The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm

I am trying to start another sourdough starter. I started it a couple of days ago.

I looked at SourdoLady's starter recipe but didn't have any pineapple juice in the house, so I began with 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup water, and a half a capful of apple cider vinegar. Day two (today) I added 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup rye flour.

I'm not seeing any signs of activity yet, but neither of the flours are particularly fresh so I may not have enough wild yeast in them to get started. I figure I'll give it one or two days of food and if I don't see any signs of life I'll dump it and try again.

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Floydm

Tonight we are baking cookies for Santa. Lebkuchen and Sour Cream Sugar Cookies, two recipes that "Santa" is particularly fond of. :)

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Floydm

For my weekly batch of French bread, I tried autolyse again. This time I successfully combined it with a poolish.

My overnight sponge was 8 ounces bread flour, 8 ounces water, and 1/8 teaspoon of instant yeast. My autolyse the next day was 10 ounces of water and 8 ounces of flour. I let that soak for 20 minutes, then mixed in the poolish along with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast. I then mixed it in the stand mixer, adding an additional 3 or 4 ounces of flour until I had a dough that was slack but more substantial than a batter.

Fermentation was 3 hours, with 2 folds an hour apart. I divided it in two for final shaping and used a lot of flour so that I could handle it without it sticking. It actually toughened up and shaped better than I had expected.

I let it rise 90 minutes while preheating my baking stone at my max oven temperature, 550. I used to not be impressed by the baking stone, but I've found that if you preheat it at max temperature for at least an hour you do get a significant increase in spring.

I threw them in the oven, added steam, and reduced heat to 475. I think they took about 20 to 25 minutes to bake: the hot stone also reduces baking time noticeable. Very good results, nice open crumb.

I'll try to bake this one again next weekend and post photos.

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Floydm

I'm back from Texas. Afraid I didn't find the time to go bakery hunting. The closest thing to an artisan bakery I found was the Au Bon Pain sandwich shop in the DFW airport.

I did get to try one of the cakes from Collin Street Bakery, their pecan apricot cake. I'm not a fruit cake fan, but I have to admit it was darn good.

Glad to see that folks were able to help each other out here while I was out.

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Floydm

Since we had another half a pot of soup leftover for dinner, I tried the autolyse approach again today (see yesterday's post). Much better results this time.

My dough was real basic again:


13 ounces bread flour
9 to 10 ounces water
2 teaspoons salt
1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast (activated in 1 ounce of the water for 5 minutes).

I changed my technique a bit. I mixed the bread flour (all I had in the house) and 9 ounces of the water together in a bowl until the flour was all moist. I covered the bowl, let it sit for 20 minutes, then activated the yeast in another ounce or so of water. I then pulled the dough out onto a well-floured cutting board, poured the yeast/water mixture on top, sprinkled on the flour, and worked the water/yeast/salt in by hand just until mixed in. It was a mess, but it seems to have done the trick: I got a real nice, slow rise, good gluten development, and minimal oxygenation (which causes the crumb to appear yellow).

I did the same folding and baking routine as yesterday, I just didn't try shaping it into rounds.

I kept it pretty slack, so I dealt with it like a Ciabatta.

Rising:

Baked:

Inside:
ciabatta inside

We gorged on it. It was wonderful. :)

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Floydm

I, too, had a doughy disaster today. I was trying to make a simple French/Italian bread using both a poolish (a wet, yeasted, overnight pre-ferment) and an autolyse (a flour and water quick pre-ferment). The poolish was too wet, the autolyse too dry, and when I tried to mix them together I could not get the chunks of autolyse dough to combine with poolish. It ended up having the consistency of chicken and dumplings. I ended up throwing the batch out and starting over.

The next batch turned out better.


16 oz. bread flour
11 oz. water
1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt

I combined the flour and water in a bowl and mixed just until the flour was full hydrated. I covered the bowl and let it hydrate for 20 minutes. Then I mixed in the yeast and salt, mixed for about 3 minutes, and placed the dough in covered bowl. I gave it 45 minutes, then folded, another 45 then a fold, and a final 45 before shaping into rounds, placing in my floured baskets, which I covered, and let them rise for a final 75 minutes.

I baked them at 475 with initial steam. They were in for about 25 or 30 minutes. They turned out quite nice:

We had a pot of vegetable soup and a bottle of Chianti with them. You couldn't ask for a better meal on a wet, wintery day.

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Floydm

Today I baked the baguettes with Pâte Fermenté and the Roasted Potato Bread from Hamelman's Bread book.

many breads I baked today

The potato loaves are the round ones with the fendu style crease.

I love how Hamelman gives advice on how one should shape hundreds of fendu style loaves, but very little advice for the home baker. Typical of him: great recipes, but he rarely bothers helping out the novices.

I'll try to post more photos and a recipe soon.

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Floydm

We had the buttermilk rolls on the Thanksgiving table. They were wonderful.

I'm trying to finish our can of coffee as quickly as I can so that I can use it to try baking a Panettone. In the meantime, I'll probably bake another batch or two of stollen and some of my family's Christmas cookies.

We going to visit family in Texas in a couple of weeks. Supposedly Texas is where fruit cake originated. I may have to pick up a couple of authentic Texas fruit cakes while I am there. If anyone knows of a particularly good place to get fruit cake from, please let me know.

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Floydm

mixed breads

Banana Bread, Struan Bread, and Rustic Bread.

The banana bread was plain and simple, not even with nuts or chocolate chips. With the holiday's coming on, it didn't seem necessary.

For the Struan Bread, I used a sample packet of Bob's Red Mill's Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal as my soaker instead of mixing together my own grains. It worked well, tasting slightly different than normal Struan Bread but quite good all the same.

For the Rustic Bread I used the same dishwasher proofing technique I used last weekend. I was so wiped out after a long week that I crashed at 9 o'clock last night before I had a chance to start a sponge. Alas.

I haven't tried the rustic loaves yet, but I shall for breakfast. I kept the dough slack again and proofed them in a flour covered basket. Hence the rings. I expect them to be quite good.

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Floydm

I baked pitas for lunch today. They were great. I did 1/2 cup of the flour whole wheat, which is 1/6th of the total flour in the recipe. That is just about right for my taste.

Making them fit very nicely into my morning schedule: had breakfast, prepared the dough, ran errands while it rose, came home 11:15ish and shaped and baked them. Simple, cheap, and totally rewarding.

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