The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Maryann279

My daughter requested challah with raisins, so I decided to make a 2+ kg batch to have enough for us, her and to give away. Using the formula in Advanced Bread and Pastry, I made a 12-hour preferment, which I unfortunately left out at room temperature, instead of refrigerating as the instructions called for.  In the evening, I mixed up the dough, which I had to do by hand because it would have overwhelmed my Kitchen Aid mixer.   Because I wanted a dairy-free loaf, I substituted oil for the butter and left out the milk powder.  Because I was mixing by hand, I got tired and didn't mix the dough as strong as I might have otherwise.  Also, the gram-for-gram substitution of oil for butter may have also contributed to the soft dough.  Also, because I didn't have osmotol. yeast on hand, I reduced the amount of sugar to 11% in the final dough and used instant.  I tried to put strength in the dough by folding several times during the BF, and also put more tension in the individual strands during shaping.

I was done about 12:30 AM and left the shaped loaves in the fridge to retard.  I am now baking the loaves off one by one, and am eagerly waiting for them to be cool enough to slice and see what the crumb looks like.

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Maryann279

I just finished a week at SFBI taking their whole grain bread class.  We made about 20 different kinds of bread;  they were all good and many were outstanding.  There were lots of interesting shapes, and we used many add-ins, such as dried pears, nuts, seeds and sprouted wheat berries.  This was the third week-long class I've taken there, and I'm starting to be able to work more efficiently and keep up with the more experienced students.  As usual, there was a mixture of home bakers and professionals.  It was a very productive week and I'm becoming more certain that I want to pursue baking and pastry as a second career.

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Maryann279

So I finally figured out why I was having trouble getting started on making bread at home after my second SFBI class.  It's the scheduling and planning ahead.  At one time I thought bread making could be scheduled around other activities.  Now I am finding out that it's the other way around:  you have to schedule your other activities around making bread.  It will probably continue to be this way until I get the hang of it all.  Non-prefermented, non-sourdough was usually not that much of a problem for me.  When you add in 12-hour preferments, levains, bringing the starter back to life after it's been hibernating in the fridge, etc., this turns into the opposite of a spur of the moment enterprise.  I know I can use other techniques for creating a nice chewy loaf, but for now I'm trying to work with this particular set of recipes.  Add in the fact that I get tired in the evenings and have difficulty motivating myself, some planning ahead is in order.


I refreshed the stiff started ahead of time, but forgot to leave it out of the fridge so it could develop properly.  When it came time to mix the levain yesterday evening, I decided to use the starter as it was rather than disrupt my bread making schedule (I wanted to have the bread done in time for dinner this evening).  This morning, the levain wasn't quite as bubbly as it should have been, but again I forged ahead.  I had premeasured most of the ingredients for the final dough the night before (very helpful), but I forgot that I needed to mix the soaked seed and grain mixture an hour before it was needed.  That delayed mixing the final dough for an hour.  I was a bit ambitious about the quantity of dough I made, about 2.7 kilos, forgetting I only had a 5 qt. Kitchen Aid mixer.  I forgot that the soaker had to wait until the end of the dough development process, because the seeds and grains interfere with gluten development.  The dough finally came together very well, but had a tendency to crawl up the hook onto the mixer itself, and I had to keep scraping it down.


The dough is resting now in its plastic mini-tub, and almost ready for its first turn at 5PM.  No bread for dinner tonight - maybe breakfast tomorrow AM. ;-)


I think this will all get better with practice and getting used to the methods and equipment I need to turn out ~2 kilos of dough in my kitchen (the magic fermentation number).  Maybe I will have to go back to making less at one time.  We shall see.

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Maryann279

I having been baking off and on for a long time, including making bread, but I finally got serious about it last fall.  This blog will chronicle my journey in the world of bread baking.  Warning:  I will be going into baker's percentages and other technical aspects of baking the bread, so this blog may be very boring ;-)


I took two classes at SFBI on artisan bread making and now am trying to re-create the bread we baked in the class as best I can with home equipment.  I finished my last class in February and have been reluctant to start baking again because the class results in the professional deck ovens were so spectacular.  I broke the ice last weekend by baking a challah recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and now am on to various loaves that are made with sourdough, preferments, etc. 


I've been nursing along the sourdough starter from SFBI and haven't killed it (yet).  Post-challah, I've been trying to figure out what to make next.  I'm realizing that most of the recipes (formulas) I like need some planning in advance, which I haven't gotten the hang of yet.  Today, I finally decided to make multigrain sourdough.  This requires a stiff starter, and the one I've been feeding had a higher percentage of water.  So I used the SFBI starter to create a new stiff starter.  After another feeding, it will be ready to use in the multigrain.


Since the stiff starter looked kind of dead initially, and I was concerned about the mother starter being somewhat weak, I made a second starter with more water, using 100% white flour, 50% each rye and KA whole wheat, 100% water and 50% starter.  To achieve optimal fermentation temperature (at least while I am awake) I have the starter in a 80 degree F water bath.  It will get another feeding in 24 hours.


After 3 hours, the stiff starter has lots of bubbles on the bottom.  I think it will be just fine.  Not much action with the wet starter yet.

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