The Fresh Loaf

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So, in my last post many weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted to make this bread. It's finally happened in this second to last weekend of school. This is it, sort of put together myself with a few checks against Hamelman and Leder's olive bread formulas to check proportions.


I used 8ozs of a spicy olive mix from Whole Foods that had both green and black olives of different shapes and sizes; I also crumbled up a fair amount of blue cheese into it in the final folding before shaping, though I forget what kinds I used. It was really good in the end, and the cheese was bubbling up pretty intensely towards the end. Good work food.


PS: My girlfriend thinks olives and blue cheeses are gross, so I guess it's good that I waited until after she went to study abroad to make this! She might have had something to say to me if I actually asked her to eat it.....she might be reading this right now.....hi honey.....its not so bad if you can't smell it right? ....right?

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Just a heads up for anyone reading this, this blog entry is going to be an outlet for some volatile emotions directed at my most recent baking experience. Continue at your own risk.


I just got off work. I don't always have a great time at work, and tonight was like that. the past few weeks in general have been stressful because of school. In terms of bread, I find myself trying to make fermenting and proofing fit in during classes until i can come back, or retarding over night, you get the idea. I did that today by refreshing my sourdough last night, making the dough this morning and letting it partially ferment during my class on genetics. I then refrigerated it, unshaped, while I went to work for 5 hours to continue to ferment slowly. Coming back, i pulled it out, shaped it roughly into a round, and let it proof in an oiled bowl (during which time i shelled a bunch of peanuts to make peanut butter...a mindless, monotonous task that proved very mentally relaxing). Then, it came time to bake.

And its all downhill from here.

Tried to turn out the dough from the bowl, but it wasn't coming out despite oiling. Tried to get it out a few different ways until finally with an unsatisfied slurp, it peeled out of the bowl and landed off center on the peel. An edge was barely hanging off. Not so bad, but the process was a little frustrating since it's worked before. I had floured the top (now the bottom) of the dough in the bowl, and also the peel. I figured some of the peel's flour would come off during maneuvering, hence the dough flouring. Opened the oven, preheated stone was ready.....and the dough stuck to the peel.


ugh. so the door is open, heat is escaping from the oven like a convict on a prison break. Jiggle the peel, dough doesn't move. I go and grab my bench scraper, and start just scraping it off the peel. The dough is wet and at this point has lost considerable shape. by the time it's off the peel, i notice that it's not even fully on the stone; two edges are hanging off just enough to be upsetting, so i try to scrape those back on. It's ugly, my shaping is unnoticeable, and my slashes are disfigured...the icing on the cake is that i burned the back of my hand on the oven heating coils by accidentally brushing against them while trying to scrap the dough off the peel.

I'm afraid to look at the oven. What a jerk. 

Anyways, the bread might be tasty. This is my second lesson in patient bread making. the last time i baked, it was rushed, forced, and not paid attention to, and it turned out dense, gummy and very lackluster. though the taste was good, it was disheartening.

UPDATE: The bread is similar to an amorphous goo monster of doom. there's absolutely no shape. it has oozed partially off the stone and is being supported by the oven rack and the glass door.

This makes me not want to bake again for a long time. ugh. And I had plans for some adventurous spicy olive and blue cheese bread this weekend....maybe i'll be over this by then.

Really, the problem was centered aroudn the fact that i couldn't get the dough out of the bowl easily. If I could have gotten that, everything else would have gone smoothly.


A final touch on all of this is that a housemate of mine just came down to tell me that somebody had an "accident" in one of our bathrooms and didn't clean it up.

Murphy and his laws: 1

Me: 0

Game Over 

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This is my second time working with a significant amount of rye, my first being a 100% rye: Vollkornbrot. That was really fun since i had no idea what to expect, it wasn't too difficult, and the people i made it for (immigrated from Germany) said it was wonderful. This time however, I scaled it back and went for a 40% Rye with Caraway Seeds. 


I used Hamelman's formula and stuck to it pretty well I think. I don't have a lot to compare it to in terms of rye experience, but i think it was pretty good. I wasn't expecting an open crumb, I did get some pretty good spring and i bet i could have gotten some nice slashing if I put my cuts parallel, but i saw a picture of a rye with this slashing style, so i went this way. I put some seeds on top, and I think that might have been a bit too much caraway for my tastes. Other than that though, it was pretty good, the chewyness is something I like. One day soon, I might try a vollkornbrot again, and perhaps down the road, pumpernickel will make an appearance. 

Rye seems to have this mystique, and it's piqued my curiosity....I'll get you yet you little berry..... 

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As I promised, here's a picture of the one stollen that has survived the initial onslaught. This one, unlike its predecessor, remained mostly intact while it baked.


I followed PR's formula for stollen, using about half whole wheat and half white flour. I soaked red and white raisins, figs, dates, apricots, and candied lemon peel in dark rum. I made the almond paste with equal parts peeled almonds and sugar and adding rose water until it came together into a ball in the blender. the lemon really stood out in a non-overpowering way, which was great with all the other fruit being sweet and still tasting of rum. I definately plan on making this again, trying to get the paste (or maybe marzipan next time) more into the center of the dough before i bake it. 

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Three Breads. One Day.

Loaf 1: ~5lb Sourdough High Extraction Miche Type loaf

Loaf 2: Garlic Explosion (Garlixplosion?) W/ Cheese

Loaf 3: Spinach and Feta Cheese with Caramelized Onions.

They were all around 65-70% hydration doughs, all with a small amount of sourdough culture thrown in as a preferment/leavening. The miche was leavened solely by the sourdough, I added some active dry yeast to the other two.


Garlic!! SO MUCH GARLIC!! (Many liked it. A few picked out the cloves. One was weak, and just barely finished her piece. Muahahahahaha!!!) I used shredded cheddar and parmesan cheeses here, since they were already in our fridge, though I think that it would indeed be better with chunks. On the other hand, the cheese that was at the crust gave a fantastically unusually textured, but tasty crust. It was thick, but not hard, and was kinda flakey. I can't really describe it well, but it was very strange/good. I also added dried rosemary and ground oregano to it, but I would very much prefer fresh herbs to dried / powders.

Spinach/Feta/Onion. A little weak on the salty/feta taste. The cheese didn't pack the flavor I was used to from feta cheese, so I think next time I will go with a French feta, as opposed to this greek style, and in a larger quantity. Very spinachy flavor though. This had about 25% chopped spinach, drained, by flour weight. It sprung up well, but I was hoping for a bit more. Maybe longer proof/more yeast next time.

Spinach Exterior. A bit dark. I've found that my loaves get quite dark before they're fully baked, and I wait longer with the temperature turned down at the end after at hot start. Maybe if I started it at a lower temp? Or turned it down sooner?

Inside the MICHE! This guy was huge. I think 5lbs of dough is my largest boule yet. This one took quite a while to bake, I think it was over an hour. Since I'm baking for a lot of people, I figured I would make this unflavored bread in a large amount. Aaaannndddd I felt like one loaf would be easier to deal with than 2-3. Hence, this. Someone said it was the size/weight of a newborn child. I think I'll name it alfred.

It surprised me. I slashed it in a circular sort of 8pointed compass style, and it expanded beyond that, splitting down the middle. You know alfred, I'm sorry I even tried. Clearly you didn't want to cooperate, so you went and did your own thing. I thought it might look nice the way I cut you, but no, you HAD to disagree. Now you look like some kind of tribal, african mask, and I can't even claim that it was my idea.....oh how can I stay mad at you? You're so tasty.....(i think alfred is now 2/3 of its original size...ish.)

The Triforce. Garlic in front. Spinach to the left, Miche on the right. Hungry onlookers out of frame.

I would really like to figure out how to have the bread color and be fully baked at the same time. I've been using a stone and preheating to about 425-450 or so and then turning it down about 15-20 minutes in....which might be my problem. Maybe if I start it slightly lower, or didn't wait so long to drop the temperature...

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Inspired by the Chocolate Cherry bread from Zingerman's Bakery down the street, and spurred on by a fellow FreshLoafer's (JMonkey) post on the matter, I've finally made it my own!


I'll admit it. Asthetically, it's a brute. Shaping didn't really happen, clearly there are no slashes, the sharp chocolate corners broke through the dough because I wasn't thinking about how I was handling it, it oozed, and the chocolate on the outside was mildly charred.

None of that matters.

The smell was incredible. The essence of sour cherries and dark chocolate mingled beautifully and delighted the nostrils of everyone in the vicinity. I dare say it was very seductive. 

It tasted great. The little bit of honey I added to the dough helped connect the ingredients better. Otherwise, I wonder if there would have been too much contrast between the fruit/chocolate and bread flavors...

There is though, much room for improvement. I did not develop the dough adequately before folding in the additives. And I think it showed. I also made the mistake of not fully reviving my starter before introducing it to the dough; while it worked, it was rather weak. Also, the crust colored very quickly, and I pulled the loaf before it was fully baked, let it cool slightly, cut it, noticed it was underdone, and rebaked it. Next time, lower temp.

Still though. Very tasty. All the mistakes are rendered, at least temporarily, insignificant by the wonder of this creation.

Dark Chocolate Tart Cherry Levain

1.5 lbs Bread Flour (I used Golden Buffalo)

1lb 2ozs water

.5oz salt

Small amount of refreshed s.dough culture (adjust depending on taste/rising time preference)

~8ozs dark chocolate, broken into small bits

~12ozs dried tart cherries (if sugar is added, its okay. They will come out during soaking)

1) Soak cherries for at least 30 minutes to remove any added sugar and prevent burning

2) Mix flour, salt, and water until fully hydrated, let autolyse/sit for ~30 minutes (can do while cherries soak)

3) Cut up levain, add to dough with cherries, mix until fully distributed, knead to develop gluten (which I did not do), but be gentle not to destroy cherry integrity

4) Bulk ferment until approx 1.5x volume increase, folding once* halfway through.

*During fold, add chocolate bits inbetween each fold over. JMonkey's blog illustrates this well, here.

5) Very gently shape the loaf, trying not to puncture the future crust. While it's not tragic if it does happen, if there's a leak, chocolate can leak out and burn, and it might make you a little sad. But you'll be fine! It's okay!

6) Bake on a preheated stone with steam at ~400-425F (I did 450F and forgot to turn the heat down [it was a busy day in the kitchen], so the crust darkened very quickly. A lower temp would give a more thorough bake without the crustular trauma)until internal temp reaches 200F.

LET COOL BEFORE CUTTING. Molten Chocolate is very hot! It will burn if you, so it is imperative that you resist the nearly irresistable urge to eat this bread. Even after about 25 minutes, it was hot enough to burn my friend a little, so be careful. 

7) Devour. It will probably not last very long. Not because it won't keep. But because it's too tasty. Even if you mess up a bit. 

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Semolina (Durum) Bread - From Hammelman's Bread, only without the sugar for the "flying" sponge.

I would have used my sourdough except it's whole wheat-ish and i didn't want to mix that with the creamy yellow semolina.

Hooray! Huzzah!

This used a sponge preferment consisting of semolina and bread flour. I adjusted the final flour amounts to be closer to 80-85% semolina, 15-20% bread flour. I like the color, smell, and texture of semolina and didn't want it too diluted. This recipe also calls for some olive oil, which i think is a great addition.

This beauty is going to be sacrificed to the french toast gods in the morning. All shall rejoice!!

Finally got a full loaf shot, and the key to a good oven spring is really coming through. That final proof, when the dough doesn't really kick back after being makes so much of a difference. And investing in a cheap glass-scraper to use as my one-sided lame was a great decision. The thin, sharp edge on a razor blade like that makes slashing a breeze. The days of the flat, dense, paper-cut french breads seem so far behind me now...

There's always that point in a learning process when things start to click together and make sense in your head, start becoming second nature, and I feel like i'm reaching that point. I may not be an expert, but i'm not bumbling fool anymore either. I can whip up something with a few calculations of proportions, use one of a few trusty procedures, and have something pretty good in the end.

This sense of confidence has spurred me on a baking binge, this is my third batch in...two? no three days, and bagels are in the fridge right now. I also plan to make some dark chocolate/cherry bread like someone posted here before. I'm inspired by Zingerman's version of the bread; not only is the place just down the street from me, but a guy who lives in my house sells their bread, and often brings home some day-olds. While they're great to eat, they're inspiring me to emulate and extrapolate on their creative mixes. It's made me want to try making a cranberry-walnut bread, maybe with a little orange zest.


Bread! Wooooooooot! 

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So today i started a double batch variant of a multigrain hearth bread in the PR delayed fermentation/epoxy style. I decided to add 12ozs of cooked brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth grains for extra protein; i've also found that the quinoa sometimes gives a pleasant little *pop* if you happen to catch a grain between your teeth while eating the bread. It's "retarding" now; meaning I got lazy, and didn't want to bake it tonight so i left the bowl in the cold basement to do its thing.

I baked them in the early afternoon. By the time I actually got to them with a camera, they looked like this:








The crust was nice, but the crumb wasn't as open as i would have liked. I had a little trouble transfering it to the oven stone, and that negated a lot of the proofing : \ However, it wasn't dense in that heavy, difficult-to-chew-through way. Rather, every bite was substantial, chewy, and pleasant. I've become a great fan of naturally leavened breads, in part because of that unique texture.


I made this one the next day, somewhat on a whim, only checking Hammelman's sourdough seed bread recipe for a guide of what proportion of seeds to put in.

This one turned out amazingly, slightly burnt crust aside. The inside opened up nicely and the toasted seeds added a nutty sweetness that shut out any need for sweetener.

I also think I should get my camera out sooner, maybe I'll get a photo of a whole loaf one day... 

Sourdough Sunflower Seed Bread with Sprouted Grains

2lbs high extraction flour (e.g. Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo)

~20-22ozs water

~.6-.7 oz salt

5.5 oz sunflower seeds, toasted in pan and cooled

4oz sprouted grains (i used a combination of quinoa and amaranth. The grains should be soft from all the soaking, so no grinding was needed)

Sourdough culture (unknown amount, ~ 3 heaping tablespoons. ish.)

1) Mix Flour, water, grains, and salt into a tacky dough and let rest for 30-60 minutes for autolyse.

2) Cut dough and sourdough into small/medium chunks and mix. Knead until well blended and dough feels strong, ~7-10 minutes. (I knead by hand).

3) Let ferment for about 2.5-3hrs, folding at 1-1.5 hour intervals, depending on dough strength.

4) Unload dough, shape, and let proof for ~1hr, while heating oven + stone at 400-425.

5) Top with more sunflower seeds, slash, and bake with steam, turning down oven to 375 or so if crust darkens too quickly.

6) Eat when patience fails.

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This is my High Extraction loaf I made the other day. I'm finally understanding the idea of a full bakeand cooling before eating. In the past I'd think it was done baking, only to find the loaf soft and lacking in crust shortly afterwards. This one though had a nice crunchy crust (a little thick onthe bottom) with a solid, hearty crumb. Chewy, not too dense, and definately not too airy to be lacking in stubstance, very satisfying.

If I remember correctly, this was (for 2 loaves)

3 lbs Heartland mill golden buffalo flour (a high extraction flour)

75% * 3lbs tap water (add most to flour/salt for 1hr autolyse, add rest with starter dissolved in it afterwards)

~.7 oz salt

a few tablespoons of starter dissolved in the water


I've been taking a rather lax approach to refreshing my starter right before use, which I know is a recommended method. Generally, I've been taking my starter out of the fridge, mixing it in lukewarm/warm water, and adding it straight to the dough/autolyse. Since gas always escapes my sealed starter jar when I take it out, I take that as a sign that it is still active, and assumed that the flour in the final dough would be enough food for it to rise the dough. I do this partly because I'm impulsive, and partly because it's just more convenient... One day I plan on doing a side by side comparison straight starter addition vs. refreshed starter/sponge in a final dough to see if there's a difference. (any comments on this would be nice).

Ultimately though, a very tasty, smooth bread. No sweeteners, nothing. Very nice. I think I like this flour a lot, since it combines the best of white and whole wheat flours in terms of taste, nutrition, and texture.


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I just pulled my Quinoa Struan out of the oven a little while ago, and I'm rather pleased with the results.












I used reinhart's multigrain struan formula and used 6ozs of cooked quinoa in the overnight soaker. I also used Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo flour, which I'm playing aroudn with. I've used "Gold 'n' White" flour before (a high-extraction flour, meaning the coarse bran sifted out of whole wheat flour), and I was pleased with it, so I ordered 25 lbs of this to see how it performed. So far so good i think. Since it called for a substantial amount of yeast to be added for the final proof, I think it rose rather quickly, and was probably ready before I made it back home. I had to reform it and considered letting it proof a second time, but I thought it might become a mess if the yeasts were given too much free reign.

I haven't tasted this loaf yet (it wasn't done cooling), but it smells great. It looks like it would be great for sandwiches or toast. I was intrigued when it called for milk in the soaker, and I wonder how that will impact the bread.


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