The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Doc Tracy's blog

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Doc Tracy

I found this recipe called "The Easiest Focaccia in the World" posted online and I have to say they may be right. I was looking for something really easy to accompany a thin sliced sirloin and freshly picked garden salad. (sorry Northerners!!) Anyway, it doesn't get any easier than this.

Here is my slightly modified version. (added the whole wheat)  I apoligize, I had to add some flour and I'm not quite sure what the end flour weight is so you'll have to add to the original amount until you get it to come off the sides of the mixer.

100 grams WW flour

350 grams AP flour

2 tsp instant yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

13.5 fluid oz warm water

Mix in the KA blender on speed 4 for 10 minutes. During this time I watched and had to add about 1/2 cup off flour in small increments until the sides of the dough didn't stick but the bottom was still sticking to the bowl.

Let rise in oiled bowl until almost tripled. This took about 45 minutes.

Put on silpat with cornmeal (or oiled parchment, oiled baking pan). I put the silpat into a "half cookie sheet" as that is what will fit into my camper oven. Spread the dough out gently. This fit my half sheet perfectly. It will be about 1" thick.

Spread with about 1/4 cup olive oil. I used a mixture of 2 cloves fresh garlic, some fresh parsley/thyme (from the garden) and a little sprinkle of red sea salt. I spread the thyme/parsley/garlic mixture onto the bread and dimpled it with my fingers. Then a light sprinkle of asiago cheese. Let dough double in pan, about 30 minutes.

Into the oven (probably about 450 but who knows with the camper oven?) for about 20 minutes. Results, tasty light focaccia bread to eat with our tender, fresh garden salad, homemade Meyer lemon vinagrette and thin sliced sirloin steak on the grill.

Until next time. It's 65 degrees and sunny here at RV World, Mesa, AZ!

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Doc Tracy

Today was a lovely day in Arizona. Still in our little rental RV. The garden is taking off and I'm procrastinating on buying dirt for my new garden area where the tomatoes need to get transplanted. That will be a hard day or two of work. So, I bake and train my dog instead.

I started my PR's whole wheat sandwich bread last night. This has become one of my three "go-to" breads for me. (Eric's Fav Rye and Hamelman's multi-flour miche being a couple of others) I decided to double the recipe as my mother says it was her "favorite" out of all the breads she tried so far and I'm going to see her tomorrow. I substitute soy milk for milk in the recipe which seems to work just fine. This time I also had stone-ground flour from Flourgirl51 which I had never used before. (her rye flour is wonderful!) So, I was wondering how a 100% stone-ground whole wheat would turn out compared to one made with King Arthur's flour. The other changes I made were coconut oil instead of veggie oil (or butter) and barley malt syrup for the sweetener. (he leaves all these substitutions fairly open in the recipe and I have used the soy and coconut oil before but I used honey and King Arthur flour the last time.

Results-taste is excellent. Crumb is surprisingly very open and less dense than with the finer store bought flour!! Perhaps because I was concerned and kept it extra hyrdrated to the point of extreme stickiness? I also did a couple of S/Fs this time as with the double recipe I couldn't use my machine so my kneading was inadequate so this could also have effected crumb? I highly recommend this sandwich bread if you're searching for a solution to the whole wheat "brick" that so many readers complain about (although I have yet to have too much trouble with myself)

Onto other adventures in baking...Hubby begged for more crackers. Being "me" I simply couldn't leave a good thing alone so I changed my original cracker recipe. Thankfully, it came out even better. Here is the recipe. (can you believe I wrote it down?)

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup rye flour

3/4 cup spelt flour

1/8 cup nutritional yeast (finally found something to do with the stuff!!!)

1 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp flax seeds

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1/4 tsp each of ground garlic, cumin, cayenne, chipolte

1 tsp salt and coarse ground pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup water

Mix into a loose, crumbly dough that comes together in a ball. Put into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to about 450. These can cook on a stone. (except in the RV, I used a cookie sheet upside down, that's another story) I rolled out about 1/3 the dough as thin as possible on a Silpat. (you may have to kind of put this together with your fingers as you go, it's a bit crumbly) It will look a little rough, try to smooth out the cracks in the middle so that it's all one sheet, don't worry about the edges.

Bake about 6 minutes. Check to see that's it's toasted dark brown but not burned. Take out and cool flat (I used a cool cookie sheet for this while I cooled off silpat for another batch)

Took me awhile to get the timing right in my oven, I'm sure you'll have to do some trial and error to get just the right doneness without being burned.  I think the recipe is very flexible just so long as the oil/flour/water percent is about the same. (I used all spelt last time)

Tastes like an expensive, health food store multi-grain crispy cracker.

To go with-I made homemade hummus with garden fresh parsley/mint and Meyer lemon juice. MMMMMM!Whole wheat sandwich bread

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Doc Tracy

I've been looking at this formula for a couple of weeks now. The mix of rye and whole wheat looks so darn inviting! Even the starter is 50/50. Finally, I get the chance to bake it!

This poor loaf was doomed from the start. I was so excited about this formula. To begin with, I had to retard the starter because I needed more than 12 hours (more like 24) between the last build and starting my final dough. So, I did as the book says and added salt, put it in a cool place. (outdoors) Ok, so it was nicely domed and looks good at this point, we're doing fine.

Next, I can't get to the final dough until 5pm rather than first thing in the morning as originally planned. So, it's actually more like 30 some odd hours for the poor starter. But, it's still looking pretty good at this point. I start final dough, look at recipe and count hours. Looks like I'll be baking at 10pm so maybe I'll just put it in the fridge or outside until morning.

Nope, last sentence in the recipe says "this dough does not lend itself to overnight retardation".

This must be the first bread I've ever made that "doesn't lend itself to overnight retardation. Oh well, 11pm is about my bedtime so that's fine. I can still do this. Onward we go. My third fold is 30 minutes late (on an every 40 minute schedule) because I have a 7pm meeting. Dough is looking really nice, goes from unbelievably extensible on 2nd fold to nice and strong but still stretchy on the third fold. Hasn't risen much though, hmmm.

9pm, still hasn't risen much and it should have already been shaped? Hmm, not too sure about this. I go ahead and give it a preshape, make it into a boule. Put upside down in a steel bowl, covered with plastic. 10pm, no rise. I'm not baking it this way! I would be baking a brick! Ok, now what? Stay up until it rises? The phrase "this does not lend itself to overnight rise" keeps going off in my head!!

Finally, at 11pm I take a "drop dead" look to make the final decision. It does not look ready. It's going to have to rise overnight. My life is not revolving around this loaf of bread! I stick it outside the door to the RV on a table. Should be about 45 degrees tonight, it will be totally "retarded" by morning.

Wake up and it looks very nice, ready to bake! Yeah!! Now, bought new pizza stone for the camper oven last week. I've had some problems with it. Burned a couple of loaves of Eric's Fav Rye but I moved the stone up to the next shelf so I think I have that solved. Last nights pizza was "so, so" but I think maybe the oven didn't preheat long enough. Now I'm going to try putting a loaf directly on the stone for the first time ever. I put the corn meal on the peel. Carefully shape my loaf into a nice "torpedo". Slash with the best slashes I've ever made. I even garnish with some poppy seeds. This is looking really good. My fanciest loaf ever. (except my braided Finnish pulla) Getting excited now!

I open oven, put peel in. Loaf sticks. Grab pastry knife. Push loaf. It squishes up. Folds over. Plops onto stone in a squished up mound. I try to unsquish the mound and push farther into the oven but it's stuck to the stone. Oh no!! Well, Maybe best thing is to leave it until it drys out and unsticks?

Mist oven for steam, close door. Open door to check. Bread has stuck to the door. Crap! Peel parts of bread off of door, try to push loaf back a little bit farther by squishing with pastry knife again.

Alright, nothing I can do now but wait and bake. 30 minutes later, I smell burned bread. I check and have a perfectly scorched loaf, insides are 170 degrees. I flip the loaf over and turn the oven off.

After about 50 minutes, bring the loaf out. Cut off the bottom with a bread knife. How sad! But, let me tell you that this bread tastes so good! The best sourdough I've ever made. I'm glad I didn't retard it any longer as it would have been too sour but as it is, perfection! Very chewy crust, dense but big holes. Complex flavor.

This will be my "go to" everday bread from now on. Eric's Fav Rye will be our sandwich bread and Hamelman's Oatmeal Cinnamon bread is the one I will make for my husband's treat. I will use this mixed flour bread to practice, work on technique. What a nice bread!

Now, about that stone. I think it's going to have to go. It's just too big for my little tiny oven. Back to the old cookie sheet solution until we're back in the house. I think I'll try pizzas on the grill this weekend sometime. For now, I'm already building starter for two more of these mixed flour miches to take to my parent's house on Saturday. Scheduling when I will build/bake these will be a challenge as I'm working a 12 hour shift tomorrow. Why does work always have to get in the way of our important hobbies?

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Doc Tracy

Well, another rainy day in Arizona. I'm getting the tiniest bit of cabin fever. Having a rare treat, a glass of shiraz. Not a great wine but it sure tastes good. My husband ran to the store to get it while I was baking a pizza. Pouring down rain and wind. Even my doberman refuses to go take a potty!

I threw together a dough today and it turned out awfully wet. (maybe our humidity?) Anyway, it was a made up recipe and I threw in too much starter so I probably just miscalculated. I was feeding my white starter, being lazy and decided to make a 1-2-3 bread. But instead of being careful, I threw the rest of my starter in so it was probably a 2-2-3 bread. I decided to use a whole durum flour for 50% and white whole wheat for the other 50%, the starter fed on AP. (Have I mentioned I don't like white bread?)

So, I ended up with this gloppy, soft dough. It smelled so nice, but was really wet! I decided to use half for a pizza and put the other half in the oven. The half that I made into a bread was really flat, kind of strange looking but tasted oh, so sweet!

The pizza, one of my better pizzas! I used fennel seed in the sauce, with a lot of wine and canned tomatoes. (I now have decided I like fennel seed, after an unsure beginning) Had some dried porcini mushrooms in my spice box so I soaked those in water, threw the water in the sauce and the mushrooms on the pizza. Some black forest ham, onions, mozarella. And---a fresh habanero from the garden. Now, if you've never had a garden fresh habanero, you have no idea what flowery aroma and taste they can produce. In the winter ours are not that hot. (in comparision I guess) But the flavor they add is a miracle! They smell like flowers! Hot, spicy flowers! Mixed with fennels, wine, mushrooms and the flowery habaneros, this was a meal from above.

Maybe I just have cabin fever, LOL!!

No dessert tonight, maybe just a cup of hot mint tea. A movie with my wonderful husband, some reading and to bed. I've been reading the Julie/Julia project for my bedtime reading. What a wonderful blog. I highly recommend it. I can really relate in my RV situation right now.

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Doc Tracy

Well, it's been quite a rainy week here in Arizona. Their predicting up to 4 inches of rain here in the desert, even more in the higher country with up to 4 feet of snow up in the higher mountains! Winds up to 60mph this evening! It's been a wild couple of days with a big storm the night before last, rain all day today and so much more yet to come. We just pulled up the awning on the camper to keep it from blowing away!

The house is still a long way from being done. Today we had to call the contractors as they had done some work on the roof and taken up the plastic that my husband had put down. You guessed it, flooded the house. I swear, they are doing more damage than the fire did, trying to fix the fire damage! Last week, they were tearing up the floor and left the refrigerator unplugged with medical supplies. Would you believe in excess of $10,000 in medical supplies were destroyed by that little mistake?

I've been doing a lot of baking, needless to say, although I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures for you. Tuesday, I baked a wonderful Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin bread from Hamelman's "Bread", using my new excel spreadsheet (if you'd like the copy of the spreadsheet email me at Yesterday, I made Eric's Fav Rye. This is the second time I've baked this and it's one of my favorite formulas. This time I added the onions, made it freestanding instead in loaf pans and used 2/3 AP to 1/3 WW. (I can't find 1st clear in Phoenix and seems to be working well without it so haven't ordered it online yet).  This is just the best deli rye bread. We had pastrami/swiss sandwiches today that were wonderful. The only problem that I had is with a new stone that I added to my little camper oven yesterday. It seems to have intensified my heat on the bottom of my loafs, causing them to burn long before they were baked in the middle (like at 8 minutes, charred!) so I nearly ruined the poor things! I think I have that solved by lifting the rack/stone up to a higher shelf (I have oh so much room to play around in this tiny oven, not) but it may take a few more trials to get the hang of it. I continue to use the stepping stone in the bottom of the oven to increase thermal mass, I am just hoping the pizza stone will help with crust.

Last night I also made some molten lava cake for a treat, which I've been promising my husband for some time. Wow, was that yummy! I used Paula Deen's recipe but substituted all bittersweet Ghiardelli's chocolate instead of part semi-sweet. I didn't have the orange liquor so I used brandy and vanilla instead. They were just like a very expensive restaurant's. (except for the one that fell apart on the cutting board before scraping into the serving plate, LOL! Thank goodness that was the extra, used the syrup from that one for the garnish. Maybe once a week, or less I have to make something decadent for a special treat.

Can't make those too often though, we'll both have to do extra time at the gym and I've been really lazy about that. My husband, he gets up at 4am and heads to the gym every morning but I've been a lazy bum lately.

Today, husband requested some "of those seedy crackers, like the expensive ones from the health food store". Ok, I think I can figure that request out! So, I put together some whole spelt flour, sesame seeds, cayenne, poppy seeds,black pepper,salt, garlic powder, a little olive oil and water. Would you believe they are really incredible? I rolled them out on my new silicone mat (I bought the cheap imitation and cut to fit my mini-oven).  They  turned to be just the ticket for him to take to his class tonight for a snack, along with a couple of carrots.  I think he'll be wanting these for his lunch box twice a week when he has classes. Well, at least he's not eating junk food!

Now I'm trying to think of something to use my neglected white starter for. I'm thinking either Vermont Sourdough or San Joaquin sourdough will be just the ticket. I have neglected the poor starter for at least a couple of weeks now, it's probably time to feed. I've also been looking at an apricot sourdough loaf. Than again, something with spelt or semolina would be nice. Oh, so many breads, so few mouths to feed!

Let me know how the spreadsheet is working. My husband said if he'd known I was going to hand it out to the public he would have made it look a little prettier, with a border, title, that sort of thing. He even suggested that maybe I should get in touch with JH himself and see if he'd like to  publish it as a helper to his book.




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Doc Tracy

Please let me know if you don't get your spreadsheet as requested. I sent out all requests and one was returned undeliverable. I'm not sure who's it was as I deleted messages while I was sending. Sounds like those who have tried it so far say it's working properly.

I would post the attachment here but I have no idea how to do that.


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Doc Tracy

My wonderful engineering husband was watching me do calculations by hand yesterday. He does everything on the computer.  Anyway, he was kind enough to write a small program on an excel spreadsheet that does my calculations for me. I can share it with anyone that would like, if you'd like to send me a message for a request. It's so simple! You can input the total amount of either dough or flour that you want and the percent of the different ingredients, the calculator will fill in the number of grams for each ingredient for you.

Say you have the baker's percentage for something out of Hamelman's Bread, which gives you the percentage and for some crazy reason has the metric for "36" loaves, US measurements and  volumes for the home baker and still gives me the amount for "3" loaves which is too much. I want to bake only one loaf. So,  I fill in the amount of dough, say for sake of this exercise 1,000 grams. Fill in the percentages of each ingredient and I know exactly how much I need, in grams to use. It is so slick!

No more conversion charts for me!


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