The Fresh Loaf

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Lazy Loafer

After some inspiration from recent posts about different kinds of yeast water folks are making, I revived one I'd had neglected in my fridge for about a year. It was originally made with plums from my back yard, but I ended up maintaining the apple one I made at the same time and ignoring the plum one, until now. I took it out - it looked and smelled fine, so I scooped out the depleted plum pulp and dumped in a handful of fresh blackberries. After two days it was beautifully fizzy and smelled great!

I followed Hamelman's recipe for Swiss Farmhouse Bread (from "Bread"), more or less. The first build was a bit of a disappointment. After sitting for most of the day it was stretchy but had no perceptible rise at all.

Given that result I deviated from the recipe and used yeast water (rather than plain water) for the second build as well, and left it overnight. Much better results - this morning it was billowy and smelled lovely.

I made the dough as per the recipe except rather than raisins I used chopped prunes (it did start as plum water, after all). Also, I don't really like nuts in bread so didn't add the walnuts. The dough was very strong and I found it a little stiff so added a bit more water while mixing (in the Ank). I did two stretch & folds 30 minutes apart as the fruit wasn't quite evenly distributed. Very strong, smooth dough. I put it in a clear container so I could look for bubbles. YW dough seems to ferment / proof differently. There seems to be very little action for the longest time and then, suddenly, it's ready! Bulk ferment was a little longer than Hamelman's instructions though the dough temperature was almost identical to his. I divided into three loaves rather than two, as we like smaller loaves for just the two of us (so, three loaves at around 640 grams each). Pre-shape was a dream; this dough is so soft and silky, and has terrific gluten development.

After proofing the loaves were still holding their shape perfectly.

I baked it in cast iron pots at 440F to start, then down to 425 after the lids were removed. I'm glad I used a slightly lower temperature than normal so it didn't burn at all. When I took the pots out of the oven they looked so good I couldn't wait to take a picture. :)

The loaf maintained its beautiful shape throughout, with great oven spring.

And the crumb is absolutely wonderful - moist, light and creamy, with a delicate flavour and a thin tender crust. The texture of the best sourdough with no sour! I'm very, very happy with this bread and will maintain that plum/blackberry yeast water now for sure!

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Lazy Loafer

Every now and then I go to Peter Reinhart's "Bread Revolution" for something different. I've been meaning to try sprouted pulp bread for some time, and the time was right. I have a sack of Kamut (Khorasan wheat) that I don't use much because it's just too hard and difficult to mill by hand. Like milling gravel into sand - the resulting flour is very coarse and sandy. I sprouted some a while back, dried it and milled it into flour, which was easier than the unsprouted grain but still time consuming to dry it properly.

This time I sprouted a big jar of it, then whizzed it wet into pulp in the food processor. Reinhart had a perfect recipe to try it out. He used Emmer pulp in his version but one of the options was Kamut instead. Other ingredients are soaked raisins and chopped nuts (I used walnuts and hazelnuts instead of walnuts and almonds as in the original recipe. I try not to support the water-intensive almond industry more than I have to). There is a bit of dry yeast in with the levain, and also a bit of vital wheat gluten in the mix.

Mixing went well in the Ankarsrum. The dough was nice and stretchy, though a bit sticky.

Bulk was only 1.5 hours, and the dough rose nicely. The bit of flour on the top is so I could poke the dough. :)

Pre-shaping and shaping went fairly well though the dough was quite sticky (partly because of the fat, wet raisins!).

Reinhart bakes it at 460F, with steam. I followed these instructions but in hindsight should have turned the oven down a bit for at least the last half of the bake. It's a very bold bake - on the verge of burned!

The crumb is very nice and moist. Reinhart suggested that the pulped raisins would dissolve into the dough, but that wasn't the case with the dough roller on the Ank.

Lovely flavour and texture; I will make this again (now that I have a big bowl of sprouted Kamut pulp!).

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Lazy Loafer

I finally got around to baking this bread; had it bookmarked for ages! As it is blueberry season here, and I happened to have some cream cheese handy, I thought of it and went ahead and baked it. So good! Here's the original post (in case you don't have it bookmarked). :)

My crumb isn't as open and light as Floyd's was, but then, I probably didn't wait long enough to cut it, it smelled so good. We ate one and I froze the second for a family dinner coming up.

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Lazy Loafer

I made a big batch (9) of the Scape & Asiago Levain today - a sourdough with roasted garlic scapes and Asiago cheese. My starter has been a little slow lately, and I also had to add two loaves worth of starter to the batch quite late (a late order), so some of the starter was not at all ripe (smelled like wet flour and had little gas). So when I made the dough last night I took a chance and let it ferment in the cool-ish basement overnight, rather than putting it in the fridge after a few hours at room temperature as I usually do.

I was thinking of the recent discussions on various forums here about the importance of sufficient fermentation at the bulk stage, and how this contributes to airy crumb and appearance.

It was with trepidation that I went downstairs this morning to look at the big bucket of dough, and found that it had at least doubled, had a nice matt skin on it and it jiggled like half-set jello when I lifted it. It deflated substantially when I eased it out onto the bench but maintained integrity. It was just on the edge of being sticky rather than tacky, but shaped beautifully into nice tight boules with strong skin. It felt so lively, unlike dough that has not fermented sufficiently.

It proofed for an additional hour (about) and then went into cast iron pots to bake, seam side up for a natural burst. And the aroma ... oh, the aroma!

I'm very happy with the way this turned out. Unfortunately, no crumb shot as they are all for customers, but the bread feels wonderful (you know how you can 'feel' the crumb without even slicing the loaf?) and the spring was great. I was so afraid it would be an over-fermented puddle, but that was not the case. Full fermentation really does make a difference!

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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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