The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm

This was the best I could come up with:

sourdough pan loaf

A loaf of sourdough sandwich bread, slightly gummy and poorly shaped but edible.

I am humbled. Baking on foreign soil is very difficult.

Back to my home kitchen this weekend.

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Floydm

Hmmm... yes, well... baking on the road seemed like a good idea.

My starter made it fine, but I guess I didn't really think about how many little things I take for granted in my home kitchen. Yes, I knew I was going to be without a baking stone or my lame, but those were the least of my problems. Not being able to find a warm enough spot in the house for the loaves to rise enough set me back a bit. Not being able to find semolina flour or regular corn meal (only course ground) didn't help either, and I was unwilling to damage someone else's iron skillet to make the necessary steam, so the crust was going to suffer. But it was the oven that set me back the most. Well, that and the smoke detector, which screamed like a banshee as soon as I opened the door to put the bread in the oven (I guess they don't turn their oven up to the max as often as I do). In the end, the bread got tossed out. The bread may have been salvageable, but after airing out the house for 20 minutes to get the smoke detector to stop I wasn't in the mood.

I'm chastened. If I try to bake again this week I'll bake something simpler in a loaf pan.

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Floydm

We're housesitting for my parents up on Puget Sound for the next few days. Before leaving, I fed the pets, watered the plants, and, of course, fed the starter. While doing so it dawned on me that I could take a pinch along and try baking something up here; homemade sourdough would go great with the fresh seafood (like the clams we picked up on the way up). I figure if the pioneers could keep a starter culture alive for weeks on a wagon train, I could keep one alive for four hours on the interstate, eh?

It'll be interesting to bake in another kitchen. No baking stone, no scale, an unfamiliar oven. I'll definitely blog the results.

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Floydm

Tonight I baked white bread.

White Bread

Nothing artisan or fancy about this, just good, simple home cooking. The kind of bread you eat right out of the oven.

I fudged the recipe. It was basically:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup very warm milk

2 tablespoons melter butter

2 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix in the standmixer for 10. Let rise covered for an hour, shape, place in a greased pan, cover, allow another hour to rise. Bake at 350 for roughly 45 minutes.

White bread

Quick, simple, easy, and absolutely perfect.

 

 

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Floydm

Here is a video of me scoring my loaf today:

More interesting than the scoring, to me, was the dough. I made a strange one: last night I made a real wet poolish with a cup of whole-wheat flour, much water (didn't measure) and about 1/4 teaspoon yeast. I also built up my AP flour-based sourdough starter. This morning I then threw them both together with another pound or so bread flour, an ounce of rye flour, a couple of teaspoons salt, and a bit more flour. So I ended up with a slack, rustic-like dough leavened with sourdough and a teeny bit of yeast. I haven't tasted it yet, but it seemed to perform real well. I'm curious to taste what combining the sweetness of a poolish with the tartness of a sourdough does.

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Floydm

I baked an olive levain today.

Olive Levain

Olive Levain

This was basically like Hamelman's Olive Levain: 10% whole wheat, no yeast, just starter. I loved it:

Olive Levain inside

olive levain inside

Delicious, but not cheap (well, at least by bread baking standards). The olives alone cost as much as... what... thirty pounds of flour and a pound of salt. I can bake an awful lot of regular sourdough bread for that much money. Yes, ok, to put it in perspective it is still cheaper than a drinkable bottle of wine, but still... baking bread, one gets spoiled by how inexpensive a hobby it is.

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Floydm

I baked some whole wheat rolls for our Christmas dinner and a couple of sourdough loaves for the next few days. They were quite good.

As I Christmas gift, I got the latest version of the Joy of Cooking. Perusing the bread chapter, I was blown away to see it now includes information on using a sponge starter and ceramic tiles as baking stones. There are recipes for rustic French bread, sourdough rye bread, focaccia, even brioche. True, the Joy of Cooking isn't the greatest book for a serious bread baker, but it interesting to see how artisan bread recipes and techniques have entered the mainstream.

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Floydm

I have a batch of the revised no-knead bread about to go into the oven, with about 10 percent whole wheat flour and 5 percent rye. I've also got a whole wheat sourdough rising.

While letting the dough rise, I was sorting through potential bread feed content and came across this site. Um... well... wow. There is some good information there, but the colors, the layout, the photo, the music... just go see it for yourself. Be sure not to miss the dog playing piano.

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Floydm

Tried a whole wheat sourdough for the first time with my current starter.

 

Certainly not the kind of crumb I can get with regular bread flour, but not bad for something purely leavened with a starter.

 

 

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Floydm

I baked another batch of sourdough today using my normal method (extra hot oven, steam in an iron pan, pre-heated baking stone). It is interesting to compare the loaf from today with the loaf from yesterday that I baked with the French oven method from the NY Times article that we've been discussing:

Sorry it isn't a great picture, but it is the best I got before it started getting dark here.

The French oven one is on the right, traditional on the left. Today's has around 5% whole wheat flour and 5% dark rye flour. Both loaves are very good, but of the two I think today's has superior crust and got better oven spring. If anything, it was less developed going into the oven, but, boy, did it pop. In the French oven it popped some.

I do have to add that one plus of the NY Times approach is that you don't jeopardize your oven's electronic system while trying to steam the oven. I haven't had any problems with my oven, but many folks here have.

One other odd thing to mention about today's loaves.

My starter yesterday smelled a little... weird. I was thinking cheesy, but when I took a whiff this morning it came to me what it smelled like: mustard. Like mustard, it was acidic but... not a sharp, crist acidic smell, more of a chubby, umami-ish kind of acidic. It is hard to explain. Anyway, it didn't look bad, it rose extremely well, and the loaves taste great, so I'm not too worried. I just thought it was odd.

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