The Fresh Loaf

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Vancouver Sourdough Loaves & New Baking Equipment

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Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Vancouver Sourdough Loaves & New Baking Equipment

Sometimes you pause and wonder why it took so long to do some things.

In the last week, I finally gathered some important tools that for no reason other than being busy and perhaps lazy, completed my home bread baking needs.

I had been struggling with scoring, more specifically the lack of blooming and ears.  With some help from David Snyder and these new tools, it looks like I have finally overcome these issues.

These are the three items I picked up.

1. Unglazed Quarry tiles:  Till now, I had simply been baking my breads directly on my trusty roaster pan.  I was not getting the proper burst of surface heat required for a proper bake.  $3.50 at a local tile supplier.  I hope in the future to find a larger square and have it custom cut to fit the roaster.

2. Razor Blades:  Till now, I was using a utility blade to score my loaves.  I realize now that the utility blade was much too thick compared to these Wilkinson Sword blades.  The scoring came effortlessly and helped in producing a nice swift, clean cut.

3. Local mill organic bread flour:  Till now, I was using Robin Hood Bread Flour.  A brand similar to King Arthur Flour in the states.  I finally picked up some good quality, freshly milled bread flour.  I will never go back to brand name, store bought flour.  Flavour was FAR superior and price cheaper per pound.

For many of you, these items are nothing but common sense and obvious items for successful home bread baking.  For me, it now a revelation and a must.

Here is today's bake that utilized these new tools for the first time.  It started out as Vermont Sourdough, but due to mishaps in the mixing stage, I made all kinds of additions and deletions to the original formula that I decided to call it a Vancouver Sourdough.  No offence to the JH original.

My trusty steaming method of a roaster, with 4 6"x6" stacked, and a tin can to hold the boiling water.

Comments

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

They just don't get better than that!  Your new tools really paid off.  Are you still coming to Phoenix?

Nuce baking

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks man, as always.

Still coming down just not sure exactly when.  My parents get back next week so their place will be vacant and begging for me to get down there.  The business will be a challenge to leave as the weather gets better here - exterior painting season.  I am planning for beginning of May.  Will keep you posted!

John

Wingnut's picture
Wingnut

Very Nice bake! Could I request another look at the tiles in detail please? The tiles are 6"x6"x?"

Cheers,

Wingnut

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Wingnut.  Thank you for the comments and here you go.  Close ups with some detail.  They are 6" x 6" x 1/2" tiles.  I picked up 8 of them in case some crack over time. 

 

Wingnut's picture
Wingnut

Brilliant, that was exactly what was hoping to see! Thanks a bunch mate.

Cheers,

Wingnut

isand66's picture
isand66

Sometimes the proper tools do make things better and certainly easier and more enjoyable.

Nice looking Vancouver loaves!

Cheers,
Ian

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks Ian.  I like when you say it, in your New York twang.  Vancouver loaves....

:)

John

BobS's picture
BobS

Great looking loaves.  I think we all have similar experiences. I know I did.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

BobS.  It feels good to finally have the systems in place doesn't it?  Happy baking.

John

Franko's picture
Franko

Beautiful loaf John, or is it loaves? However many you have, they look terrific! Nice shaping and flour pattern, rich dark crust and picture perfect crumb. That's a loaf you could put in the window of any bakery in Vancouver and it'd be sold in a flash. Nice work on all counts John, you should be very proud of these breads.

Franko

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Franko.  Thank you so much.  There's actually two loaves.  One short stubby batard and one longer one.  The longer one didn't get as much camera time as one of the 2 slashes was not up to par.  That was purely due to technique in hand issue.  That will come with practice.

Do NOT get me dreaming more of owning a bakery.  I am in the clouds with bread as it is :)

John

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi John,

WOW

Isn't is fun to find new toys tools that actually do work?  :-)

Janet

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

You betcha Janet.  Good to hear from you :)

Happy baking!

John

Alpana's picture
Alpana

I guess the investment in new tools has more than paid off! In your case they have added on to your existing skills. I use a razor blade, but my scoring still needs a lot of work. 

I am thinking of copying your idea of keeping a can in my  DO (claypot) in my quest for perfect steaming option.

 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks a bunch Alpana.  The can of boiling water never fails to create a lot of steam in the enclosed environment.  Just be careful when pouring the water in.  If the water hits the tiles or in your case, clay pot, it may crack.

Good luck and let me know how it works out for you.

John

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

That loaf looks just perfect. Beautiful crust and crumb, and you got your ear!

The right tools help, but you gotta have the moves too.

Congratulations!

David

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks David!  You forgot an important factor...help.  Your help was what led me in the right direction.  Thanks again for all your coaching.

John

chouette22's picture
chouette22

Well first of all, your loaf is stunning, inside and out!
Your set-up I have never seen nor thought of before - tiles and can inside a roaster, wow. This must be one gigantic roaster, right? Did dutch ovens not convince you with regards to steaming (I mean without a can) or did you never try them?
I would love to source local freshly milled flours, but have not been successful.  

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Well thank you so much for the comment.  I am equally as happy with the loaf as well.  The smaller one didn't last the day!

It took me since last August, when I first started baking bread, to come up with the idea.  It is a larger turkey roaster.  I own a smaller one as well but have never come across other sizes of this particular type.  It is approx. 13" long x 7" wide.  I was fortunate enough to receive 3 of them over the years as gifts.  I believe the large one can be found for under $25.00.  I never tried the dutch oven method as I do not own one.  I was jealous of all the DO users out there so I was forced to come up with my own system.  The nice thing of using the roaster system is you can fit batards and smaller baguettes in it as well.

I wouldn't worry about the 'local' part.  As long as it is not a typical store bought brand type flour, you'd be fine.  I can't comment on KAF as I have never tried it and I do hear it is a bit higher in quality than our Robin Hood flour.

You can order flour and grains online at the local mill I buy from, but I am sure you have plenty closer to you.  Here is the link:

http://anitasorganic.com/

Happy baking and please do let me know if you ever try the roaster method and how it works out for you.

John

 

chouette22's picture
chouette22

of the roaster. Should I ever have to deal with an unpredictable oven, this is definitely what I would try. I bought an additional DO just recently specifically for my breads, so right now I am covered (and my breads too, literally). However, I love that you can even bake baguettes in there, that is just great. And thanks for the link to your mill - we have the same first name!

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Simply doesn't get any better than that, does it? Wonderful bread; crust and crumb. Can't judge on flavour or smell from where I sit, but I'm sure it's next to perfection. It's funny how small adjustments can make a world of difference in our baking. Understanding the reasons why just make us appreciate baking so much more.

Perfection!

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks Hans!  I just saw your post and wow.  Next to YOUR perfection ;)

I appreciate your comments.

John

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

By the way, anyone who has seen my type/style of roaster in a larger size than 13" long by 7" wide, please do let me know.  I would like an upgrade to a larger size, if available.

John

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Amazon has a pot load, so to speak. See Granite Ware roasters at Amazon. I got one a while back specifically for use as a water bath for cheesecake, and for steam cooking pumpernickel and Boston brown bread.

cheers,

gary

varda's picture
varda

(overwhelmed with bread) but this looks really great.    And I know what you mean about upgrading tools.   When you do it you wonder what took so long.   I used your tip on making a paste with chile, ginger and garlic and freezing it.   Tonight I pulled some out to use for making our dinner.    What a great idea.   -Varda

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hi Varda.

Thank you so much for the comments.  I am glad to have helped with your Indian cooking adventure.

I saw your recent post of TFL event and was very jealous while reading it!  Nice to see the photos and imagine the energy that the room must have had.  If we had more members out this way, I would say Floyd and I should organize an event too!

John

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Your bread is truly inspiring.  My question is about the roaster method.  Do you pour boiling water into that tin can, place the baking tiles inside the roaster and then close the lid?  Wow, what dynamite!  I too have been having difficulty with getting good "ears" and have found Sylvia's towel method helpful.  So far, the best outcome has been baking inside the DO or the cloche.  But I want that result baking on the stone as well.

Thanks! --Joy

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hi Joy.  Thank you so much for your kind words.  I am happy to help if I can.

Basically, I keep the tiles in the roaster (I never really take them out as I do not use the roaster for anything but baking bread), along with the tin can.  I place the lid on and place the roaster in the oven to preheat for at least 25 - 30 mins.  This part turns out to be important.  My first time trying the tiles out, I did not preheat and the bottom of the loaves turned out a bit light.  After preheating the roaster, I take it out of the oven, pour boiling water into the tin can about 3/4 full (you dont want this spilling around when moving the roaster).  I quickly then slash the dough, transfer it into the roaster on top of the tiles, cover with lid, then place in the oven.  One thing that has made this last step easier for me is to have a peice of parchment paper that I upend the dough onto from the brotform or proofing basket.  I then use this parchment paper as a makeshift transfer basket by gripping the edges of the parchment and lifting the dough up and into the roaster.

As far as the good 'ears' goes, I have found, for myself anyway, two important items helped fix the lack of producing ears in the past.  1. VERY sharp razor blade. 2. Preheated tiles/baking stone.  As soon as I started using these two items, I have had nothing but great blooms and ears.  Of course, you have to still use good slashing methods as outlined in David's past posts.

You may also find some information on another one of my posts found here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/33271/tartine-country-loaf-againand-againand

Hope this helps, and please do ask any questions if something doesn't seem clear.

Happy baking!

John

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Your explanation clarifies your method!  Having the water in the tin can is definitely your unique innovation for the steaming step.  I have usually counted on just the moisture in the dough to create steam in the DO or cloche, sometimes brushing on extra water before loading the dough.  You have taken it up several notches!  Something to think about for sure.  Thank you very much!

Joy

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Joy.  I realized the roaster does not have a heavy lid (as DO's do) to create a nice seal to keep in the majority of the steam.  As a precaution I introduced the tin can for EXTRA steam, in case some escapes.  Your DO or cloche should keep enough in to provide adequate amounts of steam.  But hey, who's to say there can't be more!

Take care.

John

 

 

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

John, thank you for the details.  It makes for a fuller picture of what you are doing.  Now you take care loading that hot water into the can!

Joy

cessnabmw's picture
cessnabmw

Hi... Looks amazing. Just registered on the site.

When do you add water to the pan? Just before you bake? Or while pre-heating?

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thank you cessnabmw...actually, I recently moved on from the method of placing water in the pan. But when I did, I added the tin can in the roaster while the roaster was preheating in oven, and then pour the boiling water in the can at the same time I load up the dough in the roaster...immediately after the dough is loaded actually, to avoid losing precious seconds of boiling temperature.

What I do now, is use a smaller roaster for both batards and boules.  The steam that is created in the smaller roasters from the dough's hydration, is more than enough steam.  I also spray the inside of the roaster and loaf just before loading into the oven, for a little extra steam.

The roaster used in the above photos was quite a large one, meant for turkeys.  I found a smaller one, same shape.

Hope this helps and welcome to the forum!

Happy baking.

John