The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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louie brown

I had some starter left over from the blinis, and this formula looked manageable. I love caraway, so it was a no brainer. 


At the end of the entry for this bread, Hamelman suggests alternately shaping the dough as "fingers," ("salzstangerl") without further guidance. I chose 6 ounce, long sticks. Googling only too late, I see that a typical shape for these is to roll, stretch or flatten the dough and then roll it back up, croissant-style, then slightly curved, with tapered ends. Oh, well. They were delicious and even showed a decent interior, despite less than the most delicate handling on my part. I say were, because they are already gone, having served as the basis for the smoked salmon not consumed this morning.


As for the loaf, I was inspired to try Sylvia's elegant curved scoring, but the spring with the towels-and-brick-in-a-pan setup was so strong that the loaf almost came apart. Besides, I don't think that such a beautiful curved scoring is really suitable for the rough surface of this loaf. It really wants to be shown off on a cleaner surface. 


I can see fairly simple fixes for the flaws in this bake, but it will be a little while. I need to lighten up on the carbs for a while.







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louie brown

I always wanted to try these and now I am very glad I did. The flavor of the buckwheat is fantastic. Silverton uses a rye starter, the buckwheat, and white flour. She prescribes yeast, baking powder and soda. There is sifting of flour and separating of eggs, the whites being folded in. All this results in a very rich, tender product that is just delicious. What better way to start the year than with some of these topped with homemade creme fraiche and some American hackleback caviar! Happy New Year to all.



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louie brown

I've been making this bread since the book was published. It's a straight sourdough, made with a 100% starter at about 65% hydration, with a pretty thorough mechanical mix, a four hour bulk fermentation at about 78 degrees, and proofed overnight in the fridge. This results in a loaf with a fairly even, but discernible, crumb, which I like because it holds the olives in place. I use twice as many olives as called for, and I still don't think that's enough. I use Kalamata, oil cured and large Sicilian green olives. The oil cured olives stain the crumb around themselves purple. There is also some wheat germ. 


These were combo cooked (550 degrees for 15 minutes, then about 25 minutes uncovered at 460 convection) with some interesting results. First, I seem to get most of my spring after uncovering, unlike, for example, baking under a stainless bowl, or baking with the towel setup. Still, the spring was considerable. Second, the crust is quite thin and crispy, which is not a bad thing, but it is worth knowing to expect this result. 


The scoring, my own contribution, is meant to evoke olive leaves.


This bread has a moist crumb because of the olives. I was in a rush to see the interior and taste it, so the crumb is a little raggy on the first slices. The 2 pound loaves are almost exactly 4 inches high.




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louie brown

My advisers pronounced these perfect, at least in terms of duplicating their memory. Twice as much lard and twice as many cracklings (also of a larger size.) A much coarser crack to the pepper. Just for the fun of it, I mixed this dough considerably wetter than the last. I believe I overproofed it some. Both baked covered in cast iron. One twisted, one scored. I don't think it is necessary to score this loaf, although it is attractive.


For people who love bread and love pork, this bread is a touchstone. Make extra; it disappears very fast.




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louie brown

I am glad to be able to add this bake to the experience of others with our new toys, the cast iron combo cookers. I love cast iron so it didn't take much to have me clicking away on Amazon for one of these. It's a terrific piece of cookware that I expect to use for other things as well.


I thought readers might be interested in these results. I began with Hamelman's formula, but, as usual, I went astray, adding at least twice as many seeds and grains as called for. In particular, my wife especially likes toasted sesame seeds and steel cut oats in there. I actually lost track of how much I put into the dough. I was a bit concerned when I saw the volume of the soaker this morning. Nevertheless, I pressed on. I had hydrated about half the flour overnight with all the water, so this morning it only remained to add the rest, along with the liquid levain and the soaker. 


Long story short, I baked the batard naked, using my new favorite steam method, two towels and a brick in a roasting pan, over which boiling water is poured. This gives steady steam for as long as you like. The spring was quite strong, opening even the grigne to another layer, as shown. I may have scored the ear a little too deeply. Some people like it that way.


The loaf on the left was the first in the cooker, cold. The slashes were a bit shallow. The loaf filled out and began to tear from the bottom.


The loaf on the right went into the hot cooker. It was interesting, as they say, getting it in there, but all went well. I had scored this one considerably deeper and it gave a nicer form. 


I put some cornmeal on the bottom of the cooker.


Given the weight and density of these loaves, the spring for all of them was excellent. You can get an idea of this from the crumb shot. They are very nearly 4 inches tall, with a nice profile. I've shown the bottoms of all three for your interest as well.


The batard, baked in the open, was done in about 30 minutes, 15 minutes with steam and 15 without. The boules got the same 15 minutes covered and then 30 minutes uncovered. All three started at 500 degrees and were reduced to 450 convection after uncovering. The crust on the first boule is much softer than that on the second. As to taste, many of you know this bread. Of its kind, it really cant be beat.









 

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louie brown

 


Anyplace you find a substantial Italian-American community, chances are you will find a bakery, and chances are that the bakery will offer something called "prosciutto bread" or "meat bread." It usually has nuggets of prosciutto, or pancetta, or even just cubed cold cuts. Sometimes, cheese is in there too, usually provolone. There might be semolina flour mixed in. Zito's in New York is an example of an Italian bakery with a good reputation for their prosciutto bread. There are others.


 


Let's be honest. If you mix some prosciutto or some pancetta or some mortadella into bread dough, the bread is going to taste good. Bacon on Wonder Bread tastes good. But the way in which the antecedent came into being back in the old country is at once more homely and more true.


 


The pig was slaughtered. Every last bit of it was put to use. When it came to the fatback, it was beaten with a stick to break it down. Then it was rendered, resulting in lard and cracklings. The lard was used in all sorts of cooking, including baking. The cracklings were thrown into the dough, along with some cracked black pepper. It was usually baked in the traditional ring shape.


 


It's somewhat dispiriting, how easy it is to flavor something with pig, especially smoked or cured, and sit back and wait for the praise. I am here to tell you that I have never had a "prosciutto bread" that was good bread. It has always just been hammy tasting bread.


 


So, some friends got to telling me how their mother made it for their father, in Lazio, north of Rome. Rendered pork fat, not smoked or cured; cracklings in tiny pieces; cracked black pepper. Rolled into a log, twisted, shaped as a ring.


 


I forgot to twist. Otherwise, this is it. 100% sourdough. The lard gives the crumb a smoothness and makes the crust crispy. I think it could use more cracklings and a rougher crack to the pepper. Readers here may be interested to know that I used a stainless bowl for a cover for ten minutes. I have been switching to convection after the covered portion of the bake, but I forgot this time. Nevertheless, you can see that there is a nice relatively thin crust. It is pretty flaky, almost like pastry. All I'm missing is the wood fired oven to get some smoke and char. 


 


 


 



 



 





 

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louie brown

The Accidental Baguette

I had a build going for a bread I am working on, but realized too late that I had forgotten to prepare an ingredient. So when I opened my eyes at 5am on Friday morning and stumbled into the kitchen, I looked at my beautiful levain, ripe and bubbly with nowhere to go, I couldn't just throw it out. The easiest thing was to mix up a straight dough, which I did by feel, with no regard for measurements. I threw in a favorite addition from the fridge, some wheat germ. The dough was way too stiff. It was tearing after just a couple of folds. I just didn't feel like fighting with it. So I made up a couple of baguettes and proofed them in the fridge.

As much as anything, I was interested in another trial of my latest steaming method, using two hot towels, per Sylvia, although not microwaved, with a preheated brick between them, all in a roasting pan. Boiling water is poured over the brick and the towels, which produces very good steam for the entire ten or fifteen minutes. The slimmer one was baked cold from the fridge; the fatter one after about 90 minutes out on the bench.

These are the results. I'm liking the torn crumb shots these days so I include one. For a dough that was so dry, and for a process that was made up as I went along, without formula - or discipline - the results were acceptable. More to the point, the form and the taste were pretty good. The wheat germ is a nice addition. It would have been a shame to waste the levain.


 



 



 



 


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louie brown

Having been through a series of bakes with the basic Tartine loaf, I thought the right balance would be to go over to Hamelman for something. I chose the Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain because it seemed like a nice alternative to the white flour/open crumb quest of my recent Tartine baking.


 


Hamelman is a very good teacher and there are multiple useful lessons in this bread, as throughout his book. While I think of Tartine as a storybook, I view Hamelman as a textbook. He points out that the greater percentage of prefermented flour, and the whole grain, in this case dark rye, will contribute to a tightening of the gluten, as well as a somewhat tangier (and richer) taste. He advises the baker not to expect an open crumb, nor the kind of volume that would result from using white flour alone and less prefermented flour. He is right on both counts, although I have no problem with the profile of this loaf.


 


I made the first loaf pictured straight through, fermenting and proofing on the bench. It was baked under a bowl, and with a roasting pan beneath, into which a preheated brick and two towels had been placed, and boiling water poured over. The second was retarded overnight in the fridge and baked with the same steam setup, but without the bowl. The brick-plus-towels idea gives good steam throughout the first 15 minutes, even without microwaving. The excellent oven spring from this method is apparent in a couple of the pictures.


 


Since I changed more than one variable, I can't be sure if the superior crumb in the second loaf is from the scoring pattern, or the absence of the bowl or the retarding. The loaf from the fridge is just slightly more tangy. Both have a nice contrast of the crunch of the crust with the smooth, rich mouthfeel of the crumb. This is a god bread with good lessons from a good teacher.


 


Anyway, here they are. This is a delicious variation on his straight Vermont Sourdough, which is high on my list after having seen Wally's unbeiievable crumb.


 



 



 



 



 



 



 


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louie brown

I had to get this out of my system. I am an admirer of the bakery and the bread and I was glad to be able to take a shot at it. I agree with a lot of what's been said on both sides of the conversation about the book. I'm sure I will read and enjoy it more than I will use it to bake from. For a bakery book of that latter sort, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I still prefer Nancy Silverton. Anyway, I add my pictures for the record. I liked the pictures in the book of the loaves torn open, so I include one of those. My kitchen was a few degrees warmer this week, so fermentation and proofing times were closer to those indicated.


 



 



 



 


 

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louie brown

Karin's post was so tempting and seemed clear. I did my best to follow her method. I do think that the proofing times were a bit long for my kitchen temperature yesterday (80F,) which only emphasizes the lesson about being able to judge these things for oneself. The cold soaker, the whole wheat starter and the spices combined into a very tasty loaf. Constructive criticism welcomed. Thanks, Karin.


 



 



 


 

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