The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Gedunkleberg's picture

Hello, Fresh Loaf friends! My name is Rachael, and I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I very recently discovered my love of bread baking (I baked my first "loaf" about a week ago), though I have always loved eating the stuff. Cooking is a big hobby of mine, so I suppose it was just a matter of time before I made the leap to baking. My first "loaf" was actually a Tuscan flatbread (though it does use yeast) that I made from a recipe I found in Bon Appetit. It was quite tasty, so I made it again yesterday with a few minor adjustments. I think I am going to try making my first real loaf this coming weekend with the basic recipe provided in Lesson One. I am so excited to have discovered this new's cheap, fun, creative, relatively easy, and you wind up with an end product that you can eat and share with your friends. What more could you ask for?

longlivegoku's picture

Well this is my 2nd attempt at Jeffrey Hamelman's whole-wheat bread. The first turned out pretty well so my wife requested more (the best toast ever according to her). I started the pre-ferment the morning before work, mixed up the dough after work and then fermented/proofed. Unfortunately time was my enemy as I was unable to allow a full final proof. As a result I had some out of control oven spring action I think. No matter, tasted better this time than last! (different flour)

Bread image

Floydm's picture

It was a rainy weekend, so today I stayed in and baked. I baked Honey Whole Wheat Bread, which, as I mention, was an attempt to recreate the Good Earth rolls, which I've been fixating on recently. They tasted really good. I've been trying to decide why my whole wheat breads are tasting better, whether it is because I've gotten better at baking techniques, am using better ingredients (King Arthur's Whole Wheat Flour instead of Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour), or have just acquired a taste for whole wheat finally.

I also baked a couple of loaves of a white french bread (basically using the daily bread recipe) that weren't bad. I left my poolish out for about 18 hours before making the final dough, I noticed a bit of an off flavor... the bread was less "sweet and nutty" and more "tart and cheesy." No matter, it was still better than anything I could pick up at the local grocery store.

I also set up another website: Ajax Hacking. Setting that up is giving me a chance to play with Drupal 4.7 (this site is running 4.6). I'm liking 4.7 a lot, so I suspect I'll be upgrading this site in the next few weeks. People will enjoy the improvements.

That is all for now.

JMonkey's picture

I had a good bake Saturday morning, but I ruined my oven in the process.

I was making two 1.5 pound loaves of hearth whole-wheat sourdough, and two more of the same, but sandwich bread. I was just ready to put the boules in, so I stuffed two oven mitts wrapped in aluminum foil into the vents to trap the steam. I put the boules onto the stone, poured two cups of boiling water into the steam pan and shut the door.

The steam, alas, found a way out -- right up through the digital readout and computer controls for my gas oven. The display started to blink in and out. I removed the foil and opened the door to let the steam out, but it was too late. It still works, but the dial and the readout don't match. When I've set it for 400, for example, the readout shows 280. And when it finally heats up, I get an F2 error, whatever that is.

So no pizza Saturday night. A fellow from Sears is coming by on Tuesday to fix it. I hope.


Bread tasted good though. Oh well.

JMonkey's picture

I've got folks lined up all the way til June to get some sourdough starter, thanks to my Craig's List ad, and in the past two days, I gave away my first batch. Two baggies of whole-wheat starter and two baggies of white. Since it's a stiff dough, it's easier to give away. Wouldn't want to try bringing the 100% stuff to the office on my bike.

I also finally finished up my sourdough primer document to go along with it. Three recipes, conversion advice for tranforming commercial yeast recipes into sourdough, and standard care and feeding info.

Looks like I might end up getting some free organic greens and herbs out of it, too. A fellow who delivers to Boston every weekend told me he'd gladly share some of his harvest for some starter.

Cool stuff.

luc's picture

I have been on a baking frenzy. :)

I guess that's the beauty of making several batches of poolish and biga acida at the same time. It was either bake or lose the preferments. So bake it was.

In addition to preferment breads I also did two 1.5lb loaves of Lexia Raisin and Macadamia bread from a slightly modified formula. No lexia raisins and no macadamias. Oops.
But I did manage to get a full cup of dried figs in there with a hand full of golden raisins and a cup full of toasted walnuts. I have to say that is a very tasty mixture. The flavors seemt to balance well.

With these two loaves I did them in 9X5X3" pans and they proofed beautifuly after sitting overnight in the fridge. That wasn't part of the original formula but due to the ovens being busy with pizza's I couldn't manage to get them in - so into the fridge they went. The next day when I had time to fit them in the oven I had taken them out of the fridge about an hour and half beforehand - and then they proofed a tad longer - they were huge in the pans when I finally popped them into the oven. But they baked just fine... well except one slight thing I noticed...

The oven was very hot when I popped them in because it was at pizza temp. and so the outside browned very dark - not burnt - but very dark - not like I've ever seen it before. It wasn't carbonized - but it did a shade past where I would normally put a good crust for a 'European' style crust (even though this is a sweet bread).

I am wondering if there wasn't more carmelization of the sugars than I am used to seeing?
Did the figs and the raisins effect it at all?

Hmm - food for thought. At any rate - I went through one complete loaf myself about 30 minutes after they had cooled.
Too tasty that loaf.

One of the other batches that I did was Anadama bread - but again modified - one of the sous chef's misplaced my corn meal soaker and so I had to use the mixed grain soaker that I had started the day before. This one has buckwheat, oats, quinoa and flax seed in it. I have tended to avoid using oats for other than decorative toppings because I find the flavor to be a bit too earthy/chalky... as well in a soaker they tend to almost disentegrate. But as I had no corn meal soaker I had no choice but to use this. Though dough wouldn't wait as I had already retarded it overnight in the fridge - where even then it still rose a bit.

Ok so anyhow - I managed to use a fine cornmeal to top them - and they came out brilliantly. The color and shape are stunning. I wacked them onto some cooling racks and placed them on the table nearest the counter in the restaurant. We had a steady flow of customers all day long and right before 5 o'clock a table of six came in. Two kids etc. - they seem to have come back from hiking as they were dripping with sweat and had walking sticks. The start of the hot and rainy season in Hong Kong. The father I guess it was - too one look at the bread and grabbed a loaf and just mauled it. I mean he tore into it with a vegance. I was SHOCKED!!! I was somewhat horrified! AAAAGGGHHH!!!!!
My babies had been left out on the table and some wild and ravenous hiker had come by and mauled them! Or at least one of them. LOL! :)

I am supposed to be baking these for sale and of course - that means people can eat them any way they choose. But somehow it was heartbreaking to see my wonderful bread torn apart like that. LOL! I think I've been traumatized!

No butter, no olive oil... nothing... just carnage. :)
I jumped up as fast as I could and offered to cut the loaf for him - bread knife in hand. Though I must admit I don't know whether I was going to cut the loaf or defend it to the death! :)

So now I only have one Anadama loaf left in the breadcase. Perhaps he/she too is traumatized. I mean being so close and all to the carnage. Poor thing.

Of course they bought it along with meals for 6 and drinks - so I can't complain really. But from now on I think I'll run a cordon of razor wire around my loaves while they're cooling. :)

I guess that's testament to power of bread - especially freshly baked Anadama bread from the oven.
Never, ever underestimate it.

I added

JMonkey's picture

Good baking weekend, though one of my loaves was almost a disaster. (pics below)

I've been making two loaves of 100% whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread every weekend for our weekly bread. One goes in the bread box, the other in the freezer. Trouble is, we usually run out by Thursday. So this week, I made up the dough for my usual two loaves of sandwich bread and then made dough for a boule of 100% whole wheat sourdough, hearth-style. Pretty much the same recipe as the sandwich bread (flour, water, starter, salt, some honey, some olive oil), but I leave out the oil.

Everything was going great. After it had finished its autolyse, I added salt to the sandwich bread. Kneaded it up for about 20 minutes and then did the same for the hearth bread. Let them rise all morning (took about 3 hours),folded the hearth dough once, then degassed the sandwich bread for a 2nd rise while I shaped the artisan bread. Popped it in the fridge for an overnight retarding, and started cleaning up from the morning's bake: flour, starter, salt ... er ... salt.

I'd forgot to put salt on the artisan bread post-autolyse. Visions of eating sour cardboard for the weekend briefly entertained my thoughts, which led me to a quick decision. I pulled the shaped loaf out of the fridge, flattened it out, added salt, and kneaded it up a bit to mix the salt in. Let it rise again, then shaped, and popped it in the fridge.

As I suspected, the hearth bread didn't have a very open crumb. A 2nd rise does wonders for flavor and getting rid of the grassy whole-wheat flavors in the flour, but it also helps make the crumb more uniform. All the same, it's very, very tasty.

Also made pizza with roasted yellow pepper, turkey sausage and fresh basil (note to self: put the basil under the cheese next time!) and some 70% white whole wheat cheddar, dill and scallion rolls (tasted great with the grilled whole chicken for Sunday dinner).

Here's the Pizza:

Here's the boule:

And here's a shot of the interior of the boule. Like I said, kinda tight, but still tasty. Has anyone had much luck getting a seriously open crumb from 100% whole wheat?

CherieChat's picture

Last week I began my trek into the World of Breads...and they say it takes 21 days to make a habit...I started out with croissants, which were so fun and very cathartic, if not as flaky or as big as I hoped they'd be. Today was made for bagels. I can't remember a more rewarding make. I used a recipe that "Luc" had posted and not only are they a hit, you really can't wait for them to cool down. I topped them with sesame, poppy, sea salt and dried garlic and at first I was tempted not to let anyone eat them because they really did look like the ones you get in the deli but my husband and son said "take a picture...we're eating them NOW!" I want to shout it from the roof tops... I MADE BAGELS AND THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL AND TASTE SO MUCH BETTER THAN STORE BOUGHT!!! I am the bagel queen. Well, not really but it's so fun to have made something so good! I always volunteer to make desserts but those days are over!

luc's picture

This is the 4th batch of Ciabatta that I've tackled and it's improved with every session. What's of note is that the dough has continually gotten more slack as my finished bread has improved. What a relief. The first batch of ciabatta based on a poolish was tasty enough... the entire batch went in two days.. what didn't fly off the shelves was promptly eaten by myself. :)

I am getting the hang of figuring out just what each loaf should be weighing in at to make a good sized sandwhich.
What really springs to mind when I finished this last batch (at 3:30 am) was that 99% of the ciabattta I've ever had has been total garbage. Poor crumb, no flavor and the more I learn about baking the more I suspect that it's all a straight dough with zero fermentation.

Thank God I don't have to subject myself to that anymore. :)

The other bread that has really surprised me on both the sales side and on the tastyness side is Anadama bread.
Wow! I never thought something could have such a great texture! Most of the formulas I've seen for it have been straight doughs but I have been extending or delaying the fermentation process using the fridge - and the flavor is fantastic.
The molasses add's the perfect sweet note... the kind of sweetness that is just a tad smokey - not the kind you get from white sugar at all. The customers seem to enjoy it as well - and I have to admit it's nice to be handing out tips on proper storage for good handmade bread. :)

Now if I could only get my local flour supplier to provide me with more data on the flour they carry. That and I wish my storeroom was bigger - I can easily see myself running out of space if I order in a few more 55lb sacks of flour. :)

Floydm's picture

I couple of pics just to prove I've not been totally neglecting my baking:

daily bread

A loaf of my daily bread I made a week or two past. Actually, I used about 20% whole wheat flour, so I suppose it was more like Hamelman's rustic bread.

ciabatta bread

A ciabatta like loaf I made this weekend. The dough was a bit too goopy. I should have done another series of folds, but I was getting impatient. Tsk, tsk...


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