The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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I've been lurking around for a very long while now, not really posting at all, just enjoying everyone else's content. But recently, my eldest son, 6, has been found to be sensitive to wheat and dairy, which throws a rather large spanner into my wonderful world of bread baking. However, onwards and upwards. His favourite bread is (was) marbled rye, from BBA, I believe I have posted quite some time ago some pictures of it.

So I created a gluten / dairy free version of it:

It's a little dense for my tastes, but to be honest - beggars can't be choosers - and I refuse to buy commercial breads when I'm perfectly capable of producing it. This bread has a flour blend of rice flour, tapioca flour, potato flour and cornflour, and absolutely no flavour - so I added ground pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds which gives it a quite nice boost. I'm quite happy with this, as it's only my third GF loaf, however.

However, for those of us who aren't sensitive to such things, I'm afraid I won't be forcing them to eat that stuff... I am addicted to my wheat :p

baguettes, this formula is also from BBA, half the dough is retarded overnight. Probably could have given them another 5 minutes in the oven, but they're still delicious - I really like a slightly darker crust.

transitional wholemeal loaf, about 60% wholemeal, this is from Reinhart's Whole Grain Bread.

and sliced:

Until next time...


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Now, posting this on TFL might be a bit like teaching your Nanna to suck eggs. or blow eggs. or whatever the phrase is, I forget.

But too bad, I'm posting it anyway :p

A few points first. Get a good knife, and know your loaf. I have two knives I use for my sandwich loaves - one is quite harsh on the bread and is no use in a soft bread, as it rips it apart. The other is great on the soft loaves, but just doesn't work well in the firmer styles. Practice makes perfect - you come to know what your knife will cut, and what thickness you can slice with it.

It's interesting though - I find if I stand straight in front of the loaf, square, I can never slice even slices, I always stand a little side on to the bench, and it works. It's probably different for you though!

grab that loaf, and put it on your favourite cutting board. Don't tell me you don't have a favourite... I guess that's just me then.

When making the first slice, you have to remember that most loaf tins aren't square at the end, but slope out a fraction. So your first slice will be thick at the top, and thin at the bottom. Use your finger to mark where you're going to slice...

then slice! once the knife has just bitten through the crust, slide your fingers over to hold the slice steady whilst you cut the whole way down. If you choose not to do this, it's a lot more likely to get slices that are thick at one end and then at the other.

Keep an eye on the knife the whole way down, it takes concentration to cut it straight. I prefer not to correct if it's going astray, but that's just me.

When you reach the end of the loaf, it gets a little trickier. Here's how I do it:

however you could also lie it down on the board and cut horizontally (very carefully!)

and you're done. sit back and admire your hand carved, beautifully even loaf.

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It's been a while, but baking never stops. It's just finding time to post about it!

Here's a couple of loaves I made in the last few weeks.

First is my standard sourdough, which is 25% WW and 25% high protein flour. The crust is wonderfully crunchy and the crumb is tight and pillow soft.

(bit of a hole in the middle of the loaf, I was not paying attention whilst shaping the loaf!)

The second set of loaves are Reinhart's sandwich rye. These are 1250g loaves.


At some point I'd like to post my comparison of 0, 24, 48 and 72 hours cold fermentation. Interesting. But I am time poor at the moment.

This weekend I'm planning on some WW pita, seeded crackers and chocolate panettone (Susan from wildyeast). Looking forward to it :)

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is the reaction I mostly get at work when I mention that I do actually bake all the bread we consume at home. "We haven't bought bread for, oh, over a year now" I mention. The usual response to that is "oh, you got a bread machine did you? I have one, it's great, etc etc." Then I say no, sorry, I use my hands - the last few months I have returned to the good old hand knead (over my Kenwood mixer), which is why I made bread in the first place - I greatly enjoy the sensation of bread making, the changing of the flour'n'water paste into a smooth, soft dough, wonderful to touch and stretch! Also, given my three year old son likes to help, have this great big mixer going round and round tempts little fingers (he's really very good with it though) and I'd prefer not to go down that path...

One thing I do still use the mixer for is a new (to me) sourdough rye sandwich loaf formula from Peter Reinhart. It calls for the starter to be made wholly with rye flour, with the description of "it should look a little like potters clay" being a little inaccurate - the stuff is exactly like clay, in both colour and texture! At around 67% hydration, it's heavier than I usually use, impossible to stir with a spoon, so the first time I made it I got both hands in there (as is my usual method) and promptly was amazed at just how much stuck to me - I think out of a starter that was supposed to be 250g, there ended up being around 150g left in the bowl when I was finished. After that little effort, I use the Kenwood to mix that every time! This has very quickly become the favourite for sandwiches in my household, overtaking multigrain extraordinaire and marbled rye from BBA. Here's some pics:


Whilst I was on leave from work, I had plenty of time to read and bake. Actually, I had very little time, having to prepare my son's new room for him to move into (don't ask me how much I hate painting!) and we spent a week away (luckily there was an oven so I could keep baking!) however on the home page of TFL there's a link to a Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid from Floyd, I made the mistake of looking at that when my wife was over my shoulder... results are below ;) I can now attest that Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid is a resounding success as well!

The bread I keep returning to, however, is the one I first wrote about on TFL - Susan's Original Sourdough, as interpreted by David. I guess this is my "daily bread", the one I know the best, and the one people at work ask me to make for them! It's my most reliable formula, and always yields great results!

880g, no cold retardation

440g, no cold retardation

440g, 24 hours cold retardation

And finally... you should always smile, even when bread making. You can imagine my double-take after dipping this slice in my soup... and the resigned sigh from my ever-patient wife as I grabbed the camera!

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I have been aching to bake this bread since I first encountered the recipe months ago. However, I'm sure you all encounter the little things that fill your weekends and make well, a big mess of those best laid plans you make Friday evening. I set myself quite a task this weekend - two loaves of multigrain, and this new recipe!

OK, perhaps not such a large task. Especially considering how I have perfected the multigrain recipe... maybe. I'm yet to slice this batch and I have that slightly worried feeling that they aren't quite done in the centre...

(edit to add: I sliced them, and they're... OK. not great, right in the very middle they were very soft, but I think I just passed the test. Won't proof them so long next time ;) eg. err 4 hours instead of 45mins - 1hr.)

This turned out pretty darned nice. OK, I ignored the recipe that said this made two one pound loaves. That was a mistake... this turned into a monster, a good 30cm across. The dough wobbled like a jelly as I put it into the oven - I think I added a fraction too much yeast, the recipe called for 1 1/4 tsp, which I think it said was about 3 or 4g, I tipped some yeast in straight onto the flour (why? I never do it this way for this exact reason) tip tip tip I still have added 0g. That sure looks like a lot more than 1tsp. I must remember never to do that again!

Onto the results:

The loaf came out of the oven beautiful and crisp, however shrank a little whilst cooling and the crust softened - I've never mastered a nice crunchy crust with my oven without using the "magic bowl" technique. This was the softest loaf of bread I have ever felt, and had good spring in the loaf itself. Sliced into nice inch thick slices, dipped in tomato and kidney bean soup, devine. Another recipe to add to the repertoire.



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Necessity is the mother of invention, it is said. And last night, it was necessary in my kitchen. We were having Honey Chicken, a delicious deep fryed dish of loveliness, and my regular (read - the last time I made it) batter recipe called for beer. After all, everyone knows that beer batter is just the best.

Not any more! I couldn't be bothered going out to get the beer. I was just going to make a very boring yeasted batter, but then remembered Peter Reinhart saying "Beer is liquid bread, bread is solid beer"... I ran to the refrigerator and pulled out the sourdough starter.

50g mature starter (100% hydration)

308g water

35g rye flour

107g bread flour

I whisked all that together and left that to sit in a warm place for about 2-3 hours, and it went very well. Delicious odour to it...

toss the chicken in some cornflour, coat in the batter and deepfry until done. This sourdough batter was the best I have made in 6 years making this dish (ok, so I usually only make it 3 or 4 times a year ;)) It was crunchy crisp and had an amazing flavour, and when I tossed the fried chicken in the honey mixture (stirfry a finely chopped chunk of ginger, add 1/3 cup honey, add chicken when honey is bubbly, once honey is coated mix together 1 tbs soy sauce and 1 tbs cornflour then stir that through) the batter stayed crisp!

A great meal. Now I'm on the lookout for more things I can deepfry in this batter! Unfortunately no pictures as we ate it too quickly!

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Firstly, thanks to those who welcomed me to TFL!

Recently, I inherited some rather large loaf tins - 12" x 5". At the time, the person that passed them on said "I wouldn't even bother using them, I just can't get a loaf baked in the middle!" to which I scoffed a little. Hah! I am quite the baker now! I won't have those problems!

Now, these tins look big. You could drop the Grand Canyon in one of them. Well, compared to the cute little 9x5, that is. And I now have four. What to bake first?

Ah, my old favourite, Multigrain Extraorinaire, from BBA. with some minor tweaks - formula below. I cut the sugar in the recipe in half, as for my taste the original amount makes almost a sweet dessert bread. I also increased the flour - this is probably more due to my flour compared to someone elses, however I did increase it by almost 10% which seems quite a lot just to account to regional differences.

I've made this recipe a number of times - it's my standard loaf, I make one or two every weekend. So it was no big deal making the dough, shape it, dump into the new tin. Pause. I've done something wrong here, the loaf looks like a little sausage in the bottom of this tin. It must just be perspective, this being a big tin and all... leave to rise - not as much rising as I'd expect. What's wrong? Ah, I split the dough (as always) into two one pounders. This is a huge tin! I won't post the photo of the final result - it was a relatively flat loaf, and extremely embarassing!

Here's the formula I used for to make two one pound loaves (as posted in another thread, based on Multigrain Extraordinaire in BBA):

Final dough (amount ingredient / bakers %)

449g Bread Flour / 100%
105g multigrain soaker / 23.5% (below)
26g brown rice / 5.9%
18g brown sugar / 4.1%
10g salt / 2.2%
9g yeast / 1.9%
105g buttermilk / 23.5%
26g honey / 5.9%
158g water / 35.3%

Multigrain soaker: (amount ingredient / bakers %)

25g polenta / 50%
19g rolled oats / 37.5%
12g wheat bran / 25%
50g water / 100%

which works really nicely.

However, every time I scaled it up to make one three pound loaf, I would get big holes in the middle. Insufficient mixing, not enough gluten development? Not enough cooking time? I'm not sure. Anyhow, I thought this weekend, "I will make this big loaf one more time and if it doesn't work, it's back to nice easy small loaves." To be sure of the gluten part, after I used my dough hook for 6 minutes, I then did 3 stretch'n'folds in the course of an hour, then left it to rise to double. Shaped, left to rise again and baked at 190C (~375F) for around 30-40 minutes.



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So, as would be appropriate for a first post, a first for me: sourdough!


JJ's first ever sourdough

Now, to be honest, that tasted great. I've not baked (or even eaten) sourdough before, and the odour that came off whilst it was baking reminded me of *cough* baby vomit *cough* So I was apprehensive, before that first bite!

Not to worry though, it tasted great! I followed dmsnyder's post as the recipe (which in turn was creating Susan from SanDiego's original sourdough), except i had 500g of 100% hydration starter that was ready to go, so I used that. Also, my time constraints meant that it's easiest for me to make the dough last thing at night, and leave it for the first fermentation overnight (about eight hours) in my laundry, which, now it's Autumn (or Fall, take your pick) is around 15C overnight. Then shape it in the morning, dump it in the fridge and get my wife to take it out late afternoon for baking that evening.

I'll post up my following adventures in sourdough - this was 100% white starter, with the 50g of WW mentioned in the recipe. I've now baked two more sourdough efforts (over four days, I'm seeing how the flavour develops after sitting in the fridge for 24 hours after shaping), one with 25% WW starter and another tomorrow with 50% WW. 25% tasted amazing!

So, what prompted me to try this? I had a sourdough starter that I created from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, and with some advice from Wild Yeast. I mainly made it because I'm fascinated by the microbial side of it, and had an idea of getting some students to track the microbial population of the starter as it progressed... but no project students wanted to take it up :( (I work at a Uni)

My wife just purchased me a couple of pizza stones, and I'd just read about the magic bowl method. So I was eager to combine those two, and having the starter there convinced me to do this instead of a ciabatta or pain a'l'ancienne, which are on my list to do now!

Seems to have turned out well... as always it seems, too much baking and too little time :(



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