The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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AnnieT's picture

Today I made Will's baguette again because I love the tender crumb and the good flavor. I held back some of the water and was really proud of the dough. Did the French fold, yay, and 2 stretch and folds and made 2 batards on parchment with rolled towel "couches" The dough was full of big bubbles and I kneaded each piece to degas them. I slashed pretty deeply and baked them on the stone and turned them and removed the parchment halfway through the baking time. So far, so good. I used my handy dandy instant read thermometer and they were 205* and looked ready, but almost as soon as they were on the rack the crust softened. I know this has been covered before, but can anyone explain why this happens? Should I have left them to bake longer? The crumb is great with nice holes, but the crust isn't crunchy. Not a big deal as far as eating them, but I don't think I have ever had a crust that crackles. Maybe one or two of my NKB loaves. Maybe I am too timid and need to let the crust really brown, European style. Any comments gratefully received, A

Floydm's picture

July was a very busy month. I had family in town, the Open Source Conference to attend, many things to take care of at work and many summer activities to participate in. I have been baking, I just haven't had the time to post about what I've baked.

In the past couple of weeks I've baked:

  • my standard white sourdough

  • a light rye and a dark rye from Daniel Leader's new book, served with roast pork

  • my baked potato bread, served with a grilled steak

  • blueberry muffins and blueberry coffeecake and blueberry pancakes and blueberry waffles. Guess what is in season here?

Today I baked an Italian white loaf with biga from Leader's book and Hamelman's sourdough semolina bread:

italian breads

I didn't do a good job shaping the semolina bread so I got the lazy baker cavities, but they tasted great. Wonderful with manicotti, a bottle of Barbera Montferrato, and spinach raspberry salads.

I know I said I was going to post a full review of Daniel Leaders's Local Breads, but I don't know when I'm going to have a chance to. Let me just say for now that it is a very nice book: authentic formulas from European bakers (France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic) that includes helpful shortcuts for the home baker. I can't think of another book that does a better job of providing useful instructions for both amateur and advanced bakers: if you want to execute a recipe authentically this book tells you how, but for every complex step or difficult-to-find ingredient Leader provides a shortcut. It has helpful FAQs, beautiful photos, nice layout and typography, and is probably the most professionally executed bread book I've read. As I mentioned before, it reminds me of the now out-of-print Village Baker, but coming 15 years later in the artisan bread revolution than The Village Baker (and after the Internet became mainstream) it is much more mature. I know the last thing many of us need is another baking book and most of recipes are traditional European recipes that can be found elsewhere, but it is worth checking out the next time you are in a bookstore. If nothing else, it'd be a good one to give a friend for the holidays rather than trying to track down a battered old copy of Village Baker.

susanfnp's picture

I recently returned from a trip to Japan, where I encountered melon pan, a sweet enriched bread encrusted with cookie dough. Here's my version of it, not authentically Japanese but good anyway. The recipe is here. Although July is not the best month to go (hot and humid!), Japan is a wonderful country with amazingly hospitable people. Everything they make is exquisitely beautiful, and my bread cannot do justice to theirs, but it was fun to make!

Melon pan


AnnieT's picture

Hi KipperCat, I had just about given up on the photos, but if I can remember how to get back to them I will try again. Many thanks for the info. Hate to be so pitiful! Had my grandaughters for a sleepover last night and we made individual pizzas. I had the dough ready and helped them with the stretching and they chose their own toppings. They liked seeing the dough slide from my cardboard "peel" to the hot stone but by the time I had cooked 3 the cornmeal was well and truly black. So tonight I made one for myself and used parchment, much less smelly. Time for bed - girls are exhausting - but I will play with the pictures tomorrow, A

beenjamming's picture

Yesterday, I gave my back from the dead starter a workout and made some of the Pearl's walnut levain from Artisan Baking. I turned out really well and is mostly gone already! The dough was pretty stiff, but really easy to handle as a result. I was surprised that i didn't end up with any char walnuts poking out, but luckily the dough proof around any nuts near the skin.

the crust was thick and chewy and the crumb was tight for levain, but still resonably open. I'm still in love with the purple streaks from the walnuts' oil. Purple is one of those colors that doesn't appear naturally all to often in food, especially baked goods, that it always catches my attention.

The insides:

And last thursday, I made some portguese sweet bread from BBA to take with me to Lake Placid last weekend. The bread was a hit and make some seriously incredible toast. I was expecting to be pretty apathetic to this bread, but it really surprised me. Its super light and fluffy, pleasantly sweet and the extracts make it smell amazing.

I didn't thoroughly degas, and ended up getting these really cool looking gluten stalagmites by the crust. Pretty cool, eh?

I liked how the Pearls walnut levain turned out so well that today i'm making their Pane Coi Santi and maybe I'll even get to blog about it quick enough to enter bread baking day 2. time will tell and the dough will dictate!

AnnieT's picture

I decided to take the experts' advice and use my (what would have been) discarded starter and made myself a pizza for supper. Of course as this was a last minute thing I didn't have Mozzarella cheese so used Monterey Jack and Parmesan. Also cooked some Italian sausages from the freezer and sliced some mushrooms. I took 1/2cup of starter and added 1/2cup bread flour and 1/2cup water, mixed it well and let it sit for a while. Then I stirred in 1 cup bread flour and some salt, kneaded it briefly and let it sit again. Did a couple of stretch and folds and preheated the stone. Things I learned: use more salt - it was too bland. Use more cornmeal on the back of the old cookie sheet I was using as a peel. The pizza stuck so I just dropped sheet and all on the stone. Divide the dough and make 2 thinner crusts - it rose well but the center was a bit doughy. I ate 1/2(!) and put the other 1/2 back on the stone so that I have supper for another night. Probably not kosher but I felt very creative and will definitely do this again. A.

susanfnp's picture

This is one of my favorite breads, and my submission for BreadBakingDay #2. Recipe is here.

Cherry-Pecan Bread


AnnieT's picture

I don't know what I have done to my sourdough starters (I know, one would be plenty) and I would really appreciate any help or advice. I decided to feed one ready to do some baking this week. They have been languishing in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks since I sent a jar of starter to my friend in Eugene. I had decided one was the runny one and one was the thicker one, but this evening when I tried to stir them they were both more than thick. No hooch on top where 2 weeks ago there was a good 1/4" on each one. It took some effort to stir them and dig out the 1/2cup I was going to replace - long strands, very stretchy. I really don't understand the firm starter concept and would prefer to keep my starter (s) liquid. They smell good and appear to be very healthy, but what the heck did I do to bring on the change in texture? Should I increase the amount of water? Have I created a monster? They are both sitting on the counter and I will watch to see what happens, but our weather is warming up and I want to put them back in the frig. Any ideas, anyone? A

Dorothy's picture

What is wholemeal flour???  I went to my local health/organic store in search of wholemeal flour.  They had no idea of what it was.  Could it be whole wheat?

breadnerd's picture

Played with the mud oven again today, and we got it good and hot! We even succeeded with the apocryphal "four minute pizza" of lore.



Ever since we built the oven we've heard that the ultimate woodfired pizza ovens cook in four minutes. BTW, I did bake them straight on the hearth (on parchment), they're just waiting on the sheet pan for the last pie to come out of the oven. The parchment pretty much turned black on the edges but did not combust, so I think I can safely vouch for 600 degrees + for parchment use!


Anyway, nothing like homemade tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella from the farmer's market, with chopped basil, zucchini, peppers, and onions from the backyard (plus mushrooms and pepperoni).


Besides that, the usual batches of bread for some good summer eating for the next few weeks: sourdough, ciabatta, and a jalapeno cheddar loaf I've been playing with. I overproofed this batch but it still looks pretty tasty.


Also roasted some beets and garlic, and just pulled a couple of zucchini quick breads out as well. I'm pretty pooped but may still stick some tomatoes in to dry overnight, but then again, maybe I'll save it for next time!


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