The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Pmccool's picture

Time to catch up a bit from the Christmas whirl.  Last weekend, I baked Leader's pain au levain again, from his Local Breads.  I keep coming back to this bread, because of it's lovely flavor.  It is only mildly sour and the rye and whole wheat components add to the depth of flavor.  Since temperatures in my kitchen were hovering in the 63-65F range, it also benefitted from a long, slow fermentation.  Here is a picture of the finished loaves:

Leader's pain au levain

The slashing suffered from a lack of mental mise en place.  I'l have to pay better attention to that in future.

Here's a shot of the crumb:

Crumb of pain au levain

The crumb is great for sandwiches and for holding spreads, but a bit fine-grained for this style of bread.  I'm still working to get all of the factors done right in a single loaf.  This one has great flavor.  I thought it had ample hydration, but it could probably have been pushed a bit higher.  And my handling during shaping was a bit ham-fisted.  One of these days . . .

The second bread on the agenda last weekend was Reinhart's New York Deli Rye, from BBA.  No complaints about the bread itself; it is a moist, flavorful (I substituted dill seed for caraway seed), sturdy bread and makes wonderful sandwiches.  The only quibble, which is purely cosmetic, is the blotchiness on the crust caused by the oiled plastic wrap that I draped over the pans to keep the dough from drying during it's final proof, as seen here:

Reinhart's NY deli rye

And, since I was on a sourdough kick and had company coming, I also made the sourdough English muffins from the KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook.  I never got around to snapping a picture of those.  They turned out very well.  I think I finally got the right combination of hydrations, time to rise, and griddle temperature.  They ballooned up to more than an inch in thickness, without trying to turn into spheres.  There are plenty of nooks and crannies for trapping melting butter or juicy jams.  They are so moist that they require a second pass through the toaster to brown up enough.

Sometimes it is hard to decide which is better: the enjoyment of making bread, or the enjoyment of eating it.

SylviaH's picture

I used my Buttermilk Bundt Cake recipe and added fresh/frozen cranberries and topped with cinnamon, brown sugar streusel with a sprinkel of swedish pearl sugar.   RECIPE CORRECTION:  Should read 1 1/3 Cups of Buttermilk in the Batter!

Happy Holidays, Sylvia 

crunchy's picture

I bought Hamelman's book "Bread" last week on the recommendation of David, Floyd, Howard, and many other TFL members. Of course, it did not disappoint. I wish there were more photos, but as it is the book is full of great tips, recipes, and more. My first attempted recipes were flaxseed bread (pg. 211), since I love both rye and flaxseed,

and Pointe-a-Calliere miche (pg. 165).

The flaxseed dough, which is 60% rye and 40% bread flour, was tougher to work with than the rye breads I've been making from Local Breads. I usually don't add any commercial yeast to my sourdoughs, but decided to follow Hamelman's recipe exactly the first time. I'm glad I did:

And the miche, which is true sourdough, turned out well too. To approximate high extraction whole wheat I used 90% KA 100% whole wheat flour and 10% bread flour. The loaf rose well and had good oven spring (I put water in a roasting pan for steam and sprayed the loaf a couple of times during the first 5 minutes of baking).

Can't wait to try out some more recipes!

nbicomputers's picture

all of my baking is done with the exception of some rolls for tomorow's breakfast which i will do starting at 4 am along with some fresh danish and puff pastry

this is a picture post and once again if you are in my neck of the woods come on in and sit a spell

the whole 6 foot table





Floydm's picture

Sunday I made a holiday bread that was pretty much like a stollen.

I didn't have marzipan and I baked it in a loaf pan, but otherwise it was basically the BBA stollen recipe.  It was excellent.  I think I'm going to bake a double batch today and give some to the neighbors.

You may have heard, Oregon got walloped with a doozy of a snow storm.  Keep in mind that we rarely get more than an inch or two of snow here.  Yet here is picture of me yesterday climbing back up the hill after sledding down it with the kids.

And it is still snowing today.  Sounds like it won't warm up enough to start melting until tomorrow.


ivette21's picture

On a boring Sunday afternoon I was at home trying to find something to do when I decided to make this pizza.

It hadbeen many years since I had made one... the last time being when I was in H.S. in a Home Economics

class so I really didn't remember much about how to start. I looked fora recipe online and figured out that I

needed simple ingredientsto make the crust so I gathered up my stuff and started. I useda stand mixer to

prepare the pizza dough and then took it out when it formed a sticky ball and kept on kneading with my hands. 

I left the ball to rest for about to 2 hours and then started to form the pizza. I admit I had a bit of trouble

because it would shrink back and I don't know if it maybe was too dry.. which it didn't seem to be or that's just

the way its supposed to be. If anyone can give me any tipson how I could make it better I'll gladly use them

next timeI bake one. I have to admit that the flavor was pretty good. I was surprised that it didn't have

an aweful taste to it haha. Well,here is my creation.. and if you have any ideas or advice for me please let me know. 




Edthebread's picture

WW flaxseed


I cracked and opened my Christmas present early - Peter Reinhart's wholewheat breads.  I have tried 100% wholewheat before but I always seem to gravitate back to 50% white because of the texture.  But this load (WW flaxseed) was a revelation!  The texture was great - open, light and very tasty.  The only thing I would change is to reduce the honey a little, as it was too sweet for my taste. The basic approach is to make about half the flour as a soaker the previous day, and the other half as a starter.  Then they are mixed with a little more flour and a good amount of yeast on the day of baking.  The soaker really seems to make a huge difference.


This bread is my regular sourdough baked in a cast iron pot.  Usually it is the NYT no-kneed, but this time I mixed in the bread machine.  It came out denser than usual, but still nicely tasty.  I like the rustic look out of the cast iron pot, as I can't slash it too well when it's in the bottom of the pan.

Floydm's picture

I made Magic Squares yesterday, which the kids are happily snacking on right now.  We also made pecan-cranberry bars and shortbread cutout cookies, which the kids decorated.

Since the oven was on and we were snowed in, I also made pizzas.  We had pesto pizzas, one with shrimp and the other with chicken.

Happily I have enough dough left over for two more pizzas, so I'm excitedly waiting for lunchtime.

I'm baking a sourdough loaf to go with a pot of soup tonight, and I'm thinking of making a holiday bread, something similar to a Stollen or Clayton's Pain Allemande Aux Fruits.  I forgot to pick up marzipan, but I have plenty of dried fruits, nuts, and Amaretto, so I ought to be able to come up with something tasty.

BTW, anyone else notice that we crossed post number 10,000 here?  That is pretty exciting.  The site just grows and grows.

dmsnyder's picture

This topic is not about the auricular anatomy of elves (or Vulcans). It's about scoring breads.

Scoring loaves creates a visually pleasing pattern, and it helps control the expansion of the loaf as it bakes. This was discussed not long ago in this topic:

The San Francisco Sourdough breads I baked today illustrate a more "advanced" aspect of scoring that is alluded to by both Hamelman (in "Bread") and Suas (in "Advanced Bread & Pastry.")

San Francisco Sourdough Breads (from Peter Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb")

Detail of bâtard crust, with "ear," grigne" & "bloom."

So, what is the point of an ear?

What Suas called "the classic cut" is parallel to the long axis of a baguette or a bâtard. The cut is made with the blade at a shallow angle to the surface of the loaf. The cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch deep. Paradoxically, this shallow cut results in the flap lifting better than a deeper cut would, thus forming a nice "ear." Hamelman (pg. 80) points out that "a deep cut will simply collapse from its own weight."

The angle is also important. "If the angle is not achieved and the cut is done with the blade vertical to the loaf, the two sides of the dough will spread very quickly during oven spring and expose an enormous surface area to the heat. The crust will begin to form too soon - sometimes before the end of oven spring - penalizing the development of the bread. If the cut is properly horizontal, the sides of the loaf will spread slower. The layer of dough created by the incision will partially and temporarily protect the surface from the heat and encourage a better oven spring and development." (Suas, pg. 116.) 

The second photo, above, illustrates a fairly nice "ear," but it also shows that the bloom occured slowly, as it should. Notice that the color of the crust in the opening has 3 distinct degrees of browning, decreasing from left to right. The darker part on the left obviously opened first and was exposed to the direct heat of the oven for longer. If the bloom occured too rapidly, it would have a more even coloration. For example, see the photo of the boule, which was slashed with the blade held at 90 degrees to the surface of the loaf:

Boule scored with the blade held vertical to the loaf surface. Note the even coloration of the bloomed crust.

In summary, in order to achieve an optimal bloom in baguettes and bâtards, one must attend to 3 variables when scoring them:

  1. The cuts should be almost parallel to the long axis of the loaf.

  2. The blade should be held at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf.

  3. The depth of the cut should be shallow - about 1/4 inch.

Variable shading of the bloomed crust confirms that the desired slow but prolonged opening of the cut during oven spring occured.

Cool, isn't it?


parousia's picture

After 1 year from the birth of our son I have returned to baking bread. The steam thing for crust and rise has never worked for me with certainty, and my wife thinks that it is a bit overly dramatic to have plumes of steam in the kitchen. So, I started to get the outer surface of the loaf really wet and every 5 min(for the first 15-20 until starts rising) remove the loaf and re-wet. All this from a cold start.

A child has been a phenomenal aid to the motivation of time management and systematic trial and error.  For those visual learners out there, I would like to share this side by side comparison below.

It seems that the loaf did not quite double. As can be seen by the rip at the upper left, it could have proofed a while longer, maybe until it showed a more pronounced clearing of the lip of the bread tin. The wetting technique allowed me to get this rise whereas before with steam I could not.

Below are 3 pictures:

  1. The first successful sourdough 65% hydration.

    1. Crust was way too thick on the sides from the baking tin(450deg and too long time)

  1. Same sided by second loaf same formula(for size and rise comparison).

    1. The first had just crested the lip of the baking tin but expanded to fill the shape of the tin.

  1. The second loaf but the horizontal consequence of over proofing.

    1. filled with sharp cheddar and cracked pepper, while a monster to look at, it is to be reckoned with next to a pot of homade chicken soup.

      Strangely the second loaf at 65% hydration, when folding, when overproofed felt more like 85% hydration at mixing.

Merry Breadmas and may this season be full of life to you and your kitchen,



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