The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rustic bread, Potato Pizza, and an exciting prospect for this coming semester

beenjamming's picture

Rustic bread, Potato Pizza, and an exciting prospect for this coming semester

So for the second time this summer, I moved this past weekend. I decided to given my oven a test run just to get a feel for it. First, I baked a bunch of 75% hydration rustic loaves with ~20% whole wheat. The dough was built on a 12 hr poolish. I usually don't use such a high percent of whole wheat flour and as a result the bread tasted a bit earthier than mine usual pain sur poolish. Oven performed well; it only got up to 450F, which was just enough.


I also baked a potato pizza,inspired by the Sullivan St potato pizza in Artisan baking, with some friends tonight. On top are some red creamer tots(salted, drained) sauteed with red onions in rosemary olive oil, roasted garlic and some montasio cheese. I got the crust exactly how I wanted it, but the topping combination could use a little work. I think I need to add either more potatoes or something creamy; with a hard cheese it tasted a bit too dry. It was still tasty enough for me to eat!

and the underside:


This weekend is looking pretty exciting as well. I have gotten some folks together here at Cornell to create an artisan baking club: Better Bread, Better World. A few of us know how to bake decently well, and a few are new to the game, but I'm very excited to get things off the ground.This weekend everyone is in town and we're going to get together and bake, eat and talk about our plan for this year. Hopefully by the spring we will have a stand at the Ithaca Farmer's Market to sell bread and donate the profits some where in Thompkins county. Have any of you taught others how to bake? I've shown a few curious friends how to make bread, and I like to start with challah because it can be made pretty easy and looks and tastes great, then start with a basic hearth loaf and move on. As kind of the leader of this club I think it's going to mostly on my shoulders to come up with things to do and if any ideas come to mind, please do share them!


browndog's picture

One runs out of superlatives around here. Really nice, beenjamming. And you pulled this off in the midst of unpacking? Ah, youth...

I've made potato pizza a few times, and agree that it needs something more for feel-factor. Maybe even a rosemary & onion-laced bit of white sauce? Yours is a real beauty, though. Love the bubbly crust.

The only thing I know about being the leader of a club is that the hats with mouse ears are REALLY cool.

Paddyscake's picture

BEE..NJA...MMING...  :  ) Ok, enough silliness, sorry..lovely loaves

browndog's picture

He's young, Paddyscake, and a gifted baker. He can take a little abuse. I was impressed that the letters broke down right. Do you suppose he even knows what we're talking about?

Beenjamming, my only (potentially worthwhile) comment about teaching baking would be to start people off with successes and don't throw a ton of strictures (NEVER do this/ALWAYS do that) at them before they get their dough legs under them. 

beenjamming's picture

haha, yeah, i follow. I might just open the meetings with a chorus. Thinks that'd drop membership a bit though...

Yeah, that makes sense. I think one of the really one of the great things about breadmaking is that while to get consistent results you need to be incredibly methodical, if you're just experimenting you can do all sorts of things with the dough (all sorts of mixing techniques come to mind) and end up with an pretty good product.

Rusticity... make a good addition to a thesaurus i'd say. thanks for the compliments. Doing this in the midst of unpacking worked out pretty well, i have to say. long rising times with nothing to do- i actually took stuff out of boxes instead of living out of them until they were empty, haha. I made a similar pizza once before but infused some cream with rosemary and soaked the potatoes, onions and asiago cheese in it for a while. It was a much better pie.

cooky> yeah I'm the same way. this site really filled in my books' gaps and helped me out tremendously. When i started out, i really wanted to bake with someone who had an idea of how to handle dough and was out of luck. i'm hoping i'll be knowledgeable/resourceful enough to make some fellow bread baking addicts-errrr, enthusiasts.

Cooky's picture

I love the notion of a baking club. You're going to have a blast doing it, I'm sure.

You can't go wrong scouring this site for lessons, recipes, photos and videos, regardless of what direction you take. As a person who badly needs visual cues in order to learn something new, I have found the pix and vids of various processes to be invaluable.

We'll look forward to seeing photos of your club's productions! 


"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

bluezebra's picture

wtg Beenjammin' mon!

newbiebaker's picture

Beenjammin, you use 75% hydration???... im kinda unclear on what exactly that entails, like is it ALL liquids in your bread, or just water?  i use about 25% water and about 13% starter in my recipes... do you think i need more water?  also, how the heck do you knead and work with a dough that sticky and wet???? it must be like pancake batter? and how do you get it to keep its shape during the bench proofing and the baking? your breads look fantastic... i am trying to get my bread to look more like yours and less like sourdough doorstops. i have one book on baking and a book called artisan bread i believe... is there a super-ultra-mega-fantastic book out there that will help me to understand how everything works and has tons of great recipes and information that you could reccomend to a novice baker? i really enjoy bakaing and want to get pretty good at the artisan style breads (as well as other things as well) the way, how long have you been baking? are you a professional baker? because with baked goods like those... i definitely think you could be 

beenjamming's picture


I'm no professional-thats very kind of you, but I constantly dream about becoming one haha. I've been baking bread (almost exclusively) for about a year and a half now. I think I'd have a long way to go before I'd make it in the real world. But pipe dreams aside...Are you familiar with bakers percentages? They are ratios of ingredients to the amount of flour in your dough. By 75% water I mean that I used 20 oz of flour and then 15 oz water total. I have to agree with the general consensus that the best first bread book is bread bakers apprentice by peter reinhart. The book has a small number of very good recipes and an introduction to some sourdough techniques. I found that baking with commercial yeasted breads was a good place for me to start and get my head wrapped around bread science before venturing into more complex topics. Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking is an incredible book to start getting into sourdough baking with, and I use her starter recipe. good luck!