The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hi All,

Just wanted to share with you some pics of the 2.2kg miche that I baked on 12/13/09...  It's the biggest bread that I have ever baked, and one of the best tasting...  Enjoy!


davidg618's picture

In the past three days we've been baking: a first try at Vollkornbrot, three loaves of sourdough, and 38 dozens of cookies including Welsh Cakes, Date-Nut Pinwheels, Tart Cherry and Pecan Biscotti, and Tangerine Spritz. Except for the spritz, I creamed all the butter and sugar by hand, before adding the rest of the liquid ingredients. Result: wielding the wooden spoon I got a blister on my little finger! Geez! do I have to wear work gloves to mix dough too?

These are left for us, and the neighhood cookie exchange. Seven packages left home yesterday posted to family.

The vollkornbrot

This is Hamelman's formula in Bread. I don't have a local nor online source for rye chops, so I ran rye berries through my homebrewing grain mill that cracks the seed coating on whole barley grains. I think the result was essentially the same as commercial rye chops. I'm happy with the flavor, and density but not elated. I tested it after resting it for forty-eight hours. I'm going to let it rest for three or four more days before I freeze it to see if the flavor develops further. The tea towel was a gift from an English friend of mine, and was the only tea towel I own big enough to wrap a Pullman loaf.

I didn't photograph the sourdough loaves, because one was immediately eaten, one immediately given away, and the third one immediately frozen. They looked like all my other posted sourdough boules'. However internally they're a bit different. I've named these Halcyon Acres Sourdough, after our modest five acres of horse pastures we call home. I concocted the formula, and my wife likes it more than any other sourdoughs I've baked to date.

I recently started feeding my sourdough starters with first clear flour, instead of bread flour. Additionally, when I want to increase dough sourness, I feed a small portion of starter for three days at room temperature, 72°F to 76°F, every eight to twelve hours. (I discard much of it each feeding--1:1:1 ratio--so thing don't get out of hand.) I'm indebted to Debra Wink for debunking the folklore that lactobacteria reproduce better in stiff cultures, at low temperature. The myth flew in the face of my understanding of physics and thermodynamics, but I'm not a microbiologist, so I wasn't entirely certain the myth was nonsense. I've started feeding with first clear flour because of its relatively high ash producing content, which provides necessary minerals and trace nutrients to the bacteria.

Here's the fromula for three 1.5 lb loaves of Halcyon Acres Sourdough

Ripe Sourdough Starter     450g

Starter Hydration              125%

Whole Rye Flour                225g

All Purpose Flour               450g

Bread Flour                       450g

Water                               650g

Salt                                  27g (2%)

Final Dough Weight           2252g

Hydration                         68%

I built my formula-ready starter using a culture previously rejuvanated with first clear flour, at room temperature, for 72 hours. The culture had subsequently been refrigerated for two weeks. I use a 24 hour, three build, method to create the needed formula-ready ripe starter. My three build method is described elsewhere in this blog, in detail. I used first clear flour for each build for this starter.

Procedures: Hand mixed flour, water, and starter to shaggy consistency; 30 minute autolyse; added salt; hand mixed to smooth, homogeneous consistency. Bulk proofed for 3 hours with 3 stretch-and-fold at 45 minute intervals; turned out; divided into three equal portions; preshaped boules; rested 10 minutes;final shaped. Final proof 1-1/2 hours in bannetons; scored loaves. Pre-steamed oven (I use water-soaked towel on a baking sheet) five minutes before loading. Baking: Initial oven temperature 480°F; reduced oven temperature to 450°F at loading. Removed steam source after 15 minutes; finished baking (approximately 10 minutes.)

Happy Holiday baking; watch out for blisters ;-)

David G

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

So last night I threw out over 5kg of dough. After making 2 succesfull attempt at making a variation of based on Shiao-Ping's Artisan III class at the SFBI:

"Miche, Sourdough with Two Levain Builds: 230% in Final Dough"

I decided to increase the recipe to about 5kg of dough... as I have an office party to bring bread to tomorrow...

I went through the steps that had afforded me successful loaves (2x660g loaves, and 1x2.2kg loaf)...  Since I live in an NYC apt, we don't really have control of our heating system, so my apartment tends to be hot and dry...  Anyways, I did the 1st levain build successfully with a 10 hr fermentation, but when I got home from work to check on the 2nd levain build, it had already collapsed and had turned into a bubbly foamy mess...  I think I let the 2nd levain build go for 12 hrs, instead of the 6 from the previous batch...  In retrospect, I should have just tossed the levain build and start over, but stupid me, I decided to continue with making the final dough and hope that it would work...

So I ended up making the final dough, and it was basically a sticky mess that got worse the more I tried to work with it...  It would stir, but never firm up... As I worked with it, I just kept getting my hands trapped.  I decided to divide up the dough (snot-like glop) into 2 plastic containers and fridge them to see if that would help...  As you can guess, it didn't.

I put one of the containers of dough back into the mixing bowl and tried to work it with my hands/spatula to no avail...  At that point, I decided to throw it all out and start over...

So I started over...  with just a simple french bread...  I checked the new dough (3kg) this morning after 8 hours in the fridge, and it looks good so far...  I turned it again before I left for work and put it back into the fridge for another 8 hours...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tonight's bake...

Quoting Kenny Rogers:  

You gotta know when to hold 'em

Know when to fold em

Know when to walk away

Know when to run...


Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

The first is that I'm no longer pregnant. I actually gave birth to my baby boy on October 31st. :D

The second is that I'm baking again and I plan to continue doing so. I've missed home-baked bread after all the grocery store crap we've been eating lately due to me not feeling like baking. I have a new sourdough starter going, a loaf of white whole wheat bread in the fridge retarding until tomorrow, and tonight for supper I made pizza with a home made crust for the first time in almost 6 months. It's a good start, and I really hope to keep going this week with a couple of things: a rosemary potato bread and a cinnamon raisin oat bread. Making the potato bread, though, means I have to go outside and dig what's left of my rosemary out of the almost 2 feet of snow that my husband decided to pile on top of it.

The trials we bakers must go through to create our masterpieces.

It's good to be back. Now that I've spent some hours going through the blogs again, I do believe I have some inspiration for the weeks to come.

gardenchef's picture

Hi All
Gardening Season in New England is just about over (a few herb plants left that I can use) and now onto Baking! We'll be focusing on breads for the next few weeks. Always happy to post recipes if anyone is interested, just let us know.

You'll see the profile photo of myself with my sweet apprentice! I'm thrilled she has expressed interest in good old fashioned home baking. There is NOTHING like baking from scratch. The aroma fills the house, everyone walks thru the door and can't help but smile and express interest in what that great smell is..and the loaves are magically gone!

We'll post photos along the way. Making Country White Bread at the moment. The family fav from way back when my oldest, now in college, was a toddler. I had gotten away from baking for some years with all the activities and fun family adventures that kept us very busy, I'm thrilled to be baking's is almost meditative.

I have so many stories to tell in future blogs. My mom-in-law has been a wealth of knowledge regarding the baking that her older sister and mother did back in the day. Will tell, promise.

God Bless and Merry Christmas...just around the corner now. I want to appreciate every moment of every day.

Hans Krijnen's picture
Hans Krijnen


I am making the 80% ryebread and his soaker asked for whole rye flour, the question is is it just rye flour or are they rye berries are cracked rye berries can some one give any suggestion




Marni's picture

Paddyscake's Guinness Gingerbread looked sooo good, I had to try it!  I use Black Bart Stout, other than that, it is the same.

This was fabulous!  Sweet at first taste with a great bite that is not too spicy and so moist with a real depth to it.

My picture of the cake on the plate somehow didn't load onto the computer, but I just took a picture of the last remaining bit:

The lighter spot is the fresh ginger, which really makes a difference in the taste.  This is the best gingerbread!  Thank you Paddyscake!

txfarmer's picture

I jumped ahead in my BBA challenge to make this stollen since I figured it makes a lot more sense to have it now, rather than ... next Jan. It's yummy, with all that dried fruits, how can it not be?!

The shaping instruction in BBA is not that clear IMO. After reading and re-reading, and bugging my Germany friends, I think I figured it out. It's basically two folds like a "Z" shape, with the top flap narrower than the bottom ones. I didn't use almond paste since I baked those as gifts and the recipients prefer it without.

I know the taste improves after a few days(weeks?), but they didn't last that long. All gone after only 2 days.


janij's picture

This weekend we decided to bake a bunch of bread to give to the neighbors for Christmas.  We decided to warm up the wood fire oven Sat night.  SInce it is cooler we tend to fire it the day before and cook meat or something then bread the next day after the oven has been refired.  So last night we cooked a pork loin.  We have had good luck with birds (chickens or turkeys) but not with beef.  So we thought we would try pork this time.  It did not brown as nicely as I would have liked but it tasted wonderful.  So we baked that last night.  Then this morning I made a triple batch of multigrain whole wheat, a double batch of whole wheat, cinnamon, raisin and oat bread, and a double batch of plain white bread.  I was happy with all the dough.  I think I did a pretty good job.  I forgot to add the honey to the ww multigrain and added it after the autolayse and had a soupy mess.  But with a few fold and a little extra flour we were on our way.

I was grateful that it did not hit 70 today, even though I am sorely missing the sun.  It was about 50 and I could put the white and cinnamon raisin bread outside to proof since I needed to hold it longer that the ww multigrain.  I got concerned when my husband pulled out the coals really early.  But when it was time to load the bread, the temp was low, just undeer 400 and there wasn't much I could do.  I had 15 loaves of read and not enough fridge space.  I had my husband put some coals around the sides of the oven then we loaded the ww multigrain.  I need to work on my loading skills.  Actually I think I need a differnt peel.  But that is for later.  When I checked it 42 minutes later is was almost done and I got good oven spring.  Then we loaded the 8 loaves of white and cinnamon raisin.  Talk about oven spring.  Those loaves grew a good 2 niches in height.  I was so proud.  The oven was at about 350 by then.  So the part of the loaf in the pan did not brown as well as I wanted but they were good. 

After all the bread we put the weeks granola in the oven.  It will be good in the morning.  So I will post a few pictures.  I know that I need to work on some things, but I think we are coming right along in baking in the WFO!

pmccool's picture

For those who are keeping score, I moved from the USA to South Africa in late October to work on a project being managed by my employer.  After spending a week in a hotel and a month in a temporary apartment, my wife and I moved into a leased house on December 1.  We're feeling fairly settled now and can find our way to several different supermarkets, gas stations, restaurants and the like.  It's a different landscape, and I'm not just talking topography.  Still, we're learning to navigate our way around without creating unnecessary hazard to ourselves or others.

Part of the learning process involves getting acquainted with new players in familiar roles.  In the case of bread, this includes different flours, a new starter, a different oven, and a different elevation (approximately 4200 feet above sea level, give or take a kopje).  None of these are especially difficult to cope with, but the collective effect has me slightly off kilter.

Prior to this weekend, I had baked bread three times, with results ranging from dismal to passable.  

This weekend saw some improvement, with plenty of room for additional improvement.  I baked a pain de campagne from Clayton's Complete Book of Breads, a honey oat sandwich loaf and scones from KAF's Whole Grain Baking book, and Mark Sinclair's version of Portugese Sweet Bread (in hamburger bun form).

The pain de campagne calls for a yeasted "starter"; I used my own sourdough starter to build the levain.  I'm beginning to wonder if there is something about the whole wheat flour that I'm using (Snowflake brand Brown Bread Flour at 12.5% protein, if memory serves).  My impression is that it tends to absorb less water than other whole wheat flours that I have used, which produces a stickier dough.  By sticky, I mean almost rye-like stickiness.  The grind is a bit coarser than I have seen in other flours, so it may be that I need to go with extended autolysis to give it enough time to absorb moisture.  And I may need to dial back on water content, too.  The closest thing to AP flour that I've located so far is something labeled cake flour, at 10% protein content.  The initial dough was quite sticky after mixing (did I mention stickiness earlier?), so I gave it a series of stretch and folds during the bulk ferment that lasted about 5 hours.  Temperatures in the house ranged from the low 70'sF in the morning up to about 80F yesterday afternoon.  I shaped the dough into two batards, achieving a good gluten cloak, and set them to rise in a parchment "couche".  When they had expanded about 60-70% in size, I preheated the oven and baking stone, along with the steam pan, then poured in about a cup of boiling water.  I slashed each loaf and jockeyed it as gently as possible onto the stone, using a baking sheet for a peel.  Oven spring was modest, with the slashes opening partially.  The loaves colored up nicely, indicating that the yeast hadn't run through all available food.  I haven't cut into either loaf yet to know how the crumb turned out.

Things went quite well with the honey oat sandwich loaves, but for two glitches.  One was that I had intended to make each with a cinnamon swirl but failed to remember that until I was pulling them out of the oven.  The other is that both loaves were over proofed and partially collapsed during baking, even though they did not come close to reaching the volume ("one and a half inches above the pan rim") recommended in the directions.  Eish!  At least they taste good.

This morning's scones also tasted wonderful, but failed to rise as much as they should have.  Maybe the oven runs a bit cooler than the controls would suggest.  Then again, its geared for Celsius and I'm not.  I think I'll pick up an oven thermometer or two while we are back in the States over the holidays.  Then we can find out if it is a calibration issue, or operator error. 

The Portugese Sweet Bread was everything that I wanted it to be, though.  Texture, color, flavor, rise, everything worked just right.  If only I could figure out why!  My track record so far would suggest that it is more of a fluke than an exercise in skill.  Right now, I'm just happy to have had a bake go the way I wanted.

The experimenting and learning will continue.  I will keep trying various flours and methods until I get to where I can produce consistently good results. 

Oh, and if anyone can tell me where to look for rye flour, I'll be grateful.



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