The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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JMonkey's picture

Helas, that appeared to be the situation Saturday afternoon.

I'd thought I'd learned something about properly dusting a very wet loaf before proofing. And, in fact, I did learn something. Unfortunately, I subsequently learned something else: how to shape a wet loaf properly, thanks to MountainDog.

But we'll get to that in a minute. First, let me show you these beautiful and delectable Spelt and Flaxseed Blueberry Muffins. MountainDog, you are a genius. My daughter gobbled hers up in record time. My wife said, "Honey, you can make these again anytime you like."

Highly recommended. Sweet, but not too sweet, with a crunchy top, nutty texture and delicious spelty flavor. More about spelt to come.

Anyway, back to how MountainDog ruined my Desem through good teaching. Thanks to MountainDog, my boule of Desem rose higher than it had ever risen before, and all in just 2 hours instead of the usual 2.5. As a result, the undusted bottom of the loaf rose up and stretched to touch the sides of the top of the brotform (or banneton or proofing basket, whatever you will). The top of the loaf was ready to slide out just fine, but the bottom edge stuck to the sides - the whole loaf just tore itself in half. The moral is that I need to dust the loaf again after I place it in the banneton.

It was very dispiriting, especially since I'd aimed to bring that loaf to dinner with some friends we'd not seen in some time. Luckily, I had a loaf of whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread in the freezer, which served just as well for dinner bread.

But, as Marie Antoinette said (or more likely, never said but later had political enemies ascribe to her anyway), upon her coronation in the midst of a terrible bread shortage: "If they no longer have any bread, then let them eat brioche." So I made some brioche - specifically, the "Rich Man's Brioche" from the BBA. In baker's percentages, the butter is 87% and there's 5 large eggs in the recipe -- heck, I figured, if I'm abandoning whole grains, why not just go all the way. My wife loves lemon curd, and nothing goes better with lemon curd than brioche, so the Saturday before Mother's Day, I made up the dough. Stretch-and-fold is a great technique, but I couldn't figure out how to make it work with brioche. After all, we're talking about plowing a full pound of butter, that's FOUR FREAKING STICKS of pure, unadulterated, totally saturated fat into about 18.25 ounces of white flour.

It's not easy.

But I love my wife (even if I'm not showing much love for her heart, arteries or vascular system in general), so I soldiered on. After I got it incorporated, I put that slab of dough on greased parchment, covered it with transparent petroleum product and put it into the fridge.

For the following morning, I had a plan. I was all jazzed about spelt, so I decided to make my usual whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread, but with a spelt starter and 1/2 spelt flour.

Over two feedings, I built up enough spelt starter from about 10 grams of my whole wheat starter and measured out everything the night before. Then, Sunday morning when I woke up (as usual) at 6am, I could just mix everything together on autopilot, which would help me get warmed up to make good old fashioned buttermilk (whole wheat - what else did you expect from me?) waffles. No sourdough waffles this time; I got in pretty late Saturday night, and didn't feel like messing around with buttermilk at 11:00 P.M.

My plan actually worked! I mixed up the sourdough around 6:30 a.m., took out the brioche dough and shaped it, and then placed the brioches in my makeshift proofbox - we'd left the windows open overnight, so it was a chilly 61 degrees in the kitchen. I had to have everything done by 11am to be at church (my wife was singing a duet), So I couldn't let it proof on the counter.

Now, the BBA says that the brioche recipe makes 3 lbs of dough, but I only got 2 lb 12 ounces. So I decided to make two loaves and a 6-muffin tin full of mini-brioches. It was a great idea, but unfortunately, they wouldn't all fit in my beer-cooler-turned-proof box. At least, not flat on the bottom. A couple of tall plastic cups later, and I had a two-tiered system, which worked great until I tripped over the proofbox, uttered swear words, and sent the muffin tin careening into one of my half risen loaves, deflating it mightily right in the middle. So, I took the muffin pan out of the proof box and tried another trick. I boiled a cup of water in the microwave, open the door and quickly shoved the muffin tin inside. Presto, instant proof box.

It worked! I pulled the last loaves of brioche out of the oven at 10:52 a.m. which gave Iris and I the 5 minutes we needed to bike to church. The deflated loaf, unsurprisingly, looks deflated, but the braided pan loaf looks OK. And they taste ... very, very buttery.

As for the Whole-Wheat and Whole Spelt Sourdough Sandwich Bread? The stretch and fold, no-knead approach was a winner! The shaped loaves rose in the proofbox while I was at church and were ready to go into the oven when we got home. I took the stone out of the oven, and tried the cold start approach. Again, it was a winner! This bread's a little less light than my 100% sourdough sandwich loaves usually are, but not by much, and the flavor is sweeter with a nutty overtone. It's nice, especially with peanut butter.

Next week, I'll beat this sticky Desem beast, even if I do learn something useful yet again from MountainDog. Which is altogether likely.

browndog's picture


Dutch Crunch 2

Meteors...or morels? Dutch Crunch makes an odd and intriguing loaf, and I don't pretend to understand the mystery behind the results. A thick coating of yeast and rice flour transforms your loaf into something other-worldly, and it was with more than passing surprise I saw it turn up on redivyfarm's no-knead loaf uninvited, a wild version of this domestic specimen. Honestly I find Dutch Crunch in the eating to resemble nothing so closely as grit in its Sunday best, however, my family is taken with it and it makes a spectacular presentation. The bread itself is a basic white loaf to which was added leftover mashed potato and brown rice flour. With more than a little chagrin I must allow this to be the tenderest crumb ever to emerge from my oven, presumably due to the combined effects of potato and rice. My son on taking a bite exclaimed, "Oh, I'm eating Wonder bread!", but I let him live.

redivyfarm's picture

We're having fun on the farm! With the Mother's Day picnic coming up I decided to bake my own version of a filled braid. I admired the fruit filled braids and loved Floyd's suggestion that a savory filling with a different dough would be good. A search of the BBA formulas led me to use Pain de Campagne because it is said to be suited to shaped loaves; never disappoints. I followed Reinhart's steps with the exception that I used an overnight retarding of the dough after the first partial rise to better fit my schedule. I knew that this dough was going to have to stand up to some serious handling and honestly, I had my doubts.

Today I proceeded with Floyd's excellent instructions, dividing my dough in half to make two braids. Rolling it out to about a 3/8 inch thickness required letting the dough rest a bit with the rolling pin anchoring the corners to achieve the pan sized rectangle. My silicon baking sheet was helpful; I was able to handle the dough a little less when transferring it to the pans. I lined two baking pans with oil sprayed parchment and sprinkled a little rice flour where the braid would rest. Scissors worked well to make the inch wide angled strips. The short sides on my pans did not allow enough room to cut with the scraper. The dough with filling looked like this-

Braid Building

Braid Building

For this braid I used part cream cheese, part grated parmesan with one tablespoon of the egg wash mixture per Floyd's example. On top of that, sauteed Italian sausage, mushrooms and sweet peppers with garlic and herbs, salt and pepper. The other braid is filled with caramelized onion and sauteed mushroom on cream cheese with s and p. They get two applications of egg wash, the last one just before baking. The criss-cross fold works for me just like it works for Floyd. Wonder of wonders, in spite of lots of handling, the dough rose up puffy in about an hour and a half! Floyd and I agreed that the oven temperature should most likely be 450 degrees as required for the Pain de Campagne. I baked one braid at a time for 20 minutes.

Mushroom Onion Braid

Mushroom Onion Braid

Braid Slice

Braid Slice

This is really a fun baking, yields an impressive product and will adapt to limitless tasty fillings. I strongly recommend the ultra-reliable BBA Pain de Campagne formula for shaped breads.  

tattooedtonka's picture

I started my day off making french bread from some yeast pre-ferments from last night. 

After mixing, folding and so on, I figured I am not going to try anything fancy I just want rustic looking bread (ugly bread that is). 

And I am happy with the results of my ugly breads.

We had this loaf for dinner and it was quite good. 

I also made a couple loaves of country bread

Both the french bread and country bread recipes are from Hamelmans "Bread"

And they are both very good in my opinion.


Floydm's picture

Per community request, I deleted the trying-to-be-offensive-but-mainly-just-immature post from this morning. When I first saw it I thought about deleting it, but I was trying to be good to my word about not meddling or doing anything that can be construed as trying to censor folks here. But given that it annoyed other long-time community members and the poster wasn't a preexisting community member (they joined this morning and that was the only post they've ever made), I went ahead and deleted it.

Sourdoughgirl153: if you are legitimately an amateur baker with questions about sourdough starters, please post your question again omitting the phallic white bread photo.

mse1152's picture

Funny how the rye discussions have popped up in the last couple of days. I'd been planning to make the New York Deli Rye from the BBA this weekend. I couldn't find white rye flour locally, and had to mail order some. The bread turned out very different from those I've made with dark rye. Looks great for sandwiches. The book calls for sauteed onions in the starter (which I'd probably like), but I chose to omit them to see what the straight bread is like.

NY Deli Rye















The recipe starts with a rye starter, based on Peter Reinhart's barm. Well, to get a barm, you have to go through 4 days of building what he calls a seed culture, then another day or so to turn it into a barm. I've read the instructions several times, and I still don't really get the difference between the two. Years ago, I made the barm, and ended up with several pounds of stuff. So I used my own well-refreshed starter instead. Neener, neener. The barm is equal weights of flour and water, with seed culture added, which is not quite equal weights of flour and water. So I figured that refreshing my starter to equal weights would get me close enough.

Overall, I think it came out well, but I may have let the starter cook too long... I made the starter at 2:30 one day, put it in the fridge at 7:00, took it out next day at 9:30, and didn't use it till 1:00. was bubbling very nicely though, and the final dough got 2 more teaspoons of instant yeast. I glazed the dough with beaten egg white before slashing.

The flavor is quite mild. If it weren't for the caraway seeds, it wouldn't taste very rye-ish, though the flavor is good. Maybe I'm just too used to dark rye breads. The crumb is moist and feels good, and the loaf is really surprisingly soft, easy to flatten while slicing. I'm going to make it again (sometime) with the onions added to the starter.


redivyfarm's picture

I'm just getting a break in the action and able to post after several days away from The Fresh Loaf. I'll never get caught up with the new content; my loss! This past weekend I made a couple of breads with long fermentations to fit into a schedule of Kentucky Derby and NBA Playoffs. I used Bwraith's version of Sourdough Raisen Focaccia with tasty results!

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia


Sourdough Raisen Focaccia

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia Proof

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia Proof

This was a fun 24 hour preparation and it was great to see the trusty sourdough starter work to perfection. I suspect that the moist raisens might make this focaccia more perishable than I'm used to so I'm refrigerating and popping a couple of servings into the toaster to enjoy it hot.

I also went to work on my first attempt at Pain a l'Ancienne. Reinhart describes it as the best so I aim to work at the technique and produce a respectable version at least. My product bears little resemblance to some of the lovelies I've seen posted in this community but I will continue to read your posts and tweak my process. I'm realizing that the notes and variations posted by my fellow home bakers are useful well beyond the info in the bread books. I followed the BBA formula pretty closely but at the end of the final proof it seemed to spring up and surprise me. As a result, this baking is probably over proofed. See how the slashes didn't really bloom? I think sourdough is more forgiving in that respect. It seems that I lost a great deal of gas in the forming of the baguettes and as a result didn't get much oven spring or a nice open crumb. I wonder, has anyone formed the baguettes on parchment prior to retarding in the refrigerator?

Ancienne First Attempt

Ancienne First Attempt 

Ancienne Crumb

Ancienne Crumb

 In spite of all the things I would like to improve, this bread is really delicious. I recommend eating it with chipotle mayo, sliced tomatoe, salt and pepper for every meal until it is gone!

PMcCool's picture

Mini Oven and Eric,

Maybe the world is smaller than I think!

There are some professors at Tech whom I remember very clearly.  One is David Cimino, who taught a couple of my Physics courses.  He really could draw a perfect circle, about 2 feet in diameter,  on the blackboard.  Pretty amazing to watch.  The name Hanner sounds vaguely familiar but I don't think I had any classes with an instructor by that name.  I never did meet a Bornhorst, although I watched Bruce Horst in the nets for the hockey Huskies.  Probably doesn't count, eh?

My 30th class reunion is coming up this summer, so I'd like to get back up to the Copper Country.  Even if I didn't see anyone I knew, it would still be worth the trip.  There is so much that I used to enjoy up there, like the view from Mt. Brockway, or the waterfalls that are so numerous, or the sweet rolls at the Hilltop Inn in L'Anse (had to work a baking reference in here somewhere!), or the arboreal drive on US 41 heading north toward Copper Harbor, Eino and Toivo jokes, the original Library's pizza, and more.  One of these days I need to go to the Porkies, too.

Dunno about the snow situation up there, since I'm living in Kansas (after stops in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Texas).  The alumni newsletter dropped their snowfall tracking section a few weeks back, so I'm guessing that it should be about gone, other than maybe a few shaded areas back in the forest or the cities' snow dumping areas.  My wife (then girlfriend) was skeptical about my snow stories.  For instance, at one point on my walk from campus to downtown Houghton there was a traffic sign which, in Spring or Fall, was a couple of feet above my head.  In late winter it was about knee-high.  We married my senior year and experienced a literal 40 days and nights of snowfall after moving in, which just about put her over the edge. She's a believer now.

When you were growing up in Ontonagon, Mini Oven, did you ever picture yourself living in places as distant and different as Austria and China?  Thanks to my career in engineering, I've been to places around the globe that I never expected to see outside of TV or a newspaper.  Quite the unexpected benefit of my college years at MTU.

Is the White Pine mine in Ontonagon still operating?  I thought that I had heard it had closed, but that there was a possibility of it reopening.

Thanks for triggering a bunch of memories, thimbleberries and all.  Here's a website, in case you are feeling nostalgic:


Oldcampcook's picture

I am going to have to stop reading this blog during the day time while I am at work.  It is very difficult to maintain a proper decorum while I am rolling on the floor laughing!

Old Camp Cook 

ehanner's picture

I think it was Susan that begged for bubbles. :>) Well here it is! My basic SD bread formula slashed with custom sharpened cookie cutters!



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