The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Altaf's picture

I was in a short trip to Geneva. A lot of Nice breads.

Floydm's picture

I was preparing my my French bread article yesterday and I wondered whether it was un-American to bake French bread on 4th of July. Maybe I need to call it Freedom Bread, like the Freedom Fries they serve in the congressional cafeteria.

:-D (I'm joking, I assure you).

SourdoLady's picture

I bake a lot of sourdough bread. Over the past several months I have been trying a lot of new techniques and trying to perfect the quality of my loaves. The recipe below is how I am currently making my white bread. Next year I may have a whole different approach, as I am constantly learning and trying new things.

Deluxe Sourdough Bread

1 1/4 cups proofed starter
1 cup water
3 T. dry powdered milk
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 cup instant potato flakes
3 3/4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 T. sugar
3 T. butter or margarine
2 tsp. salt

Combine the first 5 ingredients. Mix in the flour just until the mixture is a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Add sugar, butter, and salt and mix until all is incorporated. Knead dough until it is smooth and satiny.

Cover and let dough rest for 45 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Pat each dough portion out into a large, flat circle. Gently stretch and fold the left side over the middle, then the right side over the middle (like folding a letter). Pat down with the palms of hands and repeat the folding with the remaining two unfolded ends. Shape loaves, always keeping the folded side as the bottom. I do free-form oval loaves and place them on parchment paper.

Spray the loaves with Pam and cover with plastic. Place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, take loaves out and let them finish rising at room temperature. They should be very light. Do not rush it or your bread will be dense.

While bread is rising, preheat oven and stone to 400� F. I also place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom rack for steam.

When bread is fully risen, slash top and slide onto hot stone. If you don't have a stone, just bake on a baking sheet. After 10 minutes, turn the oven heat down to 375� F. When loaves start to show color, water pan can be removed. Bake until loaves are a nice golden brown. Time will vary according to the shape and size of loaf.

Cool on a wire rack. You can brush crust with butter while still hot if you like a soft crust.

The small addtion of white whole wheat flour that I use in this bread gives it an interesting depth of flavor that I like. It does not change the color of the bread. I don't know if white whole wheat flour is easily available just anywhere. I am fortunate to live in an area where wheat is grown and milled so I have easy access to various flours.

Floydm's picture

I'm pooped. Busy weekend, but I did manage to do a fair amount of baking: a couple of french bread loaves with "stuff" in them (one seeded, the other with blue cheese and walnuts) as well as chocolate chip raspberry muffins. I'll try to post both recipes this week.

Tonight I tried making Zurek, a Polish soup that uses a rye sourdough starter as its base. It can be a wonderful soup, but I didn't quite get it right. It was edible, just not very good. I will try it again though.

Next time I think I need to let the starter age another couple of days: I gave it 4 days, but I don't think that was enough. I ended up adding some additional vinegar and lemon juice to give it a little more bite.

I also need to use better kelbasa. the Hillshire Farms sausage that was on sale at the grocery store was truly awful. Frankly, the store brand kelbasa is pretty decent, but it may be worth visiting one of the local Russian markets to find something more authentic. Well, semi-authentic: I don't mind keeping the higher food safety standards that we have even though it may not be the "authentic" Eastern Europe experience.

crumbbum's picture

A week or two ago, I queried in my LJ about Ranger Cookies. Nobody chimed in, so I went off to google. I found several recipes and hacked one together from those. It was a reasonable facsimile of the ones sold here in the Vancouver-Portland area Fred Meyer stores. I'm going to record it with the adjustments that I'll make the next time, because the dough was super-stiff and all that stuff wasn't necessary for the cookie. The recipes all called for either corn flakes or crisped rice (rice krispies) cereal. I chose to use the rice, because that was an ingredient in the cookies that I like. Anyway, I'm only reducing the oatmeal and rice cereal quantities by 1/2 cup each in hopes that I can better stir them into the dough. Even my stand mixer wouldn't have been able to handle the original dough.

Ranger Cookies
about 3 dozen
greased cookie sheets, 350F, 10 minutes

1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups quick oats
1-1/2 cups crisped rice cereal
1 cup flaked coconut

Cream shortening and sugars until fluffy, add eggs and vanilla and blend until smooth.

Sift flour together with baking soda, baking powder, and salt and add half at a time into the creamed mixture, incorporating it thoroughly.

Add oats, rice cereal and coconut by hand, mixing as well as possible--it makes a pretty stiff dough.

Bake (above) 350, greased sheets, about 10 minutes. Just very lightly browned tops. Leave them on the sheet for a minute or two then remove to wire rack. Store airtight.

Floydm's picture

I made strombolini again the other evening. The turned out pretty good. It is nice to have two weeks worth of lunches in the freezer like that.

Today I baked a couple of things that both turned out well. One was a rustic French bread (20% whole wheat), the other a blueberry cream cheese sweet braided bread. Pictures and recipes to follow.

Floydm's picture

I had a fairly long pretzel lesson written up and then I made a mistake and my browser ate it. Arg.

For the time being, here are a couple of pretzel pics:

I'll write the recipe up again in the next few days.

Altaf's picture

Cinnamon rolls, cinnamon buns, cinnamon bites

Floydm's picture

My dad was here last week. He is a buttermilk junkie.

We ended up with an extra half gallon in the fridge, so I've been baking the Buttermilk Bread from Beth Hensberger's book (the second recipe on that page, not the first) the past couple of nights. It really is an excellent "daily bread" kind of recipe, something that is wonderful warm from the oven or toasted with jam.

We're going to be heading up to Seattle Sunday for a class on website usability that I'll be taking, so probably not too much baking this weekend.

crumbbum's picture

When Ben and I took the dog to the groomer's for a bath earlier this week, we stopped in at the Oroweat thrift store. I always end up with way too much stuff. This time it was a cheese danish-like crumb cake for Ben, cinnamon-raisin english muffins for me, and a loaf of the wonderful healthy multi-grain bread *sheepish face*, also for me. Then the lady at the checkout told me to take one from the free rack, so I picked a loaf of sliced french bread, we can have some of that, and I can use the rest for french toast, and I think I'm going to make either this bread pudding or this one with the rest of it. That'll be the extent of my baking for this week.

never one to leave things alone, I cobbled it together from 3 recipes, and that baby is puffed up and nearly running over the edges of the 13x9 corning pan. d'oh!


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