The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm's picture

I'm back from Texas. Afraid I didn't find the time to go bakery hunting. The closest thing to an artisan bakery I found was the Au Bon Pain sandwich shop in the DFW airport.

I did get to try one of the cakes from Collin Street Bakery, their pecan apricot cake. I'm not a fruit cake fan, but I have to admit it was darn good.

Glad to see that folks were able to help each other out here while I was out.

Bakenstein's picture

Hi all you busy bakers,

I have been struggling for a while with just not getting that beautiful light open airy texture to my doughs. Its come close at time with Pizzas and flatbreads but no cigar yet.

For some reason I just brought up baking breads with someone and they told me about using water that had been purified by reverse osmosis. Never to use just tap water.
Recently I was at my wits end as I always proof the yeast first and saw very little activity after 10 min. everything was done up to par. Threw it out the batch 2x's.
I opened a brand new yeast packet same result. So with that exact packet I retried everything again. This time with distilled water as you can't even trust the source of bottled water from the supermarket these days.


Beautiful foam doubled in the measuring cup ready to go into my awaiting 14 cups of flour for my weekly Pizza Baking Extravaganza. (Seven Pies one stuffed crust)

Everyone including Holiday company announced it was the best I've ever made. Been making Pizzas every Sunday since August.

Its pretty darn hard to get acclaim from East Coast Italians on Pizza as its a regional Heritage and the birthplace of pizza in the US.

Now for that Chicago Metallic Baguette Pan.....


Floydm's picture

Since we had another half a pot of soup leftover for dinner, I tried the autolyse approach again today (see yesterday's post). Much better results this time.

My dough was real basic again:

13 ounces bread flour
9 to 10 ounces water
2 teaspoons salt
1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast (activated in 1 ounce of the water for 5 minutes).

I changed my technique a bit. I mixed the bread flour (all I had in the house) and 9 ounces of the water together in a bowl until the flour was all moist. I covered the bowl, let it sit for 20 minutes, then activated the yeast in another ounce or so of water. I then pulled the dough out onto a well-floured cutting board, poured the yeast/water mixture on top, sprinkled on the flour, and worked the water/yeast/salt in by hand just until mixed in. It was a mess, but it seems to have done the trick: I got a real nice, slow rise, good gluten development, and minimal oxygenation (which causes the crumb to appear yellow).

I did the same folding and baking routine as yesterday, I just didn't try shaping it into rounds.

I kept it pretty slack, so I dealt with it like a Ciabatta.



ciabatta inside

We gorged on it. It was wonderful. :)

Floydm's picture

I, too, had a doughy disaster today. I was trying to make a simple French/Italian bread using both a poolish (a wet, yeasted, overnight pre-ferment) and an autolyse (a flour and water quick pre-ferment). The poolish was too wet, the autolyse too dry, and when I tried to mix them together I could not get the chunks of autolyse dough to combine with poolish. It ended up having the consistency of chicken and dumplings. I ended up throwing the batch out and starting over.

The next batch turned out better.

16 oz. bread flour
11 oz. water
1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt

I combined the flour and water in a bowl and mixed just until the flour was full hydrated. I covered the bowl and let it hydrate for 20 minutes. Then I mixed in the yeast and salt, mixed for about 3 minutes, and placed the dough in covered bowl. I gave it 45 minutes, then folded, another 45 then a fold, and a final 45 before shaping into rounds, placing in my floured baskets, which I covered, and let them rise for a final 75 minutes.

I baked them at 475 with initial steam. They were in for about 25 or 30 minutes. They turned out quite nice:

We had a pot of vegetable soup and a bottle of Chianti with them. You couldn't ask for a better meal on a wet, wintery day.

whitedaisy's picture

Just took my 2nd Challah out of the oven. It is a very nice looking loaf of bread. Gosh, I may never sprinkle seeds or wheat on my loaves again. What a mess! Maybe I'm not using enough wash? The seseame seeds are everywhere!

timtune's picture

It's a dense and heavy loaf this time. Good for gluten-intolerent people i suppose, since it's 100% rye.
I decided to use the last remaining half of a German bread-mix packet. It says Roggen Vollkorn, or wholegrain rye if i'm not mistaken. Just add water and yeast, mix and u're done! :)

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Here's the packet...

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Would pair well with a 'leberwurst' bought the other day...hehehe ;)

whitedaisy's picture

I made Rustic Bread today for the faculty at my son's school. What nice looking loaves! Everyone was very excited to eat such a beautiful, yummy treat. It was a hit. :o)

whitedaisy's picture

Just tried sonofYah's Challah recipe. The Challah recipes I've used in the past have only called for white flour. The wheat was a very nice addition. The kids loved it. I loved it. My hubby loved it...what more could you ask for.
I did have trouble with glaze. The dough had so much spring in the oven, that the glaze didn't cover it all. The loaf was beautiful where the glaze covered, and my hubby said the unglazed part gave it character :o) What a nice guy. Again, what more could you ask for.

timtune's picture

Once in a while, my mind will conjure some crazy idea.
I did an experiment today. I tried smoking bread... Here goes the experiment.

Since i lacked time, i made a small lean dough with more yeast, from Whole wheat and all purpose.

Dough rised and got punched down. Shaped into a rough naan.

For the smoking device...i used a wok with a lid, lined with foil and the fuel was brown rice and green tea (for added frangrance). Could smoke chicken, pork or duck in that too.
Once fully heated, my kitchen smelled like a Chinese pork roasting pit! haha...smoky and fragrant in a way.

placed the bread in the wok, and smoked it for about 15minutes +...

Smoky aroma with a slight sour hint.
Bread was soft and not dry due to vapour built in wok.

although it was fun to experiment, i think i'll stick with the normal oven for the mean time. hehe..

Perhaps, it would do better with raw toppings... Smoked pizza?? :P

Floydm's picture

Today I baked the baguettes with Pâte Fermenté and the Roasted Potato Bread from Hamelman's Bread book.

many breads I baked today

The potato loaves are the round ones with the fendu style crease.

I love how Hamelman gives advice on how one should shape hundreds of fendu style loaves, but very little advice for the home baker. Typical of him: great recipes, but he rarely bothers helping out the novices.

I'll try to post more photos and a recipe soon.


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