The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Spring changes

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Spring changes

I have baked and baked. Through a long winter I baked. Early mornings in my cold dark kitchen I baked. Every weekend I baked. For my friends I baked. For my family I baked … it was the same bread that I baked.

The fresh smell of spring surrounds us and the star jasmine hanging on our back fence is about to flower and flood our senses further. On our small porch a tomato plant has been busily producing a steady supply of tasty treats. Bruschetta nights have never tasted better. Bushfires colour the air.

With the coming of spring has also come change—unplanned change and unpleasant change—change I must learn to embrace. Our graphic design studio within a government agency has been affected by workplace change and my work colleagues and I have become surplus to requirements. This uncertainty has been ongoing for the past few months and it now seems we finally have some resolution and closure—just in time for the fresh beginnings of spring.

Baking has been a constant throughout this stressful process. Every weekend I would mix large batches of ‘Pain au Levain’ using Gerard Rubaud’s method to share with friends and family. I might perhaps adjust the amount of the freshly milled wholegrain flours in the levain or final dough but I never strayed from the path of consistency.

But consistency requires change. Spring means temperatures have risen (good grief, it is 31°C today). My levain expands quicker and the doughs proof faster—I have to change to adapt.

Spring Levain (4 x 900g batards)

Formula

Overview

Weight

%

Total dough weight

3600g

 

Total flour

2057g

100%

Total water

1543g

75%

Total salt

41g

2%

Pre-fermented flour

205g

10%

 

 

 

Levain – 5-6hrs 25°C

 

 

Previous levain build

77g

50%

Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% Organic plain flour, 18% fresh milled sifted wheat, 9% fresh milled sifted spelt and 3% fresh milled sifted rye)

156g

100%

Water

90g

58%

Salt

1g

1%

 

 

 

Final dough. DDT=25°C

 

 

Levain

323g

17%

Laucke Wallaby bakers flour

1575g

85%

Freshly milled spelt flour

277g

15%

Water

1425g

77%

Salt

40

2%

 

Method

  1. Mix levain and leave to ferment for 5-6 hours at 25°C
  2. Mill spelt flour and combine with bakers flour.  Mix with water holding back 100 grams of water.
  3. Autolyse for 5-6 hours.
  4. Add levain to autolyse then knead (french fold) for three mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 100 grams of water. Squeeze the salt and water through the dough to incorporate (the dough will separate then come back together smoothly). Remove from the bowl and knead a further three mins.
  5. Bulk ferment for four hours untouched—no stretch-and-folds!
  6. Divide. Preshape. Bench rest 30 mins. Shape into batards and proof in bannetons seam side up.
  7. Final proof was for 1.5 hours at 24°C before being placed in the fridge for 12hrs.
  8. Bring dough to room temperature for an hour while oven is preheating. Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 10 mins with steam then reduce temperature to 200°C for a further 30 mins.

It makes beautifully simple bread. Unfussy but elegant with a crust that shatters and sings—a silken crumb within.

So I continue to bake—and soon, who knows, maybe I will be baking even more that I could ever imagine :)

This post is dedicated to my amazing Miss Nat who watched over me and carried me through …  thank you XX
Phil

Comments

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hi Phil,
Oh, your bread is so beautiful, so much so it almost defies description.
So glad to see your post but sorry for the stressful situation you've been going through.
I wish you the very best, and hope everything works out -  maybe this is a sign that baking, or photography, or both, could be your full-time career path?
:^) breadsong

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks breadsong,

We have been struggling with the unknown for so many months now ... it was exhausting ... but a decision has finally been made and now we can start to move on.

I am learning to relax and believe that everything will work out.

Cheers,
Phil

Mebake's picture
Mebake

The breads look amazingly Perfect, Phil! Crust, Crumb, scoring, ... everything. I agree with Breadsong. Your baking talent ,style and photography are a treat to behold. You've perfected the essence of bread baking with this bread: Fermentation.

I'm sorry for your work trouble, it must have been a long stressful winter for you. How generous of you to bake regularly, donate bread, and cheer up people, all the while you endure some stressful times at work.. Tells alot about your personality.

I hope things turn out for the best, and if not.. then stand reassured that your talent, creativity, craftmanship, and generosity of heart will lead you to a better future.

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Khalid,

You're right ... this bread is all about the fermentation ... very minimal work, but lots of attention to the details.

It has been a winter to forget really :) ... onwards.

Cheers,
Phil

Syd's picture
Syd

Beautiful looking bread Phil.  I wish you all the best for the time ahead/decisions that you have to make, etc.  Hope that it won't be too stressful and that ultimately it will have been for the best.  

Sincerely,

Syd

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Syd,

I have a feeling that we are the lucky ones :)

Cheers,
Phil

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Phil,

From one who has recently been through what you are now going through:

You are doing all the right things!

And your bread is as wonderful as ever too

Best wishes

Andy

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks so much Andy,

It has been a real shakeup ... but I will make the most of this opportunity.

Cheers,
Phil

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Those are unwelcome and uncomfortable things to deal with, indeed.  I very much hope that you will find the next thing, whatever that may be, sooner rather than later.

But your breads, man, those are things of beauty!  It is evident that you are reaping the rewards of doing one thing until mastery is achieved.  And I'm heartened that you hear your bread telling you that change is inevitable, even if only to stay the same.  That's a good thing to know.  It is wisdom to put that knowledge to work for you.

All the best,

Paul

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Paul,

I think I have learnt a lot from my bread ... it is so much wiser than me :)

Cheers,
Phil

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Amazing, soulful post, Phil.  Great looking loaves too.  Best of luck to you in this time of transition.

Would you mind if I featured this on the home page for a bit? If you'd prefer not because of the personal nature of it, I totally understand.

-Floyd

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Floyd,

Sure, it is a bit personal, but I have been happy to post and share it so I would be honoured for it to be on the home page ... thanks.

Cheers,
Phil

wassisname's picture
wassisname

The crumb on these loaves is jaw-dropping, truly masterful, Phil.  Your posts are always an inspiration (and a good kick in the metaphorical pants) when I start to get a little complacent in my baking, so thank you for that.  I hope that your changes will turn out to be good one's in the end.

All the best,

Marcus

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Marcus,

Hard to explain, but I have a gut feeling that this has been for the best ... I couldn't see that a few months or even a few weeks ago.

Ignore those metaphorical kicks ... you bake outstanding breads :)

Cheers,
Phil

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

one of the very best breads and posts we have ever seen on TFL.   Nicely done as always.  Wish things were better for you work wise and professionally but things will work out for you and yours.  My apprentice and I are sure of it.

Cheers Phil!

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thank you dabrownman,

That's quite a compliment ... thanks for your kind words ;)

Cheers,
Phil

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... are the cornerstones of life. Not comfortable, not easy. But ironically, vital to the continuance of life.

But you have found such a delightful way of dealing with the difficulties and stress of change and the inevitable uncertainty of the future, that I'm absolutely confident you'll find your feet in whatever lies around the corner.

Such beautiful bread, such beautiful photography too ... manna for body and mind alike!

Good luck (you won't need it, I know!) and thank you for such skilful and lovely inspiration.

All at Sea

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks All at Sea,

It's funny, I keep telling myself that life is change and impermanence ... one thing to say it ... another to live it and embrace it :)

I am learning ...

Thank you for your lovely words.

Cheers,
Phil

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Hi Phil,

Stunning breads and photos.  As others have stated your talents have not been touched by your current life situation.  I can't help but believe that the 'therapuetic' nature of baking bread is as old as the craft is itself.  It does indeed ground one in a way that nothing else can - at least for me it has had that effect.

I am sorry you had to go through what you did but, as others have said, I know all will work out as the one thing in life that is certain, besides death, is that 'this too shall pass away'.  I liken changes in life to doors and rooms.  Always a new door to go through and what lies beyond is unknown.  Some rooms are just more uncomfortable than others.....

One of my favorite sayings is one that Winston Churchill was supposed to have said which goes something like this: 'Life is one damn thing after the next.'  I take that to mean that as long as we are alive there will always be some life situation to deal with.....

A bread observation....I see you varied your proofing time by using the refrigerator....Not something I am used to seeing you do.  I am surprised that your loaves didn't overproof in that time due to your whole grains but I did note that your pre fermented flour is only 10% compared to your usual 15% or higher....Did you have blow-ups in the refrigerator until you got the timing down?  (I always keep my dough in bulk form when retarding in the refrig......fear of huge air pockets beneath the crust due to active dough and I hate it when something like that happens and I end up with no loaf after all the work and time that went into it....).

Anyway, glad to see you back and sorry to hear about your latest challenge and the stress that it has brought into your life.

Take Care,

Janet

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Janet,

... in five years time I will look back on these days and laugh ... keep telling myself that too :)

re: The Bread observation.

All through winter I have had the luxury of letting the bread proof on our porch overnight with temps around the 7-13C (45-55F) ... and I have really enjoyed this schedule. I don't like proofing in the fridge as much ... and it is not from a fear of over-proofing ... usually the opposite, and I have to experiment to find the right amount of room temperature proofing before it enters the fridge. As summer approaches I will be relying on the fridge even further. I have never really retarded dough in bulk ... I am too much of a control freak during this stage of development :)

cheers,
Phil

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Heeeheeeheee - Control freak here too  :-)  Just in the other direction.

 If it goes too far in the refrig. in bulk I simply deflate in the morning and let it warm up then I can watch it like a hawk as it rises during the proof.  The refrig. bulk part lets me get some sleep and allows the dough to do it's thing on it's own....I do watch it in the beginning stages of refrig, and S&F several times if it looks like it is growing too fast.  

The other thing I like about over night bulk is that the handling qualities of the dough totally change overnight. A great example of this is your Fig Anise loaf.  Sticky in the evening - smooth and elastic in the morning. A delightful dough to handle and shape.

Janet

 

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Phil,

What a pleasure to see one of your posts again! I'm sure I'm not alone in saying you have been missed by your friends and admirers here on the site. Very sorry to hear about your employment situation, having been there myself when I was around your age and knowing too well some of the stresses it can inflict on a person. Fortunately you are blessed with a wealth of talent, not the least of which is baking. I've little doubt you will convert this setback into an opportunity that will bring greater rewards to you and your family for many, many years to come.

The loaves, formula and process you've shared here are as you say, "beautifully simple". The results however are a testament to the concept of less is more. Using only flour, water and salt, along with your skillful handling, your loaves are much more than the sum of their parts, and what I regard as true craft breads. Fine baking as always Phil.

Wishing you the very best, 

Franko

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Franko,

Thank you for your kind message ... means a lot to me.

It has been a long winded process and is still dragging on ... enough time to hopefully get my ducks lined in a row :)

All the best,
Phil

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Phil.

Your breads are simply gorgous. Your photos are wonderful.

I'm recently retired, but in my 37 years of working (after 14 years of education post-high school) I've had at least 3 crises in which my principal employment was lost. Each instance was a challenge, and I was discouraged for a bit by each. But I always seemed to end up in a better place than the job I had lost. 

You are a multi-talented guy, and I'm betting on your moving on to bigger and better things.

Meanwhile, Happy Baking!

David

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks for the encouraging words David :)

Here's to bigger and better things :)

Cheers,
Phil

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

Hi Phil,

Beautiful bread in all aspects.

Change is the Universe's way of reminding you who is really in charge. Change is inevitable and always wins.  Look ahead, never behind. Take with you knowledge and learning, composed on the verge of change and adapt. 

There's an old adage that's  apropos, "Want to make God Laugh?" - "Just tell him your plans"...,

Keep us posted and whatever happens, keep posting those beautiful images and tell us about your adventures in bread.

Bien Cordialement, Wild-Yeast 

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Wild-Yeast,

Indeed ... it is good for the soul :)

My 'plans' and 'change' are becoming very well acquainted :)

Cheers,
Phil

mwilson's picture
mwilson

Beautiful photos, beautiful bread.

Beautiful crumb, beautiful post.

Thanks for sharing with us Phil.

Best wishes,
Michael

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Michael,

Thanks so much ...

Cheers,
Phil

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Phil

Your pics are absolutely fantastic and your bread is just perfect, practice does make perfect and you are there!

Sorry to hear about your current employment, Campbell Newman has a lot to answer for, and a bit of a wake up call for Aussie voters.

I have had three changes of vocation in my life, after doing my apprenticeship as a baker and working as a tradesman and the dough maker at a local bakery we were taken over by a multinational and then offered work the otherside of town after closing the local bakery.

I then chose to take up bus driving as a government employee at the local depot, I managed to do that job well for 21 years until someone with similar views to your Mr Campbell decided to outsource the labour side and several overseas multinationals came in and offered me my job working for them for less money!

I along with 400 of my colleagues most with similar years of experience opted for redeployment within government,that was 8,000 man years of experience lost on one weekend replaced by NEW bus drivers.

I currently find myself close to retirement age and for the last 10 years as a supply and contracts officer at a further education facility, where i can also get to do a bit of bread baking. So as one door closes another opens my friend.  Some one said you will often have 3 careers in a lifetime and with these uncertain times i believe that could well be true.  

Keep your chin up and doing the wonderfull job that you are doing with the bread the write ups and the photos. you may need to move over here to the West.

kindest regards Yozza

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Yozza,

The moral at work and across the public service in general has been dismal to say the least ... all encompassing and pervading in every aspect of ones life. I won't go into it too much ... lets just say it will be a relief to move on.

Thank you for the support ... lets just see how Queensland goes ... maybe WA might be worth a visit :)

Cheers,
Phil

Toad.de.b's picture
Toad.de.b

Wonderful to see one of your consistently fetching posts again. Standard-setting as always.  Regarding your troubles, it seems to me that anyone with skills manifest so gloriously in your TFL posts should have no problem making a very good living. Your TFL blog amounts to one killer portfolio if you ask me. Best of luck with work. 

Regarding those exquisite batards... 5-6 hour autolyse?  That a winter thing?  Australian for "hibernation"?  You seem to have reimagined no knead bread as No S&F Bread.  The ultimate gentle dough treatment -- totally hands off (granted, following substantial FF abuse).  I'm sure I'm not the only reader here thinking "I've got to try that!". 

Thanks for posting, in spite of troubles.  Plenty of support here for you at TFL - you could crowd source a letter of recommendation :-)  Future's bright I'm sure -- just haven't found the switch yet. Soon enough. 

Happy Spring down under. 

Tom

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Hi Tom,

I have to say that the blog is turning into a great little portfolio of sorts. I am quite a fan of a long autolyse and it makes sense to mix it while preparing the levain ... less mess created in the kitchen :)

The long untouched bulk is something that I picked up off Gerard Rubaud from FarineMC's blog. It is important to get the right amount of development. The dough needs to be smooth after the short mix ... the long bulk ferment using the firm levain takes care of the rest. I was a bit dubious with the idea first time I tried it (I have been stretch-and-folding dough for so long now) ... but the dough preshaped beautifully and then shaped like a dream. I would not use this method for eveything ... weaker flours will still need strength developed with a few folds ... observe the dough and change your methods accordingly.

Cheers,
Phil

 

mk3269's picture
mk3269

What a lovely way to begin my morning! Inspiring and beautifully written. Thanks for this, Phil.

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Your welcome mk3269,

Glad your having a nice morning :)

Cheers,
Phil

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Just wonderful-looking loaves. And what a crumb!

You know what I think about enforced employment change, so won't repeat here. It'll work out fine, probably sooner rather than later.

Have to agree with Yozza's comments on Newman. Just a taste of things to come if - as seems likely - his mob ends up in government federally. Sigh...I've only just gotten over the little grey man, and now we've got his idiot son straining at the leash. (Sorry guys - Aussie political stuff...will belt up now).

All the best to ya. The next chapter is already being written...

Cheers!
Ross

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Ross,

Thanks for support ...

I'm making the best use of my present time and looking forward to the future!

cheers,
Phil

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Eye catching breads and photos! I sighed happily looking at the crumb shot, you have mastered fermentation. Sorry about the changes, hope everything will work out soon. With such talent, how can it not? :)

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thank you for your lovely words txfarmer,

By the way I really enjoyed your interview in the latest bread magazine.

Cheers,
Phil

gmagmabaking2's picture
gmagmabaking2

Looks like this is the bread I will use my brand new scale for weighing grams... first attempt at a recipe given in grams... wish me luck... I am going for it!

PiPs's picture
PiPs

I wish you luck :)

Watch those temperatures ... that's the key!

Cheers,
Phil

isand66's picture
isand66

Beautiful post Phil and fantastic looking breads as always.  Like Janet I prefer to ferment my dough in the refrigerator over-night, but when I have the time I am going to give this method a shot.  I had read Farine Mc's blog post as well and thought it was fascinating.  I wish you the best of luck in your new future endeavors and I'm sure your next stop on the road will be better than the one you left behind!

Regards,
Ian

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks Ian,

Retarding shaped loaves suits my schedule better ... one day I will play with retarding in bulk :)

Cheers,
Phil

Jmarten's picture
Jmarten

Dear Phil,
this is surely the most beautiful looking bread I have ever seen, it's almost like a piece of art, well done. I have been baking bread for almost 2 years now but after seeing theses photos I now strive to achieve bread that looks like yours. There's nothing more satisfying than putting a freshly baked loaf of bread down on a table for family and friends to enjoy and marvel at. Keep up the good work.
Jane

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Thanks so much Jane,

Your family and friends are very lucky to have you baking for them ... there is a mystery to bread for most people ... your right, they do marvel at it.

Cheers,
Phil

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

should bring sun. Clouds will go away, Phil. I wish you they will vanish sooner than you expect. With all the talents you have things will go for the best.

  Nico

 

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Lovely words Nico,

Thank you,
Phil

wally's picture
wally

Whatever else may not be right in your life just now, your craftsmanship in creating beautiful bread is undeniable.  No small accomplishment! In fact, I'd include a loaf with your next resume. 

That commitment to craft and excellence will turn some potential employer's head.

Good baking, good luck!

Larry

PiPs's picture
PiPs

Great idea Larry ... would certainly make a resume memorable :)

This blog has turned into a great little portfolio ... funny how things work out :)

Cheers,
Phil

FlourChild's picture
FlourChild

Gorgeous bread, Phil, from the scoring and shaping to the wonderful crumb!  So glad you've had baking to help you through what sounds like a long, stressful Winter.  Sending thoughts of healing and optimism for new ventures your way.

Pages