The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Skibum's blog

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Well I haven't posted in more than a month, but have been busy baking different things. The dinner rolls are a take of P. Reinharts soft pull apart dinner rolls from ABED.  This batch of 325 grams total flour yielded 6 rolls at 104 grams each, so I thought why not bake them off in a muffin tin?

All of the my bakes are leavened with a refreshed liquid levain. Here is the formula for the rolls:

50 g levain

325 g bread flour

175 g milk, scalded

30 g honey, added to the hot milk

32 g butter

20 g egg

Mixed and developed using 4 sets of stretch and folds with 10 minutes rest. Bulk rise was 2:15, then I divided and shaped, baked at 400F convection with steam for 7 minutes, turned removed steam and baked a further 7 minutes.

Here are some lemon ricotta cookies courtesy of Giada:

These are the BOMB!

Hoagie/ cheese steak buns. Again adapted from Reinhart's ABED.

Pita, pita pita! Boy did these turn out great. It makes me want to bake another batch.

Last, but not least is an exploding loaf of pulla. I thought I had the braid ends together.

Finished braid

Proofed braid

Final loaf with one end blown apart

Happy baking TFL friends!  Ski

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Well after a solid week of rain and very heavy rain the last couple of days the sum has finally come out. Shown is pulla left and double chocolate expresso cookies on the right. I bake a loaf of pulla every week or two and my rolling out of the braids and braiding is slowly getting better.

To Giada's recipe which follows, I added 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts. Yummmmm!

Well with all the rain we have had my garden is lush with the daisies up front in the sun really putting on a show!

Happy baking! Ski

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This has been a very enjoyable baking project.  This was the second half of the last focaccia dough that had rested in the fridge for 3 days prior to baking.  I changed up the herbed evoo using dried basil this time. I found the fresh basil used in the last batches tended to burn and become a little bitter. This is not an issue with the dried herbs: rosemary, basil, oregano and Italian seasoning.

Last bake after dividing I pre-formed a ball and ended up with a square-ish loaf. This time I thought I would follow Peter Reinhart's lead and do a letter fold instead. This gave me a rectangular piece of dough about 268 grams.  After 15 minutes rest I was able to coax the loaf into shape in my long loaf pan, drizzling generously with the herbed evoo and docking firmly with my fingers to coax things into place. I also sprinkled fine sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper and granulated garlic on to the oiled loaf. Yummmmmmm . . . .

I love this bread! Great snap to the crust and a nice soft crumb.

Fully proofed and ready to bake. Again baked 10 minutes at 500F with steam, turned and finished at 485 for 7 minutes. Okay, I promise this will be my last focaccia post . . .well maybe.

Happy baking! Ski

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Well friends, three days of steady rain have given me some time to bake.  I call this a successful bake as the crumb is nice and open and the crust has a real snap when you bight into it. Perfect with just herbed EVOO.

This bake was 300 grams total flour @77% hydration. Ten percent of the flour was durham semolina and the balance strong bread flour about 6g salt and 1Tbs EVOO. I abandoned P. Reinharts dough handling suggestions. The batch was refrigerated overnight and this morning divided in half. I used a pan oiled with evoo and topped the loaf with herbed evoo, salt, pepper and dried oregano, basil and Italian seasoning. After 15 minutes rest I topped and docked the dough with my finger tips, coaxing into a roughly square shape.

I baked this in the pan on my pizza stone for 10 minutes with steam @ 500F and another 7 minutes at 485F convection.

Fresh out of the oven and still retaining some dimples. Looks closer to what Focaccia is supposed to look like.

I can't resist showing off the Lupins flowering in my front bed garden. They are putting on a real show this year. I counted 20 developing flower spikes so the show should continue for a while.

Happy baking! Ski

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This was my second try at this classic Italian bread and finally a success! 

Formula is 350 g total flour @75% hydration. I used 50g liquid levain, 35g durham semolina, 240g BF, 1 tsp salt and 225g H2). I developed the dough as I would normally do then finished it as Mr. Reinhart suggests: a couple of letter folds with 30 minutes rest, then a thorough docking with fingertips and a drenching of herb oil. Lots of fresh basil, dried rosemary and all the Italian regular herbs into the oil.

This was a beautiful loaf, with a crust that snapped. Perfect for dipping in the herb oil!!!!!

This was a great bake on many levels!

Happy baking! Ski and Ciao!

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I have been struggling for months with batards, scoring and getting proper bloom. Well, I have had success two bakes in a row now as a result in two new procedures. I would like to do a shout out to alphonso for the video he posted a while back. Thanks alan, your video has been most helpful to me!

The two small changes were to put the loaf into the fridge for the last 10 minutes of proofing and dipping my lame in water prior to scoring. Ear on the first bake at 200 grams and a half ear on this one at 370 grams. I will call this loaf VanGogh as it only has a half an ear.

Great oven explosion on this bake. the fully proofed loaf was about as long as the baked one, but only about 2 inches in diameter, so I am super happy with the bloom! This batch of dough was 350 g total flour @ 75% hydration. I used 25 g durham semolina and the rest strong bread flour, 50 grams liquid levain and 5 g salt. I will note that I had fed my levain three days in a row. It sure made a difference in oven spring, ah explosion. Very satisfying.

Here is a crumb shot:

I find the addition of a little semolina adds some real snap to the crust and a nice subtle flavour add in a lean loaf.

Well is the May holiday long weekend here in Canada. Naturally here in my mountain town it is 4C with steady rain expected to turn to snow as the temperature drops. This is normal. It is also a great day to bake some stuff! With the terrible fires in the north east of my province, I pray that some of this rain gets to Fort McMurray and area! I great this rain with great relief as the area had been tinder dry and this takes the wildfire risk down to low. There are still nearly 90,000 people from the fire area. Prayers!

Happy baking! Ski

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Wow, this is the biggest rise and oven spring I have EVER had! Now the working part of my peel measures 8"x14" and this loaf filled most of it using 460 grams of flour! Best pulla ever, with a soft almost shreddalble crumb.

Normally, I will do a sponge of liquid levain, sugar, egg, flour and scalded milk infused with cardamom. After this got happy, I would put it in the fridge at bedtime, remove it in the morning and mix  after about an hour of warm up.

My mistake? Last bake I forgot to put the sponge in the fridge. I would describe the resulting dough as the most alive feeling I have ever worked with. I do 4 sets of stretch and folds with 10 minutes rest and yo could see the dough rise visibly after 10 minutes. So this time I deliberately left the sponge out overnight. Wow, between a freshly fed levain and the overnight sponge, I had an 'alive' dough. I increased the bulk proof to 1:30 from an hour as it just kept coming up. I then divided braided and proofed about an hour.

The oven spring was more like oven explosion and this is certainly the largest volume I have ever achieved from this well used recipe. It sure is nice when things work out!

Happy baking! Ski

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I began getting ruthless with my deep freeze a while ago and these are the only things I have baked in three weeks. I found an abundance of breads I baked then froze and have been eating my way through.

I bookmarked this recipe some time ago and finally got around to baking a half batch. this batch I rolled out, shaped a rectangle and cut the biscuits into squares using a butter knife, then baked on a parchment covered pan. Quick, easy and tasty!

My batch:

1 C flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBS sugar

1 C grated sharp cheddar

1/4 C + 2 Tbs milk

2 Tbs oil

Mix the dry and wet ingredients and combine. Credit where it is due, here is a link to the recipe:

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Well I had a craving for some curry and what better to go with it than some fresh naan bread. Boy did this ever turn out well! I used honey instead of sugar and the flavour comes through well in the finished product. This did my confidence a nice boost as two of the last three bakes didn't go so well. Ever have one of those bakes where everything that could go wrong does go wrong?

40 g liquid levain, newly refreshed

141 g milk, scalded

1/3 cup + 1 Tbs high fat Greek yogurt

25 g beaten egg

330 g bread flour

1 tsp palm sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbs canola oil

I mixed the levain and wet ingredients, added the mixed dry ingredients and after combining rested for 10 minutes. I then kneaded on the counter for 8 minutes and let the dough bulk rise for 1:30 or so. I cut off 120 grams and form a ball and let this rest 8 minutes while my cast iron pan heats up to medium. The rest of the dough goes into the fridge. At the 8 minute beeper, I roll out the dough and place it in the hot dry pan and cook 3 minutes per side, then brush with butter. Very happy with the results!

I have now taken three tries at coming up with a raisin bread I like and I am reasonably happy with this one, but it still needs some work. I will call it a work in progress . . .

Happy baking,! Ski


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The blueberry cream cheese bread and it's variants are one of my favourite breads to both bake and eat. After baking  the original blueberry, cream cheese formula last week, but using only 253 grams of pulla dough, I found I liked the ratio of fruit filling to dough better than the original recipe.

I made a batch of my levain pulla dough and discovered that I can get 3 x 285 grams of dough from each batch. Yesterday I baked three braids, one apple walnut and two blueberry. To my horror, I had forgotten to add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the apple mixture. I tried to compensate by sprinkling both onto the egg wash topping the finished loaf and before sprinkling sugar. Not quite the same, but it did help.

These smaller loaves are perfect for snacking on my drive to the ski hill. Cut in to 3 inch slices, they are the perfect snack size. They also freeze very well. this recipe has become a weekly bake for me.

Happy Easter everyone and happy baking! Ski


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