The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jo_Jo_'s blog

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From GreekCelebrationBread


It was a challenge, but I figured out the baker’s percentages for the poolish used in this bread.  I really only wanted enough poolish for this recipe, not enough to make 2 or 3 more recipes!  We just don't eat that much bread!  Thank you to whoever made that wonderful spreadsheet I used!  It really helped a lot. I found it on this website, but am not quite sure where the link to it is!


I have decided to participate as much as I can in BBA Challenge 2011, barring some of the breads that simply don't make sense to make.  I get sick when I eat walnuts, so most of those types are out if they rely on walnuts.  Maybe I will ask for suggestions on alternative ingredients that might work just as well in those breads.  I also might have to substitute other preferments for sourdough for any of the whole wheat breads, since my husband seems to have problems with wild yeasts. I on the other hand do better with white, lean, sourdough breads.

I started this challenge as a personal journey after reading the first section of Peter Reinhart's book.  His book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, inspired me because it gave me the science behind bread making.  It spent the time to give me the greatest gift of all, understanding of what exactly is happening in each step of bread making.  I have baked for many years, or maybe I should call it banging my head against a wall wondering why some breads turned out so much better than others.  If I am going to thank Peter Reinhart I must also remember to thank The Fresh Loaf, which has many very experienced bread bakers who spend a lot of time helping people make extraordinary bread.  Anyone can make ordinary bread, some loafs will be ok and some will be a failure and you just won’t know why.  But with a little bit of knowledge and help from people who have gone through it themselves you can make bread in your own kitchen that rivals the local grocery stores if not the local bakers!  The best part is that you will start to understand why it works and doesn't work. 

On to the actual bread, I chose Christopsomos which to me almost looks like an alien.  You know, creatures from outer space!  I decided that since this is a bread that reflects the special occasion it is made for, that is must be a very Blueberry weekend coming up.  Yes, my fruit of choice is dried blueberries which are totally awesome.  I also chose to use almonds instead of walnuts, simply because walnuts make me sick and almonds don’t! 

I started by measuring and weighing and gathering all my ingredients and equipment, “mise en place” which means everything in it’s place.  Makes a bigger mess, but sure helps you not forget things.  Rather like the scout motto, “Be Prepared”.


From GreekCelebrationBread

I mixed the ingredients, with the only variation being that I used the milk to prepare my Active Dry Yeast by soaking for 10 minutes.

I followed this with adding the poolish to the milk and yeast, using the paddle to mix them. Then I added the other liquid ingredients and used the paddle on setting 2 to mix them.

After I finished mixing them together to make a smooth liquid, I added the dry ingredients and used the paddle to form them into a sticky gooey mess. At first I held back some of the flour, but when I saw how moist it was I went ahead and added it and used the paddle to mix. I took the paddle off at this point and put the dough hook on. The recipe did not call for an autolyse, but I gave it 20 minutes because it was so shaggy looking. This seemed to help the dough a lot.  I then used my dough hook on setting 2 for about 10 minutes, what a mess it looks like.

I measured the blueberries and almonds and added them to the mixer, then used the dough hook on setting 2 to mix them in. Still looks pretty wet and messy, but when I touch it the dough feels tacky not sticky.

It is now formed into two balls and put into separate bowls to rise for 90 minutes. They shaped nicely, and didn't stick to my hands nearly as much as I thought they might. This has been a fun bread to make so far.

The second picture is at 82 minutes, I think this will need a little bit longer to rise. My house is definitely not as warm as other peoples.

This dough is really awesome, so supple and easy to handle. I loved it. The boule is made and the long strips are ready to go on top.

Next comes placing the strips and cutting, then making the little curly things at the ends.

The decoration on top looks a little bit out of shape, but hopefully it will look better before it's done! Who cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good!  Will edit this tomorrow with a picture of the crumb, that is if I can wait!




Jo_Jo_'s picture

This is the bread that I make for my husband, who likes a softer crust and whole wheat.  I like it too, but my favor my sourdough baguettes.  I have spent weeks tweeking this recipe and really like the flavor and texture of the Kaiser shaped rolls I made this time.  They were allowed to rise an extra 45 minutes while the loaf in my clay baker baked.  I'm getting better at braiding the buns without ruining the crumb inside.  The ultimate critic will be my husband though, so we shall see.  First here's my newest version of my recipe:

Whole Wheat Honey Potato Bread


14 oz (397 grams) whole wheat flour

14 oz (397 grams) water

3 pinches yeast


Mix till all is moistened, then cover and let sit for 8 to 24 hours, best if it is actively bubbling when you use it.  Can be refrigerated after about 6 hours for up to 3 days.


All of poolish

21 oz (596 grams) bread flour

4 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

1.5 oz (2 Tablespoons) Honey

.6 oz (18 grams) shortening

1 oz dry milk

.7 oz potato flakes

11 oz water


I set the ingredients out before starting, measuring them with my scale.  I used my kitchenaid to mix for about 2 minutes, then allowed the dough to rest for 30.  I then kneaded the dough for about 6 minutes, shaped it into a ball, and put it into a bowl to rise for a couple hours.  It took closer to four hours from what I remember.  I pulled it from the bowl ad shaped it, then allowed it to rest for 10 minutes.  I cut it into two pieces, and used 1 lb 12 oz in my clay baker and the rest were made into kaiser rolls.  I have been trying to figure out how much dough to use in my clay baker, if 2 lb 4 oz was to much and 1 lb 12 oz was not enough, then maybe next time I should try 2 lbs of dough. I put the clay baker into the oven and turned it on to 425* baked for 30 minutes and then removed the cover and baked at 380* for another 15 minutes.  I think the crust color is just about right.

The loaf of bread was a little disappointing, when I pulled it from the oven.  Thought I had misread my dent in the dough test, but while it might have been a little better with a slightly longer rise time I think the crumb is actually ok.  It is just a short loaf that took the shape of the pan, probably because I like my dough more hydrated.  I will definitely put more dough in, and might try a little bit less water next time and a little more shortening, plus I might try 50% whole wheat and 50% bread flour.  Not real sure why I had cracks in the crust, another reason I thought this was going to be a brick.  The flavor is outstanding in this bread, probably because I left the poolish in the fridge a couple extra days.


Happy this turned out so much better than I thought it had, now on to making my Greek Celebration bread from BBA.  This should be fun!



Jo_Jo_'s picture

How is it that you start the day thinking you have plenty of time to bake your bread before leaving for a class tonight, but end up with a brick because your bread takes 4 times as long to rise?  I knew I should have put the dough into the fridge and done all my baking tomorrow, came so close to doing it too.  The first rise took 4 hours, and the second after shaping took 2 hours and I finally decided it was done because I knew it needed to cook before I left.  I wsa forced to put the loaf in my clay baker into the oven first because it is supposed to be started in a cold oven.  My kaiser rolls turned out a lot better, due to having a warm kitchen from baking and having an extra hour to rise.  I am so glad that there will always be another loaf next week, but meanwhile I will cut into the loaf tomorrow and find out just how dense it is.  Looked so promising too..... if I had just put it into the fridge!


Jo_Jo_'s picture

Made these Kaiser rolls the other day, along with a loaf of whole wheat bread (actually about 50% whole wheat 50% bread flour).  The kaiser rolls turned out great, but the loaf I used to test the size of my new clay baker from King Arthur Flour.  I discovered that a 2 lb loaf fit's to the point of taking the shape of the baker, luckily I greased both top and bottom of it!  The rolls turned out like this and were nice a tender with a good crumb:

From WholeWheat

From WholeWheat

The bread would have came out fine I think, but it looks real funny with the shape of the clay baker....

From WholeWheat

The crumb was a little off at the top, with some larger holes and a small cave at the top.  I think I just got in a hurry and the temp in the kitchen was really cold the day I made these.  The rolls turned out really well, but I think the bread qualifies as  an "Ugly Loaf".


Jo_Jo_'s picture

Ok, hope I am doing this right, just making an entry to my original blog. 

I really really was hesitant about making this bread, since normally I don't really care for corn bread all that much.  It's usually to sweet for anything but chili.  Boy was I surprised, it really turned out awesome!  I actually ate a little bit of peanut butter on a piece today, and was again surprised with how much flavor it had and the sweetness was not overwhelming at all.  Here's a couple pictures with a link to more pictures of how I made this bread.  It also has some explanations:

From Anadama

I noticed a while back that the photos seem to have trouble loading form this site, so I am hosting my photos on another site and linking to them.  It seems to fix this problem, and has the added advantage of allowing me to post a lot more pictures in case someone wants a closer look at how I made these.  Next week I will be making the "Alien" bread that my family saw in my book.....


Jo_Jo_'s picture

I thought I would try creating a blog of my bread making, starting this new year with my new Kitchenaid 600 pro and a new book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  I am also determined to learn how to use baker's math, although I find it rather confusing especially when I am so used to looking and feeling the dough to see if it needs more water or flour. 

I made 3 batches of bread this week.  The first was my sourdough using a 100% starter of all purpose flour and water.  Here is a picture of my active starter, plus a link to more pictures of how I feed the starter:

From Feeding Starter


I used this fancy recipe.... 

From Sourdough Batch day 2

What can I say?  Basically when I measured out a cup of flour it gave me 148 grams, and I simply used that as the starting point for my bread.  I've been making this same loaf for years and it works for me.  My newest starter is about 3 months old and really starting to get some good flavor to it.  I have pictures etc of the first days batch here:

Just click on the link for all the pictures and explanations.....   From Sourdough Rolls

Since if you click on Sourdough Rolls above right under the picture, and it takes you to a zillion photos and exactly how I made this bread I thought I would leave it at that.  I made a second batch also, but when I scored the tops I didn't do it well enough and while they turned out nice with good crumb inside I didn't like them as well.  As with all good things, can't have great results every time....

Sidenote:  I love whole wheat bread and used to make sourdough bread using 100% whole wheat, but it upsets my tummy now so I pretty much stick to bread flour and all purpose flour.  I usually only make small rolls, since I make a 1/3 whole wheat for my husband who has trouble with white flours.  I have been thinking of trying the whole wheat recipes again to see if by some miracle I can eat them again. I so miss the taste of a really good whole wheat bread.

More later..... Anadama bread


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