Category Archives: Meanderings

It’s been a while….

since I’ve posted to this blog.  Winter was spent hibernating and knitting….a bunch of Christmas Stockings, 3 Icelandic Sweaters and a couple others.  I will update this blog with a page dedicated to my knitting…someday…until then you can visit my Ravelry Page.

And…its been a fairly busy Spring getting ready for our guests from Germany.  A new bathroom!!! Finally.   See my page with pictures and commentary soon to come.

My Latest Obsession

Chain Mail Jewelry!

After having seen a necklace on a popular television show that really appealed to me, I started looking for sometime similar to buy.  Expensive!  Ugh!  Wait….why can’t I make one myself….afterall I do have a little artistic talent.

Enter Google…YouTube and Rio Grande and low and behold, I have a new obsession.  I started out buying inexpensive rings at Michaels and soon realized they were kind of crappy but I did learn some weaves and the results weren’t too bad.


Then I went back to my favorite jewelry supplier, Rio Grande, and order sterling silver rings.  Expensive, yes, but certainly not as much as buying the finished product from a jewelry store.

IMG_1519OMG!  I can’t stop….I love making this stuff.  I recently decided that keep my hobby I had to start working with less expensive materials and supplied myself with shiny aluminum rings.  They look as beautiful as the sterling silver and don’t tarnish but they are very lightweight and inexpensive.  I can offer pretty, shiny jewelry for a fraction of the price of silver and gold.

Please check out my Etsy Store.  I can customize anything for you!

Rodney Rye Can’t Contain Himself

I gave Rodney a feeding last night and within two hours he had doubled and bubbled.  It was already 10 p.m. so I stirred him down and fed him some more.  He was raring to go this morning.IMG_0949

I mixed up a batch of dough using Hamelman’s Deli Rye as a guide.  I did substitute a little KA Sir Lancelot for the whole wheat I usually use because 1) I was out of whole wheat and 2) I wanted to see what Sir would add to the mix.

The recipe:

675 grams KA Bread Flour
125 grams KA Sir Lancelot
200 grams Hodgsons Rye
600 grams water
300 grams Rodney
20 grams salt
7 grams SAF Yeast

Put together in the usual method.  Added all the ingredients except for the salt and yeast.  Let autolyse for 30 minutes and then added the salt and yeast.  The addition of the yeast really reduced the rise/proof time which is just fine with me these days.

Bulk ferment was two hours with a few stretch and folds spaced out.  Then it was bench rest, shape and into the bannetons.  I could tell things were lively as I had to pat down quite a few bubbles on the skin.

30 minutes of proof time and then baked in the dutch ovens.

Spelt….Ancient Flavor Meets New World – Part 1

Branching out and trying new things, I’d been hearing about spelt flour on the forums quite a bit.  It was time to give it a try.

It was originally grown in Iran around 5000 to 6000 B.C. , and grown in Europe for over 300 years, and now in North America for just over 100 years it has recently gained popularity in baking circles.

So off to Wholepaycheck Foods to buy a bag which turned out to be a very precious commodity, costing about three times the price of a bag of wheat or rye flour.

Following a recipe found on The Fresh Loaf, I made 100% spelt dough.  It was nice to work with, supple and stretchy but a bit on the wet side.  As a back up, I also put together a dough for our regular bread which is just a 1.2.3 sourdough mix of bread and rye flour which has become a house favorite.

I followed my usual methods of mixing and bulk fermentation but ran into trouble when I baked.  Apparently the spelt seems to like a lower temperature oven because the bottom burned and all that we were able to salvage was a crunchy top.


You can see from the photo below that the 1.2.3 loaf came out perfect.



I guess I did something right because the crumb did look pretty good and the loaf was very tasty….at least what could be salvaged from it.



Back to the drawing board as they say…..

Kaisersemmel aka Kaiser Rolls

Stumbling across a video from Der Back Profi making Kaisersemmel, I just had to try them.  The recipe is posted on his website along with a video of how to shape the Kaisersemmel, but I needed to make a few minor adjustments for my kitchen.  It is very similar to the Weitzenbrötchen recipe which has been a staple in our house.

500 gr. Tipo 00 Flour
10 gr. Kosher or Sea Salt
10 gr. Barley Malt (I used non diastic)
5 gr. sugar
40 gr. butter, softened
7 gr. dry active yeast
60 gr. milk
180 gr. very warm water

Combine all the ingredients into the bowl of your mixer.  Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes till all the ingredients are incorporated.  Continue to mix 4-7 more minutes at medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of bowl, sprinkling a little flour in if the dough is too moist.

Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.  Pull off a small piece and perform a window pane test…the dough should be soft, supple and able to pull thin.

IMG_0687After 15 minutes rest, divide the dough into 12 pieces of approximately 80 grams per piece and form into balls.

IMG_0688 IMG_0689Take each ball and form into a kaiser shape by following the instructions here.  Place each roll upside down on a cookie sheet lightly dusted with flour.

Allow to sit under a tea towel for 25-30  minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven to 475 dF with a pan in the bottom for steam.

Carefully turn each roll over onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  Before placing in the oven, spray the rolls liberally with water.

Place the pan in the oven and immediately pour hot water or drop a handful of ice cubes into the steam pan.  I used ice cubes this time.  After 3 minutes turn the temperature down to 425 dF.

The recipe calls for keeping the oven steamed.  Since I don’t have injection in my oven, I kept an eye on it and after baking for 10 minutes I turned the baking tray for even baking, and added more ice cubes.  Total bake time is 18-20 minutes.

This first time out I feel they could have proofed a bit longer or even been cold retarded 6-12 hours, similar to the Weitzenbrötchen recipe.  I may try that recipe with this shaping technique.  IMG_0693

Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough

It was time to try my hand at another loaf of sourdough bread.  The freezer was stuffed but we’ve had a chance to eat a little bit and I’ve found another place to lose loaves.

Today’s bread is Vermont Sourdough from Jeff Hamelman’s book Bread.  In his book, all the recipes are written in bakery sized formulas along with a home version which is written in pounds and ounces so I needed to convert them to grams.  I also upped the rye a slight bit and added a little whole wheat but kept the formula in the same balance as he.

75 gr mature starter
125 gr. warm water
125 gr. whole wheat flour

Allow to ferment at room temperature or above (I like to warm my microwave with a boiled glass of water) for 8 to 12 hours until bubbled and risen.

600 gr bread flour
80 gr whole wheat flour
100 gr rye flour
419 gr water
17 gr salt
325 gr levain

Mix all of the ingredients together except the salt and leave to autolyse for at least 30 minutes.  You can leave it for up to an hour according to his book.

Mix in the salt well and allow to bulk ferment for 1.5 to 2.5 hours.  Again in the microwave with boiled water.  After 30 minutes I stretched and folded the dough, reheated the boiled water and put it back in the microwave.  It now being 11:00 at night….why do I get these urges so late? …I decided to perform one more stretch and fold and put it in the refrigerator for a cold overnight bulk ferment.

IMG_0672This morning it had nicely risen in its container.  IMG_0673This dough is slightly dryer than some of the breads I’ve been making recently and contributes to making it easier to split and prepare for the bannetons.


Another recommen-dation I decided to try today is taking a small bit of the dough and placing in in a shot glass to monitor its rising.   It is just about an inch deep in the glass coming to the top of the word Berlin so by my calculations it IMG_0676should be ready for the oven when it reach the yellow part of the coat of arms design.  This took about three hours.  I plan to use this technique going forward.

I’m still working on my slashing technique and am thinking my homemade lame is not upto par.

IMG_0677I took the little proofing ball of dough and threw that on foil and tossed it in the oven.  It was ready after 30 minutes and was a nice little preview of what  hopefully was contained in side those full sized loaves.

Forty minutes later out come these beauties!IMG_0679














IMG_0686And the crumb shot….nice slightly sour tang, crispy/chewy crust….definitely a winner!

And this is a shot of the wheat loaf I made yesterday.

IMG_0675I knew I was rushing to starter and the rising but I needed to do it anyway.  It takes good and everyone liked it but it was not up to the standard that I am aspiring.


Trying to get a search of elusive oven spring

This recipe is based on the Field Blend #2 recipes in Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast. I have been concentrating on this particular recipe for consistency while I determine the best method for me to achieve the elusive oven spring. Forkish adds a tiny bit of yeast that the purists in artisan bread baking eschew.  Once consistent results are achieved, the next step is to eliminate the yeast from the formula. Meanwhile, my goal is to find the right blend of technique, I.e., levain prep, percent of water, combination of grains, length of bulk ferment and length of proofing of the final loaves without overdoing it in my quest for better height in my loaves as well as better scoring before baking.  And let’s not forget the baker’s percentage formula….gotta figure that out too because I don’t think I’ve been deducting the levain flour from the total dough flour….that’s for next time…which means this formula is a little higher percentage flour than 100%.


75 gr. Rye Sour
25 gr. Wheat Sour
100 gr. 90 dF Water
100 gr. WW Flour

Ferment for 12 hours.

650 gr Bread Flour
100 gr. rye flour
150 gr. WW flour
650 gr. 90 dF Water

Autolyse for 30 mins.  Add 21 gr. salt, 2 gr. yeast and 200 gr. prepared levain.

Pinch and squeeze it all together.  Mixed dough temp is 75 dF.  Place in proofing box.  This is my microwave with a measuring glass of water immediately boiled inside.

Stretch & fold dough every 30 minutes for the first two hours.  Bulk fermentation to almost double only took 3 hours at which time I transferred it to the lightly floured counter for dividing and preshaping.

After bench resting the dough for 30 minutes, it was final shaped and put into two bannetons and left for 1 hour at room temperature.

After scoring the loaves, always a challenge, they were baked in covered dutch ovens heated to 475 dF for 30 minutes, then 20 minutes uncovered.

Two lovely Field Grains #2 loaves compared to yesterday tasty, but less than spectacular loaf.
Ain’t that gorgeous!

And a successful bake it was!

By the Numbers

My life is now ruled by numbers.  Since sourdough takes time, I have to calculate when I want to bake my bread, count backwards by the approximate time it takes to do each step:  prepare the levain, autolyse the dough, bulk ferment with stretching & folding, shaping and into the bannetons and then how long to proof the loaves…do I have time to proof it warm or do I need to put it in the fridge and bake in the morning….will I have time to do in the morning or do I need to stretch that time till later…..oyyyyy….my brain hurts!  This isn’t supposed to be work!  It isn’t really…its something I’m loving doing so it really is fun and challenging to figure it all out.

And preparing the dough….numbers rule there too.  By following the rules of the baker’s percentage, the amount of different flours to use to achieve the right flavor as well as the correct amount of water to achieve the appropriate amount of dough hydration.  I feel like I’ve gone back to school…and in fact, I think I have….the baking school of Wendy!

IMG_0635And how many books have I borrowed from the library….I currently have 6 sitting in the kitchen right now….and have returned about an equal amount.  I’m still trying to decide which if any I want to buy to keep on hand as reference books.

Mr. & Mrs. Dove

IMG_0616 For the past three years, we have had a dove couple nesting in our bedroom window box.  I don’t know how to tell if they are the same couple but they always two eggs.  We get to watch the babies grow until they are ready to leave the nest.

IMG_0622And while we’re on the subject of birds, Ron found this little guy in the back hallway.  Apparently they have navigational issues when they leave the bird feeder and sometimes fly in the open back door.  So he has the bright idea to mark the woodpecker with acrylic paint.  Someone seeing this little guy will certainly wonder what strange type of woodpecker he is!

Spammers Still Suck

When I first started this blog, I posted about this same subject.    Since I recently started baking bread with a vengence and blogging about it, I decided to allow comments again on my pages.  Its only been a few days and they are at it again.  At least 6 per day.

I’m going to keep track for a while and see what the volume is.  Chances are….comments will be disabled again and you will need to email me at wendy at intelab dot com to let me know you were here.