The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

The loaf I baked today was the best yet, great crumb and a crisp crust that "sang" as it cooled. Plus it rose like crazy, and I'm not sure whether it was my yogurt starter or the fact that I now know that I haven't been letting the starter work its magic. I can't remember whether it was Bill or one of the other great mentors who said to let the starter do the work. I kept reading that soudough was slow but somehow it didn't sink in, so now I make sure to busy myself with something else so that I'm not rushing the dough. Slow learner? I cut the huge loaf as soon as I dared so that I could share it with neighbors who suffered through some of my earlier efforts. Then I ate some with soup for supper! A.

ejm's picture
ejm

bread sticks

When I read about Susan's grissini, I thought they would be perfect for using up leftovers after building up the starter in preparation for making bread.

And I was right!! I used just half the yeast in our pizza dough recipe and with the leftovers from feeding the starter, there was enough leavening power to make the dough double in exactly the same time that it would have with just yeast.

Making the sticks was dead easy, even though I couldn't quite wrap my mind around Susan's instructions for folding each strip in half (nothing wrong with the instructions - everything wrong with my brain....) So I folded them in half to make shorter rectangles and twisted them to join the pieces together.

Grissini are fabulous!! Many thanks, Susan, for posting about them so we would try them too.

I just realized that I should have stuck almond slivers on the ends of each bread stick to make them scary looking for Hallowe'en! (They do look like fingers, don't they?)

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Since Labor Day weekend, I have been out of the country on business trips almost constantly.  Most of my time is spent in the Ensenada area, which is about a 90-minute drive south of San Diego.  There was a 1-week trip to Trinidad (also business) but, other than the odd weekend back home every other week, I’ve been here in Ensenada the whole time.  The only exception was last week, when I spent a week of vacation at home.

 

In ordinary circumstances, that would be far more time away from home than I like.  My present circumstance is that we sold one house, bought another and moved in the Thursday before Labor Day.  And then I got the “We need you here next week” call on Friday.  The following Tuesday, I was on my way to Mexico, with only three weekends at home since then.  Not the best set-up for doing all the things that go along with moving into new place.  My wife is very competent and has dealt with the load very effectively and graciously but there is way more than she can deal with alone, particularly if it involves heavy lifting.  Consequently, my weekends at home have been crammed with moving heavy items, painting (LOTS of painting), yard work, etc.  I managed to squeeze one batch of sourdough bread in on one of the weekends, mainly because I needed to refresh the starter anyway.  Other than that, it’s been a long time with virtually no chance to play in our new kitchen.

 

Until last week.  Yes, housework still went on.  We painted two bedrooms and one bathroom upstairs (the kids were coming later in the week and we thought they might want quarters that looked like dwelling places rather than construction sites), hung pictures and mirrors, and, with help from one son-in-law, installed the surround sound system.  But, in and around all of that, there was baking; lots and lots of baking.

 

The first bread was the Pumpkin Cornmeal bread from Beth Hensperger’s Bread for All Seasons.  I was looking for something to start on while building the sourdough starter up, along with wanting to do something seasonal.  After looking through several books, it looked like just the ticket.  It’s a yeasted bread that includes pumpkin puree, cornmeal and some rye flour, too.  I shaped it into boules and baked them on a stone.  The loaves had a warm, golden tone in both the crust and the crumb, thanks to the pumpkin.  Wonderful stuff, as it turns out.  Very good by itself and delightful when paired with homemade applesauce.  It made delicious toast, too.

 

I got a little carried away with building the sourdough starter, winding up with nearly three pounds of it.  After giving it some thought, I realized I could use as much as I needed for whatever I wanted to make and refrigerate the unused portion for subsequent batches so that I wasn’t committed to baking everything in a single day. 

 

My first sourdough choice was the Pain au Levain with Whole Wheat from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book.  I have made it several times before, with varying results.  This time around, I used a 50/50 blend of Wheat Montana’s Bronze Chief and Prairie Gold whole wheat flours, which gave me plenty of whole wheat flavor without the bitterness that sometimes accompanies the red wheat varieties.  I scaled the formula up enough to produce three large batards, adding some additional water to accommodate the “thirstiness” of the Wheat Montana flours.  That’s probably what gave me the best results that I have had with this formula.  The finished loaves had a crumb that was much more open than I usually achieve, which was both chewy and moist.  The good news/bad news aspect about scaling up the formula was that the loaves wouldn’t fit on my rectangular stone, so I wedged a round pizza stone in beside it so that I could bake all of them.  Not the best decision.  I think that I blocked enough air flow inside the oven that the heat sensors couldn’t properly measure the temperature.  As a result, the bottoms of the loaves came out a bit scorched.  The rest of the crust was an incredibly deep reddish-mahogany tone with lots of blisters.  I can live with the scorched bottom crust, since everything else about the bread turned out so well.  However, I won’t be using that approach with the baking stones for future attempts.

 

Next up was the New York Deli Rye from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  My wife loves this stuff and I can’t argue with her.  It’s a wonderful bread, studded with bits of onion and caraway (or fennel seeds, in this case).  Since I had whole-grain rye flour on hand, instead of the white rye that the formula calls for, I used that.  The loaves were probably a bit more dense, as a result, but in a good way.  Since I was using AP flour instead of a high-gluten bread flour, I added a tablespoon of gluten for each loaf, which probably kept them from being bricks.  I chose to bake it in loaf pans for sandwich bread, rather than as hearth bread. 

 

Before going to bed that particular evening, I mixed up some sourdough English muffins from the formula in the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook so that it could ferment overnight.  The following day, instead of rolling out the finished dough and cutting the muffins, I scaled it into 2.5 ounce pieces which I shaped into loose balls and then flattened them into disks.  I’m still not sure about my results with these.  They look great and the flavor is fantastic, but the crumb tends to be smoother than I want; not the ragged, open texture that I’m looking for.  It’s probably two factors; one, a need for additional hydration and two, gentler (or less) handling.  However, nobody complained.  My 5-year old grandson even requested one for an afternoon snack.

 

The last bread that I made with the remaining starter was the Sourdough Oatmeal Maple bread from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book.  Instead of rolled oats, I used some rolled barley flakes that were on hand.  That was a good choice.  The resulting loaves were large, tall boules (enhanced, no doubt, by the addition of some gluten in the dough), crusty on the outside with a moist, chewy crumb.  The barley flakes should have been in a soaker overnight, but I cheated by soaking them in hot water while assembling the rest of the dough.  They added a lovely heft and resistance to the crumb.  The maple syrup showed up as a low-key sweetness, without an overt maple flavor.  Maybe it would have been more noticeable if I had used oats rather than barley.  The bread played very well against a beef roast that we had for dinner one evening.

 

While I would have loved to post some pictures, our home PC was in the shop that week for what turned out to be some dying memory chips.  The uneaten portions of the bread either went home with our daughters or into the freezer, so no pictures and no way to post them.

 

It was a wonderful week on a number of levels, not the least of which was the chance to be at home and baking again.

 

Now I’m back in Mexico and baking vicariously through other TFL members’ posts.

 

Paul

dolfs's picture
dolfs

I have completed a first version of my dough calculator spreadsheet that I think is in decent enough shape to share. I have described this spreadsheet (in previous incarnations) and previous posts. This version is quite different in that it is much more automated and supports a "normal" style of using baker's percentages with preferments. I've found it invaluable in reverse engineering formulas (when no percentages are given), scaling, and overall analysis (hydration for example). Please check it out and give me feedback.

Recipe Worksheeet

The above is just a screenshot of a tiny piece. You will find the documentation here: http://www.starreveld.com/Baking. The sidebar on the left contains a link to download the actual spreadsheet. Unfortunately, right now this spreadsheet is only supported on Windows, see the documentation. Macintosh users can use Parallels Desktop of VMWare Fusion, or Apple's Bootcamp (now part of Leopard) to run windows. In fact, the spreadsheet was developed under Windows XP running on Parallels on a 17" MacBook Pro.

Here is a (partial) list of functionality:

  • Compute weights and volumes from formula with percentages and total dough weight
  • Scale formulas to any desired dough size
  • Support unlimited number of preferments in dough
  • Compute slightly larger preferment sizes to compensate for evaporation and container loss
  • Compute final loaf weight based on estimated baking loss (evaporation)
  • Convert volumes of ingredients to weights
  • Reverse engineering. You enter ingredients and weights or volume in practically any units, and it computes the baker's percentages for you
  • Conversion between regular milk and dried milk
  • Conversion between sugar/honey/Splenda
  • General conversion between volume and weight for specific ingredient
  • Conversion between Fresh/Active Dry/Instant Dry yeast
  • Compute hydration contribution of each ingredient in formula
  • Compute adjustments to formulas when substituting different hydration level starters for others, or for yeast
  • Compute necessary water temperature for formula based on desired dough temperature, room temperature, ingredient temperature and mixer friction. Also computes amount of ice needed as substitute for water to reach the right temperature
  • Analysis of formula and overall dough for hydration, and cost

I am sure that there may be rough edges as, so far, I have been the only user. Please report back any problems in comments on this blog.

 




--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures 

mse1152's picture
mse1152

Well, now that the World Series is over, I can post...

This weekend, I made the Power Bread from PR's new book. It's the third bread I've made from that book, and I think I like it best. It's dense and heavy, with a definite sweetness and lots of crunchy bits, thanks to sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. It's like a trip back to the whole wheat 70s, if you remember that time...and if you don't, I don't want to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a choice of milk, buttermilk, yogurt, soy or rice milk for the biga. I used nonfat yogurt. The sweetener in the final dough was brown sugar. Just reading the list of ingredients makes you feel nutritionally virtuous. I really liked the idea of a puree of raisins and flaxseeds. The loaf is literally heavy, but not like a doorstop...there's just so much good stuff in there! I baked it a full 50 minutes before it reached 195 degrees, and I think it could have gone a bit longer. The crumb looked just a bit moist in the middle when I cut into it more than an hour later. You can see the sunflower seeds in the crumb, and a looser section through the middle.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added around 2/3 to a full cup of extra flour during mixing and kneading. It was still pretty sticky in keeping with the 'no fun to knead' nature of the three breads I've made from this book. The dough rose very well in the bulk and pan proofs, but got no oven spring. Overall, I really like this bread.

Sue

AnnieT's picture
AnnieT

Susan, I baked "our" bread today and got the best looking loaf so far - I used my stone and huge ss mixing bowl because the dough stuck to the smaller bowl a couple of times. I also realized that I have been too impatient with the dough and found the perfect cure - sew a quilt at the same time! No pacing back and forth watching the timer, no stretching it before the 30 minutes was up. I let it sit on the little propane heating stove to warm up this morning as the pilot light gives a gentle heat. I was so thrilled with the loaf and had it sitting on the bread board covered with a cloth when the family arrived for supper. They all duly admired it and my son started to cut it for all to try. As he got to the center there were two huge holes, and you can imagine how I got teased. They weren't at the crust like the lazy baker ones but they were big enough for the girls to pretend they were spectacles. However, the flavor was wonderful and there is only one measly slice left for me, plus the crust stayed crisp. They polished off the pasta too - time was when there would have been another meal for Nana. I have been thinking about the exciting times you have had lately, first the tunnel fire when you were in Cambria and now the wild fires - are you ready to retire to the soggy northwest yet? A.

dolfs's picture
dolfs

My first attempt failed, but this second one was much better.

Thom Leonard's Country FrenchThom Leonard's Country French

The first time I was baking six loaves (3 different recipes, 2 loaves each) on one day, and I wasn't quite with it (tired). I did not take care of the dough well enough, I suppose. It took way to long to ferment and rise, and as a result was over proofed. When I slashed it, it collapsed, and never quite recovered in the oven. It was still quite edible with some soup though! 

 

So, back to the drawing board. Second time around I made sure I had a good gluten window. This time around I also did a longer autolyse, and waited to add the salt until much later. I did three folds along the way during the bulk ferment. Finally, I made sure I shaped a good really tight boule. The effort paid off. I had a minor collapse during slashing, but probably more due to me trying to slash "assertively". It came back just fine in the oven!

Thom Leonard's Country French CrumbThom Leonard's Country French Crumb

The crumb was nice, and the crust incredible. The taste was very complex and very sweet. Only a hint of sour. I baked this as an almost 3 pound loaf, so I did use only about 55 minutes of baking time, rather than the 70 minutes suggested for the 4 pound version. Internal temperature was 210F. I did not have high-extraction flour. Last time I did an approximation by sifting coarse whole wheat flour, but the bread came out a lot darker than it should. This time I used a fine whole wheat mixed with regular bread flour (Giusto's Ultra Performance). To keep the color down I used 50% whole wheat and 50% white whole wheat (both KA). 

 



--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures 

fertileprayers's picture
fertileprayers

When I read about changing my password this morning, I kept expecting to sign in by repeating the old password twice (like all automatic pilots do) and then brought to a page where I sign in my new password twice--but oddly, having a password that has 10 letters of odd caps and including two vowels only made me wonder if I were in 9th grade typing class again. It didn't help to be told to place a new password in the second box, when the old one was only 4 minutes old! A four minutes in existence password isn't old enough to be called old! Maybe former?

 

I am going to be asking people to discover kudzu and Juanita Baldwin who has explored the nutritional benefits of kudzu with labs and explore making breads with kudzu. This is important because of the protein and flavonoid content, fiber, as well as being a famine food. For anyone who knows a Great Depression survivor who didn't live on a farm, there will be no argument about this path I am exploring.

 

I have made yeast bread once in my life (not including the beer bread) and ducks wouldn't couldn't shouldn't eat it. A year wouldn't disintigrate it in Jacksonville, Florida in the front yard during rain, snow (1989 it snowed on Christmas Eve) and other weather.

 

 //kudzus.blogspot.com Kudzu Kwestions Charlotte:     http://kudzus.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

fertileprayers's picture
fertileprayers

I was sent the password from Hades, I think!

jmos's picture
jmos

Can one make bread with Durham wheat. Have any of you tried it? I think it may make for chewy crumb.

Thanks

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