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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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mcs's picture
mcs

This past week The Back Home Bakery had guest intern Greg (gcook17) visiting from Mountain View, CA.  He brought his extensive bread and pastry skills to the workbench and got to try his hand at using the sheeter too.  Thanks a lot Greg for all of your help - we hope to see you again up here!


-Mark
http://TheBackHomeBakery.com


 



stretch and fold on a 10 loaf batch of Rustic White


 



lining up the puff pastry bear claws


 



Here's Greg with his new found favorite toy.


 


 

Elagins's picture
Elagins

it seems to me that one of the biggest hurdles beginning bakers face is the idea that because something shows up in a book, that's necessarily the way things have to be.

take sourdough culture, as in this thread. Peter Reinhart says, "..." and therefore that's how it has to be. Nothing against Peter Reinhart: he's an extraordinarily great baker and and extraordinarily talented teacher. the problem is simply that a lot of beginners, in their eagerness to "get it right," don't trust themselves.

fact is, we're dealing with a complex set of interrelated physical and biological processes here, and to insist that all sorts of unfamiliar (to those starting out) living organisms *must* conform with one person's observation or experience is, to me, a reversal of reality. we should be paying more attention to what actually goes on and then adjust our expectations.

so consider a starter. so much depends on the original source of the yeast (plum/grape skins? rye? capture from the air? yogurt?). yeast and lacto-/acetobacteria are everywhere and are location specific. then again, what about the flour? rye? wheat? organic? treated? high or low gluten? or the hydration ... acetobacter likes it dry; lactobacter likes it wet. ambient temperature will affect the rate of yeast and bacterial action. cold slows yeast and lactobacteria, but acetobacteria thrive in cooler temps.

reducing all this stuff, not to mention all the other random factors that may come into play, to a timetable is laudable and useful -- in fact, i've done it myself in a baking book i'm writing -- but one person's experience of the interactions among a complex set of factors and events shouldn't ever constitute a sole and immutable truth.

baking, like so many other things in life, is experience-based, and no book -- no matter how experienced the author nor how careful the research -- should ever become a substitute for observable reality.

when i use organic dark rye flour to start a culture, i usually get activity within 24 hours. like the spark from a flint, that germ of a culture needs to be nourished and nurtured over a couple of weeks of regular feedings before you can consider it a finished sourdough starter ... so what matter if the yeasts go active in 12 hours or 72? all that matters is that we capture the spark and nurture it into a flame.

baking formulas are great because they organize information and they convey an experience or set of experiences that generally work within a relatively broad set of limits. but within those limits are infinite variations of time, temperature and the interplay of ingredients ... and controlling those is the art of baking, as opposed to the science.

feedmittens's picture

focaccia success! thanks to Reinhart... and question about parchment paper.

August 11, 2009 - 6:51pm -- feedmittens

I followed The Bread Baker's Apprentice's instructions almost to a T and it came out really well.  Just wanted to post a couple quick pics and look for suggestions for improvement.  Oh yeah, and I did not use parchment paper or a slipat or anything.  Was this a bad thing?  I think the bottom came out great.  I baked it at 450 for 12 minutes, then let it cool for 20mins before cutting into it.

Mitch550's picture

Errors in Hammelman and DiMuzio Bread Books

July 31, 2009 - 10:39am -- Mitch550
Forums: 

Hello to all,


I've read book reviews here, on Amazon, and other places about apparent errors that were noted by readers in Jeffrey Hammelman's and Daniel DiMuzio's otherwise wonderfully rated books. Both of these books are published by Wiley, and I was surprised and bothered that Wiley hadn't posted Errata pages for either of these books.  Dan's book only came out this past February so one can possibly excuse the fact that there isn't an Errata page for that one, but Jeffrey Hammelman's book was published in 2004, so it's hard to find an excuse for that.

cookingwithdenay's picture
cookingwithdenay


On August 7, 2009 the release of a new movie starting Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) opens in theaters nationwide. The movie was written and directed by Nora Ephron and is an adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powell's Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. You can learn the plot by visiting the trailer and I won't bore you with that information. Over twenty seven years ago I had the honor of serving in the United States Navy and being stationed in Okinawa, Japan. It was a bitter sweet experience for a culinary obsessive compulsive cook like myself. Locating ingredients was a task and as a relatively new bride I was eager to prepare meals that were not only delicious but divine.


I have never really written about how I became so astute in the kitchen. I can say that I would not be the cook I am today were it not for a cookbook edited by Charlotte Turgeon titled The Creative Cooking Course. You must understand that during that time, military bases offered very little to choose from as far as ingredients go, so my now ex purchased three cookbooks so I could flex my culinary muscle; venture out into local markets and with the assistance of the Creative Cooking Course, a Betty Crocker Cookbook and one other that obviously was completely unimportant since I can no longer remember the title create culinary magic.


I bring this book up because it is through this book that I learned about food, food from all over the world. I cooked my way through this cookbook and I can tell you every recipe that worked and those that did not. Somewhere out there a budding novice is wondering how can I too become a great cook or baker? All I can share is that you must literally cook and bake your way into greatness. I think Nike said it best..."Just do it!" Julia Child once said, "never apologize." She was absolutely correct. Cook, cook, cook, bake, bake, bake and don't apologize. If someone does not like what you have prepared, fine...and as Jae would say, "keep it movin."


I had a copy of The French Chef years ago and found it quite boring, but recently I asked my daughter for a copy for Christmas. Now, over a half century old I can appreciate what Julia Child was trying to do and why. I too must encourage cooks and bakers to not settle, but rise up, grasp a good cookbook and cook, bake, "Just do it!"


 

cookingwithdenay's picture
cookingwithdenay


Have you ever developed an original recipe? Most people think it is some long drawn out process, but remember you are not Pillsbury test kitchen with thousands of dollars and test kitchen cooks to address ever question or issue.


When you find a recipe that is good, reliable and consistent...that's a keeper. If it is not, you have a couple of choices. Rework the recipe, refine it so it works, put it in the "to-do" pile for a later date or toss it. What you do depends on how much time you want to devote to recipe and only you can answer that question.


As you test, and retest, you will find a pattern to the process and it will fall into an everyday groove. I would suggest that you schedule time each month to test or at least review the recipes you are working on. Remember it's not just about recipes, this is a listing of products you can enter into contest, feature in a magazine or newspaper, include in a future cookbook or sell in your home-based bakery. When your bakery is up and running and a local journalist ask...may we have a recipe to attach to your story? What will you say, no they are all secret...


Always have a dozen or so recipes that are uniquely yours that you don't mind sharing...just in case.


You may also want to place a recipe in your marketing materials...not that people will prepare them necessarily, but to show you are open to sharing your knowledge and skill. You are a great baker and this is not the time to be shy!


Now with that said, you don't have to give out your best recipes, just things you don't mind sharing. Give it some thought.


There is an old saying, there is nothing new under the sun, and it is so true. It is easy to add a new twist to something, but food companies spend millions to create new products, it's a real challenge; but every once and a while an independent culinary innovator comes up with a unique and inspiring food, spice or taste. Take a look at what is missing out there on the grocery shelves... get creative. I would love to see an alternative to buttercream frosting, but I have not yet figured out what it should be, something sweet, creamy and not made with all that fat.


 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I was inspired by David (dmsnyder) and his 5 hour baguettes. I needed a sandwich bread that was as lean as I could get it but was still very much soft crusted and soft of crumb. I've found it, I think, by slightly modifying the 5 hour baguette idea and adding one enrichment: olive oil.



Stephanie’s Simple Bread
Makes 1 small loaf


225g AP or bread flour
10g rye flour
15g white whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
170g water


Mix ingredients in the bowl for your stand mixer until you form a shaggy mass. Mix, on low, for 5 minutes, then increase speed to medium for 3 or 4 more. I left this in a clean bowl for 75 minutes for a first rise, folding at 25 and 50 minutes, and 60 minutes for a second rise. Shaped carefully and proofed for 40 minutes, scored, and spritzed with water. Baked for 30 minutes at 425 degrees.


I posted the recipe on my blog, too.


So thank you David. Thanks also have to go out to Susan of Wild Yeast for inspiration due to the fact that I was browsing the Wild Yeast Blog when I thought about how good a simple bread would be with the locally homemade ham salad I bought today.

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