The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I seldom post bread photos

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proth5's picture
proth5

I seldom post bread photos

I am not much of a photographer and well, I am never exactly "happy" with anything I bake. I can always outline the flaws or specific things that could stand some improvement.


But  I decided to show this week's bake - come what may - and here are the results:


Batch 1: Baguettes


I emphatically do not use the Bouabsa technique.  My primary reason is best kept to myself, but to put forth some other reasons, I don't have the timeline or the space to do the cold retarding. Also, it could be (and has been) argued that by pre-fermenting a portion of the flour in the levain build, that I achieve the benefits of the retarding and that the retarded final fermentation is redundant. I do an overnight levain and then bake the things the next day.  No commercial yeast and 65% hydration.  Here's one intact and one cut in half to show the crumb:


baguette


I seem to have slipped back in technique to getting less pronounced grigne than I have in the past, but although the photo does not show it well, the slashes did show small ears.  The slashing is uneven as is the shaping and I need to buckle down and get that straightened out.  I recently got a new blade holder and I think that I need to get used to it.  I really can't fault the crumb (or the taste.) This is nothing extraordinary - this is what I get every week.  Some would bake these more "boldly" but I prefer this coloring. A tartine with house made cultured butter and a good salame - that's good eating...


Batch 2: Fougasse


Since this is the time of year that I need to render lard, I always get a lot of cracklings and it seems a shame not to use them somehow.  So this week I made a fougasse with cracklings:


Fougasse


This is just a standard fougasse recipe made with a levain base - 68% hydration, 10% whole wheat flour with .8 oz of cracklings for a 1 pound fougasse.


Yes, I got a thin spot on the large cut.  Darn.  Usually I have some restraint with my bread eating, but I had to tear into this one.  It had a crackly surface and a tender interior lightly flavored from the fat and studded with little bits of piggy goodness.  Very nice.


Batch 3: Home Mill


And then there is the home milled whole wheat levain loaf:


Whole Wheat Levain


This is the most variable of my breads as I contend with variations in both the milling and bread making process.  This was made with hard white wheat milled the same day as the bake. This is a fairly typical loaf although it has spread out more than I would like and I think that it would benefit from a tighter shaping.  The loaf is made at 74% hydration and the crumb tends to vary at different spots on the loaf, although from my point of view there is nothing really wrong with the crumb.  This is my lunchtime sandwich loaf and I prefer the fillings not to drop through. The taste is...delicious.


All breads were baked on a stone with steam - some water in a pan on the floor of my oven and much water sprayed with a pressure sprayer on the stone.  After reading the Suas book's section on steaming I am ever more convinced that in my dry climate and the relatively low hydrations of my doughs that just retaining the moisture by covering my baking breads would not achieve the objectives.  Due respect to the people who use this method, but with my old oven (It will be replaced only when I find "the one.") and no more effort than it takes I'm sticking with steam. Record cold yesterday in the Mile High City - I didn't mind the oven having to preheat.


So, not a bad output for a day after I have finished my seasonal cooking (and shipping) and was determined to take it easy.


Hope you-all enjoy the photos and Happy Baking!

Comments

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Pat,


Those are lovely breads; don't go kicking yourself like that.  Is it yourself that is dissatisfied, or is "my teacher's" voice echoing in your head when you look at these?  BTW, I'd be interested in your teacher's insights on breadmaking, since he or she seems to have made quite an impact on your views and your abilities.  Maybe something to write about during those long flights?


Having seen your holiday output, and now your comment about this being the time of year for rendering lard, I'm curious.  Do you live on a farm?  Raise livestock?  Garden massively?  That sort of thing?


Thank you for what you share with us so generously.  I'm always interested in what you have to offer.


Paul

proth5's picture
proth5

"My teacher" veers from yelling at me that I am a perfectionist one minute to telling me "everything must be perfect to make good bread" the next.  Fortunately I respond well to this sort of thing and have boundless admiration for the person from whom I have learned so much.


But I work with enterprise software and as we all know it either works perfectly or we throw up our hands in disgust.  So I tend to apply this to many areas of my life.  My goal is to keep that critical eye, but still enjoy eating the bread.  One's reach must exceede one's grasp or what's a heaven for?


I live inside the Denver city limits with a view of the capital from my front porch.  I do garden every inch of soil in my city lot quite intensively during all four seasons.  I will actual start my planting for the next round of crops next week - it is not the most leisurely of lives, but I get great satisfaction from cutting fresh food from the garden in the middle of winter.  Of course this recent blast of artic air is playing havoc with the crops.


I have a number of old family recipes that require lard as a base.  Leaf lard is not readily available so I get my pal "Jimmy the Butcher" to order me leaf fat (the fat from around the kidneys of a pig) at this time of year.  Unfortunately he needs to order in large quantities, so I end up rendering a lot of fat.  Mmmm, tasty.  There is no comparison between this and the lard you can commonly buy in the grocery store and it is the only way that I can recreate the taste of things "like Grandma used to make."  But this is the time of year for pig processing.  My grandparents did live in farming country (I have childhood memories of visiting pigs prior to them becoming food) and it strikes me as appropriate that so many of my family's seasonal recipes call for lard rather than butter.


Hope all goes well for your family, and


Happy Baking!


Pat


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

proth5's picture
proth5

Thanks for the kind words.  It's really cold here and during these short days of winter I do silly things....

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


It's really cold here and during these short days of winter I do silly things....



I'm glad to hear that! I try to do something silly every day. I do not vary this seasonally. Well ... In cold weather I am more likely to do silly things with soups and stews.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

I've just passed the year trying to raise as much of my produce myself as I can and make as much food from basic ingredients as possible and I have to say it has been an interesting intellectual journey.  The sillies come into play when I realize that it's ALL DONE and I can't really start planting just quite yet and I can't even work at the coldframes - which can't be opened with the weather this cold. Time to roast pumpkins and time to bake bread and finally got to sit down for a few hours with the Suas book - which I'm really liking a LOT.  After all of the debate over this book, I realized that it must be read - you can't just dip into the recipes.  He is writing a class text and you are expected to wade through the book learning and master techniques and principles before getting to the "fun."  That is so in tune with my learning style that I'm blissed...


Take care and enjoy some silliness...


Pat