There are too many good breads to make! This weekend was my chance to be a copycat and try a couple of newly posted loaves plus one old standby.
The first loaf that intrigued me was Danni's Cranberry Pecan Orange Blossom Water sourdough, based on Lechem's original post. I don't usually bake with ingredients like Orange Blossom Water so it was my chance to experiment. Plus I thought the fruitiness would pair well with some strong, hard cheeses that we were sharing with friends for dinner. The results were everything I hoped for.
This time I omitted the pecans because our friends do not eat nuts, but I can see that they would be a very tasty addition. The crumb was a bit closed, but very creamy, and the sweetness of the cranberries and the fragrance of the orange blossom enhanced the cheeses. Definitely one to bake again!
The next loaf was Valentinaa's very showy Pane Incamiciato with its outer shell cut into petal-like features that curled around the loaf (and incidentally (note to self) worked very well as crackers). This was not as hard as I had imagined and the shaping went off without a hitch. The most difficult part was scoring just the outside shell, and you can see that most of my cuts hit the central loaf. It got lots of oohs and aahs, and the flavors were mild and unobtrusive. I don't have a crumb shot but it was fairly closed. Maybe the lower hydration is what helps keep the inside separate from the outside shell.
Finally, the old standby is (recently updated) David's San Joaquin Sourdough. So much as been written on TFL about this loaf, and it is one of the best, most reliable formulas out there. If you haven't tried it yet, you owe it to yourself to try.
What do they call this in Hollywood when someone can act, sing and dance? A triple threat, I believe.
3 marvellous bakes. (Less of the threat, more like triple talented).
I am gobsmacked at how you managed the very intricate shaping of the Pane Incamiciato so perfectly. The colour on that San Joaquin Sourdough is something I aim for. And most honoured I've been a source of inspiration. And now in turn you have inspired me.
You must have dined very well.
Gee, Abe, it's a good thing I am not in Hollywood because I can barely walk, talk and chew gum at the same time. And I don't look a bit like Fred Astaire.
I can't wait to try the Cranberry bread with the pecans, I think it would add another dimension to the one I made.
The Pane Incamiciato is surprisingly easy to make. I have only tried it once so far, but the recipe was perfect, at least for the flours that I used. I think Valentina probably put a fair amount of work into the formula before it was posted.
As for the color on the San Joaquin Sourdough, certainly part of the key is getting enough steam during the bake, and also having the right sugar content on the dough surface. If you are using a gas oven that is vented, capturing the steam by using a cover over the loaf is practically essential. You have probably read that the color comes from the Maillard reaction between water and sugars. The sugar is a balance of the fermentation - too short or underfermented and not enough starches have broken down into sugars; too long and the proteins start decomposing. Luckily for us there is a fairly long window of time.
Be inspired, bake well. And thanks again.
Good thing, as Mr. Astaire is looking a bit gaunt these past few decades...
That's a mighty beautiful threesome. As you are posting few and far between this year, we only get a few glances of your work, and they all looked just as good as these three!
I also consider myself a sometimes copycat baker, finding someone else's delights and then nicking them for myself.
BTW - here is an interesting article on Fred Astaire's epitaph... https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB111283344036700294
Copycats make the world go around. Personally if I copy something I like to give credit to the source, unlike some websites (we won't mention Facebook) where people post without attribution and take credit themselves. Enough ranting.
Thanks for your kind words, Al. I have been traveling a bit this year which has put a little crimp on my posting to TFL, but I still bake regularly. Like many of us I have my favorites. No time to post all the failures!
Thanks for the article. Perhaps it is time to start thinking about after I'm gone. If a baker is cremated is it ok to have an epitaph that says Oops, overbaked that one? (Sorry if you're groaning.)
Those are all amazing loaves! My jaw is on the floor! Well done!!
Thank you Danni, and especially for the loaf you posted for my inspiration. You and Lechem came up with a really tasty bread.
We're hitting all the right notes with a wide selection of breads. Credit to you as the baker who can execute with fidelity.
A meal needs a variety of breads to match each course, so the challenge is choosing from that wide selection. I'm happy with these results and how it all came together.