The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm

My fight against scurvy (not really) and the wintertime blues (really) by baking fruity things continued today.  This time I went for raspberries and made a Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid using the Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid formula on the site.

 Very very good, as expected!

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Floydm

Today I baked a sourdough loaf in a pot...

and cinnamon rolls too.

10% of the sourdough loaf was whole wheat, otherwise it was the same as my previous loaves.

I hope everyone had good holidays and New Year! 

-Floyd

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Floydm

Lots of Christmas treats baked this weekend.

Magic Squares, Cranberry-Pecan Bars, Berlinerkrasner.

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Floydm

Earlier this week on a rainy day working from home, I fed my starter with 50% dark rye flour and 50% bread flour.  The next morning I made a dough with 10 ounces starter, 11 ounces water, 16 ounces of bread flour, and a teaspoon or two of salt.  All measurements are approximate: this wasn't something I tended to carefully, just a "background process" that I had running while doing other things.

That was a much larger proportion of ripe starter to fresh flour than I usually bake with but, boy, let me tell you, did this  dough ever pop.  I folded it two or three times during the day, shaped it in the afternoon, and an hour later baked it in the pot I got with the Average Joe Bread Kit.  465 preheat, 425 bake, 25 minutes covered and another 30 minutes or so uncovered.

It came out great.  One of the best rising loaves I've ever made, and incredibly thin, crackly crust.   The only real flaw was that I overdid it with the flour on the outside while it was rising, but that's easy enough to brush off.  

* * *

Hey! If any of you are Tumblr users, we started a blog for The Fresh Loaf there.  Follow us!  It'll mostly just point recipes and posts here, though we'll also recirculate good baking posts we find on Tumblr.

 

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Floydm

Today, I baked. I baked a no-knead loaf, a sourdough loaf, and batch of Hamelman's Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal bread.

Something else exciting I worked on this weekend...

 

That doesn't look like much, but it is early stages of porting TFL to Drupal 7, the newest version of the CMS that powers this site.  Drupallers will recognize the Omega theme at play here, which is a responsive theme that will make the site render well on mobile devices like cell phones and tablet computers.  There is still a lot of work to do but I'm excited to finally be started on it.  

Community members have no need to worry.  My hope is to keep the site behavior as familiar as possible, though if I could make things like image handling a bit simpler that would be a big plus.  I will also give folks a chance to try it and give me feedback before I roll anything new out.  And it is still going to be a while... my best guess would be January or February, after the holiday craziness is behind us.

That's about it.  Vancouver has been lovely this fall.  If you care to see pictures of the places we've been exploring, you can do so here in our Vancouver blog.

-F

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Floydm

We had plans to make a pot of barszt (borscht) this weekend, so I made a rye loaf to go with it.

I leavened it with  both my starter, which I fed with dark rye flour the evening before, and a teaspoon of instant yeast.  The loaf itself was about 30% dark rye flour, 70% bread flour.  The hydration... very approximate.

It is good stuff and seems to be keeping quite well.  

-Floyd

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Floydm

We've been having a lovely fall here in BC and I've been getting back into the baking routine.  These sourdough loaves were shared at our Thanksgiving dinner.

Then we had pizza night a couple of days later.

And last weekend I made a big honkin' miche with 5% rye flour, 10% whole wheat.  

I forgot to get a crumb shot, but it was pretty nice.

Of course, what would autumn be without apples and apple pie?  

Recently I learned a trick for making the crust: rather than trying to cube and cut the butter in with forks like the cookbooks always tell you to do, just toss the butter in the freezer for an hour or so before making the crust, then use a cheese grater to slice into little bitty bits.  It is so much easier and having the butter that cold to begin with makes the crust considerably flakier.

Happy baking!

-Floyd

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Floydm

Not the prettiest loaf I've ever made but proof that my new starter is indeed alive. 

* * *

In other news, I just can't wrap my head around it being Thanksgiving here in Canada Monday.  It feels too early in the season for pumpkin pie and turkey.  I think we're going to have a mini-Thanksgiving with some friends here Monday and then celebrate again with family members from the states six weeks from now.  Will I bake?  We shall see.

-Floyd

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Floydm

I'm in the process of starting a new starter.  I decided to try it without raisin water or pineapple juice or anything special, just whole wheat flour and water. 

At the end of day one, no activity but no problem.  Similar after day two.  At the end of day three it smelled nice when opened the cupboard, so I removed the plastic covering the bowl and...

Ew.  

So now I'm trying again using the pineapple juice formula that Debra Wink and SourdoLady recommend.  Hopefully the additional acidity will prevent this from happening again.

In better news, I tried baking crackers the other day.

I didn't exactly nail it but they were better than any crackers I had previously made.  

-Floyd

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Floydm

This past week I've acquired two new baking books worth mentioning here.

The first is Home Baked: Nordic Recipes and Techniques for Organic Bread and Pastry by Hanne Risgaard.  Hanne and her husband run Skærtoft Mølle, an organic mill in southern Denmark and home to one of the world's largest bread festivals each fall.

The extended title pretty well sums up the contents of the book: lots of recipes and beautiful photos of Nordic breads prepared with organic whole-grain flour. Whole wheat, spelt, and rye flours all play prominent roles, as do both sourdough and commercial yeast. There are a few more conventional options too like hamburger buns.

Jeffrey Hamelman, who penned the forward, calls attention to the final section of the book entitled "Leftovers." Indeed, some of the ways of using up old bread such as the Rye Bread Layer Cake and the Rye Bread Porridge with Whipped Cream recipes look quite intriguing.

I've not had a chance to bake from Home Baked yet, but this looks to be one of the more substantial baking books coming out this fall and one worth checking out.

* * *

The other book I just acquired isn't new but is new to me: Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters.

Andrew Whitley is co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign in the UK and gave the keynote at this year's Kneading Conference West. In his presentation he told compelling stories about his experiences running a small bakery that uses mostly local ingredients and how a local bakery can play a pivotal role in forming a strong rural community.

Bread Matters is one part baking guide like Bread Bakers Apprentice and another part political manifesto along the lines of Omnivore's Dilemma. In it Andrew argues strongly that there is a direct correlation between the reduction in nutritional content -- and the increased use of enzymes as processing aids -- in the increasingly industrialized bread being consumed in Britain and the increase in allergic and negative health issues being experienced throughout society. His articulation of his position is worth hearing, and whether you buy his argument or not the recipes and baking instruction section of this book is substantial and impressive. I've marked a number of pages to come back to once I have a starter going strong again.

A special note for Canadians: I found a copy of Bread Matters this week at a local Indigo bookstore. It was the 2009 edition, hardcover, and in the clearance section. Original retail price $42.99, I got my copy for $9.99! If you check the website you can find out if there are any copies at that price available near you. For under ten bucks, picking up this book was a no-brainer.

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