The Fresh Loaf

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Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

So I'm planting my garden this year for the first time at this house. A couple years ago, while I was pregnant with Rinoa, I had a few tomato plants and a few pepper plants that didn't do too well because they were in an area with poor soil and way too much other stuff. This year I'm tilling up the backyard, finally, and doing things right.

I've noticed that, when I'm pregnant, I'm more prone to excess than when I'm not. I'm not saying that I'm not prone to it normally. Who isn't prone to going to excess at *something* now and again? Usually, though, it's just been too much bread. Easily taken care of when used to feed the birds. This time...things are slightly different.

I went to Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-Mart normally. I prefer buying my stuff at the local grocery store, but I do like going to Sam's Club occasionally...but that's beside the point.

I should get to the point.

I went into their garden section hoping to find a few tomato plants that I liked.

I came home that day with 28 tomato plants and 3 lonely zucchini. I then went to Hy-Vee, one local grocery store, and picked up 12 bell pepper plants and 4 more tomatoes, 4 little yellow squash seedlings. Gonna go back after they mark down some of the more expensive plants and get a few more bell peppers, some cukes, probably some acorn squash, sugar snap peas, and probably some carrots and green beans as well.

The real concern, though, is tomatoes. 32 plants. Add to that the fact that they'll produce right through until my first frost if I let them.

I think I'm going to need some sauce recipes, among other things.

I've thought of sauce (pizza and marinara), drying, canning whole and diced, salsa (I'll have to borrow some jalepenos from a friend). Can't think of anything else to do with them all. Even if you count only 5-6 pounds of tomatoes from each plant (which is conservative, I've heard, with the types I bought)...that's a lot of tomatoes. Canning time comes right around when I'll be 8 months pregnant, too. At least I feel good by then.

Anyone else know what to do with an overabundance of tomatoes? Of course there's giving them away or selling them, and I'm considering that, but first I want to think about what I can do to put them by. May as well get my money's worth.

Yippee's picture

My another 'first time' experience.  As always, I'm having fun while learning new skills and trying out new recipes.

It's a spiked dough retarded since Sunday. 

New technique applied:  Covering the bread with an inverted dutch oven while baking.

Susan's picture

A pretty loaf; more fluffy crumb and less sour than my Ultimate loaf, well-risen, excellent thinner crispy crust.  I suspect retarding overnight would increase the sour somewhat. 

60 grams 100% starter
180g water
300g high-gluten flour
6g salt

Mix starter and water, add flour and salt.  Mix until rough.  Cover and rest 10 minutes.  Fold from bottom to top around tub.  Cover and ferment until doubled (~7 hours@lower 70'sF).  Stretch and fold.  Let relax.  Shape and put in linen-lined colander until floured finger leaves an indentation (~2.5 hours).  Place in 530F oven, covered, for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 430F.  Remove cover at 20 minutes.  Continue baking for 12-15 minutes.  Turn off oven and leave for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack. 

Yippee's picture

70% Whole Wheat Sesame Sandwich Bread    
Can be switched to 100% WW, but Yippee finds 100% WW too bitter    
Adapted From 'The 65 C Bread Doctor",  by Yvonne Chen    
Water Roux Starter      
any amount is fine as long as bread flour (or whole wheat flour to make 100% WW) 50 g
the 1:5 ratio is followed water  250 g
  Whisk both until well mixed    
  Heat it up on stove, keep stirring     
  until temperature reaches 65 C or 149 F    
  (Yippee uses the microwave, about 4 minutes, stir halfway.)     
  (Final product should leave a trail when stirred.)    
  Put a plastic wrap directly on top to prevent forming a 'skin'.    
  Must be cooled to at least room temperature before use.    
  Refrigerate up to 3 days.      
  Do not use if turns grey.    
Makes 2 loaves      
A. whole wheat flour 350 g
  bread flour (can be replaced entirely by ww flour) 130 g
  dry milk powder 140 g
  sugar (May reduce to 50g, Yippee uses more sugar to cover 90 g
  the bitter taste)    
  salt 7 g
  yeast 10 g
  vital wheat gluten 3  1/4 TBS
B. whole eggs 60 g
  milk 140 g
  water roux starter 120 g
C. unsalted butter 50 g
D. white sesame  50 g
  (Yippee washes the sesame, drain, and pat dry with paper towels after 10 minutes)
E. More white sesame for rolling the dough in    
Knead: Combine A. and B. until a ball is formed.  Adjust by adding either flour or water 
  in small increments (1tsp ) to form the dough    
  Add C. and knead until the dough passes the windowpane test.  
  Add D. at the last 5 minutes of kneading and knead slowly     
1st Fermentation: About 40 minutes at 28 C or 82.4 F, 75% humidity    
Divide:  into 2 pieces, each at about 450g     
Relax: 15 minutes at room temperature    
Shape: Shape like regular sandwich bread, 2 loaves    
  Roll the dough in sesame seeds.    
Final Proof: About 40 minutes at 38 C or 100.4 F, 85% humidity     
Bake: 350 F, 35-40 minutes    
  (Yippee applies whole egg wash before baking)    
Yippee's picture

This slack dough was more difficult for me to shape  and the baguettes were deflated when I tried to transferred them from the baguette pan to the stone.  Need to figure out a better way to do this.

GabrielLeung1's picture

I just recently succeeded in completing a mother starter and so I've started to use it to make some sourdough. The first set of loaves came out rather dull looking but tasted quite good.

The second use of the loaves were exceedingly different.

The starter was 14 days old, I expect it will get even better as it matures

Yippee's picture

I guess all the hard work and sleepless nights, even the dark circles under my eyes, are well worth it:

SulaBlue's picture

Having built up a starter to bake a double batch of rosemary sourdough loaves, I had quite a bit still left over. Not that this wasn't planned - only the use for it changed. Having gotten up late on Sunday and everyone having different plans, the idea of sourdough pancakes went out the window and I was left to ponder what to do. I opened Nancy Silverton's "Breads from the La Brea Bakery" and it instantly flopped to the picture of a pretzel being made. I instantly knew what I was going to make.

I forgot the 2 teaspoons of salt in the dough itself, but I like the way it turned out, so I'm going to omit it here. Silverton also called for barley malt syrup, which I don't have and replaced with agave nectar. Silverton has instructions to cut the dough into 18 3-ounce portions, but this seems to be incorrect. I only got 12, which is mathematically correct as 20+9+6=35/3=11.6.

These turned out so nicely that I'll be submitting them to Wild Yeast's Yeastspotting

Sourdough Hard Pretzels

2 day Recipe

Adapted from Nancy Silverton's "Breads from the La Brea Bakery"

Makes 12 crisp pretzels

Day 1

6 oz cool water, ~70F

9 oz white starter, 100% hydration

20 oz unbleached white bread flour

1 T agave nectar


  1. Place liquid ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix just to combine so that flour is easier to incorporate and then add flour. Once flour is incorporated knead until dough is smooth and firm, about 8 minutes. This is a VERY firm dough, and may be rough on your mixer - keep a close eye on it and STOP if you hear or smell signs of distress.

  2. Divide the dough into 3 oz sections and tuck them into rough balls. Lay on a parchment-covered sheet pan and allow to rest, lightly covered, for 45 mins.

  3. Remove one ball of dough from the covered pan and, using your hands, roll it into an 18-20 inch snake, keeping the dough as even as possible. (Silverton likes hers with thick and thin portions, but I prefer evenness.) Use the method of your choice to form into a the traditional pretzel shape. As you work the dough you will notice it is very dry and forms a skin. It may actually be hard to roll due to wanting to slide from lack of tackiness. Air bubbles inside the dough snake are normal and probably won't roll out. The thinner you get your rope, the crunchier your pretzels will be.

  4. Place formed pretzels back onto the parchment covered baking sheet, slide the baking sheet into a plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Day 2
1/4C Egg Beaters
Kosher Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400F

  2. When oven is hot remove first tray from refrigerator. Brush the tops of the pretzels with egg substitute (Or beaten egg) and then sprinkle with kosher salt.

  3. Bake IMMEDIATELY so that salt does not have time to dissolve - about 20-25 minutes. Pretzels will puff and turn golden brown and crispy.

  4. Move pretzels to a cooling rack and then bake the second pan. 

If you have a big enough oven, or one that is more reliable than mine, you can probably bake both pans at once. They bake so quickly I just didn't see the problem with baking in two batches. You should probably go ahead and have your mustard on hand - you'll barely be able to wait until these are cool enough to eat.


dmsnyder's picture

Today, I baked a couple boules of Susan's "Ultimate Sourdough," a batch of Anis Bouabsa baguettes with sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds and a Polish Cottage Rye.

I've blogged about Susan's sourdoughs before. What else is there to say? I love both her "Original" and "Ultimate" sourdoughs. I can't say I prefer one over the other. The one I baked today was from Susan's recipe, but I left out the olive oil ... I think. At the moment, I can't recall whether I forgot it or not. Hmmmm ....

The seeded Bouabsa Baguettes were made at my wife's request. I've been making different breads with mixed-seed soakers recently. My wife has enjoyed them, but has told me she likes the seeds on the outside more than on the inside. Being it's Mother's Day, it seemed a good time to make something special for her.

I followed the Bouabsa formula about which I've blogged several times before. This uses Bouabsa's technique but adds 100 gms of active sourdough starter. I also substituted 10% white whole wheat flour and 5% whole rye flour. The remaining 85% was Giusto's Baker's Choice. I mixed the seeds (30 gms sunflower, 30 gms sesame and 15 gms poppy) and rolled the shaped baguettes in the mix, spread on a sheet pan, before proofing on a linen couche.

They turned out well, with a nice crunchy crust, open crumb and very tasty flavor. 

The Polish Cottage Rye is one of my favorite breads from Leader's "Local Breads." I have made it using First Clear flour with results like the photo in Leader's book. The last couple of times, I have followed the recipe and used bread flour for the wheat flour. The crumb has been very open and nothing like that pictured in "Local Breads." Using bread flour, it makes a very slack dough that requires extensive, intense mixing to develop the gluten sufficiently to allow one to form a boule that holds its shape. Leader's mixing instructions should be followed and yield good results. Both versions have been delicious. 

I made this bread today with bread flour. It just came out of the oven and "sang" at the top of its lungs. 



SulaBlue's picture

Today was just one of those days. That kind of day when any little thing that could go wrong does. But at the end of it, somehow, despite everything, I got some of the most gorgeous loaves I've ever gotten.

It started with the dog. Usually she wakes us up around 6:30 am. I told my husband to take my preferment out of the refrigerator when he took her out, and then I would wake up later and bake. Well, for once, the dog decided to sleep in and didn't get him up until almost 8 - which is when I planned to be up to bake! This put me behind from the very beginning. Add to that the stress that these were loaves being made for people who had requested them, and even offered money for them, and I was feeling a bit out of sorts.

You know, I should take that back. It started with the starter. Yesterday I had my starter out and it was going at a roiling bubble. After its second feed of the day it shoved the loosely-settled lid of its container off and proceeded to ooze out of the container and onto the counter. My mother, who is visiting, scooped everything up and put it in a bigger container. I was worried about possible contamination as, with guests in the house, a husband and a dog you just never know how perfectly sterile your countertop is. Ah well! It's for reasons just such as this that I keep a small portion of my starter back in the fridge and feed up to what I need on the counter when baking!

So, rather than doing the two loaves the recipe called for I'd decided to do a double batch. I put my cut-up preferment into the bowl of my new KitchenAid Pro 600 and then, for some inexplicable reason, added the flour before the water. I have always mixed my starter with water, then added flour as it is easier to get everything incorporated. I made sure to double everything - except the water! I almost forgot the salt, but then looked over and saw the salt in my mis en place and noticed the bowl, so in it went. At first things were OK, and then the KitchenAid began to protest. The bowl bucked and the mixer became sluggish. Uh-oh! I tried to reset, but it just wasn't working, so I turned it all out and started to knead by hand. After only a few moments of this I realized what I had done.

Let me tell you, there's just nothing like trying to add that much water into a dough at that late stage, by hand! I stretched the dough out as far as I could, sort of like a pizza with a lip, then added a bit of water and rolled it up. Lather, rinse, repeat. The dough became slick and a huge mess, but eventually I got it to a consistency where I was able to toss it back into the KitchenAid to finish up the kneading. As if this wasn't enough I had the pour guard on and bumped it when I was putting in my rosemary and knocked it into the bowl while the dough hook was going. There was a pop as the hook hit it, but thankfully nothing broke.

Thankfully I got a new dough bucket yesterday and I was able to mark where my dough was and easily saw when it had doubled. It doubled in closer to 2 hours than 3 or 4! I suppose in part due to the warmer temperature in the house, but the dough probably got warm with all that nonsense, and the starter was insanely active. Dough was removed and divided up into 4 slightly larger than 1-pound loaves and set to proof on parchment-paper lined pans. I'd like to say that from here on out it was smooth going - but that'd be a bald-faced lie!

Despite spraying my dough with spray oil the saran wrap stuck to the dough. Thankfully I was able to get it free without deflating my dough, though it was very dicy for a bit. Into the oven it went where, after about 8 minutes, I was reminded why I no longer use Reynold's parchment paper. I opened my oven to rotate my loaves - cue the fire alarm! Ugh. The parchment wasn't even that brown! Despite having to run around to the living room while flapping a towel like a maniac, I couldn't help but be giddy with glee as I could already tell that my loaves were springing like mad. I believe I can say that, without a doubt, these Little Loaves That Could are some of the most gorgeous sourdough loaves I've made. I even scored them, because hey, what could have went wrong THERE, right? I was worried that they might be tough and chewy despite looking so perfectly gorgeous, but the crumb is soft and feathery with just that perfect hint of chew! I even got HOLES!



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