The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

JMonkey's blog

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I've got folks lined up all the way til June to get some sourdough starter, thanks to my Craig's List ad, and in the past two days, I gave away my first batch. Two baggies of whole-wheat starter and two baggies of white. Since it's a stiff dough, it's easier to give away. Wouldn't want to try bringing the 100% stuff to the office on my bike.

I also finally finished up my sourdough primer document to go along with it. Three recipes, conversion advice for tranforming commercial yeast recipes into sourdough, and standard care and feeding info.

Looks like I might end up getting some free organic greens and herbs out of it, too. A fellow who delivers to Boston every weekend told me he'd gladly share some of his harvest for some starter.

Cool stuff.

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Good baking weekend, though one of my loaves was almost a disaster. (pics below)

I've been making two loaves of 100% whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread every weekend for our weekly bread. One goes in the bread box, the other in the freezer. Trouble is, we usually run out by Thursday. So this week, I made up the dough for my usual two loaves of sandwich bread and then made dough for a boule of 100% whole wheat sourdough, hearth-style. Pretty much the same recipe as the sandwich bread (flour, water, starter, salt, some honey, some olive oil), but I leave out the oil.

Everything was going great. After it had finished its autolyse, I added salt to the sandwich bread. Kneaded it up for about 20 minutes and then did the same for the hearth bread. Let them rise all morning (took about 3 hours),folded the hearth dough once, then degassed the sandwich bread for a 2nd rise while I shaped the artisan bread. Popped it in the fridge for an overnight retarding, and started cleaning up from the morning's bake: flour, starter, salt ... er ... salt.

I'd forgot to put salt on the artisan bread post-autolyse. Visions of eating sour cardboard for the weekend briefly entertained my thoughts, which led me to a quick decision. I pulled the shaped loaf out of the fridge, flattened it out, added salt, and kneaded it up a bit to mix the salt in. Let it rise again, then shaped, and popped it in the fridge.

As I suspected, the hearth bread didn't have a very open crumb. A 2nd rise does wonders for flavor and getting rid of the grassy whole-wheat flavors in the flour, but it also helps make the crumb more uniform. All the same, it's very, very tasty.

Also made pizza with roasted yellow pepper, turkey sausage and fresh basil (note to self: put the basil under the cheese next time!) and some 70% white whole wheat cheddar, dill and scallion rolls (tasted great with the grilled whole chicken for Sunday dinner).

Here's the Pizza:

Here's the boule:

And here's a shot of the interior of the boule. Like I said, kinda tight, but still tasty. Has anyone had much luck getting a seriously open crumb from 100% whole wheat?

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Every weekend, I bake 2-3 loaves of sourdough (usually whole wheat) for my family's weekly bread. I love sourdough, and I particularly love that I've figured out (finally) how to coax sour flavor out of our sweet New England microflora (long, cool bulk rise with a stiff starter).

I absolutely hate, however, having to throw away starter when I feed it. Drives me bannanas.

So I had an idea earlier this week. Why not place an ad on Craig's list and give it away? I came up with a quick ad:

Less than 24 hours later, I've got 18 folks lined up, all of whom will gladly give my sourdough "waste" for the entire month of May a happy home. At this rate, I'll just have to put up one ad per month.

So now, I can make my sourdough guilt free. :-)

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We had guests over for Saturday night dinner. Here's two of the poolish baguettes I baked, along with a very buttery Brioche that we ate for dessert with lemon curd and raspberries.


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