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This bread arose from a “What if…?” musing.  Specifically, what if I used oat flour in place of barley flour for the Barley/Wheat Bread I made previously?  As it turns out, it's a pretty good idea.  

The formula was:

350g whole oat flour

50g whole rye flour

400g whole wheat flour

400g bread flour (I wound up using King Arthur all purpose flour)

60g honey 

900g water

20g salt

10g active dry yeast

After milling the oat, rye, and wheat flours, I autolysed them with 850g of water and all of the honey for about 45 minutes.  The other 50g of water was used to hydrate the yeast.  At the end of the autolyse, the yeast and water were mixed into the dough, followed by the salt,  Finally, the bread flour was mixed in.  Since the resulting dough was still quite loose, an additional half cup of bread flour was mixed in.

The dough was manually kneaded for 10 minutes, then covered and allowed to rise.  Since the kitchen temperature was about 75F, the dough took about 50 minutes to double in bulk.  

The dough was portioned and shaped into two loaves, then placed in two greased 9x5 loaf pans for the final fermentation.  As with the bulk fermentation, the final fermentation also moved briskly and the loaves were ready to go into the oven in less than an hour.  They were then baked at 375F for 55 minutes.

The crumb (sorry, no pic), in spite of the loaves having expanded generously in final fermentation and while baking, is fairly tight; more so than the barley version.  It is also slightly more prone to crumbling while slicing even though the baked bread is quite moist.  

The bread has a mild, pleasant flavor.  The honey, while not enough to make the bread taste sweet, rounds out the flavors of the whole grains.  It is very enjoyable, whether eaten with a smear of butter, or in a sandwich, or toasted.   

This bread, whether made with barley or with oats, is a winner.  I could see it going off in several different directions: maybe bump up the rye percentage, maybe add some molasses, maybe add some butter or oil, maybe add an egg or two, or…  Of course, it's pretty darn good as is.


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I've been intrigued by several recent posts that feature a 100% whole-wheat Hokkaido milk bread, such as this one by Benito.  So I decided to try my hand at it.  Almost.  The "almost" being that I changed it from a sourdough bread to a yeasted bread.

Actually, there were two variations from the bread that Benito posted.  First from sourdough to yeast, as mentioned above.  Second, I had no vital wheat gluten on hand, so subbed in flour in its place so as to keep the hydration more or less in balance.  The second change was the one that concerned me more since I wasn't sure how much the bread relied on the VWG for structure.  As you can see in the lead photo, it turned out quite nicely.

Rather than repeating the formula and process here, I'll refer you to Benito's excellent post.  My adjustments were quite simple.  I moved all of the levain ingredients to the final dough ingredient list, including the flour and water that were part of the 100% hydration starter for the levain.  I added 6g of active dry yeast in the final dough ingredients, too, since it was needed in lieu of the starter for leavening the bread.  My flour was home milled from hard red wheat.  Fermentation times had to be shortened, since the ADY moves quite a bit faster than the wild yeasts in a starter. 

The dough was very wet.  I realized, too late, that I hadn't followed Benito's advice about reserving some of the milk and had simply added all of it.  After a bit of thought, I added some more flour, perhaps 20g or so.  It was enough to turn the dough into something manageable but not so much as to require additional salt or yeast.  Between the dough consistency and the extended kneading that the bread requires, I decided to let the KichenAid mixer do all of the work.  Because I had to stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the dough from the walls of the bowl, I extended the mix duration about three minutes past the recommended time.  That developed the gluten in the dough very well.  The dough was about 85F coming off the mixer.

The dough was given 30 minutes for bulk ferment; it had expanded perhaps 50%.  After that, it was set out in our screen porch for another 30 minutes to firm up.  The temperature out there was in the 25F-30F range, so it cooled down quickly.  Then I followed Benito's process for shaping and placed each of the rolls in a greased Pullman pan for the final fermentation.  When the top of the bread was about 1cm below the pan rim, I started the oven preheating and egg-washed the top of the loaf.  A second coat of egg wash was applied just before the bread went into the oven.  The bread was baked in the pan and then an additional 10 minutes out of the pan, per instructions.  While I don't think the bread required the last 10 minutes to keep the sides from caving in when it cooled, it certainly helped remove some of the moisture.  I elected to forego brushing the top of the loaf with butter at the end of the bake.

There's a lot to like about this bread.  The finished loaf is about treble the height of the just-shaped loaf, so plenty of expansion between final fermentation and oven-spring.  As expected, the crumb is very fine-grained with evenly distributed and evenly sized small bubbles throughout. In spite of its loft, this is a substantial loaf of bread.  It isn't what I would describe as airy or cottony.  Though it yields easily to chewing, the crumb is firm and moist and feels almost cool in the mouth.  You can sense the presence of the bran, even though it is finely ground.  The sugar offsets the natural bitterness of the red wheat.  It is delicious with just a bit of butter, and toasted.

For a future bake of this bread, I'd be interested in trying an autolyse to see if that might have a positive effect on dough consistency and the ultimate tenderness of the crumb.  I'd also like to see how the flavor would shift when using honey as the sweetener.  One thing is certain: I will make more of this bread.



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This is a bread from Stanley Ginsberg's The Rye Baker.  It caught my eye as I was casting about for something to use for the current rye bread Community bake. 

It is about as simple as a rye bread can be.  There are no multi-stage levain builds, no scalds, no soakers, no seeds, and no spices.  The only components are rye flour, potato, water, and salt.  My sole departure from the formula was to use whole rye flour, rather than medium rye flour.

The initial sour build the night before the bake incorporates rye sour, riced potatoes, rye flour, water, and salt.  That last was a bit different from many levain builds in that all of the recipe's salt goes into the levain.  Once mixed, the sour is covered and allowed to ferment overnight.

The next morning, the rest of the water and flour are mixed with the sour.  The stiff dough/paste is fermented until it the volume increases about 1.5 times.  Then the paste is tipped out onto a floured countertop and shaped into a loaf.  The loaf is placed on a lined baking sheet and allowed to ferment until cracks begin to show on the surface.  For this bake, I could have allowed the final fermentation to go longer but I could see that there was some sideways expansion in the loaf even though the top was still relatively smooth.

The bread is baked without steam.  When it comes out of the oven, it is brushed with boiling water to soften the crust, then cooled.

The photo at the top of this post shows the finished loaf.  And here's a picture of the crumb:

Not surprisingly, the crumb is close and dense.  Some 40 hours after the bake, the bread cuts cleanly without leaving a film on the knife.  It is moist and pleasantly chewy.  Thanks to the boiling water application, the crust is somewhat leathery, rather than armor-plated.

Flavor-wise, it is all rye.  The potatoes don't lend a discernible flavor note.  While I had expected some sourness, it is surprisingly subdued and very much in the background.  It will make a very good foil for cured meats, pickles, mustard, and other strongly flavored foods.

Outside, it's cold although this morning's low of 4F is much better than yesterday's low of -13F.  There's an ice-fishing derby out on the lake today.  A few of the participants and their shelters are visible from the front porch:

There are many more outside the frame of the above photo.  I took a walk around and spoke to some of the contestants.  My impression is that my bread weighs more than anything they were catching.


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One of the things I enjoy about Christmas is the opportunity to bake without having to ask myself “How are we going to eat all of this?”  I can have fun baking and give the finished goods away as Christmas presents.  Yes, I know, bread can be gifted any day of the year; it somehow seems even more enjoyable this time of year.  

Whole Wheat Cranberry-Orange Country Loaf

This bread from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook went to my brother and my sister who live nearby.  It is fragrant with orange zest, orange juice, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans.  It smelled so good in the dough stage that I pinched off a small piece for a bun before shaping the loaves.  That gave my wife and I a chance to sample it, too.  

Honey Oatmeal Sandwich Bread with Cinnamon Swirl

Granted, my list of favorite breads would probably require a couple of pages, but this bread would be there.  The cinnamon swirl makes for some delightful toast.  Two of my nieces will receive these this afternoon when they arrive for a cookie baking extravaganza.  This bread is also from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook.

Frisian Black Bread

This one from The Rye Baker is for us.  I've been hankering for some rye bread lately and this one looked interesting.  It's 50/50 rye flour and bread flour.  Flavor for this bread is entirely from the flour and fermentation; there are no inclusions such as spices or seeds.  The first sponge matures overnight.  The second sponge moves faster during the morning of the next day.  The final dough (batter, really) is fermented in bulk, then again after it is poured into the bread pan.  One different feature of this bread is that the bake begins in a cold oven.  

Unfortunately, I let the final proof go 15-20 minutes longer than it should and wound up with a cavern at the top of the loaf.  Docking wasn’t called for but it might have helped.  Maybe.  Anyway, the bread tastes wonderfully of rye, which is exactly what I wanted.  


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This cake, a Jamaican Christmas tradition, came to my attention from a very strange direction.  

Back in October, my wife and I, along with my sister and her boyfriend, spent a long weekend in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.  That's the “horn” pushing up into Lake Superior at the western end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  We happened across The Jampot, a bake shop operated by the Holy Transfiguration Skete Society of St. John, a Byzantine Catholic monastery.  Seriously, where else would one go to find out about a cake that is beloved on a Caribbean island?

The Jampot's version is a large, loaf-shaped cake with a $54 price tag.  My interest was piqued, even though my pocketbook was unmoved.  After some on-line research, I settled on this recipe

If you look at it carefully, you will note that it calls for just over 5 pounds of fruits and nuts.  Add to that a pound each of butter, sugar, and eggs.  And close to a quart of booze.  Only one pound of flour is allocated to bind all of that together and just 4 teaspoons of baking powder to leaven it.  This is not a dry, light cake.  

The recipe says that the fruit should soak in the rum and wine for at least three days.  I let it soak for close to a month, thinking that it would allow for a better marriage of the flavors.  I’m happy with the results. 

On baking day, I made the caramel color, then ground the fruit and almonds in the food processor as directed.  The rest of the process was fairly straightforward but I was very glad for my 7-quart KitchenAid mixer, since the batter and fruit filled the bowl nearly to the rim.  If you have a mixer with a smaller bowl, plan to combine the batter and the fruit in a large mixing bowl by hand.  

The recipe makes three 9-inch cakes.  I used two regular cake pans and one spring form pan, which turned out well, since it would have overflowed a third regular pan.  These cakes have a long bake time.  The cakes in the regular cake pans took two hours; the thicker cake in the spring-form pan baked for 2.5 hours.  

The cake is very rich and filling.  The flavor is deep and complex, with both the fruit and the booze figuring prominently.  There's lime zest and cinnamon in the mix but those contribute undertones to the flavor, rather than being noticeable as distinct flavors.  The texture is predominantly that of the fruit.  If you will, this is a cake made of fruit rather than a cake that contains some fruit.  Not surprising, considering the ratio of fruit to flour.  

I would make this cake again but I will want to make sure that I have plenty of helpers to eat it.  It’s a lot of cake!


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The grandfather of the husband of one of our nieces (nephew-in-law?) died recently and my wife made a meal for his family.  I pitched in with ciabatta bread, using Reinhart’s ciabatta with poolish formula from BBA.  Since each loaf was a different size, we gave them the Papa Bear and Mama Bear sized loaves.  

I did run into one snag with the formula.  The final dough calls for 22.75 ounces of flour, which I dutifully mixed in.  And immediately began to wonder if I had strayed into a bagel recipe, since the dough was so stiff and dry.  A second reading confirmed that I had read the weight quantity correctly but then I noticed that the volume quantity called for 3.5 cups.  I suspect a typographical error occurred and that the weight should have been 12.75 ounces, instead.  

Cue the addition of water.  And more water.  And more salt.  And more water until, eventually, the dough was the sticky, slack blob that it should have been.  Fermentation proceeded pretty much as expected.  As much as possible, I avoided degassing the loaves while shaping but I did flip them (deliberately) while transferring them from the couche to a baking sheet.  They showed good oven-spring while baking.  

The bread was well received.  To quote our niece’s husband, “The bread you made is freaking insane.”

Since I haven’t cut into the third loaf, I don’t know what the crumb looks like.  It wouldn’t surprise me to find that the texture is closer than a typical ciabatta because of the additional mixing/kneading to incorporate the added water.  


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We've been traveling. It seems a bit odd to say that we are vacationing, since we are retired, so “traveling” might be the better verb.  Last week we were in Nashville, TN.  This week we are in Sapphire, NC.  

Today we took a little ramble down to Highlands, NC just to poke around a bit.  On our way, we came across this business that is one part furniture store, one part antique store, and one part reclaimed architectural bits store.  I won’t try to estimate how many parts might have been junk.  From a bread perspective, they had a stack of strapped pans from some long-defunct bakeries:

 There were also several dough troughs scattered about, like this one:

Some of the other specimens were in much rougher condition.  

There were other “treasures” too numerous to mention.  Happily for my pocketbook, none of them followed me home, although there was a very close call with a bench.  

We’ve also managed to see a few of the numerous waterfalls in the area:


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A good part of yesterday was spent helping my brother-in-law cut, split, and stack firewood for his winter heating.  After that, I came home to clean up (and take some ibuprofen!) and make hamburger buns.  Those will be used for this afternoon's Halloween gathering.



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Although, really, I think it would be better named “Apple Chopped Bread”.  One could almost treat it as a pull-apart bread but it toasts up so nicely that I prefer to slice it.  As its appearance suggests, flavor matters more than beauty for this bread. 

I find myself wanting to make this bread at least once each Fall when apples are in abundance.  Although there is no added sugar in the dough, the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the filling provide enough sweetness without becoming cloying.  And, though the original recipe doesn’t call for it, I like to add a bit of mace to round out the flavor. 

The recipe in Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads makes two 4x8 loaves.  My tweaked version is scaled down to one 4x8 loaf:


Warm water.        1.25 cups / 285g

Active dry yeast   1.5 teaspoons / 3g

Bread flour.          3-3.5 cups / 430g

Salt.                     1.5 teaspoons / 10g

Butter, softened   2 tablespoons / 28g

Measure the water into a medium mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on the water.  When the yeast has hydrated (most of it will sink to the bottom of the bowl), add the remaining ingredients.  Mix to form a shaggy dough.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes.  The dough will smooth out and become elastic.  

Place the dough back in the bowl and cover it to prevent drying.  Allow the dough to ferment until it doubles in volume, which will take approximately an hour.  Turn the risen dough onto a floured surface and roll or press it into a 16-inch square that is approximately half an inch thick.  

While the dough rises, thoroughly butter or grease an 8x4-inch loaf pan. 


Apple, diced         1 cup / 110g

Egg, beaten          1 large./ 55g

Walnuts or pecans, chopped   0.25 cup / 28g

Brown sugar, packed   0.25 cup / 50g

Cinnamon             1.5 teaspoon / 4g

Mace                     0.25 teaspoon / -

Peel, core and dice the apple(s) and scatter them on the rolled-out dough.  Pour the beaten egg over the diced apple.  Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and mace and sprinkle over the apple/egg mixture.  Fold the dough so that the filling is completely enclosed.  Use a bench scraper or chef's knife to roughly chop the package into chunks approximately 1-inch square.  (No, it won't be pretty!). 

Scoop the chopped up dough and filling into the prepared loaf pan.  Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the bread rise until it is slightly above the edge of the pan.  Depending on room temperature, this may take 45-60 minutes.  

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.  The internal temperature should be 190-195F.  Alternatively, a skewer or cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf should come out clean when the bread is ready. 

Remove the baked loaf from the oven and use a butter knife or similar tool to gently loosen the loaf in the pan.  Carefully remove the loaf from the pan (it will be fragile and the filling will still be molten) and place it on a cooling rack. Cover loosely with a towel while the loaf cools to room temperature. 

This bread is good as is or with a smear of butter.   It makes fabulous toast.  I suspect it would make marvelous French toast, too, but haven’t tried that yet.  Edit: Have confirmed this morning that the bread makes very good French toast, indeed.



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I've been jonesing for a rye bread, so when my most recent bread (a yeasted 100% whole wheat bread with tangzhong) developed mold before the loaf was half-eaten, I seized the opportunity. 

The first order of business was to pull my starter out of the refrigerator and give it a good feeding.  Although I have tended it, the poor thing has been in cold storage about a month and a half since it's last use.  Happily for me, it perked right up and was ready for use with just one refresh.  (Although not germane to the bread that is the subject of this post, we took delivery in April of the refrigerator and freezer pair that we ordered in February.  That's received in April 2021, ordered in February 2020.  Yes, more than a year later.  Thank you Electrolux/Frigidaire for getting right on that.)

Early that evening, I mixed both the levain and the soaker.  The levain went into my Brod & Taylor proofer overnight.  My one deviation from the recipe was to mill the flour for the soaker at a coarser setting and then use boiling water, rather than room temperature water, to hydrate it.  The soaker was then covered and allowed to cool overnight.

The next morning, about 7:30 or so, the levain was puffy and well aerated, so I went ahead with the final dough.  The KitchenAid mixer made short work of combining everything, following the recipe's directions for mixing times.  The dough went back into the proofer for the short 30-minute bulk fermentation. 

Hamelman's instructions talk about shaping the dough and proofing it in baskets for either round or oblong loaves.  But then, almost as a aside, he mentions that it works well in Pullman pans, too.  After checking on the amount of dough that he recommends for a 13x3.5x3.5 pan and scaling for my 9x4x4 pan, I found that the amount of the dough in the recipe would work perfectly for my pan.  Consequently, at the end of bulk fermentation, I shaped a single loaf and packed it into the pan, using wet hands to dome the top of the loaf.  Then I put it back into the proofer for final fermentation.

When I came back to check on the fermentation progress, I was surprised and rather concerned to see that it was at full proof and needed to go into the oven.  Just one small problem: the oven wasn't preheated yet.  Two, actually: it was also apparent that the lid wasn't going on the Pullman pan, since the dough was crested slightly above the rim already.  After re-reading the baking instructions, and checking another recipe that was specifically written to use Pullman pans, I elected to adhere (mostly) to the instructions for this bread.  There's an initial 10-minute bake at 470ºF.  Then the temperature is turned down to 430ºF for ____ minutes, depending on loaf size.  Between the directions for the two recipes, I guesstimated that 50 minutes at the lower temperature should get me pretty close.

When the oven reached temperature, I gently maneuvered the pan onto the center of the middle shelf.  Ten minutes at the higher temperature and 50 minutes at the lower temperature brought the internal temperature of the loaf up to about 203ºF.  The top was a chestnut brown and the sides, once depanned, were golden.  This:

To illustrate just how close to the edge of the over-proofing cliff I was, take a look at all of the pinholes in the top crust where bubbles were beginning to pop:

Luckily, there isn't a flying roof, nor has the top crust sunk after cooling.  The crumb shows some compression zones around the pan sides and bottom but I think these are more a product of the final expansion of the loaf's center during the bake, rather than overproofing tells.

For an 80% rye, the crumb looks pretty good.  It is very moist but doesn't coat the knife blade, some 30 hours after coming out of the oven. 

The flavor is surprisingly mild; just a faint hint of sourness and the earthy/spicy notes that I associate with rye.  There are no seeds or spices, so all of the flavor comes from the flour. 

To avoid a rerun of mold before I can use up the bread, I've cut the loaf in three pieces.  Two are in the freezer, one is in the pantry.




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