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Song Of The Baker's blog

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Song Of The Baker

I haven't baked in almost a month and my hands were starting to shake.  Withdrawl is no fun.

I decided to bake up a couple of staple loaves with some small tweaks to test my post vacation abilities.  Simple levain with whole wheat, bread, and rye flours.  Flax, barley, sunflower, cracked wheat, oats, and sesame seed packed.

Forgive me for going overboard with the photos.  I recently acquired some new gear and learned some new techniques on Photoshop.  A bit shutter happy since my trip to Arizona (668 photos!).



And now to go off on an Arizona prickly pear theme tangent.  This bread is a great excuse to use that up.

This one is dedicated to dabrownman.  Thought I would capture what that lucky bum gets every night of his life.

Mesa, AZ., my new favourite place to visit.




Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Sorry for the duplicate post however I realized I posted this bake accidentally in the forum but wanted it on my blog.

Today I finally had a chance to bake the Tartine loaf with my new baking gear.  This is the second bake with the gear.  I strongly suggest to anyone experiencing the same issues as I had with bakes, GET THESE SIMPLE ITEMS.  It has taken my breads up a few notches and fixed all my problems immediately.

And the larger loaf with crumb.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Sometimes you pause and wonder why it took so long to do some things.

In the last week, I finally gathered some important tools that for no reason other than being busy and perhaps lazy, completed my home bread baking needs.

I had been struggling with scoring, more specifically the lack of blooming and ears.  With some help from David Snyder and these new tools, it looks like I have finally overcome these issues.

These are the three items I picked up.

1. Unglazed Quarry tiles:  Till now, I had simply been baking my breads directly on my trusty roaster pan.  I was not getting the proper burst of surface heat required for a proper bake.  $3.50 at a local tile supplier.  I hope in the future to find a larger square and have it custom cut to fit the roaster.

2. Razor Blades:  Till now, I was using a utility blade to score my loaves.  I realize now that the utility blade was much too thick compared to these Wilkinson Sword blades.  The scoring came effortlessly and helped in producing a nice swift, clean cut.

3. Local mill organic bread flour:  Till now, I was using Robin Hood Bread Flour.  A brand similar to King Arthur Flour in the states.  I finally picked up some good quality, freshly milled bread flour.  I will never go back to brand name, store bought flour.  Flavour was FAR superior and price cheaper per pound.

For many of you, these items are nothing but common sense and obvious items for successful home bread baking.  For me, it now a revelation and a must.

Here is today's bake that utilized these new tools for the first time.  It started out as Vermont Sourdough, but due to mishaps in the mixing stage, I made all kinds of additions and deletions to the original formula that I decided to call it a Vancouver Sourdough.  No offence to the JH original.

My trusty steaming method of a roaster, with 4 6"x6" stacked, and a tin can to hold the boiling water.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

After a short break from posting in my blog, I am back at the helm.

This weekend I thought I would try a seeded rye that, at first sight a while back, had me drooling since.  Breadsong's post of this bread inspired me to try, bake, devour.

I adjusted the formula to include organic spelt flour, as I did not have any barley flour on hand.  Also, instead of barley malt, I used 50% molasses 50% honey.  This bread may surpass my love for Danish Rye.  It has a dense texture, very pleasant, light flavour, with a touch of sweetness.  I am not usually one for any sweet hints in my bread (unless dried fruit used), especially rye, but it works nicely in this one.  Definitely a new addition to my regular bakes.

The only adjustment I would make is the total amount, as it overflowed a bit in my bread pan.  The original formula is meant to fit into a 9" pan, I only had an 8" on hand.



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Song Of The Baker

Today I was on a mission.  To defeat this fear of developing and shaping rye dough.  I learn best through video and photos and I have found that there are not nearly as many video tutorials for rye breads as there are for white breads.  I used a 40% formula and followed all that I have learned on this site as much as possible.  My last week's attempt came up short with little rise/oven spring.  This time, a combination of longer bulk ferment and proof times, along with an amazing organic medium rye flour from a local mill, produced loaves that I am finally happy with.  Not to mention Dumbo sized ears that I have never achieved before.  Flavour is lightly rye, with a definite sour tang.

Shaping was done in air with wet hands, and proofed in brotforms for almost 2 hours at 78 degrees.

Crumb shot a day later.  Any suggestions/comments on the crumb from the rye experts out there? 

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Song Of The Baker

After my shopping spree at a local grain mill yesterday, I was in the mood to experiment with some different flours.  I had some left over buttermilk in the fridge from my Danish Rye bake so I decided to make my (ever popular in these parts) buttermilk pancakes but with organic spelt flour.  I was a bit on the careful side and opted to still keep 1/2 cup AP flour in the recipe.  These turned out so well that next time I might even eliminate the AP flour all together.  As a note, the apple topping pairs VERY well with these so don't omit if you have a choice.

Spelt Flour Buttermilk Pancakes with Caramelized Apples


1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ cups buttermilk (or 1 ½ cup homemade buttermilk, see below)
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
Oil for skillet
Extra milk to thin batter after rest

Combine all ingredients and mix just until combined.  Do not over mix, lumps are ok.  Let sit in fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes.  Before cooking, add up to ¼ milk to thin the batter, if needed.  Note:  This batter takes approx. 1 extra minute per side than AP flour pancakes.  Check the insides by cutting into the middle to ensure batter is fully cooked.
Makes approx. 6-7 pancakes.

Home made buttermilk:  Add 2 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1 ½ cups total.  Transfer to bowl and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, or until thickened.

Caramelized Apples:


2 large apples
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
Pinch salt


Peel and core apples.  Half the apples then cut thin slices.  Heat butter on high heat in a saute pan and add the apples, sugar and salt.  Saute on high heat just to caramelize the sugar, about 3 - 5 minutes.  Add a dash of cinnamon to taste.  Take off the heat and let cool slightly.

Top the pancakes with the apples and some maple syrup.





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Song Of The Baker

I have been excited to bake a simple rye bread since my starter had become ready to use.  Also, I went to a local organic mill and stocked up an all sorts of grains, flours as well as a hard to find Puy lentil from France.  I chose to do a 40% Rye with some toasted and roughly ground seeds (sunflower, flax and caraway) within.  I also got to use a brotform for the first time.  I will update with crumb photos, but I have a feeling I should have seen more oven spring and height from a formula such as this one.  I did forget to bulk ferment an hour, so I just proofed for a full 2 hours.  Any rye experts out there, please let me know if this could most likely be the cause of such a poor spring.

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Song Of The Baker

I was told recently that Baker Blogs is where I should be posting my bakes and not in the forum as I have been doing since I became a member back in August.  If I am doing this wrong, please let me know.  Here is a link to the forum post of yesterday's Danish Rye bake.



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