The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Christmas baking and blisters

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davidg618's picture

Christmas baking and blisters

In the past three days we've been baking: a first try at Vollkornbrot, three loaves of sourdough, and 38 dozens of cookies including Welsh Cakes, Date-Nut Pinwheels, Tart Cherry and Pecan Biscotti, and Tangerine Spritz. Except for the spritz, I creamed all the butter and sugar by hand, before adding the rest of the liquid ingredients. Result: wielding the wooden spoon I got a blister on my little finger! Geez! do I have to wear work gloves to mix dough too?

These are left for us, and the neighhood cookie exchange. Seven packages left home yesterday posted to family.

The vollkornbrot

This is Hamelman's formula in Bread. I don't have a local nor online source for rye chops, so I ran rye berries through my homebrewing grain mill that cracks the seed coating on whole barley grains. I think the result was essentially the same as commercial rye chops. I'm happy with the flavor, and density but not elated. I tested it after resting it for forty-eight hours. I'm going to let it rest for three or four more days before I freeze it to see if the flavor develops further. The tea towel was a gift from an English friend of mine, and was the only tea towel I own big enough to wrap a Pullman loaf.

I didn't photograph the sourdough loaves, because one was immediately eaten, one immediately given away, and the third one immediately frozen. They looked like all my other posted sourdough boules'. However internally they're a bit different. I've named these Halcyon Acres Sourdough, after our modest five acres of horse pastures we call home. I concocted the formula, and my wife likes it more than any other sourdoughs I've baked to date.

I recently started feeding my sourdough starters with first clear flour, instead of bread flour. Additionally, when I want to increase dough sourness, I feed a small portion of starter for three days at room temperature, 72°F to 76°F, every eight to twelve hours. (I discard much of it each feeding--1:1:1 ratio--so thing don't get out of hand.) I'm indebted to Debra Wink for debunking the folklore that lactobacteria reproduce better in stiff cultures, at low temperature. The myth flew in the face of my understanding of physics and thermodynamics, but I'm not a microbiologist, so I wasn't entirely certain the myth was nonsense. I've started feeding with first clear flour because of its relatively high ash producing content, which provides necessary minerals and trace nutrients to the bacteria.

Here's the fromula for three 1.5 lb loaves of Halcyon Acres Sourdough

Ripe Sourdough Starter     450g

Starter Hydration              125%

Whole Rye Flour                225g

All Purpose Flour               450g

Bread Flour                       450g

Water                               650g

Salt                                  27g (2%)

Final Dough Weight           2252g

Hydration                         68%

I built my formula-ready starter using a culture previously rejuvanated with first clear flour, at room temperature, for 72 hours. The culture had subsequently been refrigerated for two weeks. I use a 24 hour, three build, method to create the needed formula-ready ripe starter. My three build method is described elsewhere in this blog, in detail. I used first clear flour for each build for this starter.

Procedures: Hand mixed flour, water, and starter to shaggy consistency; 30 minute autolyse; added salt; hand mixed to smooth, homogeneous consistency. Bulk proofed for 3 hours with 3 stretch-and-fold at 45 minute intervals; turned out; divided into three equal portions; preshaped boules; rested 10 minutes;final shaped. Final proof 1-1/2 hours in bannetons; scored loaves. Pre-steamed oven (I use water-soaked towel on a baking sheet) five minutes before loading. Baking: Initial oven temperature 480°F; reduced oven temperature to 450°F at loading. Removed steam source after 15 minutes; finished baking (approximately 10 minutes.)

Happy Holiday baking; watch out for blisters ;-)

David G


SylviaH's picture

You've been busy and everything looks delicious!


althetrainer's picture

Wow, that's a lot of work and they all looked so good!  Great job!  Al

ques2008's picture

looks like you're all set for santa's visit!  nice looking goodies.

Marni's picture

Wow - that looks like a lot of work!  Enjoy them, they look delicious!


raidar's picture

38 dozens of cookies - WOW! Looks amazing. What are the cookies on the right (like pancakes)

davidg618's picture

aka Welsh cookies in USA. Here's a link to the recipe, and its heritage.

Welsh Cakes a la Grandma (aka Welsh cookies): a recipe: Updated with pics.

David G


raidar's picture

Cheers. Thanks, I like the name Welsh Cakes (maybe I'll keep it that way for Canada). Looking forward to cooking these up.

smasty's picture

That's a great looking loaf!  Is it as long as it looks? 

davidg618's picture

in a standard Pullman loaf pan: 4 x 4 x 13, without the lid. Yep, that's pretty long!

David G