The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

And So It Begins...

alliezk's picture

And So It Begins...

Summary of This Months Breads - The Obsession Begins.
Composed in terrible quality cell phone pictures (I am currently without a camera!)

I found this website about a month ago, while home sick and craving whole wheat pitas. I loved the blog style recipes - I always want more pictures - and I was greatly encouraged by my success with the pitas. I have been baking my whole life, but I have never had much success with yeast. I just never seemed to be able to get the timing down correctly, and things kept coming out flat. Once I found this site, I became immediatly obsessed with the challenge of sourdough and the beautiful loafs that were strewn everywhere. (As an aside, I cook and bake compulsively, as stress relief, and the college application process is certainly a stressful time!) Almost every weekend this month, I have tried a new recipe from the site and have had increadibly satisfying results. I have learned so much about bread, and hopefully my luck will continue to hold out. In general I have trouble sticking straight to recipes, and I do alot of improvising when I bake and take copious notes about the results. Just goes to show how chemistry is the perfect major choice for me.

The breads:
My first sourdough! I used a whole wheat starter with SourdoLady's blog as a guide, although I used grapefruit juice innitially rather than pineapple. My sisters said they could almost taste the grapefruit in the bread - it had a strong sourdough taste. Even more than what I was expecting. The bread is made with Deluxe Sourdough Bread Recipe, also from SourdoLady.


A buttermilk cluster - A new favorite!
I used a little less four than called for, and added a bit of whole wheat and maybe a tablespoon extra of buttermilk.

Soft Pretzels
This was my first time boiling soft pretzels before baking them. Im not sure if it needs this step. The dough for this recipe (the one posted by Stephmo) was lovely to handle before baking in comparison to the soft pretzels recipe I have been using. Hopefully I will have a chance to make that recipe this week and perhaps share the recipe if all goes well.

Rustic Loaf
For this recipe I made two larger loaves, and left one loosely dusted with flour. The other I added carraway seed before the final shaped rise and used an egg yolk wash with more carraway seeds on top. My Mom loves this bread warm with applesauce and butter on the top. Notice the giant pulled off piece destroying my picture of the crumb! I was really happy with the results. I want to work on shaping and scoring. I loved the texture of the rye flour and want to bring out more grainy texture in the bread, but im not sure how this will effect the rise.

I am playing with a firm rye started and hope to make sourdough challah over my spring break this week. I am also on the look out for easter dinner and dessert recipes, as once again, I am responsible for the family holiday meal (a blessing and a curse to love to cook and bake!).

Happy Weekend Baking to All.


Paddyscake's picture

Keep those breads coming and be sure to share your experiences.


Janknitz's picture

I'm using bread baking as a stress reliever too.  Cheaper than many hobbies and very satisfying!  Your breads look awesome!

One of the comments on the Soft Pretzel post has a link to the video of the Alton Brown Good Eats episode where the recipe came from.  He shows exactly why you need to boil the pretzels in that video and has a very good discussion of the chemistry involved.  As a chemistry major you may enjoy it. 

(I love Alton Brown even if he's not always accurate about things--i.e. sourdough, but he's always amusing.  At the risk of dating myself, I grew up on Mr. Wizard and Alton Brown is like Mr. Wizard for food.  I love that show!)

I had a very clever chemistry teacher in high school, and our semester project was to explain the chemistry of a recipe--I wish I could have cribbed off Alton Brown back then.  We also had a lab that required various chemical compounds and "protien pellets".  Turns out we made peanut brittle.  And wouldn't bread baking make a great science unit for elementary or junior high science students?    So your new obsession is a nice, positive way to channel your interest in science. 


summerbaker's picture

OMG - I have GOT to try that buttermilk cluster!  Hopefully mine will come out as nice!