The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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bolichbaker's picture
bolichbaker

Well, I happened to stumble across this website in search of any more cream cheese bread recipes. I think now any further efforts to lose a few stubborn post-honeymoon lbs are now in vain, as my enthusiasm for baking has been renewed! Especially after making this bread. A few years ago I worked for a boss who would occasionally bring in a bread from a bakery in New Jersey that had a sweet cream cheese filling throughout. I'm not yet 30, so I still have a lot to learn in the art of baking, but I have been baking since I was old enough to read my mom's cookbooks. However I had never seen a "bread" that looked and tasted so good as the one my boss would get! That bread stuck with me. I never attempted to make something similar because it just seemed to be complicated for my simple kitchen techniques. Everyone knows me as the resident baker. My husband can make a mean cheesecake, but I prefer bread, cakes, pies, cookies, and things that just speak "comfort, home, warmth, family, and kindness." The kind of baked goods you can give to a friend when they're sick, or you just want to share something from your home and heart with them. I also love trying new things and springing them on my family for lots of pride-inspiring oohs and aahs. When I got married, one of the presents I received was a bread maker. I know so many people who don't use theirs, and I just keep telling them how easy it is. I almost feel guilty when people rave over bread that I bring to social occasions or because I feel like I really didn't do anything, the bread machine did it all. So, I wanted to branch out. Get away from the "robot baker" and get my hands all goopy and floury again. My mom will be so proud of me when she tastes the bread I started yesterday and finished today. I still can't believe how wonderful it turned out. And despite being shy and apprrehensive about all of the work involved, it was really easy. A sweet yeast dough is filled with cream cheese, rolled up and baked. The recipe actually made 4 loaves after all the doubling of the dough. I am so proud of myself, and now with my schedule being free for the summer, I am going to visit this site at least once a week to get ideas and share my amateur experiences with bread. I make a mean banana bread, but I see a recipe for "better banana bread." I think I will try that by Friday. In the meantime, I can't wait to share the loaves of sweet cream cheese bread with my family and friends tonight, if there's still some left after I get done with "tasting" it.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

In addition to baking bread, I have another obsession: The ancient Asian game of Go. As the game is well over 3000 years old, a whole host of proverbs has grown up around it. One of my favorites is the following:

"Just one game," they said. That was yesterday.

Friday night, I may as well have said to myself,

"Just one loaf ...."

(Photos in the full post)

I really didn't intend to bake all night. Really, I didn't. But I'd gotten home a bit early, and I knew it would be a busy weekend. Besides, the day before I'd worked from home surreptitiously so that I could cook a special meal for my wife's birthday and our fourth anniversary (we didn't intend to get married on her birthday, but she's got a family full of academics, and it was the only Saturday in June when none of them had a conference). Of course, the meal included bread. Ciabatta to be exact.

Nevertheless, aside from a quarter loaf of ciabatta, we needed more bread to last the week. But it was going to be a busy weekend. "Hey!" I said to myself. "Here's a brilliant idea! Let the dough rise after you get home from work, shape it, pop it in the fridge and bake it in the morning! Work is done!"

I'd soaked some wheat berries, flax seeds and rolled oats that morning, so as soon as I got home from work, I set the whole-wheat flour to autolyse and started dinner. I was ambitious: two loaves of my weekly whole-wheat sourdough sandwich bread and then another two loaves of seed and oat whole wheat sourdough hearth bread.

My wife had come home early, so she had taken a ball of frozen pizza dough out from the fridge to thaw (from the BBA, though I'm finding I prefer the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion "Now or Later Pizza" recipe better. It uses 1/2 semolina flour.)and cranked up the oven to the max. No pics of the pizza, alas, but it was tasty.

After dinner, I kneaded it up and set it to rise. I figured it starts rising at 8, two and a half hours for the first rise, a little over an hour for the second -- I'll be in bed by 11:30. Woo hoo!

I was clearly snorting something.

After all, it was 68 degrees in the house and I didn't let the water warm up after it filtered down into the Brita pitcher from the faucet. We're talking cold, cold dough.

Around 11pm, the dough was 3/4 of the way to doubled. I had some explaining to do.

"Er, honey, I believe I'll be up until about midnight and ... um ... I'll have to set the alarm to get up around 2am to shape the dough after the second rise and ...."

Her reply: "Couch."

Of course, I was dead tired after a long week at work, so did I hear my alarm? Nope. I woke up at 4:15 AM to two buckets of dough that had more than tripled. Ah well. I degassed and shaped them anyway, and threw them in the fridge. I then crept into bed with my wife and slept like a stone.

They turned out OK. In fact, I got some of the best oven spring I've ever gotten from 100% whole wheat loaves.

Sandwich loaves in front. Hearth seed boules in back.

A close-up of the boules.

As it turned out, though, it wasn't a busy weekend at all. My 2-year-old came down with a nasty cold, so I made bagels (her favorite) for Sunday morning using Peter Reinhart's formula. Six poppy seed and six garlic:

Cream cheese is off-screen.

Bread in the morning works great for bagels. But I won't try this trick with sourdough again on a Friday night unless I get home at 5pm or earlier.

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

The sourdough starter recipe provided by SourdoLady worked wonderfully. Having had some less than satisfying results with previous sourdough attempts, I was unsure of what to expect with this starter. Since first mixing it up a couple of weeks ago, it has been bubbling happily and smelling deliciously tangy. Since orange juice was on hand, I used that instead of pineapple juice. It sounded peculiar when I first read it, but I'm happy to report that it proved itself (pun intended) this weekend.

I took it out of the refrigerator Thursday morning and gave it three feedings at 12-hour intervals to make sure that it was sufficiently active. I wound up with enough on hand for two batches of bread, so went ahead with a sponge for a simple white loaf from King Arthur's 200th Anniversary cookbook and another for a whole-wheat loaf from Bernard Clayton's book before going to bed Friday.

After breakfast Saturday, I finished the dough for each bread and set them to rise on the countertop while I did other chores around the house. They took about 2 hours to double in size. I was careful to deflate them gently and then fold the dough before shaping. I decided to shape the white into 2 batards. After shaping, they went on a piece of parchment paper to rise while sitting on the peel. Happily, and probably because they didn't have an extremely high hydration, they didn't sprawl too much while rising. The whole wheat bread went into a bread pan, per instructions.

Since the whole wheat bread wound up rising slightly faster than the white, so it went into the oven first, having had the top slashed and brushed with water. I parked the pan on top of a baking stone to get as much oven spring as possible. However, with it being virtually 100% whole wheat and a relatively dry dough, it didn't grow much more. It started at 425F for the first 20 minutes, then finished at 350F for the last 35 minutes. Then out of the oven and onto the rack for cooling.

After bringing the oven back up to temp, it was time to put the white loaves in. They were also slashed and brushed with water immediately before going into the oven, with a pan of water on the bottom rack for steam. These loaves had great oven spring, probably because they were in direct contact with the stone and because their moisture content was higher. They even have ears at the edges of the slashes! That is a first in my baking experience. I wish I had a digital camera so I could show them off instead of just carrying on about them.

Both breads taste wonderful. The white bread was very fragrant, with a well-rounded tang. The crumb has a fairly open structure, though nothing as big as a ciabatta. The whole wheat bread, not surprisingly, has a rather dense crumb with uniformly distributed small cells. In addition to the sourdough tang, it also has some of the bitterness that is inherent to the red winter wheat. It could be off-putting to some, but it made a great base for a ham and cheese sandwich! I suspect that it will be good toasted, too.

So thanks again, SourdoLady. I'll be baking more sourdough now that I have a starter that tastes so good.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Here's a tip to save that starter and take it with you or store it for another day when you need a break or don't want to throw it away.

This comes from a dedicated group of Austrian Ladies who travel a lot and bake bread.

Mix enough flour with the starter to form a stiff dough. Tear up into tiny pieces and squish between your thumb and finger to form thin small chips, let air dry, seal in glass jar or ziplocks. Send on holiday in a dark cool place. When needed add water to soak overnight and then feed to continue a new starter.

Once started, it never has to stop....happy baking! €:) Mini Oven

rmk129's picture
rmk129

I had a few bars of chocolate in my fridge yesterday, so I decided to give dhedrick's Chocolate Chip Coffee Bread
recipe a try. I really liked it!!! For me, it is the perfect bread to have with an afternoon cup of tea. Delicate texture and somewhat decadent without being overly sweet :)

I already posted these photos and comments as a reply to the original recipe, but I also wanted it in my blog so I could quickly find it again later when I am having a chocolate/coffee craving :)

June 6 051

June 6 057 - I put the freshly brewed coffee together with cold milk and water. This instantly resulted in liquid that was the right temperature for yeast, so I added the yeast and let it dissolve. Then I added all the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate chips (I used broken bits of chocolate bars instead) and the 5 cups of flour. I followed the rest of the instructions exactly. - I will be making this loaf again!!! I bet it will make unbelievable bread pudding in a few days if it lasts that long :)

juliebean's picture
juliebean

Inspired partly by Peter Mayle's Confessions of a French Baker and partly because of my love of thyme, I baked an adorable baby boule this afternoon. Both the aroma and the taste are lovely.

See the pics at the permalink here:
"Pain au Thym"

tomsbread's picture
tomsbread

It was another weekend baking binge as I experimented with local herbs for my pesto ciabatta. I subscribe to Dan Lepard's philosophy to use local ingredients and there was really no way I can continue to use herbs imported from Europe.

I experiment with a local herb called Laksa Leaf. It is so named as it is used mainly in this local dish. The flavor of the Ciabatta with the Laksa herb pesto was out of this world. When I made a tuna sandwich with the loaf, the herb complemented the tuna very well.

See the pics here

http://www.angelfire.com/planet/tomsbread/index.htm

rmk129's picture
rmk129

After a week full of "disaster breads", I am happy to report that I was *finally* able to produce a few loaves that didn't make me laugh when they came out of the oven :) So now I will post some photos as evidence so that when I create my next major flop or paperweight, I can come back and be inspired to try, try again...

***The final results of my baking day:
May 31 042
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***One of the secrets to my newfound ability to rise dough again:
May 31 029
Our apartment is very cold right now (no central heating here), but for some reason I thought my bread baking could continue as normal as long as I just let the dough rise for longer periods of time...apparently not. If you enjoy reading about and laughing at baking misadventures, you can see my previous blog entries for descriptive and *gloopy* & *rock-hard*pictoral evidence of my recent streak of jaw-challenging and vertically-challenged loaves :)
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My mother-in-law came for a visit yesterday, and when I showed her this photo of my dough rising, she laughed and said she used to rise bread in a similar way...but she actually created a little warm "rising tent" by putting a large piece of fabric over the kitchen table, then putting the heater and the dough under that. Maybe I will try that next time...maybe I will sit under the tent too!!!
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I was SO happy to see (and taste) these results again...finally! Bring on the cold!!! :)
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***Whole wheat/flax seed/oatmeal dough
*Before...
May 31 027
*After (it rose!!!)...
May 31 030
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***Baguette dough
*It rose too!!! (I didn't put this dough by the heater because I didn't want it to rise too quickly...I just put it on my kitchen counter while I was baking the other loaf so the room was a bit warmer than usual).
May 31 034

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That's all for now...this is one *much happier* baker signing off for now :)

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I didn't really intend to become a sourdough fanatic, but it seems that's what I make 80% of the time these days. The pound of SAF instant yeast I bought in February is only halfway gone, despite my having baked just about every weekend since then.

Maybe it's because I've had a devil of a time getting my starter to get a decent "sour" and I've been obsessed with getting it right. It wasn't until last month that I finally I cracked it:

1) Stiff (50% hydration) starter,
2) A long, cool bulk rise at about 64-68 degrees (which means, in my cellar), and
3) An overnight retarding in the bottom of my fridge.

I make at least two loaves of the following bread every weekend. One loaf gets wrapped in aluminum foil for the freezer, and the other goes right in the bread box. It's a well-rounded bread with enough flavor to eat on its own, but also a good accompaniment to any sandwich, from peanut butter and banana (a favorite of my Southern roots, though, unlike Elvis, I refrain from frying it in butter), to mustard, turkey pastrami and a sharp cheese.

I also use it as a base for experimentation, adding spices, or fruits, grains or seeds.

It's 100% whole wheat, but to my mind, doesn't taste "whole wheat," at least, not in the usual sense of the word. There's no strong, bitter grassy flavor, though it's a very different flavor than a white flour bread.

Anyway, here's the recipe for my

100% Whole-Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread.

Ingredients

• 19.5 oz whole-wheat flour
• 14.5 oz water (at room temperature)
• 2 Tbs honey
• 2 Tbs Olive Oil
• 2 1/8 tsp salt
• 16.5 oz stiff, whole-wheat sourdough starter (I use a starter at 50 percent hydration)

All the rest Mix everything EXCEPT the salt and the starter together until you get a rough dough. Let it sit for 30-60 minutes so that the whole-wheat flour can absorb the water. This cuts down on the kneading time substantially. Without the "autolyse," you'll have to knead by hand for 30 minutes or more to get it to the right place.

Tear the starter into about 10 pieces. Add the starter and the salt to the rest of the ingredients DON'T FORGET TO ADD THE SALT (like I almost always come close to doing). Tastes awful if you forget it.

Knead the dough until you can stretch a tiny bit of it into a translucent membrane. You'll see plenty of bran blocking the light, but that's ok so long as the surrounding dough is translucent. Oil a bowl or container, put the dough in it and cover.

When it has doubled -- and this may take 3-4 hours depending on the temperature -- fold it and let it rise again. This second rise improves flavor and helps the final loaf rise higher. It should take about half the amount of time the previous rise took.

Once it has risen a second time, remove the dough and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a loaf, and place inside two oiled 8.5 inch by 4.5 inch loaf pans. To shape the loaves, I pat and stretch each portion of the dough into a rough 8"x4" rectangle. I then take one of the 4" ends, and roll it up, pausing every full turn to press down hard on the seam with the edge of my hand. Once the loaf is rolled and sealed, II then stretch it gently so that it's longer than the pan, and fold the edges underneath, again, pressing down hard to seal the seams. I then rock it back and forth quickly while bringing my hands from the middle of the loaf to the edges to stretch it out once again to fit the pan.

Here, you have a choice. You can either cover the pans with food grade plastic and stick it in the fridge overnight, or you can just let it rise and bake immediately. Retarding overnight will accentuate the flavor, and the sourness, of the bread. Depending on how sour your starter is, retarding might overdo the sourness.

Let the loaves rise until they crest about an inch or two in the center of the loaf above the rim of the pan. Try to catch it so that, when you poke the loaf with a damp finger, the indention starts to fill back in slowly. If you've retarded the bread, and it's already at this stage, you can either leave it out (covered) for about an hour to warm up or bake it immediately. I've had more luck getting oven spring if I warm it up.

Otherwise, let it rise until it's nearly fully risen. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Slash the loaves artfully. These days, I like a few baguette-style slashes on a slight diagonal along the length of the loaf. But, really, it's up to you. As you can see from the photos, I've taken other approaches in the past.

Put the loaves in to bake and, If you wish, steam the oven by pouring 1-2 cups of boiling water into a pre-heated pan or skillet in the bottom of the oven. If find this results in a darker crust, and slighly larger loaves.

Cook for about 40 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees, until the center of each loaf registers 190 to 200 degrees. Remove from pans and cool for 1 hour before slicing.

A couple of variations:

Cinnamon-raisin sourdough: Substitute 2 TBS butter for the olive oil and raise the honey to 4 TBS. Add 2 tsp cinnamon. Near the end of the kneading, add 9 oz raisins and, if you like, 4 oz pecans or walnuts. The extra cinnamon and honey will increase the rising time by about 40%, and you'll need 9"x5" pans. Add 15-20 minutes to the bake.

Multi-grain sourdough Soak 6 oz of your favorite seeds and grains (sunflower seeds, flax seeds, rye chops, wheat berries, oat groats, whatever mix suits your fancy) in 6 oz of water overnight. Reduce the water in the dough to 11.5 oz. Use a 9"x5" pan and add 15-20 minutes to the bake.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

My parents were up from Atlanta this weekend, so with five folks in the house, I baked up a storm. We had pizza Friday night, poolish baguettes Saturday night, and on Sunday I baked five loaves:

* Two panned loaves of whole-wheat sourdough.
* Two loaves of potato, rosemary and roasted garlic sourdough (in the "fendu" shape)
* One panned loaf of whole-grain and seed whole-wheat sourdough.

Pictures below:

The two loaves of whole-wheat with the multi-grain loaf in the center. I'd bought a bag of King Arthur Flour's Harvest Grains Blend a couple of months ago, and every time I opened the freezer, it stared back at me, saying, "Bake me." So I did. I soaked about 6 oz of the stuff in boiling water overnight and then added it to my regular weekly bread. It made the dough pretty wet, but not so wet that I added any additional flour. Also added enough bulk so that I had to bake it in a 9x5 pan.

It added about 15-20 minutes to the bake, but the flavor was great. The flax seeds and rye flakes added a strong, earthy flavor to the bread, while the oat groats and sunflower seeds gave a nutty undertone and a nice chewy texture. I'll be making this again. A nice contrast with some peanut butter on it!

Here's the rosemary, potato and roasted garlic sourdough loaves. I pretty much converted Jeffrey Hammelman's recipe from a biga to fit my stiff starter, and the results were nice. When I do it again this weekend, I think I'll reduce the rosemary by half and double the roasted garlic. I used 1% fresh rosemary and 3% roasted garlic (about 1 head), and the garlic was a little too understanded for my preference. Still a delicious loaf, but I'd have prefered less rosemary and more garlic.

I'll be baking quite a bit this coming weekend. Our daughter's day care held a fundraising auction, and I auctioned off four loaves of bread. Can't wait to see what they want.

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