The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

smasty's blog

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I'm sure other people have reviewed this, but I'm so pleased with this product I had to create a post.  I cultivated my own sourdough starter about 4 years ago.  I don't know if it's because I'm in suburban Denver (6000 ft) or what, but I could NEVER coax any flavor out of my breads.  2, 3 day retards, maybe a little...definitely nothing like california breads. In fact, I could really not tell the difference between my SD breads and straight breads.  Even poolish were better.  I tried once adding citric acid to my bread, great flavor, but wrecked gluten a bit.

I was thumbing through the KAF catalog recently and came across the "Sourdough Flavor"...decided it was worth a try.  I made Peter Reinhardt's straight dough baguettes using 1/2 the recommended amount of KAF Sourdough Flavor (yeah, they try to oversell I think).  Holy cow...I was blown away!  Flavor was amazing, texture was spot on, color was a beautiful golden brown (my SD's always came out more of a grayish-brown).  I love it so much I decided I was sick of caring for my starter and tossed it (a little sniff, since it was a living thing). 

Love the stuff!    

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I got a book a few months ago that I'm really in love with.  "Sarabeth's Bakery"...fabulous!  She shares all her secrets as a really good (and commercial) baker.  There are NO shortcuts in this book.  I've been wanting to really do some laminated dough and dove in this week with her babka recipe.  It starts by making a laminated danish dough.  Expect detailed instructions and pics on how to integrate all that butter.  3 folds, a single/double/single.  Then she requires a 24 hour freeze to best distinguish all the layers.  I had some dates getting a little old in the fridge, so wanted to make a date version instead of raisin/chocolate.  I soaked chopped dates in rum, then made her almond cream.  The almond cream alone is outstanding....butter and suger whipped, then egg yolks and almond paste and chopped toasted almonds.  The babka is much like a cinnamon roll technique...roll dough to dimension, spread with almond cream, then the chopped dates, then sugar/cinnamon.  Roll up.  Then there's a twisty thing you do for traditional babka.  Rise in pans and bake at 325 for about an hour.  It is probably one of the greatest things I've ever made.  Anway...check out the book, it's super good.  The ice cream recipe has all my friends and family swooning.  I've adapted it to a maple/cinnamon/vanilla bean concoction of my own (using her custard base)....boy is it good!

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I've been in total love with 1-2-3 bread since discovering it on this site.  What could be easier than using discarded starter in a 1-2-3 ratio with water and flour.  (Weigh starter, x 2= water, x3= flour).  I always get fantastic results, great flavor, and no pre-planning.  Here's the original post

1-2-3 Bread

It has made me a little lazy though w/ my bread baking.  So, I've started experimenting with inclusions.  Since I've had a ton of raw cashews in the fridge forever, I figured I'd roast them, and add some cut up dates to today's bake.  This might be the best bake I've done since starting 18 months ago.  I mixed up the dough without inclusions and added the nuts and dates in during the first stretch and fold.  I learned this technique from Shaio Ping with her chocolate sourdough.  It really works well for adding in delicate inclusions.  You basically spread a layer of nuts/dates on the counter, then stretch the dough over the top and press it down into the nuts, then add more nuts/dates on top and fold it all in.  With a couple subsequent SF's it incorporates the stuff really well without breaking up the nuts/fruit too much.

Roasted Cashews

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I wanted to make a practice Pandoro for Easter.  It came out GREAT--and was simpler than I expected!  I used the recipe in Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking.  I followed almost every direction to the letter (except shaping).  I used KAF Lancelot flour (14% protein) and SAF Gold yeast (along w/ SD starter).  I always have cocoa butter on hand, so that wasn't a problem.  I did use salted butter (unsalted is specified), so did not add any additional salt (the recipe uses a lot of butter!)

Here's a pic of my "Primo Impasto"--the first stage dough, after it had quadrupled (rubber band shows starting point)

For the "Secondo Impasto" (second dough), melted butter is whipped with melted cocoa butter and incorporated with eggs and sugar, flour and the first dough.  Whipping makes incorporation of the butter into the dough much easier--I had no trouble at all with the dough.  The recipe has a bunch of eggs.  I do wonder how the dough can sit out for 12 hours with all those raw eggs in it? took about 45 min of mixing for the dough to be ready for the molds. The molds need to be very carefully prepared with melted butter and dusted with flour.  The taste of the dough was very weightless silk on my tounge.  The recipe talks about shaping the dough before putting it in the mold.  I could not imagine trying to shape the dough--it was just long loose strands of butter and gluten, so I just "poured" it into my molds.  That seemed to work just great.  Then the dough ferments in the molds for 12 hours.  Following the timing schedule in the book is a good idea....but it meant getting up at 5:00 am to bake the bread. 

Here's a pic of dough in the mold.  I bought the Pandoro mold at Amazon. 

Here's a pic at 5:00 am after 12 hours of ferment time (yes...I got up at 5:00 am to check them!)  As I stumbled, bleary-eyed, into the kitchen, I was greeted with an incredible sweet yeast scent. 

Here's after baking--must cool 30 min before unmolding


Crumb.  The taste is so good!  Delicate, not too sweet, melt-in-your-mouth.  A lot like yellow cake for adults! 

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Growing up as the grandaughter of Ukranian immigrants, this was a staple every time we visited.  As relatives have died off, this isn't made in my family (in its true form) anymore.  I have a sister that makes it in a bread machine every so often, but it isn't the same.  I figured I'd make some practice loaves since Easter is coming up.  This is my first brioche since I started baking about 14 months ago.  The bread came out exactly as I remember from my childhood--a wonderful incredible crumb...yeasty, slightly sweet, delicate, tears in nice strands.  However...the crust is yucky.  Way too tough (as it always was growing up!).  The big loaf with the braid was HUGE....4.5 pounds after baking.  It took about 1 3/4 hours to bake (to 200 degrees internal)...I think that's what leads to the tough crust.  I don't know...maybe old-time Ukranians love the tough crust.  I'd like to learn how to avoid that next time---ideas? Oh...due to the overly dry crust, I find this bread tends to go stale really quickly, at which point it makes absolutely wonderful bread pudding.  The recipe is below the pics


Done...what you can't see is the bread split on the other side of the braid due to it's massive size and lack of support, so the braid ended up off-center


Original Recipe: (Caution...this makes a massive amount of dough! The first step can be done in your mixer, but is too big after that)

1 tsp sugar

1 c lukewarm water

2 packages dry yeast (note: yeasty flavor is desired)

3 c scalded milk

Tons of flour (14 c)

6 eggs, well beaten

2/3 c sugar

1/2 c melted butter

1 T salt

1 c raisins

Scald milk and let cool to lukewarm.  Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in water, add yeast and let stand 10 minutes.  Add milk to yeast and 5 c flour (I used 150 g. of KAF AP per cup). Beat well until smooth.  Cover and let rise in warm place until light and bubbly (for me, in Denver, this only took about 45 min due to high elevation).  Add eggs, 2/3 c sugar, butter, salt, raisins.  Mix well.  Add about 9 cups of flour or enough to make a moderately stiff dough (note: I only used about 7.5 cups).  Knead until dough no longer sticks to hands.  Turn dough out on floured board, knead until smooth and satiny.  Place in bowl to rise until double.  Punch down, let rise again to double.  Shape enough dough into round loaf to fill greased dutch oven about 1/2 full (I baked on my stone).  Let rise until double.  From remaining dough roll out ropes for braids.  After pinching off dough for braids, remaining dough can make another loaf.  (note: you can easily get 3 large loaves from this recipe).  Let ropes for braids rise (covered).  Just before dough is ready to be baked carefully place braids or ropes arranged in a cross on bread.  Use an egg wash over the entire loaf.  Bake in preheated oven--400 degrees for 15 minutes then lower oven to 350 for at least another hour.  Loosely cover loaves with foil to prevent overbrowning.  (I found I needed to move these to the lowest rack due to their height). Let cool in pans about 15 minutes before removing.  To facilitate removing loaf from dutch oven, wrap a damp, cool cloth around pan during cooling period.   


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I woke up this morning wanting to try making sourdough pancakes with my leftover starter.  I looked up the KAF recipe that people mentioned here, and saw that it used an overnight sponge.  I wanted to whip something out fast and simple, and spontaneous. sponge for me!  I love the result...light, fluffy (they rose quite a bit), healthy (well, the plate that is pictured is my husband's...mine was healthier).  I had some pumpkin in the freezer that went into the mix.  I don't have exact measurements because I was just tossing stuff in, but here goes: 

About 1/4 c. starter, cold from the fridge (just dump in a big glop)

about 3/4c milk (made from dry)

1 egg

about 1/2 t. baking soda

2 t sugar

about 1/4 c pumpkin

about 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1 packet stevia

Mix it all up until you have a batter (make adjustments if it's too thin or thick)....This made 5 pretty big cakes. 



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I made my first foccacia today.  It is from Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking" book.  It is fabulous!  It has fresh rosemary and olive oil in the dough that give it wonderful flavor.  They use a technique where the loaf is flipped over after 5 minutes to keep it very flat.  Everything came out just wonderfully.  This recipe uses a poolish with a very small amount of yeast, then 1/4 tsp additional yeast in the dough.  Here's my question--the book recommends a bulk ferment of 6 hours, followed by 3.5 hours of proofing.  Since I'm in Denver, yeasted bulk ferments usually take about half to 2/3rds the amount of time reccommended (I forgot to adjust the yeast down for that reason).  I found I was fully proofed by 6 hours and ready to bake.  I can't imagine the mess I would have had if I'd waited the full 9.5 hours.  Why would they recommend that amount of time for a yeasted bread?  Is foccacia supposed to be overproofed?  Next time I will make some adjustments to slow down the ferment (just a pinch of yeast). 

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After hanging out here for a few months, I stumbled onto someone talking about the "1-2-3" bread.  I was intrigued!  What a great way to bake every day for pennies, and practice new techniques with, what would have been, throw-away stuff. 

So, last night after refreshing both my liquid and stiff starters (the liquid starter hadn't been refreshed in about 2 weeks) I put the throw away portions of both together in a container and sprinkled a bit of flour over them.  This morning I pulled the cold throw-away starter out of the fridge and put it in my KA mixing bowl and weighed it: 152 grams.  So, based on the super simple technique, "1" is your starter, "2" is your water, and "3" is your flour.  Once you have the weight of your starter, then "1" x 2 equals the weight of your water, and "1" x 3 equals the weight of your flour.  Then I add 2% of flour weight in salt.  No recipe needed, no book, just a scale. 

So, I started with cold starter and mixed it up with the water, then put in the flour and mixed for a minute, then autolyse for about 40 min, then added salt, mixed a little and began the very long ferment.  I SF'd about 4 times over 6 hours.  It took forever to start to see any growth, but it finally happened.  Shaped and proofed for an hour, then baked.  This came out fabulous! 

After baking I like to brush the excess flour off the outside of the loaf with a soft pastry brush.  My scores could have been a little deeper. 

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Jason's Coccodrillo Ciabatta just can't be beat!  Especially when you need a loaf and you haven't planned a bake day (i.e. nothing is bubbling on the counter).  I've made this so many times and just love how it comes out.  After a few practice loaves, it becomes foolproof.  If I don't see structure begin to take form at 10 minutes in the mixer I begin adding flour about 1 tsp at a time (being in Denver, I sometimes over-hydrate).  The longest I've ever mixed is about 16 minutes.  This is the first time I made the semolina version...fabulous!  My bulk ferment (to triple) was about 3.25 hours. I needed to make this loaf for my elderly folks was great being able to whip up a loaf relatively fast, that is delish.  Who is Jason, anyway?  Does he know how famous this bread has become? 

Jason's Ciabatta Page

Not tripled yet, using the rubber band marker

Note the "Alton Brown Rubber Band Method" for measuring fermentation growth.  It's not tripled yet....

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Oh my, oh my, oh my.  I finally made Shiao Ping's Chocolate Sourdough.  Let me first say, SP--you really need to publish a cookbook.  It would be full of great recipes and fun, witty stories.  I thank you so much for bringing us this recipe.  Words just don't describe how good this is.  "Epic" is a good starting place...kudos to your son.  I made this as written.  All I had in the pantry were milk chocolate chips (large chips, about double the size of the regular bittersweet chips).  The biggest challenge I had was chips popping out of the dough as it was folded...I just poked them back in. The crumb is delectable...light, fluffy, but substantial at the same time.  Nice crunch to the crust, but delicate as well.  All my SD breads have used a 125% starter, so I needed to convert my liquid levain to a semi-stiff levain for this recipe.  This makes 4 nice-sized loaves.  Perfect for sharing!  This is just so incredible...everyone needs to make it!!

Shiao Ping's Chocolate SD Page


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