The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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joc1954

After many months being so busy finally the time of holidays/vacations arrived. Again this year we (my wife, our dog and me) are having great time on Island of Hvar in middle Dalmatia in the Adriatic Sea.

 

The bread they typically bake here is a white puffy bread which is good to eat while being still warm, after several hours it is already very dry and next day it is not eatable any more. Like last year I took with me the scale, bannetons, linens, iron-cast skillet and my favorite dough vessel and of course my starter.

Inspired by the environment vegetation which is mostly olive trees and vine trees I decided to make a "thematic" bread from the olives and Mediterranean spices. The recipe is simple: add chopped black olives one hour into fermentation together with few grams of local spices which contribute a lot to the specific taste and pair well with the taste of olives. The rest of the recipe is my standard one, 20% wholegrain wheat, 80% strong bread flour (type 850), hydration ~78%.

One loaf was without olives and spices for my wife. She likes a lot the cranberry jam with creme fraiche for breakfast. 

The oven in the apartment where we stay is working perfect with evenly distribution of heat. Due to hot environment I must switch on the kitchen ventilation and air conditioning.

To cool down the bread I used the wired mash from the stove supported by 4 cups to achieve good ventilation.

Because of lack of suitable working surface I shaped both loaves just by stretch&folds in the vessels and then dumped them directly to bannetons.

The bread was great and the I almost forgot to take the shot of the crumb of the olive bread before it vanished. We invited our neighbors for bread tasting with the Prosciutto, olives, cheese and a lot of wine.

Happy baking!

Joze 

P.S. Right now I am making a lavender bread - will prepare another post about it.

Our Gaia enjoying on the sofa.

 

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joc1954

Happy Easter to everybody!. 

Alleluia!

Joze

 

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joc1954

Today there was a state level assessment and this time there were three family members attending this competition besides me: my daughter, my granddaughter and my wife, so four breads were thrown into the fight for best scores.

Last year I had very negative experience because my kamut sourdough bread was assessed really badly with the main reason that it was too sour and the committee could not find the typical kamut flavor in it. The only bread that passed really well was my daughter's wheat wholegrain bread that got gold award.  

Since then I was experimenting with different approaches how to prepare my bread less sour. The best option I found was a combination of  yeast water and SD. So I decided that for this year I will use my sage yeast water and my regular SD starter which I feed with white AP flour.

On two previous assessments my SD seeded porridge bread was very well assessed so there was no need to create a new recipe. For the rest of my family members we decided according to their preferences: my wife won last year one assessment  with 30% wholegrain bread, my daughter got gold award last year for wheat wholegrain bread and therefore there was no need to invent something new. The only "problem" was the idea for my granddaughter who had no history so far. She liked very much my multi grain bread so I proposed her this as an idea and she accepted that.

For me and my wife the schedule was easy as we are at home, but my daughter was working and granddaughter at age of 11 years and half was whole day in school and had a late afternoon session playing trumpet. Therefore me an my wife started early in the morning with plan to retard and bake late in the evening together with others.

My daughter and granddaughter started at 5PM so there was no chance for retarding due to the rule that the bread should be baked at least 8 hours before assessment.

For all four breads the ratio of YW preferment versus SD levain was 2:1. Actually this meant 200g YW preferment and 100g SD levain. The total amount of flour including pre-fermented is limited to 1000g. For the preferment I used AP flour, while the rest of flour was strong bread flour type 850 with 13% gluten. The mixture of whole grain flour was 25% wholegrain wheat and 5% wholegrain rye. For less opened and more even crumb I have chosen 5% lower hydration at 73%, for wholegrain bread the hydration was around 86%. The overall hydration for my seeded bread with porridge was over 100% (all water is included in the calculation).

All four breads got gold awards any my bread ended at second place according to absolute number of points.

My greatest pleasure was baking again with my 11 years old granddaughter. The fact that she got gold award for hear bread was just an add on to my happiness. I helped her with a lot of tips but at the end the bread was really prepared by herself. I think that tomorrow at the official ceremony I will be just floating above the floor.

 

 All three participating ladies and a small "she" dog in the lap of my wife. 

The crumb shots will follow as I have to wait until tomorrow to see the breads at the exhibition. (see my post below)

 

Happy baking!

Joze

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joc1954

Due to heavy involvement in one project I am recently not very active in writing at TFL because I really have no time. However, this dos not mean that I am not baking.  

Last weekend March 4-5 2017) there was a local bread assessment in Škocjan (Slovenia) organized by local Society  and I have submitted four breads for assessment. The final result was very good, I actually got gold awards for all four of them. Two of them got 79.2 points out of 80 possible points and were ranked on 2. and 3. place absolutely. The absolute winner was one lady's bread with olives which got all possible 80 points.

This time there was a special category opened for all sourdough breads. Actually this category included all breads which are not leavened with baker's yeast, like sourdough, yeast water, kefir, baking powder, soda, wine stone, ...  

All breads were prepared from 1000 g of flour (one of the assessment conditions) in the form of boule.

The type of breads I prepared for the assessment were:

1.) 20% whole grain wheat, 5% whole grain rye, 5% whole grain spelt, rest was bread flour type 500, oat flakes  20%, starter 20%@100% hydration, overall hydration with water used for cooking flakes was 110%. I also added seeds: flax, sesame, sunflower. Baked in wood fired oven. The upper part of a boule was coated with sesame seeds. Unfortunately the outlook was not as I wanted because of too much flour I have used for coating the linen. Score: 79.2 points

 

2.) 25% whole grain wheat, 5% whole grain rye, 60% wheat flour type 550 (German), 10% wheat type 500, 20% starter@100% hydration, overall hydration slightly over 70%, baked in Dutch Oven. Score: 79.2

 

3.) 40% whole grain rye, 50% high extraction wheat flour (85% extraction), 10% wheat flout type 500 (in starter), starter 20%@100%hydration, baked in wood fired oven. Score: 77.8 points

 

4.) "Pane di Altamura", 100% semola rimacinata, 15% starter@100% hydration, overall hydration 72%. Score: 78.3 points 

What I have learned:

1.) This time I was making dough with about 5% lower hydration than usually (around 68-73%) and the crumb had more even porosity without big holes what pleased the assessment committee.

2.) Experimenting when baking for assessment is strictly forbidden as it always go wrong. This was the case with coating one of the breads with sesame seeds.

3.) Always have a backup plan in case that the wood fired oven will be too cold to properly bake the second batch. I had to move one of the breads into my dutch oven to finalize bake as the wood fired oven was not hot enough to get decent crust.

4:) From the discussion with the president of assessment committee I got information that two of my breads would get all possible 80 points if the bottom of the bread would not have some brown spots (it was far from being burnt but the color of the bottom was not even). So in the future I must pay more attention to the temperature and move the bread slightly higher in my electric oven after a while. Also in my wood fired oven I must not start baking before it cools down to 240 dC.

Beginning of April there is a state level assessment and of course I plan to attend is as well.

Happy  baking, Joze 

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joc1954

Yesterday we were looking after three of four grandchildren because my daughter and son in law and the oldest grandson were involved in "International Water Count" of birds which always takes place mid January practically worldwide.

I decided to involve my eleven and half year old granddaughter into baking and she was also very keen on baking. She is an incredible girl playing trumpet and riding horses. We made two loaves of bread and three baguettes. The boules were baked in wood fired oven while baguettes were baked in electric steam oven.

Recently my neighbor asked me to prepare two big boules for their party and gave me a mixture of five grains flour: wheat 50%, spelt 20%, rye type 1250 12%, barley 10% and durum 8%. I found that this mixture gives a prefect bread when you add 50% of AP flour, so in the final dough the flour mixture is:

 

whole grain wheat25%
whole grain spelt 10%
rye type 12506%
whole grain barley5%
durum4%
AP flour50%

The dough had 78% hydration with 15% of @100% hydration starter (AP flour only).

The dough for baguettes had 20% of preferment (poolish 16 hours old), 15% whole grain spelt, 5% whole grain rye and rest AP flour and about 2g of fresh yeast. we prepared the dough in the Bosch Universal mixer. The hydration was only 63% because I din't want that my granddaughter would have problems with sticky dough. 

Shaping baguette

Shaping baguette

Finished baguette

My plan was to involve my granddaughter in the whole process from dough preparation to baking and also baguettes shaping and scoring.

She was mixing the dough and did most of S&F and preshaped her boule. Before every phase I showed her how to do it and she got it right away. So with a little bit of additional coaching she was able to shape and score baguettes.I showed her the signs of dough at the end of BF phase and she learned also how to shape a boule.

Scoring the boule

Final result - the boule she scored for the first time in her life with serrated knife

The crumb shot

We baked blueberry muffins for the dessert. 

I must admit that this was an awesome experience for me and her. She was so proud and happy to get so nice results. Her boule was slightly elliptical due to my fault when loading the boule into WFO. Can you imagine something  better than this kind of adventure for a gradfather? I think not. I was the proudest and happiest grandpa on the world yesterday!

Happy baking, Joze 

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joc1954

Some time ago I bought about 250g of hemp seed flour and today I made the first attempt to use it. Recipe was simple: 20% wholegrain spelt flour, 9% hemp seed flour, rest was AP flour, hydration 70%, 8% of  starter @100% hydration, 5% white sesame seeds, 2% salt (all bakers percents).

The dough was quite of a dark color due to added hemp seed flour. 3 hour BF, divide & shape with 30 minutes bench rest and then 3 hours proofing on the bench and then retarded for 7 hours before going straight into the the oven.

 

The color of the crust is pretty dark although I was not baking longer than 40 minutes. The crumb is soft and fluffy with a special taste of hemp seed flour which goes perfectly together with sesame flavor. 

At the beginning I was quite sceptic about the result because the final proof was so slow. The oven spring was not so great as usual, but the crumb is quite open and more ore less pretty even.

Happy baking, Joze

 

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joc1954

Some time ago I promised alfanso to make baguettes once and they are here. Not really very nice, but not too bad at all for the first time. Definitely I have to learn baguette scoring.

I used Alfanso's recipe with a small change that I was using 100% hydration starter, the rest was the same.

I was baking them in my steam oven at 230 dC and high steam for about 25 minutes and at the beginning I dropped 2 ice cubes on a hot skillet to generate a steam blast.

Those ones which are darker baked and look better went into oven on a cold tray,  while the lighter ones were loaded on a hot tray. The crust was pretty thick and crunchy, actually too thick much for my taste, the crumb was great but not too open. However, my grandchildren loved them and didn't complain at all :-)

Next time I will do them I will definitely change the baking parameters to see if I can get thinner and slightly softer crust. I think I have to use less steam and bake with steam for a shorter time.

Happy baking, Joze

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joc1954

I have really enjoyed while baking for this challenge. I was on a business trip 11 days and my starter had a rest period in fridge. The weather today was beautiful although -7 dC in the morning but warmed quite a bit before noon. I decided to use my Weber Performer grill to bake a bread for this challenge. 

Preparation was simple  - fill the chimney with briquettes and start fire beneath them. Next step was preparing the grill. I put two char-baskets one at each side of the grill and between them was just enough space for my Lodge cart-iron skillet which will not be above the charcoal but will be heated indirectly.

After the briquettes were ready I put half of them in each basket and closed the grill. After some time the temperature was 240 dC, just a little bit lower that I wanted.

I have preheated the skillets on a gas stove to be at 240 dC (checked with infrared thermometer) and then I loaded the loaf into skilled the usual way, scored it, covered with upper skillet and bring that to the preheated grill.

After a while I saw that the temperature has risen to 250 dC so I slightly closed the vents on top of the grill. I was eagerly waiting for 30 minute mark when I can uncover bread.

 

I was really nicely surprised because the bread looked like when I am baking in my oven, but was more pale. I checked the temp of the lid skillet and it was only about 180 dC. So i decided to bake longer. Next check was at 45 minutes mark and all together bread was baked for 65 minutes.

I was wandering what will be the bottom of the loaf looking like but was pretty sure that due to indirect heating it will be ok. And it was.

After slicing the loaf I saw a really nice open crumb structure, maybe even too open for my opinion. The crust was crunchy and has cracked on several places. It was for sure one of my best loaves with a great contrast between the crunchy crust and soft and wet crumb.

Just few words about the dough: 10% whole rye grains milled at home, 10% whole grain spelt, 80% type 550 organic German flour from Bohlsener Muehle, I bought this flour while being on business trip and it turned out as a great bread flour with  11.5% gluten. The hydration was about 80% and the dough was easily manageable.

 

Happy baking!

Joze

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joc1954

Here I am posting something what was going on at the end of August this year. Unfortunately I had not enough time to prepare this post earlier, so better late than never.

In our parish every year we organize typical Don Bosco’s Oratory for all children older than 6 years in last week of August. This year I promised to build an earthen oven so we could have a pizza party together with parents on the last day of oratory – on Saturday. One goal was educational – to teach children and also their parents how they can make a good pizza, the other was to have fun by preparing their own pizzas and enjoy eating them.  

First task was to prepare the base for the oven. I was lucky because there were thousands of pavement tiles available which we had just to put together and create a nice base for the oven. As this was meant just a temporary oven I didn’t care about the optimal insulation layer beneath the hearth of the oven, so I have used foam concrete layer for that. Then a layer of firebricks was set on top of the insulation layer.

The majority of time was invested in building a wooden framework for dome construction. As the inner diameter of the oven was 90 cm (3’) I would need a lot of sand to build a wet sand model. Therefore wooden framework was easier to make and the plan was just to burn it out after few days of curing. It took me almost whole day to prepare wooden framework which I covered with cardboard.

The clay was mixed with sand at home in ratio 1:2 what was probably not the best ratio because the oven got some cracks which would be easily avoidable if I would use more sand.

After everything was prepared it took 3 hours to complete building the oven by laying about 10cm thick wall of sand and clay mixture. We added a little bit of straw into the mixture in the last moment to add some strength. This work was done only by three persons – my neighbor, my wife and me.

After 3 days I started a small fire inside dome and after about 2 hours all wooden frameworks was burned out. At that time I also found that a chimney would be very appropriate solution in order to make pizza baking easier. So few days later I added also the chimney and this was probably the best decision I made.

Initially there was no insulation layer on the dome and my plan was to add it when we will have workshops with children so they will get experience how one can use clay for construction. The insulation layer was planned to be from straw mixed with small part of relatively liquid clay. The other workshop with children was to make decorations on the outside of the oven after finishing the insulation layer. All these phases are clearly seen on the posted pictures.

For the pizza party I asked a nearby pizzeria to prepare professional dough which was their donation for the oratory. At home I shaped 89 pizza boules and store them in both fridges at home where they did the overnight proofing.

 

The pizza making workshop was a great success and everybody really liked it.  The best comments were like this: “Oh, our pizza turned better than what we ever had in any pizzeria.”  Actually the oven was working really great and we kept the temperature around 320 dC so every pizza needed only about 3 minutes to be completely baked. In about 75 minutes I baked 45 pizzas. The task of children and their parents was to prepare pizza – stretch the dough and top it with the toppings, my role was to put the pizza on the paddle and bake it. The only way to be able to bake so many pizzas in so short time was to build appropriate sized oven. I was able to bake 5 pizzas at a time.

After the party there was still a lot of dough available so I have baked small boules and it was the only bread I have baked so far in that oven.

So what I have learned: it is not so hard to make such earthen oven. Probably you don’t need so big one and therefore it is easier to make it. Using local material which is free one can create a perfect oven for baking pizzas and bread and have a lot of fun with it.

Happy baking, Joze

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joc1954

Probably everybody who was reading my recent posts is interested to hear how the bread assessment finished. As this will be a slightly longer post I am revealing now the most important fact: I got the gold award.

So you can stop reading here, you already got the crucial part of information. However, maybe you would like to continue and read some background information and some interesting facts about this kind of assessment.

This is the crumb shot of my bread. I have degassed it as much as possible.

First of all I must go back in time to explain the traditional bread baking in rural areas in Slovenia and nearby countries. For centuries the traditional bread baking was mostly performed once per week on Saturdays in order to have fresh bread for Sunday's meals. Most of the time there was no bread baking during the week as there was not enough time for this. Most of the bread was kind of a whole grain or high extraction flour milled in stone mills. At that time there were many water powered mills operating along the creeks and rivers. Better bread from white flour was made only for big feasts like Easter, Christmas and family holidays. Back in past »white bread« was highly appreciated as it was so rarely on the menu. Still today this special kind of bread is on the menu for the same holidays, therefore there was almost no breakup of this tradition.

Almost all of farm houses were equipped with »Kachelofen« (German word), a clay stove / oven  that burns wood extremely efficiently. The heat is stored in the clay brick thermal mass, and then slowly radiates into the room for the next 8 to 24 hours. These “Kachelofen” were mainly used for heating during the cold season and were also regularly used for bread baking. The smoke from such an oven was used also for smoking meat products during the winter season when they were mostly produced.

It is not so easy to prepare »Kachelofen« for baking bread – it must be of the right temperature, not too hot and not too cold. If you don't fire long enough it will cool down quickly and bread will not bake at sufficiently high temperature.

Typical "Kachelofen" from the outside. In order to increase the heating area the tiles are specially crafted.

Back in 2009 when I have built my pizza oven (see the picture below) I made this video from pictures taken while watching an old lady baking bread in such Kachelofen. She is making her bread in an authentic way with exception of the mixer which she uses only because she is now too old to manually prepare dough for 15 boules. Each of them weights more than 1 kg when baked. I am also singing (not solo) in the background song used for his video (I am singing tenor).

Baking Bread in Slovenia










So this is the tradition of bread baking in rural areas of Slovenia and now there are many assessments of home baked bread in Slovenia each year. This last one was special due to the limitation that bread has to be baked in wood fired oven. This was the first time that such limitation was in place and I sincerely hope this kind of assessment will become traditional because it helps to keep this tradition alive.

My DIY pizza wood fired oven in my party room in the basement.

I decided to prepare a SD loaf with oat flakes porridge and seeds from sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax. The requirement is to make a boule from 1000g of flour. Just two days before assessment I got a call from my relatives from other part of our country that I should attend a funeral ceremony in the afternoon when I was supposed to bake. My plan was to prepare bread and after final shaping put it in the fridge for final proofing while I can attend the ceremony.

After bench rest.

When I started my journey back to home I called my wife and she fired up the oven. Unfortunately it took almost two more hours after my return to equalize temperature in the oven and cool it to 240 dC. At that time my dough was already slightly overproofed although the result of finger poke test was still ok.

When I tipped the dough out of banneton I realized that I am already too late as the dough wasn’t able to keep the form and became very flat. I used three ice cubes to generate some additional steam in the oven and when I opened the oven after 15 minutes I saw that the boule is pretty much flat with decent oven spring but not as much as I would like. The picture of that phase is posted below.

Bread before taking it out of the oven.

 

I was really disappointed but there was nothing to do as it was already too late to reshape it and bake it within several hours.

When I heard that I got gold award for the bread for which I was really hesitating whether to deliver it at all I was really happy.  Looking afterwards at the detailed results I saw that I have ended absolutely at fourth place. At the ceremony next day I got just positive response from the members of the jury.

Breads awarded with gold award.

 

Needless to say that my bread is number 19 on this picture.

Analyzing assessment report I found that I got fewer points in areas where I was actually expecting more points and got all possible points in areas where I was expecting fewer points. The results together with the assessment criteria are in the below picture.

I am not complaining about the results but there is a systematic problem with the assessment of crumb and possibly also with the (sour) taste of sourdough bread because the judges never make a distinction between SD bread and bread leavened with baker’s yeast.   In the below picture is the crumb shot of the winner bread and I must say that I wouldn’t be happy when my SD bread would have such a dense crumb. Maybe I am wrong in this opinion, but my plan is to do some educational work in order to change this in the future.

Absolute winner with the highest score.

Any comments or thoughts about assessment SD are highly appreciated. I would really like to hear opinions of other TFL members.

Happy baking, Joze

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