The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Since the baguette brigade has moved to blogging about bread I thought I should follow along. I have been making this bread for quite some time. It was one of the first videos that Trevor Wilson posted. He calls for pecans but I always use pepitas instead. I make it more often than any other bread because it is great for morning toast and is a good vehicle for Nutella. 

Other than mixing baguettes and pizza dough by hand, I have switched to my Bosch mixer for the rest of my breads. My weekly whole wheat Approachable loaves that go through the spin cycle for ten or more minutes until shiny. I am doing some machine learning to replicate hand mixing of an open crumb sourdough loaf by doing a short mix with a pause then a bassinage to get the hydration up and letting the mixer incorporate the add ins. I have switched to a stiff starter(60%) recently and am liking the results. It is a little more effort to feed and knead but it does seem to add some lift to the dough.

The recipe is 80% bread flour, 20% spelt(milled and sifted at home) 75% water 10% fermented flour. 20% Craisins and 10% sprouted pumpkin seeds 2% salt.

I put the water and the stiff starter in the mixer and use the cookie paddles to break up and mix until frothy. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour until just combined. Fermentolyse for 30 minutes then add the salt and mix at speed two while adding the last 25 grams of water. The mixer does a great job of incorporating the added water in less than two minutes after a brief pause I dump in the add ins and mix on low until barely mixed in. Sometimes I leave it in the mixing bowl for 30 minutes and then dump it out and coil fold it into shape with another coil fold or two the rest of the way.

Retard the shaped loaf overnight and bake straight from the fridge on a stone with a graniteware cover for 20 minutes and then remove the lid and finish baking until done.

spelt crannberry

Benny's Yin and Yang S slash worked well for avoiding the cranberries

cranberry crumb

You can get an open crumb with a mixer if you don't overdo it. A thorough mix will lead to a tighter softer crumb but the holes allow for maximum Nutella without leaking through. 

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It is a said that much of what we learn in fly fishing, is history we haven't read and I think that applies to baking bread as well. Lance AKA Albacore clued me into the use of fava bean flour in french baguettes and in my reading of the archives of TFL I have found mention of it's use by members of the Baguette Brigade Alfanso, KenDalm and also Abelbreadgallery.

I bought a bag of BRM garbanzo/fava flour which I understand is used for gluten free baking, which by the way I know nothing about. I added 2% to my usual Bouabsa recipe to test it's merits of providing a more open crumb with a little less elasticity. Right off the top the dough seemed silkier and more easy to handle. The rest of the bake went as normal after an overnight in the fridge the dough had grown some and woke up quickly so the rest after dividing and the final proof were shorter. The dough was a little stickier than usual but still manageable.

I wanted to bake them darker but my stone was too hot from the previous breads and the bottoms were beginning to get too dark. They were light as a feather and the crumb softer and was airer but in a different way than usual. The taste was a little different from the fava bean flour addition but enjoyable. I didn't notice anymore whiteness to the crumb as was advertised which is okay by me. I like the yellowish tint I get from Wheat Montana AP.

More fava flour to be used in future bakes because I have a whole bag of it and at 2% of the flour total it will last awhile. I am going to try adding some in my next sourdough loaf.


Baguette fava crumb



3 favas

Thanks for viewing this edition of the Alfansos' baton brigade revival to encourage others to try their hand at it. Your other breads will improve by working with the king of breads.

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Well as  I feared my sheltering in place Covid 19 baking staycation has ended because the job calls. I was enjoying the time to bake every few days unencumbered by work or much socialization. Our dogs and the cat, liked having a full-time doorman who gets the meals out on time. My wife is happy with some of the home repairs and shovel work that have that been completed and my neighbors are grateful for the bread deliveries. All this and a check in the mail. If it weren't for the fear of drawing the wrong breath of air it has been an enjoyable few weeks of semi-retirement practice.

I am consolidating my baking into a weekend which was the former way of doing it but seems slightly more hectic now. I started Friday night making the levains  for the sourdough breads and Approachable loaves. Saturday morning with snow falling heavily  in Montana,  which is a typical for Memorial Day weekend, I mixed them all including two batches of yeasted baguettes to retard overnight with the shaped sourdough loaves. The Approachable were rolled up with cinnamon and raisins and the top dusted with cinnamon al a Laurels Kitchen Bread Book. The smell coming from the oven in the afternoon is half the reward.

The sourdough loaves were baked first thing Sunday morning followed by the baguettes. I will probably throw some pizza dough together later today to use later in the work week. 

I have always loved the line from The Big Rock Candy Mountain song that goes "Where the hung the jerk that invented work"

Approachable C&R  sliced baggies


The recipe for the baguettes is the same Boubsa recipe I have used since finding it here at TFL

Baguettes up close

I may have left the baguette dough on the counter a little to long and they had grown a little too much overnight in the fridge and therefore the dough was a little delicate and sticky to handle. I shortened the proof a little too much and got maybe too much oven spring again and had some bursting along with a less open crumb. Just the little hyper critical issues that come with rolling and baking batons. Overall they came out better than expected.

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This Sourdough Seed Bread recipe is the one that follows the fabled Hammelman's 5 grain in the first edition of Bread. Two of my favorite breads on the very same wrinkled and stained page that my book naturally opens to. One of my favorite eating breads but the least fun to prep and make. The seed soakers are a bit of a mess for a sloppy baker like me and I have over roasted a few seeds, but the flavor of this bread from the toasted seeds and rye flour is a nice combination and for some reason the crust is always outstanding like the 5 grain.

The recipe is basically his Vermont Sourdough with a seed soaker. Stronger bread flour is recommended to help lift the heavy seed soaker. I reduced the amount of starter called for to allow for a longer overnight proof 12>15 hours and increased the water 10% because I like a looser dough and most of recipes from this edition work better for me with additional water.

  • 90% bread flour 10% Rye
  • 85% water 
  • 25% seed mixture 1/4 flaxseed soaked (1/4 sesame seeds 1/2 sunflower seeds toasted) soaker water 300%
  • 10% fermented flour
  • 2% salt

I like to use a mixer and his mixing times for this one because of those slimy flaxseeds that don't like to incorporate willingly but rather end up on anything I touch. If you choose to slap and fold be prepared for the worst. Before I started using a mixer, I once forgot to account for the soaker water and ended up with a too wet dough that I tried to salvage with more flour and a marathon slap and fold sling fest that let's just say was an awful mess. I sort of salvaged it and learned a valuable lesson about hydration.

Baked on a stone at 450 for 20 minutes covered with a granite ware roasting pan and 20 minutes uncovered 

Sourdough Seed Bread crumb

I heard Jeffrey Hammelman the other day on the Isolation Baking Show and he said that he is working on a 3rd edition of his book. If you like his sourdough 5 grain bread turn the page to this one.



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My long time lurking here started with the Bouabsa baguettes that Alfanso just posted about and I was doing the exact same recipe on the same day in celebration of white flour returning to our local supermarkets I made a double batch of them with KAAP and Wheat Montana AP to test the difference. I have tried to make a sourdough version and they tasted good but did not have the characteristics I like in a baton. This is a versatile recipe that I use for pizza, ciabatta, and all things white and holey. The only change I made in yesterdays bake was the mixing and folding. I used the Ribaud mixing in the bowl until the dough just comes together and then instead of the four points of the compass fold I used two of the now in vogue coil folds.

Baked at 480 on a stone on the bottom rack with steam from a sheet pan on the top rack that boiling water was poured into after loading. This time I made them short enough to go straight in.

KAAP on the left Wheat MT on the right


Like a lot of breads I make they are great when cooled but crispy and then they get a leathery skin for the rest of the day and are better the next day after the crust has softened. This one was smeared with PB&J and wrapped to be eaten the next day. The slices will be used to make my favorite french toast that sits in the egg and milk mixture until it is completely absorbed.

I suppose a Corona shape is in order for the next go round.

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I posted this last week and it got shuffled down in the blizzard of traffic recently.

I have been repurposing the plastic bins that salad greens come in (they no longer take them at the recycling place) for some bread tasks that have reduced my use of plastic bags and wrap. Them seem to work great so I want to share it with everyone. My "Hillbilly Breadbox" and the no more shower cap proofer. 

bread box   proofer

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