The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

odinraider's blog

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Usually, when I bake, I bake. A lot. The more bulk in my fermentation, the better. This weekend, however, I only did two small bakes; some demi baguettes and a couple sandwich loaves. I feel incomplete...

The baguettes were my best yet. Super crisp crust, rich, gelatenous crumb. Superb.

I don't know the thermodynamics behind it in equation format, but whenever I bake two sandwich loaves, they invariably burst toward each other. When I bake a singe loaf, no bursting at all. No other breads that I bake in synchronous multiples has this problem. I think the loaves are too close, and the air between the loaves is cooler than the air on the opposite side, creating a low pressure zone that the bread tries to fill. I wish my over were bigger. Next weekend, I am going to do an experiment. I will bake the two loaves synchronously, but I will alter their position in relation to each other and the oven walls. Sometimes I feel like a mad scientist.


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We all love to bake, right? Well, what are we doing with all the breads we make? I know a lot of times I will just eat it, plain or with butter or cheese, maybe a little meat sandwiched between a couple slices, maybe a bit of tomato. Maybe dipped in olive oil. Sure, that's good, but historically bread is accompanied by various foods. So shouldn't we give some indications of foods we would / do eat with the breads we make? Like chefs do when they recommend wines to go with their dishes. I submit these from the last week:

I made some pretzel buns, and used the round ones for these turkey burgers. They have homemade guacamole and ranch sauce, steakhouse smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and seasoned ground turkey sauteed in butter. It was topped off with garden tomatoes, lettuce, and red onion. The inside of the buns was toasted. Both my wife and daughter said it was the best burger they had ever eaten.

I also made zeppelin-style pretzel buns and bolillos.  We ate the pretzles with bratwurst and sauerkraut simmered in Octoberfest and carmelized onions. I served it with course mustard and melted a slice of Jarlsburg on top.

The bolillos were hollowed out and became tortas stuffed with refried beans, fried eggs, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, metled cheese, and salsa.


Hope you enjoy; we sure did!


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Forgive the bad photos; they were taken at 5 a.m. with my cell phone. I wanted some pictures before I devoured the stuff. This is a rustic course wheat loaf. It is easy to make, and packed full of great wheaty flavor.

Here is my recipe for anyone who wants to try it:

Bread / all purpose flour: 400 grams

Whole wheat flour: 50 grams

Cracked wheat berries: 30 grams

Wheat bran: 20 grams

Water: 350 grams

Salt: 10 grams

Yeast: 2 grams

1. Combine whole wheat flour, bran, and wheat berries in a bowl. Add 330 grams of water. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Add white flour. Mix completely, then cover and let sit 30 minutes.

3. Mix salt with 10 grams of water to dissolve. Mix yeast with 10 grams of water to dissolve. Do this during the autolyse period, so the yeast will be fully active and hungry. At the end of 30 minutes, it will have a nice smell and be ready to go into the dough.

4. Squeeze yeast water and salt water into dough until combined.

5. Knead until elastic, about 10 minutes.

6. Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover, and bulk ferment for two hours, giving a stretch and fold every half hour.

7. After two hours, shape the loaf. Proof 1 1/2 to two more hours. Preheat oven to 500 degrees, with your stone in the second from bottom position.

8. Place dough on peel, or on parchment and a peel, slash as you wish, and spritz the top with water. Put your loaf in the oven, and turn the temperature down to 450 degrees. Bake with steam for 15 minutes.

9. Open the oven to remove the steam, and turn the oven down to 400 degrees. Rotate the bread so it browns evenly, and cook another 18-22 minutes, until the bottom is hard and sounds hollow when you knock on it.

10. Let your loaf cool at least 2 hours before cutting into it.

Enjoy, and please post your results so I can know if the recipe is universally good.


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Finally, I have made the videos I have been promising. I hope these will illustrate my process, and help those who have not yet been able to make this dough work for them. I have simplified the process, and made it easier on your beloved mixers!


First, to build the dough, you will need both your paddle attachment and your hook attachment. Here is the ingerdients list:

Flour: 450 grams (100%)

Water - at room temperature: 360 grams (80%)

Salt: 9 grams (2%)

Yeast: 8 grams (1.75%)

Mix all the water with half the flour on speed one for five minutes.

Add the yeast, stir to dissolve. Repeat with the salt.

Add 1/4 of the remaining flour, and mix on speed one or two for two minutes. Repeat with the rest of the flour, for a total of four incorporations (eight minutes mixing)

Scrape the dough off the paddle, then use the hook. Mix on speed eight or ten for five minutes. Keep a hand on your mixer; it will try to jump off the counter and run away.

Dump the finished dough onto a lightly floured counter. Stretch and fold, then place in an oiled bowl and cover. Bulk ferment for one hour.

Put your pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven, and turn the oven on to the highest setting. Let it heat while the dough percolates.

Here is the video:

Now to shape: Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Divide into two equal(ish) pieces. Fold the cut side over itself and seal. Form a ball(ish) shape. Press your hands onto the edge, about 3/4 to one inch in, to form the crust ring.

Simply use gravity to allow the dough to stretch itself, moving it constantly. When the dough stops being pliable, move to the second ball to allow the first to rest and relax its gluten.

Place stretched doughs onto parchment for easy sliding.

Here are the vides:

Finally, you will top the pizzas. Give each crust a thin coat of oil before applying sauces or toppings. Vegetables should be precooked before using to remove some of their moisture.

To cook, reduce the oven temperature to 475, and spritz the dough with water before sliding onto the stone. Cook four minutes, then rotate the pizza and remove the parchment. Cook another four to six minutes, until the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. Let the pizza cool on a rack while the second pizza bakes. Enjoy!

Here is the video:

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I took the trip to the Amish store, and I brought back two types of bread flour, some high gluten flour, wheat gluten, whet germ, oat bran, and spelt. I wanted to try the spelt to make something hearty, something chewy and rich and full of old world flavor. The first thing I made was pasta. Talk about good! We usually use bread flour because I don't have any semolina to buy nearby. It is always good, but the spelt I put in changed it from good to ridiculously amazing.

Enough about that. The next thing I wanted to do is make a country style sourdough loaf akin to Dan Leader's pain de campagne, but my very own. Talk about success. This is what I came up with. Don't adjust your monitors; the loaf really is that dark. My wife thought it was burnt, even though it did not have a whiff of burnt odor. I was excited, because that is exactly what I wanted. I have the recipe below if you want to try it for yourself.



50 grams ripe, recently fed 100% hydration starter.

150 grams water.

50 grams whole wheat flour.

50 grams bread flour.

50 grams rye flour.

50 grams spelt.

Mix well and let develope, between 7 to 12 hours.

Bread dough:

350 grams starter (50 grams left over for next starter).

13 grams salt.

250 grams water.

50 grams rye flour.

50 grams whole wheat flour.

150 grams spelt.

250 grams bread flour.

Mix well, do your normal dough mixing operation. I let it go about 10 minutes in my mixer on medium, then one minute on high. The dough should be soft, loose, and tacky.

Let it ferment for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, the heat the oven to 450 degrees. Shape the dough however you want, I think a boule would work best. I like an oblong, because it is easier to slice. Proof it for 1 and 1/2 hours. I proof it either on parchment or on linen, only because I have no banneton. That would work best. Anyway, bake it for 50 - 55 minutes, until it is nice and dark. Let it cool completely before slicing. Oh, and guess what - this is baked without steam!

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Here is the white sandwich bread from Julia Child's Baking with Master Chefs. I made one pan loaf and one small round. It is a great white bread that my girls love. It does not have the integrity of the Jamaican hard do, but it is rich in flavor and texture.

Next up is the honey wheat sourdough I have been working on. It is still too warm to slice, so I can't be sure of the crumb, but it is nice and firm, has good lift, and a great smell.

Once I am sure of the crumb and taste, I will post the recipe.


Here are some moist, rich, and chewy double chocolate brownies.


And finally, one of my family's favorites: Pizza! Pizza in all its simplicity: sauce, cheese, fresh basil and oregano, and pepperoni on one of them.


Tomorrow will bring baguettes and focaccia.

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Over the weekend I made some more baguettes as well as some Pane Toscano. In addition, I began development on a honey white wheat sourdough sandwich bread. More on that later.

The baguettes were not the best. I varied my fermentation time to only a few hours rather than the slow cold ferment I have grown to appreciate. I did the poolish thing, and I honestly have not made up my mind as to the benefit of the time lost in preparing it and waiting for it to ferment. Next weekend I will see when I combine the poolish and the long cold lonely fermentation into, hopefully, the best baguette ever.


Here's the recipe I'm trying next weekend for anyone who wants to play along:

poolish: 100 g water, 100 g flour, 3 g yeast

Autolyse: 400 g flour, 260 g water

Add poolish to autolysed flour after one hour.

Mix and then fold in 11 g salt.

ferment 30 minutes at room temp, stretch and fold, ferment another 30, stretch and fold, then cover and refrigerate 10-14 hours. Let return to room temp, divide, shape, and bake on a stone in a preheated oven at 500 degrees. After 12 minutes, reduce the heat to 475 and bake another 10-12 minutes, until the baguettes are dark and done.

If this needs more clarification, ask and I will try to provide some.

Another short note: I am trying different types of flour, and the best results for baguettes so far has come from the Kroger brand unbleached all purpose. strange, because it is rubbish for any other kind of bread.

The Pane Toscano is good. Not great. Good. I didn't devote the attention to it that it needs to be great. But mind you, it is good. I will cut up the last of it with some tomatoes for panzanella tomorrow with fresh garden tomatoes and cucumbers. That will be a delightful lunch.

Now on to the last. The taste of the honey white wheat sourdough is right on. The texture is not. The crust is nice and firm but pliant and yielding. The crumb is soft. Next weekend I will try this again without the small amount of oil I added, and I will bake it longer. Hopefully those two changes will get it right, because this will be a great one for the recipe books. I didn't take pictures of this majestically risen loaf because my &*%$ bread pan (which I really should replace, if only to clean up my vocabulary) decided it wanted to hold on to the sides of the loaf. I got most of it out but for a small section of each side. While not the end of the world, it is also not worthy of photography.

Next weekend: focaccia with fresh rosemary (before it all burns up in the summer heat), Julia Child's white sandwich loaves, a (hopefully) better version of the wheat. And, of course, baguettes.

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Experimentation with baguettes never seems to end. Today I decided to try a one day sponge instead of my usual poolish. In addition, I let the rest of the flour and water (that not being occupied fermenting in the sponge) have a one and one half hour autolyse. I then did a double bulk ferment, the first in the fridge for two hours, the second at room temperature for another hour after folding the dough.


Last week I let the dough ferment in the fridge out of necessity (the wife wanted me to take her somewhere, I forget where now), and the bread was great. I decided to try a more structured approach to determine the optimum fermentation. It seems to lack the dark crust I prefer, so next time I will scorch it. I didn't turn the oven on soon enough, and it's always fritzy anyway when it comes to temps. Ah, well, two are gone already, so all in all a definite step forward on the journey to a perfect personal recipe.

Next I made two loaves of white bread for family sandwiches and suchlike. I usually use one of two recipes. The first comes from Julia Child's Baking with Master Chefs. The other is a Jamaican hard do. I chose that for today's bake. I added a little powdered milk and vegetable oil to the basic recipe to give it that little extra oomph.

Finally, my favorite sourdough. Pain de campagne. Made in a Dutch oven. Perfection.

*Edit: As I thought, the picture loading problem was my own weariness. It has been rectified (both the sleepiness and the inability to understand how to load pictures), and I have attached a few photos of the breads.


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