The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Southbay's blog

Southbay's picture
  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve put anything here. Just to try again, here are some pizzas and desserts I’ve been making. Sourdough purism has given way to practicality and flexibility in the Southbay kitchen and sanitarium. Pizzas and buttery layers are just easy and nice with some quick rise. Kouign-amann really isn’t that hard to make and well worth the effort. And we’ve been making pizzas 6 in a night lately. I had a college job at Gumby’s Pizza in State College, PA some years back, and it’s fun to sort of get the assembly line going. Long live your yeasts people!

Southbay's picture

About a week ago, I made a bread with Carolina Reaper and Fatali peppers that was well received by my heat-loving friends at Roberto's Mexican restaurant in Sunnyvale. It felt like the theme could be explored little further, so I got another few peppers from the garden down the street. My intention was to make a very spicy chili lime sourdough bread with cilantro and a little bit of corn flour mixed in and using my brother's salty spice 'n seasoning mix in place of the salt. Although this turned out good and spicy, voices just kept asking for more cowbel...I mean "more peppers."


I cleaned out the seeds and chopped up four peppers into tiny pieces. If you haven't experienced these peppers, I can tell you that they are as serious as a pepper gets. Then I grated off the zest of four limes. The zest of a lemon eventually went in as well since it was just sitting there and came from the same garden as the peppers. My brother's seasoning mix looks roughly the same as Montreal steak seasoning and even contains some of that, but it also contains lots of other things. I usually describe it as a salty chili lime taste, so it made sense with this bread.  

It was a pretty white dough with a couple of heaping tablespoons of corn flour. I'm starting to think even a little bit of corn flour very much changes the ability of the dough to hold air and spring in the oven. I dunno. Everything got a better/finer chop this time. The pepper oils started to permeate the dough with some handling. Even without touching or tasting them, it felt like the temperature had gone up to about 90F in my kitchen. It was therapeutic and maybe a little habit forming. We'll see. 

The dough came together well and joined its buddy the nutella rye in the banneton lounge. Goldenrod, the bread knife, stood watch. 

Lately I've been giving my breads a little bit of a bench rest and some stretch and folds before retarding them in a well-floured banneton overnight. The next day, I just take them out of the fridge when I wake up and they are proofed and ready to bake some time in the afternoon. Surely I'm missing out on the benefits of degassing or shaping after the overnight rest, but this way works for me. I can even let them rise some or even most of the way and then store them in the fridge overnight. The next day, just pull the banneton out of the fridge and you're ready to rock. Letting the dough come up to room temperature before baking is optional. 

I've distorted my pics a little bit trying to reduce the size. The bread baked in a cast iron Dutch oven combo closed for 20 mins at 460/open for 20 mins at 350. I sprayed the bottom pan with a tiny bit of avocado oil and blessed it with a pinch of kosher salt; even included a pic of the salty bottom. 

This time, I brought the bread to the restaurant still warm. It was Friday, and the free margaritas found their way into my belly along with a slice of the bread. It was very spicy but manageable. The heat would build as you ate more. I was sweating, and the bread seemed to keep my entire body warm throughout the night. My wife said it had a great balance and texture and was more than just a spicy stunt. The lime aroma/flavor came through just enough. 

Again, this bread was well received. They are spice and heat addicts at Roberto's, so the feedback I got all followed the same theme: Make it hotter!! Two waiters and the hostess paid separate visits to deliver identical instructions. More peppers! More heat!! More cowbell!! For next time, i've been instructed to take a handful of the peppers and just run them through the blender, seeds and all, to make the bread insanely hot and maybe give it an orange color. So I have a plan for take number 3 of Lucifer's loaf. I'm always looking for a new bread idea, so it's good to have one in my back pocket. 

Next time, I will probably try a much smaller sample. It was hard to sleep with a little supernova inside of me. They are waiting on a shipment of fancy bourbons at the restaurant, so it was strongly suggested that I bring in the next fiery boule when the new batch of beverages shows up. 

Southbay's picture

My wife went into chocolate crisis the other day and asked me to pick up some Nutella. She said something like wanting me to make a bread "oozing with Nutella." Although I acted on this request and used a good amount of the stuff, I misinterpreted the ask. What she wanted was something more like a giant Nutella-filled sourdough bread doughnut literally oozing with the stuff. What we got instead was delicious and might even become part of the regular rotation around here. 

Started off with a glop from San and a glop from Fran (my starters) along with two very heaping tablespoons of Nutella. My basic recipe is 1 cup water + 2.5 cups flour + 1 tsp salt = bread. This gets adjusted by feel depending on what flours are being used and what sort of end result I'm going for. The first cup of flour to go in was one cup of black rye. It looked sort of like pudding. Whether by design or because my work can be off and on, sometimes I leave the first cup or so of flour in with the water like this for some time. With whole grains or rye flours, I believe the extra time spent in all that water helps get stubborn or delicate glutens into gear. 

At this point, I was wondering whether it was going to end up like a big round brownie with the chocolate smell and color. The salt and the other 1.5 cups of flour went in (Gold Medal bread flour) with some kneading to incorporate the last of the flour. It took some extra flour to account for the oils and extra mass of the Nutella, and then I added a bit more flour just to be safe. It never felt quite like a good white, wet bread dough. The kneading that preceded some stretch and folds ensured a tight crumb later on, and the dough really stood up to gravity while proofing next to its buddy, a very different and spicy bread. 


All of the bold bakes on this site have made me feel self-conscious about my pale-skinned boules, so I turned the oven up a few extra degrees for this one. I preheated the bottom half of the combo dutch oven at 460F, put the top half in for 5 minutes once the oven was preheated, and then baked for 20 mins covered at 460 followed by 20 mins uncovered at 350. As is my preference, the bottom of the pan was sprayed with a tiny bit of avocado oil and blessed with a pinch of kosher salt. 

With two different camera settings, the color looks completely different, so I included both. The hotter temp than usual left the bottom a little blacker than I like, but it tasted good. With the rye and the oils from the Nutella, this had a soft crumb that you could compare to the Beefsteak brand rye breads sold in supermarkets. The taste reminded us both of the pumpernickel breads we had growing up but with a lighter, nutty taste. It's ever so slightly bitter and really tastes good. 


Southbay's picture

This spring, things were going nicely. Fatherhood had settled into me, and I was regularly baking breads and cinnamon rolls, with some breads even getting posted on this blog. In June, I fell off my bike, breaking three bones (right elbow, hand, pinky finger) and whacking my head hard enough on the pavement to give me a concussion and require several stitches. Bread baking and starter maintenance abruptly slowed to a minimum. I even walked a friend through the process of making a bread in my kitchen one weekend so we could have some for a BBQ. 

When the cast came off my hand, the first thing I did was feed my starters. Stirring hurt like hell, so I added more water to my starters to make it easier. The starters were only getting fed every other day or even worse and barely survived the ordeal. The left hand was fine, so I was able to start making breads after a couple of weeks when the concussion symptoms eased off. 

So here are some photos of the few breads I put together over the summer. Everything is healing up very nicely, so no worries there. It has made me appreciate the value of two good, working hands. There's no electric mixer in my kitchen, and making breads has helped me get some strength back. I've learned that I'm a complete wimp and sissy. 

Here's a white bread. These are for me!


This one is called the Trump

And a couple of olive breads with either whole wheat or spelt added to the bread flour. 

It was great to be able to read things on TFL when I couldn't type or bake that much. The time off only increased my enthusiasm.  

Southbay's picture

Sometimes I get nerdy with theme breads when trying to come up with new ideas, and yesterday was the final NBA game for the local boys (Warriors). I tried to follow the theme to the end. 

We just got back from travel, so my two starters (San and Fran) came out of the fridge on Saturday evening after 2 weeks of hibernation. They got only one good feeding after warming up, doubled overnight, and were added to this bread Sunday morning. We were in Pennsylvania, which is near Cleveland and just returned to the Bay area like the Warriors.

I did an autolyse overnight with the basic dough mix: 1 cup water, 2/3 cup semolina flour, 1/3 cup AP flour, ~1.5 cup bread flour (until dough had good texture), 1 heavy tbsp corn flour, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast powder, 7 shakes of old bay seasoning. The semolina, corn flour, and nutritional yeast flour are for the golden color of the home team, extra protein for warriors, and an earthy taste. The corn flour fits the theme of warrior bread as I'm guessing local warrior native Americans would have had some corn. 7 shakes of old bay for game 7 in the Bay area.

For flavor and color, I added kalamata olives for purple. To help the bread rise to the occasion like the Warriors didn't do, I figured they'd need the the Curry 3-Point Hot Streak (Curry is their best player who lives/dies by 3-pointers), which contained curry powder, more nutritional yeast, more old bay, horseradish, and 3 shakes each of 3 kinds of hot sauce (Franks, Tabasco, Sriracha). It created a golden, strong-smelling mixture that I let sit overnight in the fridge and added during the stretch and folds so it would produce a literal hot streak throughout the bread.

Starter, olives, 1 tsp salt, and hot streak were incorporated Sunday morning. I fidgeted a little with adding more flour to help with the wet starter and olives, then spraying more water as I thought the dough wasn't wet enough. That extra handling made me anticipate a tight crumb, with possible cake-like aspects from the semolina and corn flour. I baked in my preheated combo dutch oven for 20 mins at 450 and 20 mins at 350 using kosher salt on the bottom as is my habit.

For hole fans, the bread ended up with an irregular crumb as a result of the olives and hot streak interrupting the internal structure. It had a nice soft chew and was earthy and spicy and delicious warm with butter. My wife did say it had a bit of cake-like texture while it was still hot.

Forgive the erratic placement/sizing of photos as I'm working on that particular skill. The bread achieved the gold and purple I was going for and was a nice bake on Father's Day to go with and stand up to some hot wings and oysters as well as plenty of liquid bread refreshment.

Southbay's picture

Just a thanks to all the bakers sharing tips and experience and enjoyable writing. The world is a stressful beautiful horrifying magical place. When I need a break from the bad and some bread inspiration, this has been my digital refuge for a couple of years it seems like. Just visited another popular social site right before bed looking for something lighthearted, but people feel compelled to share the most horrible things there even though they are available on every news website. No such problem here, and TFL (thank the friggin lord). The worst you'll encounter here is a scorched loaf, a baked starter, an overproofed boule, etc, which I can handle without losing even more sleep.  My brain needs reads, and it's safe here for my fevered, sleep-deprived psyche. I'm so very thankful. I'm not an easily upset snowflake child, but my sympathy/empathy functions sometimes work overtime, particularly when children are involved now that I see the love and magic and fears of being a parent. My wife and I had a different sort of bun in the oven, and she joined us about a year ago just as I hit my sourdough stride. So I've only recently started to take pics of my breads again and participate on the forums. But I've been lurking, reading, and learning from all of you. I would put my thoughts in order and make my post a little shorter, but I think you will forgive me. You've all taught me to make delicious bread for my family, even on posts about baked things other than bread. TFL is something special. 

Southbay's picture

Something about using some durum flour keeps me coming back, and I tried to improve upon the flavored boule from my last/first blog entry.

Slow proofing and limited oven spring in a bake or two made it apparent that my starters (San [organic all-purpose flour only] and Fran [lots of rye, some whole wheat, and some white]) were being neglected and stressed too much during the week and not sufficiently perked up before weekend baking. This time, I took just about a heaping tablespoon of each 2.5 days before using and combined with a quarter cup of flour. I fed it every 12 hours for 2.5 days, extracting the excess to make some sourdough pancakes along the way. By baking time, the starter was expanding at a much better pace than during the last few weeks. If my starters were animals, I'd call the SPCA on myself for neglect. The aroma can be quite strong on a Wednesday, for example.

Dough: A bit more than one cup of water combined with about 2.5 cups of flour and sat in the fridge all day. 1 cup durum and 1.5 cups baker's choice flour. A nice long autolyse is great when there's time.

When adding the starter, about a half cup (tons, I know), I also added maybe a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast powder, a heaping teaspoon of white truffle salt, several dashes of smoked paprika, a few good shakes of garlic powder, a few grinds of black pepper, and I think that's about it. No olives this time. In between the stretch and folds, a sheet of plastic wrap coated on one side with white truffle oil was used to cover the dough. It's a great way to stink up your kitchen.

This duskily flavored mixture was stretched and folded three times before going to bed in the fridge overnight. The amount of extra handling the dough required to mix in all the ingredients probably contributed to an even crumb.

This bread rose and sprung better than the previous attempt. The increased attention to the starter definitely helped. This had a really earthy, full flavor, and thick slices toasted and buttered were almost a meal on their own. It also made for a unique grilled cheese. I have a similar dough going that just went into the fridge for the night, so it was time to record attempt #2.

Sorry for the inexact measures. My wife says there's a digital scale buried in the garage somewhere. It would be nice to use it a few times to get a feel for what different hydration doughs feel like.

 This baked for 20 minutes in the covered dutch oven preheated to 455 followed by 20 minutes with the temperature turned down to 400, then 375, then 350 over the course of the next 20 minutes after uncovering. I don't like this to turn too brown because it would lose the golden color.


Southbay's picture

We had a Game of Thrones party over the weekend, so I geeked out with a theme bread. Semolinas are fun to work with, and I figured anything yellow/gold in color could be called a Lannister bread of some sort. It was about half semolina flour. This was flavored with nutritional yeast powder, garlic powder, white truffle salt, and some chopped green olives from a jar. I also sprinkled in some smoked paprika during the stretch and folds hoping it would show up as red specks in the finished bread to evoke the crimson color the Lannisters like. The point was to create a golden, earthy and flavorful bread and give the guests a laugh with the name and something to eat with the cheeses and dips. Looking at the pics again, I'm thinking there may have been a little finely chopped pepperoni in the mix as well; otherwise the red specks must be pimentos from the olives. Sorry I can't remember exactly. It was a busy and fun weekend.

The mix started with 2.5 cups of flour (half semolina/half organic all purpose) to 1 cup water. It autolysed for about 7 hours before the flavorings, olives, and starter were added. I like to use lots of starter, and this got about a half a cup. After 3 or 4 hours of stretch and folds it went into the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I did another stretch and fold or two before forming into a boule to proof in the banneton.

The dough always comes together nicely with some semolina, but as I did stretch and folds it continued to succumb to gravity and lose its shape. I think it got something like 6 stretch and folds if you count one or two right before setting it in a banneton to proof the next day. Perhaps the nutritional yeast powder was interfering with the gluten network. The final boule proofed up nicely in the banneton and scored easily with my trusty Havalon. Baked in a cast iron dutch oven combo preheated to 455. Twenty minutes with the lid on, and then I lowered the temperature gradually down to 350 to finish baking so that the golden color wouldn't get too brown. I forgot to take a crumb photo, but it was very even and chewy. This bread went fast.

Cersei's golden

Subscribe to RSS - Southbay's blog