The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Lisa Johnson's picture
Lisa Johnson

My first post.  Apologies in advance to those who need specific measurements. I don't measure and make my bread "instinctively."  I used Raisin Bran flakes and orange juice to make a yeast starter.  Added a little sugar each day for 5 days.  Put it in fridge and forgot about it.  Took it out, added a little sugar and at days end when it was bubbling again, made an excellent loaf.  Because I like moist, rich bread and do not want to have to knead dough, I mixed some starter with warm water, sugar, a pinch of commercial yeast, half a stick of melted butter, and enough flour to make sticky dough that just begins to pull away from bowl. Dumped into well greased loaf pan, brushed with butter and covered overnight to rise.  In the morning, I baked in 400• oven 20 minutes.  Mmmm Mmmmm good. Preparation took 10 minutes.  An almost effortless way to make moist, dense, spongy homemade bread with a wonderful yeast smell. I can't guarantee you'll get my results, but it works for me. 

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

I almost forgot it was World Bread Day! But, my weekend baking actually applies pretty well to the holiday.

Yesterday I baked bialys. I learned about these breads from an employer, who wanted me to develop them as a product for their bakery. She loaned me her book The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World by Mimi Sheraton. The bialy is a small yeast roll, similar to a bagel, which was invented by jewish bakers in Bialystok Poland. Unfortunately, after the holocaust and World War II, the bread was mostly lost to Poland and exists only in adopted countries where survivors immigrated and recreated traditional breads. In the book, Mimi Sheraton travels to Bialystok and talks to people about their memories of the rolls. It's a rather sad book, as she often discovers how much was lost from the traditions of Poland, and is really more of an anthropological tale more than a food book, but it's still an interesting read.

This batch I used the recipe from Artisan Breads Across America, by Maggie Glazer. Supposedly it is adapted from Kossar's Baker in New York, who is famous for their Bialys.

Bialys are made from a stiff, lean dough, and Glazer recommends a food processor for kneading, which I didn't find necessary (my DLX was fine with the workload). When I baked these at the bakery, I used to retard the dough overnight, which worked great. This time I just made them in a single day: a 2-3 hour first rise, then formed them into 2.75 ounce rounds, and let them proof another couple of hours unti large, soft, and puffy. My house was a little dry so I spritzed the rounds with water to keep them from forming a skin.

Once the rounds are proofed, the special shaping comes into play. You pick up the round, stick your thumbs in the middle and gently pull outward, creating a thin depression (but not a hole!) in the middle. The center dough will be nearly see-through, and will bake up crispy. An onion/poppyseed mixture is schmeared on top of the rolls, and they are then baked in a very hot (450 degrees+) oven. They will brown up nicely in 8 or 9 minutes: watch them closely and pull them out when they are brown. Unlike Bagels these rolls are not boiled first: they have a nice chewy crust right out of the oven but can lose a little something with age--reheating or a quick toasting helps with that! It's a little tricky to get the center "hole' big enough so that it doesn't close up during baking--every roll turns out a little different!

Bialys

 

We ate them plain right out of the oven, and later on split them and ate them toasted with cream cheese.

 

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Happy World Bread Day, one and all!

Being a Monday, there is very little likelihood I'll get to bake. So I baked Sunday instead. I baked two Blueberry Cream Cheese Braids.

braids

A sourdough loaf with my new starter (I haven't had a chance to post about that yet).

sourdough crust

sourdough crumb

Without question, this was the best sourdough loaf I've ever made.

I also baked something like the Pugliese from The Bread Baker's Apprentice with some left over mashed potatoes I had.

Pugliese loaves

So tomorrow, to celebrate, I'll eat them up, and perhaps share some at the office as a World Bread Day gift.

beanfromex's picture
beanfromex

Last week I had 11 people over for dinner to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving..Food becomes a focal point for most ex pats (living outside their birth country). My ex chiropractor for example, would get misty eyes when he spoke about his mothers roast duck...in France.

And for dessert, I made an english trifle, a sour cream and raison pie and a cherry pie. My husband, a week later is still craving cherry pie, claiming he did not get enough of last weeks...so he BUYS a frozen one yesterday...claiming he didnt want me to go to "any extra trouble" and that a frozen one would "be almost the same". Now I am not a food snob, but Hades will freeze over before I eat a piece of this frozen pie, pictured below. Also I had alterior motives... the previously mentioned "doubts about the oven temp"

The good thing about it, was that it almost burnt, prooving again that there is something seriously out of whack with the temperature guage somewhere in my oven...

But, as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder...so is taste...

beanfromex's picture
beanfromex

After last weeks failures of french bread...and the previous weeks sourdough fiasco, I have decided to move onto something that is tried and true in the kitchen. The thought was to check the oven's ability to remain at a constant temperature since they moved the gas tank and laid new lines on the roof.

The cookies came out of the oven "as normal". I had moved my only rack into the top position for the french bread attempts, so the first cookie batch came out a little crispier than normal, no photos of those ones!! This was the last of the Nestles pre chocolate chips, I have a single bag of hersheys minis left...But we prefer the Nestles.

I have also noticed that my key board is not spacing correctly...Most electronic appliances seem to deteriorate quicky in this humid enviroment..and I have experienced first hand its wonderful effects on french bread crusts....

 

ojuice's picture
ojuice

Well the last batch of starter didn't make it, but I have a new batch of starter which is doing very well.  It's at the point now where I need to feed it twice a day while it sits on my desk.  I don't plan on using it until next week and of course I don't want to waste that much flour keeping it going until then.  So, if I put it in the fridge, how much should I feed it before doing so, and how long should I let it sit out before I put it in?  I assume when I take it out I should feed it as I normally would after it comes up to temperature.

 

In regards to my feeding questions in my last post, feeding 1/4 cup old starter with 1 cup flour and ~1/2 cup water is working great!

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

It's been a long week already, and it's only Thursday! I actually did bake last weekend, but am only now getting around to posting about it.

Beatrice Ojakangas' book, Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand, has been languishing on my bookshelf for nearly a year and I finally got around to trying one of her recipes. Ms. Ojakangas hews mainly to straight yeasted breads and does not appear to have an interest in or experience with artisanal breads. That isn't a slam, just an observation, since I didn't happen to see any references to baking on a stone or using steam during baking. If the recipe I tried is any indication, her breads are definitely worth making.

I selected a buttermilk rye with fennel seeds. During a recent trip to the store, I had picked up some buttermilk with no particular recipe in mind, so I had some on hand. My wife does not enjoy caraway, but she does like fennel and it goes well with rye. So, when I happened across that recipe, it was an easy pick. Here are a couple of pictures of the finished loaves:

Buttermilk Fennel Rye

Buttermilk Fennel Rye

And another of the crumb:

Buttermilk Fennel Rye

As can be seen in the photos, I should probably have given it a little longer to rise, although it was already doubled in size. That may have reduced some of the splitting. It might also have helped to use some steam during the first few minutes. The recipe calls for baking the bread on a baking sheet but I baked it on a preheated stone, which probably contributed to a larger than expected oven spring. Whether in spite of, or because of, my tweaking, the bread is delightful to eat. The crumb, while close-textured, is not dense. The bread is moist and chewy and makes a great base for sandwiches. The fennel contributes a pleasing crunch, in addition to it's fragrance.

I'm looking forward to trying more recipes from this book.

PMcCool

beanfromex's picture
beanfromex

I am thinking of coming up with a sure fire recipe for this loaf.

But of course, before I do that I have to master my new "progressive" glasses, the yahoo beta format, uploading pics into this site while I continue to try and produce french bread in a location where the flour and humidity and yeast are all unstable...But, it may just be me...

 I have baked french bread twice this week, putting all my new found knowledge and lists and tips into play...all to no avail. The first batch I had to pry off the couche...the second batch came out firmer, pale and without a crust despite feeling crusty in the oven when I first took them out...

I just know at any minute my dear husband will walk through the door asking where "todays batch"is and I am sure that will send me into a homicidal rage...I have accomplished nothing other than whinging to the site owner for the mentally incompetant set of directions for uploading pics , and putting 9 measly pics into photobucket.

I dont know if my inability to read the screen text is flour smudges, the progressive lenses, or general eye fatigue due to reading for the past week on french bread..which didn't help me out anyway did it??

So, tomorrow, I will take another stab at uploading pics, and perhaps bake my old standby loaf, which should soothe me, if not, there is always margaritas made with fresh lime juice...

 Bye for now..

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

For my birthday, my mother bought me the brand-new King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking book. It's well timed. Their first book turned me on to bread baking, but after a few months, I moved toward whole grain breads almost exclusively, and the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion is about 95% white flour recipes. I learned a lot from it, but I wasn't baking much from it. So, suffice to day, I was itching to knead something up out of this book as soon as possible.


 I've made a few of the quickbreads. The Sailor Jack muffins, in particular -- an incredible cake-like concoction with raisins steeped in spices, molasses and brown sugar, along with whole wheat flour and oats, topped with a lemon sugar glaze -- are very, very tasty indeed. But I'd not tried a yeast bread until this weekend.  The first recipe to catch my eye was Ciabatta Integrale, a ciabatta made with half whole wheat flour, olive oil and a bit of powdered milk. I love ciabatta -- nothing is better for a sandwich or simply a bit of oil and balsamic vinegar. But whole grains just don't do ciabatta. Those holes? Forget it. Or so I thought. This recipe isn't 100% whole grains, but it's half, and I'll take it, given the results.  Here's one loaf all sliced up for sandwiches.
   And here's the other loaf, which served as dinner bread with some stuffed acorn squash (stuffed with quinoa, maple syrup, raisins, almonds and cinnamon), fresh corn and a green salad composed of our morning trip to the farmers' market. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are in the gravy boat, natch. 
  I was really impressed with the results, especially since the recipe said it's impossible to mix completely without a stand mixer. I don't own a stand mixer, so here's how I did it, thanks to a little help from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.  Ingredients  Pre-ferment  1 cup or 4 oz. whole wheat flour 1/2 cup or 4 oz cool water Pinch of instant yeast  Dough  All of the pre-ferment 1 1/4 cups or 5 oz. whole wheat flour 2 1/4 cups or 9.5 oz white bread flour 1 1/4 cups or 10 oz. cool water 1/4 cup or 1.75 oz olive oil 1/4 cup or 1 oz. nonfat dry milk 1.5 tsp salt 1/4 tsp instant yeast  Yes, you read that right. This recipe makes two loaves of ciabatta with less than 3/8 tsp yeast.  The night before mix together the pre-ferment. The next morning dump all the ingredients (including the pre-ferment, which should be spongy and full of bubbles) EXCEPT for the salt and additional yeast into a bowl, and mix it together with a large spoon or a dough whisk until it seems mostly hydrated. Cover and let it stand for 45 minutes to an hour.      

After the autolyse (that's what you're doing when you soak), add the salt and yeast.

DON'T FORGET, OR YOU'LL REGRET IT. :-)

                  Get a small bowl of cool water, and dip your hands in it. Shake off most of the water (important, otherwise you'll end up overhydrating the dough and you'll have soup) and then, using your hand like a dough hook, impale the dough with all five fingers. Turn your wrist clockwise while you turn the bowl with your other hand counter clockwise. Continue to do this, occassionally changing direction and wetting your hands if the dough starts to stick, for about 10 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, but it will stick to the bottom. Adjust the flour or water as necessary. Put the dough in a pre-greased bowl and cover it.  Every hour or so, copiously flour your work surface, remove the dough, copiously flour the dough and give it a good stretch and fold, brushing off as much of the flour as you can before folding. By stretch-and-fold, I mean gently pat out the gas, stretch the dough to twice its length and then fold it in thirds like a letter. Give the dough a one-quarter turn, and then stretch-and-fold once more. Place it back in the bowl and re-cover it. Here's a good lesson on the technique.  After about 3 hours and 2 or 3 folds (depending on how much strength the dough needs), remove the dough, and divide it into two. Gently stretch and pat each loaf into a 12 x 4 inch rectangle, and place them in a baker's couche (essentially, well-floured linen that you bunch up around the loaves so that they rise up instead of spreading out) or on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cover with greased plastic.  It took mine about 4 hours for the final proof, but then my house is a chilly 62-64 degrees F. If your house is around 70-75 degrees, you may only have to wait two hours or so. In any case, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and put the loaves in the oven either on a preheated baking stone or a cold baking sheet when they're good and puffy. Steam the oven (I keep a cast iron skilet in the bottom of mine and usually toss about 1 cup of boiling water in it) and turn the oven down to 425. The loaves should take 20-25 minutes to cook and should register 205 degrees when done. With all that oil, the crust is not as crisp as I usually like ciabatta, but I find I do like the flavor it adds.  Enjoy!
Floydm's picture
Floydm

This morning was the first morning that it was cold enough here that the furnace kicked on. Unfortunately, we discovered that the ignitor has failed, so we got a fan running but no heat. So I've done what any good home baker would do: put together enough batches of bread to keep the oven on all day. It has kept the house warm and smelling wonderful.

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