The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Oct 5-8: Obsession, verging on insanity

IceDemeter's picture

Oct 5-8: Obsession, verging on insanity

Apparently ‘tis the season for clan gatherings – and the associated baking.  Fortunately, the weather is pretty nice for it (I’d much rather be working in an 18 - 20 deg C kitchen instead of 30), and it gives me an opportunity to indulge my obsession without over-filling the freezer ;-)

 I started last Wednesday building up separate rye, oat, and durum levains, and doing a rough preliminary plan for what I wanted to bake.  We adored the shortie baggies that I’d made last week, and I most definitely need lots of practice on that shape, so those were a definite on the list (blogged separately here  to make it easier for me to track my baguette-ish progress).  I’ve been quite caught up in the ongoing whole wheat challenge talked about here, so wanted to do a small whole wheat loaf to confirm that what I was suggesting should actually work.  For the Thanksgiving dinner with the clan, I needed some dinner rolls, and my stash of my husband’s favourite was getting to critical low levels, so a bake of these with a mix of dinner roll size (45g) and small sandwich size (78g) seemed in order. 

 Since we would be hanging about with the clan all day, I needed some “nibbler” bakes, and my Father-in-Law requested a mix of muffins.  I had enough stashed in the freezer of banana / blueberry, chocolate / beet / cranberry, and durum / mixed berry muffins, but thought that some sourdough rye / carrot muffins would be a good addition that was suited to the season.  While the levains were doing their thing, I quickly threw these together:

 My overall idea was to get the loaf dough all mixed and starting to ferment on Thursday, with an overnight retard, and then shape and bake on Friday.  First up was the whole wheat:












Fresh Milled Durum















Fresh Milled Durum





Fresh Milled Hard Red Wheat




















Total Dough Weight










Total Flour





Total Water (Hydration)















Autolyse started at 9:45 with 231g water (room temp 20 deg C)


Mixed in levain, plus salt, and 20g water from 11:20 to 11:30


Did 240 slap-and-fold, then 100 in-bowl




Mixed in additional 13g water with 200 in-bowl on second mix 11:50-11:55

Stretch-and-fold on bench at 12:30 and 1:00



Moved to bulk ferment container, stretch-and-fold at 1:30, 2:00, 3:00

Feeling really poofy, so in to the fridge at 3:07



Pulled out of fridge for stretch-and-fold on the counter at 5:30, dough very extensible, but not too many bubbles

Out of fridge at 11:30 a.m.





Pre-shape, bench rest 20-30 min, shape at noon



Preheat oven to 475, with roaster inside. 




Proofed and in to oven at 2:30





Bake covered at 450 for 22 minutes, then uncovered for 20 minutes

Cool completely (a day if possible) before covering or slicing


 This dough was really quite lovely to play with, and I enjoyed paying close attention to how it felt, and just how much hydration it “wanted”.  I was actually surprised at how much higher I ended up going above my original plan of 75%, but the humidity was quite low that day and maybe I was feeling more brave than usual ;-)

 While the picture isn’t great, there were lots of bubbles obvious in the dough when I pulled it out of the fridge in the morning, both on the bottom / sides of the container and on top:

 I did let it over-proof a wee bit while the oven was heating up, but it still came out with a respectable oven spring (in my prejudiced opinion):

 The crumb actually ended up a bit more open than I usually aim for, but I’m going to attribute that to practicing the pre-shaping that I am liking for the baguettes (really nicely demonstrated here: ) combined with my favourite batard shaping (nicely demonstrated here: ).  I was so focused on practicing the pre-shape and shaping that I neglected doing an even de-gassing of the dough, and so earned all of those extra over-sized holes for my sandwich condiments to leak through:

 Working around the whole wheat dough, I also put together dough for my shortie baggies.  We loved the flavour on them last week, but 4 was too many since the slices aren’t really ideal for our primary sandwich use, so I did a tiny scale up on the quantities for 2 x 350g shortie baggies along with 1 x 700g loaf (details will be in the baggie-blog).

 This loaf was just plain fun, and I have to admit to missing the de-gassing on purpose for this one (that’s what napkins are for, right?!?).  I wanted a different score than on the whole wheat, so figured that I’d give a double-score a try.  Well – it looks like I didn’t get them anywhere near even enough, so ended up with this:

 The crumb did end up quite moist and open and delicious, so we don’t mind the extra holes:

 It was interesting to see the difference in result on the 100% whole wheat loaf (which was a 9% smaller dough weight) and the 32% whole grain loaf.  The timing, temperatures, and handling were very similar, but all of that extra whole-wheat goodness sure seems to attract more gravity

 Somehow on Friday, before the dough all came out of the fridge, I got hit with a craving.  My Mother-in-Law had mentioned that she might end up just using a store-bought dessert, and apparently my twee little brain wasn’t happy with that idea and came up with a NEED for cheesecake.  Well, I have never made a cheesecake, and didn’t have a springform pan handy, so I randomly decided that I would make mini-cheesecake bites in muffin tins – and would do them as half pumpkin with cranberry filling and half plain with cranberry filling (since, well, why not?!)  Since that wasn’t enough extra work (especially trying to learn how to do it on the fly), I decided that these needed a gingersnap bottom crust (and I’d never made gingersnaps before, either).  So, in between bread loaves, I made some gingersnaps, whipped together some plain cheesecake filling, mixed some of that with a pumpkin custard recipe that I pulled out of thin air, cooked down some cranberries with raspberries for filling, and eventually put them all together in 2 dozen plain and 2 dozen pumpkin mini-cheesecake bites.  This is all that was left by the time we came home:

 Since the dessert idea wasn’t in the plan, I ended up missing my timing for doing my usual poolish for the oat kamut rolls.  Instead, I ended up “proving” about 2g of ADY in warmed milk and kamut (instead of the usual pinch for a poolish) and mixing it in to the levain and the rest of the dough after just a half hour.  This was at 8:00 Friday evening, so the dough got a couple of hours fermenting at room temp with some stretch-and-folds, and then was tossed in to the fridge for overnight.  I pulled it out when I got up at 6:30 Saturday morning, pre-shaped, rested, shaped, and baked them off when they were nicely proofed at 9:30.  It ended up as perfect timing to just cool enough to transport before we headed out for the dinner on Saturday.

 These rolls actually got me a very nice compliment from my Brother-in-Law.  He’s Armenian, with a whole-hearted passion for “white bread”, and he had stopped at his favourite bakery for fresh dinner rolls that he knew that he would enjoy.  He quite politely tried one of mine, and then ate 2 more of them, telling me how good they were and how he was surprised at me making a “white” roll when he knows how I like whole grains…  He took it really well finding out that my little “white” rolls were actually 55% whole grain --- and has asked me to bake some other breads for him to try.

 Phew!  What a bake – and so much fun!  Hope you all are finding time to play and experiment, and keep baking happy!


Danni3ll3's picture

handle all of those different doughs and have them all turn out so well. You must be a super organized type of person. Everything looks absolutely delicious. Oh and if you want an ultimate type of cheesecake, whenever you get around to getting that springform pan, let me know. I have a white chocolate blueberry cheesecake recipe that is to die for.

IceDemeter's picture

No kidding it would be a recipe to die for!  My springform pan should be available soon (it's currently residing in my freezer, protecting a layer cake that I put together a couple of weeks ago for some guests that are coming next week).  I would love to try this recipe of yours, please!

As for being organized - well, not so much ;)  I try to put together a base plan, but don't sweat it when things go off the rails or I make a snap decision to go off in a whole 'nother direction.  After a career that demanded obsessive attention to detail and organization, I find the occasional mad scramble in the kitchen to be quite refreshing - and fun!

Thanks for your kind words - and looking forward to trying that cheesecake!

Best, Laurie

Danni3ll3's picture

 Here you go!

Serving Size: 8


- Crust

- 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

- 1/4 unsalted butter, melted

- Filling

- 4 250-g packages brick-style cream cheese

- 1 cup granulated sugar

- 1/4 teaspoon salt

- 2 teaspoons vanilla

- 4 eggs

- 10 ounces white chocolate, melted

- 2 cups blueberries


1. For crust Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper. Blend graham cracker crumbs with butter and press into prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Set aside.


2. For filling Use a strip of buttered parchment paper to make a collar that extends above the rim of the pan. Increase oven temperature to 450 F. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until very smooth. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until well combined. Beat in eggs, adding one at a time and scraping the sides as needed until the mixture is smooth. Mix in 8 ounces of white chocolate. Fold in blueberries. Spoon the cheese mixture onto the prepared crust. Bake on the bottom rack of oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 F and con tinue to bake for 1 hour. Immediately run a thin knife around the edge of the cake. Cool the cake, tented with foil in the oven with the door ajar for 1 hour. Remove from oven and chill completely. Drizzle with the remaining 2 ounces of white chocolate before serving. 

 And this one is also a favourite:

Cheesecake Supreme

Recipe By: Women's Day Magazine

Serving Size: 12


- 1 1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs

- 1/4 cup sugar

- 1/4 cup butter, melted

- 5 pkgs of 8 ounces cream cheese

- 1 3/4 cups sugar

- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

- Grated rind of 1 lemon

- Grated rind of 1/2 orange

- 5 whole eggs

- 2 egg yolks

- 1/4 cup heavy cream


Mix graham-cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Butter a 10-inch spring-from pan 2 1/4 inches deep and press crumb mixture onto bottom and sides of pan. Let ingredients except cream, reach room temperature. Then beat cheese until fluffy. Mix sugar and flour; gradually blend into cheese, beating mixture smooth; add grated rinds. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each; stir in cream. Turn into crust. Bake in preheated very hot oven 500 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 200 degree F. and bake for 1 hour longer. Remove from oven, put on rack and keep out of drafts until cooled. Refrigerate until cold, then remove sides of pan and put cake on serving plate. Top each serving with fruit sauce. Makes 12 servings.


Fruit sauce


Grand Marnier




I do not really measure the ingredients for this sauce. The following are approximate measurements. Please adjust to your taste. Put 4 cups of sliced frozen strawberries in a pan with about one cup of sugar. Bring to a boil stirring often. Put about a tablespoon of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water and add to strawberries. Cook until thickened and clear. Add sugar to taste if needed. Remove from heat and stir in some Grand Marnier.

Let cool and store in refrigerator before using.


IceDemeter's picture


The husband came to read over my shoulder when he heard my "happy-hungry-want" noises, and asked if I could do the white chocolate with raspberries and some chopped up Skor bar (which is his all-time favourite flavour from Marble Slab Creamery)...  I guess I know what I'll be making for his birthday ;-)

Many thanks for sharing these!

Best, Laurie

leslieruf's picture

glad some one else does things like this as well - I had quite a big smile on my face reading your posts.  Beautiful all round I reckon. I have a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake that I recently made with blueberries instead - very similar to Danni's recipe so won't post it.  Most importantly was it was fun, eh! keep baking happy Laurie


IceDemeter's picture

though --- especially when it comes out with the kind of results that you got on your last multi-bake!

I just mentioned that my husband wants that cheesecake with raspberries instead of blueberries - so I might just have to try both ways ;)

Thanks so much for the kind words - and I'm glad that you got a smile out of my silliness!  Hopefully you've worked through some of your freezer stock and are ready for the next round of baking happy!

Best, Laurie

Isand66's picture

I can see how you would be going insane baking so many different things all at once or in such a short period of time.  Everything looks great and I'm sure your guests must have been thrilled to try all of these goodies.  Nice to see you have converted over your brother-in-law to the almost "Dark side" :).

To be honest I'm tired reading your post from just thinking about all the energy required.  When we go to North Carolina every year for Thanksgiving we usually cook up a storm as well and it's exhausting just to think about it!

Thanks for sharing and Happy Baking!



IceDemeter's picture

the Thanksgiving baking spree is coming up didn't distress you too much ;-)

I think the only thing that makes a crazy bake like this possible for me is that the actual dinner is at my In-Laws' --- and they live about 2 hours away.  I don't have to worry about the main dishes, or about having the house clean and table set, and can just do the few little "extras" like this so it's just a little bit less work for them.  The best part is that nobody sees what I'm trying until I bring it out --- so it can just be used up at home if it doesn't work out good enough for "company"!

I'm betting your clan is already sending requests for which of your fabulous creations is their favourite - so hope you have some extra freezer space to get ahead of the game!

Thanks for the kind words and never-failing support!

Best, Laurie


Yippee's picture

I don't know how you did it, Laurie!  Your guests must have been very appreciative of what you did for them!  Everything looks so delicious!   Question on shaping the rolls:  Did you shape each one individually and let them prove nearby so they eventually joined each other? They look great (but I'm hoping to find a shortcut in shaping to achieve the same result)

Thanks for sharing and happy baking!




IceDemeter's picture

I'm afraid that I haven't found an easier way to deal with rolls yet, and am scaling them and shaping them individually, and then letting them proof together.  Wouldn't it be great if there was a home-sized version of the bakery machines that separate and shape whole trays at a time?!  I'd likely end up with far too many rolls in my freezer if it were that easy, though...

Thanks for the kind words and all of the encouragement!  This whole round was lots of fun, but I've gotta admit that I'm happy that I didn't have the need for another big bake this week, since I was still a bit tired out from this one!

Looking forward to your next lovely inspiration --- and keep baking happy!

Best, Laurie


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

And you are still standing? That's a very heroic baking schedule, for sure! And they all look wonderful as well; that's amazing.

I do have one burning question - how did you manage to get one square muffin? :)

Isand66's picture

It’s like Where’s Waldo! 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Hahaha! <like>

IceDemeter's picture

Now I'm just gonna have to put the next square one in red and white stripes...


IceDemeter's picture

Considering the quality and quantity that you churn out every week, my efforts are most definitely amateur hour (but lots of fun)!

You just DID have to notice the odd one!  Poor thing - just not like the others... 

I'm afraid that all of my baking and cooking follows the same basic premise of using weights and being quite incapable of following a recipe (even one of my own).  This results in somewhat random quantities of things like muffins, so I end up dropping filled muffin papers in to some little rectangular pyrex containers when I end up with just 1 or 2 "extras" that just won't fit in the tins...  Liquid muffin batter tends to conform to the shape of the container --- hence, my little square guy (there were originally two in this batch - but the other was sacrificed as my "tester" before the pic).

It does make for some odd looks when I serve a mixed plate of muffins ;-)

Thanks for the kind words and all of the advice and encouragement - I'm looking forward to your next happy bake!

Best, Laurie