The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Floydm's blog

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Floydm

I made strombolini again the other evening. The turned out pretty good. It is nice to have two weeks worth of lunches in the freezer like that.

Today I baked a couple of things that both turned out well. One was a rustic French bread (20% whole wheat), the other a blueberry cream cheese sweet braided bread. Pictures and recipes to follow.

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Floydm

I had a fairly long pretzel lesson written up and then I made a mistake and my browser ate it. Arg.

For the time being, here are a couple of pretzel pics:

I'll write the recipe up again in the next few days.

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Floydm

My dad was here last week. He is a buttermilk junkie.

We ended up with an extra half gallon in the fridge, so I've been baking the Buttermilk Bread from Beth Hensberger's book (the second recipe on that page, not the first) the past couple of nights. It really is an excellent "daily bread" kind of recipe, something that is wonderful warm from the oven or toasted with jam.

We're going to be heading up to Seattle Sunday for a class on website usability that I'll be taking, so probably not too much baking this weekend.

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Floydm

Yesterday I made Vienna Rolls and an Onion Braid:

Many more pics of the Onion Braid over in the forums, as well as the recipe.

I think the high point of the weekend, food-wise, was the fresh strawberry pie. The local strawberries don't ship as well as California strawberries, so you don't see them outside of Oregon, but they are *so* good. Particularly when they are picked ripe, as these were.

The pie was a simple one I had never tried from the Joy of Cooking. Basically you just filled a baked pie shell with 4 cups of fresh berries and poured over it a glaze. The glaze is made of 2 cups pureed berries, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/4 cup corn starch, 1/4 cup water, and 1 cup sugar (I used a bit less). Bring all that to a boil in a small saucepan, pour over the fresh berries, and... YUM! Serve it with a little bit of whipped cream on top.

And, I confess: I used a frozen pie crust from the grocery store instead of making it from scratch. I can knead dough for 12 minutes, no problem, but I hate making pie crust. It bores me to tears.

Oh yeah: I tried a new banana bread recipe today. It was good, a nice change from my standard banana bread recipe, but not worth the additional work in my mind. I'll try to post that recipe in the next day or two.

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Floydm

The family was in town,which meant I had two things: free babysitting and more mouths to feed. That meant it was time for a baking bonanza!

I made:

Corn Bread


Orange Oatmeal Bread


Nubby Peanut Bread


Italian Bread


Struan Bread

And cookies. And enchiladas. And a bunch of other food.

I'll add links to all of these recipes as I get them written up.

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Floydm

A little bit of everything: oatmeal raisin cookies, banana bread, and pain sur poolish.

I tried baking some of the poolish bread in a ciabatta sized loaf instead of a baguette. We'll try it tonight.

I can't decide whether I am just really bad at shaping and scoring or whether my dough is too wet to score. I keep trying to score it but ending up w/ the blade stuck in the goo. So my loaves aren't pretty, but they've been tasting great.

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Floydm

While coming home from a computer conference last week I managed to hit a couple of artisan bakeries.

The best one I stopped at was Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, California (halfway between Sebastopol and Bodega in west Sonoma County... "the wine country"... find it on my bakery finder).

As the sign out front says, everything there is organic and they bake in a brick oven. Note the reflection of a grain silo in the front window. It is hard to tell in these photos, but the bakery is out in the country in the middle of a beautiful valley.

Unfortunately, I got there right about the same time that a bus load of people doing the winery tours stopped there and I had a car full of family, so I did not get a chance to talk to the bakers or get many good pictures of the place. I did pick up a loaf of their Fougasse, a picnic bread containing olives, onions, and blue, jack, and chedder cheeses. The loaf was still warm, and it was a great thing to munch while driving out to the coast.

They have wonderful looking scones and sticky buns too.

I took a quick snap of their menu (large image so it is easy to read).

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Floydm

I made another batch of bagels last night. My son dug the blueberry bagel we got from Safeway last week, so I decided to make a third of the batch with blueberries (bagel snobs: insert derisive comments here).

I thawed the blueberries and then tried mixing them in with the risen dough. Bad idea:

Yes, it does look like entrails. It really made quite a mess, with little strips of purple bagel dough refusing to stick together.

I was about to throw the whole thing into the trash, but I decided to try adding an extra 1/4 cup of flour, just to see if I could salvage it. Happily, it worked, and they baked up quite nicely:

It just goes to show, when in doubt, improvise. Worse case, I would have had to throw away an extra 1/4 cup of flour. Big deal.

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Floydm

Here's the poolish in the AM:

According to Artisan Baking Across America, the puckering in the middle is a sign that it is ready to use.

The baked loaves:

They were acceptable, but not great, this weeknd. I think I made the dough a bit too dry. I'll try again soon.

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Floydm

Today's batch of Pain Sur Poolish turned out pretty good. Not as good as last time, I don't think. We left the house during primary fermentation, so I threw it into the fridge for a couple of hours. I'm not sure I let the dough warm back up enough afterward. Also, the dough was definitely drier than last time. The wetness of the dough last time was part of what I think contributed to it being so good. So, more work to be done before I've got this one down.

So, I don't forget, the recipe I used was roughly the Village Baker recipe:

3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup water
the poolish that had sat out overnight (1 cup water, 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast)
2 cups flour (1 bread, 1 all-purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine, let ferment 2 hours, punch down, let rise another 45, shape into logs, let rest 15 minutes, stretch, let rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, bake.

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