Meet Renée, le petit Boulanger

Meet Renée, the Boulanger at Le Pain de Molitg | flour-and-spice-blog.

Renee in front of his oven at Pain de Molitg

Here’s a great post (one of several so far) from the relatively new Flour-And-Spice blog by Tia, about Renée, a dedicated artisan baker from Molitg, in the south of France. Running his small scale operation, he and his assistant produce 150 to 400 loaves of bread three days a week, depending on the season. All artisanal, all as organic as they can be. He sells his wares at a local market in Prades and anything not sold that day goes to a co-op shop.

Hop over to Flour and Spice to read the posts on this ambitious small baker.

Baumkuchen: Multi-layered Tree Cake



Good friend Steven, over on Made By You And I – that’s his handsome mug there – decided to toss out a challenge to me a while back to do a recipe for Baumkuchen. Baum is German for tree (“O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum…”) and Kuchen is cake. Tree Cake. He had seen this post over on The Daring Kitchen, a site where a selected member picks a recipe once a month and the DK members all give it a shot then post the results. There are two sides: a cooking (i.e. chicken, veggies, etc.) and a baking side (cakes, breads, etc.). I checked the Daring Kitchen challenge out and decided to go for it. And that’s how I came to give this interesting cake a try.

The full recipe is published at the DK site and you can nab a PDF of it if you wish (link a bit further down). Although much more detail is given on that site and on Wikipedia, here are the basics:

A Baumkuchen is basically cake baked in very, very thin layers, built up until you get a cake that, when sliced, looks like the rings of a tree, ergo its name.

Traditionally and in a commercial bakery, it is made by baking a white or almond-flavoured batter as it is poured onto a rotating large pole set in front of a special broiler. As each layer is poured on top of the previous one, a slight browning occurs and these result in the distinctive “rings” seen in the finished cake. The undulations you see in the 2nd and 3rd photo above are made by simply pressing the still uncooked batter while adding the very last few layers bake. This gives the cake a distinct look and allows it to be cut into clear portions, if desired: some Baumkuchen are simply left flat, as shown in the first photo. It is usually finished with chocolate coating although some types are covered in other flavours. Continue reading

Steven’s “Apple Pie Your Way”

A good online friend of mine, Steven on his blog “Made By You and I“, recently posted his method for making a fail-safe apple pie.

In his post, he shows how he bakes the pie shell and the filling separately, seals the pie or tart shell bottom so it doesn’t get soggy, adjust the sweetness and flavour of the filling while it is cooking, then combines the two once they are cooled. The result? A flakey pie crust that won’t get soggy, and perfectly cooked apple pie filling.

Go visit his post, “Apple Pie Your Way” for the full details. And check out the rest of his new blog. Lots in interesting stuff there!


Fougasse By Hand

Win This Book!As part of our great book giveaway, the authors of Baking By Hand have given me permission to include the following recipe for you to use. 

The instructions given make use of no mixer; it is, as the book title indicates, all done by hand. You’ll also use a process called “autolyse” to hydrate the flour by letting it sit after mixing, then a “stretch and fold” after 30 minutes of proofing which bypasses the need to knead the dough.

Also note that all ingredients are given in weights, not volumes (cups), save for salt & yeast. If you need a scale, please read this post.

This recipe is found on page 98 of Baking By Hand



The Holy Hearth Bread

Fougasse is Provence’s answer to the Roman-born Focaccia. Their names both come from the Latin root word focus, meaning “hearth,” and they’re both flattened doughs that feature toppings or folded-in ingredients. The distinctive feature of the fougasse are its decorative holes cut into the dough’s surface, which are really up to the baker’s whim. You’ve got three flavor variations to choose from here, or you can leave the bread plain or come up with your own tasty additions. If making olive fougasse, the bread will come out a teeny bit bigger, but that’s fine. Continue reading

Apple Tart from Baking by Hand

BBH book

Having received the review copy of the book Baking By Hand, I decided to give their Classic A&J Apple Tart a go, since our apple trees have given us a fair number of apples to use up. This would also let me have a quick look at how well the recipes are explained in the book.

I will post a deeper review of the book in a separate entry.

The thrust behind the book, as you can likely tell from its title, is to make and bake tasty treats without the use of machines, making these recipes available to everyone, regardless of their KitchenAid mixer ownership status.


The Classic Apple Tart uses their “Lazy Baker’s Puff pastry” for the tart shell, a quick puff pastry that can be used for many other tasty applications (the recipe is in the book). The apples they suggest are Cortland; however, I have no idea what types our tree produces. And finally, it gets a crumb topping, something akin to a streusel, to finish it up. The whole thing can be made start to finish in just a couple of hours.


We start by making the puff pastry for the crust. Our ingredients are AP flour, unsalted butter (cubed), sour cream – a little unusual – baking powder and salt. All these ingredients need to be cold, so I popped the flour, salt and baking powder together in a plastic tub and into the freezer for 30 minutes, the butter and sour cream go into the fridge, as does the glass mixing bowl. Continue reading

Baking By Hand Give-Away! is happy to offer our readers a chance to score a copy of the book Baking By Hand:


The authors, Andy and Jackie King, run a bakery, A&J King Artisan Bakers in Salem, Massachusetts, where they create a delicious and extensive line of hand-made breads and pastries.

Here a brief description of the book from Amazon:

Keep your mixer in the closet as Andy and Jackie King teach you long-forgotten methods that are the hallmarks of their exceptional bakery. In their book Baking By Hand, they’ll take you through all of the steps of making amazing bread, from developing your own sourdough culture, to mixing by hand, traditional shaping techniques and straight on to the final bake. Most importantly, you’ll learn the Four-Fold technique—the key to making the kind of bread at home that will simply be top tier in any setting.

BBH book

Continue reading

Delicious sourdough loaves

Working at Riso

It’s been a long while since I posted actual baking pics so here’s a set I snapped of a recent Saturday morning bake at Riso where I work.


A typical work day looks something like this:

Most days, I produce about 20 sourdough loaves, 16 country white loaves, 10 seeded whole wheat, 3 egg breads, 6 cinnamon pull-aparts, sometimes a “bread of the day”, and whatever deserts are needed. These include a crazy yummy chocolate-orange gluten free cake (yes, “yummy” and “gluten-free” can co-exists), cheesecakes, carrot cake, Nanaimo bars, cookies, tarts and occasional puff pastries.

My days start at around 3:30 – 4 a.m. and go through to 12 or 1 p.m. The routine is usually to take the doughs prepped the day before out of the cooler and bake the sourdough loaves in the pizza forno that is still hot from last night. Once the sourdoughs are done and on the displays, I use one of the four Berne brot doughs I also pulled from the cooler to make the cinnamon pull-aparts. These are then proofed with the regular Berne loaves and baked in the ol’ Doyon convection oven.

While those are getting baked, I start up the country (yeasted) dough to make the bread for the front as well as for service. With these under way, I start up the seeded whole wheat, also yeasted breads. By then the country loaves are in the convection and baking while the whole wheat is proofing.

About this time I mix up the required pizza dough, then ball them up. When they are panned, the whole wheat is ready to bake. Soon all the bread is done and out on the front display. I can then turn to any deserts that are running low. This may be pecan pie, carrot or chocolate orange cake, cookies, bars, etc. along with the attendant buttercream, pastry cream, tart shells, lemon curd, ganache, roasted nuts and so forth as well as any catering special orders. Oh, and let’s not forget the dishes; always clean up after yourself!

By the time this is done, I can now start making the sourdough for the next day. and, while it is proofing, get the poolishes set up for tomorrow’s country bread. With the sourdoughs bulk proofed, scaled and shaped, they go into the back fridge for their overnight stay, along with the Berne brots needed for the next day.

A final sweep and wipe down and that’s a typical 8 to 9 hour day.