The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I'm a simple girl.  My only requirement of my kitchen appliances and untensils is that they work, and work well, for the application I intend to use them.  This, among other things, is why I replaced the oven that came with this house as soon as financially possible.

I'm a gas person.  Always have been and always will be.  I can't cook very well on an electric stove.  When we went looking for houses before our baby was born, I looked at the range in every house and said no to almost every house that had an electric one.  We didn't really have the money to get a new one right away at the time.  Almost every house...except this one.

There were other very nice things about this house, though.  4 bedrooms.  1.5 bathrooms.  Big dining area that could, someday, turn into a very dreamy kitchen for yours truly.  Big patch of rhubarb on one side of the garage.  Big patch of blackberry bushes on the other side.  A peach tree in the backyard.  Plenty of room for a garden, and a patch that was partitioned off with beams of wood that could easily be turned into some sort of melon or strawberry patch without the rest of the garden being overgrown.

The not-so-nice things were many as well.  Electric range.  Carpet upstairs that didn't look as though it had been changed since the 70's.  A kitchen floor with linoleum so old that it had little bits of dirt permanently ground into it.  Very little counter space.

We got it anyway due to the aforementioned very nice things.  I've always wanted a space for a garden.

Fast forward a few months.  I'm about 5 months pregnant and the annual friends and family sale is going on through Electrolux.  My boyfriend works at the plant here in town, and his sister works at the Beam plant.  So we get the list of things and start perusing, not really thinking of getting anything.  Lo and behold, on the last page, sits my dream: a 5 burner gas range with 5 cubic ft. convection oven.  Big enough to do 4 9" cakes in.  Big enough to bake even the biggest batch of bread that I felt I could handle.  If we'd gone to Lowe's to pick up the same oven, we would've paid close to $1200. In the sale, it was less than $600.

My grandparents wanted to get us a housewarming gift anyway, and so we asked both sets to chip in and then we paid the rest.  I *cried* the day I used it for the first time.  Cookies come out perfect.  Bread bakes up so beautifully.  I thought the crying thing was just because I was pregnant, but sometimes I still get a little teary-eyed when I think about how great it is to have a range that won't burn things on the bottom and leave them raw on top.

So I wanted to say thank you to my oven.  I feed it good dough and it gives me good bread.  Such a harmonious relationship.

sharsilber's picture

Diastatic Malt Powder

September 21, 2008 - 5:03am -- sharsilber

I have been baking challah bread for about a year and am planning to make about 30 next weekend.  In order to bake a few a day ahead I have been looking into some natural products that extend the bread's shelf life.  Has anyone used dastatic malt powder in their yeast breads?  Does it really help keep it fresher longer?

I would love some input.

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mark's Olive loaf
Mark's Olive loaf

Kalamata crumb
Kalamata & Cheese crumb

This is my first attempt at Mark's Olive and Pepper Jack Savory loaf and I must say it was fun.
It is basically his rustic white with some olives chopped and rinsed/dried (about 15 per loaf in my version) and the cheese was 120 grams cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Both of these amounts are more than he calls for by about 30%. The Olive oil was 40 grams for the 3.1 Lb batch warmed and mixed with 1-1/2 tsp each of dry Thyme and fresh chopped Rosemary that sat over night. The oil smelled great the next day!

The morning after mixing the Biga, I mixed the pre ferment with the water and oil to sufficiently distribute the biga and then added all the flour and dry products in the final dough. I just mixed for a few minutes until the gluten started to develop. The folding will fully develop the dough over 3 hours.  Once the flour is fully incorporated I added the olives and cheese and mixed on low just until they were combined.

3 hours of ferment with folds at 1 and 2 hours and a 1.5 hour proof after shaping per Marks video. Bake at 415 for 30-35 minutes with normal steam.

I took two of these in banettons to our friends home and baked them while we waited for the ribs to be done. They were well received and everyone was amazed at the flavor depth and after taste. This is a very nice gift bread for future consideration.

I wish I lived near Montana. I would love to see how Mark does this loaf. It's a little fussy but well worth the trouble.

Eric 

Stephanie Brim's picture

I'm new here.

September 6, 2008 - 11:35am -- Stephanie Brim

I've been wanting to start baking our bread for some time now and once I found this site I knew it was that time.  I'm a stay at home mom living in Iowa with a 9 month old daughter.  I'm making a variation on French bread as I type this...first rise is going well and if it tastes good I'll probably post the recipe.

I hope I learn a lot while I'm here!

smartdog's picture
smartdog

Enjoying a nice piece of challah with a slice of swiss cheese and fresh tomato slices from our garden toms. Was a bit ambitious yesterday and made chocolate almond biscotti and a challah. :)Almond and Chocolate Biscotti Just another Challah

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ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mark's Olive Loaf post got me thinking about the flavors I like and what would work well in bread. There are a few combinations that seem to be naturally delicious in other situations. Garlic/lemon/olive oil for example or swap the lemon with another acid, say basalmic vinegar or some other milder vinegar. The contrast between the elements seems to be what makes my senses perk up. Chicken wings with strong garlic and lemon is good. Mint jelly with hot pepper is a surprise treat. Each is a clear distinct flavor on it's own. Sugar on tomatoes and salt on water melon are two more that make the point.

Recently I bought a quantity of large green olives stuffed with blue cheese that were really good. I've also had stuffed with Gorgonzola that were out of this world delicious. I've used both in bread along with stuffed with garlic with good results.

The thing is, and this is a totally subjective opinion, I like to be able to identify the flavors clearly. There are times when I enjoy a hint of this or after taste of that, like with wines, but for me, good garlic bread makes a statement. 

Along the same line, most of the music written in my life time that has become popular, is clean. That is to say you can identify and clearly hear the primary artist. You get to enjoy the personality of the singer or instrumental. Think about the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Sarah Brightman, Red Hot Chili Peppers. They all share that quality of clean clear, timeless sound. I try to season my foods with the same thought in mind. No screaming allowed, strong clear flavors that add to the base.

Good bread has a certain wholesome aroma depending on the type of bread, that sets the stage. Then if we are careful there is an after taste that stays on the toung that reminds of nuts or wheat fields. Adding a complementary flavor such as olives or savory seasonings or cheeses complicates the taste and (in my humble opinion) needs to be approached with respect for the over all outcome. To many flavors end up being a muddy taste.

Anyway, for what it's worth, that's my approach to flavors. Green tea with lemon and honey, Rustic farm loaf with rosemary, Deli Rye with caraway, apple pie with cinnamon, Bruchetta with basil and feta, Pita stuffed with tomato salad and Chili powder. These are some of my favorites.

Now I'm hungry!

Eric 

matt.c.'s picture

Boulevard Bread Co.

July 27, 2008 - 4:37pm -- matt.c.

     Boulevard Bread Company is a European influenced bakery/deli located in Little Rock, AR. Specialize in hand-crafted artisan breads. Breads included are french baguettes, san francisco style sourdough, whole grain hearth loaves, and European style pastries.

(501)663-5951

Boulevard Bread Co. 

1920 N. Grant

Little Rock, Ar 72205 

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