The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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mlucas

On Sunday I baked seven loaves of bread, most of which we plan to sell at a church bake sale next week.


A while ago I cut some letters out of cardstock to spell the word 'hope', and I've used them as a stencil many times. (My wife and I put on an annual fundraiser called Georgia's Journey of Hope. I've been using the stencil on bread that I give as thank-yous to the volunteers for the fundraiser.)


So I decided to reuse the stencil for the church bake sale. I really like the way it turned out. (Note it's like a reverse stencil, i.e. it's just a bunch of letters, so on the bread the word is the part that doesn't have flour. This is easier to cut out, and I like the look better.) Due to lack of proofing space, one loaf ended up round and didn't have room for the stencil, but no problem, I just scored a cross.



Of course, one loaf we cut into because we couldn't resist, leaving six to be frozen for next week's bake sale.


The recipe is Susan's Norwich Sourdough, altered slightly and doubled (thank you IKEA for the giant stainless bowl I got this summer -- I could probably triple Susan's recipe if I wanted to, although that'd be 3kg of flour to mix and my arms would probably give out). The alteration was to use about 3.5% kamut flour and 3.5% rye flour instead of 12% rye, making up the missing 5% with AP flour.


Cheers & happy baking,
Mike


Submitted to yeastspotting (Dec 6 2010).

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mlucas

With our second child, my wife was desperate to have the baby by the due date. Her parents were leaving for England for three weeks and they really wanted to meet the baby before they left!


It happened at that time we needed a bunch of topsoil to fill a big brick flowerbed I'd made. When the order came and we had a huge mound of topsoil on our driveway, I joked that due to Murhpy's Law the baby would come now, since we had all this work to do shoveling it. Sure enough my wife went into labour that night and had our daughter Maya the next morning. (I remember shoveling dirt like mad while she was in the early stages of labour!)


That was 2006. Fast forward to May 2010 and expecting our fourth child any day. I didn't realize what I was doing when late on the Friday night (May 21) I made up the dough for Shiao-Ping's Banana Pain-au-Levain, plus made up the soaker and elaborated a whole bunch of starter for Hamelman's Five-Grain sourdough recipe. I didn't get to bed until 1:30am!


Of course that night Kristen's water broke (around 5am) and we were at the hospital a few hours later. I was operating on less than 4 hours sleep, and calling my mother-in-law from the hospital asking her to put the soaker & starter in the fridge.


Our daughter Aria was born the Saturday night, just before midnight. I baked the banana bread Monday morning, just before heading back to the hospital to bring Kristen and Aria home. Finally on Monday afternoon I mixed up the Five-Grain sourdough (after the starter had been sitting 'active' in fridge for 2.5 days).


Banana Pain-Au-Levain


To my surprise, both batches turned out fantastic! Neither were overly sour. The banana bread had a lovely moist crumb with the characteristic flavour that Shiao-Ping described. And the Five-Grain rose well, which surprised me after the starter had been in the fridge so long, I didn't think it would still be so active. Thanks to the soaker, the seeds in the Five-Grain were deliciously soft, in fact the sunflower seeds cut easily along with each slice.


five grain levainFive-Grain Sourdough from Hamelman's 'Bread'


I'll always remember that I baked two batches of bread the day we brought Aria home. And I learned that it really is okay to let your active starter "hold on" in the fridge for a while until you're ready to mix the dough. (I'll still try to stick to max 24 hours holding time, but knowing even 2.5 days worked fine, I won't worry about it so much!)


Happy baking,
Mike

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