Category Archives: Fresh From The Oven

Ugly, but tasty bread – FFTO

This months Fresh From The Oven challenge was hosted by Brooke of Ed and Brooke and she chose focaccia.


I was very excited when I saw this one. I love Focaccia! We also got to choose our own recipe. But, I have made Focaccia before. I actually made it as Christmas gifts one year. Well, instead of using that recipe, I decided to try a different one from the same cookbook. I made the Grilled Focaccia from The Bread Bible (page 216-219). I didn’t really make any changes, so I won’t post the recipe, you’ll just have to get the book, its a great one!


The recipe was pretty straight forward & easy to make. I didn’t have any problems until I realized it was a little too thin & a little small. I had planned on making pizza out of it, but it definitely wouldn’t feed the both of us without some sides. Well, I plunged on. I had it shaped & resting on a cookie sheet, then I remembered that I needed to move it to a grill pan. Well, I hadn’t greased the cookie sheet enough & I had spread it too thin, so it was a little hard to get off the pan. It did not fare too well, but still workable.


Well, I got it onto the grill pan, cooked the one side, flipped it over (pretty easily, actually) & then topped it. Now, it did not look pretty on its own, but it sure made a tasty pizza. Oh, I also over-kneaded it a little. I missed the part where it said to knead for about 20 seconds & I kneaded it for a minute. I am pretty sure that had something to do with my results.


Verdict: I will be trying this one again, it was very tasty, even if it didn’t look too pretty on its own.


Oh, the pizza toppings: faux saugsages, olives, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, tomatoes, & onions.



Fresh From The Oven Challenge #1

This month’s challenge is hosted by Brianna from She has chosen a Rustic Bread from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.

The recipe can be found here:


This is a basic introductory recipe with a preferment, & minimal ingredients. A great recipe for the first time bread baker as well as good practice for advanced bread bakers. Everyone needs a good artisan bread recipe & this is a great one for that. We were able to make adjustments to the recipe for allergies, etc. which is great, although I didn’t have to make a single adjustment to this one. So awesome!!! Oh, we were also required to have fun 🙂 No problem with that! The hardest part of this recipe (besides the waiting) is the shaping, well, adding the preferment if you don’t have a stand mixer would be the hardest. The shaping really isn’t that hard, just make it whatever shape you like, you can even use a loaf pan if you need to.


Rustic Bread

Makes 2 large loaves

1 lb. bread flour (3 1/2 cups)
9.5 oz. water (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Final dough:
10 oz. bread flour (2 1/2 cups)
6 oz. whole wheat or rye flour or a mixture of them (around 1 1/2 cups)
12.5 oz. water (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
all of the preferment

Put the yeast in the water & stir. Mix the flour & salt together in a bowl & pour in the yeasted water. Mix until the flour is hydrated, adding more water if necessary. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & leave the pre-ferment out at room temperature overnight (up to 16 hours… if you need more time before baking put it in the refrigerator).

To make the final dough, combine all of the ingredients except the pre-ferment in a mixing bowl. Chop the pre-ferment up into small pieces & mix or knead it into the final dough until they are thoroughly combined. This is quite difficult to do by hand: Hamelman assumes the baker has a mixer & can mix it for 5 minutes by machine. I mix & knead my dough by hand for about 10 minutes. At the end of that time the new & old dough aren’t perfectly combined– you can still see a few streaks of the lighter colored pre-ferment in it– but they are sufficiently combined that loaves bake evenly. (The dough was quite sticky, but I avoided adding too much flour, its okay if it’s a little sticky)

Place the dough back in a greased bowl & ferment for 2 ½ hours, punching down or folding the dough twice during that time. (I used the folding method. I really wish I would’ve taken a picture of the dough as it was rising, it is such a joyous sight for those who love bread)

Folding the dough consists of taking the dough out of the bowl, spreading it out a little on a clean surface, folding it in thirds like a letter, rotating it 90 degrees & folding it up again, & then returning the dough to the bowl & covering it again. Like punching down, folding degases the dough some, but it also encourages gluten development.

At the end of the fermentation, divide the dough into 2 pieces & preshape each into a ball. Cover with a clean towel & let each rest for 5 to 10 minutes before shaping into the final shape. Once shaped, cover the loaves with a clean towel & set aside for a final rise, approximately 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours.

Halfway though the final rise, begin preheating the oven to 450 degrees. If you are using a baking stone, preheat it as well.

Right before placing it in the oven, score the loaves. Place them in the oven & use whatever technique you use to create stream in the oven (squirt bottle, skillet full of hot water, etc) to encourage proper crust development. (I used a skillet of water)

After 20 minutes of baking, rotate the loaves 180 degrees so that they’ll bake evenly. Bake until an instant read thermometer reads around 200 degrees, which took approximately 35 minutes for my batard (“football”) shaped loaves.

I really enjoyed this challenge. I had the kitchen to myself & the day off, so I “rolled up my sleeves” & dug right in. If you have never made bread from scratch before, it is such an amazing & relaxing experience. It does take time, most breads take at least 3 hours, if not all day to make. I did forget to read the directions & didn’t start the preferment until that morning, it really is best to start it the night before & give it a full 8 hours, if not longer to ferment. While the preferment was doing its thing, I baked my Bakewell Tarts…er…Pudding for the Daring Bakers. Eight hours later, it was on to making the bread. I used my Kitchen Aid to help out with the heavy kneading in of the preferment and while it was resting I made dinner, more resting, dessert, then the bread went into the oven. The smell of fresh baked bread is such an amazing thing, you never get tired of it. This is a great recipe to get your feet wet with a Rustic Bread. It tastes great too. I had some with homemade “almond-ella”, also with peanut butter & jelly, as well as with spaghetti. All were good.