Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Cornmeal-Pumpkin Hearth Bread

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know I prefer to make breads by hand. Sometimes the bread (or my tennis elbow) dictates otherwise, but for the most part, I enjoy making artisan breads by hand.

Cornmeal Pumpkin Hearth Bread

I was delighted when I learned about a new book called Baking By Hand: Make the Best Artisanal Breads and Pastries Better Without a Mixer by Andy & Jackie King, the Founders of A & J King Artisan Bakers in Salem, Massachusetts.

I was even more excited when I was invited to participate in a blog tour. This gave me the opportunity to do a few of my favorite things: read a new bread book, bake some bread, and then write about it.

The best part is I’m not keeping all the fun to myself. I’m delighted to be giving away a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. You’ll find the entry instructions at the end of this post. 

I also enjoyed making (and eating) their Cornmeal-Pumpkin Hearth Bread and you can too! Just look for the recipe below the review of the book.


Baking By Hand is a delightful story of how A&J King Artisan Bakers began and how they run their bakery now.  Their passion really shines through for their craft, the bakers that work with them, their customers, and especially for the breads; those wonderful breads. 

I was hooked the moment I opened the book. Andy King begins by telling the story of their first Valentine’s Day and how he and Jackie gave each other the same gift, wrapped in the same gift wrap from the same bookstore. I’m a hopeless romantic so that did it for me.

I devoured the book. I even took notes. Being a bread geek myself, there is so much about this book that resonates with me. Like how the dough will let you know how it’s doing if you are in tune with it. This is so true. I remember when my cracker dough told me it was bread and not a cracker.  For real!

One of the PM Bakers shared a story about the bread dance and what it feels like when you pull a perfect loaf out of the oven. He said, “The bursts, the color, the shape … means I did the dance correctly.” I loved that analogy!  I always dance with and for the bread.

This is an inspiring book and an easy read. It provides enough information to get you motivated to bake bread without making your eyes glass over with too much technical jargon. You learn about the cycle of bread, why it’s important to properly ferment the bread, and how you need to scale carefully and without distraction. I had to laugh at the last one because I get distracted so easily when I’m mixing and working the dough.

Cornmeal Pumpkin Hearth Bread

Speaking of being distracted. It took me longer than it should have to make this Cornmeal-Pumpkin Hearth Bread but I had Irish music on in the background and well, you know the story. 

I really enjoyed mixing the dough and getting into the rhythm of the bread dance (and the Irish music).  First you mix, then proof, add the salt, yeast, then bulk ferment, fold, bulk ferment, fold again, bulk ferment, then fold one more time.  Shape and place into bannetons, then proof and bake on a preheated baking stone.



When it came time to bake the loaves, I decided to try their method for creating steam. Instead of using a steam pan underneath the baking stone to generate steam, I used my small cast iron skillet and placed it on the top rack of the oven with the baking stone on the bottom rack. You only need to place about 3 or 4 ice cubes in the preheated skillet and you don’t even have to pull the rack out to reach the steam pan.  How cool is that!

This is a wonderful bread for Fall.  It has a tight crumb and makes a great sandwich.  It tastes good on its own, but it also tastes great with butter, or as a grilled cheese sandwich or cinnamon toast, to name a few.  Since this recipe makes three loaves, I had plenty to share, which I did with a friend. He enjoyed his loaf as well.

Cornmeal Pumpkin Hearth Bread


To make this Cornmeal-Pumpkin Hearth Bread, you’ll need a baking stone,  three proofing baskets, a cast iron skillet, a water mister, a pizza peel (or you can substitute the back of a baking sheet), and a baking scale. You will also need a lame or a very sharp knife to score the hearth loaves right before baking.

Recipe from Baking By Hand by Andy King and Jackie King (Page Street Publishing; August 2013) Printed with permission.



Cornmeal-Pumpkin Hearth Bread

The Farm Stand Special

As soon as school starts in the fall, we begin fielding calls from customers asking when this bread will be back on the shelves. It has a limited life cycle in the bakery, as we bake it during the couple of months when we can source the pumpkins from nearby farms. Notice that we call for corn flour, which has a finer grind than cornmeal and absorbs liquid better, resulting in a smoother final crumb. You can find it in specialty grocery stores and online.

This bread has a sweet, moist, and tighter crumb than some of the other breads we make, and the crust has a bit more give. It makes amazing toast and grilled cheese sandwiches, its yellow hue crisping to a beautiful golden in the pan. You can easily shape these into loaf pans for more convenient sandwich slices; we make them as pumpkinesque rounds.

Note: If you do not have bannetons (the coiled cane molds that bakers use), you can use a large mixing bowl lined with a smooth cotton dish towel.


  • Yield: Three 1 lb 10 oz loaves
  • Desired Dough Temperature: 85˚F
  • Mixing Time: 40 minutes
  • Bulk Fermentation: ~2 hours
  • Proofing Time: ~2 hours
  • Baking Time: ~25 minutes
  • Cooling Time: ~1 hour

12 Hours Before the Bake
Mix your poolish (see page 27)
15 oz 75˚F water
15 oz bread flour
2 g / .5 tsp instant yeast

Baking Day
1 lb 4.75 oz white bread flour
8.75 oz corn flour
1 lb 13.5 oz poolish
8.75 oz 90˚F water
8.75 oz roasted pumpkin (see below)
2.25 oz extra- virgin olive oil
1.5 oz honey
25 g / 3.5 tsp fine sea salt
5 g / 1.25 tsp instant yeast

Combine your flours in your large mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix your poolish, water, roasted pumpkin, olive oil, and honey, and remember to keep that water warm to give your yeast a comfortable atmosphere to grow. Swirl those ingredients around with your hand to combine. Then, dump your flours on top of the liquid ingredients, and mix it by hand for about 30 seconds until it comes together in a shaggy mass. Don’t forget to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl regularly; you want all of that flour hydrated and don’t want to see any dry spots. Set aside in a warm place, at least 80˚F, for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt and yeast on top of the dough, which will have developed a good deal of strength by now. Grab a four-finger pinch of the dough and pull. It should stretch out like chunky taffy rather than just tear off. Incorporate the salt and yeast into the dough while continuously pushing the sides of the dough into the middle while turning the bowl. After a minute of this, the dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl and developing a bit of a sheen, and you shouldn’t feel any crunchy salt crystals. Cover the bowl, and put it in your warm place for 30 minutes.

Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface and give it your four-fold by gently patting it out, folding the left side into the middle, the right side overlapping the left, the top into the middle, and finally the bottom overlapping the top. It should make a tight little package - this is how we’re building the dough’s strength, and after every fold the dough’s volume should increase. It should consistently feel warm and active. Roll the dough over and place it, seam side down, back into the bowl. Repeat every 30 minutes (you’ll fold the dough three times in total) until the dough is strong but puffy, warm to the touch, and holds a fingerprint when pressed into the surface. The whole process will take about 2 hours with a warm kitchen and warm dough.

Once your dough is ready to cut, turn it out onto your floured work surface. Using your bench knife and scale, divide into three l lb 10 oz pieces. Gently pre-round the dough into rounds, being careful not to compress the dough too much, and place seam side down on your work surface. Cover and rest for 20 minutes to build a bit more strength into the loaf before final shaping. Dust three bannetons/smooth towel-lined bowls with corn flour.

Then take your rested rounds and gently but firmly shape them into rounds again. If your seams feel like they’re coming undone when you lift the loaf up, give it a few minutes sitting seam side down on the table to seal it and next time, use less flour for shaping. The dough’s moisture should be enough to seal the loaf closed. Place your shaped loaves seam side up in your bannetons/smooth towel-lined bowl,s cover with a cloth or plastic wrap, and place in your trusty warm spot.

While your dough is proofing, place your baking stone on the lowest rack in your oven, and your cast-iron pan on the highest rack. Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Check in on your bread periodically; if the surface feels dried out, spray it with a bit of water to allow for maximum expansion. If it feels cold, make it warmer. This may take up to 2 hours depending on the conditions of your kitchen; remember, proof to a result, not a time. If it doesn’t feel ready to bake, it probably isn’t. The loaf is ready to go in when it feels very airy and holds a fingerprint when pressed into the surface.

Flip the loaves over onto your peel. It might take a couple of batches to bake all your bread, depending on your oven size. Using a sharp paring knife or a razor, slash the surface of the loaves in your desired pattern. Now grab three ice cubes from the freezer. Being careful not to keep the oven door open too long and let the heat out, open the oven, slide your loaf onto the stone, throw the three ice cubes into the cast-iron pan, and close the door. After 5 minutes, quickly open the door and spray the interior of the oven with water. Continue baking until the loaf is evenly browned, about 25 minutes, and has a nice hollow when you tap it on the bottom. Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Roasted Pumpkin

The best pumpkins for this recipe are the smaller ones called sugar pumpkins. Choose those that are 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Wash any remaining field dirt off the surface, and knock the stem off with a hammer, the side of your table, or the back of a chef’s knife (careful with that last one). Bisect the pumpkin top to bottom (starting at the stem), and scoop out the seeds. Place the two halves cut side down on a sheet pan and roast at 400˚F until the skin starts to collapse and a skewer passes through the flesh easily, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool, and then scoop the roasted flesh off the skins. Refrigerate until ready to use. Remember to warm the pumpkin to room temperature before using in this recipe (or else you’ll sandbag your dough temperature), and squish it through your fingers to smooth it out a bit before incorporating it into the other ingredients.


 a Rafflecopter giveaway


This post is part of a blog tour promoting the book, Baking by Hand by Andy & Jackie King. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, as well as a copy to give away.

I know you’ll enjoy this book as much as I do.

Happy Baking and Good luck!


Sunday, 27 October 2013

From Sourdough to Einkorn Banana Bread –- Part 2

We learned how to make basic Sourdough Banana Bread last week. Today, I’ll reveal the method I used to transition from a sourdough banana quick bread made completely with white flour to a sourdough quick bread made completely with Einkorn flour.



I wanted to make a banana bread I could call my own using only Einkorn flour. Sometimes, I just start substituting and hope for the best. This time, I decided to take a more thoughtful approach. 

I started with this Sourdough Banana Bread recipe from Cultures for Health.

One of best things about making banana bread is that you can use overripe bananas instead of throwing them away. I had a bunch of overripe bananas so I was able to do a good bit of experimenting this month.


1st Attempt: White Starter/White Flour/Coconut Oil with Nuts

The first time I tried this bread, I made it exactly by the recipe. I used a white flour sourdough starter, white all-purpose flour and coconut oil and added 1/2 cup walnuts. I didn’t ferment the dough. I added 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and baked it right away. This is the version featured in From Sourdough to Banana Bread and Beyond. It’s a good bread but I didn’t want to stop there.



2nd Attempt: White Starter/White & Whole Grain Einkorn Flour/Coconut Oil without Nuts

The second time I made this banana bread, I continued with the white flour sourdough starter, and coconut oil, but this time I only used 1 cup of white all-purpose flour, and to that I added 1 cup of home milled whole grain Einkorn flour.  I omitted the nuts because I didn’t have any. I let the batter ferment for 8 hours and when it was time to bake, I didn’t add any baking soda. This bread tasted really good, but the coconut oil and fermented sourdough overpowered the banana flavor so it didn’t really taste like banana bread to me.



3rd Attempt: White Starter/80% Extraction Einkorn Flour/Whole Grain Einkorn Flour/Coconut Oil without Nuts

By the time I got to this version, I was a little overzealous. I used the white starter again, but I didn’t use any white flour. I used 1 cup of 80% extraction Einkorn flour and 1 cup of home milled whole grain Einkorn flour. I also used coconut oil and omitted the nuts.

To bring out the banana flavor, I used a trick I learned when I was making Ultimate Banana Bread. In this method, you microwave the bananas on high until the liquid is released and the bananas are soft, about 3-5 minutes. In that recipe, they recommend using bananas that are just ripe. My bananas were very ripe so I only microwaved them for a minute to bring out the flavor. I didn’t liquefy them because I didn’t want to change the texture of the bread too much.


I let the batter ferment for 8 hours again and used 1/2 baking soda to neutralize the sourdough flavor. However in my eagerness, I didn’t bake the loaf long enough so it didn’t bake all of the way through. The flavor was really good. It reminded me of Amish Friendship Bread. After I cut a couple of slices, I realized it wasn’t baked through so I had to throw the rest of it out.


4th & 5th Attempts: Einkorn Sourdough Starter/80% Extraction Einkorn Flour/Whole Grain Einkorn Flour/Butter with Nuts

Even though the 3rd bread wasn’t a complete success, I felt pretty confident that if I had baked it long enough, it would’ve been fine. So, I continued on to the last phase of my experiment. Fortunately, I still had some bananas left to experiment with.

For this version, I used my Einkorn Sourdough Starter, Einkorn flour, butter instead of coconut oil and I included nuts.

They say the third time is the charm, but in this case, the fourth and fifth times were the charm. The fourth time to get the recipe down and the fifth time to get the photos right.

It took me several weeks, but I finally created a Sourdough Einkorn Banana Bread to call my own.


Sourdough Einkorn Banana Bread

Makes: 1 9x5-inch Loaf


  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup Einkorn Sourdough Starter
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups 80% extraction Einkorn flour (from Jovial Foods)
  • 1 cup whole grain Einkorn flour (home milled)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda (to neutralize the sourdough flavor)



1. Cream the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. 

2. Nuke the bananas in the microwave for 1 minute, then mash them. Mix the sourdough starter and mashed bananas into the creamed mixture.

3. In a separate bowl, add the flour, and salt. Add the flour mixture to banana mixture and mix just until combined. Be careful not to over-mix. 

4. Let the batter ferment for at least 7 hours.  Then mix in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

5. Pour the batter into a greased 9x5-inch bread pan.

6. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

7. Remove the loaf from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. 

8. Remove the loaf from the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.  Try to wait until the next day if you can to let it develop it’s full flavor.

sourdougj-einkorn-banana-bread103 sourdough-einkorn-banana-bread_1004
sourdough-einkorn-banana-bread_1011 sourdough-einkorn-banana-bread_1026


I used my new ceramic baker to bake this Sourdough Einkorn Banana Bread. I love baking in this ceramic baker. It’s my favorite color.



Now, I have a banana bread to call my own. I hope you enjoy it.

Happy Baking!



Wednesday, 23 October 2013

My Carrot Bread Experiment with Spelt & Rye

The bread of the month for the Bread Baking Babes is Carrot Bread. This unique bread is crunchy on the outside due to a crackle glaze of rice flour and crunchy on the inside due to the inclusion of toasted sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Shredded carrots and chopped parsley lend flavor and moisture and the carrot juice and golden syrup provide the sweetening.



After making the rich Pumpkin Brioche for World Bread Day and then Sourdough Banana Bread, this carrot bread was a nice change of pace. My version is made with all-purpose Spelt instead of white bread flour so it’s healthier than it’s white counterpart.

Adapted from this Carrot Bread Recipe

Here are the substitutions I made to the recipe:

  • All-purpose Spelt flour instead of bread flour
  • Walnut oil instead of sunflower oil
  • Water instead of carrot juice
  • 3 tablespoons Agave golden syrup instead of 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon

I decided not to post an adapted recipe because I’m not sure how much water I used in the poolish or how much additional flour I added to the final dough.  This was definitely an experiment.

I ended up with four loaves instead of three.  How’d that happen?

Listen and learn from my mishaps and frustrations.

As I was reading the instructions, I kept seeing active dry yeast and letting it bloom. I’ve gotten away from using active dry yeast because for one thing, you have to activate it and another is that I can control the hydration a little better if I add all of the dry ingredients together then mix in just enough liquid to make the dough. Well, I second guessed myself this time and decided to follow the recipe’s instructions for using active dry yeast. I’m not saying the instructions don’t work, I’m just saying I should’ve stayed with the method that works best for me.

Side discussion on using dried yeast:

Interestingly enough, as I was in the middle of writing this blog post, I saw a discussion on the Artisan Bread Bakers FB group page about this very same topic. It seems that every baker has his/her own way of utilizing yeast, whether it be instant or active dry yeast.

It was a very good discussion. Here are some of the comments I found helpful:

  • The yeast that bakers hydrate in warm water is the older active dry yeast (ADY) not the modern instant dry yeast (IDY) which can blended with dry ingredients and used like fresh yeast.
  • Main thing to remember... Water should be between 80F and 100F. Too cold or too warm will kill the yeast (i.e.activating dry yeast)
  • Instant yeast (SAF or Red Star) is covered with a sugar coating so that as soon as it gets wet with anything it dissolves and becomes food for the yeast.

Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to try different approaches and methods and find one that works for you, but don’t second guess yourself when you have a method that does work well for you. At least, that’s the lesson I learned.


Back to the Carrot Bread…



This bread is made with an overnight rye poolish or so the story goes.  Some of the other Babes mentioned that the hydration amount for the poolish was off so you needed to add more water.   A poolish is supposed to be 100% hydration. This one was less than 50% hydration. Maybe it was supposed to be a biga instead of a poolish or perhaps a sponge, but since the recipe said poolish, that’s what I went with. 

In order to make it look like and act like a poolish, I added a good bit more water. I don’t think I added 2 1/2 cups which would’ve been 100% hydration, but I added a good bit more than 1 cup which is what the recipe called for. This is what it looked like after fermenting all night.  Definitely too wet!


To compensate for adding additional water in the poolish, you need to use less hydration in the final dough.  Hmmm…

I had to add a good bit more flour to the final dough.  To complicate things further, I decided to use Spelt flour at the last minute.  Since Spelt flour doesn’t absorb water the same way as regular bread flour, this presented a very wet dough.

I struggled with this dough.  It was so sticky that I just kept adding more flour. I tried not to overwork the dough because Spelt is picky about that. I used the mixer to mix the dough, but kneaded in the seeds by hand and only kneaded it a little bit on the counter.

I let the dough bulk ferment longer than the original recipe suggested to make up for the minimal kneading that I performed. This helped, but it still wasn’t the workable dough I wanted. I was about ready to place it in the refrigerator overnight to continue fermenting, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to make it the next day.  So, I added more flour.  This was becoming a theme.  Add more flour. 



I finally made it to the shaping phase and got the dough into four rounds, then into four ovals (using more flour for dusting, of course).





Then I shaped it into an oval. 



This part worked pretty well actually.



By the time I got to the crackle crunch, I said phooey on the active dry yeast and used instant yeast instead and only made about 1/3 of the amount suggested because everyone said it made too much. 



Even using only a third of the amount was enough to glaze all four loaves, and I didn’t have any left over.



I almost omitted the crunch topping because I didn’t really care for it when we used it on the Vienna Bread during the Bread Baker’s Challenge. However, I’m glad I tried it this time because this method was a little bit different. It includes some sugar and salt so the flavor wasn’t flat. It was actually pretty good.



Even with all of the extra flour I added, the bread wasn’t dry on the inside. I guess I have the well-hydrated poolish to thank for that.

The final product looked and tasted fine, but man did I make the process hard on myself.  Lol…

The crackle crunch topping and the oval shape makes it look like a cracked egg.  I kind of like that!



I had a challenge (I mean fun) baking with the Babes this month. Thanks to Heather of Girlichef for hosting and picking this interesting bread and method.


BBBuddies october 2013


Happy Baking!


Sunday, 20 October 2013

From Sourdough to Banana Bread and beyond–Part 1 {sourdoughsurprises}

Banana Bread has always been one of my favorite treats. It’s simple to prepare, makes a great snack, and freezes well. I never grow tired of it.

I really enjoy my tried and true banana bread recipes, but I also like to experiment with new ones. Over the years, I’ve made regular banana bread, ultimate, whole wheat, peanut butter, chocolate chip, and over-the-top banana bread to mention a few.

Just when I thought I was running out of options, the Sourdough Surprises’ Baking Group challenged us to make Sourdough Quick Breads. Sourdough!  Now, why didn’t I think of that! 



Sourdough takes quick breads to new heights:

This sourdough quick bread challenge took banana bread to a new level for me. There are so many possibilities. I’ve been having so much fun making banana quick bread with my sourdough starter this month. I made four different variations. The first version is featured in this post. 

Here is the Sourdough Banana Bread recipe I used for my sourdough quick bread experiment.

I started with the sample recipe (recommended by the group - link above). I followed it pretty much to the letter the first time I made the bread because I wanted to see how the original version performed and what enhancements, if any, I might like to make for future breads.



Options for using sourdough in a quick bread:

There are a couple of ways to utilize a sourdough starter in quick breads. You can use any starter you prefer, just make sure it’s fresh, meaning recently fed.

Option 1: Mix all of the ingredients, including the sourdough, omit the baking soda and let the batter ferment for at least seven hours. Then bake it. This method makes it more easily digestible. If you want to mute the sourdough flavor, add the baking soda a few minutes before baking the loaf.



Option 2:  Mix the batter, including the sourdough, add the baking soda and bake the bread. If you bake the bread immediately, you won’t get the benefits of the fermentation, but it still makes a delicious bread.

This is the method I used for my first attempt. I didn’t want to wait for the batter to ferment so I added 1 cup of my recently fed apple starter, mixed the batter and baked it right away. 



This version is really good for a sourdough quick bread; however, it didn’t have the banana flavor that I was looking for. The texture was perfect so I think part of the problem was the coconut oil that I used instead of butter. It gave the bread a wonderful flavor, but kind of overpowered the banana flavor. Even so, I really liked this bread, especially with the addition of chopped walnuts.

On subsequent attempts, I let the batter ferment for at least 7 hours and sometimes overnight. The fermentation gave the loaf a nice tangy flavor; however, there was still the issue of the muted banana flavor.

I finally found the sweet spot by combining a couple of different techniques to get the benefits from the sourdough and enhance the banana flavor without affecting the texture of the bread.


Banana Bread and beyond…

If you’re wondering what I meant by “and beyond” in the title of this post, stay tuned. I’ll be posting more about my sourdough banana bread adventures. Look for a follow-up post that reveals how I took this recipe, incorporated a different starter, and a method for enhancing the banana flavor and came up with my own quick bread.

Here’s a preview of the next phase of my experiment:



Happy Baking!



Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Braided Pumpkin Brioche for World Bread Day

Today is World Bread Day. The day for bread bakers around the world to showcase their breads and celebrate the staff of life.

Zorra of kochtopf started the event for bloggers in 2006 and each year, hundreds of bloggers from all around the world bake bread for this special day. This year, Zorra has a special wish to see a huge basket filled with at least 365 breads from all over the world. 

I’m doing my part by submitting this Braided Pumpkin Brioche for the 8th World Bread Day. What are you baking?



I saw the formula for this Pumpkin Brioche on the San Francisco Baking Institute’s site and knew I had to try it. I’ve been thinking about it for several weeks and waiting for the perfect opportunity to make it.

The main reason I wanted to make this bread is because it’s a great bread for Autumn. I’ve always loved making pumpkin bread. For me, pumpkin bread is the ultimate comfort food for Fall and when you combine that with a buttery smooth brioche, you get an awesome treat.

The other reason I was interested in this particular bread is that the formula is in pounds instead of grams or ounces. This was an opportunity to try something different since I hadn’t yet worked with a formula that presented all of the weights in pounds.  

I didn’t think this would be a big issue since my scales have settings for grams, ounces and pounds, but I’ve gotten so used to working in grams and ounces that I kept forgetting to change the setting on my scales. I ended up adding a good bit more flour so I think I need more practice.

To make the dough for this Pumpkin Brioche, click here to download the formula from the SFBI site.

I made the dough exactly by the formula (or so I thought), but as I mentioned earlier, I ended up using a good bit more flour than 3 1/4 cups (.867 lbs) because the dough was really sticky.  It was still tacky but workable after adding the additional flour.

My scales don’t go low enough to measure .002 lbs of cinnamon and .001 lbs of the other spices so I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon each of ground ginger and ground cloves. I think some new baking scales are in order, but for this experiment, the teaspoon measurements worked fine.  The spices provided a warm and comforting flavor without overpowering the bread.

I’m so glad I chose to make this bread this past weekend because my favorite taste testers (aka my sons) were home. I had a good bit of dough (about 3 pounds) so I was able to use some of the dough to make rolls for dinner (which I served with roast chicken) and the rest for the braided loaf.


How to Make Pumpkin Brioche Dinner Rolls:

To make the brioche rolls, I divided the dough in half and weighed out about 2 ounces of dough for each roll. I rolled each ball tightly and let them proof for about 30 minutes before baking.



Once the rolls were baked, I brushed them with melted butter. They were delightful. My taste testers really enjoyed them. My oldest son loves rolls and he took a bite and said, “oh, these are good!” 



I put the remaining dough in the refrigerator overnight and made the braided loaf the next day. Since I had a good bit of dough left, I was able to make a 4-strand braid.


How to make a 4-Strand Braided Pumpkin Brioche Loaf:

Divide the dough into 4 equal balls (by weight).



Roll each ball out to a strand of equal length.



Connect the strands at one end and spread the other ends out with the tips facing you.



Number the strands 1, 2, 3, 4 from the left.  Follow the pattern: 4 over 2, 1 over 3, and 2 over 3.  Repeat until you reach the ends of the strands, then pinch the tips together to seal.  Transfer the braid to a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let it proof for 30 to 45 minutes.



Right before baking, brush the braid with egg white and sprinkle with raw sugar.  I added some pumpkin seeds for added affect.



Let the braid cool on a wire rack before slicing.  Then slice and enjoy.

This bread tastes great plain, but it also makes great cinnamon toast.  I think it would also make awesome French Toast.  I’ll have to try that next.



I enjoyed participating in the 2013 World Bread Day. 

World Bread Day 2013 - 8th edition! Bake loaf of bread on October 16 and blog about it!


Every day is bread day as far as I’m concerned, but there’s something special about bakers around the world celebrating it on the same day.

Happy World Bread Day!



I’m also sharing these loaves with:

BYOB - Il Cestino del Pane

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Simplify Bread Formulas with BreadStorm™

I fought the idea of using baker’s percentages for a long time. I thought I would somehow lose the romance of bread baking if I got into the science of making bread. After all, I am bread baker, not a mathematician or scientist.

However, there comes a time in every serious bread baker’s experience, when you have to let go of old habits and get with the program. If you want to bake good bread, then the bread dictates a different level of understanding.

So I started experimenting with baker’s percentages a few years ago. I struggled with it because I had to learn how to do the conversions by hand. I use spreadsheets all day long in my day job, but when I’m baking bread, I don’t want to have to think that hard. It’s suppose to be my time to de-stress.

Thankfully, I won’t have to keep up with all this manually anymore because there’s a nifty new software program that keeps track of it for me.

Introducing BreadStorm

BreadStorm for Mac has launched (at http://www.breadstorm.com/). The software is now available for purchase in the U.S., Canada, and the European Union, with more countries coming soon. The BreadStorm iPhone app is currently in a beta test.


The BreadStorm Story

The idea for BreadStorm was started in Dado and Jacqueline Colussi’s kitchen in Stockholm, Sweden in 2008. According to the Colussi's, “We were baking more and more of our own bread, in an ever-expanding repertoire, and we needed a tool to help us get the most out of our bread formulas, while minimizing distraction. Finding no well designed, out-of-the-box solution, we decided to create one.”

They were driven to create BreadStorm, because bakers need it!


Photo credit: Nate Delage. Nate is a member of Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers and a talented baker in his own right. Nate took this photo at a meeting of Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers, when they were baking up a storm.


In 2010, Dado and Jacqueline moved to Chicago, and started the Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers, a meetup that brings bread bakers together in-person to learn from one another. They also lead CABB2, a meetup group for advanced bakers and organize and moderate #BreadChat on Twitter each month.

If that’s not enough, Dado and Jacqueline also love to bake together at home. This photo shows a morning's worth of bread baking, loaves piled up on a table on their back porch. They were baking for the "Homemade Bread Showcase" (http://bit.ly/BreadShowcase2012), an event they organize from time-to-time with the Chicago Amateur Bread Bakers. The rye sourdough boules were made by Dado, the whole-wheat challah braids by Jacqueline.

Photo credit: Jacqueline Colussi


What Does BreadStorm Do?

BreadStorm makes bread formulas accessible to, usable by, and sharable with all bread bakers—professional bakers, home/hobby bakers, students of boulangerie, bakery apprentices, in-bakery developers of new bread formulas, and researchers in the field of bread science.  

Here is an example of a bread formula (in percentages) created with the BreadStorm software:


Here is the same formula scaled to 500 grams of flour.



How to Use BreadStorm

Check out this tutorial to Learn How to BreadStorm 


How can you help?  Share BreadStorm

To try out BreadStorm for yourself, download the software for free . Then download the BreadStorm .bun files from the "How to BreadStorm" Tutorial and try scaling them.

If you like BreadStorm, you can buy a BreadStorm Key to create and edit your own bread formulas.

Spread the word by sharing snapshots of your BreadStorm formulas on Twitter, on your bread blog (if you have one), and on thefreshloaf.com. Other bakers seeing your formulas will be excited to start conversations with you, and collaborate in the pursuit of baking delicious bread.



Are you interested in seeing BreadStorm in your country?

If you would like to see BreadStorm in your country, leave a comment on this post for Dado and Jacqueline. 


There’s an app for that!  Or there will be soon.  I’m looking forward to using the iPhone app (currently in beta testing).  It should be a handy app in the kitchen.

Disclosure:  I am not being paid for this post nor will I get a commission from any sales of the software. I just think it’s a neat program and I wanted to let you know about it.

Happy Baking!


Monday, 7 October 2013

Roasted Potato & Rye Bread for #twelveloaves

The challenge for the #TwelveLoaves Baking Group this month is to make breads with root vegetables. I had picked up some lovely purple potatoes from the local farmer’s market so now all I had to do was figure out what kind of bread to make.

As luck would have it, David, aka the Rye King, of the Artisan Bread Bakers FB Group, enticed us to bake Roasted Potato & Rye Bread for the BOM (bread of the month).

So I decided to combine the two themes and submit the BOM to Twelve Loaves. Or, maybe I should say I made Twelve Loaves for the BOM. Take your pick, but I do hope you’ll enjoy this crusty and delicious Roasted Potato, Rosemary & Rye Loaf.



Roasted Potato, Rosemary and Rye Bread

David of HearthBakedTunes adaptation from Bread by Jeffrey Hammelman


Pate Fermente:

  • 9.6 oz Bread flour
  • 6.2 oz Water
  • 0.2 oz Salt
  • 1/8 tsp instant dry yeast

Final Dough:

  • 17.6 oz Bread flour
  • 4.8 oz whole grain Rye flour
  • 13.3 oz Water
  • 0.6 oz Salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 8 oz roasted potatoes *
  • 2 -3 tablespoons chopped fresh Rosemary
  • 16 oz Pate fermente

* Note from David: Roast potatoes whole, do not cook them with oil and salt and seasoning. Trust me, because I made this with a friend and she roasted the potatoes with olive oil and rosemary and they became too crispy and the finished product was compromised.



Prepare the Pate Fermentee

Prepare the Pate Fermentee the day before you plan to make the bread. Add all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix using a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk until just smooth. Allow the preferment to sit at room temperature for 16 hours.

Mix the Dough:

The next day, add all the ingredients to bowl of a stand mixer (except for the preferment) and mix at first speed for three minutes. While the dough comes together add the preferment in small chunks. Then mix on second speed for 4 minutes. The gluten will be moderately developed and the dough should be supple.



Bulk Fermentation:

Let the dough bulk ferment for 90 minutes, and complete one fold after 45 minutes.



Shape and Proof the Loaves:

Shape loaves into round boules or batards. Proof the loaves in proofing baskets or on parchment-lined baking sheets or a bread board for 45 – 60 minutes.

roasted-potato-rye-bread_106 roasted-potato-rye-bread_109


Score the Loaves:

Carefully turn the loaves out from the proofing baskets (if using) onto parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal.



Score the loaves using the pattern of your choice. I got a little creative with my scoring this time mainly because the first score I made (a square around the top) was too small so I just added more slashes around the sides.



Bake the Loaves:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the middle rack.  Alternately, you can bake the loaves in a La Cloche or other type of Bread Pot or Dutch Oven.

Slide the first loaf onto the preheated stone and spritz the loaf with water using a spray bottle. Spritz the loaf a total of 3 times during the first few minutes of baking. Bake the loaf at 450 until done (about 40 minutes). Rotate the loaf for even baking and remove the parchment paper to allow the bottom to bake through. It might be necessary to reduce the oven temp after twenty minutes due to the starch from the roasted potatoes.

Carefully remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a wire rack for cooling.

Repeat the baking process with the remaining loaf.  If you turned the oven temp down, preheat it again to 450 degrees F. before baking the 2nd loaf.

Slice and Enjoy!



I invited a friend over to help me taste test this bread. He’s originally from Eastern Europe. He took one bite and said  it reminded him of the bread he grew up eating. If you’re wondering why there is only one bread in the photograph, it’s because I sent the other loaf home with him to enjoy.



I’m sharing these loaves with:

BYOB - Il Cestino del Pane


Happy Baking!