The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Doc Tracy's blog

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Doc Tracy

After many months of studying other's attempts, I finally baked this bread. I apologize for not including a picture. I followed the formula to the letter, had a bit extra to put in a loaf pan, which I froze for my next batch. Overall, I'm very pleased with my first attempt. It came out beautifully dark, nearly black. The crumb is dense but chewy, very complex in flavor despite the absence of spices. I love the whole rye berries. I think the crust is a little too tough, perhaps I overcooked? At 12 hours, there was still some steam and moisture so I continued until 14 hours at 225, perhaps next time I will stop at 12. This is a keeper recipe. I don't see the need to bake this as a pudding, I think covered at 225 for 12 hours with plenty of hydration that it does just fine. I do need to keep practicing to perfect it though, for now I prefer Mini's Favorite Rye over this formula.

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Doc Tracy

OK, I'm going in. I've got the Glock, the BAD (Bad Ass Doberman) AKA Princess Lucy, and Chalupa the Chihuahua as reinforcement. Also in hand are sharp scissors and a 10" bread knife. Entering the house, I use all my senses trying to detect the CROB. I'm concerned that the soupy, pancake like batter of the sourdough converted cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread (CROB) has escaped it's container in the fridge and is hiding somewhere in the empty house.

I enter the house without a sound. The dogs seem calm. So far so good. I pull open the fridge and see The CROB- Oh, my!! It's eaten the aluminum foil off it's bowl. I didn't know it could do that. In the 36 hours or so since I locked it up in the empty fridge it's risen over my giant, commercial sized stainless steel bowl and has eaten holes in the aluminum. It doubled, it tripled!! And it ate metal!!!! I knew I should have used plasticrap!

I wrestle the beast out of it's cold, dark cave and drag it into the heat of the Arizona springtime. It's not going to like this I think. Hmmm, smells really nice. I carry the hefty monster back to the RV and take a peek. Despite the grayish looking spots all over the top from dissolved aluminum foil, it looks much more bread dough-like than it did 2 days ago. I may be able to train this dragon yet.

But what to do with all those aluminum foil spots? Well, thank goodness I came armed for battle! I go at it with the bread knife and scissors and show no mercy. I hack and cut and hack and cut. Throw that dough in the compost bin where it belongs. Nasty bugger, metal eating monster! Now it looks better and I bet I have a more manageable amount of dough to work with too.

Get out those scales! Yes, the one that screwed up this dough in the first place. I weigh the dough and find that I have enough for 3 large loaves, just what I started with. Hmm, what a strange coincidence. Shaped the loaves, jelly rolled with brown sugar, cinnamon and honey. Put them in the pans. The beast has been tamed!

All that is left are 3 yummy CROB loaves cooling on the stovetop (which pretends to be a countertop in my cramped RV). Sourdough starter makes wonderful CROB.

Moral of the story- Make no more than 2 loaves of bread when playing around with a formula. CROB Blob attacks are far more lethal within the confines of the RV. Woe to the person who gets this rental RV next. There is a baby CROB culture growing in the plumbing.

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Doc Tracy

Ok, so I redeemed myself. After my soupy batch of about 20lbs of cinnamon oatmeal raisin dough was put to sleep in the fridge to figure out how to best go about dealing with it another day, I pulled out the soaker/starter for my volkornbrot. Threw them together with some flour and water. This is the first time making this. Also the first time working with my fresh ground flour.  Mini and I had discussed the idea this afternoon, AFTER I had already started soaking my quantity of flax seeds and rye chops. I fed the rye starter rye meal the night before. This would be called a WAG in Army or engineering terms.

So, added some flour and a bit of water until things looked the right consistency. Put the dough in the pullman pan. Boy, it felt a lot heavier than that extra 100grams of flax seed should have caused it to be.

Maybe I need a new set of scales?

Not sure if the rye meal caused my starter to go crazy or if it's the warmer temps in the cabinet of the RV but things went to rising like they were on steroids. Of course, I had done all of this at oh, 8PM the night before working, with plans to bake in the morning. I had planned to ferment for the full 8 hours like I usually do. At 11pm I could see this wasn't a good idea as it was hitting the top of the Pullman pan.

Now what? Well, not many options with rye, are there. So, I did what I do best. Flew with it. I started the oven at 250 degrees, thinking about the Horst Black Bread story. I can do this. So, I put the bread in the oven at 250 from 11 until 5am. 7 entire hours! I woke up to the heavenly smell of 100% rye baking.

I have to say, this rye was cut about 1 hour after getting out of the oven. I simply could not wait the proper 24 hours until cool. Sorry JH! And, is it every good! I think I like volkornbrot even better than my daily rye!

Spices this time were caraway, fennel and ground coriander, 1 tbsp of each for a large loaf of volkornbrot.

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Doc Tracy

Some days you should just go back to bed and start over. I'm in the process of trying to make Hamelman's cinnamon oatmeal raisin bread (modified with sourdough starter). While building the final  dough I noted that the water on the scale seemed to be an enormous amount. So much so that I even grabbed another container, re-tared the scale and reweighed it. No, it seems to weigh out fine.

Final dough ends up looking like thin pancake batter. About 3kgs of it!! I'm not sure what I did wrong, not enough flour or too much water but I've been slowly adding more flour for that past hour. I'm wondering if my scale locked up or something? This is going to be one enormous batch of dough!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can work this out. Would have to happen on a recipe that is more complicated than flour, water and salt, wouldn't it? Now I'm wondering how much I should up the raisins and cinnamon, if I should add more oil/honey.

At least the fresh ground whole wheat flour (first time using the grinder) looks and smells wonderful. Can't wait to try it. Hope I haven't totally mucked it up.

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Doc Tracy

Saturday my mother and I decided to spend the day together in the kitchen. It's been awhile since we've done anything like this. We decided to make two cheeses and two breads. She is a complete bread newbie and we are both new to cheesemaking so this was an adventure.

Friday night I made a soaker and biga for PR's whole wheat sandwich bread. I also fed my rye starter and built it to 150 grams for "Mini's Favorite 100% Rye".  Gathered all the bread making supplies that we would need. (flour, yeast, bread spices, PR's book, loaf pans, etc). Sent mom the recipes for cheesemaking so that she could prepare.

Saturday morning we set out, having a fairly strict schedule to adhere to. First, mixed the rye bread. I just love this formula. My spices are dried onions, caraway and fennel seed in equal amounts, to total a little more than 1 tbsp for three loaves of each spice. Rye was fully mixed and the clock started on it. I like to give it a full 8 hours unless it looks like it's going to overrise, which so far it never has. I think it might be because I use only 25 grams of starter when building my starter. It certainly isn't because the starter isn't active. My husband prefers the that the bread is as sour as possible so the more rising time that I can squeeze out of it the better.

Next, we mixed up the whole wheat sandwich bread. I love this recipe. I need to work on a better conversion to sourdough as the instructions for using starter that PR has don't work. He calls for an enormous amount of starter (equal to replacing the biga) and it caused my gluten to break down last time I tried it. I think maybe it was supposed to be used in addition to the commercial yeast? Perhaps I'll play around with it now that I just got my grain mill and see what I can do. I'm thinking that if I put whatever is not used in the starter over into the soaker that should work. Then, just use a basic formula for starter/flour ratio to figure out how much I need. Anyhow, we mixed up the sandwich bread, which would be a nice quick bread, ready to put in the oven in 1 hour and 45 minutes.

All was done by hand as mom doesn't have a "real" mixer. Just one of those $15.00 hand held ones. I guess I could have, should have checked out her bread machine but I was a little leary of trying a new gadget with my tried and true recipes. Maybe I'll try it on some pizza dough or something first, just to check out the dough cycle. I wish she lived a little closer (she's 40 miles away) so that I could easily run over and check it out. Rye was until all flour was wet, left to autolyse 20 minutes and then kneaded for about 10 minutes. This was a huge batch of dough, enough for 3 large loaves. The whole wheat was kneaded for 10 minutes, then a stretch/fold at 30 minutes X 1.

Next, we started the mozarella cheese. I took a cheese class about a week ago. That was so much fun. I couldn't believe how much better fresh homemade cheese is compared to store bought! I have been so excited to introduce my parents and husband to it. So, while we had been mixing up the breads, Dad ran to the grocery store for 3 gallons of milk, buttermilk and cheesecloth. After three phone calls and a second trip to the store for the forgotten cheese cloth all was "mis en place". (I had brought the rennet and citric acid for the mozarella) We heated 2 gallons of milk to 90 degrees, added citric acid, then the rennet. Sit, cut the curd, reheat to 105, ladle into a cheese cloth strainer. Boy did we get a lot of whey!! I will be trying whey for my next bread making batch. Has anyone tried whey with sourdough?  We drained the mozarella until very dry/firm. Then we heated at 30 second intervals in the microwave for the fun part-stretching. Stretching is a lot like kneading. Sort of like kneading silly putty. In fact, just like playing with silly putty!!

Popped the whole wheat in the oven and went outside for a gardening break. Did some aphid patrol and washed off the tomatoes. Back to the kitchen for ricotta. That didn't go so well because there was a little tiny, tiny "U" on the label of the buttermilk. It was Ultrapastuerized. Those sneaky boogers!! So, we backtracked and added lemon juice. My mother and I are nothing if not creative! So, our ricotta became a ricotta/queso blanco hybrid which was truely delicious.

Rye bread went in the oven and became "the best rye bread my father ever tasted"

Total for the day-2 pounds mozarella. 2 pounds ricotta/queso blanco. 1 Whole wheat sandwich loaf. 3 loaves 100% rye.

After a day of baking and cheese making I went home and baked a strawberry-rhubarb crumble. I've been dying to find some rhubarb and while hunting for rennet I went to the high end grocery store "AJ's" and also found frozen rhubard. Strawberries have been such a bargain this year and it got me in the mood for strawberry rhubarb anything. This crumble was so delicious. Really hit the spot!!

Sorry, no pictures today. Everything is nearly eaten, LOL!!

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Doc Tracy

Took a cheese making class this week. Learned to make fresh mozarella, ricotta, creme fraise, mascarpone and queso blanco. I couldn't believe the difference between fresh made cheese and store bought. I know I will be using these recipes a lot in the future. I can hardly wait to make my blueberry braid bread with mascarpone cheese, using the fresh version. I might make it with ricotta this time too. One of each, just to compare.

The cheeses were so easy. The only one that was the least bit fussy at all was mozarella and that is only because you have to stretch it. That was so easy after making bread. The others were stir, strain and go.

I also bought a nutrimill today. Now I'm looking for grain bins for the 50lbs of hard red spring wheat and 25lbs of rye that I picked up at the baking store this morning. Man, can hardly wait to get back into the house and have a real kitchen!!! I was looking at all those bags of kamut, spelt, soft wheat, durum, etc. I'm going to be dangerous when I have a full sized house!

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Doc Tracy

I'm so excited. I just ordered a new mill. I can hardly wait to start milling my own grains. Since I bake almost exclusively with whole grains this is a big deal for me. I've been ordering my flour out of state, about once or twice a month so I figure it will pay for itself in about a year.

There is a place very close to the house that sells grains in bulk so I'm pretty set, although I don't know if they have specialty grains like spelt, durum and kamut.

Now I just need to bake a bunch of whole wheat this week to use up the month old flour that I have. I'm refreshing my starter now, going to start some of my "1-2.5-3" loaves tonight.

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Doc Tracy

rye spelt

I had another baking day in the RV. I baked a 100% whole wheat miche. I didn't use a recipe this time. Simply modified a "1-2-3" method, making it into a my own. I used 150 grams whole wheat starter,  (100% starter) 375 grams water and 450 grams whole wheat flour. 2% salt. I mixed until it came off the sides of the mixer in the Kitchen aid. This was an incredibly stretchy dough, I guess because of the very high hydration! Certainly don't believe that whole wheat is low in gluten because it isn't true!!

I calculate the hydration of this at a whopping 85% when including the starter. Can this really be right? When doing my folds, I could literally stretch this baby about 18 inches each direction on the first set of s/folds!! It was pretty amazing. I did three sets of s/f's, 1 hour apart. Fermentation time was 10 hours, shaped and 1 hour later I baked. It actually held it's shape pretty well, only flattening slightly.

What a nutty flavor, crispy crust and incredibly open crumb for a WW loaf! Nice! I might try the same in a loaf pan and see what I get in the way of a sandwich bread next time.

The same night, I made a 75% rye, 25% spelt loaf, using Mini's favorite rye formula and my Pullman pan. Spices were dried onion, caraway and anise at a scant tablespoon each. I've found that the exact amount that Mini uses for her big pot works for my Pellman pan. How easy is that? I also found this time that it is the perfect overnight recipe, needing no shaping at all! I put it directly into the Pullman pan at 5:30 in the evening and baked at 3:30 AM. Although Mini says this will self-destruct in 8 hours mine held up for a full 10 and came out absolutely perfect. Rose to the top of the pan, held up, had a small amount of oven spring and with the spelt had a slightly milder, nuttier taste than the 100% full rye that I made a couple of weeks ago.

I'm making plans to start my Hamelman's baking challenge. I'll be starting with something from the levain chapter and something from the rye chapter. I'm waiting on an order of flour and a couple of days off in a row. Perhaps I'll start a levain tonight if I get extra motivated, we'll see.

Looking at about another month in this little camper. Starting to get some cabin fever. It's been an experience, that's for sure!

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Doc Tracy

I've been seeing some comments about Hamelman's Multigrain SD with a rye SD starter and how good it is. I think I've gone past this recipe in the book a few times because of the high % of high protein flour. I decided to bake it today but with a lot of changes. Cut home formula in half

1.Replaced all high protein flour with whole wheat flour +4tbsps of vital wheat gluten

2. Replaced sunflower seeds with millet

3. Replaced rye chops with rye berries (I just haven't found rye chops anywhere and don't have a mill yet)

4. Added spices-dry onion, caraway and fennel, plus poppy seeds on top

5. Autolysed for a total of one hour and added a bit of extra water at 30 minutes to accomodate the flour change

Very curious to see how this turned out, I put it in the oven in two loaf pans, spritz the top of each with a spray of water and covered with aluminum foil. I baked 10 minutes covered  and then 20 minutes uncovered, brought them out at 205 degrees. (oven first at "hot" then "between 350 and Hot" in the RV oven).

After cooling, I sliced into this lovely, brown bread. What a wonderful surprise! It was soft with a lovely texture. Incredibly light! Who would have guessed? Multigrain, whole wheat/rye with a light, soft texture? Amazing!

Here's a picture of my pastrami sandwich with fresh arugula from the garden. I sure wish the arugula wasn't bolting. I hate to see the end of arugula and lettuce season. But, with the end of arugula comes tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

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Doc Tracy

So, baked a lot this week in the RV. I finally solved the burning problem, thanks to TFL'er's help. The aluminum foil layer was the key. I put aluminum foil on the rack and that did it. I realized that back a few months ago, when we first got in the RV, I had baked some ginger cookies and put aluminum foil on the rack because I didn't have a cookie sheet that fit in the oven at the time. I left the foil in for awhile and was baking pretty decent breads. Somewhere along the way, I removed the foil and didn't make the connection between that and my bread burning. One of TFL'ers suggested putting aluminum foil on the rack and I remembered that this so I tried it again and it's working!

This week I baked up a bunch of great breads. I started with a "1,2,3" bread which was really a "1, 2.5,3" bread as I increased the hydration to about 75% since I made it with 100% whole wheat white flour. The other interesting thing about this loaf (besides not using a recipe and actually having it come out edible, LOL!) was that I accidently switched my rye and WW starters when I was refreshing them. So, my rye starter got fed WW and my WW starter got fed rye. Thus, this bread was made with a "hybrid" starter. It was really, really good. Nice tang, nice sweetness from the WWW flour. Thanks flourgirl51 for the great flours that I've been using!

Next, I made a dessert bread. I had some frozen blueberries I just had to bake with. So, I made FloydDM's blueberry braid. The only change is that I used mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese. Talk about addictive!

Same day, I started Eric's favorite rye. But, I used whole wheat white flour since I don't have first clear. My other changes this time were some fennel seeds and onion. Plus, 75 grams of altus from my last rye bread. My husband declared this my best rye bread EVER!!! I'm really loving this recipe as a base. I've also been bumping up the rye percent to about 50%. One of these days I'm, now that I got my new order of rye flour I'm going to make Mini's rye bread in a pot. I just need to go buy a suitable pot for my RV oven.

Finally, today I harvested a gigantic amount of arugula that was bolting. I have a big food processor and I packed it full. This was a plastic grocery sack completely full of arugula that I than tore into pieces and stuffed into my processor. Maybe a few pounds worth? I added olive oil, 1/2 pound parmesan, salt, pine nuts and fresh garlic and made some out of this world arugula pesto. So, needed to have some pizza to go with this.

Here's the formula I used for the pizza:

180 grams all purpose

50 grams durum flour (whole durum from flourgirl51)

20 grams whole wheat flour

1 cup water (warm)

1 1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

I beat this with a paddle on high until it came off the sides and bottom, about 5 minutes. Put it into my 2 liter container, waited about an hour with it setting on a shelf over a light in an 80 degree spot. Tripled in size.

Here are my toppings:

Brushed with olive oil. Spread with Sundried tomato spread from Safeway. Spread about 1 cup of arugula pesto. Pepperoni. Mozzarello. Yum!!!!

This was the best pizza dough I've made so far. Despite the short rise time the flavor was intense and the texture was amazing. I think it was the durum flour that made the difference. Note, this is durum flour, not semolina. It looks sort of like whole wheat flour and has a nice, sweet, strong smell. I get it from Flourgirl51.

What a great baking week. Started off cold, windy and rainy. Now it's sunny and nice. And, I have several months worth of pesto to put in my freezer! Enough to last until basil season. Now I can't wait tomato season.


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