The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Blogs

  • Pin It
PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

This weekend I got to try a couple of flours that I haven't used previously.  

The first was an unbleached AP type (brand name Eagle Mills) that I purchased at a Sam's Club.  With a protein content of 4 grams in a 30 gram sample, it's as high in protein as a lot of bread flours that I have used.  Whether I was brave or foolish is open to debate, but I decided to try in in the BBA pain a la ancienne even though I've never made that bread before.  The flour worked very well in this application.  I'm still of the opinion that the water content in Reinhart's formulas don't begin to produce the types of doughs that he describes in the text, because I had to add more water to get the kind of softness that he indicates.  Once I got the dough sufficiently hydrated, it was very supple and extensible without being excessively sticky.  In fact, I'll cut way down on the amount of bench flour next time (because there will be a next time with bread that tastes this good) so that I don't have as much on the finished bread.  The crust was crisp and the crumb was tender, though not as open as I had hoped.  My shaping left a lot to be desired.  And let's just state up front that it is better to remember to slash the loaves before they go into the oven, rather than a couple minutes after closing the door.  However, ugly or not, this bread has a wonderful flavor.  It was a great accompaniment to the jambalaya that my wife made for lunch Saturday.

The other flour I tried was Wheat Montana's Prairie Gold.  A local grocery has a display set up featuring both the Bronze Chief (a red variety) and the Prairie Gold variety grains.  Each bin of grain feeds into an individual grinder, which I think are impact types.  Just push a button and it drops freshly milled flour into a plastic bag.  It's a bit pricey at 79 cents per pound (which is quite a bit higher than the already-ground and bagged flour of the same brand sitting on the shelf).  Still, I got a couple of pounds of each, partly to play with freshly ground flour and partly to see how the gold variety tastes in comparison to the red varieties with which I'm already familiar.  I used a honey whole wheat recipe that I have used for many years so that I could gauge the behavior of the Prairie Gold against past experience.  The dough mixed easily, but seemed somewhat wetter (because the fresh flour wasn't as dry as the prepackaged stuff, maybe?).  The dough also handled well, becoming very smooth after 8 to 10 minutes of kneading.  It was much tackier than I usually see with this recipe, although it wasn't at all gloopy.  The bulk fermentation easily doubled but although the last rise in the pans was quite a bit slower and seemed to run out of gas before redoubling.  There was very little change in volume while baking.  The crust of the finished loaves is perhaps a little lighter in color than loaves made with red wheat but the crumb is markedly lighter.  It isn't as white as a white loaf, but it isn't dark either; more of a sand color.  Since the flour grind was relatively fine, the crumb is free of any grittiness and fairly close-textured.  The flavor is, well, like whole wheat, but less so.  There is no bitterness or "grassy" flavor that some find objectionable in whole wheat breads.  Some writers have described the flavor as insipid, but I don't think that is accurate.  I think it is more that people are gauging the gold or white varieties' flavor against the flavor profile of the red wheats, which have more tannins.  That's not unlike comparing a white wine to a red wine and complaining that the flavor isn't as robust.  I'm certainly willing to use it in my bread, particularly if I know that the people eating it aren't fond of the flavor of the red wheat.  For myself, I'm happy to continue using the red wheat flours since I like that flavor.

PMcCool

Susanmarie's picture
Susanmarie

gf

Here are the NKB and the hearth breads I mentioned earlier:

NKB crumb

Hrth

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!  The NKB is the original recipe except for the pan, and the Hearth has 4 c. flour and 2 c. water, as opposed to the 5:2 I usually use.  I'm not sure if the holes are about what I can expect using this and AP flour or not...  I guess the holes on the Hearth are a little bigger than with the 5 cups...I said earlier they are not much different. 

Susanmarie's picture
Susanmarie

today's yield

If this works, you will see a photo of the previously mentioned breads I tried today...

jonty's picture
jonty

Hi to all at this great website

My name is Jonty, and I am a college student too enamored with baking to waste time on my first ever blog on some other topic (ie: indie music, saving the world, angsty stuff).

To introduce myself to anyone who will read this (even if it is only ever me), I got into bread baking (I've been doing other types of baking with chemical leaveners for a while) from watching/reading a great anime/manga called Yakitate! Japan (of which I've found a couple of mentions on this site). I was inspired and eventually decided to give yeasted breads a try.

The first bread I ever tried was actually Erithid's Microwave Bread recipe that was inspired from Yakitate, and it turned out nicely (I'm still planning on trying to give it some filling in the future).

Then, I made the leap and made the Lesson 2 Bread, skipping Lesson 1 because I wanted a sandwich bread (of course, I ended up just eating the bread and not making any sandwiches. Such is life).

After, I made an even bigger jump and decided to try Bagels, using some freshly-bought KA Bread Flour. I made only a half-batch because of my tiny little cookie sheet. I ended up with three pretty good cinnamon-brown sugar bagels (though I think they could have used a bit more of each flavor addition) and three okay garlic-sesame bagels (I now know that bagels should probably be topped with already roasted garlic and not raw after having consumed a couple of fairly sour bagels). This will definitely be in my future again.

Presently, I have taken an even bigger leap to Floyd's ciabatta; it is now sitting on my kitchen counter on its final rise. I realize now that I may have had a little too much confidence as my dough ended up a bit lumpy (I think my autolyse was too dry). Also, I let my poolish sit for quite a while (something like 10-12 hours) because I got bored yesterday afternoon and decided to just make it. I'm not sure if letting a poolish ferment for that long is good or bad, but my dough kind of smells uncomfortably sour. We shall see, I suppose.

Future plans? I definitely want to give Pain Aux Raisins and Cream Cheese Snails a try, as well as Cranberry-Chocolate Sweet Buns, and Steamed Buns. Maybe I'll even try a challah or (gasp) my own sourdough starter? Well, sourdough is perhaps a bit far away from my reach, but I plan on being a diligent student for a while.

Susanmarie's picture
Susanmarie

Today I tried to make the NYT no-knead bread.  I didn't have a heavy covered pot so I just put it in a baking dish, uncovered.  I tried to post a picture of it, but I have no idea what I'm doing wrong because nothing is happening.  I got all excited, taking pictures of the loaf, grain, etc.  My husband thought I was nuts!  I don't know how it was supposed to be inside, but it was spongy with even holes that were quite a bit larger than my normal homemade hearth loaf. 

I have been trying all sorts of things to get my hearth bread to have holes like I see in photos on the site.  Today I tried quite a bit less flour so that the dough was quite sticky.  I had a hard time getting surface tension, and my slashes were a joke!  The bread turned out nice and spongy inside but I was disappointed the holes weren't really any bigger than with the full amount of flour. 

 I really need to learn how to put in pictures because I really need feedback!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I baked buddye's sourdough banana bread for the first time last night:

sourdough banana bread

Pretty good. I can't say I noticed a huge difference in flavor from the 10 minute banana bread, but it was a nice way to make use of starter that I otherwise would have dumped out while refreshing.

I also tried a first batch of sourdough bread in my evaluation copy of the much discussed Steam maker bread kit:

three sourdough loaves

The top two I did the with steam maker, the third was my control.

It is going to take a few more batches before I have a hang of the thing and can render any kind of verdict on it.

Srishti's picture
Srishti

Qahtan inspired me to make these...

I used Whole wheat pastry flour.

I think the ww pastry flour gave these a really nice flavour. They were yummy, can't wait to make these again :)

WW turnovers

 

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I made a half-serious resolution to bake in the outdoor oven at least once a month, and after a few weeks with subzero temperatures, and a weekend out of town, this was my last chance for February. We had a warm up all week, but it was only about 20 degrees at 8 am when I started the fire. We have a pretty good view of the oven from the house, so I was able to load it up with fuel and keep an eye on it from inside, so it's not too bad! The only problem was the warm temps created a very muddy yard, so between me and the dog coming in and out all day my house is not a pretty sight.

 

For this bake, I made three batches of bread: 2 ABAA recipes: the columbia sourdough, and Ponsford's ciabatta, with a levain-risen biga. I also made a couple of loaves of my favorite multigrain sandwich bread, my own recipe adapted from Reinhart's multigran extraordinaire. I mixed the columbia the night before, and as Mountaindog suggested in another thread let it rise about an hour before refrigerating it. I pulled it first thing in the morning, and let it warm up for 3 hours or so before shaping. The ciabatta biga calls for a minute amount of yeast, so I wasn't sure how much levain to substitute. The recipe's description is that the biga may not do much for hours, but will triple in volume in 24 hours, so I decided on a couple of tablespoonfuls of levain, and it perfomed just about right. I would probably use even less in summertime, or if my starter was exuberant.

 

All in all it was pretty uneventful, though I'm starting to realize that I need to let the fire burn down sooner, and/or allow extra time for the oven to cool off before baking. I keep finding myself with ready-to-go loaves and a 500+ oven, which is fine for some breads but a little too hot for others. Anyway my timing was such that it was consistenly 25 degrees or so hotter than I needed for each batch. I can leave the door open to speed up the cooling, but I worry about overdoing that too. I'm still learning, obviously. Here's some pics from the day:

 

Multigrain loaves in the oven with chcken curry--that turned out very well (made by my SO).

 

Some of the ciabattas got a wee bit dark. I've had a habit of taking them out a little too early, so I left them in longer--and overdid it the other way. Everything was quite dark actually, the flash makes them look just right though... :)

 

Ciabatta crumb: Not bad, but a little less holey than the non-levain version I made last time. The flavor is excellent though...

 

And finally, while finishing up with granola, it started snowing!! This wasn't expected to start until after midnight, but you know how that goes. I burned one batch of granola, and I blame blizzard conditions for my tardiness on checking on it!  We now have 8 inches of snow with more on the way--so I'm happy at home with wayyyy too much to eat.

 

 

 

Caro_'s picture
Caro_

Hi, my name is Caro

I made indifferent bread from recipes for many years, until five years ago I took a year off work with chronic illness and started making bread almost every day, first as therapy, then out of fascination with being able to create something almost living, that was hand-made, creative, artistic and useful in my own small kitchen without any fancy equipment. After a while I didn't need recipes anymore, or even needed to measure much. I borrowed books from the library and read eveything I could about bread, moving on to master baker books. like 'Crust and Crumb" and even a manuel for building your own wood-fired oven.

Then, while on holiday in Scotland on the Isle of Iona, a local hotel needed a baker fast, mid-tourist season, and i stepped in, and worked there for a year, learning an enormous amount about baking on a larger scale and to a timetable.

I've been invoved in Bio-dynamic and Organic farming for many years and always use these ingredients, if I can. I'm not working in the food industry anymore but still bake all bread for home.

I live in Sydney, Australia, and would love to hear from anyone with the same interests or from Australia !

mountaindog's picture
mountaindog

I posted this somewhere here a long time back, but thought I'd post again to make it easier to find. I'll try to remember to get some photos next time I make them before they get all eaten! I may try to make these into a sourdough recipe like JMonkey did here in order to use up excess starter...I'll report on that when I do, but for now, these just use baking powder.

This is a recipe I developed about 2 years ago that people seem to love. I make it with whole organic spelt flour as I like the nutty taste of spelt - an ancient form of wheat that has very little gluten, so it's not as good for rustic breads but great in quick breads. You can also use whole wheat flour equally well but may need to adjust amounts depending on humidity. I added the whole brown flaxseeds for roughage, texture, and hopefully some health benefits, although the most benefit is derived from raw ground flax.

What I like about this recipe is it does not contain dairy - which I am allergic to (although it does have eggs so it's not vegan). It is also a little less sweet by using dark brown sugar rather than white, and is not too spicy as I omit nutmeg or clove, opting for the combo of cinnamon and ginger instead. I also make this same basic recipe with bananas or frozen blueberries or chopped apple rather than pumpkin and all come out equally great. If you like a sweeter muffin, add more brown sugar. Obviously, this can be made in a loaf pan as well as in muffin tins, but adjust baking time and temp. accordingly:

Spelt Flaxseed Muffins

 

Ingredients (makes 12 large muffins or 24 small muffins): 

Wet:

4 Large Eggs

1 c. Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Safflower, or Canola)

1 c. Dark Brown Sugar (maple syrup also tastes great as a sub but need a little more)

2 tsp. Vanilla

1 c. Whole Flax Seeds 

Fruit of choice:           

For Blueberry Muffins: 2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries           

For Pumpkin Muffins: 2 c. canned pureed 100% pumpkin           

For Banana Muffins: 3-5 overripe bananas, depending on size (I usually freeze them once they get too ripe so I always have some on hand)           

For Apple Muffins: 4 apples, cored, peeled, and chopped into small pieces 

Dry:

3 c. Whole Spelt Flour (or substitute mixture of 2.5 c. whole wheat and unbleached white flours, if no spelt available. Wheat flours are drier than spelt, so use less or mixture will be too stiff, resulting in dense, heavy, “hockey puck” muffins).

1.5 tbsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp. Ground Ginger 

Directions:

1) In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the remaining wet ingredients, then mix in your fruit of choice and the flaxseeds.

2) In a separate bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.

3) Pour the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir. If batter comes out too dry, depending on humidity levels, flour type, or fruit size, then add about 1/8 cup of water or fruit juice. Finished batter should be stiff enough to spoon into muffin tins without it dripping all over, but not so stiff that the batter forms peaks.

4) Grease 12 large muffin cups (or 24 small muffin cups) with canola oil-type cooking spray.

5) Divide the batter up into the cups with a ladle or large spoon and rubber spatula.

6) Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes for large muffins, or around 30 minutes for small muffins. Tap on top for doneness -  they should be firm and crusty, not too soft or mushy.

7) When done, flip muffins out of pans onto cooling rack and let cool.

8) Use within a day or two, or refrigerate in plastic bags for up to 10 days or so. Freeze the rest for up to 6 months. Just reheat in a toaster oven and enjoy!

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs