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Floydm's picture
Floydm

Last week I posted a message on TFL asking community members to test out the new fundraising software I'd developed for Mercy Corps, my employer, by making a few small donations. The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive. We hit our original goal of one thousand dollars, which I feared might be unreasonably high, in less than 72 hours, and several community members expressed a desire that we extend this longer. If you are game, I'm game. Let's see what we can do.

What is Mercy Corps?

Mercy Corps is an international aid agency based in Portland, Oregon. With over 3,500 employees working in more than 40 countries, we work to help people build secure, productive and just communities. We do that by expanding educational opportunities, helping build water and sanitation infrastructure, providing microfinancing to women starting small businesses and running food and nutrition programs to prevent malnutrition.

As I've mentioned, I work there, but I was a supporter and fan of the organization before I began working there. Mercy Corps works in some of the world's toughest places, including many that rarely make the headlines, and is committed to being efficient stewards of their donors' money.

If you are interested in supporting our fundraising effort, you can do so here. Your show of support would mean a great deal to me.

Update 10/25: I am moving the discussion of this from the forums to a blog thread so that folks interested in the fundraising project can still chat about it without interfering with the bread-centricity of the forums. I've also raised the goal to $2,500.

More to come...
LittleTee's picture
LittleTee

This is my first blog, so bear with me ....


I'm about 6 weeks in as an amateur bread baker. I started in an effort to save my family some money, and find a new hobby. After my first loaf of pain sur poolish, I was hooked. So far I've made some pretty good breads, and they seem to have gotten a little better each week as I practice my technique.


Having just purchased The Baker's Apprentice, I woke up Friday feeling overly ambitious. I decided this weekend that I would go for the gold: pain a l'ancienne. I read through the instructions: it seemed simple enough. No kneading involved. How hard could it be? No guts, no glory...


First mistake was this: I did not realize that pain a l'ancienne is different from traditional french baguettes. So my expectations were out of whack.


Day one went relatively smoothly. I measured, mixed and put the concoction into the fridge for primary fermentation. I noticed that the dough seemed rather wet, more than I was used to ... it almost poured into the bowl like batter, but held together okay. I figured I'd wait and see.


This morning (day 2), I woke up, ready for baking day. I pulled out my dough... it had barely risen. The instructions said to leave it at room temp for a couple of hours and let it continue to ferment.


Two hours later, and very little progress with the rise. I decided to give it another hour and see, since it was a chilly morning. The extra hour did the trick, and it had risen to twice its size.I could see bubbles, so the gas was there.


Now for the shaping. As per instructions, I "poured" the dough out of the bowl onto a heavily floured surface. No problem there. It seemed to puddle a bit, but it looked like the photos in the book. I floured the top, and began to cut the dough for baguettes.


Here's where I am sure I went wrong. First, I cut them too thin. They seemed like a reasonable width, but by the time I placed them onto the parchment, they had stretched so much and were no more than an inch across in places. I say "in places", because they also did not hold a uniform shape lengthwise. The dough was supposed to make 6 baguettes and I ended up with 9, if that helps explain it!


Second mistake: I neglected to dust my parchment with cornmeal. I am still baking so not sure how this will affect them, but given how sticky the dough was, I'm sure it means paper attached to the baguette.I tried lifting one set of 3 off the parchment and onto another dusted piece, but the shape completely fell apart and all the gas was lost. I did not score, either -- another rookie mistake. Clearly I was too excited to do this properly!


Had some trouble getting the things in the oven the first time (which resulted in my first oven burn). The second time around I modified and it worked okay.


I ended up placing the cookie tray on top of my pizza stone, as the dough stretched longer than the stone and would not fit. It took about 28 mins total to bake. Batch 1 never really achieved that nice golden brown colour I have seen, so I coated Batch 2 and 3 with a little water. Perhaps I did not correctly steam the oven, or the issues with the dough ruined the process. I did get a nice holey crumb, so had they been the correct size, I would have had some winners. Live and learn.


The texture is nice, and it tastes creamy, which I've read is what the aim is. But they are nowhere near as picture-perfect as I would have liked.


Despite the failure, I learned a great deal from this attempt, and I'm not discouraged, surprisingly. The thing I love about bread-making is that even if it's not great, it's still pretty good... and certainly better than the grocery store brands that are now unpalatable to myself and my family.


Fortunately I had the good sense to prepare a poolish the night before as well, so I will be making pain sur poolish later ... enough to hold us for the week, since we will be sans baguettes -- at least in the traditional sense!


Happy baking! :-)

fortarcher's picture
fortarcher

I made four loves yesterday and they all turned out.  After reding sooooooooooo many recipes, I came up with one that seems to work.  The recipe needs just a little tweek.  Little more water and salt.  I did not retard in the frig but next  weekend I will not skip this step.  I just couldn't wait!


The crust turned out nice and crusty and the crum is super light and soft.  The crumb does not have big holes in it but you can see some.  The dough was kind of stiff for sour dough.(I think). 

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

I remember rustic bread from "Bread" being a staple in my kitchen before I got started with levains and sourdough breads. It's a clean, wholesome bread, and it's over a year since I'd made his rustic bread, so the time was ripe for another attempt.


I wanted to try some different shapes as well, so I divided the dough in two, both weighing 750 gr. each. One was shaped as an ordinary batard, and the other piece was cut into smaller dough chunks, and shaped into mini-batards and the tabatiere and pain d'Aix shapes shown in ABAP.


Below are two shots of the bakes: Front left are some mini-batards rolled in flax, sesame and oat bran. To the right, at the very back is the tabatiere, and in front of that, the pain d'Aix shape. Fun to make, and nice to mix things up a bit :)


I had certainly forgotten how nice this formula is. I think it more or less equals many pain au levain recipes - absolutely delicious with a thin layer of honey and a cup of freshly brewed coffee.


Rustic bread


 


 


Rustic bread

davidg618's picture
davidg618

David Snyder (dmsnyder) has convinced me pre-steaming is beneficial, but I've still been uncertain I'm generating enough steam, considering my oven door is not an airtight fit, and the convection fan blows some of the steam out around the door. So, today, I tried a new way to generate steam. I saw it recommended in Hamelman's Bread, but I ignored it happy as I was, at the time, generating steam with pre-heated lava rocks. It was only when David wrote of his experience pre-steaming his oven that I started reexamining the details of my steaming practice.


My wife's dog/horse treat baking (see blog http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/13862/baking-going-dogs-and-horses-too) gave me a clue. Here pet snack recipe is packed with fresh shredded carrots, resulting in a very wet "dough". Watching her open the oven door while baking three half-sheet pans full I saw a large amount of steam (water vapor, really) pour out of the oven.


Today I fitted a half-baking sheet with a terrycloth shop towel that covered its bottom. Five minutes before I put in the first loaf I poured a cup of hot tap water onto the towel. It was enough to soak it thuroughly, but there was no free standing water. I placed the pan on the lowest shelf.  As usual, I also covered the oven's top vent with a folded towel. Before five minutes were up I saw water vapor escaping at the bottom of the door where its sealing gasket's ends meet. I've never seen that before, although I was previously convinced steam was escaping.


When I placed the loaf, the oven was visably full of water vapor; nevertheless, I added another 1/2 cup of water to the towel. At ten minutes I reduced the oven temperature, and removed the sheetpan, and uncovered the oven vent.; for safety reasons I'd never attempt to remove the lava rocks. Whatever water vapor remained in the oven I'm certain disappated quickly. After the sheetpan and towel cooled I felt the towel. Its center was still damp, but the edges were dry, justifying the additonal 1/2 cup of water added.


Here's the visual results. I bake this sourdough (Vermont sourdough with a stiff levain) once every week. This loaf's oven spring is as good or better than any before now.


I'm going to adapt this method, at least for the near future. I think it's safer than splashing water into a pan of lava rock, all indications show it produces more steam, and it can be simply and safely removed to immediately stop the source of steam.


David G


 

chouette22's picture
chouette22

Last weekend I gave Susan’s Sourdough Boule another try after it had come out with a crumb that was too dense the first time around. Since the ingredients were exactly the same as in one of Susan’s recipes (I used KA bread flour and pre-soaked flax seeds), the culprit could only be the starter. This time I made sure it was up to speed and strength after feeding it twice before using it and it happily produced the desired results:


 


  


 


It tasted wonderfully and I'll certainly make it again!


The other bread I made was the Sourdough Seed Bread (“Bread” p. 176). There had been two recent posts about this great recipe and I really wanted to try it. We absolutely LOVE it. My husband thought that my loaves should be bigger than the recent ones I made, thus I baked the entire recipe into one huge loaf, it weighed in at 1.7 kg (3.75 lbs)!!


 


 


   


A bit of a challenge to slice... This bread will be a staple in my repertoire, no doubt!


 

JoeVa's picture
JoeVa

 


Ok, here I am with my first post!


I am a new entry in TFL, but I have been reading your Blogs, Receipts and Q&A since about 1 year. I am italian, I live in the north of Italy and I love bread and baking.


My first blog entry is about my very basic Sourdough Loaf. I named it "Pane Fermento" and it is a "Pain au Levain" style loaf. It's a lean dough, with just good flour (white wheat and whole rye), water, salt and sourdough (translation of pasta acida but I usually say lievito madre). I prefer to retard the shaped loaf overnight. I really love this bread, the rye (and the cold proofing) contribute a particular flavour, it has a light "sweet" crumb and a great crust.


                      


From now on remember my % are related to italian flour and ingredients; so pay attention to water %, it's about -5% the amount you need with "American AP/Bread flour".


Overall Formula



Bread Flour 90%
Whole Rye Flour 10%
Malted Flour* 1.5%
Water 59%
Gray Salt 1.9%

*I add a small amount of malted flour to get a better enzymatic activity, my flour is not malted from the miller.

Preferment

15% Bread flour is prefermented at 80% hydratation (12h / 14h at about 21/22°C - with a 20% inoculation).

Dough consistency

Medium soft, a little bit sticky at the beginning (hydratation rate with my flour 59%:61%)

Process

  • Mix all ingredients except salt (desired dough temperature 25/26°C).
  • Autolyse 00:30, then add salt on top
  • 10 stroke (stretch and fold)
  • Repeat 3 more times at 00:10 intervals (10 stroke or until the dough starts to oppose resistance)
  • Bulk fermentation 02:00 with 1 fold
  • Divide and shape (I use a banetton)
  • Proof 01:30 at 25°C
  • Retard 12:00 at 4°C
  • Bake on stone at 230°C 00:40, first 00:15 covered, last 00:10 with the door ajar.

                      

    Crumb shoot

                            

      Bread slice (1cm width)

                              

        dmsnyder's picture
        dmsnyder

         


        My San Francisco Sourdough starter from sourdo.com is now two weeks old. I made another pair of my San Joaquin Sourdough breads with it yesterday. I modified my formula somewhat. I used a 60% hydration starter fed with AP flour only. I increased the amount of starter by 50%. I used KAF AP flour for the dough. I used no added instant yeast.



         


        Ingredients

        Weight

        Baker's Percentage

        Firm starter

        150 gms

        30.00%

        KAF AP flour

        450 gms

        90.00%

        BRM Dark Rye flour

        50 gms

        10.00%

        Water

        360 gms

        72.00%

        Salt

        10 gms

        2.00%

         

        Procedure

        1. Mix the firm starter (1:3:5 – Starter:Water:Flour). Let it ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

        2. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the starter and dissolve it in the water.

        3. Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let it sit for 20-60 minutes.

        4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix thoroughly using the “stretch and fold in the bowl” technique. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

        5. Repeat the “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 30 strokes 2 more times at 30 minute intervals.

        6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, and do one stretch and fold.

        7. Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Note the volume of the dough. Cover the bowl tightly. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

        8. Repeat the stretch and fold on the board. Reform the dough into a ball and replace it in the bowl.

        9. Allow the dough to continue fermenting until the volume has increased 50%.

        10. Cold retard the dough for about 20 hours. (The dough had more than doubled and was full of large and small bubbles.)

        11. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and immediately transfer it to a lightly floured board.

        12. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape them into logs or rounds, depending on whether you want to make boules or bâtards. Cover the pieces with plasti-crap and let them rest for 60 minutes. (Give them a shorter rest if the kitchen is very warm. You don't want them to expand very much, if any.)

        13. Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

        14. Shape the pieces and place them in bannetons or on a couche. Cover the loaves and proof them until they have expanded by 50-70%. (30-45 minutes)

        15. Pre-steam the oven. Then transfer the loaves to a peel (or equivalent). Score them, and load them onto your baking stone.

        16. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.

        17. After 12 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus. Turn the loaves 180º, if necessary for even browning.

        18. Continue to bake the loaves for another 15-18 minutes or until their internal temperature is 205ºF.

        19. Turn off the oven, but leave the loaves on the stone with the oven door ajar for another 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

        20. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

        21. Cool the loaves completely before slicing.

         

        The loaves were already singing when I took them out of the oven. The crust developed crackles, which can be credited to the use of AP rather than higher gluten flour and the drying in the oven (Step 19., above).

         

        The crumb was nice and open.

         

        The crust was crisp when first cooled and crunchy/chewy the next morning. The flavor was sweet and wheaty, like a good baguette, with the barest hint of sourness. This was po

        ssibly the best tasting San Joaquin Sourdough I've made. I think I'm going to stick with this version. Next time, I may use this dough to make baguettes.


        David


        Submitted to YeastSpotting


         


         

        davidg618's picture
        davidg618

        As most, if not all, of you know Italians traditionally dip biscotti into their coffee or wine, i suspect, in part, to soften it a bit before chewing. October, November and December of year, along with holiday baking, we're putting the finishing touches to plans for our annual January open house wherein we serve only our homemade wines, homebrewed beer, and a cornucopia of food, all made from scratch.


        This year's theme is Wine and Bread.


        Technically, biscotti is not a bread, but it fits so well, we've added it to our list that includes sourdoughs (wheat and ryes), pain de mie, ciabatta, lavash, fougasse, and of course baguettes. I'm also going to try Hamelman's Vollkornbrot; if successful it too will join the list. It should pair well with a pilsner finishing its fermenting as I write.


        Today I experimented with a parmesan-black pepper biscotti thinking it will pair well with white wine, especially the sauvignon blanc we're offering this year. My wife and I shared the small corner pieces, and froze the rest. We opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc. It pairs wonderfully.



        We're also planning a dried-cherries and pecans biscotti to pair with a Cabernet Franc ice wine (sweet)--a first; always dry wines prior--and a craisins and pastachio biscotti that should pair well with both reds and whites.


        David G

        SisKam's picture
        SisKam

        Hi,


        Lesson 1


        I started to do the lessons and my bread came out lovely. I am so pleased; my husband and I enjoyed the first loaf.


        Thanks for this helpful site.


        I wanted to include a picture but don't know how ..... :-(


        I am anxious to try lesson 2 :-)

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