The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Floydm's blog

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Thank you to the many TFL community members who have shown support for Mercy Corps' response to the disaster in Haiti.  Your support means a great deal to me. 

Overall we've had tremendous support from donors on this one.  It you hit today you'll see they are listing us as the preferred charity.

On another note: remember how I was saying TFL was exactly 5 years old yesterday?  Some members contacted me about having a hard time reaching the site this morning.  Guess how long I registered the domain "" for?  5 years.  Can you figure out who forgot to renew their domain?  Geez, what a dumb thing to do.  Happily no one snatched it up and the domain has been renewed, so should be safe for another five years.

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This evening I was planning on doing a longer post about how I set up and made the first post on TFL 5 years ago today and how I couldn't have imagined that it'd blossom into what it has become.  I was also going to share photos of a cute little bakery in my hometown that my mother sent me, but as you've likely heard a terrible earthquake hit Haiti this afternoon and my employer, Mercy Corps, is scrambling to organize a response to the earthquake.  We of the fundraising team are doing all we can to raise funds promptly and get the word out that we and partner agencies are responding immediately.  So I'll keep it short and just note the anniversary, offer my sincerest prayers for the people in Port-au-Prince, and take it as another reminder to count my blessings at every opportunity.


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I found a copy of January/February issue of Saveur today, the one that includes TFL in the 2010 Saveur 100.

TFL gets better exposure than "Cantonese Roast Meats" or "Harumi Kurihara," less than the "Tuna Melt" or "Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups."  I can't complain.

Let me also put out a reminder to Americans that we have one final day to make contributions to charities if we want to be able to take the tax deductions in 2009.  TFL members have been extraordinarily generous when we've done fundraising in the past, and, as The Chronicle of Philathropy reports, this year charities are having a very tough time raising funds.  The needs both domestically and abroad are greater than ever and even small gifts can have a significant impact, so if you can afford to help, please do.

I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year's Eve.  See you in 2010!

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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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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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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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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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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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I wrote a blog entry on 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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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.


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


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