The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

VRini's blog

VRini's picture

A while back I started up a forum post about Proof Bread, a "micro-bakery" located in a residential neighborhood in Mesa, AZ. Again, all strictly legal due to a local ordinance allowing "cottage" businesses run out of a residence.

All of us have had or know of a disagreeable neighbor who doesn't hesitate for a second to raise a stink about something he or she doesn't want in the neighborhood. Jon and Amanda, the owners of Proof Bread have such a neighbor and due to that person's unrelenting efforts they have to move the bakery they've spent 3 years building and fine tuning for their extremely demanding business to another facility by early January, 2021.

Jon and Amanda did their best to address their neighbor's concerns. The neighbor didn't like 3-4 employee cars parked on the street. So Jon had a parking slab poured adjacent to his driveway extending into his front yard for employee parking and then planted ficus trees in the yard to hide the parked cars from view. The neighbor also objected to a delivery truck parked in the driveway. Jon and Amanda did their best to limit this truck's presence and trusted that the ficus trees would help .

You can easily surmise that all this did next to nothing to satisfy their neighbor. So this person did some research and found a city ordinance that required employees of the cottage businesses to be city residents. The neighbor forced this issue with the city and the city had no choice but to act. Jon and Amanda had always seen that the day would come when the business would outgrow their house but never expected this day would be forced on them so soon. So now they're appealing to admirers of their enterprise and their high standards to support them in this difficult time.

To be fair, this neighbor was probably uncomfortable with a workforce drawn from outside the city, seeing unknown characters, coming and going and possibly causing unwanted mischief. Nobody wants that kind of headache either. I don't want to demonize this person.

But here we are. Moving is a daunting project for this small business with such high standards for quality. Their garage bakery is like a finely tuned watch that required countless, sleepless hours of experimentation and hard labor to manage ambient temp for the bread and pastry products, the extreme at times Arizona climate, refrigeration and plumbing challenges, etc to produce a superior product. The market for commercial space, controlled by heartless real estate corporations is completely stacked against small businesses trying to grow while operating at precipitous margins. To help cover the lease burden, Proof Bread will have to open a storefront to monetize their new facility.

But luck favors the bold. Jon and Amanda found a suitable building in downtown Mesa available for lease and owned by an individual. But they need help.

Proof Bread's youtube channel in my humble opinion is a gift to the world. For anyone who appreciates what baking fresh bread and pastries from the best locally grown ingredients possible brings to your life, I don't think you can help but fall in love with what Jon and Amanda has built and continues to build as related in this marvelous series of youtube videos. And in the following video you will learn they have personal challenges too - a daughter with a recent diagnosis of a very rare genetic disorder. Please consider watching the following:

Fair warning, the video is long. Take your time and skip about if you want. And after absorbing what's presented, if you're so inclined please contribute what you can to their GoFundMe:

VRini's picture

Hello all. This morning I baked guided by Maurizio Leo's Spelt, Rye and Whole Wheat Sourdough recipe, a 50 percent whole grain formula.

I've recently landed here at TFL on a quest to bake a bread made of one half or more home-milled grain that I really like - that I can't help but grind,  mix, rise, shape and bake over and over again. The whole grain in this bake is home-milled, made of organic spelt, rye and Yocora Rojo hard red spring wheat all sourced from Breadtopia.

My quest is of course driven by health and flavor objectives. Like most people - I want it all. Not too long ago I happened upon Elly's Everyday youtube channel and her approach using an overnight cold autolyse in the fridge. I thought I'd try that guided by another Maurizio recipe, his Whole Wheat Sourdough. I used all home-milled hard white wheat, some of it sifted to substitute for the bread flour and I liked what I got - a (mostly) whole wheat bread with the mellower flavor associated with hard white wheat and a hint of sweetness due to the extended autolyse. The quest was definitely on.

But for this morning's bake I thought I'd try yet another overnight process that I saw from youtuber Joy Ride Coffee where the home-milled grain is sifted and the bran is soaked with boiling water and hydrated overnight. I also wanted to try this baker's gluten development methods inspired by Kristen Dennis of Full Proof Baking. Would I get a wildly open crumb? I wanted to see.

Maurizio's guide would require 493 grams of berries. I ground all the grain in the recipe with my Mockmill 100 and sifted out 148 grams of bran. Wow. Joy Ride Coffee's video shows only 15 grams of bran from 180 grams of berries. She then added 50 grams of boiling water. Would I soak my bran with 450 grams of hot water? No. I settled for 300 grams. The next day I mixed the hydrated bran, the sifted, home-milled flour, Central Milling AP flour from Costco, a tbsp of vital wheat gluten, 10 gm of diastatic malt powder and the called for water (minus the 300 gm that soaked the bran).  I let that autolyse for 30 minutes before mixing in the levain and salt with some reserved water and then following up with about 8 minutes of slapping and folding in the mixing bowl.

I had a pretty thick, somewhat heavy dough mass at this point with the high hydration typical of Maurizio's recipes. My next challenge was to further develop the gluten like Joy Ride Coffee. Maurizio calls for three stretch and folds over a 3 1/2 hour bulk ferment. I would substitute an initial "strong" fold, followed by lamination, followed by a coil fold. My dough mass was formulated to produce two loaves. Joy Ride Coffee's video shows a single loaf. This was going to be interesting.

First the strong fold. With all the dough I had this fold went surprisingly well. This was the first time I ever did this kind of stretch and fold but I gave it my best shot. The effort left some room for improvement.

After a half hour rest it was time for lamination. Oh boy I'd never done this before. But again it went ok. The largish dough stretched pretty well over the work surface. I could have done it better and it wasn't done as well as in the video but yes, I could do this again. I could get good at this.

One more half hour rest and it was time to coil fold. Ok I had too much dough to coil fold. I could have split the dough in two but I don't have the glassware for two loaves. Maybe next time. I did a standard stretch and fold and let the dough rest for the remainder of the bulk ferment.

Perhaps I should have extended the bulk ferment. I wasn't seeing the activity I was used to seeing. But I was measuring dough temperature from beginning to end and it was all good. I was pressed for time so I stuck to schedule. Did the pre-shape, counter rest, final shape and cold proof till the next morning.

Time for the pictures:

Fresh out of the Fridge

I was in a decorative mood:

Decorative Mood

My new toy, a Wiremonkey bread lame:

My new toy

Oven Spring:

Oven Spring

Final Product:

Final Product

I'm really happy with my new bread lame. Here's the crumb:


Is this crumb wildly open like what Joy Ride Coffee and Kristen gets? No. But I'm ok with it. Some folks here at TFL aren't fans of the open crumb (the mustard falls in my lap, etc). They've got a good point. This crumb is moist, not too gummy. The crumb flavor has depth, is mellow, nuanced, just a hint of bitter and some tang. The crust is pretty good with sweetness, could be darker. My family is devouring the bread, giving me the thumbs up. I'm good with this bake.

But as always, the quest continues.

Update: it just dawned on me that the Central Milling AP flour is malted. Five grams or less added malt powder is needed for mixes with this flour.

VRini's picture

Maurizio Leo's "Best" Sourdough Recipe which I'm trying to move away from in favor of SD from fresh milled grain. Oven Spring:

Oven Spring

Final Product:

Final Product

Got a little distracted and over did it. I like the crumb though:


Reminds me of the crumb Kristen Dennis (Full Proof Baking) gets. Well I like to think so, anyway.

Subscribe to RSS - VRini's blog