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

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.



Song Of The Baker's picture
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.



Mama's Healthier Banana Bread


  • 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)


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.




Song Of The Baker's picture
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.



Song Of The Baker's picture
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 make up for the lack of photos last tandoori dinner.



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Song Of The Baker

It is a long weekend here in B.C.  Tomorrow marks our much anticipated summer statutory holiday, British Columbia Day.  This gives me some nice rest from work, perfect for me to produce some bakes worth posting. 

After my whole wheat problems of late, I had to redeem myself with a festive B.C. themed bake to rejuvenate my confidence.  My recent trip to a local organic mill proved worth while, picking up enough flours to last me well through the winter.  I picked up some never used before flours such as sprouted whole spelt flour and stone ground whole wheat.

Using the spelt flour, I tried my first go at a 100% Spelt Loaf.  I also made a few sourdough loaves, I will fittingly call B.C. Sourdoughs, since every ingredient that went in them were from here in beautiful British Columbia.  Thought I would add in some eye candy of this wonderful province.

And finally crumb photos...and a Canadian holiday is not complete without a Caesar...a Canadian cocktail similar to a Bloody Mary.  Ceasar ingredients:  Clamato, vodka, dash of tabasco sauce, dash of Worcestershire sauce, celery/pepper salt rim, garnished with a celery stick, spicy pickled green bean, lime, and pepperoni.



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Song Of The Baker

It is blueberry season in the Fraser Valley of Vancouver and we get these blue beauties by the flat at least a few times a month.  In August we get the large variety that are about almost an inch and a half in diameter.

I made some spelt pancakes which have now completely replaced the original all purpose flour pancakes in my home.  The all purpose ones always made me feel grossly full and unhealthy. 

Blueberry compote made with some lemon zest, lemon juice, pinch of Mexican cinnamon, blueberries and brown sugar.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

I have been craving this type of loaf since my last Swedish Rye bake about 4 months ago.  I miss the dense, seed and grain packed bread that, when sliced very thin, provides the perfect bed for open face sandwiches.

I used a Danish Rye formula to start from but made some additions and adjustments.  One being the use of whole wheat berries, boiled then roughly chopped.  Thanks goes to Dabrownman for his coaching on the scald.

The only downside to these breads is the 2-3 day wait for the crumb to set up and flavours to develop. 



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Song Of The Baker

Since my recent first attempt at making pizza on my grill using unglazed quarry tiles, I have been anxious to try again but with Ian's (isand66) tip of using parchment paper as the transfer tool.

The system worked perfectly.  Thank you Ian for your suggestion.  My pizza system is now complete.

Today I made a shrimp and pesto pizza.  Whole wheat crust.  Shrimp, pesto, asiago cheese, feta cheese.  Sounds odd but works so nicely together.  Learned this one back in my restaurant days.  It was one of the most popular pizzas.

Ian this za's for you!

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Song Of The Baker

After an extremely challenging work week, I needed to get my mind back to home.  Nothing does it more for me than a few country style whole grain loaves.  I tried this formula for the first time, and was pretty happy with the results.  Will make some nice veggie sandwiches for today's picnic in the park.


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