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

Happy holidays to everyone and happy baking.

I was lucky enough to get some baking goodies from my wife.  A proper bench scraper, bowl scraper, and two books that will get me trying some new breads.

Here's today's sourdough loaves for your viewing pleasure.  Crumb shots to follow after we rip into these with turkey dinner tonight.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Well, it's been almost 6 months since I last baked any bread.  I made some pizzas during that time, but no bread.  The hot summer months just curb the motivation to get the oven on for hours.  The itch to bake bread got almost as unbearable as all that store bought bread.

Since the season calls for it, I decided to try my first go at a fruit & nut levain.  I grabbed a variety of mixed dried fruits - apricots, prunes, pears and peaches.  For nuts, I used half walnuts and half pecans.  The dough formula was derived from a few walnut loaf recipes I found on various blogs, and simply added the fruits.  The other loaves I baked were not as inspired, but much missed - typical country levain loaves.  Never gets tired.

Making all these loaves was quite time consuming but it sure satisfied my creative itch. 

Now to get some excellent cheeses and wine to pair nicely with a fruit & nut loaf by the fire...

Tartine ala B&W

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Song Of The Baker

We were counting down the days that we could come back to Phoenix, AZ.  One of the hi-lights of our last trip in May was Pizzeria Bianco.  This place has been heralded as having the best pizza in North America.  The jury may still be out on that one, but it sure blew our minds.  We also picked up a baguette from their bakery location, Pane Bianco.  I have to say, I am not a fan of this baguette.  Nice chew and crumb structure, but the flavour is more towards an Italian style (go figure) of bread - no nuttiness and a bit on the salty side.  The french style is more to my taste.  Couldn't help but add in a shot of some Albacore Tuna from our favourite Japanese restaurant in Mesa, AZ.  3 strikes and I'm out on the neighbour's 'Prickly Pear' fruit.  I have a suspicion it isn't actually Prickly Pear.  Even though it looks as ripe as it can get, it tastes sour and salty.  Nothing like spitting out purple all over a white sink.

Song Of The Baker's picture
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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