The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Sam Fromartz

A number of blogs here have linked to this recipe, which ended up launching my forthcoming book: In Search of a Perfect Loaf. Now, having redesigned my site, the link to this recipe frustratingly doesn't work. So here it is again: Baguette Traditional -- Fromartz Recipe

Here are a couple of posts that refer to it:

XXXII - Baguette Traditional a la Samuel Fromartz....-ish - Lumos's blog

Sam Fromartz's Award-Winning Baguettes - Wally's Blog

More Fromartz's Baguettes - EHanner's blog

 

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Sam Fromartz

I posted two great videos at my blog, about shaping and scoring a baguette. I was hoping to post them here but can't get the embedded videos from youtube to work, so just go to the link.


 

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Sam Fromartz

Beer Barm Bread, with Spent Grains



Ahhh, beer making. I don't partake of this sport, but my step-mom, Patty, does, with a passion. And I have to say her IPA will put rivals to shame. But here's the thing. She's been brewing this beer for a few years, and even grows the hops in the backyard. I have long wanted to make a bread with the "wort" (that is, the pre-fermented beer) and the "spent grains" (the malted barley soaked in hot water that, with hops, makes the wort). This is the ultimate beer bread and the method goes back to England and Scotland, and probably much earlier historically, considering barley beer and bread built the pyramids.


British baker Dan Lepard explains that the mildly antiseptic qualities of hops prevent the barm leaven from turning sour. This might seem odd, given that hops are bitter, but in a small dose of leaven they actually sweeten the bread.


For the rest of the post on this wonderful bread, see my post on ChewsWise.com.


Beer Barm Bread


 

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Sam Fromartz

I am heading to Berlin for 10 days, during which I'll spend part of the time in a bakery trying to learn about rye and whole grain breads. This is for the book I'm working on. If anyone out there has any suggestions for must-see, must-eat, must-do things in Berlin during this frigid month let me know.


Thanks, Sam

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Sam Fromartz

There's been some discussion about the baker's percentage formula for the Tartine Loaf in Chad Robertson's book. I thought I'd create a spreadsheet that clarified the formula. As related on page 48 of his book, he gives the baker's percentage but only in terms of the final ingredients. The formula doesn't include the flour and water in the leaven. So while he states the bread has a 75% hydration, it is actually higher, 77% The formula also makes it difficult to convert the recipe into smaller loaves. So I've created a spread sheet that does that, following a method at the Bread Bakers Guild of America. The measurements are all in grams.


The spreadsheet shows the TOTAL formula in the left column and the FINAL formula which mirrors Robertson's. To use this spreadsheet, I've made it available in google docs.


The nice thing about it is that you enter the number of loaves and the size of loaves (THE FIRST TWO CELLS -- NOTHING ELSE). The spreadsheet figures out the rest -- which is highlighted in blue.


I've only given the total leaven you need (white, whole wheat and water). The seed for that leaven should be only a couple of tablespoons. One more note -- the fourth line of the spreadsheet shows the "% flour levain" -- which means the percentage of total flour that is prefermented in the leaven. Many formulas go as high as 40%. Robertson's is much lower, which means the leaven takes longer to mature and has a much milder taste. As I noted before, however, the fermentation is spurred by the presence of whole wheat flour at 50% in the leaven. 


So ultimately does it matter, getting the precise formula? I would say no. But this is it. Now you can make it your own.


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Sam Fromartz

I've posted a brief review of the Tartine Bread book here at ChewsWise.com. I've really enjoyed baking with it, and wanted to show off my results of his whole wheat loaf, which is actually 70% whole wheat. Here's a picture. (I also didn't post the entire piece because I've had problems posting on the Fresh Loaf blog). 


Tartine whole wheat

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Sam Fromartz

Here are some pictures of the winning breads at the Coupe Louis Lesaffre Competition at IBIE from Team USA. They now go to the Coupe du Monde in 2012 in Paris to compete against 11 other national teams. Background on the competition process is here


Bread Sculpture, Harry Peemoeller, Team USA


Bread sculpture by Harry Peemoeller, instructor Johnson and Wales, Charlotte, NC


 


IMG_0735.JPG


Mike Zakowski, The Baker (Bekjr), Sonoma, CA, with his breads


 


Team USA breads


Pictures of Mike Zakowski's breads.


One of Mike's entries was a loaf with type-80 wheat mixed with white flour and cracked spelt soaked in agave nectar for 12 hours. It was the best bread I had at the entire convention -- I think (there were many great breads). I asked him where he got cracked spelt, since I had never seen it. He said he grinds it himself with a hand grinder. Although he works at Artisan Bakers in Sonoma, he sells his own bread at a farmers' market in Oakland.


I did take pictures of the beautiful viennoiserie made by Jeremey Gadouas, a baker from Bennison’s Bakery, Evanston, IL, but they were too blurry.


Here are a couple of pictures of rye breads made by Jeffrey Hamelman of King Arthur.


Hamelman's 40% rye


Hamelman's 40% rye, it had nuts and dates I think but I may be wrong. 


Jeffrey Hamelman


Jeffrey Hamelman in a light moment


Hamelman's 60% rye


Hamelman's 60% rye, one barely viewed on left has sesame seeds.


Hamelman noted that he scores some ryes before proofing, to get more bloom in the oven at the cut. The first one pictured above was scored before proofing. 


Images: by Samuel Fromartz

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Sam Fromartz


image from farm5.static.flickr.com
Image: Chipati with chickpea, potato and spinach stew.


I wrote a story in the WaPo on a wood-fired baking class at King Arthur Flour with Jeffrey Hamelman. Here's the companion recipe on flatbread, which has a hydration of 66%. It seemed appropriate given the long thread launched by Bhutan Baker.


Summer is a great time to make this yeast-free flatbread, which takes minutes to cook on top of the stove. The recipe calls for chapati flour, a very finely ground whole-wheat flour that is available in Indian markets. You can use regular whole-wheat flour, but it must be sifted to remove any large particles of bran.


MAKE AHEAD: This dough is best made in the morning for use later in the day. The balls of dough can be refrigerated in a lightly oiled resealable plastic food storage bag for 2 or 3 days; let the dough come to room temperature before rolling. The flatbreads can be wrapped in aluminum foil and reheated in a 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes.


Makes 12 flatbreads


Ingredients:


3 cups (400 grams) whole-wheat flour or chapati flour, plus more for the work surface (see headnote)


Scant 1 1/4 cups (265 grams) water


2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, plus more for the bowl


1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) salt


Directions:


Combine the flour, water, oil and salt in a bowl until they come together into a mass. Let sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes while the flour absorbs the water.


Lightly flour a work surface. (All-purpose flour can be used for this; if using whole-wheat flour, make sure it has been sifted to remove any large bran particles.) Transfer the dough to the work surface and knead for about 5 minutes by pushing down on and spreading the dough and then turning it over on itself, being careful not to rip the dough. It should be smooth and elastic. Form it into a ball and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 8 to 12 hours.


About 45 minutes before you want to bake, spread out the dough on a lightly floured counter and form into 2 logs. Cut each log into 6 equal pieces. You should have 12 pieces of dough that weigh about 2 ounces each; evenly distribute any leftover dough as needed.


Shape each piece into a ball. Let the balls rest for 30 minutes at room temperature under plastic wrap.


Place a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; cover with a lid. (Alternatively, invert a wok over a burner for cooking on the underside of the wok.)


Liberally flour a work surface. Flatten a dough ball and dust it lightly with flour, then use a rolling pin to roll it out as thin as possible (7 to 9 inches in diameter), rotating the disk to keep it even.


Rolling out dough


Image: dough rolled out nearly paper thin.


When the skillet is smoking lightly, gently lift a disk of dough. Place it in the skillet and cover immediately. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then flip the dough. Cover and cook for 30 seconds. (If using an overturned wok, simply place the bread on top of the wok and flip it when ready.) The breads will bake in 2 minutes and should be blistered and dark in spots.


Remove the flatbread and cover with a towel or aluminum foil to keep it from crusting over. (Dot it with butter and fold it in half if you like). Serve warm. These can be made in advance and stored in a resealable plastic container.


Recipe adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman, a master baker and bakery director at King Arthur Flour.


This version was posted on my blog at ChewsWise.com


Stuffed flat bread


Image: Flatbread stuffed with beets, goat cheese and cilantro

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Sam Fromartz



I just posted this recipe over at my blog ChewsWise, where I give much longer description. But I thought bakers here would be interested. This recipe makes two large batards or boules.


Sourdough
70 grams stiff starter
80 grams water
60 grams organic white bread flour
60 grams organic spelt flour


Flax Seed Soaker
1/2 cup (85 grams) organic flax seeds
75 grams water to barely cover the seeds


Final Dough
250 grams sourdough
Flax seed soaker
280 organic white bread flour
280 organic spelt flour
400 grams water
14 grams coarse sea salt



1. Mix starter, cover and let sit overnight (8-12 hours) at room temperature of about 75 F degrees. Pour the flax seeds into a separate bowl and just barely cover with water. 


2. Combine the starter and water in a bowl and mix it up with a wooden spoon or spatula until combined. Add the flours and using a plastic bench scraper, spoon or mixer with dough hook, mix the dough until all the lumps of flour are gone. This will take about 2 minutes. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.


3. Add salt and mix on a slow speed, about 4 minutes. Add the flax seed soaker and using your hands or the mixer, continue mixing until the seeds are evenly distributed. 


4. Form into a ball and place in a clean, oiled bowl and cover for the first rise. Fold at 50 minute intervals. Total rise is 2.5 hours. 


5. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter, divide in two and form into rough batards or boules. Let rest for 15 minutes, then finish shaping the loaves. 


6. The final rise should take 90 minutes. Or, to build up the flavor of the loaf, cover the loaves then let them sit for 30 minutes before putting them in the refrigerator in a closed plastic bag. (I use Ziploc Big Bags ). Retard the loaves for 8-12 hours,.


7. Turn the oven to 460 F with a baking stone in the middle of the oven and a rimmed sheet pan on the bottom. Preheat for at least one hour. 


8. When ready to bake, slash the loaf in a square pattern with a bread knife or blade, then place in the oven on the heated stone. (Batards can be slashed lengthwise). Pour 2/3 cup of water into the sheet pan and close the door. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn down the oven to 420 F and keep baking for another 15 minutes. Check the loaf. It is done when you rasp it on the bottom with your knuckle and it makes a distinct hollow sound. If not yet done, turn down oven to 400 F and keep baking for 10 minutes. Then turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let the loaf sit for another 10 minutes. Repeat with the second loaf.


 


 

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Sam Fromartz

One of the challenges for a home baker is to try and figure out how to make a great bread once you've tasted it. Like encountering the Platonic ideal, you recognize it, reach for it and try and duplicate it -- and then you fail miserably and often give up.

Jim Lahey, the founder of Sullivan Street Bakery, was like a culinary Plato for me. Every bread he turned out was amazing and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't find a way to make the airy, light, wonderfully tasteful bread at home. To learn more, I actually visited his bakery in New York several years ago and did a story on him. And while he gave me a few generous tips in an interview (and critiqued the sample I had in my backpack), it wasn't enough. I had to learn on my own and like most bread, I later realized success was less about the recipe than the technique.

Lahey, of course, later caused a storm on the Internet with his no-knead bread recipe, courtesy of Mark Bittman. Then, he spun those recipes into My Bread published this past fall, which ranks as a perfect starting point for an aspiring baker.

Less known than his bread, however, are his terrific pizzas, which he also includes in the book. These aren't the round pizzas he serves up at his New York restaurant, Company, but rectangular sheets of exceedingly thin-crust pizza, topped with onions, mushrooms or just tomato sauce. They are sold by the slice in his bakery.

The big secret about these crispy gems? Like no-knead bread they are dead easy and fast to make. For the effort, you get great results. 

In fact, the pizza recipe was so easy that I was skeptical it would be worth it. You mix the dough quickly, let it rise for a couple of hours, flatten it out in a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, spread the topping and bake it. The recipe was also quite different from another here, because no mixer is necessary. 

You can dispense with a baking stone, too. And finally, watch your impulse on toppings! The biggest error pizza novices make is to pile on so much stuff the pie turns into a soggy, gloppy mess. As Jim told me many years ago, when it comes to pizza, "less is more." He's right. Like many Italian concoctions, he also avoids cheese on these rectangular pies and the result, in my opinion, is superior. But if you insist, go ahead and add a bit of cheese.

Here's his basic dough recipe and the stellar pizza patate (potato pizza).

Basic Pizza Dough 

Yield: enough dough for two pies baked in 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheets

3 3/4 cups (500 grams) bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) instant or active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
3/4 teaspoon plus pinch (3 grams) sugar
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) water
Extra Virgin olive oil for pan

In a bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water, and using a spoon, your hand, or a baker's plastic bench scraper, mix together until blended -- about a minute (Jim says 30 seconds but mine took a bit longer). You don't want to mix or knead this dough too much, or else the gluten will develop and you won't be able to shape it in the pan. But you want to mix in all the lumps of flour. In the end, you'll arrive at a stiff dough.

Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. (If your room is cold, put it in the oven with a pilot light to warm up a bit, or in a closed cabinet).

Dump out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Use both pieces, or save one in the refrigerator (I use a zip lock bag) for up to 1 day. Oil a 13x18 inch rimmed baking sheet liberally with good extra virgin olive oil (yes, pour it on). Then gently plop the dough on the pan and stretch and press it out to the edges. If it springs back (that's the gluten working) wait five minutes and then proceed. I found the gluten weak enough to spread it fully over the pan. The dough is very thin. If it tears, piece it back together.

Lahey has a few basic toppings in his book, such as pizza pomodoro (tomato sauce), pizza funghi (mushroom), and pizza cavolfiore (cauliflower), but I zoomed in on his pizza patate (potato). This might sound like a carbo-loading dream, but remember the crust is thin, so you're not stuffing yourself with dough.

Pizza Patate

As Jim writes, "Potato pizza is another Italian classic you don't see very often in the United States. While my rendition is pretty traditional, I soak the potatoes in salted water first, which actually extracts about 20 percent of their moisture. That causes them to cook more quickly and makes them firmer. It's a little trick I learned from cooking potato pancakes."

YIELD: One 13-by-18-inch pie; 8 slices 

EQUIPMENT: A mandoline

1 quart (800 grams) lukewarm water 
4 teaspoons (24 grams) table salt 
6 to 8 (1 kilo) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled 
1 cup (100 grams) diced yellow onion 
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) freshly ground black pepper 
About 1⁄2 cup (80 grams) extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 recipe (400 grams) Basic Pizza Dough 
About 1 tablespoon (2 grams) fresh rosemary leaves

Preheat the oven to 500 F (260 C) with a rack in the middle

In a medium bowl, combine the water and salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Use a knife or mandoline to slice the peeled potatoes very thin (1/16th inch thick), and put the slices directly into the salted water so they don’t oxidize and turn brown. Let soak in the brine for 1-1/2 hour (or refrigerate and soak for up to 12 hours), until the slices are wilted and no longer crisp. (Note: I cut the soaking time to 30 minutes and the results were still good.)

Drain the potatoes in a colander and use your hands to press out as much water as possible, then pat dry. In a medium bowl, toss together the potato slices, onion, pepper, and olive oil.

Spread the potato mixture evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges of the pan; put a bit more of the topping around the edges of the pie, as the outside tends to cook more quickly. Sprinkle evenly with the rosemary. (Note: I left it out in the version pictured above, but feel it's better with it). 

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the topping is starting to turn golden brown and the crust is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Serve the pizza hot or at room temperature.

Variation • Pizza Batata (Sweet Potato Pizza)

Substitute 2 sweet potatoes (800 grams), peeled, for the Yukon Gold potatoes, and use about 4 cups (about 900 grams) water and 24 grams (4 teaspoons) salt for the soaking liquid. Omit the rosemary in the topping.

(I originally posted this on ChewsWise)

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