The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Floydm's blog

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Floydm

By the way, the food issue of The New Yorker just came out and had a long article on Baumkuchen, aka "Spit Cake."  The "spit" in the cake is a large metal stake that is dipped in batter and then rotated near a flame.  This process is repeated dozens of times and then the cake is removed from the stake and slices into disks.  Each slice has "rings" like a tree from the multiple layers of batter getting baked.

In Poland they call this sękacz (or senkacz).  I think I ate sękacz every single day we were in Warszawa.  You can find it here too, but it is not cheap.  But I cannot recommend it highly enough.

 

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Floydm

Last week I grabbed one of my favorite sandwiches from the Pearl Bakery, a pear and gorgonzola number served on their Walnut Levain.  This weekend I tried recreating the bread at home.


Walnut Levain


I was pleased with the results.  The formula was roughly:


500g AP flour (Pendleton Flour Mills Morbread)


330g water


100g ripe starter


10g kosher salt


Walnut Levain Crumb


I also made cinnamon rolls for the first time in a long while.



They were more tan than the yellow they appear to be in this picture.  Oh well.  They tasted great.


 

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Floydm

My son's 2nd grade class toured Franz Bakery today.  I chaperoned this trip, naturally.



Franz is a landmark in Portland, in part because it has been here over 100 years but also because of the giant rotating loaf of bread on the roof (only a few blocks away there is a giant rotating quart of milk).  Franz Bakery bakes all of the buns for Wendy's, Arby's, Burgerville, and a bunch of other fast food joints out here as well as thousands of loaves of bread each day.



The tour began in an area that had information about how you make bread, where wheat and flour come from, how yeast works, those sorts of things.   It was pretty cute but my son didn't find it terribly interesting, probably in part because his dad has told him these things 20 times already.


After that, we had to get on our hair nets and the tour began.



Unfortunately cameras were not allowed on the tour.  I noticed other parents surreptitiously taking shots but I was too concerned with keeping small fingers out of the machinery to take photos once the tour began.  A few things I noted though:



  • Franz is a bread factory, not a bakery as I think of bakeries.  I'm not making a value judgement in saying that, just noting that everything I saw was done by machine with operators tending to the machines, not bakers tending to the dough.

  • Ingredient-wise I saw palettes full of different flours including those from Cargill and Pendleton Flour Mill.

  • Dough was mixed in 1,000 pound batches, then dumped into troughs where it fermented for an hour or so.

  • Machines shaped the buns then slid them into a proofing machine that is kept around 100 degrees where they stayed for 50 minutes.

  • Buns travel through a 100 foot long oven for about 8 minutes to bake.

  • The buns are cooled on a track that travels all around the building before heading into the packaging room.

  • Watching the loaves fly around, I got this song stuck in my head (if you've watched Looney Tunes you'll know what I'm talking about).



The kids enjoyed the tour a lot, frankly a lot better than they would have enjoyed a tour of an artisan bakery with a single small oven and a dedicated group of earnest bakers talking about the nuances of fermentation.  I enjoyed it too and gotta admit it is impressive that they can automate so much of the baking process.  I was also pleased to hear that there is increasing demand to use local and organic ingredients even when baking on an industrial scale.


Finally, one knick knack I saw on the tour that I liked:


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Floydm

While out running errands this morning I stopped at St. Honoré Boulangerie in NW Portland.  I took a bunch of photos but it was dark and crowded.  These are the only two shots that came out.


St Honore Breads


St Honore Sweets


The croissant, pain au chocolat, and pain au raisin we split were all good.  Nice treats on a rainy day.


In baking news, I just came *this* close to ruining a batch of Wild Rice Onion Bread I'm making. I'm using the formula from Peter Reinhart's new book but changing the rises to fit my schedule.  I did a preferment while we were out this morning and once we got back from errands I made the final dough.  It was running about half an hour or an hour behind dinner schedule -- I'd love to have the rolls with the pot of split pea soup I'm making, though I also got a ficelle at St. Honoré as backup -- so I put the bulk dough in the oven and turned the light on to try to speed things up a little bit.  I also turned the burner on for just 20 or 30 seconds to get some warmth in there, then got distracted and ran upstairs... Next thing I know my dough has been sitting in a 250 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.  Happily, aside from the very outer bits that stuck to the metal bowl, I think it is going to be fine.  I split the now quite warm dough into two loaves and they appear to be rising fine.  Fingers crossed.


 

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Floydm

By the way, a week or so ago I added a new email notification feature that I think is really handy.  If you go to:


My Account >> Edit >> Email Preferences


and check the box and save you can get a notification any time someone replies to a thread you've started.  I'm finding this a great way of keeping track of responses to blog entries I made weeks or months ago that otherwise I'd miss.


That bring up to 3 the types of email notifications you can have here.  The other two are "Notifications," which sends you a digest of all of the days activity by email, and "Subscriptions," which allow you to subscribe to all updates on a given thread or content type.  Having of these options is quite confusing, I recognize.  Every time I think about doing away with one type of notification or the other to make things simpler I talk to someone who says they really like getting that type.  So I'm not certain what to do, long-term, but it is worth experimenting with the different types of notifications to find the one that fits your reading habits best.

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Floydm

I wrote a blog entry on MercyCorps.org today about The Fresh Loaf Fall Fundraiser that some folks here might enjoy reading.  Fingers crossed, hopefully some other online communities and groups will use what we did as a model and hold similar drives from time-to-time.   


Again, thank you to everyone who participated and/or showed your support.

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Floydm

I baked two batches of bread today, the first being a batch of Whole Wheat Seeded Rolls.

wheat rolls

I used the master recipe from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François's new book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day as the base for these.  Portlanders: Jeff and Zoë are going to be at Powell's Tuesday evening.

The rolls are disappearing quickly because I also made a batch of Apple Butter.  Delicious, as always.

I also made a second batch of Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes.

baguette

I'm resisting the temptation to crack these open before they cool this time, which is quite difficult.

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Floydm

I made Struan Rolls to go with a pot of soup Dorota made tonight.




Often my Struan comes out a bit heavy (like in the photo in the recipe I linked to), but tonight I nailed it.  They were light, fluffy, soft, and just the perfect sweetness.  When you get Struan right, it is hard to beat.


In nerd news: WhiteHouse.gov is now running on Drupal, which is the software that The Fresh Loaf runs on.  That is very exciting to geeks like me.

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Floydm

Last week I posted a message on TFL asking community members to test out the new fundraising software I'd developed for Mercy Corps, my employer, by making a few small donations. The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive. We hit our original goal of one thousand dollars, which I feared might be unreasonably high, in less than 72 hours, and several community members expressed a desire that we extend this longer. If you are game, I'm game. Let's see what we can do.

What is Mercy Corps?

Mercy Corps is an international aid agency based in Portland, Oregon. With over 3,500 employees working in more than 40 countries, we work to help people build secure, productive and just communities. We do that by expanding educational opportunities, helping build water and sanitation infrastructure, providing microfinancing to women starting small businesses and running food and nutrition programs to prevent malnutrition.

As I've mentioned, I work there, but I was a supporter and fan of the organization before I began working there. Mercy Corps works in some of the world's toughest places, including many that rarely make the headlines, and is committed to being efficient stewards of their donors' money.

If you are interested in supporting our fundraising effort, you can do so here. Your show of support would mean a great deal to me.

Update 10/25: I am moving the discussion of this from the forums to a blog thread so that folks interested in the fundraising project can still chat about it without interfering with the bread-centricity of the forums. I've also raised the goal to $2,500.

More to come...
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Floydm

We started the day with Sourdough English Muffins.



After lunch I made my first batch of Anis Bouabsa's baguettes.




I hurried things a bit, only giving them about 16 hours in the fridge, probably not letting them rise quite enough before putting them in the oven, and slicing them while still hot.  Nevertheless, they were quite good.  I definitely want to try this again. 



Finally I made a sourdough miche using the technique crumb bum introduced a couple of years ago.



I've not cracked this one open yet.  I'm looking forward to it.


Actually this wasn't the end of the baking, because I also made corn bread muffins to go with the pot of green tomato chili I made, which was awesome.  Followed up by some of the remaining birthday cake Dorota made.  It is a pity that baking season comes at a different time than prime bicycling season here, because after a day like today I could certainly use the exercise!

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