The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

  • Pin It
PiPs's picture
PiPs

Oven Progress - the 5th week - FIRE!

Today was a big day ... um ... no, it was so much bigger than that ... um ... i'm not even sure if I can put into words the anticipation I have felt for today.

... and all for a tiny little fire that we allowed to burn for only an hour or so.

The black granite stone has been installed at the mouth of the oven and Dennis has constructed a wonderful door from recycled timber (and a bit of high tech ceramic wool and steel)

For the rest of the week we will light small fires everyday and push them around the interior of the oven to further dry the masonry ... then the real fires will begin ...

... then will come bread ...


myself with Dennis the oven builder 


myself with Daryl (the great chef I work with)

Cheers,
Phil 

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Flour Water Salt Yeast... first recipe tried

a white bread made with 8% BIGA

 

the loudest singer I've ever baked, the noises it made while cooling were unreal!

 

very nice recipe, I highly recommend for those days in which you don't feel too wild   (sorry could not resist the pun)

 

S

miranme's picture
miranme

Does anyone know of a source for the original Larraburu starter?

Thank you all for the excellent articles and posts on Larraburu french bread. As a former Bay Area native I grew up with Larraburu bread and loved it. I make my own bread and starter. Does anyone know of a source for the original Larraburu starter. One of the bloggers described a cold storage area where they had it stored.  I would be very interested to get a sample if it is available.

Thanks,

Michael

Half Baked's picture
Half Baked

First attempt at making Baguette with Poolish didn't come out too well...

Hi all, I found this site not long ago and it’s been nigh on invaluable after I recently got into baking. The tips and recipes have all really inspired me, and I have been happily experimenting away with different flours and types of bread for the last couple of months. I tried to test my abilities and learn some new skills over the weekend by using making a French Baguette using a poolish, and it failed and I’m really not too sure why, I was wondering if you ladies and gents had any suggestions as to where I went wrong?

 

The recipe I followed was one here; http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7613/great-baguette-quest-n°1.

 

I followed it to the letter; except someone commented on the recipe by saying it was a good idea to try an autolyse as well, so I mixed the poolish with the remaining ingredients (less the yeast) and let it all sit for an hour. However I had a feeling something was wrong as soon as I looked at it; because the autolyse had hardly risen (I’m not too sure by how much it is supposed to, though…) and when I added the rest of the yeast and water and began to knead, I felt the consistency was all wrong. I put it down to the fact that it was wet dough, and kneaded it for a good 10-15 mins, but it still did not windowpane that well, no matter how much I kneaded it. Then during the first proving it rose very slowly, and even after giving it an hour, it had only just doubled in size. Even when I shaped the baguettes, again I could just tell the texture of the dough was all wrong, and after proving them for another hour they had nowhere near doubled in size, and just looked kind of flat. I nonetheless persisted, and when I tried to score the dough (something I’ve never had any trouble with before) the blade did not cut very well at all. Instead, the only way I can describe it is that the dough kept catching on the blade and dragging along, making it just look wrinkled and misshapen.

 

I really wish I’d taken pictures of the dough before I tried baking them, as it’s a bit difficult to explain what it was like, but hopefully you guys might know what I mean, and have some idea where I went wrong?

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Eating in Poland

This is my last post about my trip before returning to posts about managing the site and baking, I promise! -Floyd

As far as I can recall, we ate Polish food exclusive on this trip.  Not out of necessity, mind you: at least in cities like Warszawa and Kraków you can dine on sushi, burgers, Italian food, phó, pretty much anything you like now. Chains like Starbucks, McDonalds, Hard Rock Cafe, and KFC are about as common as in the rest of Europe.  We didn’t take this trip to eat American or Italian or Japanese though, we went to eat Polish.

Polish food is very good.  My wife’s comment was “When I came here when I was twenty, it was the night life and the drinking that were the big temptations.  This time, it is the food!”  I agree and could go on and on about the cuisine there, though I’m going to limit myself to this one (admittedly fairly long) post, first discussing the meals and then some particular foods of interest.

The spices in Polish cuisine are mild. Very mild: think dill and marjoram, often with cream. 

One of the strongest flavours?  Smoke.

Curing, pickling, and fermenting meats and vegetables was an important way of preserving food in the days before reliable refrigeration and still plays an important part in many of the traditional dishes.

And, yes, to get the question out of the way, the kełbasa (sausage) really is all that.

The first meal of the day is śniadania.  

A traditional spread at śniadania is likely to include bułki or chleb (rolls or bread), szinka (ham) and wędliny (cold cuts), cottage or farmers cheeses - sometimes with radishes and chives mixed in or to be eaten with it on bread, sliced pomidory and ogórki (tomatos and cucumbers), masło (butter) and ser (cheese - usually a white or yellow one - the familiar orange cheddar that Americans usually eat is still a rare sight there). Herbata (tea) is drunk more often than coffee, with lemon and honey or sugar rather than milk.  Soft boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, or omelet with chopped ham or kełbasa are also not uncommon. Another common dish is parówki (a kind of hot dog - usually pork or chicken), sometimes served with cheese.

The largest meal of the day, obiad, is eaten in the early afternoon.  At my grandmother-in-law’s house, obiad was usually a three course affair.  First soup such as barszcz (based on beets), zurek (a rye sourdough soup pictured below that I’ve mentioned previously and which I’m trying again to make at home), zupa pomidorowy (tomato soup), or a chicken broth.  

The main dish was usually a meat + starch + vegetables affair, something like some sort of schab (pork roast) or kotlety (cutlets) with ziemniaki (potatoes) or kluski (either noodles or dumplings depending on the type) or ryż (rice), and a chopped salad or some type of cooked/fermented mushrooms or cabbage.

 Another common meal is to have one of many kinds of pierogi. Pierogi come stuffed with meat, potatoes, mushrooms, cheese, cabbage, or even fruits and berries.

And no meal was complete without dessert, typically some sort of fruit in gelatin, a slice of cake, and more herbata.

To wrap it all up, almost every obiad was closed with some sort of sweet liqueur or flavoured vodka, often times homemade.

After that we’d often try to go to go back out and do something, but usually the most I could manage was to read a book or watch TV for a bit and try not to fall asleep.  Light eating it is not!

The evening meal, kolacja, is typically smaller and happens later in the evening than in North America.  More bread and cold cuts, for example, or some slices of whatever roast was made for obiad.  Just enough to tide you over until morning.

Not everyone eats like this, of course.  I’m sure busy folks who work in offices eat desk lunches the way many of the rest of us do.  When we asked a waiter who we were chatting with what he had for śniadania, he told us “today, cereal.” 

A few specific items worth mentioning:

Pączki

As I blogged about earlier, one of the things I most anticipated eating on this trip were pączki, the jelly doughnut-like treats found in Polish bakeries around Easter.

 I tried four or five different bakery’s versions of them.  The worst were simply plain, not unlike grocery store jelly doughnuts.  The best, either those from A. Blikle Bakery in Warszawa or one of the bakeries I tried near the rynek in Kraków, were outstanding: sweet but not too sweet, soft, rich, and distinctly floral from the rose petal jam filling.  They are definitely something you should try if you have an opportunity to.    

Ciasto i sernik

Polish cakes and pastries are excellent.  Napoleonki (aka mille feuille) and Wuzetki (usually marked "W-Z") are two of the best known, and there are innumerable delicous varieties of cheesecake (sernik) to be tasted. If you have an opportunity to visit, be sure to stop when you see a cukiernia, which is like a Polish pâtisserie.  You won’t regret it!

Naleśniki

Naleśniki are the Polish equivalent of crêpes.  Like crêpes you can order them for any meal and will find them served sweet or savory, containing sweet white cheese, berries, ham, or mushrooms.  They are very good.  I'm already trying my hand at making them at home, using sweetened ricotta cheese to try to recreate the white cheese that the fruit ones are usually stuffed with.

Chleb

The bread (chleb) we had in Poland was consistently fresh and consistently good, similar to the breads I’ve had in other Northern and Eastern European countries.

The white rolls (bułki) we had for śnadanie were light and crackly, and the darker breads heavier and excellent with things like pasztet, a baked Polish pâté.  

I didn’t come home with any particular loaves that I felt like I had to reproduce, more just a general sense that I should branch out and try a few more formulas with nuts, grains, or more spelt and rye in them.  I don’t think I’ll regret it!

Wódka

No profile of Polish food and drink would be complete without mentioning wódka (vodka).  We actually didn’t have any straight wódka on this trip or witness any heavy drinking, though we did notice a number of 24 hour liquor stores. Rather we had many toasts and after-dinner cordials, some homemade such as a red current and a nut one, and others purchased such as Soplica flavoured with hazelnut or cherries, Krupnik flavoured with honey and which I had with hot water and lemon, or my wife’s favourite “old lady vodka” Avocaat, which I gather is actually of Dutch origin but which is popular with ladies of a certain age in Poland as well.  Kogel mogel is another name for a thick, sweet egg cordial (which can be made with or without the liquor) like this too.  

A couple of regional foods worth noting.

Obwarzanki Krakowskie

Obwarzanki Krakowskie are a close relative of, some say precursor of, the bagel.  Sold by street vendors all over Kraków, they are reputed to go back nearly 700 years.   Priced at 1.5 złoty (about 50 cents) a piece, they are a great snack to be able to grab when you are on the go.

Oscypki

During our stay in Kraków there was an Easter market happening in the main square.  We tried a bunch of regional sausages and breads there, but by far our favourite snack were the grilled oscypki, a smoked sheep’s milk cheese made in the Tatra mountains, served hot with lingonberry jam. The oscypki are a regional specialty found year-round in Zakopane - a hard cheese with a salty flavor something like a cross between gouda and mozzarella, only smokier. They are usually pressed into lovely decorated moulds giving them a distinctive appearance though we also had them in strings which are sometimes braided or even pressed into animal shapes. The grilled version appears to be a fairly new invention which was particularly tasty given the cold weather we were experiencing.

Zapiekanki

Zapiekanki are like Polish French bread pizzas and are a very common late night street (drinking) food.  Our favorite and the most popular kind is topped with mushrooms, cheese, and ketchup, and sometimes with chopped leeks and chives. There are other varieties to be found also, such as the “Hawaiian” ham and cheese and pineapple, or salami, or the Greek with olives and feta, and other versions that include red bell peppers, sausage, yellow cheese, and pickles.

Bar Mleczny

Bar Mleczny are milk bars that spread around Poland back in the Communist era.  Subsidized by the government, Bar Mleczny were inexpensive cafeteria that serve Polish standards like barszcz and pierogi at extraordinarily low price.  Originally created to distribute excess milk products, they expanded to include standard regional dishes and have a reputation for being one of the better places outside of local “homes” to find traditional dumplings and pancake style dishes.

I gather Bar Mleczny can be hit-or-miss, with some being downright nasty and the service being notoriously bad, but the one we ate in a bunch of times was very good and the staff, while perhaps not friendly by Western “Hi, I’m Tammy and I’ll be your server this evening” standards, was courteous and friendly enough.  One day they even made a special batch of the kluski śląskie my wife had been asking about, which was pretty nice of them.

Privately I harbour the dream of someday opening a restaurant called Bar Mleczny here. It probably wouldn't last long without the subsidies and what with people's expectation of customer service, but... man, are they good.

I could go on and on but I'll spare you.  But one final thing worth knowing: Smacznego!  That is the Polish equivalent of “Bon appetit.”

Smacznego!

Abdul Ghana Sesay's picture
Abdul Ghana Sesay

Buying & shipping flour to Africa

Hi,

I am venturing into buying baking flour in large quantities from US manufacturers and shipping it for sale to Africa. I am looking to purchase good quality flour at very low prices. I have also being told that baking flour manufacturers in Europe; especially Holland and Germany sell at cheaper prices than US manufactureres. Does anyone know this to be true. Also, I am not well conversant with the flour in dustry. Can someone give me some advice on where to begin, and information on how to compare US prices to those in Holland and Germany. Also, just general expertise on how to purchase large quantites of flour for cheap, how does US flour compare in quality, cost of shipping flour to Africa from the US compared to shipping it from Holland and or Germany. Any general information that will help me in my decision-making as to which route to go when conducting business. Anyone's input will be highly appreciated.

MaxQ's picture
MaxQ

Chocolate Babka

One of the things I like about this nice yeasty cake is its versatility. You can fill it with just about anything you can imagine: the lazy amongst us will just spread some berry jelly or apple-sauce, the more adventurous will chop apples, grind walnuts and start mincing cloves. And on top, well, just about anything you can think of. The most popular is a streusel, but I've seen chocolate chips, sprinkles and even whole plums. Me? I like the simple elegance of a chocolate filling and sugar water on top.

I'm not really sure about the origins of this recipe. I got a recipe from my mother who had gotten it from some cooking book. But it doesn't really matter, since I made drastic changes to the original recipe. I altered all of the amounts, and most of the ratios as well. There were some steps that I omitted entirely, and some that I added, and the bake time is about half of what the original recipe called for.

 Day 1

Sponge

  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs yeast

Combine and let sit for 1 hour.

Dough

  • 2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream the margarine with the sugar. Add the sponge, salt, eggs and vanilla. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add flour until you get a good dough. Mix on medium for 10-12 minutes.
Remove dough, dust  with flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

Day 2

Take your dough out of the fridge, and let it rest for twenty minutes while preparing the filling.

Filling

  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar

Combine. I had to use my mixer on fast to get the margarine to blend nicely with the other ingredients.

Split the dough into two equal halves. Do the following for both halves.

Roll it out rectangle, about that big. It really depends on the size of your loaf pans. Then spread half the filling over the dough, leaving some edge. I keep trying not to leave any edge at all, but the filling is really hard to work with, and I give up.

Roll your dough up like a jelly-roll, from the short side.

Then twist it around in your hands a couple of times. You need to do this gently but firmly, since you don't want to tear the dough. Put it in a loaf pan and move on to the second piece of dough.

Let the cakes sit while you preheat the oven (350F/180C) and prepare the topping.

Topping

  • sugar
  • hot water

Mix the ingredients together until all the sugar is disolved, then brush it onto the cakes, covering the top and sides liberally.

Bake for 30 minutes, maybe less. The top of the cake should be hard. Baking it for too long will dry it out, but it's still good.

I took one of these to my parents' house for a family dinner one weekend, and got two of the best compliments a home baker can get:

  1. When I brought it in people asked  "You made that? I thought you had bought it!"
  2. It was devoured instantly. Everybody took seconds, and some people took thirds.

PDLarry's picture
PDLarry

One glorious loaf

Hokkaido Milk Toast, with Taro Paste stuffing...  Went in like this

Came out like this...

d_a_kelly's picture
d_a_kelly

Pandoro a sfoglia

This one isn't very seasonal at the moment, but I love eating it for breakfast. It's so buttery and soft that I really don't think it needs an accompaniment. The recipe is taken from "non solo zucchero vol.II" where it is called pandoro evolution, but it is very similar to the pandoro a sfoglia from Cresci. 

Main impasto - in grams

sweet starter (50% humidity) 45

dry active yeast 3

very strong flour 179

sugar 36

unsalted butter (soft but not melted) 27

egg 107

salt 3.5

half a vanilla pod 

melted butter flavour 0.3 (I've made this before without the flavouring and it tasted exactly the same - but it's in the recipe so I've included it here).

 

mix all the ingredients together and work it until it forms a smooth, elastic dough. It should be strong and windowpane, but still very slightly sticky. Wrap it in plastic and put it in the freezer. I left it in there for an about an hour, but the book actually recommends overnight at -10C. While this is firming up, I worked on the butter for lamination:

softened unsalted butter 147

icing sugar 39 

 

mix the two ingredients together thoroughly, then pat into a square, wrap, and put in the fridge to firm up. When both parts are at the right consistency, take 362 of the dough and laminate it as if you were making croissants - 3 simple turns in total, with at least half an hour between each turn. It ought to look something like this when you've finished:

 

the total weight is 550g.

The difficult bit is then forming this into a ball without breaking the laminations. The book gives absolutely no guidance here whatsoever! I usually fold the ends underneath and then roll it around until it looks more or less spherical. I doubt very much that this is the best method! The dough by this point is really quite resistant to being shaped. 

It looks so tiny in the tin - it's hard to believe that it can possibly fill it!

Leave it to prove at about 27C and at least 60% humidity for about 10 - 12 hours. I left mine for 10 hours. 

I think it could easily have grown even more than this, so next time I might put less dough in the pandoro tin. As it was, it was just about to start spilling over the edge. If my shaping of the ball had been better then I also think this might have helped.

Leave it in the open air for about 30 minutes in order to form a skin on the dough and then it goes in the oven for 30 minutes at 170C. Leave it in the tin for a few hours after cooking before turning out. Mine stuck a little bit - I should have used more flour and butter to grease the form. 

When it's ready to eat (after a few days), dust it in icing sugar and enjoy! 

I was very happy with the crumb on this one - really light and shreddy, with a wonderfully complex buttery taste. It just fell to pieces as I was cutting and eating it. 

 

David

varda's picture
varda

Boston TFL Meet Up Report - Link to Lexington Minuteman Article

Update:   A photographer and reporter from the local paper stopped by our meet-up.   Here is the link to the article.   In the print version we were the top front page story.  

On Saturday, we had our Boston Area TFL meet up.   Ten intrepid bakers plus family members broke bread together.   Lots of bread.   Lots of really amazing, delicious, and varied bread.    We all had a great time chatting, and each had a chance to describe their bread, show and tell, and so on.   Ian and I took a lot of pictures, so I'll let the pictures do the talking.   (Ian's are the wider ones.   I shrunk mine down.)

The scene

Kristen's Volkornbrot and Hotcross Buns,  Colin's scrumpy buns

Ian's guacamole loaf

Jong Yang's multi-seed sourdough

Mike's many breads

Barb's dinner rolls, Bill's bagels and baguettes

Varda's breads

Ian's corn feta

Barb's Jalapeno rolls

Kirsten's Volkornbrot

Kristijan's Levain

And not just bread:

Jong Yang's egg custard tarts

Mike's pastrami

Lisa's chocolate chip and raspberry bread

Kristijan's salt cod salad next to his Levain

And people too:

Bill, Ian, Kirsten

Vinni, Mike, Bob

Kristijan and Olga

Barb

Lisa

Me and bread

Jong Yang speaking

Kirsten

Colin, Bill, Kirsten

And stuff:

Jong Yang's homemade brotform next to Bob's Olive Rosemary Levain, Kristijan's Levain behind

Another Jong Yang wooden brotform

Jong Yang's homemade on top of stone steamers

Some of us brought starters to trade and smell

What else?   Probably more updates later and hopefully other attendees will chime in.

Pages