The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


rmk129's picture

Okay, now I am trying to figure out how to post photos without having them appear in the Gallery :)
I just discovered "Flickr", so I will try to post a link to my site to show my first attempt at Floydm's Pain Sur Poolish". I ended up adding 1 1/2 extra cups of flour, but next time I will try to follow his advice and keep the dough as wet as I can handle :)

Both loaves. I have a tiny oven so I can only bake one loaf at a time.

Crumb of the first loaf. At least I think that is what you call a "crumb", judging from other people's descriptions on this site?

Crumb of the second loaf.

The very pale loaf was the first loaf I baked. I did not use a wash or glaze, although I sprayed the outside of the loaf lightly with warm water before putting it in the oven...I read somewhere that was a good way to create more steam (I also always have a small pan in the bottom of my stove and I throw a cup of water into it to produce steam just as I put the loaf in the preheated oven). Now I am not so sure about the loaf-misting idea because maybe it is responsible for the pock-like marks on the crust of this loaf??? I think I also had issues with the oven heat for this loaf--I have a gas oven with no temperature indicators at all. I baked it for 40 minutes and it was still that pale!!!

The darker loaf was the second loaf. I put it in the fridge while the first loaf was baking, then I used an egg white wash spread on with my fingers...maybe I deflated the loaf a bit too much this way and this is why the shape is like a perfect semi-circle??? I made sure the oven was very hot this time (the flames sounded very loud), and it only took 25 minutes to bake even though I turned it down to "halfway" (whatever temperature that might be) after 15 minutes.

My major trouble is definitely telling when the loaves are done. I did the hollow-sounding test, and they both seemed done, but when I cut them open an hour later they both seemed a little too moist in the center for my liking...or am I being too impatient cutting them open so soon? I should probably invest in an oven thermometer to test the loaf temperatures...

I would be happy to receive *any* suggestions, criticisms, and/or comments about my loaves and/or best methods for posting photos. I am really looking forward to learning from the members on this site!!!

rmk129's picture

As a newbie bread-maker, I was ecstatic to find this site yesterday!!! I have been making bread with the help of a bread-maker for over 5 years. In December my husband and I moved to Argentina, so we gave up everything that would not fit into 2 suitcases more bread-maker!!! Although there are many bakeries here, they almost exclusively feature breads made of white flour and even those breads are nothing like homemade. My husband's mom used to make yummy bread in their outdoor oven here, but nobody measures their ingredients here so it is hard to get accurate recipes unless you have time to watch someone go through the entire baking process...even the local recipe books usually indicate that you should simply add "a sufficient amount of flour" and things like that.

I am a grad student, so I spend a lot of time at home working on my thesis and bread-making is the perfect way to break up my days and make me feel productive even when my thesis is moving along at the pace of a turtle... So over the past few months I have been experimenting with different breads and so far I am fairly happy with my baguettes and basic whole-wheat/flax seed bread. They are definitely not perfect but very yummy!!!

An added challenge for me has definitely been my tiny gas oven that does not have any temperature indicator (therefore directions to set the oven to 350 or 500 mean nothing to me)...I have had to learn to go by the sound of the flames, and it is still hit or miss :) Room temperature here also has a very different meaning, especially now that it is getting colder out. We do not have central heating, so room temperature was close to 35 degrees a few months ago, and now it is closer to 15 degrees and dropping in most of the apartment...except in the hallway where the gas heater blows out :)

I look forward to following these forums and hopefully picking up lots of tips...especially tips that will help me make decent bread without lots of special equipment. I am thinking of investing in a cheap kitchen scale, because it seems to be more important to weigh ingredients rather than measure them??? Today I have already read about how to make homemade cloches out of baskets and linen...great idea!!! I made the poolish for the Daily Bread featured on the home page last night, so I will see how that goes today...and if I figure out how to post photos I would love to participate in that aspect of the site so I can get more help and suggestions!

Until next time...

longlivegoku's picture

Well this is my 2nd attempt at Jeffrey Hamelman's whole-wheat bread. The first turned out pretty well so my wife requested more (the best toast ever according to her). I started the pre-ferment the morning before work, mixed up the dough after work and then fermented/proofed. Unfortunately time was my enemy as I was unable to allow a full final proof. As a result I had some out of control oven spring action I think. No matter, tasted better this time than last! (different flour)

Bread image

Floydm's picture

It was a rainy weekend, so today I stayed in and baked. I baked Honey Whole Wheat Bread, which, as I mention, was an attempt to recreate the Good Earth rolls, which I've been fixating on recently. They tasted really good. I've been trying to decide why my whole wheat breads are tasting better, whether it is because I've gotten better at baking techniques, am using better ingredients (King Arthur's Whole Wheat Flour instead of Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour), or have just acquired a taste for whole wheat finally.

I also baked a couple of loaves of a white french bread (basically using the daily bread recipe) that weren't bad. I left my poolish out for about 18 hours before making the final dough, I noticed a bit of an off flavor... the bread was less "sweet and nutty" and more "tart and cheesy." No matter, it was still better than anything I could pick up at the local grocery store.

I also set up another website: Ajax Hacking. Setting that up is giving me a chance to play with Drupal 4.7 (this site is running 4.6). I'm liking 4.7 a lot, so I suspect I'll be upgrading this site in the next few weeks. People will enjoy the improvements.

That is all for now.

JMonkey's picture

I had a good bake Saturday morning, but I ruined my oven in the process.

I was making two 1.5 pound loaves of hearth whole-wheat sourdough, and two more of the same, but sandwich bread. I was just ready to put the boules in, so I stuffed two oven mitts wrapped in aluminum foil into the vents to trap the steam. I put the boules onto the stone, poured two cups of boiling water into the steam pan and shut the door.

The steam, alas, found a way out -- right up through the digital readout and computer controls for my gas oven. The display started to blink in and out. I removed the foil and opened the door to let the steam out, but it was too late. It still works, but the dial and the readout don't match. When I've set it for 400, for example, the readout shows 280. And when it finally heats up, I get an F2 error, whatever that is.

So no pizza Saturday night. A fellow from Sears is coming by on Tuesday to fix it. I hope.


Bread tasted good though. Oh well.

JMonkey's picture

I've got folks lined up all the way til June to get some sourdough starter, thanks to my Craig's List ad, and in the past two days, I gave away my first batch. Two baggies of whole-wheat starter and two baggies of white. Since it's a stiff dough, it's easier to give away. Wouldn't want to try bringing the 100% stuff to the office on my bike.

I also finally finished up my sourdough primer document to go along with it. Three recipes, conversion advice for tranforming commercial yeast recipes into sourdough, and standard care and feeding info.

Looks like I might end up getting some free organic greens and herbs out of it, too. A fellow who delivers to Boston every weekend told me he'd gladly share some of his harvest for some starter.

Cool stuff.

JMonkey's picture

Good baking weekend, though one of my loaves was almost a disaster. (pics below)

I've been making two loaves of 100% whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread every weekend for our weekly bread. One goes in the bread box, the other in the freezer. Trouble is, we usually run out by Thursday. So this week, I made up the dough for my usual two loaves of sandwich bread and then made dough for a boule of 100% whole wheat sourdough, hearth-style. Pretty much the same recipe as the sandwich bread (flour, water, starter, salt, some honey, some olive oil), but I leave out the oil.

Everything was going great. After it had finished its autolyse, I added salt to the sandwich bread. Kneaded it up for about 20 minutes and then did the same for the hearth bread. Let them rise all morning (took about 3 hours),folded the hearth dough once, then degassed the sandwich bread for a 2nd rise while I shaped the artisan bread. Popped it in the fridge for an overnight retarding, and started cleaning up from the morning's bake: flour, starter, salt ... er ... salt.

I'd forgot to put salt on the artisan bread post-autolyse. Visions of eating sour cardboard for the weekend briefly entertained my thoughts, which led me to a quick decision. I pulled the shaped loaf out of the fridge, flattened it out, added salt, and kneaded it up a bit to mix the salt in. Let it rise again, then shaped, and popped it in the fridge.

As I suspected, the hearth bread didn't have a very open crumb. A 2nd rise does wonders for flavor and getting rid of the grassy whole-wheat flavors in the flour, but it also helps make the crumb more uniform. All the same, it's very, very tasty.

Also made pizza with roasted yellow pepper, turkey sausage and fresh basil (note to self: put the basil under the cheese next time!) and some 70% white whole wheat cheddar, dill and scallion rolls (tasted great with the grilled whole chicken for Sunday dinner).

Here's the Pizza:

Here's the boule:

And here's a shot of the interior of the boule. Like I said, kinda tight, but still tasty. Has anyone had much luck getting a seriously open crumb from 100% whole wheat?

Floydm's picture

I couple of pics just to prove I've not been totally neglecting my baking:

daily bread

A loaf of my daily bread I made a week or two past. Actually, I used about 20% whole wheat flour, so I suppose it was more like Hamelman's rustic bread.

ciabatta bread

A ciabatta like loaf I made this weekend. The dough was a bit too goopy. I should have done another series of folds, but I was getting impatient. Tsk, tsk...

sonofYah's picture

Well, things are starting to look up for me in the bakery business. I may have an opportunity to go to just one job. For those who have followed my blog here, I have been working both a full-time and a part-time job for almost a year now. There was even a three week period when I had two part-timers.

I am presently working part-time at a local Mexican bakery that also does artisan breads. What an awesome opportunity this has turned out to be. I am in the process of talking to the owner of the bakery about going full-time and leaving my job with the railroad. Not a big railroad, so I don't make a huge salary like most think. It is very decent, though, and my boss is probably the best boss I have worked for. I hate to tell him I am leaving if things work out at the bakery.

But baking breads is a passion of mine. It is somewhat of a spiritual experience for me. Eventually I hope to run or own my own shop.

So those of you who pray to YHVH, keep me in your prayers. And for those who do not, wish me well.

I know my family would love it if I had one job. I could be home in the evenings and on the Biblical feasts.

keen de'el yeshuati

timtune's picture

This weekend i replenished my supply of dinner rolls, by processing all the dough in the style of bagels. Boiled then baked.
Got the tanned colourm but still lacks the shine...Sigh..

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