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Lazy Loafer's blog

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Lazy Loafer

Today I baked a big (10 loaves) batch of Forkish's Harvest Bread from FWSY. This is a poolish bread with a high percentage of pre-fermented flour, a good proportion of whole wheat flour (stone ground from a local farm) and added wheat germ and bran. It's a lovely dough to handle and bake. I made the poolish in the morning, then mixed the dough in the evening, putting it in the fridge for an overnight retard after about 1.5 hours fermenting at room temperature. This morning I scaled it to 750 grams and baked it on hot stones with steam after around 2 hours of room-temperature resting / proofing.

The loaves were shaped into 'chubbs' and scored with a single curved slash down the length, blade held at an angle to the skin. And look at those ears! I love it when that happens. :)

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Lazy Loafer

I really tested my knowledge and experience the other day. I had a bit of firm biga left from something else I was making and I hate wasting stuff, so I decided to make it into a loaf of bread. I did not measure anything for this, at all, so can't give you the recipe, but here's what I did:

  • Pour some water into the leftover biga in the bowl and stir it around until mostly dissolved
  • Add some flour (hmmmm, let's see what looks good) - sprouted whole wheat, whole durum (atta) and bread flour
  • Mix it up by hand (a little stiff)
  • Defrost a container of caramelized onions. After defrosting, there was a lot of very yummy liquid in the container so I dumped it all in and that made the hydration 'feel' just about right (maybe around 70% at the end?)
  • Add a few lumps of cream cheese
  • Sprinkle on some salt
  • Mix and develop by hand. Ferment for 2 or 3 hours (honestly, I didn't pay attention to the time either), stretching and folding about every 30 minutes until it felt right, then retard in the fridge until the next afternoon, when I had time to bake it
  • Bake in a cast iron pot, pre-heated to 475F then down to 450F for 20 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 20 minutes at 425F. This one was baked seam-side up for a natural burst, so no scoring. I like the sort of star shape!

I am so pleased how this turned out. It's absolutely delicious, for one thing. The smell of the cream cheese and onions is mouth-watering. I'm happy with the crumb and the crust as well, and pretty excited about the whole thing! Lots of fun too. :)

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Lazy Loafer

This is one of the prettiest breads I bake - Buckwheat Cranberry Levain! I used to make it just for autumn / winter, but it is such a favourite that I decided to put it in the baking rotation today. This time I baked it in cast iron pots seam-side up, and the resulting natural burst is quite attractive. The original recipe was inspired by cmatecun's Buckwheat Cherry Levain, but I've probably modified somewhat over time.

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Lazy Loafer

I had a request from a new customer for Rosemary bread the other day, so started poking around looking at recipes. There were previous posts on TFL about Daniel Leader's rosemary filone in "Local Breads" with some indication of difficulty in reproducing his results, but as I have the book I thought I'd give it a try. Being me, I didn't just make one or two but took orders for 11 and made 12, hoping it would turn out!

The rosemary in my garden is at its peak right now - just ready to bloom, which is when the flavour is the best. And I have lots of it, so no trouble there. I also buy big jugs of extra-virgin olive oil from Costco, so lots of that too. The flour I used is Rogers All Purpose (Western Canada).

I pretty much followed the recipe as published, making a firm biga to start which ripened overnight. The dough was mixed in the big Univex planetary mixer, following Leader's instructions for a KA mixer. There was a total of 9 kg of dough (I scale my recipes to 750 gram loaves). The dough was so silky and strong; I was very encouraged. And the smell of the dough was amazing! I also liked the colour - a lovely golden yellow from the fresh rosemary and EVOO. It was a dream to shape.

The loaves proofed for about an hour, then were loaded onto peels and scored.

I did change the baking instructions a bit. I preheated the granite stones to 450F, then loaded the bread with water in the steam pan. After 5 minutes I turned it down to 425F (actually, for the second batch I turned it down to 410F). Beautiful smell while it baked! And a lovely colour when finished. Unfortunately taking the photo without flash made the colour look a bit odd. :)

The crumb is amazing - soft and light and so tasty.

This bread is definitely a keeper. Oh, and the new customer sent me a note - "I have a complaint about your bread - it keeps getting in my mouth." :)

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Lazy Loafer

So, I made a big pot of caramelized onions the other day, and wanted to try various recipes. I was also inspired by a discussion we had about using beer in sourdough. So that serendipity of events led to a bake of Hamelman's Beer bread with added caramelized onions!

This is a nice sourdough (or rather, a hybrid) that uses a liquid bread flour levain, a stiff rye sour and a bit of dry yeast (so you can make and bake on the same day). The beer is used as part of the main dough water. Hamelman uses a dark ale, but I used my hubby's homemade stout. It's a lovely dough - smooth, stretchy and strong. I added the onions (100 grams to the recipe which makes around 1800 grams of dough) during a last couple of stretch and folds (the dough is made in a mixer, including the first 'stretch & folds' done by running the mixer for a few seconds every 20 minutes).

After about a 2 hour bulk ferment I scaled the dough into three smallish loaves of just under 600 grams each, and put them into bannetons to proof. I needed to go out for a bit, so I popped them into plastic bags and into the fridge. When I got to them about three hours later they were quite well-proofed, probably about at peak. They did hold their shape fairly well on the peels and after slashing.

There wasn't a lot of oven spring, as I don't think there was much 'push' left in the dough, but it still expanded a bit in the oven and held it's shape well.

I had some toasted for lunch today, and we had some with our pea soup for dinner tonight. Lovely bread - good flavour, moist chewy crumb, nice crust. The onions basically melted into the dough, but the aroma and flavour were there. I will definitely make it again!

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Lazy Loafer

This has got to be the absolutely best way to caramelize a bunch of onions (in this case, about 8 largish ones). Last night I sliced them all with the mandoline (still made me cry), filled up my crock pot and tossed them by hand with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a bit of salt.

They cooked overnight (about 10 hours) on low, then a couple more hours with the lid partly off to cook down the liquid. I'll now freeze them in 100 gram batches for use in all kinds of things!

So, other than pizza (already planned), what are your favourite bready things to make with caramelized onions?

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Lazy Loafer

I had a full load of 8 cast iron pots in the oven this morning. I had four of my Heart Bread loaves to bake for a customer, and I've been waiting for an opportunity to bake some of Ian's cream cheese breads, and I also added a couple of Tartine Porridge loaves to top up the load - this one made with Kamut flake porridge, walnuts and walnut oil (bought some the other day). They all turned out very pretty, and the Kamut Durum Potato Cream Cheese sourdough is soooo yummy! Good baking morning... :)

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Lazy Loafer

One of our Christmas traditions is to have strawberry crepes and bacon for breakfast Christmas morning. Which always results in a whole lot of bacon fat in a tin in the fridge. I've been meaning for some time to try this in bread, and didn't have any baking for customers this week, so this was my chance.

The basic recipe is a fairly simple sourdough:

  • 85% bread flour
  • 15% whole wheat flour
  • 68% water
  • 2% salt
  • 25% levain (100% hydration)

Just for a twist, I used whole durum atta flour in place of the whole wheat flour.

I mixed the flours, water and levain and let them sit for about 45 minutes, then added salt, some dehydrated minced onion, crumbled Asiago cheese and a good dollop of bacon fat. I didn't weigh any of these so can't really provide the formula, but I'm sure you could use whatever amount you felt was appropriate. The mixing happened in the Ankarsrum with the dough hook, for only 3 or 4 minutes. The dough was quite nice already, and I plopped it into a flat container to ferment. I folded it three times over the next hour and a half, folding in some diced smoked honey ham (couldn't use the bacon, as we ate that for breakfast :) ).  It was very strong, but soft and silky dough - lovely!

It fermented for several hours at room temperature (not sure how long; wasn't timing it but rather just keeping an eye on it). At the end of the bulk ferment the dough was absolutely gorgeous - smooth, silky, soft and pillowy. I divided it into two loaves and did two letter folds on each piece of dough, then let it rest for about 15 minutes. There were some large bubbles which I chased to the edges and popped. I gently rolled it into 'chubbs' and let them rise in the bamboo risers while the oven heated up (about 45 minutes with the granite stones).

If you haven't made bread with these ingredients, you're missing an experience. Just the smell of the baking bread is so mouth-watering it's hard to wait for it! There wasn't a lot of oven spring because I think the final proof was close to 100%. It didn't collapse, and still felt lively, but was very pouffy. It was the usual bake - 5 minutes at 475F with steam, then 30 minutes at 425F.

This bread is one of the best I've made. The aroma and flavour are exceptional. The crust is tender and the crumb perfect - soft, moist and open just right. I won't be making this for the customers as I don't usually have that much bacon fat on hand, but it's definitely on my list for baking for us!

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Lazy Loafer

This is one of those bakes that sort of comes together by accident. I had soaked some rye grains a while back, planning on using them in a pumpernickel, but it turned out I had soaked too much grain, so I drained the remainder and let them sit for a day. They sprouted (as they do), and I stuck the bowl in the fridge, planning on 'doing something' with them later. By the time I remembered to pull the bowl out a couple of days later they had mostly malted (i.e. they had a tangle of little rootlets along with the tiny sprouts). I could have toasted them and made some red rye malt, but instead I decided to try something I'd been thinking of for a while - fermenting them. I soaked them in about half kombucha and half water, then covered (to keep out the pesky fruit flies) and let them sit at room temperature again for a day or two, then cooked them for around 20 minutes. They ended up tender and very, very fragrant!

The other thing I wanted to try was to make a formula for a poolish bread that could be made in one day. That meant pre-fermenting a fairly high percentage of the flour in a poolish for a shorter period of time. I used a blend of bread flour, whole wheat and whole rye flour, and threw in some raisins (and a bit of spices) just because I felt like it.

The dough was really beautiful, coming together quickly and developing very nice gluten and structure.

After about three stretch & folds on a wet counter, I put it into an oiled container to ferment.

It only took about an hour to nearly double, with a lovely dome. It was pillowy and soft.

After a pre-shape and short rest, I popped it into the bannetons. It proofed quite quickly, taking me by surprise, and the oven wasn't quite ready so I think it over-proofed just a touch.

There wasn't a lot of oven spring but it was still decent, holding its shape well and expanding somewhat.

And the crumb is very nice! Creamy and moist, and very tasty for a fairly quick bread. The grains almost disappeared into the dough which isn't too surprising considering all the soaking, sprouting, fermenting and cooking they went through! I'm glad I put the raisins in; they're a nice touch. :)

I don't think I'll make quite this same bread again, what with all that work for the grains, but I will probably make it again with a different cooked (and possibly fermented) grain porridge.

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Lazy Loafer

I decided to take (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend 'off', meaning I won't be baking for either retail outlet for Saturday nor am I doing a regular bake for the subscribers on Sunday. Of course, I'm baking ten dozen Sweet Potato buns for them tomorrow, including half a dozen gluten free ones, and four loaves of Heart Bread for my special customer as well, but you know, relatively 'off'. Which means, of course, that we didn't have any bread for ourselves either (no leftovers to nick from the bread shop on Saturday).

So I whipped up an all-purpose kind of batch of dough yesterday and baked it this morning. I started with the 1-2-3 formula and changed it up a bit - the '1' was a poolish made with stout and stone-ground whole wheat, the '3' was bread flour, stone-ground Red Fife and whole rye, and so the '2' was more like '2.25'. Specifically:


  • 50 grams stone-ground whole wheat
  • 50 grams home-made stout
  • 1/8 tsp ADY


  • 100 grams of poolish
  • 225 (ish) grams of water
  • 200 grams unbleached bread flour
  • 75 grams stone-ground Red Fife
  • 25 grams stone-ground rye (coarse)
  • 25 grams sunflower seeds (just raw; too lazy to toast them)
  • 6 grams salt
  • 1/8 tsp ADY

All dough ingredients were mixed in the Ankarsrum (just because). It was interesting to observe the different action using the roller and scraper with dough for only one loaf instead of the usual four to six. Once the dough was relatively smooth (and I added a bit more water, hence the 225 (ish) grams), I put it into a flat container - easier to stretch and fold. I did three S&Fs about half an hour apart, then after about three hours on the counter I put the dough in the fridge for the night.

This morning I took it out and pre-shaped, rested, then shaped into a ball and put it into a floured basket to proof for about two hours overall (including the bench rest). I popped it into a cast iron pot pre-heated to 475F and turned the oven down to 450F, then baked for 25 minutes with the lid on. I took off the lid, turned the pot and reduced the temp further to 425F for another 20 minutes. The interior was 205F so it was done!

Oven spring was great...

The crust is lovely and shattery, and the crumb is moist and springy.

I'm happy with this bread, and even more happy that my bread-making skills have progressed to the point where I can whip up a bread like this with no recipe and no angst. Makes me feel like a real baker! :)



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