The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm

I've been gobbling up The Handmade Loaf. Great book. A pity it is so hard to find in the states.

I'm too tired to post any recipes or articles tonight, though I will again soon. I'm long overdue. For now, a roll call of things I baked this weekend:

cinnamon buns Cinnamon Buns - an amalgam of recipes.

flax seed bread Flax Seed Bread - from Dan Lepard's book. He calls it Linseed Wheat Bread, I believe. So good I made a second batch. It looks like a yam, no?

barm bread Barm Bread - another Dan Lepard recipe. Bottle conditioned beer mixed with a bit of levain. I used a combination of white, whole wheat, barley, and rye flours. Not one I'm overjoyed by, but a worthwhile baking experiment.

barm bread My pain sur poolish and the flax bread being oogled by the littlest one.

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Floydm

It has been a very busy month. Work, class, guests, birthdays, etc. I've baked fairly regularly, but I haven't had time to take pictures, post recipes here, or experiment.

Today I used my sourdough starter. I've been feeding it once a week, but I hadn't baked with it in a while. I just made some little buns:

sourdough buns

They weren't bad. I served them with a pot of homemade split pea soup.

The real star of the meal were the homemade croutons. I used cheap leftover Safeway french bread that I cubed up and fried in a pan with about half a stick of butter, some salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. They were amazing on top of the soup! I'll have to try making them with some of my bread some time.

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Floydm

I didn't bake this weekend. I made waffles and pancakes, but that isn't really baking, is it?

I baked last weekend, both a sourdough and a poolish bread, but I've been swamped. Work is busy and I'm doing some freelancing on the side, I'm taking a Spanish class, and I've really gotten sucked in to rereading The Iliad. Twisted, eh?

Probably the most bread-like thing I did this weekend was watch The Tick vs. The Breadmaster. If you have broadband and twenty minutes to kill, it is an amusing cartoon.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a used copy of Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf from a bookseller in Ipswich. I'm hoping it'll get here soon and that it'll kick me into the baking mood again.

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Floydm

It feels like I took the weekend off, because I didn't make pain sur poolish or any sourdough loaves. But I did make pancakes for breakfast yesterday, chicken mole with homemade tortillas last night, bagels for breakfast today, and pizza for dinner tonight, so I guess I really didn't take a break. Felt like it though.

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Floydm

So today I am pretending to camp in our living room with my three (almost four) year old son. At one point, while he is pretending to be a daddy, he turns to me and says "Now, I have to bake some bread and make some pizzas. You stay here and play with mommy and your sister for a few minutes" and marches off to the kitchen.

Doh!

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Floydm

I baked my butt off today.

everything

Starting at the top, going clockwise:


  • Sourdough rustic bread - I haven't tasted this one yet. They turned out a little pale and spotty. I think I was too gentle while shaping them, so they didn't have enough surface tension and were a bit "over the hill," developmentally. They look edible though.

  • Hybrid sourdough - I can't bear how much flour I have to throw out to keep my starter going. Today I took the starter I was going to dump and added it to a basic French bread dough with 1 teaspoon of instant yeast in it. It was interesting: it rose like a yeasted bread, but it baked like a naturally yeasted bread, with it springing in the oven for a good 10 minutes. The taste is mildly sourdough like, though not as good as a pure sourdough.

  • In front, pain sur poolish. Dstroy's favorite.
  • Banana bread with chocolate chips.

  • Finally, in the back, chocolate chip cookies. I have to admit I cheated on this one though: these were from a tube of dough that was premade that we picked up on sale at the grocery store.

On top of that I made 2 quiches and a goulash, so dinner for the week is prepared. It was a rainy day today, so we were around the house anyway. Why not bake?

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Floydm

Sourdough photos:

sourdough

sourdough

sourdough

Yum.

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Floydm

I had an unmitigated success with my sourdough starter today. Two round loaves of something resembling my rustic bread but with my starter instead of yeast.

I pulled the starter out and started feeding it every 12 hours beginning Thursday evening. During that time I kept it in my oven with the light on so that it was in a 80 to 90 degree environment. It seems to require that: without it, I don't even get a doubling in 24 hours. With it I get nearly a tripling in size in about 8 hours. We must keep our house too cold.

I made my final dough Saturday night and placed it in "the cold room," a poorly insulated room in our house that stays between 45 and 50 degrees this time of year. In the morning I gave it a fold and put it in the oven with the light on again to take the chill off. Gave it two hours, folded, two hours more, then shaped them. After a three and a half hour final rise I baked them. Amazing how much pop sourdough loaves get in the oven. They came out great.

Thanks for all of the advice and encouragement everyone, particularly Sourdolady. The continued effort paid off.

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Floydm

With the site turning one year old, I decided it was time to finally put together an article on French Bread. Regular readers probably have noticed that while I bake some kind of French Bread (rustic bread, pan sur poolish, etc.) almost every week, I've yet to do an article on it. It isn't because I haven't wanted to, I just haven't thought I was good enough at it to offer any advice.

Well, I'm still not great, but after a year of baking and chatting with folks here I have gotten better, good enough that I feel like it isn't presumptuous to offer some advice to newbies, particularly if they are offered in the grain of "Don't make the same mistakes I did. Because, believe me, I've made some doozies."

Initially I thought it'd be a short piece, but as I started writing I realized it is going to be longer. I was going to write them all and then drop them here with a big "tah dah!," but then I thought it'd make more sense to open them up for scrutiny to other community members. After all, probably a majority of the tricks I've learned I've learned from folks here.

So here is what I've got so far. The other tips will follow as I write them up the next few days. Please, add comments to offer advice, suggestions, corrections, criticisms, whatever tickles your fancy.

Once all of the tips have been written up and your suggestions and corrections have been incorporated into the text, I'll publish this article to the front page of the site. I think it'll be a good one, and I'm looking forward to hearing people's comments. I'd love to see this one be more of a collaborative effort.

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Floydm

I've been meaning to mention that this site is one year old now. Check out the first post.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed and participated in the discussions.

May your bread always rise!

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