The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

rhag's blog

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Just posting up some results from my saturday wood fired bake. I did a pain au levain, running off of thoms country french but I increased the hydration a bit because my high extraction flour absorbs a lot of water due to a small bran content. I mill the flour myself and dont have a super fine sifter so the extra water gives quite an open structure. Comments and Questions are always welcome.






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I work at a small Organic Bakery in Winnipeg,MB. We get our grain directly from the farmers and mill our own flour/grain and press our own organic sunflower oil at the bakery . The bread is pretty basic but is made with the best ingredients possible. I work the night shift from 8pm to 430am by myself and on average I make between 275 and 400 loaves each night along with roughly 700 buns and 250 WW cinnamon buns. I make 9 kinds of bread during the night: Wholewheat, Wholewheat Multi, White, Cracked Wheat, White Multi, Wild Rice, Light Sourdough Rye, Spelt, and Ciabatta.

After I finish work at 430 I drive 45 min to bake in a woodfired oven for a farmers market on the weekend until 10am which is just for fun to help out a friend with production.

PICTURES! They're kind of crummy because I took them on my phone.










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As requested here's the recipe I use to make baguettes. This recipe yields about 10-390g baguettes. For use in a home oven i would scale down the weight otherwise you'll end up with a small loaf rather than the slender french icon.




Flour (Hard) 850g

Water           850g

Yeast           Pinch

Flour: I use manitoba organic white. I think it runs in the 13% range for protien. So use accordingly, KAF seems like good flour in the US


Final Dough:

Flour (Hard)  1675g

Water             850g

Salt                50g

Yeast (Fresh)  26g If using instant yeast use 1/3 of the listed fresh amount.


1. Poolish- 12-16 hours prior to the bake mix all ingredients for the poolish until smooth. Water temp should be cool to the touch roughly 21°C or 70°F. Cover and let rise at room temp. Make sure the Poolish does not collapse. If the poolish collapses discard it as it will not longer provide the proper flavour, extensibility  or gluten development to your dough.


2. Mixing- By hand or my machine. It's up to you I use a spiral. In the spiral i put all the ingredients in and mix for 6-7 minutes on the only speed the spiral works at. Itwould be equivilant to a 1st speed on most mixers. Your looking for a smooth shiney dough with moderate gluten development. Dough temp should come out of the mixer at 25°C or 78°F. You'll have to adjust the water temp based on the ambient temp.

3. Fermentation- Bulk Ferment 2 hours. With a Fold at 1 hr.

4. Dividing and Shape- Pour dough from proofing container on to floured table. Do not Degas at this point. Scale out your portions and be gentle we're trying to retain some of the hole structure we've built from out fermentation. Give a light oval preshape to the portions and let rest for 10-15 minutes. The dough needs to be sufficiently relaxed because when we final shape the dough we want to extend the dough to its final length in 1 or 2 passes. At this point we are trying to handle the dough as little as possible. Over working the dough will give a very tight crumb structure. Final shape the dough  gently degas and shape this is the closest video i can find to how i final shape the baguettes.

5. Proofing - Proof at room temp for 30min - 1hr between folds of bakers linen, couche, canvas whatever you've got.  seam side up.

6. Bake - Score w/ razor blade in desired pattern or cut into epi loaves. Bake @ 460°F w/ steam on hearth. Give  a good bake so the moisture in the dough doesn't migrate out the the crust, a soft crust on cooled lean bread means it needed a longer bake. I don't time my bakes because each batch of dough is different so thats a judgment call in your court.

7. EAT!!!!!!

8. If there are left overs the next day make crustini, breadcumbs, crutons or bread pudding!



If i'm missing anything or am completely wrong let me know and i'll give this an update. Hope this helps.




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On Saturday the 7th at 9pm I started mixing my first dough and began my overnight bake to have fresh bread out for my display at the 2009 culinary salon. As the night progressed I created my take on the epi loaf, guinness and barley bread, ciabatta, palmiers, croissant, danish pastries, 5 grain buns, 5 strand challahs and my centre piece. I set up the display around 6 am on sunday after a relaxing night bake. Judging began at 8am and i was allowed back at 1pm. I arrived with much anticipation and found my peice awarded a 1st place standing in my category!. Gold! I took some pictures of my work space at the college for everyone to see. Needless to say i was excited all day about the win.


A couple doughs getting fermented


The Deck oven I use. Its not fancy but gives good heat and I control the steam I add w/ a manual lever


Palmiers Getting rolled out


My take on the Epi





Baguette Crumb



Me and Chef Bucher( my instructor from europe)


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Today i put together a decorative plaque, baguettes, ciabatta, and the beer and barley bread. I'm entering a baking competition this weekend and have been practicing for the last little while. On Sunday I'll be doing the decorative plaque, baguettes, ciabatta, beer bread, multi buns, challah, palmiers, croissants, and danish dough for my display. Thoughts and comments are always welcome. If people are at all interested in a tutorial for the plaque just let me know! (I'm from Manitoba, Canada and our province has heritage with the bison and farming hence the wheat and bison on the display) I've redone the plaque already to clean up the seams and braid and this was my first.








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This weekend I decided to get in touch with my sweet side. I made cinnamon buns on sat and croissants, chocolate hazelnut danish and an apricot basket ( unglazed in pictures). I used the recipe out of artisan baking by ciril hitz. My assistant was also helping me out with the weekend bake.



Assistant below:




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Todays Bake included the Five grain bread, Pain Au Levain, semolina baguettes and the vermont sourdough (no pictures sry) out of hamelmans book. But upon looking at the 5 grain recipe i only came up with 4 grains. If anyone could clarify for me that would be awesome. I stuck with the batard shape as i will be picking up a few wicker baskets soon. al so if anyone has any ideas on loaf shapes let me know! enjoy comments questions and whatever else are always welcome. ( sorry about the medicore pictures they came off my iphone.)





Pain au Levain Crumb







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Todays Bake  included a few baguettes and I tried out the Beer and barley bread from hamelmans book. This is a solid recipe and i opted to use guinness as the beer because it definitly my favourite to drink on its own and figured it wuld give the bread great flavour. I would definitly recommend this recipe to anyone looking for a semi whole wheat bread with lots of flavour! Questions, thoughts, comments are always welcome.








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So this is my first post here. I've got a few pictures here of the bread display I am putting on for the open house at the college. Theres Baguettes, Ciabatta, Miche, Light Sourdough Rye, and Challah. I also had a semolina loaf but someone decided to drop the dough on the floor. Enjoy!










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