The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Summertime Blues

Franko's picture
Franko

Summertime Blues

Despite a late start we've had glorious summer weather this year here on Vancouver Island and the South Coast of British Columbia, with only a few cloudy days and no rain to speak of. Our garden has done extremely well as a result, producing Red Fife wheat, golden flax, quinoa, garlic, onions, potatoes, all kinds of herbs, raspberries and buckets of cherry tomatoes just to name a few. But by far our biggest crop is blueberries.

At the back of our yard we have two medium sized blueberry bushes that seem to produce more and more berries every year no matter how poor the growing season. That two average sized bushes can produce such a staggering amount of fruit so consistently just amazes my wife and I, challenging us to find ways to make use of them all before the cold weather sets in. I think we still have a bag or two of berries near the bottom of our freezer left over from last year's harvest. I'm not sure because now there are even more bags of berries from this year stacked on top of what's already in the freezer. If we don't use those up before next summer it may be a while before the ones below see the light of day.

Between the two of us we've made tarts,

 pies, jams, sauces, syrup and salsa, put them in salads, cereal, over ice cream, lemon sorbet and yogurt. I think Marie even blended some into her cassis that she makes every year from our black currant harvest, another one of our bumper crops. Naturally I've been planning to use them in a bread of some kind but have been holding off till the berries were at their peak of size and flavour. After checking them out this past weekend I decided it was time to get something going in that direction, deciding on a brioche loaf for this bake. The formula I used is from Advanced Bread & Pastry for “Brioche with Prefermented Dough”pg. 363 because of it's relatively lean butter content of 28%. Having made this dough before, I like that it's easy to handle and that it has enough butter in the formula to carry other flavours such as fruit or nuts without dominating the overall flavour of the finished product. The preferment helps to keep the doughs sweetness in balance, making this formula a good one to use for savoury applications as well. Blueberries being as delicate as they are, a very soft dough is my preference for incorporating them into the final dough with as little rupturing of the fruit as possible. Blue dough isn't particularly attractive or appetizing to me, so I try as best I can to be very gentle when mixing in the berries to keep smearing to a minimum. While it's no guarantee to avoiding the dreaded blue dough, if you're careful the crumb will have two distinct colours to it rather than a uniform and ghastly shade of blue.

An hour before I planned to mix, the blueberries went into the freezer to firm up, making them easier to incorporate into the dough once it was mixed without them breaking apart completely. This is a very easy brioche dough to make by hand because of the small amount of butter it calls for, but I use a mixer for brioche dough regardless simply because it's quicker to clean up afterwards. Once the dough was about 90% mixed it was finished off by hand and allowed to relax for a few minutes before gently stretching it out and laying the berries evenly over the surface, then gathering the dough and frozen berries up with a plastic scraper and slowly working them into the dough by hand until they were evenly distributed. With this mix I didn't follow the AB&P process exactly, deciding to bulk ferment at room temperature for 1 hour instead of putting it into the fridge directly after mixing. I also left it overnight for a retarded ferment of 12 hours rather than the recommended 30 minutes before shaping and final rise for scheduling reasons. The dough seemed quite healthy and I wasn't overly concerned about how it would preform after it's overnight stay in the fridge, in fact I feel that the flavour and crumb result is notably better than previous bakes I've done of this dough when I've followed the process. The 825 gram dough was divided in three, and very lightly rounded on a floured counter, placing the pieces in a 4.5x 9.5 inch Pullman tin for a final proof of 2.5 hours. The loaf came up the tin about 3/4 of the way before I decided it was ready, but could have/should have left it another 10-15 minutes longer due to a very minor break on one side. Brushed with egg wash and baked in a 385F oven for 25 minutes, then at 360F for 10 minutes and finally left to cool in a dead, open door oven for a further 15 minutes. The loaf jumped well and browned up nicely, just as a brioche should, filling the house with a wonderful aroma of eggs, butter, caramel, and cooked fruit.

 After 5 hours of cooling I took the first slice, finding the crumb to be soft and even, with a slightly open cell structure for a rich dough, and a pale yellow colour to set off the deep blue of the berries. The flavour was what I'd hoped for, just rich and sweet enough to compliment the delicate flavour of the blueberries but still with all the flavour qualities of a typical brioche.

 The bread goes well with roast chicken or turkey, the photo above showing it toasted on a plate with smoked turkey breast, Port Salut cheese, sliced pear and a green salad. Before it's all gone though I'll have to try it as French Toast with some recently made sage and ginger breakfast sausage and a drizzle of blueberry syrup. 

I thought I might as well include a few photos of some San Fransisco Sourdoughs made back in August that used fresh milled Red Fife flour from Cliff Leir's Fol Epi Bakery in Victoria. The loaves didn't quite achieve the profile I'd hoped for but the exceptional flavour of the Fol Epi flour more than made up for that. I found the flour to be quite a bit softer than other Red Fife flours I've used in the past, requiring less hydration than the formula from “Advanced Bread & Pastry” called for. Perhaps a fourth set of stretch and folds would have helped for a higher profile but for a first time using this high quality flour I was quite happy with the loaves it produced. A stop at Cliff's bakery for more of his lovely flour will be at the top of my shopping list next time we're down in Victoria.

Cheers,

Franko

Comments

isand66's picture
isand66

Beautiful photos Franko!  I am jealous of your bumper crop this year as my vegetable garden was a big dissapointment this season.

That brioche with the blueberries looks perfect and the French Toast must have been delicious.

Nice looking SF Sourdough baking as well.

Thanks for sharing your part of paradise with all of us.

Regards,
Ian

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Ian and thank you!

Yes we were fortunate with all our crops this year except for the grapes due to cool wet Spring. This will be the first year since we've been growing them that there won't be enough to get even a small bottling of wine from. Fortunately I still have about 3 cases of the 2011 vintage to tide me over till next Spring. We're really getting an extended Summer this year and I'm loving it. I seem to recall by this time last year we'd already had the first of many storms roll through, so every day of sunshine is precious knowing that the wet stuff can come anytime now.

Thanks again Ian, all the best.

Franko

isand66's picture
isand66

Grapes!  They are the bane of my existence :).  I have about 4 vines I planted over the last 15 years and I have had about 3 grapes total!  It seems the birds love my flowers including the grape vine flowers so they kill any chance I have of getting any grapes.  I was ready to rip them out until last year when I covered the vines with a net and alas I had a few grapes.  Not enought to make a glass of grape juice mind you, but enough to make me at least keep my sanity.  This year not a one!

You must have a nice number of vines to actually bottle some wine.

Regards,
Ian

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Ian, 

We actually have 2 good size vines that in a normal season yield at least 30lbs of fruit. I take that to the U Brew in town and have them juiced then add some commercial juice to that, usually a Riesling. This gives me roughly 36 bottles at around $3-3.50 per bottle total cost for a medium $ range wine. The wine is closest to a Dry Riesling and eminently drinkable.  

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

And a nice write-up! I don't know which is my favorite. They all look wonderful.

 

David

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks David!

Finding the time to bake at home isn't usually difficult for me but finding the time and the words to write it up quite often is. Your compliments on the write-up are greatly appreciated. Hopefully one day I'll manage to strike the balance between the two that you have...even when you were still on the job.

Franko

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Franko,

Great post, and some terrific products to showcase too!   A lovely read.

The global aspect of TFL is one I really treasure, and it is so heartening to read that the weather has been kind to some food producers over the last few months.   The drought in the US and another poor harvest in Russia leaves wheat stocks for next year looking dangerously over-stretched...AGAIN; we all need to know this and understand the implications too!   And, the UK summer has been a disaster too; our harvest is barely halfway through, we have had so much rain.   The wheat crop is very poor.   So I am heartened to read of your own bumper crops, and hope commercial growers in your area have benefitted just as well.

Your Brioche is just wonderful.   There are some fantastic tips how to incorporate the delicate Blueberry into the dough; required reading for any baker, thank you for posting these in such detail.

And interesting to read about more work with Red Fife, but, from a different supplier.   I'd like to see farmers experiment with Red Fife in the UK.   Whilst I know it was originally taken from Eastern Europe, the gentleman who brought it to Canada hailed from Scotland.   I would like to think it could be grown in our northernmost parts too?

Loving that Brioche!

Best wishes to you

Andy

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Andy, 

After checking the Cdn. Grain Commission and StatsCan the final tally is a few weeks off , however StatsCan does report that; "Stocks of principal field crops at July 31, 2012

As of July 31, 2012, total stocks of wheat, barley and canola were down from the same date in 2011, while total stocks of oats had increased."

I can't say for sure but I think the farmer's here on the Island have done fairly well given the abundance of high quality produce available at the Farmer's markets. So far wheat and rye crops on Vancouver Island make up a very small percentage of the overall harvest but hopefully we'll see some progress in that direction in the years to come with the increased interest from consumers for eating and supporting locally grown foods .

Smearing or colouring of baked goods has always been a pet peeve of mine and can't count the number of times I've had a fruit scone or a muffin somewhere where this has been the case. When Marie and I stayed in Victoria recently part of our package was a continental breakfast delivered to our room. All the baked goods were made fresh each morning in the on-site bakery and very good... until I broke open the lovely looking blueberry muffin. It tasted fine, but the blue/grey crumb it had was off-putting and a disappointment given the high quality of the other items in the basket. To make this particular loaf on a commercial basis would be a challenge, but made in small enough batches to maintain quality I'm sure it could be done. Whether you could fetch the price and customer interest to make it worthwhile is another question altogether.  

Red Fife flour has become more available over the last year or so, or maybe I'm more aware it now that I've had the opportunity to work with it, I'm not sure. When the time comes that I'll be milling my own flour, RF grain is what I'll be using primarily for wheat inclusive breads.

Thanks as always for your generous comments Andy, and all the best to you as well.

Franko

 

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

What a wonderful garden you have and I'm drooling over it's bounty!  I especially love the brioche, toasted and plated so beautifully.  Everything is just amazing looking..what a feast for the my eyes. 

Be sure and eat all those blueberries..wish I had some to pick...so healthy for you.

Sylvia

Franko's picture
Franko

 Hi Sylvia,

The garden is all due to the hard work Marie puts into it. I just deal with the lawn and a little bit of grape vine pruning for my part. Blessed with a black thumb, I leave the actual cultivation to Marie and regard myself as a farm hand, and I woudn't have it any other way.

Thanks so much for the compliments Sylvia, your own food stylings are a constant source of inspiration to me.

Best Wishes,

Franko 

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Franko,

Beautiful loaves.  The blueberry loaf caught my eye right off because I just made a dough using fresh blueberries too but mine weren't grown in my garden so they weren't really 'fresh'.

Anyway, the loaf went to a couple of friends who really liked it and I found the recipe on MC's blog 'Farine' HERE.  (It is the second bread on the page.)

My loaves were more dense than yours due to the spelt flour and the applesauce.  They had a fruit cake feel to them - heavy but not like a brick....The spelt didn't hold up well during the overnight bulk ferment I put it through which added to the dense crumb but what I have heard back is that it was very tasty.  (I doubled the amount of blueberries called for too....)

Anyway,  figured you might like to take a look at her bread so that you have another option for which to use all of your crop that remains.....If you lived closer I would gladly take some of the excess off of your hands :-)

Thanks for the post and all your wonderful food photos.  Very tasty looking indeed.  

Take Care,

Janet

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Janet,

Thanks for reminding me of MC's Blueberry and Spelt loaf and including the link. I did see it when it was first posted but just a quick glance. Now that I've given it a full read through and looked at the photos in more detail it's clear that this is a very skillfully made loaf. The crumb has an amazing cell structure to it, that and the fact there is so little dough discolouration from the berries after multiple sessions of folding is remarkable. As for the berries, if you lived closer you could come over anytime and help yourself to as many as you like.

Great to hear from you Janet and thank you for your kind compliments!

Franko

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Lovely lovely.  Yes, the blueberries this year up here have been abundant and amazing.

-Floyd

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks Floyd!

Have you found a good blackberry patch yet? We used to walk along the train tracks that run beside Arbutus St between 16th Ave and 25th and pick our limit in no time, but I haven't done more than pass through Vancouver in almost 20 years so  they may have been cleared away by now. Still, you shouldn't have any problem finding some close by. They make fabulous pies!

Franko

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Send some my way, Franko. Bluberries, currants, raspberries in abundance,I love berries! they are outrageously pricey in Dubai, if available.

Very nice write-up, Franko. The breads are a treat, especially the Brioche. Never baked a brioche before, and you are tempting me to try it. Lovely crumb to it, and a beautiful color to the blueberries. I love the picture of your plate.. such a delightful collection of treats!

 

Franko's picture
Franko

Khalid I'd love to send some berries to you in Dubai, but the freight would be outrageous! ;^)

 We did some grocery shopping today and the price of blueberries was $4+ Cdn/15.0243 AED  for what looked to be about 300+ grams so they're not  inexpensive here either. B.C. being the #3 blueberry producer in the world you'd think the price would be a little better. I know you like whole grains so you might enjoy Peter Reinhart's whole grain brioche  from WGB pg 214 if you decide to make brioche some day. Many thanks for your compliments on the post and the breads.

All the best to you Khalid,

Franko

Mebake's picture
Mebake

I was being humorous, Franko! never actually meant for any shipment :). Seriously, though, they are available, and plentiful at times in some exotic outlets, but the price tag on a handful makes them extra exotic in my books. :)

As to the wholegrain version of the brioche... umm, i don't know, doesn't sound quite right, does it? oh well, i'll have to try it! Thanks for the heads up :)

 

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Khalid, 

I knew you were kidding my friend but I should have put one of these ;^) in there to let you know I was kidding as well.

I agree, a whole grain brioche wouldn't be my first choice but who knows, it might be worth a try. Let us know if you make it, I'd like to hear your impressions of it.

Franko

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

I loved reading about your late-summer bounty, it sounds idyllic.  Gorgeous brioche, I love how perfectly you balanced the flavors of butter and starter in your formula to go with the blueberries- such care and thoughtfulness.

No complaints from me on the profile of your sourdough, looks just about right :)

Franko's picture
Franko

Thanks Julie!

I remember SF Sour being really high and round so that's what I was going for with those loaves. I did manage to get a very tangy SF Sour like flavour though and I was happy with that. Glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for your compliments on the brioche and sourdough.

All the best,

Franko

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Wow, Franko, that's quite a feast :^)
So good to hear how well your garden is doing (growing grains, too - wonderful!).
Your wife might have the 'green' thumb but you certainly have the 'bread' thumb.
The blueberry brioche looks spectacular and thanks for your notes on careful mixing for those perfect berries.
How rewarding to have grown perfect produce in your own backyard, harvest it at its peak, and then create a bread
that beautiful with it!
Love the SD loaves too, gorgeous result with Cliff's flour!
:^) breadsong

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi breadsong,

Just as a lark Marie picked up some RF at the local seed fair this Spring. Lo and behold we have wheat! It been hanging inside drying for a week or so now waiting for me to get around to cleaning and picking it. I'll use it in a soaker as Jarko did with his own home grown grain [here] . Thanks so much for all your great compliments on the post and breads, and I'll be sure to pass your compliments on the garden on to Marie.

Best wishes,

Franko

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

delicious.  Was always amazed at how raspberries, blueberries and blackberries grew wild all over Portland OR and points north.  We used to fish every year at Hatchet Lake, 7 miles south of the  Arctic Circle  in Saskatchewan here    http://www.hatchetlake.com/  and were always jostling with the brown bears for a place to fry up fish for lunch. They would follow us from shore as we fished knowing we would give them out lunch scraps.   Huge piles of blue / purple grizzly scat were everywhere.  I asked the Cree Indian guide  why they were such a strange color and he said blueberries.  I told him I hadn't seen any bushes   He said they were all around me for miles and miles in every direction.  It snowed on us every year too.  The blueberries didn't seem t mind though.  Some day I am going to go to Bevery Lake in Nunavut, for a more primitive fishing experience where 80 pound lake trout are common instead of the 40 pounders we used to catch at hatchet. 

Sure enough they were what I thought was a 4- 6" high ground cover that covered then entire ground everywhere.  Each tiny bush was as big as it would ever get and had about half a dozen small blueberries.  The best tasting ones ever! 

Your bread as always is just grand and your lunch plate, though sparse for Brownman standards, looks delicious too :-) 

Nice baking Franko - we love your posts!

 

Franko's picture
Franko

Many thanks to you and your assistant dabrownman, happy you two like the post/s! The bears here on the Island seem to like salmon berries if the evidence I've seen is any indication. Don't know if you're familiar with them but they look a bit like a raspberry but orange coloured or pinkish orange...like a salmon...maybe. I can see why the bears like them, they're delicious. That lunch plate was actually my dinner plate. I know, sad isn't it, but I just can't pack it away like I used to when I was younger. Thanks again dabrowman.

Franko 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

My dinner plates are like yours and half the size of lunch plates and breakfast is sparce too to make room for lunch  Shouldn't eat a lot late at night anyway to save room for drinking if nothing else:-)  BC must be  the place for all colors of berries, even salmon ones !!!.....and the place for fish if memory suits reality. Great fish.

I've planted grapes here in AZ  twice.  Both times they turned to virtual dust in June's 110 F heat, just in time to blow away in the July's Monsoon.  Pitiful !  But the citrus is OK.   Haven't made wine in years since leaving Paso Robles .  Make beer now and again though. 

Bake on  

mwilson's picture
mwilson

A wonderful array of eye catching items there Franko!

Very pretty tart.

Brioche is for lack of a better word, Perfect! -good tip for incorporating the blueberries.

It's great that you can reap the the rewards of what you've sown.

Beautiful post!

Michael

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Michael,

Very kind of you indeed, many thanks!

I have to say that Fall is by far my favourite time of year for the very reason you mention. The variety of super fresh, locally grown foods available right now is excellent. Hope the same is true for you.

All the best,

Franko