The Fresh Loaf

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Skibum's blog

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Wow, this is the biggest rise and oven spring I have EVER had! Now the working part of my peel measures 8"x14" and this loaf filled most of it using 460 grams of flour! Best pulla ever, with a soft almost shreddalble crumb.

Normally, I will do a sponge of liquid levain, sugar, egg, flour and scalded milk infused with cardamom. After this got happy, I would put it in the fridge at bedtime, remove it in the morning and mix  after about an hour of warm up.

My mistake? Last bake I forgot to put the sponge in the fridge. I would describe the resulting dough as the most alive feeling I have ever worked with. I do 4 sets of stretch and folds with 10 minutes rest and yo could see the dough rise visibly after 10 minutes. So this time I deliberately left the sponge out overnight. Wow, between a freshly fed levain and the overnight sponge, I had an 'alive' dough. I increased the bulk proof to 1:30 from an hour as it just kept coming up. I then divided braided and proofed about an hour.

The oven spring was more like oven explosion and this is certainly the largest volume I have ever achieved from this well used recipe. It sure is nice when things work out!

Happy baking! Ski

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I began getting ruthless with my deep freeze a while ago and these are the only things I have baked in three weeks. I found an abundance of breads I baked then froze and have been eating my way through.

I bookmarked this recipe some time ago and finally got around to baking a half batch. this batch I rolled out, shaped a rectangle and cut the biscuits into squares using a butter knife, then baked on a parchment covered pan. Quick, easy and tasty!

My batch:

1 C flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBS sugar

1 C grated sharp cheddar

1/4 C + 2 Tbs milk

2 Tbs oil

Mix the dry and wet ingredients and combine. Credit where it is due, here is a link to the recipe:

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Well I had a craving for some curry and what better to go with it than some fresh naan bread. Boy did this ever turn out well! I used honey instead of sugar and the flavour comes through well in the finished product. This did my confidence a nice boost as two of the last three bakes didn't go so well. Ever have one of those bakes where everything that could go wrong does go wrong?

40 g liquid levain, newly refreshed

141 g milk, scalded

1/3 cup + 1 Tbs high fat Greek yogurt

25 g beaten egg

330 g bread flour

1 tsp palm sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbs canola oil

I mixed the levain and wet ingredients, added the mixed dry ingredients and after combining rested for 10 minutes. I then kneaded on the counter for 8 minutes and let the dough bulk rise for 1:30 or so. I cut off 120 grams and form a ball and let this rest 8 minutes while my cast iron pan heats up to medium. The rest of the dough goes into the fridge. At the 8 minute beeper, I roll out the dough and place it in the hot dry pan and cook 3 minutes per side, then brush with butter. Very happy with the results!

I have now taken three tries at coming up with a raisin bread I like and I am reasonably happy with this one, but it still needs some work. I will call it a work in progress . . .

Happy baking,! Ski


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The blueberry cream cheese bread and it's variants are one of my favourite breads to both bake and eat. After baking  the original blueberry, cream cheese formula last week, but using only 253 grams of pulla dough, I found I liked the ratio of fruit filling to dough better than the original recipe.

I made a batch of my levain pulla dough and discovered that I can get 3 x 285 grams of dough from each batch. Yesterday I baked three braids, one apple walnut and two blueberry. To my horror, I had forgotten to add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the apple mixture. I tried to compensate by sprinkling both onto the egg wash topping the finished loaf and before sprinkling sugar. Not quite the same, but it did help.

These smaller loaves are perfect for snacking on my drive to the ski hill. Cut in to 3 inch slices, they are the perfect snack size. They also freeze very well. this recipe has become a weekly bake for me.

Happy Easter everyone and happy baking! Ski

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Foreground is cinnamon, sugar chocolate babka. I enjoyed the last one so much it was time to bake another. I used 2 x 300 gram balls of dough to roll out the babka. The remaining 253 grams of pulla dough was used to roll out the blueberry cream cheese bread front right.  In behind is a ciabatta style loaf with 20% durham semolina which resulted in a really nice snap to the crust!

Well, I was on my way to the ski hill and then it started raining.

Happy baking! Ski

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Well taking a page from PalwithnoorinP's book, I tried my favourite dough, pulla and tried his sweet butter filled rolls. I used a cinnamon, sugar mixture to which I added vanilla and rum:  Appleton Estate Signature Blend. Boy is that nice rum and does it ever add a nice flavour to the sugar mix!  I used my standard pulla mix and for the enamoradas used three pieces @ 100 grams.

I used the same sugar mix with the babka, then added half of the chocolate filling recipe from ITJB. I used two pieces at around 200 grams each for the babka and rolled them out thin, spread the sugar mix, then the chocolate and rolled up tight.  I rolled out both pieces until tight, then cut each roll in half with a carving knife and twisted each roll together. I then twisted the two twisted rolls together so they would fit in a bread pan.

I baked the little rolls @ 400F for 10 minutes with steam and 10 without, turning at the half. Babka was 14 minutes with steam @ 400F and 14 without. Naturally, prior to baking, all were brushed with egg wash and liberally sprinkled with granulated sugar.  YUMMMMM!

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My search for a ciabatta style loaf had lift off today. Here is the fully proofed loaf prior to baking:

I changed only two things. First, after the letter folds, I gently pinched the sea closed on the side and end.

I tried Peter Reinharts one hour proof, flip and another one hour proof on a previous bake and the result with my mix was a very over proofed loaf. Today I flipped the proofing loaf after 55 minutes and baked at 60 minutes: 14 with steam and 12 with a turn, I also got smarter about the turning. Today, I placed parchment over the proofed dough, another baking sheet and quickly and gently flipped. Voila! the parchment peels off the new top  and time to bake.

 A nice tasting bread and a good sandwich loaf.

Happy baking!  Ski

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Well, it is getting closer and I am happy with the crumb. This makes a great sandwich loaf. I started at 80% hydration, thought, but had a mucky mess, so must have screwed up the water weight. I added flour to get the dough to a workable, but wet consistency. I re-read Peter Reinhart's instructions in ABED on working and shaping ciabatta and found I had missed a step. The oven spring was enormous on this loaf. Easily 3.5 - 4x spring. I wish I had a before photo of a proofed loaf perhaps 11/4" high.


Why we bake fresh loaves!!!

Hungarian salami, black forest ham and both grainy and Dijon mustard topped with salad was awesome! With a 350 gram total flour, I can now bake this fresh daily, give half to my neighbours, eat the rest and enjoy the good karma which comes from giving!

This old ski bum is in his happy place with a great day on the slopes today. Spring skiing in mid winter with 4C ambient temperatures, soft snow and perfectly groomed pistes! Coming home to a fresh loaf I bake baked this morning was a big bonus!

Happy baking! Ski

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I changed the hydration and because the starter had been refreshed two days prior, I used 60g rather than 50. The holes are just too darned big! It makes a decent sandwich loaf, but not quite what I was looking for. I searched some youtube videos and unlike Peter Reinhart, Ciril Hitz degasses his ciabattas and does not fold and his crumb structure is more even. I like the shape Peter's letter fold gives, but next bake of this loaf I will de-gas gently before folding to see if I can get a more uniform crumb structure.

One of the reasons I love to bake is that I learn something new just about every time I bake a loaf. I got great oven spring once again and the before and after photos follow:

Happy baking folks! Ski

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Well with ski season full on, I have been living on Norm's onion rolls, pulla and Floyd's blueberry, cream cheese braid variations for three months now. This ciabatta is the first plain, lean loaf I have baked in some time. Sometimes you just get a taste for things.

This loaf was baked using 350g strong bread flour @ 78% hydration and using 50g newly refreshed liquid levain, 7g salt and 1TBs EVOO. I used vigorous mixing in the bowl followed by four sets of S&F's with 10 minutes rest and after 2 hours of bulk rise, then gently shaped as described by Peter Reinhart in ABED.

Baked at 500 for 12 minutes with steam, turned and baked another 12 minutes. I wish I had a before and after picture as I didn't just get oven spring, I got oven explosion! I estimate 3 - 4 times oven rise from proofed. I will do a before picture next bake which is in progress @ 80% hydration.

Happy baking! Ski!


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