The Fresh Loaf

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Song Of The Baker's blog

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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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Song Of The Baker

As stressful as the last few weeks were for me in the business, I was fortunate to find 3 days to get away to my favourite B.C. region, the Okanagan.  The Okanagan is tucked away in the interior of B.C., with hot, dry summers.  Wine country with many lakes and beautiful sights.  I have been going there almost every summer for the last 20 years.  It is just one of those places that has embedded itself into my heart and blood and will not go away.  In the last few years it has been increasingly difficult to find time to get there, but this year I found my way back to where the initial inspiration of baking first hit me.

Last summer, I found myself walking around the beautiful lake town, Kelowna, with my wife when I stumbled upon a new bakery/cafe I had never seen there before.  The artisan breads sitting in the windows instantly drew me close like a magnet.  I was immediately inspired to try and recreate these stunning creations.  I had never baked before.  Never touched my hands to bread dough.  Never used yeast...never a lot of things.  Was it possible to learn to create these breads without a professional bakery environment?  Well...I think we all know the answer to that question.

Here are some photos of the bakery, along with some not-so-uncommon loaves that I found time to bake this weekend.

The Bread Company located in Kelowna, B.C.

Mission Hill Winery

And some bakes of my own this weekend...

A couple of multi grain levain loaves with adjustments in higher hydration.

100% whole grain loaves with spelt, stone ground ww, light rye. Thanks to dabrownman for the help in adjusting the hydration level.

 

 

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Song Of The Baker

Made up a batch of Naan bread tonight for my year's first Tandoori Chicken.  I have a recipe for Tandoori Chicken that was given to me from an Indian ex-neighbour years ago and I will never stray from it.  Too good.  First time making Naan this way.  Made it on grill with quarry tiles, preheated to a high heat.  My trick is to pour bit of oil in the drip tray.  The high heat causes flare up, and the flames cause the internal grill heat to go off the temperature gauge charts.  I am sure this is not technically safe, so please do not try it...I am confident it works with my particular grill but can't be sure of safety with any other type of grill. 

 

This weekend's Tandoori Chicken and mixed vegetable curry, with side of Raita and basmati rice...to make up for the lack of photos last tandoori dinner.

 

 

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