The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Skibum's blog

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Skibum

I have been quite lazy over the past couple of weeks buying my hot cross buns from the local bakery. I finally decided to get busy and bake a batch. The recipe I used was Floyd's recipe which I searched on this site and uses commercial yeast. I normally use a natural yeast starter, but have also been lazy of late in feeding my starter. Next batch of buns perhaps.

Happy baking and Happy Easter! Ski

Skibum's picture
Skibum

Greeting fellow bakers and happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends and happy Presidents Day to my American friends!

Sorry for the repetition, but this P. Reinhart recipe has become my favourite sandwich loaf. I use a whole light rye starter and it is delicious sandwich bread!

I have baked this recipe in a loaf pan, free standing in the oven with the pizza stone but this time decided to try baking in a hot cast iron Dutch oven, 20 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered.

Now Forkish style invlolves proofing in the banneton seam side down and baking seam side up. On this bake, the way the seams broke down, the finished loaf had less loft the the final proofed dough. So when I next bake this bread, I will proof seam side up and bake seam side down. I hope this change in method will give the dough more volume.

Happy baking! Ski

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Skibum

Well friends, my second Forkish effort in as many weeks from "Flour, Water, Salt and Yeast." This is a robust bread. Baking in the Dutch oven really gives a snap to the crust, while the crumb is open soft and shred able. Boy did the loaf ever snap, crackle and pop when I removed from the hot DO to the cooling rack!

As I don't really like the taste of whole wheat, I reduced the WW in the starter by half and made up the difference with white rye flour. The result is much more to my taste. With about 3 Tbs of WW flour in this loaf, my 2 kilos of Organic whole wheat flour will last some time. It lives in the fridge.

Well this is another recipe that will go into my baking rotation. I have firmly baked myself out of my rut with this one!

Happy baking! Ski

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Skibum

Here you go clazar!

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa (I used Dutch process cocoa)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, (I used milk chocolate chips)
  1. Cream butter and sugar together, add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla.
  2. In separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to Butter mixture in thirds, making sure all dry ingredients are incorporated before adding more. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Shape dough into a 12 x 4 inch log and place on a well greased baking pan (or use parchment paper) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut loaf into 3/4 inch slices and place back on baking sheet, cut side down. Bake again for 8 minutes then turn cookies over and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Completely cool cookies on a rack then store in an airtight container.

Enjoy and happy baking! Ski

Skibum's picture
Skibum

I first began baking these almond cookies the week before Christmas and every time I run out, I bake another batch. The recipe is from Penelope Casas' "The Foods and Wines of Spain." As the cookbook author says, she has been known to eat them by the dozen.

These cookies are delicious and quite easy to make:

1 cup flour

3/4 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup sugar

pinch salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnimon

1/4 pound or 1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening

1 egg beaten

Mix the dry ingredients and then cut in the shortening and egg. I used a pastry cutter and finished by hand. I used an ice cream scoop to size the cookies half round, then pressed them down in the centre with my thumb.

Bake at 300F for 30 minutes until golden. Dust with powdered sugar. I forgot this last step which is optional in my books. Enjoy!

Happy baking! Ski

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Skibum

Well folks, in an effort to continue to get my baking out of the rut it languished in for a year or so, I turned to Ken's book, "Flour, Water Salt and Yeast," for some inspiration. It had been a couple of years since I baked his breads or consulted his book. To be honest, I have never really enjoyed his breads. He uses a little whole wheat in every recipe and I cannot wrap my taste buds around the taste of whole wheat. Even buying the best whole meal, organic whole wheat flour, i am not liking the taste it gives to my breads. Now rye flour -- OH MY!

Well I baked a loaf of this walnut bread and at first was not happy with the flavour. I then re-consulted the recipe and found that he enjoyed it toasted with butter and honey. I tried this way with blueberry, wildflower honey and liked the combination. While I will never be a fan of his bread formulas, I am a BIG fan of his technical approach to baking! Reading Forkish once again has rounded out my baking knowledge. His discussion on maintaining and modifying the flavour of a levain is priceless!

Happy baking! Ski

Skibum's picture
Skibum

I began browsing the fresh loaf mid 2009, when I was trying to learn how to bake proper bread. Over the years the suggestions, advice, support and references have taught me much about baking bread. I enjoy the breads I bake.

Perhaps the best early advice I adopted was from a poster who suggested that if you can buy your flour from your local artisan baker do so. I have done so ever since, in Canmore and now in Golden where I just bought my second bag of bread flour from our local bakery.

Now I bake pulla about every 10 days to two weeks, but the starter loaf I mixed Tuesday with the new batch of flour resulted in more oven spring than I have ever seen. Mind you the pulla loaf I baked 2 weeks ago was with 5 month old flour, but holy cow I have never seen such oven spring before!

The result was a nice loose crumb, great flavour and eat ablility! The dark on the crust is from the granulated sugar I generously sprinkled on the egg wash coating prior to baking. There is much to be said for an active, well fed starter, but I think the real hero here is the flour. the owner and head baker of this 50 year old family run bakery has been buying flour from the same southern Alberta mill near Lethbridge since the bakery opened. I feel blessed to be able to bake with such a good flour and have been loving the results!

Happy baking! Ski

PS anyone wants the recipe, please just ask and I will post it in the comments.

Skibum's picture
Skibum

Now that I have discovered a good source of Montreal smoked meat in town, I determined to do the deli rye from Peter Reinhart's, "Bread Baker's Apprentice." I have baked this recipe often, but this was the first time I built a fully rye starter. My previous starters were a wheat/rye mix. this time I starting from my mother, I fed with rye flour four times over three days and for the fourth and final feed added the sauteed yellow onions. After a few hours it was time to mix and bake.

I proofed the loaf seam side down in a round banneton and baked seam side up. The way the loaf kind of blew apart on top points to some deficiency in my seam sealing. As always this is a work in progress, stepping back to a method of baking I haven't done in two or so years.

Starting the oven at 400F, I then turned the oven down to 375F for 20 minutes with steam and finished at 350F for 20 minutes no steam. The resulting loaf was delicious with a soft crumb. Perfect for pile it on smoked meat sandwiches!

Though I halved Peter's original recipe, I ended up using a higher percentage of starter than the original -- 180 vs 164 grams. The only thing I would change next time I bake this is to make sure the onions are cut to a uniformly small dice. A little sloppy on my dicing, I had a few more larger chunks than I would like. Great recipe GREAT bread!

Happy baking, Ski

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Skibum

I found with my last bake, that by coating the dough with melted butter, then the chocolate filling, that as the dough rose in the proof and baking stages, it squeezed most of the chocolate to the top of the loaf.

With version II, I omitted the melted butter and think it bonded better to the dough and this version has more veins of chocolate than the first bake. I also used a little more than half a batch of pulla dough and found 525 grams properly filled the loaf pan. Pulla is a dough enriched with milk, sugar, eggs and cardamom.

Baked at 350F for 15 minutes with steam and another 20 minutes no steam. I forgot to add chopped nuts this time and will do so next time.

This loaf is pretty decadent and sweet, but it goes great with really strong coffee -- espresso from my little Bialetti espresso maker!

Happy baking Fresh Loaf friends! Ski

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Skibum

I baked a half batch of bagels this morning following Peter Reinhart's recipe fro "Artisan Breads Every Day." Boy did they ever turn out good! I should have made a full batch. It was my first time attempting bagels and this recipe will definitely be a regular in my baking rotation.

I enjoyed my first home baked bagel for a late breakfast with cream cheese. Now I need to go out and find some lox!

Happy baking! Ski

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