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A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Floydm's blog

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I just finished reading an advance copy of Eric Pallant's Sourdough Culture, which is coming out in a couple of weeks.

There are a few different threads to the book. One thread is an attempt to trace the lineage of the Cripple Creek starter he was gifted and which sparked his emthusiasm for sourdough. The other works forward in time from the earliest known evidence of breadmaking in Egypt, through the Roman Empire into Europe, and eventually from Europe to North America. It includes quite a bit of recent research including information on the industrialization of breadmaking and the move from sourdough to commercial yeast, something Professor Pallant won a Fulbright scholarship to study.

The last history of bread I recall reading was 6000 Years of Bread, which was originally published during World War II. A lot of research has been done since then. Professor Pallant's book brings that history up-to-date with recent scholarship and science to provide a much more complete picture of the evolution of bread. If that sounds like your kind of thing, check it out!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I had never heard this origin story for baguettes: that they came about as an attempt to cut down on knife fights in Paris by creating a loaf that met weight requirements but didn't require a knife to cut like boules and miches do.

Wikipedia lists a few other possible origins. Regardless, it makes a good story!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The Fresh Loaf is on a new server now. Hopefully you'll all find your way here and the new server performs just as well as the old one.

Nothing significant changed from a user's perspective. The server is running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS instead of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The versions of PHP, MariaDB, and some of the other tools have been upgraded accordingly.

This paves the way for a site software upgrade in the hopefully not-too-distant future, but that is a bigger undertaking.

Please let me know if you notice any problems that might be related to the move.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Heads up that an upgrade to the server TFL runs on is coming up soon. It's actually a migration to a new machine, not an in place upgrade. That's a safer approach because if anything goes wrong I can bail out and leave the site and server as they are right now.

I'm hoping to take care of it tomorrow late afternoon Pacific time but it might not happen until later in the week. I'll post another announcement an hour or so before I start.

I've run the test migration twice already and the migrations have gone very well. Expect about an hour of read-only access to the site while I back up and copy everything from the old box to the new. 

Post-migration, hopefully the site just looks and acts like it does now. This isn't a software upgrade, though that is hopefully coming before too long too.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Apologies that I have been negligent about posting or updating much here. Pandemic has meant I spend most of my day at my desk, in my apartment, working with content management systems. After 8-10 hours of that I just can't bring myself to do much more of this in the evening or on the weekend. 

 

 * * *

I made the Tom Cat Semolina from the last Community Bake again. 

Again I got the hydration too high so it spread pretty wide. It was good though.

Oh yeah, I also made a batch of Banana Bread but forgot the bananas. We won't talk about that. ?

* * *

On another note, I got a promo of a cute little Bread Baker's Notebook from Princeton Architectural Press.

I laughed when I saw the line for "Your Starter's Mood" in the template for the journal entries.

I know I run a website but I'm still very much a paper person and have a thing for note taking and nice journals, so, yeah, I really like this and could imagine giving it as a gift to an enthusiastic new baker.  

* * * 

The server that The Fresh Loaf is on needs to be upgraded soon, so a heads up that there may be a day or two bumpiness in late March or early April.

I'm also researching what to do with TFL in the next year or so as the CMS version that this site is running is being retired. I'm pretty confident that an upgrade will make the site easier to use on phones and tablets, which is great since that is what most people visit the site on now, but I haven't found replacements for all of the components used here. So I'm doing a bit of looking around, hoping to keep the upgrade from being too disruptive, and hoping to bring the site more up-to-date with today's web standards.

 

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm sure you've noticed that bread baking has been a popular way for people to keep themselves busy while in quarantine. Sourdough, in particular, has been incredibly popular and driven a ton of new visitors to The Fresh Loaf, many of whom have joined our community. But there has been another bread related trend that has also been driving traffic to the site: frog bread.

As recent articles on Vice and Delish have explained, a month or two back someone on social media discovered a post I made back in 2005 about baking frog bread for my two year old son a few weeks after my daughter was born. People started recreating and sharing frog bread on Tik Tok, in Facebook frog groups like Frogspotting, and on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #frogbread. Both of my now nearly adult kids spotted frog bread on social media before I noticed it and had a quite laugh. 

It's great. I love that one of the sillier recipes on this site got popular and is encouraging people to bake for the sake of having a good time and not to worry about whether the end result comes out beautiful and Instagrammable or rather ridiculous. There are so many fantastic bakers on this site who turn out the most amazing looking breads now, but you don't have bake like that -- I don't -- to find joy and pleasure baking bread on your own from time to time.

So in honour of all the new frog bread bakers, today we baked frog bread again.

I used a slightly different dough this time, basically the dough I used for my Red Bean Buns with one egg and a bit of sugar in it. It worked great, though I lowered the temperature to 325 after 15 minutes because it was browning a bit faster than I wanted. But it came out great.

 After making the dough, I placed it in a covered bowl and let it rise for an hour, until it had doubled in size.

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Egg wash came after 30 minutes of rising. I then gave it another 20 minutes before putting it in the oven.

Frog Bread

Total baking time was about 50 minutes, with the first 15 at 375 and the rest at 325. 

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Frog Bread

Sweet froggy success. :)

Frog Bread

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Like everyone else, I'm baking sourdough breads, but among the things my kids mentioned missing during the quarantine were Red Bean Buns. I haven't baked them in years, but it is a relatively easy one to make -- assuming you have access to red bean paste (If you don't have access to red bean paste, pineapple buns are also reasonably simple to make). I recalled a recipe that was posted on this site years ago and have made them a couple of times in the past couple of weeks. They've been really good.

Baked Red Bean Buns (焗豆沙飽)

 Any simple sweet milk bread dough can be used for the wrapper. I've tried a dough using tang zhang, which turned out fine but didn't seem worth the extra effort. Today I used one with a little more fat and included an egg. They turned out fantastic. My dough was basically:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup of warm milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 egg

a dash of salt (slightly more if using unsalted butter)

a bit of warm water, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency. I added about 1 tablespoon.

Combine the ingredients in a mixer or mixing bowl and mix/knead well until the dough is well developed. I mixed mine in a mixer for about 10 minutes.

Shape into a ball, cover, and set aside until doubled in size. Mine took about an hour.

On a floured surface, divide the dough into smaller pieces. I divided it into 8 pieces today but you could divide them into 12 if you preferred smaller buns.

Red Bean Buns

Shape each piece into a ball and them roll them out thin and flat.

Red Bean Bun dough

Place a dollop of red bean paste in the center of each bun, then fold the dough up to wrap the red bean paste (more pictures of this process here). Flip the buns over.

You can stop there if you want round buns, but If you'd like to shape them like I did, use the cap from a small jar or container -- I think mine was from a tin of toothpicks -- and press a circle into the center of the bun. Then use a knife or dough cutter to slice slits into the dough.

Red Bean Bun shaping

Gently cover and allow the buns to rise for 20 minutes.

Red Bean Buns

After 20 minutes, start preheating the oven to 350 degrees and egg wash the buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or black sesame seeds, if you have them.

https://thefreshloaf.com/up/IMG_20200426_150048.jpg

After 30 to 45 minutes the buns should look a bit puffy and have risen some. Bake them on a cookie sheet for approximately 20 minutes. Be careful about not over baking and burning the bottoms of the buns.

Red Bean Buns

Red Bean Buns

 Enjoy!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I fed my starter last night, but this morning it wasn't looking as lively as I was hoping for. But I didn't want to toss my starter out, so I decided to make Sourdough English Muffins.

Rather than combining the starter, milk, and flour the evening before as the recipe recommends, I combined my ripe starter (closer to a cup than a half cup) with warm milk, then mixed all the ingredients together and allowed it to ferment on the counter for two hours. After that, I rolled the dough out and cut out the rounds using a jam jar lid. I let them rise for one hour before cooking them in a hot skillet.

I'm quite happy with how they turned out.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I've been baking sourdoughs for many years but I am admittedly imprecise and quite neglectful. It usually turns out "good enough" but rarely are my loaves great.

These ones were.

I mixed up AP flour and water at about 68% hydration, then added my ripe starter (which I have no idea what the hydration is). I ran the mixer a bit longer than usual and gave the dough a longer than average rise on the counter, approximately 6 hours. I shaped two rounds and rather than putting them in bannetons, let them rise on parchment and wrapped them with tea towels to prevent them from spreading. 

The one other thing I did differently was bake them directly on my baking stones with inverted enamel pots over them for the first 25 minutes. That gave me both the benefit of a hot stone and allowed them to steam themselves. The crust was probably the thinnest and crackliest I've ever made at home.

Definitely one I will try to reproduce again soon!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I don't share my own baking often because I tend to stick to the same formulas. Also, admittedly, the level of baking exhibited on this site now far surpasses my skills. But a couple of weeks ago I experimented with simple dinner rolls that came out really good that I want to share. It's nothing fancy or complex, but it is really good. Good enough that I made them for our Thanksgiving (Canadian) dinner and they were a big hit.

The first time I made these I discovered the battery in my scale had died, so I just winged it. I still haven't gotten a new battery, but the second time I took the time to measure and make a note of my ingredients (approximately).

Sunflower Rolls

Makes approximately 3 dozen rolls

DRY INGREDIENTS

1 cup spelt flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

5 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup sunflower seeds

WET INGREDIENTS

2 cups buttermilk, warmed in the microwave for two minutes to take the chill off

1 cup room temperature water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

 

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet in another, them combine them. Use a wooden spoon and your hands to get them well combined and shaggy, then let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes. If it is too dry to mix and not all the flour is hydrated, add more water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.

After the rest, knead the dough by hand or in a stand mixer for 5-10 minutes.

Depending on how warm your kitchen is and how warm the buttermilk was, these can rise really quickly. I gave it about 1 hour for the bulk fermentation, then folded and degassed them and gave it one more hour. After that I cut and shaped them, then let the rolls rise for about 40 minutes before putting them into a 385 preheated oven.

 I baked the rolls for about 25 minutes (45-55 minutes if instead you choose to shape them into a loaf). 

 

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