The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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PiPs

Please welcome the B-sides Part 2 ...

Cheers,
Phil 

 

 

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PiPs

What is traditional bread anyway? The more I read, the murkier this question becomes. Steamed golden crusts, curling gringe, high protein flours mixed into sloppy doughs and possibly even salt are a pretty new phenomena in the history of bread – yet they are marketed as ‘traditional’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to create ‘traditional bread’ but I do like to understand where we came from to get were we are going. I guess I don’t want to get caught up in trends. Saying this however, I do have a particular bent towards French bread. And although I have a fairly limited understanding of bread history I know how much I love the aromas and flavours of my levain─and the French placed a massive importance on baking with a perfectly ripe levain. This resonates with me.

My recent baking with French flours brought home a desire to try and produce flavourful high extraction flour using Australian wheat grains. Again I am using my favourite Australian biodynamic wheat grains courtesy of ‘Four Leaf Milling’. It is a white winter wheat from South Australia with a protein level of 10.9%─full of colour and flavour with just enough strength.

In the past my method for producing high extraction flour was a single pass through my Komo mill on its finest setting then sift through a 20 mesh sieve (I think) and remill the caught material. This was sifted again with the caught material set aside. This would usually only remove 10% of the total weight of flour i.e. 90% extraction. And while this was delicious flour it wasn’t producing the crumb colour that I had in mind. I needed to purchase a finer sieve and I settled upon a 50 mesh Keene classifier and changed my method to a more labour intensive multiple pass milling method.

Method is a loose term though─I started by cracking the grains and sifting the coarsest pieces. This was continued with gradually finer settings on the mill and sifting through finer sieves. Any flour that passed through the 50 mesh was set aside until the end when it was combined with a small amount of the finest milled middlings to build the quantity to the correct weight for an 80% extraction flour.

I was excited even before I used the flour. It was softest, silkiest and most beautifully coloured flour I had ever produced through the mill. Plus it had all the wonderful fragrance of freshly milled flour.

Continuing with my French themed baking of late I decided to bake a miche, fendu (French for split) and batard using the freshly milled high extraction flour. My baking of late has shifted from long bulk ferments to concentrating on short controlled levain builds and mixing dough with larger amounts of pre-fermented flour. The short bulk ferment makes it easier to control temperatures in winter and assists with my goal of sweet tasting bread. At the end of bulk fermenting I was surprised by the balance of extensibility and strength─especially considering it was mixed with freshly milled flour. I named the miche in honour of the town of Tarlee where Four Leaf Milling is based.

 

Tarlee Miche and French breads (1 x 2kg Miche, 1 x 1kg Fendu, 1 x 1kg Batard)

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

4000g

 

Total flour

2260g

100%

Total water

1740g

77%

Total salt

40g

1.8%

Pre-fermented flour

565g

25%

 

 

 

Levain – 6hrs 25-26°C

 

 

Previous levain build

215g

50%

Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% Organic plain flour, 18% fresh milled sifted wheat, 9% fresh milled sifted spelt and 3% fresh milled sifted rye)

430g

100%

Water

258g

60%

Salt

4g

1%

 

 

 

Final dough. DDT=25-26°C

 

 

Levain

907g

53%

Freshly milled flour sifted to 80% extraction

1695g

100%

Water

1401g

82%

Salt

36g

2%

 

Method

  1. Mix levain and leave to ferment for 6 hours at 25-26°C
  2. Mill and sift flour and allow to cool to room temperature before mixing with water (hold back 50 grams of water) and autolyse for a minimum of one hour.
  3. Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Bulk ferment two hours with a stretch-and-fold after one hour.
  5. Divide. Preshape. Bench rest 30 mins. Shape into desired shapes.
  6. Final proof was for 2.5 hours at 21°C (this was quite variable – watch the dough)
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 10 mins with steam then reduce temperature to 200°C. Miche was baked for a total of 50 min.  The batard and fendu were baked for a total of 40 min.

 

Cutting the Tarlee Miche in half was an exciting moment for me. It had to be straight down the middle. It couldn’t be cut in from the edge. The edge may give you more open crumb but it’s the centre that tells the whole story of the fermentation and oven-spring. From there it was quartered with half of it staying on the bench and the remainder sliced and frozen for the remaining week. All the loaves had thin dark crusts but this was most noticeable on the Tarlee Miche─possibly the perfect kind of crust to crumb ratio. Inside was slightly golden and sweet and more open than I imagined it would be. There is another photo of me with a huge grin after I had cut the miche ... it said it all.

Biscuits

Kids were kept busy in the kitchen as well. Nat had some very enthusiastic help making and decorating biscuits with lots of finger licking followed by lots of hand washing─this seemed to happen often. After the biscuits were rolled, cut and baked the excitement was taken up a notch as it was decorating time. I can vouch that they tasted even ‘sweeter’ than they look. Needless to say we were hounded for biscuits at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oh the disappointment when they were declined.


Rosella Jam

A week ago I was baking with Laurie again, this time for the Hampton Food and Arts Festival held outside of Toowoomba. It was a beautiful day and we again sold out of bread by lunch-time much to the regret of late shoppers. While wandering the stalls Nat purchased a small bag of rosella fruit. Rosella shrubs are sometimes called the Queensland jam plant and it is a native of coastal New South Wales and Queensland. It is a versatile plant with both edible fruit and foliage. The fruit is most often made into very popular jams but can also be dried and used in tea making. 

We spent a lazy afternoon peeling fruit and simmering jam for bottling. And the result is a richly coloured jam that could be best described as being similar to plum jam but tarter. Delicious.

I am now laying low with a nasty head cold … no more jam for me until I can taste again─it’s too good to waste!

Cheers,
Phil ** sniffle, sniffle

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I bought a new book. Yes! another bread book. I wasn't planning to ...  and thinking back I'm not completely sure where the inspiration came from, but sometimes inspiration just happens. (or in Nat's version of events ... self indulgence just happens...)

A week ago a second hand copy of ‘The Taste of Bread’  by Raymond Calvel, Ronald L. Wirtz and James J. MacGuire was delivered to my doorstep and I have been trying to absorb as much from it as I possibly can. I find it such an interesting read─on so many levels─from heavy discussions on the effect mixing has on dough maturity to small soulful snippets on French bread.

The chapter that captured my attention most and had me obsessively re-reading it was the chapter on flour. The classification and choice of flour available in France intrigues me. Finding such depth within a seemingly simple ingredient as white flour was something I wanted to explore and as luck would have it I had recently been given the name of a bakery─‘Uncle Bob’s Bakery’ that was stocking imported French flour.

Not only that, but the owner of ‘Uncle Bob’s Bakery’, Brett Noy was recently given the honour of being a jury member for the 2012 Coupe du Monde del la Boulangerie─the Bakery World Cup!!! … mmm … another French connection to this story it seems.

In France the purity level of flour is determined by mineral content measured by the ash level. So at different extraction rates you may have different ash content depending on the type of wheat, procedures used, mill equipment and the skill of the miller. As the ash level rises you will have flour that is richer with bran particles and darker in colour.

Choosing flour was the easy part but trying to make a final decision on what to bake was a bit trickier and in the end the flour dictated the final choice.

T45

This flour is normally associated with viennoiseries such as croissant, brioche and specialty breads containing high fat, sugar and eggs. As winter is slowly creeping upon us, it was time to revive one of my favourite traditions over the cooler months─brioche for weekend breakfasts with café au lait. 

The formula I worked with was Raymond Calvel’s ‘Brioche Leavened with Sponge and Dough’. It has a butter content of 45% (I used a cultured butter) and a small sponge of flour, yeast and milk which is mixed into the remaining dough after 45 mins of fermenting. As is usual when mixing this type of bread by hand I was kneading at the bench for at least 30 min by the time the butter was fully incorporated smoothly into the dough. Day-by-day a mixer looks increasingly tempting! (only if Nat gets to pick the colour!)

The dough was rested in the fridge overnight and shaped in the morning for the final proof. Oh, it has been such a long time since we have had brioche around our house. The  soft golden crumb teared so easily and when dipped in coffee─made my soul smile.

 

 

T130 Rye

For my experiments with this medium rye flour I took inspiration from photos of the amazing crusts of the tourte de seigle found in the boulangerie windows of Paris. It’s the contrast I love─the dark well baked crust scattered with flour coated islands.

Tourte de Seigle adapted from Denis Fatet’s formula at www.cannelle.com

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

1200g

 

Total flour

678g

100%

Total water

522g

77%

Total salt

13g

2%

Prefermented flour

319g

47%

 

 

 

Sourdough build: 1h 30 @ 35°C

 

 

Levain at 60% hydration

240g

141%

T130 rye flour

170g

100%

Water at 70°C

170g

100%

Salt

5g

3%

 

 

 

Final Dough: 1h 45 @ 40°C

 

 

Rye flour T130 sifted or T85 rye

358g

100%

Water at 70°C

262g

73%

Salt

8g

2%

Sourdough

580g

162%

 

Method

  1. Prepare sourdough: Stir hot water into rye flour then add levain and mix until smooth. Sprinkle with rye flour and allow to rise for 1hr 30 at 35°C. Cracks will appear on the surface of the sourdough. 
  2. Prepare final dough: Stir hot water into rye flour and salt then mix in sourdough until smooth. With wet hands round the dough and flatten into a round disc. Set to proof seam side down on floured parchment paper. Dust with flour and smooth with hand to ensure an even coating.  Proof uncovered and away from draughts.
  3. Proof for 1h 45 at 40°C. Cracks will appear on surface during proofing.
  4. Load into oven with steam at 270°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 250°C and bake a further 60 mins.

I have to be honest, I was a little nervous about the idea of mixing the levain into the hot water and flour mix. But my worries were unfounded. The hot mix cooled as I stirred it and cooled even further when I added the levain creating a warm sourdough sponge that really went off fast.

I have heard that keeping a correct proofing temperature greatly assists with even cracking over the surface so the tourte de seigle proofed in our tiny bathroom under the heat lamp. I pushed the proofing to two hours but think next time I will reduce it to the specified time as the crumb shows some signs of slight over-proofing.

This is a crust lovers bread. The crumb is smooth and mild with only a hint of sourness. After many bakes of whole-grain ryes this bread is a pleasant change─A perfect balance of flavour and texture. But most importantly I love the way it looks. Dramatic bread! Breakfast during the week has been slices of this slathered with cultured butter.

 

 

T65

The classic French bread for a classic French flour. Looking again to ‘The taste of Bread’ I used Raymond Calvel’s Pain au Levain formula substituting the T55 flour with the T65 I had on hand. At 64% the hydration was quite a bit lower than what I have been mixing recently but after an autolyse and solid 15 min mix by hand it produced a smooth and silky dough. It certainly felt different to the Australian flours I have been using but I am not sure how to put it best into words. Softer to the touch perhaps?

While the book uses a spiral mix followed by a 50 min bulk fermentation I was mixing by hand so opted for a gentler mix followed by a longer three hour bulk ferment to build strength and maturity in the dough. The final proof stretched out through the afternoon as the temperatures dropped but all the time increased the flavour of this delicious bread.

Nat is torn. She loves the flavour and texture of this bread, more so than the some of the Australian organic flours I have been using …  but it has come all the way from France … sigh. We are mindful of our footprint ...

I love the flavour as well so I am keen to keep experimenting with it … for the time being anyway.

Cheers,
Phil

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... Continued from the previous postChalala's Felton Miche - Wood-fired baking for a food festival - Part 1

I have heard a wood-fired oven being likened to a battery. You store energy, use it and then store it again. I still find it completely captivating watching the flames dance across the roof of the oven. Watching the black walls turn clear of soot and start to burn clean. Laurie and I stood in front of its solid heat marvelling at the flames while discussing heat retention and oven management. Laurie still finds it as fascinating today as when he first built it. The night after the food festival we were refiring the oven for Laurie’s wholesale customers. These breads would be delivered to cafes and households in and around the Toowoomba region. It was a modest bake in comparison to the Food Festival bake – approximately 170 loaves.

We were better prepared for the cooler temperatures and thus increased leaven quantities and paid even more care to the dough temperatures. A day of continual dough shaping was beginning to pay off for me. It gave me an increased awareness and I was able to react to subtle differences each dough that came off that wonderful diving arm mixer. Laurie bakes more tin loaves for his wholesale customers and he is obsessive in his quest for lofty bread proofed ever so carefully to the top of a tin. We worked well into the day, shaping and baking and shaping and baking. Towards the end of the day I was shaping and loading the oven by myself with Laurie keeping a careful eye and giving me gentle encouragement on the best order to fill the oven. Loading an oven loaf–by-loaf on a peel really is an art in itself.

As the afternoon approached we spent a few hours giving the bakery a thorough scrub down from top to bottom as the last load of fruit bread baked in the cooling oven. We were finished for the day. Rhonda had a prepared a dinner fit for kings and we slumped into chairs with a glass of red in hand. The following day I floated back to Brisbane and delivered bread for friends on my way home and that night Nat listened patiently to my stories of diving arm mixers, wood-fired ovens and shaping bread.

Cheers,
Phil

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PiPs

It is a stunning Autumn morning – crisp and clear. Outside a container of dough gently rises and for the first time all week I have a chance to sit and write a post for the blog.

I spent last weekend with friends near the small township of Pittsworth helping in their micro-bakery as they prepared for a food festival in a nearby community. Laurie and Rhonda started Chalala Micro-Bakery a few years ago with the vision of producing quality breads in a masonry oven. This has been expanded to include a range of stunning wood-fired mueslis, nuts and gluten free cookies.

I contacted Laurie a year ago with hope of gaining some experience in the operation of a small bakery and the use of a wood-fired oven. From that moment on they opened their home and hearts to me and have given this raggedy home-baker (I love that term Pat) some incredible hands-on experience.

Their bakery is based around an Alan Scott built oven and a recently purchased diving arm mixer affectionately dubbed baby Huey. Previously Laurie was mixing all the dough by hand in plastic tubs and I can tell you this is hard work – needless to say everybody was very grateful for baby Huey’s arrival.

Finishing work early on a Friday afternoon I drove west from Brisbane for two hours. After leaving the close confines of the city you start to notice the horizon and feel distance in all directions. The roads widen and lengthen before you.

I was heading out to assist Laurie with the bake and market stall for the Felton Food Festival. Felton is a farming district on the inner Darling Downs about 30 km south west of Toowoomba and in recent years has seen plenty of conflict between the mining industry and the local community over the development of an open cut coal mine. A month ago it was announced that the newly elected state government would rule out the proposed coal mine. The community had won and now the food festival was a chance to showcase the beauty and productivity of the Felton region.

Preparation for a bake is always a busy time. Flours are scaled and placed in boxes, ingredients are prepped and finally the leavens expanded. Along with this busy activity I milled flour in preparation for a batch of Country breads and Miche. My little mill had its work cut out for it and so did I as I sifted through a few kilograms of flour. This was to be a specialty one off bread for the food festival and Laurie was kind enough to allow me to develop a formula and mill the required flour. By the time I had prepared the flours I looked white as a ghost :) – covered in flour.

The plan was to bake an oven-load of country breads (Campagne) that included 3 x 2kg miche scored with the Felton Food Festival logo. The formula used Laurie’s organic white 100% hydration starter, a mixture of organic plain white flour, milled and sifted wheat flour, whole-grain spelt and whole-grain rye flour. Some final wood was placed in the oven and a draft door set in place until bake time. It was time to try and sleep.

 

Chalala’s Felton Miche 3 x 2kg Miche (Original formula was for 20kg)

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Makes 3 x 2kg Miche

 

 

Total dough weight

6000g

 

Total flour

3488g

100%

Total water

2512g

72%

Total salt

70g

2%

Prefermented flour

348g

10%

 

 

 

Leaven build – 10 hrs 23°C

 

 

Starter

77g

22%

Organic Plain flour approx 13% protein

348g

100%

Water

348g

100%

 

 

 

Final dough

 

 

Leaven

696g

22%

Organic Plain flour approx 13% protein

1256g

40%

Freshly milled and sifted wheat flour

1256g

40%

Freshly milled whole-grain spelt flour

471g

15%

Freshly milled whole-grain rye flour

157g

5%

Water

2164g

69%

Salt

70g

2%

 

Method

  1. Mix starter and leave to ferment for 10–12 hours at 23°C
  2. Combine Leaven, water, flours and salt and mix on slow for 15-20 minutes
  3. Bulk ferment 2.5–3 hours with two stretch-and-folds 30 mins apart in the first hour.
  4. Divide. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
  5. Proofing took two and half hours
  6. Bake in woodfired oven for 30 minutes at 250°C

 

On bake day we were a little surprised by cool bakery temperatures but by midway through the bake we had caught up and were back on schedule with the oven performing better than expected. By the end of the bake we had produced 300 loaves made up of 13 varieties of breads – 11 of them sourdoughs.

Ciabatta, miche/country bread, struan multi-grain, sprouted wheat bread, Irish brown/beer bread, olive bread, onion and rosemary bread, flaxseed rye tin loaf, spelt and teff tin loaf, fig and roasted walnut boule, banana sourdough tin loaf, fruit sourdough tin loaf and cinnamon scrolls.

Market day had arrived. We watched the weather with some nervousness and crossed our fingers hoping for a good attendance being it was the inaugural food festival for Felton. The organisers had been hoping for an attendance of 500 people, in fact there were many thousands – possibly 5000 or more.

We were fortunate to have a stall right by the front entrance and thus we didn’t have a moments rest until the last loaf of bread was sold only two hours after the gates had officially opened. Laurie and Rhonda then continued to sell muesli throughout the day.

Celebrity chef and owner of Tank and Bretts Wharf Restaurants in Brisbane, Alastair McLeod provided cooking demonstrations and utilised one of the miche in his dishes. He is a strong supporter of locally produced foods and some of his chefs have even travelled from Brisbane to spend time in the bakery with Laurie.

The festival was held on a property on top of a gentle hill overlooking farming land in all directions. Hay bales were scattered around under trees for people to sit and enjoy the local food while taking in the scenery. Some rain did drop for minute or so during the day but was welcomed happily by the farming community.

At the end of a long but rewarding day we headed back to the bakery to re-fire the oven and prep for Laurie’s Monday wholesale bake. It was time to try and sleep again.

… to be continued.

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PiPs

The idea of honest bread and its making found its way into my thinking over the weekend. I find myself slipping more and more into this way of baking. Using less but wanting more from it. I didn’t bake any differently to past weekends yet I felt more connected and relaxed throughout the process. The slightly cooler temperatures certainly helped both my peace of mind and the resulting bread. The kitchen felt less frantic.

 I haven’t been pushing the envelope. Just practising consistency while noticing and adapting to the subtle differences the change of seasons is bringing. Perhaps this might be seen as boring or lazy … nevertheless I enjoyed it thoroughly and it keeps us well fed.

I baked two small batches of 100 per cent whole-wheat desem bread and country breads on the weekend. This will feed the family during the week and left us with a loaf to take away on a picnic to a country market in the northern New South Wales town of Bangalow. We had the best handmade organic doughnuts while wandering through the markets. One of the country breads was given to Nat’s parents on our trip home to help ease their struggling brought on by home renovations.

I have been trying a new method of milling where the flour is constantly stirred and moved around in the bowl as it falls from the mill. I want to disperse the heat as quickly as possible and noticed a definite improvement in the time it took for the flour to cool. Whether this translates into the final bread I really have no idea. Any ideas? I sifted the wheat flour for the country bread as normal and retained the bran for coating the desem loaves.

Mixing the desem starter

Autolyse and desem starter

Squeezing in desem starter

Stretch-and-fold

 

100% Whole-wheat Desem

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

2000g

 

Total flour

1081g

100%

Total water

919g

85%

Total salt

20g

1.8%

Prefermented flour

162g

15%

 

 

 

Desem starter build – 10 hrs 18-20°C

 

 

Starter

61g

50%

Freshly milled organic wheat flour

122g

100%

Water

61g

50%

 

 

 

Final dough

 

 

Desem starter

243g

26%

Freshly milled organic wheat flour

919g

100%

Water

838g

91%

Salt

20g

2%

 

Method

  1. Mix desem starter and leave to ferment for 10-12 hours at 18-20°C
  2. Mill flour and allow to cool to room temperature before mixing with water (hold back 50 grams of water) and autolyse for a minimum of one hour.
  3. Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Bulk ferment two and a half hours with three stretch-and-fold 30 mins apart.
  5. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
  6. Final proof was for 1.5 hours at 24°C
  7. Bake in a preheated dutch oven at 250°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake a further 10 mins. Remove bread from the dutch oven and continue to bake on a stone for a further 20mins to ensure even browning.

 

 

I am continuing to expand the desem starter with one build straight from the fridge and as the overnight temperature continues to cool the desem starter is achieving a more controlled fermentation and sweeter aroma by the following morning. I have been looking forward to this kind of weather all summer and it is so nice to not have sweating dough racing away from me into a sticky mess. I even had to increase proofing times by an extra half-an-hour for this bake.

For an aesthetic change to previous desem loaves I baked these without slashing in a dutch oven after coating them in bran sifted from the country breads. I was really surprised with the increased oven spring … quite possibly the best I have had with this form of bread.

Country bread baking

The most telling tale that the cooling temperatures are affecting the bread came with the cutting and tasting. Nat took a bite and then looked at me and asked quite seriously, ‘Have you added anything else to this … it tastes sweet?’ Not only does it taste sweet, but you can smell the sweetness in the kitchen while slicing through a loaf. The crust is delicate with the bran coating adding a crunchy contrast to the soft crumb within.

So far we have eaten it with Nat’s special ‘sick soup’, with honey and ricotta, toasted with peanut butter, with plum jam, with apricot jam … and the list goes on and on.

Happy baking all ...
Cheers
Phil

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PiPs

Mornings appear a little darker here after we quietly slipped into autumn with little fanfare or apparent change in day-to-day weather. Both Nat and I have been waiting so impatiently for the cool change of a winter’s day. And although we don’t get the biting cold and snow here in Brisbane, it will make such a refreshing change from the sticky humid weather of late.

While initially my baking centred on our home life, there has been an increasing amount of bread being baked for friends. And with each bake I am becoming less and less interested in baking with white flour. For me, one of the most exciting aspects of these bakes has been the opportunity to bake bread for our friends using wholly fresh milled flour.

Saturday was an example of one of these baking days … a bake day that started a few nights earlier. The bake list for Saturday included a batch of Wholewheat banana and choc-chip muffins, Desem Wholewheat x 2, Country Bread x 2, Walnut and Sage Wholewheat x 2 and a Vollkornbrot.

For our desem bread this week I wanted to use the white wheat fresh from my aunt’s farm near Dalby. This meant spending an evening during the week sorting through a kilogram of wheat picking out impurities and non-wheat material. My eyes were certainly a little blurry by the end of this process.

 

 

Something I have noticed is the correlation between the how well planned a bake is and the amount of mess I seemingly generate. Let’s just say I am rapidly improving on both counts! And as seems to be my usual process, Friday afternoon was spent milling, sifting, soaking, building starters and then cleaning up. The desem dough was soaked overnight with the salt added ready for mixing first thing in the morning.

When Saturday arrived it felt hot and humid though Nat assures me it wasn’t that bad. The morning sun poured through our kitchen window bumping up the temperatures into the high 20s by breakfast time. This was going to be fast paced day. I mixed the doughs cool but found everything fermented quicker than normal and it was safer to prove the shaped bread in the fridge for and hour or so before baking. My oven is still proving to be a bottle neck in these situations.

It has been sometime since we have cut a loaf still warm from the oven and stopped for lunch to enjoy it. We cut open one of the desem loaves, enjoying one of the best bread experiences we have had in a long time – a simple fresh lunch with many sighs and nods of approval.

By mid afternoon the Vollkornbrot was baking in the slow oven while friends arrived to collect cooling breads. With the kitchen clean, we stopped, sat outside, enjoyed a cup of tea and watched the world race around us for a change.

Cheers,
Phil

 

 

 

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PiPs

Saturday morning ... kids rise early and greet a sunny new day. And while they busy themselves with play and squabbles I defrost some slices of Tartine Country Bread. We rarely have leftover bread in our freezer so French toast feels like such a treat. Little faces light up and impatiently circle the kitchen as the soft crumb of the Tartine Bread slowly absorbs the milk and egg. 

Then a patter of feet to the table as the frypan starts sizzling while calls are made for more cinnamon sugar than ever before. We politley respond in the negative. We like sweet French toast in our house. Simple and slightly sweet.
A light dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Perhaps a dollop of natural yogurt and blueberries.

Energy for a big blue day outside ...

Best wishes for the upcoming weekend ... looks like a rainy one here,
Phil

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PiPs

I still find it a funny experience to bake and then display small snippets of my life. Over the past fortnight I have perhaps pondered too deeply on this and my relationship with baking and bread … driven poor Nat to distraction I am sure.

So what do I want my bread to be like?

This question only found its way to me at the end of a long week. A long week with too much time spent looking at what other bakers/bakeries were doing. A week with too much time spent on other people’s lives and not my own. A week with too much time spent on wondering what I could possibly bake for the blog … and of course this is an endless ever-growing list.

For me, this seems to be the wrong way to go about it. Better to bake for my life and show the results, whether they are same and mundane or new and exciting. Even the same and mundane is never really the same and can be quite a challenge as we all know.

As the week finally came to an end, everything fell into place for a Saturday bake. I would bake and deliver my favourite bread, the Country Bread with two Starters to a small group of friends. This gave me a purpose, a timeline to stick to and just the right amount of pressure. And with any luck we would have a loaf left over for us to enjoy on a picnic the following day.

Along with the Country Bread I wanted to bake a 100% Rye Vollkornbrot with a meal so coarse that with every two grains into the mill I wanted three pieces out. This meant an afternoon of milling and preparation the day before. I took my time and approached it all a little differently. The wheat was milled finely and sifted once catching approx 17% of its weight with the caught material set aside for dusting peels and baskets.

The rye grains went through the mill with the stones set a wide distance apart which produced lovely cracked grains and also a proportion of fine flour. Throughout the milling process I had to manage the mill so the stones had time to cool between passes. The desem starter was then expanded directly from the fridge and left outside in the cool night air. The rye sour was built for both breads using very coarsely milled meal … this would be an interesting inclusion to the Country Bread formula.

The next morning I woke early to beat the heat and keep to the timeline. As the Country Bread autolysed the vollkornbrot was mixed and mixed and mixed. With a few minutes to spare I sat quietly as the oven preheated and sipped a cup of tea in apricot light amidst the chatter of morning birds. Two hours later the Vollkornbrot was in the oven as the Country Bread bulk fermented and I spent a morning making french toast for the family.

The Vollkornbrot was removed from the oven in time for me to boost up the heat in preparation for the two loads of Country Breads. A warm day greatly assisted their final proofing with fridge doing the opposite for one of the batches as they waited for the oven. The warm loaves were soon bundled into a basket for an afternoon of deliveries and errands in a glorious sunny day. Perfect!

The day after I finally had the chance to slice into and taste both of the breads. The Country Bread was brought to a family picnic by the water where it was topped with mashed banana … a treat for kids and adults alike! So many childhood memories tied up in that flavour combination. The translucent crumb was softer than I remember from past bakes which was most likely from the different sifting method used and possibly the cracked rye used in the starter. The flavour was mild and fresh and even with the rye starter there was very little hint of sour. … plus it has my favourite coloured crust!

I had to wait for breakfast the next day before slicing into the Vollkornbrot. I think the crumb is still setting but it held together well for thin slicing. The flavour is smooth and deep with a creamy texture. The grains are apparent but not chewy or uncomfortable. I would love to bake this even longer next time and perhaps ferment the sour a little longer … I am just a little cautious knowing how fast the fresh milled grains seem to ferment.

 

Vollkornbrot

Overview

Weight

% of total flour

Total flour/grain

915g

100%

Total water

730g

80%

Prefermented flour

320g

35%

Desired dough temperature 24°C

 

 

 

 

 

1. Rye sour – 12 hrs 24°C

 

 

Starter (Not used in final dough)

32g

3%

Coarsely  milled cracked rye

320g

35%

Water

320g

35%

Total

640g

 

 

 

 

2. Soaker

 

 

Coarsely  milled cracked rye

100g

11%

Altus

40g

4%

Water

200g

22%

Salt

14g

1.5%

 Total

354g

 

 

 

 

3. Soaked grains

 

 

Ryegrain

70g

8%

Spelt grain

70g

8%

Honey

2 tbsp

 

Boiling Water

272g

30%

 

 

 

Final paste  @ 24°C

 

 

Sour (1.)

640g

70%

Soaker (2.)

354g

39%

Soaked grains drained (3.)

160g (approx)

17%

Coarsely  milled cracked rye

322g

35%

Water

210g

23%

Total

1680g

 

 

Method

  1. 5:30pm the day before prepare the rye sour (1.) soaker (2.) and soaked grains (3.)
  2. 5:30 am the following day. Drain soaked grains and combine with rye sour, soaker and remaining cracked grains and water.
  3. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon for 20-30 minutes (basically stir/mix until tired. Rest then begin stirring again)
  4. Shape and place into greased tin (mine are 8 x 4 x 4 pullman) seam side down.
  5. I proved it for one hour before docking, covering with lid and placing into oven preheated to 270°C on a baking stone. I immediately dropped the temperature to 200°C  for one hour. I then reduced the temperature to 150°C and baked a further hour before removing from the oven.

 

So this is what I baked on my weekend … and now the starters are happy and well fed, we are happy and well fed and it’s nice to have found my path and purpose.

Cheers,
Phil

 

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