The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Song Of The Baker's blog

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Song Of The Baker

Here are some relevant and not so relevant past bakes and things.

Multi-Grain Levain with many, many seeds.

Some healthy buttermilk spelt flour pancakes with fresh blueberry maple syrup.

After eating some amazing seafood dishes this summer in the Okanagan valley, and a trip to our local produce farm market, I came up with this inspired fish dish.  Pan seared halibut with beurre blanc sauce, yellow zucchini, arugula, new potatoes, garnished with oregano blossoms and smoked paprika.  No, there is no bread, but I sure wished I had a crostini to soak up the remaining bit of beurre blanc sauce.

 

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Song Of The Baker

After taking the summer off of baking bread (too hot in house) I took the opportunity of our recent long weekend to bake up some Neopolitan style pizzas on the grill.  As usual with my pizzas, I used unglazed quarry tiles and a grill flare-up method to re-create that fire hot environment a traditional forno would give.  No shots of the wild mushroom, goat cheese and arugula pizzas I made, but here are the Margheritas.  The very puffed up cornichione makes the pizzas look like the crust was thick and deep, but it was actually about a 1/4 of an inch thick, just the way we like it.

John

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Song Of The Baker

Since last summer when I first tried making pizza on my outdoor grill using unglazed quarry tiles, I have been itching to try again.  This time I decided to do a simple Margherita pizza so the crust would be the star of the show.  Homemade tomato sauce, bocconcini, basil.  Crust had organic stone ground whole wheat with a touch of rye.  The two medium sized pizza's turned out nicely, with a nice sweet tone in the crust due to the whole wheat flour.  I tend to like thin crust pizzas, with a larger cornicione (outer edge crust).

Enjoyed for dinner with a glass of wine spritzer.

John

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Song Of The Baker

Yes, same old multi-grain loaves this weekend, but I don't mind.  Healthy, easy, tasty...

Less words this time and more photos.

Yes....it was a good lunch.

 

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Song Of The Baker

Today I baked up some levain boules and a Tartine Country Loaf.  I can't shake this sourdough kick since returning from San Francisco.  I tweaked my roaster/steaming method a bit to enhance the Tartine crust caramelization.  I am very happy with the results.  The adjustments to the steaming method really made the crust thin and crispy, and added a more complex flavour.

The combination of dreary weather foiling my landscape photography and a new camera resulted in a post bake shutterbug frenzy. 

 

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Song Of The Baker

Oddly, all this time baking bread, I have never tried making an olive loaf.  I love olive loaves but for some reason never attempted one until now.  Having just recently been given the Tartine book as a gift, I used the idea of using olives, herbs and lemon zest.  I also baked up a few levain loaves to fix that San Francisco sourdough craving I have been having.

Levain Batard

Tartine Olive Herb Loaf

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Song Of The Baker

Almost exactly 5 years ago, I had visited San Francisco for the first time with my wife for a short 3 day get away.  As we both recalled, not nearly enough time to take in the sights and restaurants this amazing city has to offer.  As a birthday gift for her, I booked us a week long vacation in the same hotel, right in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf.  LOVE this area.  It's like Vancouver's Granville Island on steroids.

When I had visited last, I had only enjoyed the sourdough/breads from a non-home baker standpoint.  This time, needless to say, I was excited to enjoy the fine breads this city has to offer from a totally different view.  Sadly, the one day we ventured deep into the downtown/Mission area, both Tartine and Tartine Bar were closed.  Of course they were.  Regardless, we still had some great bread from a variety of bakeries/restaurants which has me more motivated than ever to produce better breads at home.  I am pretty sure the next bread I bake is going to be a SF sourdough.

This city is one of my favourites and I can not wait to go back again soon.  Hopefully, catching Chad's bakery on an open for business day!

New Years dinner at The Franciscan.  Wonderful bread that reminded me of a 36 Hour Baguette found on this site.  With some prosciutto and fresh buratta.

 

 

 

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Song Of The Baker

I have been on a higher % rye kick for a while now and decided to bake up a few to stock me up for December.  When I say higher %, I know these aren't quite high, but for me, I haven't really tried anything higher then 40% prior to this.  Maybe a Danish Rye qualifies as higher than 40%...

I baked up a Swedish Seed Rye using my Swedish Rye formula and simply adjusted it by using dark rye instead of medium rye.  Also added some sprouted organic spelt flour in lieu of my typical spelt flour.  Even though it will still be a day or two until the flavour develops properly, I can already taste the dark rye coming through loud and clear.

Starting out as a 40% Rye, the other 2 loaves I baked up turned into a 50% Rye inadvertently.  I realized during the mixing process that I added too much water.  I had to off set this hydration with more flour.  I ended up using an extra 95 grams of dark rye flour.  The loaves came out decent but with little oven spring.  I noticed that the bread tastes quite sour so I have a feeling I over fermented both the sour and the bulk.  The extra bran in the dark rye was probably the culprit in the over fermenting.  Still came out decent enough for a slice of cheddar or knob of liver pate.

John

 

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Song Of The Baker

When I was a child, our home didn't typically have desserts and junk food around.  My father was a health nut (and still is at 72), so any unhealthy food would be frowned upon.  Hiding a bowl of chips and eating them quietly became an art form that my brother and I mastered through the years.  My mother did however bake banana bread often and it became a 'healthier' dessert for our family.  Less sugar and relying on very over ripe bananas to provide the sweetness...using olive oil in lieu of butter/margarine gave it that nice richness without the 'bad' fat.

This recipe is still a go-to for winter time comfort in my home.

 

Formula

Mama's Healthier Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Few drops of vanilla extract
  • 3 large or 4 small frozen bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls.  Pour wet mixture into dry and stir just until combined (do not over mix).  Pour into greased, disposable foil pans.  Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.

No, not mind blowing, but a nice formula for those who like this bread but would like it to be a bit healthier.

John

 

 

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Song Of The Baker

This Remberance Day weekend I have reminded myself of how to bake bread.  It's been a little over a month and a half since I baked.  Having the business transferred from my parents to me takes a lot more paperwork, legal and technical work than one would imagine.  Quite draining actually.  Now that things have settled down, I decided to tackle a challenge that I have had in the recent past with whole wheat loaves.  Those of you who helped me, know of my frustrations with higher percentage whole wheat bread attempts.  Looks like I was simply over proofing and over hydrating my loaves, trying to compensate for using stone ground whole wheat flour.  Man, that type of flour sure soaks up a surprising amount of water...Anyway, here is a whole grain multigrain levain along with an experiment using a poolish/biga in a wholewheat loaf.  I have to say, the levain sure has a lot more complex flavour, especially in the crust, but the poolish whole wheat makes a nice loaf for those times I don't have time to awake my starter.  Excited about fall time, I included a few local photos I took to get me in the rural, rustic bread baking mood.

The Poolish/Biga loaf with increased stone ground whole wheat

 

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