The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Joe Fisher

Boy was this a busy weekend! Had the day off today, so I spent part of it baking.

First, the 'basic' sourdough recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Always a big winner.

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Had a bit of a blowout on the boule ;) It probably could have used some more rising time before going into the oven. The oven spring was beautiful!

Here's Pane Siciliano, also from TBBA. It's a wonderful recipe. The interior is soft, almost fluffy, and the exterior has a nice crunch to it. The sesame adds a welcome nuttines.

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The one on the end was supposed to be a spiral, but rose into something that looked remotely beehive-ish, then fell over :)

And here are my favorites in the looks department. I butchered a Pain de Campagne recipe in a bread book. The recipe was a 4-day recipe that told you to make a starter from scratch. I decided to use my rye starter (Clyde!) as the base, and modify the recipe to suit. Recipe follows.

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It's comforting to know I can basically wing a recipe, and the experience from dozens of loaves lets me come out with a finished product.
The one that looks all knotted up is just that - it's a square knot made with 2 long pieces of dough. I put shallow slashes in it to make it look like rope. I think it came out pretty cool! I'm bringing it to my father-in-law who is a Boy Scout Scoutmaster.
Oh, and the donut is an off-cut from making the square knot :) It was delicious! teehee

Starter recipe:

9oz rye starter
5oz flour - bread and whole wheat in about a 4:1 ratio
4oz water

Mix, let sit overnight.

Bread recipe:
6cp bread flour
4tsp salt
1 1/2 cp water (+/- 1/2 cup or so to suit the flour)

Mix everything together, knead about 10 minutes until dough passes the windowpane test, proof 3-4 hours until double. Punch down, shape, proof 2-3 hours until double. Preheat to 450F, bake on a stone 25-30 minutes.

-Joe

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Joe Fisher

There's pecan craisin and sourdough rye and pumpernickel breads on the top of my fridge. Banana bread on my counter. Sourdough craisin dinner rolls, herb rye, pumpernickel and pizza dough fill my freezer. 25 lb buckets of flour fill my basement. Sourdough starters crowd my fridge. My in-laws have threatened my life for making them fat with breads they can't resist.

It's a terrible addiction :)

-Joe

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Joe Fisher

There's just something satisfying about eating a sandwich on bread you've made yourself. Soft, delicious bread. A sense of accomplishment. Anyone can go to the store and buy bread, and sometimes even more cheaply than I can make it for (I don't want to think about how much I spent in molasses on my last pumpernickel).

It's funny, because not that long ago, it would have been completely commonplace to eat your own bread. We've become a society so dependent on having others do things for us.

I'm a woodworker, and there's a similar satisfaction to working with tools you've made yourself. Again, the craftsman of old would have scoffed at such an idea, having made 95% of his own tools. Today, you can buy tools just about anywhere for 1/2 of what it would cost you to make them.

But then cost isn't the point, is it?

-Joe

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Joe Fisher

I'm determined to make the Whole Wheat recipe in the Bread Baker's Apprentice work. This will be my 3rd try.

Got started last night.

I put together the soaker with stone ground rye flour. It was 4.25oz flour to 6oz water. Covered, left on the counter.

Then I put together the poolish. I used KA whole wheat flour. 6.75oz flour, and 6oz water. The directions say to "mix the flour and yeast, and add the water until it forms a thick paste. Stir only enough to hydrate the flour."

First problem: 6oz of water was not even enough to pick up all the flour. I had to at least double the water to make something that didn't resemble Play-Doh.

I got it to a "thick paste" consistency, and waited a few hours for the first bubbles. I then popped it in the fridge, where it waits for me now.

More to come, hopefully with pictures!

-Joe

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Joe Fisher

It's still easy to cut yourself while slicing bread. Yesterday, when halving one of my Pane a l'Ancienne from TBBA, I put my hand on top of the loaf, and sliced along the side, like I always do. It removes the possibility of getting the knife in the palm of my hand. Instead, the knife skipped on the (beautiful) crust and right into the pad of my middle finger.
I managed to keep the blood off the bread! :) And boy, was there a lot of blood.
I served it at a friend's party, and it was the talk of the room. Nothing trumps fresh bread!

-Joe

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Joe Fisher

So last night I was thinking to myself, "I'd like to make some sourdough this weekend. Tomorrow morning I'll take out some of my ripe chef and make a starter with it. It can activate while I'm at work."
This morning, I went into the fridge, grabbed my tub of chef. Grabbed the scale and a spatula, took out the stone ground rye.
Then I walked over to the garbage can and dumped half of the chef.
Then I stared at the chef I had just discarded.
*sigh* Stupid auto-pilot.

-Joe

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Joe Fisher

Here's my try at rye and pumpernickel bagels. I adapted the sourdough rye and sourdough pumpernickel recipes in Bread Alone to make bagels. I used high-gluten flour instead of the AP/bread flour in the 20% bran mix. I also made the dough stiffer than for normal bread.

The rye ones worked out great. They passed the 'float test' within 20 minutes of proofing. The pumpernickels are much denser, and haven't floated yet after almost an hour. Once they do, it's off to the frige for an overnight ferment.

Tomorrow, I bake! I'll post the pictures then.

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-Joe

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Joe Fisher

I think my neighbors are starting to feel overwhelmed by all the loaves of bread that keep appearing at their houses :)

Like most of us here, I find little more satisfying than pulling a couple of gorgeous loaves off my stone. I don't have room in my freezer, and I'm way too impatient to wait until I finish one loaf to bake another :)

So what do you all do with your spare loaves? I was thinking of finding a homeless shelter, or the like, in the area to donate them to.

-Joe

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Joe Fisher

Well, I was surprised to see a big, flat package on my doorstep today. It was my SuperPeel, sent to me by Gary.

I ran inside to unpack it, and was pleasantly surprised at the professional packaging and instructions. I'm waiting for the belt to go through the wash once before I assemble it, but I was immediately struck by what a well-designed and executed product it is. I can't wait to play with it! It definately looks like its worth what he's asking on the website. I'll be sure to take some pictures once I get it all together.

Thanks again, Gary.

Oh, and you were right. My wife picked up the 'fake superpeel' piece of junk at Sur le Table. Besides having a cloth belt instead of a parchment paper one, the real SuperPeel just feels more solidly built, and looks like it's made from a better wood, or at least better cuts of wood.

-Joe

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