The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Here's my story about changing my house bread because of wanting to share olive oil.

We brought back 10 litres of freshly-pressed olive oil from a press in my parents' home town in Italy, and we wanted to share it with friends.  Not having enough small flip-top bottles in the house, I bought some beer for the resealable bottles.  I don't drink beer, so I thought I'd use it up making some bread.  I was cautious, going 50-50 beer-water on my house bread formula.

Here's the beer I used:

After a bit of tweaking, here's the formula I used:

 Bakers %2400 gramsPoolishRemainder
AP50515129386
Rye2525864193
WW2525864193
Old dough *33340 340
Water35361258103
Beer35361 361
Oil10103 103
Salt221 21
Seeds **15155 155
Fresh yst331823
 233   

* - 70% hydration pâte fermentée

** - pumpkin seeds, since they're what happened to be in the pantry

First, the poolish - before....

... and four hours later:

Mix up the rest of the ingredients, autolyse for ~20 minutes, knead until smooth, then bulk ferment in the fridge for about 16 hours, with the odd fold when I'd remember (2-3 times).

Next was shape and proof (~60 minutes at room temp on top of fridge), and into the oven....

.... for 500F (~8 minutes) with steam, followed by 400F for about 45 minutes until the crust was to my liking.

Here's the loaves....

.... and here's the crumb.

How much different was it from the regular house bread?  Only the slightest hint of the pilsner was tastable in the latest version.  I've been using it for sandwiches through the week with strong cheese, as well as with salmon salad, to good effect.

Maybe the next try will be with 100% beer hydration.

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I know I've been concentrating on going low (on yeast) and slow (on the ferment) with my breads to improve the quality/flavour.  Sometimes, though, life intervenes.  I managed to use some of what I've learned here and elsewhere to get a reasonable quality bread ready very quickly.


I found out a friend of the family was in the hospital, waiting to fly out of town for surgery, and I wanted to do something.  My sweetie dropped by, and she got to talking with my friend's partner about my bread.  My friend's partner said he'd heard of my olive-cheese bread, and my sweetie committed.  Problem:  plane's leaving day after next!  Had to have a batch ready from a standing start after work by the end of the same evening for next-morning drop-off.


While I know it will be considered sacrilege to the "low and slow" doctrine, I had to speed up fermentation, so I cranked up the instant yeast from my usual 0.5% for a slow overnight ferment in the fridge to a wild-and-crazy 2.5%.  To counteract at least some of the flavour effects of the quick ferment, I threw in some old dough I keep in the fridge (70% hydration).  Here's the final formula I used (PDF) in both grams and ounces.


I mixed, autolysed, kneaded and fermented for about 75-90 minutes at about 70 F/21 C.  I then divided the dough into 2 x 750g/24 ounce loaves, rested, shaped and proofed for about 60 minutes at about about 70 F/21 C.


Into a steamed oven at 510F for 8 minutes, followed by 400F for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature is about 205F.


Here's the result:




Crust was outstanding and crumb (batteries ran out before I could get the crumb shot) was great.  I couldn't detect any yeasty taste in spite of the extra yeast I added.  I think that's because of the old dough and the strongish flavour of the add-ins (I used green spicy olives and smoked Gouda).


I'm told my friend's partner enjoyed the bread - mission accomplished, especially if it distracts him a bit from his sweetie's suffering and waiting.


Sometimes you have to break the rules to meet the needs of real life,  If you know the rules reasonably well, though, you can find ways to make the best of a less-than-perfect situation.

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I was inspired by how simple this 1-2-3 Sourdough recipe was,  but my first try was less than successful (OK taste, but dense brick crumb).  So, taking the advice everyone was kind enough to offer, I tried again.


I used the same levain (100% hydration, nothing but water and Brule Creek Farms dark rye flour).  I keep it in the fridge, so I took it out and fed-and-dumped it once a day for three days until I had a doming rise and levain that (according to the Tartine test) floated in water.


Based on previous advice, I started with more all-purpose flour and less rye than my first try to give the loaves more of a chance - here's the formula I used (PDF).  This led to a dough with an overall hydration of about 71%, something I'm used to.  I mixed the ingredients, and left them to ferment for about 15 hours (before I went to bed, 6 hours after mixing the dough, it had risen maybe 20%, so I left it overnight at about 64F - this led to dough that had more than doubled overnight.


Next day, formed the dough into boules, and set myself to proof the dough for 4-5 hours.  Two hours later, though, the dough looked risen enough, and passed the "poke and 1/2 way back" test...



... so I scored them...



... and loaded them into the oven.  They baked at 500F for about 5 minutes (steam with water squirted on the inside wall of the oven), then 30 minutes at 400F.  Here's what they looked like right out of the oven....



... a FAR cry from my first attempt:



After letting it cool, the crumb & taste test:



Although not as airy as some sourdoughs I see, I'm very happy with the crumb.  The sourness is about mid-range:  not the sourest I've tasted, but not subtle.  I think I'll be using this to accompany strongish lunch meats or cheese.


It was about 14 hours between the last feed before the dough and my using it - I wonder if using it sooner might make the sourness a bit more subtle?  Don't get me wrong - I like the reasonably assertive, but not overwhelming tang, but I'm thinking of ways to make it a bit less tangy.


Thanks to everyone who helped me get to this point - I'll let you know how future loaves turn out.

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I was inspired by those trying to improve the grigne on their bread by using metal bowls or aluminum baking tins to cover their loaves.  Since I was doing a batch of "local rye", I thought I'd give it a try myself.


Here's the formula I used (PDF) to make 3 x 750g/24oz boules using locally grown and milled Brule Creek Farms Dark Rye (40% of total flour) and Partially Sifted (60%) flours.  I used locally-produced cracked wheat instead of cracked rye because that's all I had in the house.


- Mixed poolish and let it ferment ~20 hours:  1/2 at room temp, 1/2 at fridge temp.


- Mixed fermented poolish with remaining ingredients, "autolysed" for 15 minutes, kneaded then fridge fermented the dough for ~24 hours (rose about 1.75x instead of double).


- Divided and shaped dough, followed by 90 minute proof at room temp.


- Sprayed water on the boules and slashed before I loaded them into the oven.


- Into the oven onto a baking stone (with a mixing bowl over one of the loaves) at 500F with steam for 5 minutes, followed by another 55 minutes at 400F - internal temperature ended up being 205F.


Here are the results - the uncovered loaves ....



.... versus the covered loaf



Crust on covered loaf was OK, but NOWHERE near as crusty as the uncovered loaves.  Also, note the broader grigne on the uncovered loaves compared to the more delicate pattern (as well as cracks in the crust) on the covered loaf.  These are all gift loaves, so no crumb shots from this batch.


I'm satisified with the look of the regular uncovered loaves (unlike my herniated ones in the past), and I'm not worried about the flavour based on previous batches, so they're all good enough to give away as gifts.  Any feedback to improve the look of the covered boule in this instance, though, would be greatly appreciated.

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Retaurants have house wines - the reasonably decent go-to when you can't make up your mind - so why can't I have a "house bread" as a fall-back standard when I can't figure out what else to make?


I'm trying (so far unsuccessfully) to get onto the sourdough/levain train, but my strength so far seems to be straight dough formulas.  Nonetheless, I wanted a bit of pre-ferment action, so I've adopted a dual-use strategy with one of my previous fads.


I love the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes" concept, and I've baked  some very decent (for the technique) bread from it.  I've outgrown the concept (even though I heartily endorse it for people who are afraid to bake their own bread because it seems so finicky), I got into the habit of keeping a batch in the fridge.  Well, since it's a 70% hydration dough, with salt, proofed and gluten developed, I now use it as a pâte fermentée (PF) pre-ferment to help boost the flavour of other loaves I do.


I have a range of flours around the house, so I thought I'd throw together some of what I like together:  1/2 all purpose (I use Robin Hood unbleached, but better flour=better results), 1/4 locally grown and stone ground whole wheat, and 1/4 locally grown/stoneground dark rye


I mixed some seed and other crunchies (flax, sunflower, millet, cracked rye and cracked wheat) to give the bread a bit of character.  LESSON LEARNED:  I throw them dry into the mix because when I tried soaking the seeds (cold water, overnight in fridge), it made the dough WAY wetter than I was happy with.


My straight doughs tend to be around 70% hydration.  Because the pre-ferment is a 70% PF, I thought I'd keep the math dead simple with my straight doughs, so that's what I settled for.


The resulting formula for 2 x 750g/24oz loaves is here (PDF).  I "melt" the pâte fermentée in the water and use a kitchen stick blender to blend it even more before adding it to the dry ingredients to make it an easier, more uniform mix.  Autolyse for about 10 minutes, knead until smooth, and ferment for about 60 minutes at room temperature (sometimes, when I ferment it overnight in the fridge, I cut the instant yeast by 1/2).  Next, shape and bench proof for another 60 minutes.  After the slash, into a 500F oven (sprayed with the ketchup bottle full of water for steam) for 5 minutes, followed by 40 minutes at 400F.  The loaves should be around 200F internal temperature when done.


The results:



 


I like the crumb, and it's a nice, wheaty taste.  I may fine tune it a bit, but I love this as an easy-to-do everyday bread.

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I've tried Bertinet's beer poolish bread in the past (also seen here), so I thought I'd try a bit of a variation on the theme - adding just a bit more non-white flour.


Here's the formula I ended up developing:



  • AP flour                85

  • WW flour                  5

  • Dark rye flour          5

  • Whole spelt flour     5

  • Water                    54

  • Beer                      14

  • Salt                        1

  • Instant yeast        0.5


Based on that formula, I calculated these figures (PDF) for 3 x 750g/24oz loaves of bread.  Here's the beer I used for the poolish, a darkish Alexander Keith's Red Amber Ale:



I prepared the poolish and let it develop at room temperature for 11 hours overnight, then mixed it with the rest of the ingredients and let it all ferment for about 90 minutes (it was about doubled in volume).  Shaped the loaves, let them proof another 90 minutes, slash, then into the oven - 500F with steam (ketchup bottle water squirt X 2 to the oven walls) for 5 minutes, then down to 400F for another 40 minutes.  Loaves came out with an internal temperature of between 200F and 205F.


Here's the results:




Nice grain flavour, with only the very slightest hint of beer taste.  Nicer crumb than I've had in similar breads I've done.  I'm planning on trying this toasted on a grill with raw garlic rubbed on it, followed by some olive oil and salt, with home-made pasta tonight.

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Living in the nordic climate of northern Ontario, I was pleasantly surprised a few years ago when a local flour mill started operation.  Brule Creek Farms takes locally-grown grain and stone grinding it.  I've enjoyed using the whole wheat, partially sifted and other BCF products, but I was VERY happy to see rye flour join the range of products being sold.  I like making rye, so I thought I'd try out an "all local flour" rye recipe.


My general approach:  60-40 split of regular (in this case, partially sifted instead of all-purpose) to dark rye flour, starting with a poolish to get some pre-ferment flavour, and long, slow proofing in the fridge (to allow me to bake in the evening during the work week).   Here's the final formula for a 750g/24 oz. loaf (PDF).


I prepared the poolish and let it grow for 12 hours at room temperature, then slowed down in the fridge for another 8.  Next, I mixed the poolish with the other ingredients, autolysed for ~25 minutes, then kneaded and let the dough ferment in the fridge for 12 hours.  Finally, shaped the loaves and let them proof for about 90 minutes before baking them in a 425F oven for 45 minutes (internal temperature to 200F).  I do the longer bake in a medium oven because I like my rye with a softer crust and a somewhat finer crumb.


The results (yeah, I blew it by proofing the loaves too close to each other):



Here's the "crumb shots":




Softish rye, with a very hearty taste.  Loved it!


I'm working on a liquid levain using the dark rye, so maybe the next version will be a TOTALLY local (including the yeasts) rye.

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