to be outside.

That said, while I was planting bulbs I had a loaf rising.

I did a white poolish bread that turned out excellent.

french bread

I gave this about 10 minutes in the Kitchen Aid and very little yeast. I was very pleased with the crumb.

french bread crumb

I also made an apple sourdough bread. It was about 15% whole wheat flour.

apple bread

While I had the autolyse going I took a look in Dan Lepard's book and saw his recipe with oats and apples. That sounded good, so I quickly soaked some oats in boiling water and threw them in too.

apple bread crumb

It is well baked and not at all gummy since I accidentally left it in the oven an extra 10 or 15 minutes, but the oats and apple kept it moist inside.

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Floydm
World Bread Day '07

World Bread Day is Tuesday, October 16th, a day when the bread baking guilds ask you to appreciate the role of bread and bakers in society.

For amateur bakers, Zorra is again organizing a big blog roundup. If you bake something for World Bread Day, by all means, post about it in your blog here and let Zorra know.

October 16th has also been declared by the United Nations as World Food Day, a day to raise awareness about the role that famine and inadequate food security continue to play around the globe. As I have mentioned before, I now I work for a humanitarian agency, so I must admit that this year I am more moved by the latter cause than the former. Though I don't see them as being mutually exclusive: the former is about appreciating the simple things, the health and prosperity in your own life, the latter about trying to make that available to others (speaking of which: if you want to appreciate how well off you are compared to to others, take 15 minutes to read this piece about daily life in the Democratic Republic of Congo that we recently posted on our site. Quite powerful.). Both are worthy causes.

Tuesday will also be my birthday. I'm not sure I'm going to get any baking in then, so I am doing some over the weekend to make up for it. It is a beautiful fall day... I'm thinking an apple sourdough loaf might be in order tomorrow.

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Floydm

Struan, banana bread, crumbbum's miche.

I got much closer on the timing with the miche. Real nice oven spring and pretty nice crumb.

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Floydm

We had a nice get together this afternoon. Had four regular TFL participants show up (leemid, myself, JMonkey, and crumb bum) and one other reader whose screenname I didn't catch. We had a pretty decent spread:

table full on bread

table full on bread

table full on bread

If memory serves me right, the breads were (starting at 9 o'clock) JMonkey's whole wheat raisin bread and a whole wheat desem bread, my whole wheat sourdough and the honey whole wheat bread with sunflower seeds, crumb bum's miches (one with 15% whole wheat flour and one with 15% rye flour), and leemid white sourdough (made with Carl's starter, I think, or was it Otis?) and a rye he made.

miche

All of the breads were good, but crumb bum's miches (pictured above) blew me away. His formula and techniques can be found scatter around the site, but what I jotted down was:

20 grams starter
1000 grams flour (up to 15% whole grain)
750 grams water
20 grams salt

Mix in the evening, fold 4 or 5 times, then cover and leave out at room temperature overnight. Shape early the next evening, let rise for 2-3 hours, then put in an unheated oven (more on that here). Crank it up to 500 for 10 minutes, then reduce temp and bake until complete.

I will be trying this soon, probably tomorrow.

Thank you to the folks who showed up. And for those of you who wanted to but couldn't, we'll definitely do it again.

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Floydm

A beautiful pizza I made this weekend:

pizza

Well, perhaps not beautiful, but tasty.

This was something along the lines of LilDice's ciabatta pizza.

Where did summer go? Man, it blew by.

My apologies for being nearly absent on the site this summer. I read and responded to little questions almost every day, and I baked quite a bit this summer. But for the most part I stuck with my tried and true recipes, only adding 1 or 2 new ones to my regular repertoire, and did very few high quality posts on the site. I find that now that I have two kids who rarely take naps I have a lot less free time that I did when I started this site (with only 1 child who napped a lot and went to bed early). My new job hasn't left me much free time either: I have a longer commute and, given that my salary is paid by charitable contributions I don't feel like it is right to spend time on the clock working on my personal site. So I don't. So my Fresh Loaf time has been reduced considerably.

My best to all observing holy days the next few weeks.

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Floydm

Weighing in at 2 pounds 8 ounces, is the mega semonlina loaf.

semolina bread

semolina bread

This was a sourdough w/ a half a teaspoon of instant yeast thrown in. About... 65% hydration with about 40% of the flour semolina. It turned out pretty good.

I've been meaning to mention that I have been using the Steam Maker Bread Kit when I bake something like this. In fact it is part of the reason I baked such a monster loaf: the small sized kit I have makes it very difficult to steam two small rounds or baguettes longer than about 12 inches long, but one large round fits quite well. I find the size extremely frustrating and would not recommend purchasing the kit in that size, but I have to admit that when I do make loaves that fit into it the resulting crust I get is very, very good. Very thin and crackly. I stand by my opinion that the larger stone and kit are a worthwhile investment if you are a crust junky and you don't have a steaming solution that you are satisfied with yet.

Previous discussions of the Steam Maker kit is here and here.

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Floydm

I killed another spammer's account this afternoon. While cleaning up the mess he made I noticed an inefficiency that I think has been the main issue behind some of the slow page loads here. My first attempt to fix it briefly locked up the site, but my second attempt appears to have gone smoothly.

I've eliminated a database query that was happening on every page load. I don't see it causing any problems, but if you experience any weirdness please let me know.

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