The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ilan

It’s been a while since my last post. I didn’t post anything because I was lazy… I did bake, a lot. From bread, flat bread, pizza and more (next blog entry will be on one of them).


Today, I will continue with my sandwich bread. The recipe is not so different from the previous one, but this time I reduced the amount of yeast by half, added more sugar, and changed the ratio of water & milk. Nothing fancy here, but it taste good.


I love sweet basil, and a pesto made out of it is an excellent addition to a lot of dishes.


So bread filled with it, will be fantastic to eat with a tomato salad with some mozzarella cheese.


In the past, I did add pesto to my dough during kneading, but the bread was not as good as I expected.


This time I decided the filling will go into pocket in the dough. 


What I did is basically braided bread and each of the braids is filled with my pesto. This time, to fulfill my curiosity, I went for 2 halves, each is braided out of two strands and then shaped into a circle. Both halves were placed together to create one bread.


 


The Recipe:


The filling:


A bunch of fresh sweet basil leaves


1 claw of Garlic


Few pine nuts


A walnut or two


A pecan nut or two


2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese


¼ cup of Olive oil


Salt and paper (prefer the coarse salt – will help grinding the other ingredients)


Crush all ingredients in a food processor (or pestle and mortar) until you have a smooth mixture.



The bread:


-      3 1/4 cups flour


-      1 ½ teaspoons of yeast


-      1 tablespoon sugar


-      ½ cup of milk


-      ¾ cup of water


-       1 egg


-       3 tablespoons of olive oil


 


Mix the yeast, milk and sugar, wait 5-10 minutes


Add the flour and water and kneed for 5 minutes, add salt, egg and olive oil, kneed for another 5 minutes.


Let rise for 60 minutes


Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water (or milk) into a unified mixture and let rest for 20 minutes.


Add the salt Pecans and Pumpkin seeds knead for 10 minutes. Let rise for 60 minutes.


Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, form a long strand from each.


Use a rolling pin to spread each strand (make some room for the filling), fill each with the pesto and roll (see pictures below).


From each pair of rolled strands, form a braid, and then roll it like a snail.


Put both parts in the form, let them touch, we want them to become a single bread.


Let rise for 40-60 minutes or until it doubles in size.


Bake in high temperature with steam for 15 minutes (240c)


Reduce the heat (180-170c) and remove the steam, bake for another 40 minutes.


The process:



 


 


The outcome:



Until the next post


Ilan


 

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ilan

My path of research in bread making led me another step. This week I made yet another sandwich-bread and added different stuff into it.


I saw that in the several recipes most of the liquid in such bread consist of milk. It should make the bread richer in flavor as milk in oppose to water have a taste and in addition it contain some percent of fat.


All is good and well in theory. I already baked bread with water and bread with milk.


This time, I made two batches of the same recipe but in the second I replaced 2/3 of the liquid with milk.


Both bread looked almost the same. If there was any visual difference I failed to see it.


The crust on the milk bread was softer while the one with water was crunchier. There is a meaningful difference… I like both.


Another thing I wanted was thinner crust. So instead of baking at high temp with steam for 15 minutes (as I done in my previous bread) I reduce the time to 10 minute. The crust was good but thinner.


 To enrich the bread I added Pecans and Pumpkin seeds to the dough and sprinkled the top of the bread with Sunflower & Pumpkin seeds.


I didn’t use any preferment here, It was aimed to be a quick bread making. So, I used 3 teaspoons of yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar. This reduced raise time to 1 hour + 1 hour. I must try this same bread with the longer method to check the flavor difference. But this will be my project for next week J


I didn’t punch down the dough after the first rise. I just roll it out of the bowl and formed it. It looses enough air in any case.


Additional thing I tried with both loaves was to score them right after I formed them into loaves. This is because when I try to score the bread right before baking, it loose height. I should look for a razor blade as my knives (sharp as they are – 8” knife is too big) are not good enough for this job.


The Dough:


-       3 1/4 cups flour


-       3 teaspoons yeast


-       1 teaspoon sugar


-       1 ½ cup of water (replace 1 cup of water with milk)


-       1 ¾ teaspoon of salt


-       ½ cup of chopped Pecans


-       ¼ cup of Pumpkin seeds


-       ½ egg


-       ½ egg for glazing


-       Sunflower seeds for topping


Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water (or milk) into a unified mixture and let rest for 20 minutes.


Add the salt Pecans and Pumpkin seeds knead for 10 minutes. Let rise for 60 minutes.


Form into a loaf and let rise for another hour.


Bake in high temperature with steam for 10 minutes.


Reduce the heat (180-170c) and bake for another 40 minutes.




Until the next post


Ilan


 


 

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ilan

Wife and daughter went to visit family, leaving me pondering which bread to do today.


I went back to basics; I wanted something tasty but simple. No preferment and other techniques that surely improve the final outcome but take a lot of time.


I made something very similar to the http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons/addingmore post but added sugar, salt yeast and switched butter with vegetable oil.


The recipe goes like this:


-       3 cups flour


-       1/2 cups of water


-       1 cup milk


-       1/4 cup oil


-       1/4 cup sugar


-       3 teaspoons yeast


-       1 ½ teaspoon salt


-       1/2 egg


Mix flour, water, milk, oil egg, sugar and yeast and let rest for 20 minutes


Add the yeast and knead for 10 minutes.


The dough should be very elastic but not too sticky.


Cover with plastic/wet towel and let the dough rise for ~70 minutes (a lot of sugar, no need to wait too long).


Forming the loaf – We want to make a braided bread here. So, divide the dough to 3 equal parts, form long strands out of each part. The edges should be thinner the center. Connect the 3 strands in the edge and start braiding them together.


Cover and let rest for 45-60 minutes or until it doubles in size.


Preheat the oven to 250c. I have a baking stone on which I place a pot full with boiling water for lots of steam


Before baking, I brushed the bread with a mixture of egg and melted butter for nice color.


Bake in 250c & steam for about 15 minutes then remove the water and reduce the heat to 180c and bake for another 30-40 minutes. To make sure the bread is ready see if the bread produces a hollow sound when knocking on its bottom with your finger.


Beside fish, this bread goes well with almost anything from a full meal to chocolate spread (kids will love it)


Top image is from today, the lower one is a bit older but shows the exterior of the bread more nicely.



This is what my family gets for leaving me home alone :).


Its fun to enter a house when a bread is baking, the smell is beyond comparison so I don't think she objects


Until the next post


Ilan

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ilan

This time, I wanted bread that brings more aroma and character of its own, something that can accompany a simple meal or to be used for a not too spiced sandwiches.


The combination of black olives and thyme is not new and since I love olives in both meals and sandwiches (depend on the dishes) I decided to have bread with it.


When I opened the fridge to get the olive paste, I saw a jar of dried tomato next to it. Olives and tomato is a good combo as well and I added the tomato paste to the mix but to keep the olive base of the bread I added only small amount of it.


Olives are very salty and call for salt reduction in the recipe. The dried tomato paste brings the acidity of the tomato in the game as well and it’s better to negate with a bit of sugar. So instead of salt reduction, I added ¼ teaspoon of yeast and ¼ teaspoon of sugar to the mix.


(The dough base is the same as the one I posted in the Baguette Attempt)


The recipe:


Preferment (15 hours in advance)


-       1 cups flour


-       2/3 cups of water


-       1/4 teaspoon yeast


The Dough:


-       2 1/4 cups flour


-       2 teaspoons yeast


-       1/2 teaspoon sugar


-       3/4 cup of water


-       1 ¾ teaspoon of salt


-       3 teaspoons of black olive paste


-       1 flat teaspoon of dried tomato paste


-       Handful of fresh thyme


Preferment was mixed the evening before and let rest for 15 hours


For the dough – mix the flour, yeast, sugar and water into a unified mixture and let rest for 20 minutes.


Add the salt, olive paste, dried tomato paste and thyme and knead for 10 minutes and let rise for 70 – 90 minutes (depending on the weather).


I made two batches of this bread. One of them I folded during the rising time and one I did not. The folded dough yielded better bread (texture) 


The result: (the colors in this pictures came out all wrong for some reason)



Until the next post


Ilan

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ilan

Before going into the bread itself (which is simple enough), here is some background:


About a week ago the Jews had their Passover holiday. This holiday lasts for a week during which the religious and traditional Jews are not allowed to eat any bread that its dough was allowed to rise.


This is due to the Bible story of the Hebrew slaves running away from Egypt (the story with Moses – let my people go…). During this quick departure, they didn’t have the time to let their dough to rise and instead of bread they the Matza – bread of the poor – for their desert track.


So, after a week of eating no real bread some factions invented the Mufleta – flat bread that can be prepared very quickly when the holiday ends (at the evening when the bakeries are not open yet).


The recipe:


·         3 cups of four


·         1.5 cups of water


·         1 spoon of oil


·         ½ teaspoon of salt


·         2-3 teaspoons of dry yeast


Mix all the ingredients and kneed it for 10 minutes.


Split the dough into balls in size of about half chicken egg and place all of them on an oiled surface.


Cover with a towel and let it rise for 30 minutes.


Put a frying pan on the stove.


Oil your kitchen counter.


Spread the first ball of dough with your hands until it gets to a size of a medium plate about 2mm thick (I consistently failed to get the correct shape out of it…).


Put the dough in the pan to fry while you start spreading the second one.


After the first got a golden color (fried from one side only), put the second on top of it and flip them – the new dough should touch the pan itself. Keep doing it until all are ready.


Once all are done, serve it with butter and honey (combination of the two is recommended). Its nice to spread the butter and honey and then fold it like a crepe or simply like an envelope.



The one I managed to take picture of was way under 2mm of thickness :)


Something went wrong - they came out too dry (I think) but me and my wife finished them all in any case...



It was interesting and different bread experience.


Next bread will be a more conventional one - already made a baguette starter for tomorrow - about 12 hours left.


Until the next post


Ilan

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ilan

Hi 


Baguette is one of my favorite breads. For long sandwiches, with a full meal or just eat fresh with butter. One of the things I like about the Baguettes that I buy from the market is the very crisp crust and a very soft interior. It cannot be eaten without making a mess. But in this case, I really don’t care.


So, in the past, I made long roles using the same dough I used for bread: 3 cups of flour, 1.5 cups of liquid (2/3 parts milk), 1.5-2 teaspoons of yeasts, 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of sugar, mix, kneed, rise, shape and bake. It was very good as roles, but the crust was different – softer. This is not a Baguette... but it took it as a a base for my experiments (a mistake, but i learned a lot back then)


I converted all the milk from the recipe to water and tried again. The crust was harder but I could not get the desired crunch.


Next I added steam in the first 10 minutes. Got a good progress with the crunch but something was missing.


Added more water - got a very soft interior with bigger holes. Still not what I looked for. 


So, I did some reading and came up to French dough recipe. Of course, how it eluded me… French bread is done with French dough, duh.


There I came across the preferment for the first time. The recipe I found included total of 3 1/4 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of water (now it looks too dry) and of course, no sugar.


It goes like this:


Preferment (15 hours in advance)


-       1 cups flour


-       2/3 cups of water


-       1/3 teaspoon yeast


The Dough:


-       2 1/4 cups flour


-       1 3/4 teaspoon yeast


-       3/4 cup of water


-       1 ¾ teaspoon of salt


 


After mixing the preferment with the rest of the ingredients and receiving a unified mass, i let it rest for 20 minutes, then kneaded it for about 10 minutes more. I let it rise for another 90 minutes, shaped it and let it rise for another 70 minutes before baking


I placed a pot of boiling water in the oven and let it continue to boil there before I entered the Baguettes inside and removed it 10 minutes after.


I admit, I didn’t fold the dough, it was not sticky so I skipped it. The dough itself was more slick then I was used to and stickier even though the amount of water was lower. 


Here are the results:



 


It was excellent, and all 3 got eaten the very day with help of my wife's sister and her boyfriend which is good sign for a baker/cook that he is doing something right.


After reading the tips for better French bread, I think I will try another batch (or 10) of these. I love the tenth tip - Practice!, and what comes after :)


 


Until the next post


Ilan

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ilan

Hi there all the bread lovers.


I'm Ilan, I work in the Hi-Tech industry for the last 10 years which means that I have very little time for myself or my family during the week.


For the last few years, I find comfort in the kitchen, cooking for me, my wife and our extended family. It became a therapy for me - after a long week of work I prefer to cook for 10 people instead of having a good weekend rest.


Bread fascinated me for a long time and about two year ago, I started to bake my own bread.


At first, it came out very bitter and not soft or crunchy but we ate it any way. Very few things can compare with home made bread, hot and fresh out of the oven.


Trying to get better at baking bread, I turned to web. There I discovered the importance of kneading the dough for longer time , the importance of long rising and letting it rise again after shaping, scoring and more.


The quality of the bread improve dramatically and the variety of the loaves increased.


 


All of this time I continued cooking and about 6 months ago I went to a cooking school. Beside improving my cooking skills, I had long chats with my teaching Chef about many issues, bread included. He strongly recommended this website and I'm glad he did.


As a good student, I decided to start from the beginning and go through the lessons here.


I found out that most of the bread loaves I baked so far, resembled the most to the loaf in lesson 2 ( http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons/addingmore ) although i haven't used this much milk in a bread before, I took the exact recipe and went for it.


I messed up with the scoring on this one, but all in all, the result was very pleasing:



 



 


After two years of baking bread (on the weekends) I just started to realize how rich is this world.


It looks like I found one of my favorites places in the web.

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