The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm

I looked into my pantry today and found rye flour, whole wheat flour, rice flour, barley flour, cake flour, pizza flour, and high gluten flour for making bagels but no bread flour.  So, like ApplePie, I decided to go flour shopping.


I didn't visit a mill, instead hitting the local Cash & Carry, which carries a number of different brands of flour, the most noteable of which is Pendleton Flour Mills.  I was pleased that this time they had 25 pound bags of flour for under 10 bucks, so I picked up one bag of their unbleached Morbread flour, which I've been quite satisfied with in the past.  They had their Power high gluten flour, their semolina flour, and their pizza flour blends too, which I'm quite tempted to try next time.


So now I've just mixed up my first batch of Anis Bouabsa's baguettes and will set up a sourdough to ferment overnight tonight as well.  It is nice to have the rainy weather back... perfect for hanging around the house, reading, and baking!

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Floydm

I made bagels this morning using some of the General Mills All Trumps High Gluten Flour I'd ordered from NYBakers.  They turned out well.





With cream cheese and a tomato picked fresh from the garden this morning they were delicious.

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Floydm

Beautiful spring weather in Oregon this year so I've been spending a lot of time outside and away from the oven. I did bake some delicious sourdough boules yesterday though.



In other news, the local berry stand down the block opened today. 



I'm looking forward to being able to pick up cheap flats of damaged jam berries soon and making Strawberry Freezer Jam, probably my favorite thing to put on fresh bread.

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Floydm

I need to update both the features on the homepage.  Any nominees?  Even though it isn't a brand new thread, I'm thinking about David's post on Anis Bouabsa's baguettes since I keep seeing folks trying that formula and being pleased with it and I've been meaning to try it too.  Maybe a rye post too?  Or a SD post?  I'm open to suggestions.

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Floydm

Things have been very busy for me lately.  One of the more exciting things has been finally launching the new Mercy Corps website, which we've been working on for some time.  I'm very pleased with how it came out and urge folks to go check it out.


Traffic here has been nuts.  Last month TFL had over 1 million page views, which is an incredible figure.  There were a lot of factors involved in that: an increased interest in bread baking, an increased interest in doing things to save money as a result of the economic downturn, a couple of lucky placements in StumbleUpon, and a number of lively discussions going on here.  I do expect traffic to ebbs as the weather in the Northern Hemisphere turns nicer and more folks turn to their gardens to save money rather than their ovens, but we definitely have a new high watermark.


Despite all this, I have baked some.  Pizza two weekends ago.


Pizza dough


Pizza with sauce


Pizza with cheese


I tried tinkering with Jeff Varasano's trick of setting the oven on self-clean to preheat my stone.  Sure enough, after about 5 minutes on clean my oven locked itself and I had to turn it off for 15 minutes before it cooled down enough that I could open it and turn it back on.  I've not yet made the decision to try clipping the safety, but I'm thinking about it (insert standard disclaimer about "do not try this at home" here).


The pizza still turned out well at 550.


The pizza is done


Last weekend I made the obligatory batch of hot cross buns.


Hot Cross Buns


Yummy as always.

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Floydm

I baked two loaves today.


Two loaves of bread


The white loaf is a sourdough dough I prepared on Wednesday while working from home.  I wanted to see if I kept a sourdough in the fridge for 4 days would it still bake up well.



For the most part, it did.  You can see a bit of compression near the bottom, and in the center there were definitely some thick gummy parts.  I think if I tried it again I would make a smaller shape, but I was impressed that it came out so well after all that time. 


The other loaf is a 100% whole wheat loaf I made using a recipe from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.


whole wheat bread


The whole wheat flour was sent to me by flourgirl51, who sells freshly milled organic flour at www.organicwheatproducts.com.  The bread is good.  100% whole wheat is a bit much for my kids, so I probably will have to eat most of this loaf myself, but I certainly can see how if you are into whole grain breads you'd want to either mill the flour yourself or find a good vendor that mills it fresh.  The freshly milled flour is significantly more flavorful.

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Floydm

I worked from home Wednesday and used it as an opportunity to refresh my starter and bake a couple of loaves.


The dough I made was a "little of this and that" dough.  I threw some leftover mashed potatoes in, the last couple of ounces of a bag of rye flour I had, a bit of whole wheat flour from another bag I needed to use up, and a couple of cups of AP flours.  I made the dough very wet, 70+ percent hydration.


I folded a few times throughout the morning and tried to shape a couple of freeform loaves in the early afternoon.  It was amazingly sticky.  No amount of water on my hands or flour on my board (or vice-versa) was working for me. 


After 10 minutes of sticking and swearing and being about ready to dump it into the compost, I dumped the gobs into a couple of loaf pans.  Two hours later, I came downstairs to the kitchen and was pleasantly surprised by how much it had risen in a loaf pan despite the way I had abused it.  So I baked them.



sourdough loaf


Not my most beautiful loaf, but pretty darned good.  I don't think anyone else but me could tell this was not what I'd intended to make.  And the sourdough flavor was tremendous: the extra abuse and longer rises let it develop more.

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Floydm

I recently set up m.thefreshloaf.com so that I could monitor the site while away from the computer.  It isn't perfect, but it works fairly well on cell phones or other portable devices like the Kindle


I'll be surprised if there is a huge audience for this but, then again, it could be handy if you want to pull up a recipe or a photo of one of your recent bakes when you are over at someone else's house.

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Floydm

Very wet here this weekend.  Good for rainbows...



and also good for baking!


I made buttermilk cinnamon rolls this afternoon...



and a couple of loaves of my daily bread to eat with a big pot of soup this evening.



Lovely.

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Floydm

A busy morning today.  First up was a birthday party for my son at a local rollerskating rink.  The high point was the Spy vs. Spy theme cake that dstroy decorated:



Based on this image.  Note that the wick of the bomb was a candle.


After that it was over to Tastebud, where Peter Reinhart was meeting with a bunch of Portlanders who are testing the recipes for his upcoming book.



I met a number of his testers and tried a few of their creations, which were all good.  As I said in my previous post, I'm looking forward to trying the new set of recipes they are coming up with.


We also tried some of the wood oven bagels that they make at Tastebud.



Delicious, dense, shiny, and chewy, definitely the best bagels I've had in Portland. 


Tastebud is walking distance from the apartment I lived in in college and where we lived when we got married.  Sigh... if only it had been there when I lived in the neighborhood, back when "weekend mornings" meant "brunch," not "cartoons."  Oh well...

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