The Fresh Loaf

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After reading Benito's recent bake, I realized it's been years since I made a simple white bread. Life finally gave me a little room to bake something reasonably quick, so I went with this KAB small Pain de Mie. (Benny, looks like you inspired several of us.... 😉)

I followed their recipe and things went just they said.... until it came time to proof the loaf. A last minute change of plans came up, so after bulk and shaping, it went into the fridge for final proof. Six hours later, I put it on the counter while the oven preheated. It rose in the fridge, but only to about an inch below the pan edge. My choice was to wait longer, or cross my fingers and see what oven spring might do if I tried a cold bake (which I have never tried before). I went with the cold-ish bake. Baked in a 9x4 in Pullman pan with the lid on for 25 min at 350F, then lid off for 10 min. The crust was still a tad under baked, so I added another 5 min. bake time. Internal temp 197 when I took it out to cool overnight. 

Not too bad! I think if I had let it warm up and rise a bit more before baking, I would have gotten the square top. It has a very soft crust and crumb, and tastes like - plain bread, lol. I have a personal preference for the various flavors SD and whole grain breads offer, so I am not likely to make this very often. Still, it's worth having as something to do when a basic white bread (or rolls?) are needed.




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I used the same recipe as last time (see blog with details here), but used DanAyo's procedure for baking artisan bread in a loaf pan (his helpful thread is here). 

A "Cliff's Notes" version of what I did, beginning last night (started levain build before bed) thru today: 

Built levain, mixed dough, kneaded 10 min, rested dough 10 min (during clean up), shaped, rose in pan 3.5 hours (Aliquot at ~ 70% increase), baked at 425F (edit, in a 8 in x 4 in pan) for 40 min to internal temp of 208. Now it's cooling, crumb shot tomorrow. 

It was certainly easier and required less babysitting or watching. For everyday sourdough sandwich bread, this couldn't be much easier! My freezer needs replenishing, I may do a whole wheat loaf in a day or so. And next time I may  score it to control where it opens a little better. (That split at the top of where the pan was goes all the way around the loaf.)

And for anyone interested in trying spelt flour, I am currently using this sprouted spelt flour. I found it at our local Sprouts market. I usually prefer to mill my own but decided on a whim to give this a try. My starter really loves it! 

Edit to add crumb shot. Not too bad, though I think the hearth bake for this recipe that I did a few days ago had a little better crumb. The crumb on this one is kind of smooshed on the bottom and a little up the sides of the loaf.

My guess (from the split around the top of the loaf, and the top crust is drier than usual) is the crust set before oven spring was finished. It tastes great - a nice chew, not crumbly at all, and made our late PB&J lunch quite nice. I will definitely do this again, it really simplifies things. Next time I'll try spritzing it with water, &/or scoring before baking. All in all, a successful experiment!


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My first entry in the No Comfort Zone community bake: Berry focaccia with meyer lemon olive oil.

I have never made focaccia, mostly because I haven't been sure what to do with one after I bake it. There is just 2 of us, and we already are on the outer edges of how much bread we can eat without needing to buy larger clothes.And then I got inspired by watching this Italian Grandma make focaccia. Whether or not you ever make focaccia, she is well worth watching - she's the real deal, lol.

I started to write out my recipe/process, but then realized it is the same as many other focaccia recipes. The main differences are that I chose to use frozen berries. And instead of EVOO, I used this meyer lemon olive oil . (They are local to me, and their in store price when I bought this wasn't this high. I am not affiliated with them, we just shop there once in a while.). Dusted with a light dusting of powdered sugar just prior to serving (no photos).

The frozen blueberries held up very well. The raspberries kind of disintegrated and got mushy in the oven, but still tasted great. The crumb photo looks like it came out gummy, but that didn't seem to be the case for most of the focaccia. It may have been an artifact of the juicy raspberry or photo. And the berry flavors combined with the meyer lemon oil made my mouth do quite a happy dance. It is a more rich flavor than lemon zest would have provided. After we grazed our way through half the pan between last night and brunch this morning, I froze the rest. I'm not quite ready to go out into the real world and try on clothes, lol.



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After enjoying a few days away, I’m glad to be home and do some baking. This one has been on my list for a while – 100% spelt, based on this recipe. I think I’m finally starting to see progress in my ability to apply the various things I have learned over the last 6 months.

Tweaks I made:

I found this flour at our local Sprouts, which prompted me to finally try this bake. It was actually cheaper than buying spelt berries and milling my own, which is unusual for me. (Usually the whole grains I find are less costly than milled flour, and they last better.) I scaled the levain build so it was enough for this bake, rather than making enough to put in the frig for another bake the way George does. I am only keeping 1 starter right now, and not a very big one at that. George mentioned his bread fermented really quickly, and I wondered if it was because he only used 6 gm of salt, so I increased salt to 7 gm. And I’m not sure what dark honey is…. I had some buckwheat honey that’s dark, so I used that. It had started to crystalize, so after I weighed it out, I heated/used some of the recipe water and stirred it into the honey. After a few minutes, the crystals melted and it was good to go.

Details of my bake: 

Day 1, evening – Begin 2 stage levain build, at 66% hydration:

Spelt 30 gm

Water 20 gm

Starter 15 gm (I used my 100% hydration starter). Mix well and knead into a smooth ball of dough. Ferment overnight (I left mine on the counter).

Day 2 – continue levain build:

Spelt 30 gm

Water 20 gm

Levain from day 1 (65 gm)

Mix well and knead into a smooth ball of dough. Ferment 3-4 hours or until active. Mine nearly tripled in 3 hours (kitchen temp 74-75F)  > stirred down and it nearly doubled over the next hour.

Final Dough: 

Levain 115 gm

Sprouted spelt flour, 388 gm

Water 263 gm (I added an additional 25 gm for this flour, the dough was pretty dry) 

Dark honey 10 gm 

Mix everything except salt. Knead 10 minutes. I added the additional 25 gm water here, dough improved and was smooth and elastic. Dough covered and rested 45 min. 

After rest, salt added and mixed well. Performed 4 coil folds, 20 min. apart. Dough covered and placed inside microwave “proofing box” (it eliminates drafts from the air conditioning) for 3.5 hours (from time salt was added). Dough temp 79F. Aliquot rose about 80%, and dough was approaching ‘jiggly’. Not as jello-like as some, but per the comments in George’s thread it is easy to over-ferment this dough. Shaped dough into a batard, placed into banneton dusted with rice flour, banneton into a plastic bag and placed in frig overnight (13 hours in frig). Frig temp (measured liquid already in frig) 37F. 

Day 3 – bake day:

Banneton out of frig and on counter while oven preheated to 450F. (I misread George’s instructions, he used a convection oven and mine is not, should have preheated to 475F. It worked anyway…) 

After oven preheated, dough turned out > scored > baked covered at 450F for 30 min. Oven temp lowered to 425 and baked at 425 for 10 min (still covered). Cover removed and baked additional 10 min at 425F. 


It may have fermented a tad too long, but it turned out much better than I expected. We had some with lunch today, and my husband loved it! He always enjoys fresh bread, but for some reason this one really tickled his taste buds. I will play with the fermentation a bit to improve the crumb (I think I can coax it into a little more open crumb), but this one will go into my regular rotation. 

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This was on my list of things to bake. It was good, though the anise flavor was a bit srong for me (and I like anise!). It overpowered everything else. It was a new jar, and likely more fresh than the fennel and caraway I had on hand. 

I followed the recipe as described, but made it in a small pullman pan instead. So much easier for sandwiches and toast! It was fantastic toasted with butter and marmalade.

The dough was pretty wet and sticky, and I almost didn't score it. It would have been fine without, I suspect, still learning when to just let that go.  A few slices made it into the freezer for another day. Next time I'll try a little less seasoning and a bit more orange zest. 

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I have been getting much more relaxed about my bakes these days, a welcome improvement. My current mindset: it's bread. Nobody is dieing, nobody needs CPR, and the world will not come to an end if it doesn't come out the way I expected. And who knows what I may learn from the experience. 

I decided to make a really simple no-knead yeast bread that I have made before. It's a gift for a friend who really loves this bread. The recipe calls for a long, 12 hour bulk rise. Apparently the instant yeast didn't get the memo, didn't read the recipe, lol. I did 4 sets of stretch and folds in the first few hours, with the last one right before we ran some errands. We got home at about the 10 hour mark. The dough was pushing the cover off the bowl and threatening to ooze over the rim. We burst out laughing.... "It's the dough that ate NY!". 😂 

It was very jiggly and full of huge bubbles. I was certain it was spent, over fermented. I thought about just shaping it for a loaf tin just in case the dough still had something left to offer, but opted to make a (somewhat wobbly) batard. The final proof  took an hour, with the poke test saying "nope, not yet" til I was running out of time. It went into the oven at 450F with the lid on 20 min, then lid off 30 min to internal temp of 208. There are several spontaneous burst points at one end and along the side (not all pictured). I suspect there was not enough steam to keep the crust from setting and allow the score to do it's job? The crust was crackling away while it cooled, and we went to bed.

This morning I cut a couple of slices off the end so my friend can dive into this at work, and I could have a crumb shot. 😉 Much better than anticipated, and exactly what she likes. I'm glad I didn't give up.

Just bake it. 🍞

 Edit > bread delivered. She just went back to work after having covid, and was touched by the gesture. It's easy to forget how a simple loaf of fresh bread can bring comfort, connection, encouragement. Perfection not required. ♥️

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Today's bake - 100% whole wheat SD, baked in a small graniteware roaster.

Hard white spring wheat (home milled) 450 gm

Water 405 gm

Starter (100% hydration) 130 gm

Salt 9 gm

Bulk proof 7 hours (might been a tad too long)

Final proof in banetton 45 min. 

The kitchen went from 68F this morning to 75F by early afternoon, and I wasn't watching closely enough how rapidly the proofing accelerated. Spring weather in AZ, lol. 

I have been enjoying playing with different techniques, both in working with the dough and trying different baking containers. This was the first time I tried my hand at coil folds, and they really seemed to strengthen the dough better than the stretch and folds have done for me in the past. 

I baked it in a mini graniteware roaster I discovered at a local thrift store. (The yardstick is for photo scale purposes only.) It worked pretty well! 450F for 25 min with the lid on, then 15 min lid off. I attempted to bake without a sheet pan on the shelf below, that was a mistake. I knew better, this oven only heats from the elements on the bottom. The bottom burned a bit, hopefully I will be able to just cut that part of the crust off if needed.

 Edited to add crumb shot:

I'm so happy with this, it's my best loaf yet. Really good with some hummus and the salad we had for lunch. 

This is the most open crumb I have ever achieved. I think the 2 bigger bubbles on the sides are an artifact of my shaping more than anything, there weren't a lot of those. It has a very thin crust, and the bottom didn't taste burned, as I had feared. The crumb is so soft, and it feels like I am slicing a pillow.

The aliquot had risen about 50% during BF, and the dough was quite jiggly before shaping. It was a little wetter and stickier than some I have made. The final proof was going so fast I was afraid I may have let it go too long, but that's not the case.

I'm amazed to have this result with 100% whole wheat. Thinking about it, in the past I had used hard red winter wheat. This hard spring white wheat seems to do much better. I'll have to whittle down my winter wheat, experiment with coil folds with that as well, and consider using this wheat more often. So many ideas to pursue... ☺️

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@hanseata 's Aroma bread has been on my "need to bake" list for a while, and it seemed like a good time to give it a try. I scaled it down to make 1 loaf. My version: 

340 gm home milled spelt

107 gm home milled rye

57 gm medium grind cornmeal

67 gm mix of pumpkin and sesame seeds, toasted1 Tbsp poppy seeds

7 gm fine sea salt

1/4 tsp instant yeast

475 gm water

Baked in a small pullman pan with the lid on at 425F for 30 min, then lid off for another 25 min, to internal temp of 201F. Cooled in the pan for 5 min, then onto a wire rack for about 5 hours. And as per the comments, after it cooled completely, it was wrapped in plastic wrap and set aside until the next day. 

I decided to not use soaked wheat berries for this one, mostly because I didn't remember to start soaking them in time. I couldn't find whole coriander for the bread spice blend, so I used about half as much ground coriander. Since I had never tried it, I figured "why not". I think it over powered the other 2 just a bit, will use less next time. Oh my, sooooo good! My husband loved it!! I can see there will be more seeded breads and rye breads in our future. Oh and random discovery: poppy seeds apparently are not unlike glitter that comes on some greeting cards - it's amazing how far they both get around, lol. 



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Today's bake - 123 sourdough. Recipe here

I scaled it to a little bigger loaf: 

150 gm levain

300 gm water

450 gm flour (400 gm KAF AP, and 50 gm freshly milled hard white spring wheat)

9 gm salt

Preheated oven and makeshift DO (our graniteware turkey roaster with a couple of small, rolled up damp towels) to 450F.

Baked lid on (damp towels still in place, with some space between them and the loaf, and the loaf was on parchment and wasn't touching the towels) for 25 min, then lid off and towels removed (with tongs) for another 30 min, internal temp 208. Not too shabby for a jury rigged setup, lol. 😁

Crumb shot tomorrow..... 


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I have a levain build in progress for tomorrow, but found myself wanting to make something today. I opted for this Semolina Sandwich bread. I had to tweak it, as I only had 287 gm of semolina (Bob's Red Mill, discovered in bulk at our local Winco a couple of days ago). So the rest of the flour is KAF AP. Otherwise, I did the rest the same.

It smells heavenly! Crumb shot tomorrow..... 


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