The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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From top left, the obligatory weekly pulla braid, country blonde, apple, walnut, cream cheese bread and Italian semolina, sesame loaves!

I used a single batch of pulla dough to make both the braid, 60%  dough volume and apple, cream cheese bread, 40%dough volume. My goal with the fruit, cream cheese bread was to pack as much goodness into each bite as possible. Mission accomplished!!!

Happy baking!  Ski

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My first Forkish style boule in a few months. I proofed seam side down and baked seam side up. The last time I did one of these the seams didn't open, so I did a classic, cross score. It looks like both seams and score lines opened up for an interesting loaf.

This was a back of the envelope loaf, similar to SJSD and Overnight country blonde. 500g total flour at 73% hydration, 15% liquid levain, 5% each whole wheat and rye flour and the rest strong bread flour. I only used 6 grams salt and think it needs more next time, say 11 grams.

After trying and failing this summer to master both the overnight country blonde, SJSD and batard shape with mixed to poor results, I decided to take my baking back to an earlier time and process. I used Peter Reinhart's S&F method with 10 minutes rest between folds, then just watched the dough.

After about 2 hours bulk on the counter it had developed to 1.5x bulk and it was into the fridge for overnight as per PR. I let the dough warm up and finishing rising to about 2.5x bulk on the counter the next morning. At this point I shaped a boule and proofed for about 55 minutes in a well floured brotform. This was baked @ 500F in a lodge cast iron combo cooker for 17 minutes covered and another dozen uncovered turning at the half.

Nice bread with an almost shred able crumb and good crust snap. I am happy with this bake. Nice flavour, crust, crumb and good loft in this loaf.

Happy baking, Ski

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Oh my! I had to share this recipe!

As a single ski bum, I have been feeding daily on cream cheese, fruit braid and pulla for nearly three weeks now. I have also discovered parts of long ago baked breads in the depths of my freezer. Some still excellent and a couple over time. Time to start baking loaves again and time to feed my starter.

I have baked these cookies a couple of times with great results and this time decided to spike things with a little chipotle powder and some almond. This recipe just called out for some nuts!

Here is the mix:

85g semi sweet chocolate, ( I used 15 g unsweetened and 70g semi)

1Tbs butter

1/4 cuo + 2 Tbs sugar

2Tbs fine ground expresso coffee

1/2 cup flour

1 Tbs cocao pow

1/2 tsp baking pow

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water

1/2 -1 tsp chipotle powder

Mix all of the above ingredients, then fold in:

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips.

The batter looked lacking, so I added:

1/2 cup slivered almonds

I spooned about 1.5 Tbs onto a baking parchment lined baking sheet, then rounded, flattened and shaped the cookies before baking.

Bake 300F 18 - 20 minutes and allow to cool on baking trays. This is a half version and take off of Giada's recipe and I believe credit where credit is due:

Happy baking! Ski

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Well friends, I enjoyed the berry cream cheese version of Floyd's Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid so much, I tried a new filling version first suggested by scarlett75 in July of '05. This is a really great filling for this bread! 

Again I used pulla dough, brushed with a double egg wash after proofing and sprinkled with sugar/cinnamon, then some more sprinkled sugar.

A really nice filling variation on an excellent recipe!!!

I am wondering about savory variations. Perhaps a non sweet dough with an Italian tomato gravy, fresh mozzarella and Italian pizza cold cuts would work. Has anyone tried this???

On this holiday weekend, it has been raining for two day and nights straight, with snow on the lawn in this mountain town this morning. A good time to stay in my kitchen and bake. Here is yesterday's pulla from my now fave formula:

So today I had the pleasure of mixed berry cream cheese bread, pulla and apple, walnut cream cheese bread with a double shot of expresso coffee. Heaven!!!

Happy baking! Ski

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One of my favourite recipes on TFL has always been Floyd's blueberry cream cheese braid. I used a batch of pulla dough I had on the go for a half batch of the recipe. The fruit filling was 1/2 cup diced strawberry, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup diced raspberries, 2Tbs lemon juice, 1 Tbs icing sugar, 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar and 1Tbs corn starch. I cooked it down until it was a syrup and otherwise followed the published recipe. What can I say but YUMMM!!!

Happy baking, ski

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My summer project has been to learn the batard shape and actually achieve an ear. So far, very mixed results, with a sort of ear on this bake. Getting the right timing on both bulk and proofing stages so that I can actually score with a lame has been surprisingly difficult with more failures than successes. I would go back to baking Forkish style boules, but my seams likely won't open. hmmmmm.

On the plus side, I have been tweaking my pulla recipe for natural levains, adding a little more egg, cardamom and sugar. I tried using yeast water levain only and it makes a tasty loaf, but I find I get better balance and volume using half YW and half liquid levain. The original yeasted recipe called for two bulk rises of about an hour before shaping, but I have found with the natural levains, I get better crumb and volume shaping after a single bulk rise, doubling the dough.

I was pleased to host our own Floydm, his wife and two children a little more than three weeks ago for a short visit as they were passing through. I invited them for, what else? Pulla and coffee. He said they liked the pulla so I guess I should have baked two loaves.

The loaf I baked for Floyd was a YW levain only and two bulk rises. The last loaf I baked was 50/50 YW and liquid levain, a single bulk rise before shaping and a much larger volume on more open crumb. Yummm!!!

Ready to bake



180 g whole milked scalded

6 large cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground, add to hot milk

1/4 cup sugar plus 2 Tbs raw cane sugar, add to milk

When milk mixture cools down to 90F add

40 grams YW levain, 40 grams liquid levain. I am at 4,420 feet above sea level. At lower levels you may want to up the levain to 50/50 g's.

You can also use 11/2 tsp instant yeast, 40g water and 40 g flour

To the levain, milk mixture add:

75 grams egg. Two large eggs are about 100 grams, so I have left over for the egg wash

180 grams strong bread flour

Let this mix get happy covered at room temperature for 2 - 4 hours with natural levain and perhaps a half hour with yeast.

Add 120 g AP flour and beat to add

Add 44 g melted unsalted butter and beat until the dough is smooth and glossy

Add 5 g salt and another 120 g of AP flour or more until a smooth dough is formed. 

Allow to bulk rise until doubled, then divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll out into long tubes and braid. Why do you braid pulla? As I discovered, if shaped as a batard the crust is over baked before the inside is cooked. Oops!

Proof until about 1.5 times volume, brush twice with an egg wash, ( that left over egg) and sprinkle well with sugar.

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes with steam and another 15 - 25 minutes turning until the internal temperature is 195F+

Let cool for 20 minutes or so and enjoy a slice with a shmear of butter and strong cup of coffee.

Enjoy and happy baking!  Ski


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I simply have not been able to make overnight work! The last time I tried, I finished the final bulk stretch at 5:30 pm and refrigerated it until 11:30 to slow things down. Here is what I had at 7:30 the next morning:

From 1 liter to more than four in about 8 hours. The loaves tasted fine, but were impossible to score, being so over proofed. To quote Mr. Forkish, " When the dough is nearly tripled it's original volume or possibly a bit less in winter, 12 to 15 hours after mixing it's time to divide." Time to change things up!

For this bake I mixed the levain in the evening and mixed the loaf in the morning. At 10:30 I began the bulk ferment, S&F's at 45 and 90 minutes and by noon I thought I would let things sit on the counter and see what happens. After a little more than 4 hours the dough had pretty much tripled:

So based on the volume recommendation it was time to divide and shape. My kitchen was between 70 and 72F for the entire process and I am of the opinion the radical shortening of proofing times is more than just temperature, as Ken's home kitchen for testing was 70F.

I believe there are other factors at play. Ken is in Portland, OR, more or less at sea level. I am 4,424 feet above sea level. While Portland will have coastal high humidity, my humidity is 51% right now. I recall that when I first started baking 'French' style breads at 67 percent hydration, I could not get all the flour incorporated and had to up hydration by nearly 5 percent initially. Now water boils at a lower temperature the higher you go and mine boils around 204F. Perhaps the altitude affects the way dough rises? I am speculating, but unless my levain is WAY stronger and faster than Ken's how do I reconcile 4 hours bulk vs 12 to 15??? I doubt that my levain is stronger and faster, but the dough sure does perform differently!

"Proofing time should be about four hours assuming a room temperature of 70F . . ."  Using the finger dent test I was fully proofed and ready to score and bake in 1:10. I have been proofing seam side up in brotforms and scoring prior to baking. This was the first time I have been able to successfully score with a lame. While I didn't get the ear, I did get good bloom and great oven spring. A couple of satisfying country blondes!!!

I baked a half of a recipe with the final loaves into the proofing forms at 430 grams each. After 1:10 proofing, baked for 13 minutes with steam and another 14 without and voila! Properly proofed and baked loaves:

Conclusions? Watch and listen to what the dough does. Apparently while temperature affects proofing times, I believe altitude and humidity, or perhaps lack of it may also have an effect.

I have had over proofing issues as well with David Snyder's excellent  San Joachin Sour Dough, being unable to score. I am not sure how I will resolve this one yet.

Satisfying loaves to produce and eat!!!

Happy baking! Ski

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I meant to start this batch early yesterday, but welcomed an old friend from out of town in the morning, pushing bake my mixing schedule back. It was HOT here yesterday with the mercury touching 32C outside and my kitchen 24 - 25C. I am following David Snyder's San Joaquin Sourdough formula, but with the elevated temperatures, reduced time between folds to 20 minutes for the first 4 and down to 30 minutes in the bulk stage. After the first 30 minutes the dough had risen by nearly a half.

After the second fold at 90 minutes at 6:00 pm it was far too hot to consider turning on the oven to bake bread. My compromise was dividing and shaping as a batard as per the KAF video, but rather than rolling out to a pointed free loaf, rolled it out into a tube to fit my oval brotforms. Then it was cover and put into the fridge overnight. My 7:00 am the next morning my first finger poke test showed the loaves over proofed . . . 

The loaves turned out tasty and attractive, but even fresh out of the fridge they were impossible to score with the lame. Does a lame dull scoring dough??? I had to use my laser sharp serrated bread knife and still didn't get a good score.

It is cool and rainy here today with a 68F kitchen temp and I have another batch of SJSD on the go, this time using the full 30 and 45 minutes rests in the dough development stage. I will follow through with the formula and bake in the morning. For practice, I will divide the dough into three and roll out three smaller batards for practice. I really do enjoy the flavour, crust and crumb of this bread!!!

Happy baking folks!  Ski


PS a parting pulla shot, from sweet levain rather than YW


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I am getting my chops down now on the Country Blonde. I like the flavour, crust and chew of the crumb. This was aslo my first attempt at David Snyder's San Jose Sour Dough. My SJSD needs work, but this is a nice tasting bread!  I need to work on my shaping and scoring. At these high ambient temperatures 45 minutes was too long and the loaf tough to score with a lame. Forty minutes would have been better.

Ah well, some nice tasting breads to eat and share with my neighbours. I delivered a couple of half loaves today and their little girl, six, ran inside with the goods yelling, Daddy, we have Brian bread! LOL! Made my day!!!

Happy baking folks!!! Ski


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Satisfying to get a good result on my latest take 6. Takes 4 and 5 were over proofed with my new summer kitchen temperatures. All winter and spring my kitchen was a steady 68F Now that we have real summer it is running 73-75F and BOY does this temperature change mess with bulk rise and proofing schedules!

With take four, I took the bulk rise time down to 8 hours from the 12-14 hours Ken rec's @ 70F. WAY too long. I got up to check in at 4:00 am after 6.5 hours bulk and it was already gone.

Okay, for take five, we will try an all day country blonde: Start the levain at 6:00 am, mix at 12:00 pm, finish bulk at 7:00 pm and proof and bake at 9:30. Still WAY over proofed.

For this successful bake, I started the levain at noon and mixed at 5:00 pm. With 30 minutes after the first S&F, the dough had risen by more than 1/3, so I dropped the next rest to 20 minutes and the final 2 S&F's to 15 minutes rest. I then rested the dough for 45 minutes and did a final fold at 8:00 pm. The dough had nearly doubled by this time, so the only way to save things was into the fridge overnight.

In the morning two hours on the counter, shape and proof for 1:40 rather than the 3:30 -4:00 rec'd at 70F. This baked at 475F in a covered DO for 25 mins and a further 25 mins uncovered, turning at the half.

I really like this formula! Happy baking folks!!! Ski


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