The Fresh Loaf

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hanseata's picture

There are happy testing days and there are less happy ones. This was definitely one of the latter! I decided to use the mandolin my husband bought a while ago. I never trusted that thing and usually take the box grater. But having to grate a lot of potatoes I didn't listen to my better instincts, put the mandolin together and started with the first potato. When the potato was two thirds grated the tool to hold it wouldn't let me chop off any more. I didn't want to end up with one third of the potatoes ungrated - and the other two thirds not enough for the recipe.

So I took the potato in my hand and - nearly chopped off the tip of my finger. Hands, as most valuable human tools, are well supplied with blood, and my index finger was living proof of it. I yelled for my husband and sucked my poor finger to keep it from dripping all over the place while he was looking for the Band-Aid (fortunately we have an emergency supply in a kitchen drawer).

When I was bandaged, my husband took over with some friendly comments about clumsy people who don't know how to work with something as simple as a mandolin. OUCH - there was another victim of the nasty thing, this time with a neatly delivered double cut. Our kitchen sink looked like a butcher's bowl when I finished wrapping Band-Aids around my husband's thumb.

Mixing the potato shreds that had nearly cost the lives of two innocent people with the other ingredients I started wondering whether there was something wrong with the recipe. How should a mixture rise with so little flour and so much vegetable mass in it? And, of course, it didn't. It sat there, in its baking pan, and did nothing but slowly oozing more onion and potato juice, so that it got wetter and wetter.

With deep misgivings I put it into the oven (what good is steaming something so wet, anyway?). It came out looking just like a gratin, nice, crisp and brown on top. But the mass under the crust was a disappointment, cooked potatoes without any special taste but a lot of salt.

The sacrifice of two healthy fingertips on the altar of culinary experiment had been in vain....



berryblondeboys's picture

Sorry Everyone - didn't realize that I was being inconsiderate. I didn't realize that I was hogging up the blog entries. Now I know and I thank the person who told me! I won't do a daily blog entry here.



txfarmer's picture

This is the bread that's haunting me lately. My first two attempts at 100% sourdough rye failed miserably - and asked for help here. I am glad that I asked, TFL has so many knowledgable and helpful people willing to help out. Specifically Andy directed me to his recipe here, and provided me with many tips. Mini, whose post and pictures on her favorite rye has been studied to death by me, also provided encouragement and some helpful hints.


My rye starter is very active, so I reduced the pre-fermented flour ratio in Andy's formula to about 29%, the final rise was still <2hours at 30C, next time I might reduce even more. A lot of people responded to my question thread mentioned that it's important to use the right tin, so I used two mini pullman pan, narrow and long, each took about 370g of dough. Filled to 60% full, when I put them in the oven, they were 90% full. Baked at 460F for 10min, then 410F for 15min.


Still no great ovenspring, but at least the top is domed. Maybe I am still overproofing it?


Looking at the crumb, I see it's "heavy" in the bottom, is that also a sign of overproofing? Or maybe when I put the dough in the pan, I pushed the dough down a bit too much?


This size of bread is perfect for cocktail rye, I in fact used some for a party, with honey/mango, and cheese/avacado, very well received


It stayed moist and flavorful for days after, very yummy. BUT, it got moldy after staying in the plastic bag for 5 days, how do I prevent that? Andy's formula is very good, I will definitely make it again and again, hopefully timing the proofing better. Will also experiment with soaking some rye flour with boiling water.

berryblondeboys's picture

While I'm not baking these days, I'm thumbing through all my baking books. I have a few as it is a passion of mine. As I mentioned in another post, I have "The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book". I love this book as it's a lot of whole grain goodness, easy to follow directions and healthy. One of my kid's favorites from it is a blueberry muffin recipe which I have converted into a mini chocolate chip muffin recipe. It's like a healthy cookie - each one is made with zero fat (except what's in the chocolate and egg), wheat germ and whole wheat and it's delicious (also is good as the blueberry muffin recipe too). From that book I also make my whole wheat Christmas stollen which everyone loves. There are also some great recipes for yeasted breads, but here is where it gets tricky. They specialize in making a desem - a type of wild yeast starter.

I remember reading through the book when I got it 16 years ago and feeling like, "Whoa, you can do that?" and "How and why?"

Later I added some other baking books which are quite good, King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking, Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads, some cake books, Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, a few coffee table bread books which look pretty, but are mainly fluff, and then recently checking out from the library Amy's Breads. I have a list of others I want to check out too.

The more you get into breads and the more you read REAL baking books, the more you realize, you need a starter for those bakery tasting breads, but every time I read about them, I get confused and intimidated. They go by all different sorts of names and I'm sure some are the same while others are different - soakers, bigas, Poolish, desem. From what I gather (could be wrong) starters and desems are captured wild yeasts (instead of using commercial yeast) and soakers, bigas and a Poolish are different forms of prefermented starters using commercial yeast. Have I lost you yet?

Anyway, I have now read about 5 different ways to make a starter, I've looked at pictures online, I've read blogs on their development, yet I am completely intimidated. All this talk about hydration, different bacteria taking over at different times, etc. ACK!!! Brain overload. Yet... I'm itching to start one. I really want to be able to say, "I can create my own starter from scratch and make artisan tasting breads!" and how cool is it to say, "This mother starter is 10 years old (or more)."

Of course, I need to decide which one to do. I could go with Peter Reinhart's way of doing it, but there's something conceited about him that turns me off (Plus he borrowed the pineapple starter idea). Add to that, in the book I have, it's quite obvious the book deal came first and then he was scrambling to get his recipe right while working on the book... doesn't inspire confidence. In the book I'm reading right now, Amy's Bread, the make a simple flour and water starter, but I've heard those can get moldy quite easily. And then a bread forum favorite starter is the Debra Wink starter which started out from trying to figure out why so many people were having the same problems with Peter Reinhart's starter recipe in "The Baker's Apprentice". She is/was a perfect person to figure this all out - she's an avid baker AND a microbiologist - BINGO! I like her! (What's with me and smart people?)

If you like to know WHY things happen, you simple must read these articles. I've linted to article one, but at the bottom of that page it links to part two which also includes her formula.

So, that's the formula I'm going to follow. She designed the formula after figuring out what's happening at all stages of the fermentation at the microscopic level - totally cool!

Mebake's picture

This is a high extraction Batard from hamelman's "Miche point a callier"

I did not sift the wholewheat flour, i just mixed 90% wholewheat with 10% all purpose.

I deviated somewhat from BREAD. i folded in the bowl for 20 strokes for 4 times at 1/2 hour intervals.

Under sunlight

Taste: Well, since i haven't used a high extraction flour, nor artisan T90 or T85 flours, i would not really call this Point a calier, but nevertheless, it tasted like a superior quality 90% wholewheat loaf at 82% hydration. It has a subtle , yet well defined acidic tang, with creamy roasted-nut-like aftertaste. The crumb was soft, moist and firm enough to accomodate all kinds of spreads. I love it, and i will surely stick to the stiff levain with such a high hydration doughs.



hanseata's picture

In this hot summer I find myself less eager to crank up the heat in our oven - thereby turning our kitchen into a sauna - my mind is more on something cool, tangy and refreshing. North German and Danish traditional cuisine has a treat just for this season: Rote Gruetze or Roede Groede (it's Danish name). Literally translated the name means "red gruel". That may not sound very enticing, but it's an old fashioned dish with an old fashioned name and soooo good!!!

My recipe is a modern version, using vanilla pudding powder instead of starch or tapioca, it's fast and easy to prepare. Enjoy it with cream, vanilla sauce or, even better, vanilla ice cream.

ehanner's picture

After seeing Shiao-Ping's post last week about the Sonoma Bakery near her, I was awakened from a long slumber. My other half has been working on a high protein diet that forbids grains, potatoes and rice. I have been supportive of the diet plan and have tried to not create things in the kitchen that would test her strength. What happened was I also was keeping to the plan and found surprisingly that I did not crave starches. So my self imposed hiatus has come to an end.

The beautiful crumb image from the Sonoma Miche really caught my eye. The red/brown color with the open crumb pattern and gelatinous structure seemed a contradiction of possibilities. Reports of long spoiling times and moist mouth feel were clues I can follow.

I thought I would deviate from the norm in creating this mix in that contrary to most SD mixes that use rye, I did not mix the rye with the levain. I poured boiling water into all of the rye (360g) at 100% hydration. So equal amounts of dark rye and hot water. To my surprise the dark rye absorbed all of the water and I had to work to get it mixed evenly. This I left on the counter for 24 hours as a soaker. The next morning it was a very firm Frisbee. The next time I will use much more water. I had an awful time getting a smooth mixture but eventually it came together. I added all the water for an overall hydration of 80% and mashed with a potato masher. I then added the levain and the 60% bread flour and salt. The dough looked more like chocolate frosting and was smooth and soft. I used 15% of the flour weight for levain and expected a good first rise in 4-6 hours. It had doubled in 6 hours with 2 stretch and folds in between.

I did a final shape on the counter into a boule and rolled the 1160g ball into a large banneton dusted with flour. I'm working on a distinctive slash pattern and thought I would try my first initial "E". No snickering please. A surgeon I am not. I'll have to think of something more simple to execute.

After proofing for 1.5 hours, the dough had risen respectably. I had preheated my oven/stone to 480F for the initial phase of the bake. I steamed normally and removed the block after 12 minutes and lowered the oven to 430F for 20 additional minutes. At this time I checked the internal temp and found it to be 180F. I again lowered the temp to 410F as the crust color was looking good. Another 10 minutes and the temp was 200F so I again lowered to 380F for another 10 minutes. The internal was 210 now so I shut the oven off, propped the door open with a blade and let it dry for another 10 minutes.

After cooling for 1 hour, we cut it open. The crumb was more like I would expect from a rye recipe. Some aeration but not too tight. It is very moist on the inside. After a day of being out and covered by a towel it is still moist in the center. Longer and lower baking next time. The flavor is exceptional and different from any sour rye I have made previous. There is a mild sour taste but another sweet aroma and flavor I am not familiar with. The soaking of the rye and then not souring the rye must be the difference. I dried a piece in the toaster today and it was delicious.

I do want to get a more open crumb than I did here. I think I'll try 30% dark rye next time and the extended ferment. It's a very good loaf if a little heavy. A longer baking profile will help that.


Added by Edit:

Note: I really like the finely milled dark rye I get from Stan at NY Bakers. It gets nice and dark when scalding and has a wonderful aroma. No caraway seeds here. Just the flavor of scalded rye and a hint of sour.

Overall formula:

Dark Rye flour, fine milled, from NY Bakers. 360g
Bread flour  800g
Water  928g
Salt  23g
Levain  174g

360g Dark Rye or whole Rye sifted.
720g Very hot water
Stir in a large bowl. Cover when combined and cover for 24 hours.

All of Soaker
208g water at 80F
Combine water and break up the soaker.
When soaker is broken up, add 174g of Levain and combine.
Add flour and salt. Mix until well combined and gluten starts to develop.

Ferment at room temperature until doubled. During ferment time, every hour perform a gentle stretch and fold and return to bowl.
When doubled, gently pour out on floured counter and gently shape into desired shape, tightening as you go. Place in a banneton and proof for approx 1.5 hours, or until 80% expanded.

Preheat oven to 470F. Bake at 470f for 12 minutes with steam. Release steam and lower oven to 430F for another 30-40 minutes. Check for internal temp of 210f. Prop door open with oven off to help dry the bread for 10 minutes.

Allow to cool on wire rack for at least 1 hour. The moisture does spread out after a day of being covered with a towel.

berryblondeboys's picture

Since we are having a heat wave, I try to do everything in the mornings or late in the evenings. So, while I was making the English muffins, I had a starter going in the mixer beside me.

One of my favorite breads of all times is the Pain de Campagne which I can get at the farmer's market at Burke or at Whole Foods. It's such a big loaf, that you buy a section of it, not the whole thing and it's always expensive, which means, I rarely buy it. It's something like $6 for a section at Whole Foods.

Finding a recipe (several actually), I decide to give it a whirl. I know that breads with starters or bigas or pools lavains, or desems (so clueless what that all means still) have more flavor, last longer, get better air bubbles, and nicer crusts. Almost all artisan breads starts from one of these aforementioned 'blobs'. This particular starter is just an overnight (or minimum 4 hours) fermentation. Cool! I can try that!

So, beside me on the counter while making English muffins I had this yeast mixture growing (and man did it grow!). Come morning, I started the recipe - to the T. I first tried to convert the volume measurements to weight, but then realized, "Wait a minute, how do I know that MY weight measurements are the correct weights?" and they must not have been, because I was mixing a wet mess. I think I added about 1/2 cup more whole wheat and 1/2 cup more white to get it a still very wet, but more manageable dough.

The recipe then states to let it rise for 3-4 hours - until it doubles. Which is what I did (top photo is after this rise). It need not quite 3 hours.

Then the tricky part - this is a wet dough - wetter than any I've ever worked with, how will I shape this blob of goo (kind of like the consistency of slime, just sticky). I get it out of the bowl and place it on a well floured counter and work it. Surprisingly, the dough with a little flour is quite manageable. I try to do the shaping of a boule technique.

Now it says to let it rise 2-3 hours until it triple is size. Ah, here's where I really worry. Will it rise? Will it stay round? And, like all previous attempts, it spreads out - not up or staying roundish, but spreads outwards.

After two hours, I decide I should bake it. I try to slash one, but, again, as usual, I fail. I had a brand new razor blade, but it got stuck in the dough, didn't really slice it and made it deflate a bit - ARGH! Now it's even more flat! OK, fine, I'll just leave the other loaf as is and hope for the best.

In the oven they go and I watch and wait for a nice oven spring (more growth) and nope... again, as usual, not much happening. it bakes for 40 minutes on 425 degrees, I take it out and have a flattish bread. Let it cool and while it looks 'ok' and tastes good, it's still not quite right.

I go to get help here at The Fresh Loaf  and the consensus is that I overproofed the loaves. Which, leaves me perplexed because how can I know? Which just shows me even more - I have so, so much to learn. Maybe I'll make a sweet quick bread tonight to give the yeast tries a rest. But, I'm also itching to start a try starter!

berryblondeboys's picture

So, I've delved into baking a few times. We got the Laurel's Bread book upon recommendation of our Jane Brody cookbook 16 years ago. I baked a few things, enjoyed it, but didn't have the time to devote to it between school, then kids and career and so on.

Then a few years back I got into baking breads sort of accidentally. My best friend volunteered me to make her wedding cake, so I beefed up my skills and got pretty good for an amateur baker and I do enjoy making specialty cakes for friends and family and occasional paying customers. But, we are pretty healthy eaters and cake, while yummy isn't something you eat or should eat every day. Plus, where we had moved (Northern Virginia and now more recently to Maryland), i could get some amazing bakery breads, but they were so expensive. $8 for a small loaf we could eat in one sitting. We decided I should start making our breads. I dibbled and dabbled, but never got into really with a toddler who refused to sleep.

Then, the move to maryland, becoming a three generation home with my mother in law moving in and we found ourselves wth a new wonderful kitchen AND finally some time to bake. So, a few weeks back, I stopped buying all bread and started making our own. Thus discovering, I have SO MUCH TO LEARN. And, like for many, The Fresh Loaf became my new home for help and inspiration.

This blog will be a trail of my triumphs and errors, which for now really does feel like more errors than triumphs, hence the bumbling in the title.


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