The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Greetings from Canada

  • Pin It
Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

Greetings from Canada

Hello all!


I've been meaning to introduce myself for some time, but it just occurred to me that it would be useful for Canadians to have a forum area for sharing resources. 


Because of shipping costs, many of the products Americans on the forum discuss aren't available to those north of the border.  Baking stones, for example, cost a fortune to ship.  Even a lame will cost $32 to ship via UPS.  This week I ordered a baking stone from The Shopping Channel because the rectangular stone they carry is longer than any I've found in the local stores.  I don't expect it will be very thick, but I'm not concerned about that because at least the weight will be manageable.  I just wish they'd get around to shipping it because I'm holding off on my next batch of bread sticks. . . .


I learned to bake at my mother's knee, as they say.  :)  Coming home from school on a frosty afternoon, walking into the kitchen greeted by the fragrance of freshly baked bread made a treasured childhood memory.  It's encouraging to learn on this forum that there are still children experiencing home-made bread even today, when the majority of kids are growing up in MacDonalds.


I grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, moved to Toronto as an adult, but have been living in the Kitchener-Waterloo area for some time now.


The Fresh Loaf is a valuable resource and I love the bread photos!


Marion

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

www.robinhood.ca for a Forum, or goldaskitchen.com for shopping.

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

I hope you have good luck with your baking stone.  Even if it turns out to be fairly thin you will still get plenty of benefit from it, compared to a bare rack and pan.  When you can, bake directly on it and you will really appreciate it.


Yes, there are still kids growing up amid the aromas of home baking.  My wife and I, between us, baked nearly every slice of bread our children ate while growing up.  They are adults, out on their own now, and they both bake their own bread from time to time.  Young people with full and busy lives are they, so they buy bread too, but they appreciate the goodness of home baked nonetheless, and bake it for themselves when they can.


Welcome, again, and happy baking.  Share some of your own photos with us when you can.


OldWoodenSpoon

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

Thanks for the warm welcome, and the links!


I am using a round pizza stone currently, but I find it awkward for breadsticks and baguettes and thought the longer rectangle (18" x 15") would work on the upper rack, with the round stone--which is fine for my pizza crusts--on a lower rack.  I'd have to place my roaster on the floor of the oven for steam, but it just fits inside the element.  I hope to reduce the amount of time my oven is on @ 500 F.


Does a thicker stone produce a much better crust?  I'd imagine it would take longer to heat but would stay hot longer as well.


One thing I haven't found locally is a lame, so I've been using a jackknife.  It seems to have a very hard blade.



 


I had to go over the cuts on these batards a number of times.


 

OldWoodenSpoon's picture
OldWoodenSpoon

I use unglazed quarry tiles on both my racks, and put the round pizza stone in on the bottom rack when I need it.  I put it right on the tiles and preheat the whole thing.  I think you will get better results if you do the same.  The extra mass of the thicker, rectangular stone will hold more heat and give you better oven spring.  It also helps bring the oven back up to temp after you open the door.  You might want to store your pizza stone on the top rack so you have an additional heat reservoir for your top crust.  The more stable you can keep your oven temp, the better a bake you will get for both crust and crumb.


On the bottom of my oven I use an old "tin" bread pan.  I have several and don't need them all for bread, so one is dedicated to steam generation.  You are accomplishing the same thing with your roaster, but it might be a bit large for the job.  If it works, though, stick with it.


I started with a dull knife and have worked my way up through XActo knives, carton knives, a mail-order lame (from King Arthur) and now have my final lame.  It is a simple handle and old-fashioned double-edged razor like for the old style Gillette shaver.  It is sharper than anything else I've ever tried, and works better for me.  I no longer have to make multiple strokes to finish a slash.  Once with this does it.    Many here on TFL also have good success with a "tomato knife", which is also very sharp.


It looks like you are doing great already!  Those are beautiful loaves, and the crumb looks superb.  I can feel the soft, tender chew, and the crust is are a lovely color.  Happy Baking!


OldWoodenSpoon

H20loo's picture
H20loo

Hi Gourmand- I also have to work a little harder to find baking needs. One benefit we do have is the small mennonite stores north of St Jacobs like Floradale, Lynwood etc.

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

Thanks for your suggestions, OldWoodenSpoon! 


The roaster is shallow so half a cup of water spreads out a fair bit, then every minute or so I spritz the walls with a spray bottle of filtered water.


I've been adding a tablespoon of potato flour which seems to make the crumb very soft.  When I removed those loaves above from the oven, they sizzled!


I have tried a tomato knife, steak knife, boning knife, Xacto--everything but a razor blade. So far, the jackknife works best if I use the very tip of it.  I'll keep looking for razor blades in the drug stores, though.


@ H20loo:  I haven't tried the Mennonite stores.  Would they sell hard-to-find gear and flour?  I drive up to St. Jacobs to buy birdfeed peanuts, but I haven't tried farther afield.


I have found good semolina flour at Food Basics--they carry Cedar brand.  I use it for my preferment, and combined with ap Five Roses, seems to have enough protein for bread.

Gourmand2go's picture
Gourmand2go

Thanks, OldWoodenSpoon, for your suggestion.  I placed the round pizza stone on the top rack and found that it's also great for roasting bell peppers--less turning required!