The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hansjoakim

There were no loaves in my previous blog post, so I guess it's time to make things right again.


I still have some dried fruit and different nuts lying over from various Christmas projects, and with my chronic sweet tooth, I just couldn't resist putting them to good use as soon as possible. I mixed two batches of Hamelman's "Whole-wheat Bread with Hazelnuts and Currants" (p. 124). In the first batch, I replaced the currants with chopped prunes and shaped four mini batards. For the second batch, I used walnuts and chopped dates instead of hazelnuts and currants, and shaped regular batards. Some of the mini batards and a crumb shot of the walnut-date bread is shown below:


Whole-wheat bread with dates and walnuts


An instant classic in my book, especially the walnut-date combination. The dough has a relatively high hydration (73%), so the crumb is open and light. It's made slightly buttery by the walnuts and the dates add a rather sophisticated sweetness to the bread. It's also pretty good when toasted (trust me).


I've also been baking my everyday pain au levain:


Pain au levain with whole-wheat flour


 


A couple of days ago I came across a book called "Technologie der Backwarenherstellung" by Claus Schünemann and Günter Treu. I don't recall how I got there, it was probably the result of some oddball Google search, but I eventually ended up at Google Books, which has a limited preview of this German title. It appears to be a textbook for the budding German baker, and I found some interesting bits regarding Detmolder sourdoughs. My German is getting increasingly rusty, but I managed to extract some information from the preview at Google Books. I was particularly looking for information regarding the simple Detmolder one-step build, and found a table that will come in handy. The book gives a table with recommended amount of prefermented flour, based on the overall flour combination of the dough. That is listed in the left table below. The column "Rye sourdough" gives the amount of total flour that should be prefermented for the specified rye:wheat combination. The "Prefermented rye" column gives the corresponding amount of rye flour that is put into the sourdough. The book also gives figures for what level of inoculation should be used in a Detmolder one-step build as a function of the average temperature of the sourdough during ripening. That is listed in the right table below.


DEF table


I decided to try out these numbers, and baked my favourite rye (click here for David's complete write-up) based on the above two tables. This loaf is a 70% rye, so I prefermented 28% of the total flour (before: 35%), and inoculated the sourdough with 15% of my ripe, white starter (it's bitingly cold here these days...*brr*... and neither me nor my starter like it).


The bread turned out really good I think! The crumb is not quite as open as before, but the loaf profile is comparatively taller. No distinct differences with regards to taste. The one thing I did notice, was that the mixed dough was a lot less sticky than what I'm used to. Not very surprising probably, since the total amount of prefermented flour is reduced. This is my "other everyday" bread, so there'll be plenty of time to experiment with temperatures, proofing times and formula variables to optimise the loaf.


70 percent rye


 


Finally, for dessert, a chocolate cake with luscious hazelnut cream (that was the rest of my hazelnuts...):


Chocolate hazelnut cake

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hansjoakim

Some dough this week, but no loaves!


I wanted to indulge in something special, and found a delicious recipe for salmon en croute in a cookbook. The recipe called for shortdough, but I wanted to pack the fish in puff pastry instead. I didn't have any leftover puff in the freezer, so I had to get an early start and haul out the rolling pin. I tend to opt for five single turns whenever I make puff; two single folds back to back immediately after enclosing the butter block. The dough is then chilled approx. 45 mins., before a series of three single folds is given. I usually give the dough 45 mins. resting time between folds, perhaps up to an hour before the final fold. Below I'm in the middle of the fifth fold, giving the dough a brief rest before finishing.


Rolling puff pastry


And below's the completed puff (*phew!!*), right after the fifth fold. I try to keep a 1cm thickness of the rolled out dough during lamination.


Completed puff pastry


 


Some hours later (giving the pastry a chance to relax), I roll 400 gr. puff pastry into a rectangle, 3mm thick. Two salmon filets, sandwiched with herb butter and coarse mustard, are placed smack centre:


Salmon on puff pastry


...and the dough is folded around the fish. Get the seams underneath, then chill briefly to relax the pastry:


Salmon en croute


 


The package is baked for approx. 30 mins. at 200dC. I enjoyed the salmon with broccoli and herbed potatoes:


Salmon en croute


Absolutely delicious...!!

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hansjoakim

You know, the old "ice-cubes-in-a-hot-skillet" routine is soooo...like...last summer, isn't it? ;)


I was sitting in a sauna a couple of weeks ago, pondering nothing in particular, when this large, heavy-breathing guy shuffled down to the hot rocks, threw water on them, and climbed back up to his favourite spot. Watching the sudden burst of steam rising from the hot rocks lead from one thing to another, and I eventually picked up some small rocks on my way back home, thinking I could put them to good use for my next baking session. I put them in an old, disused bread pan, and placed them on the bottom floor of the oven.


Steaming apparatus


 


I also noticed I was running low on my bread flour (ah! The horror... the horror...), so I ran over to my grocery store, credit card in hand, ready to score more. This being the festive season and all, and many folks busy baking all kinds of butter cookies I guess, they were out of my regular flour. Well, I picked up two bags of flour from another producer and went back home. This flour has an extraction rate of 80% and an ash around .68, so it contains some more minerals than my usual flour (which is extracted at 75% and has an ash .55). This new one is probably not too far off a French T65 style flour. Both flours are pretty similar in protein content: 11.7% vs. 12%. During the first couple of feedings, I noticed a marked increase in starter activity (probably not very surprising, due to the increased mineral content), and where the starter previously ripened in 12 hrs., it now looked fit and perky after merely 8.


Earlier today I had my first test run with the rock-steaming-thing in the oven, and I baked a whole-wheat pain au levain:


Levain new steam


 


and the 5-grain levain, both from "Bread":


5 grain levain new steam


And the crumb shot:


5 grain levain new steam


I was very happy with the outcome, and I think the new flour also lends even more taste to the breads. I guess I don't have any other option but to make the change permanent! Also, the new method of producing steam generated generous amounts of steam initially, and kept the surface of the breads moist until they were both fully expanded, roughly 15 mins. into the bake. Then I hauled the bread pan out, so the loaves could finish baking in a dry oven.


Finally, something for the coffee! I'm not much of a cookie baker, but it's that time of year, isn't it? Out with the Santa beard and the cookie recipes! Here's this years' bake:


Oat and date chews and cornmeal-raisin cookies
Oat and date chews and cornmeal-raisin cookies


 


Hazelnut butter cookies and double chocolate biscotti


Hazelnut butter cookies and double chocolate biscotti


 


Chewy trail cookies and chocolate chip cookies


Chewy trail cookies and chocolate chip cookies

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hansjoakim

The last few weeks have been really busy, as I've been preparing my thesis defense, and as a result, my once spoiled starter has faced long, dreary days in the unforgiving cold of the fridge. After three weeks of neglect, it didn't look too perky to tell you the truth. After completing the hardship, I pulled it out four days ago, and started nursing it with nice, cosy, warm water, fresh AP flour and liberal sprinklings of rye flour. It bounced back and took to its old self within a day, so either its short-term memory is pretty bad, or I'm overtly concerned about its state of health... ;)


Anyway, here are the three first breads I baked with it after pulling it from semi-retirement. There's a sourdough rye with walnuts and hazelnuts in the back, and Hamelman's whole-wheat pain au levain and 5-grain levain in front. I promised to bring these along to my parents later today, so I apologise for the lack of crumb shots!


Breads from "Bread"


 


Here's another formula that's kept me going: It's partly inspired by a recipe in Jan Hedh's latest bread book, but I've changed it a bit to make it somewhat lighter. This is a raisin & walnut bread, that's made with a poolish with some rye in it, and with some scalded whole wheat and whole rye flours. Below is the mise en place; scalded flour to the upper right, and the lovely fragrant poolish on the bottom. Much as I love the smell of sourdoughs fermenting, I'm still inclined to say that a poolish smells even better...


Raisin and walnuts


 


Here are the fully proofed, shaped loaves,


Raisin and walnuts


and the crumb. Just my kind of bread.


Raisin and walnuts



And, finally, here's the formula if anyone's interested (just a snapshot from my spreadsheet). Scald flour and allow the poolish to ripen approx. 16 hrs. 2 hrs. bulk fermentation, with fold after 1 hr. Final proof just shy of 1 hr.

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hansjoakim

I was inspired by Eric's medieval bread and wanted to try something different with Hamelman's oatbread. I ended up with a medieval bread/Pain de Beaucaire hybrid... I first shaped two baguettes of the oatbread dough. The two vertical sides of the baguettes were brushed with water, and the outer edge dipped in rolled oats. The inner side was partly sprinkled with coarse rye flour, and the baguettes shaped as below:


Oatbread


The idea was to sprinkle coarse flour on the inner side to avoid the dough proofing/baking together. Also, avoid sprinkling flour on the very ends: You want some wet dough on each side so you can splice them together in the end.


Here's the baked loaves/baguettes:


Oatbread


Lots of flavourful crust, and it's fun to try something different :)


Oatbread

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Everyone's got a little Holden Caulfield in them, I presume?


I thought I should put up some of the recent loaves I've baked, and first are two 40% rye boules that are loosely based on Hamelman's flaxseed rye with old bread soaker. David, Eric and myself loved the original recipe, and David put up a detailed breakdown of it on his blog (by the way, reading through David's blog entry again, I believe that the blog entry should list fresh yeast, not instant). This time, I wanted to combine the complex flavour of the stale bread soaker and acidity of the sourdough with something sweet. I have a hopeless, irrepairable sweet tooth, so that's why!


The sweetness I had in mind was something along the lines of the classic Borodinsky rye. I've made some Borodinskies before, and I've found a combination of coriander seeds, honey and barley malt extract to be truly divine. So, I started with Hamelman's recipe for the flaxseed rye, and a) omitted the flax altogether, and b) reduced the overall hydration to 70%. Then, c) added 1% coarsely crushed coriander seeds, and d) 3% honey and 3% barley malt extract. I also omitted the (optional) seed coating mentioned in Hamelman's formula.


I shaped two 1kg boules, and let one proof as usual in a brotform, and let the other proof seam side down. Due to honey and barley malt extract, I watched the dough carefully during final proof, and found that 45 - 50 mins. was sufficient for my dough. I also found that the crust quickly gained colour during the bake (also due to honey and the malt extract), so I reduced the temperature a bit quicker than usual. I ended up with 250dC the first 10 mins. (with steam) and then gradually lowered the temperature towards 205dC for 35 mins. more. Total baking time approx. 45 mins. I wanted a dark, thick crust, a deep, nutty brown colour, that will enhance the overall aroma of the loaves. So if you want to try it, don't shy away from giving it a full bake, but do watch it. You want nutty brown, not charcoal black :)


40 percent rye


40 percent rye


A friend of mine requested a Vollkornbrot, so I baked him the one from "Bread", shown on below on the right. No crumb shot unfortunately... but he said it satisfied his Vollkorn cravings, so I take that as a good sign. Below on the left is Hamelman's sourdough rye with raisins and walnuts. Sweet tooth again, I know...


Sourdough rye with raisins and walnuts


I shaped it as a "viverais": This shape is shown in Suas' ABAP, and on p. 13 in this .pdf. You shape it into a batard and (yes, this step had me hesitating a few seconds - mangling that pretty batard...) divide it in seven pieces by cutting two X's in the dough. Pretty harsh treatment, I agree, but the loaf did recover some during final proof, and the separated pieces baked together nicely in the oven. It produced an appealing, rustic look, I think!


PS: A slice of this is a perfect match for goat cheese.


Sourdough rye with raisins and walnuts

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I remember rustic bread from "Bread" being a staple in my kitchen before I got started with levains and sourdough breads. It's a clean, wholesome bread, and it's over a year since I'd made his rustic bread, so the time was ripe for another attempt.


I wanted to try some different shapes as well, so I divided the dough in two, both weighing 750 gr. each. One was shaped as an ordinary batard, and the other piece was cut into smaller dough chunks, and shaped into mini-batards and the tabatiere and pain d'Aix shapes shown in ABAP.


Below are two shots of the bakes: Front left are some mini-batards rolled in flax, sesame and oat bran. To the right, at the very back is the tabatiere, and in front of that, the pain d'Aix shape. Fun to make, and nice to mix things up a bit :)


I had certainly forgotten how nice this formula is. I think it more or less equals many pain au levain recipes - absolutely delicious with a thin layer of honey and a cup of freshly brewed coffee.


Rustic bread


 


 


Rustic bread

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Jan Hedh, the Swedish bread, pastry and chocolate master, has recently put out his second bread book; the new one is titled "Bröd & kaffebröd" ("Bread and pastries"). I've just picked it up, and baked the first loaf from that book this weekend. It's an inspiring book, written in a style similar to his first bread book, but this one's filled with even more gorgeous photos. Hedh is passionate about bread, and provides detailed recipes for several European style hearth loaves and for breakfast pastries (mostly croissant, Danish and sweet dough oriented stuff).


I decided to try his "country bread from Bayern" first, mostly because of the lovely photo of it in his book :) Hedh doesn't provide any bakers %, so I used a spreadsheet to get the figures. I decided to adjust the recipe a bit (it looked awfully dry, and slightly heavy on caraway seeds), so I ended up with something like: 50% whole spelt flour, 20% whole rye, 30% AP flour. The original hydration was at approx. 62%, so I increased that to 70%. It could've been even higher, I think. I used approx. 1% caraway seeds, and put the whole rye flour in a rye sourdough. I baked it this morning together with some croissants and other pastries shaped from the croissant dough:


Bread and pastries


I think the loaf turned out alright - it rose nicely in the oven, and smelled deliciously of caraway and earthy wheat/spelt. The flavour is similar to that of a mostly whole-wheat bread, but the rye and caraway makes it a bit more exciting. Filling and delicious with hard cheese!


The mandatory crumbshot (I know people get upset if there's no shot of the crumb, so here you go!) reveals a pretty dense crumb, so next time I'll increase the hydration further and perhaps see what a poolish+rye sourdough can do to loosen it up a bit.
Bread and pastries

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Here are some of the breads baked over the last couple of weeks:


First is a pain au levain with whole-wheat (p. 160 in "Bread"):


Pain au Levain


The original formula is great and it's a very nice dough for practicing folding, shaping and different slashes. It's a pleasure to see the cuts open up and bloom during oven spring, and the subtle flavour works well with just about anything. One of my all-time favourite loaves that I keep making often!


Below is a photo of a levain stuffed with dark raisins:


Raisin levain


The loaf is based on the formula for "Golden Raisin Bread" in Hamelman's book (p. 172), but I made this without commercial yeast, and with 25% prefermented flour from the levain instead. I found a 2hr. bulk ferment and an overnight retardation to work well, and I soaked the raisins in water prior to mixing, so they should not rob moisture from the dough. I like the addition of rolled oats in the formula, which works great with the raisins.


Finally, yesterday I made a flax seed rye with an old bread soaker (click here for Hamelman's recipe). It's a 40% whole-rye loaf, with a healthy dose of flax seeds. I omitted the commercial yeast here as well, and instead lengthened the final proof to 1 hr 45 mins. I would also like to add that my sourdough was fully ripe after approx. 12 hrs, so I did not let it go the full 16 hrs as suggested in the formula. I also had to add some water to get the desired degree of stickiness - I'm guessing an 82 - 83% overall hydration is right for my flour. After final shaping, the loaf was rolled in a mix of sesame, flax and caraway seeds, and placed with the seam side down (i.e. seed side up) in a brotform. Below is a photo of just after final shape (left) and just prior to baking (right):


Flaxseed rye proof


Here's the loaf just after pulling it from the oven - once again baked with the seam side up (seeded side down):


Flaxseed rye


... and here's the crumb:


Flaxseed rye


I think it's a very nice formula that produces a loaf with a deep flavour and a slight sour tang. It keeps for days due to the high hydration, and is a solid every-day sort of bread. Recommended!


Finally, two fruit desserts this week: A galette (using cream cheese pie dough) with nectarines and blueberries:


Galette


... and a charlotte with raspberry bavarian cream (and the remaining blueberries):


Charlotte


 

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The cover of "Bread" and plate 21 "Assorted Rye Breads from Chapter 6" depict a delicious, rustic looking rye bread that's not slashed. I love the look of this dark, "lava rock" with deep fissures running in random lines along the top of the bread. I wanted to bake a loaf with similar cracks on top, so I prepared the dough for my favourite 70% rye. I'm using medium rye flour, and pre-ferment half of the rye in a sourdough. The remaining 30% is AP flour. I do not put any commercial yeast in this one, so it's important that the rye sourdough is ripe before mixing the final dough. I try to keep this one pretty wet, and usually aim for a hydration around 75%. I mix it very gently in the mixer, approx. 3 mins. on 1st speed followed by 1.5 mins. to 2 mins. on 2nd speed. The dough has some strength to it, although it's more like a thick paste than a "proper" dough at this stage.


Without commercial yeast, I've found 1hr. bulk and 2 hr. final proof to work well for this dough. You know your sour best, however, so these times might be too long or too short for your culture. So: Poke before loading :)


To get the fissures on top, I did the final proof with the seam side down in the brotform. Here's the dough just after final shaping:


70 percent rye


And here are two snaps of the final loaf after 60 mins. in the oven - first 15 mins @ 250dC then 45 mins at temperature gradually falling to 205dC.


70 percent rye


I really like the way the loaf turned out. There's some rustic, unique look to it that I love. As I mentioned, this is probably my favourite rye formula as well - a very simple recipe that has a clean taste and a notable sour due to the longer proofing time, and a loaf that keeps very well with the relatively high hydration. It's a bit tricky to work with, but the crumb and flavour make it worth the extra effort.


70 percent rye


Added Sep. 13th:


Craving more, yesterday I baked the sourdough rye with walnuts from "Bread". This is a 50% whole-rye flour recipe with a substantial amount of walnuts - the walnuts weigh in at 25% of the overall flour weight. I had some lovely chevre already in the fridge, so there was really no excuse not to bake the walnut rye. Five minutes prior to mixing, however, I realised that I was just slightly short on walnuts. I added some pine nuts to get the desired 25% weight. The nuts were lightly toasted, and I followed the procedure for the 70% rye loaf above: a) AP flour instead of high-gluten flour, b) made away with the commercial yeast and increased final proof to 2 hrs., and c) increased the overall hydration from 68% to 75%. Initially I thought 68% would be terribly dry for this kind of dough, so I aimed at 72% at first. Even that didn't cut it, so I gradually mixed in more water until I reached 75% hydration and the desired stickiness. Once again, baked seams side up:


Sourdough rye with walnuts


The crumb was nice and tender, and the whole-rye flour provides a more notable rye taste than if medium rye would've been used.

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